gay- The word "gay" was used to describe people full of joy or mirth from the time of Chaucer in the 14th c. as does the meaning "brilliant or showy in color." An obsolete phrase, "the gay science," was the provencal term for the art of poetry. Another meaning, "addicted to social pleasures and dissipations, often euphemistically : to social pleasures and dissipations, often euphemistically : Of a loose and immoral life" dates from 1637. In 1825 this meaning is extended to apply as a slang expression to women who lead 'immoral lives" or who live by prostitution. In the later 19th c the term was even used to mean in good health or to be convalescent.
garrote- a Spanish method of execution by means of an iron collar affixed to a post and tightened by a screw until thevictim is strangled.
incubus, incubi-1: an evil spirit believed to lie upon persons in their sleep and especially to have sexual intercourse with women by night. Read what Montague Summers had to say about them, and what Francesco Maria Guazzo had tosay about them in 1608, and what Reginald Scot had to say about them in 1584.
lupus erythematosus- I include this because I think this disease may be the origin of werewolf stories. It is a disease that causes arthritis, the knuckles begin to swell, the skin turns brown and leathery, and the victims are sensitive to sunlight, so they can only come out at night. I heard once that a treatment used to be the drinking of blood, but I can't find a reference on this. a disease of the skin that affects women more often than men. Distinct, reddened patches covered with grayish-brown scales may appear on the upper cheeks and the nose, on the scalp, the lips of the lining of the cheeks. In treatment the affected skin is protected against sunlight and other powerful radiation. Among the features that lead to identification of the disease are typical skin lesions, the charactersitic way in which the skin reacts to sunlight, the inflammation of the joints that does not cause deformity.
savin-1: a mostly prostrate Eurasian evergreen juniper with dark foliage and small berries having a glaucous bloom and with bitter acrid tops that are sometimes used in folk medicine (as for amenorhea or as an aborifacient)- called also cover-shame, sabina.
succubus, succubi-1: a demon assuming female form to have sexual intercourse with men in their sleep.
witch ball-these sound like Christmas tree balls to me: a hollow sphere of plain or striated glass hung in cottage windows in the 18th century to ward off evil spirits but later often posted on top of a vase or suspended by a cord (as from the matel piec or rafters) for a decorative effect.
Yule log-a log burned with traditional ceremonies during the medieval celebrations of Christmas, perhaps a survival of an ancient pagan festival of the winter solstice, in which fire resprented the sun.