From a fascinating document dating from the 17th century, we learn of the use of crossroads in the black arts (see also the two articles on haunted crosroads under ‘Ghosts’. )
A letter sent to the Bishop of Gloucester by the Minister of Temple Parish records the fate of a young man named Thomas Parkes, of Mangotsfield, near Bath. Parkes taught himself astrology and from there began to become unhealthily interested in black magic. He told the Minister that he had desired to obtain for himself a familiar spirit, a kind of personal devil, to do his bidding and had followed the instructions in a book of magic, which urged him to:
‘…go out as usual to a cross-way [my italics], and call up a spirit, and ask him his name, which he was to put in the first page of his book; and this was to be his familiar spirit. Thus he was to do by as many as he pleased…’
Having obtained an evil spirit called Malachi, things got out further of hand: ‘After this they appeared faster than he wished them, and in most dreadful shapes – like serpents, lions bears, &c., hissing at him, which did very much affright him…’
The repentant Mr Parkes had no more to do with devils but the shock of his brush with the supernatural weakened him and he died after a protracted illness.
c. Richard Holland 2010