Ira Levin’s 1967 novel Rosemary’s Baby features the fictional book All Of Them Witches, by J.R. Hanslet. Roman Polanski’s 1968 film adaptation shows the book on-screen — a prop with surprisingly well-curated dummy text. I like freeze-framing text from movies, so, here’s my transcription and close reading of All Of Them Witches.
Fair warning: if you didn’t arrive here by freeze-framing Rosemary’s Baby and googling a piece of text from it, this post may not hold much for you.
UPDATE, 2020-06-28: When I wrote this post I’d tracked down one page of text to Gillian Tindall’s A Handbook on Witches (1965). The Internet Archive has a borrowable copy of A Handbook on Witches, which has now allowed me to verify that every one of the lines I’d initially credited to “unknown sources” also came from various places in Tindall’s book.
UPDATE, 2022-10-26: I’ve heard from Sharmagne Leland-St. John-Sylbert, the widow of Rosemary’s Baby production designer Richard Sylbert, who informs me that her husband produced the (actual, printed and bound) prop book — she still has a copy of it! The inscription “Edward Hutchins, Torquay, 1934” you see in the movie is Richard Sylbert’s own handwriting. Even when not channeling Hutch, she tells me, Sylbert always wrote his own name and the place of purchase in books he bought abroad. (Sharmagne now runs a literary and cultural arts journal named “Quill and Parchment.”)
The book is inscribed (1:27:15) with the name “Edward Hutchins” and “Torquay, 1934.” (Thanks, novel and original screenplay, for deciphering the word “Torquay”! TVTropes says that William Castle once said that this was Roman Polanski’s first book-to-film adaptation, and Polanski didn’t know he was allowed to change things.)
Rosemary flips quickly through most of the pages. The only recto page that I can actually read (1:27:19) is a bit of an Easter egg: it has a bit on “the universally held belief in the power of fresh blood” stuck in the middle of some text from Tindall page 72. The same phrase shows up in the novel and screenplay, suggesting that this page might have been meant for use in a shot that was cut from the final film.
Ages no houses had chimneys, so witches can only have used a hole in the roof — a slightly more possible means of exit. Now if witches and fairies derive their common characteristics from a prehistoric race who lived in caves and hillsides, this could have had a basis of truth. Fairy dwellings are described as being below ground and of the old type, with a communal hall and central hearth. The only exist from such places o the upper air would have been upwards: the inmates literally 'went out through the roof' and it was probably reports of this that were later misunder- stood and construed as 'flying'. New born babies were used whenever possible in their rituals because of the Universally held belief in the power of fresh blood. The baby would be dressed in black and would be sur- rounded by candles, which needless to say were also black. Another possible explanation of witches' flights is that they were dreaming, or were in a state of self-hypnosis. To dream of flying is very common among women, as any manual of popular psy- chology will emphasize. The 'dream' theory has in fact been ad- vanced, by those who believe that witches were victims of sexual hysteria, as an explanation for the whole night, Sabat and all; but there is too much positive and consistent evidence on the sub- ject of the meetings to make this generally likely. It was probably ...
Interestingly, the inserted text does not replace any of Tindall’s text; in Tindall’s book the words “Another possible explanation…” immediately follow the paragraph that ends with “…construed as ‘flying’.”
Note the reference to the temple of Mercury on the summit of the Puy de Dôme.
made a heath into the prototype-site for a witch meeting. There were, however, many possible places. Reginald Scot wrote (1584): "As for the places of Magical Circles, they are to be chosen melancholy, doleful, dark and lonely; either in Woods or Deserts, or amongst ruins of Castles, Abbeys, Monasteries, etc., or upon the Seashore when the Moon shines clear, or else in some large Parlor hung with black and the floor covered with the same, with doors and windows closely shut, and waxen candles lighted." The recent Dissolution of the Monasteries in England, when Scot was writing, must have provided many splendid new meet- ing places for witches in the way of ruined Abbeys and Monasteries. The use of such sites, though it may have been deliberate profanation, does reflect the basic tendency of cults to re-use existing holy places. One of the most famous of all witches' meeting places, the summit of the spectacular Puy de Dôme in central France, has on it the ruins of a temple of Mercury. Long before that, perhaps, it may have been the acknowledged dwelling of a fire-god, for it is an extinct vol- cano. A cross-roads, or, in particular, a meeting of three ways, was a very popular site for a Sabat, and this was not just because witches coming from various directions converged there. In the pagan world a meeting of three ways was sacred to Diana-Hecate, who, though a virgin moon-goddess, was also considered at times as another incarnation of Persephone, goddess of the seasons and anything-but-virgin wife of the god of the Underworld. Thus the female-fertility spirit of the Old Religion (popularly called the Earth Mother) acquired some of Diana's attributes. The ninth- ...
Finally Rosemary lights on the page for Thomas Colley (1:27:21). The illustration on the verso page is actually an engraving of astrologer William Lilly (William Marshall, 1647; National Portrait Gallery). The text on the recto page is from three different sources: Tindall page 100, three lines from Tindall page 17, and Tindall page 31.
CHAPTER SIX THOMAS COLLEY Inevitably, since the god of the old religion becomes the devil of the new, the tables were turned. Puss's public image changed from white to black, for the very qualities and associations which had endeared her to the ancient world made her suspect in the colder one of Christianity. Amorality became _im_morality, and the unbiddable, thieving side to the cat's nature was emphasized. Isis, via the person of Diana into whom she merged, degenerated from moon-goddess into Maid of the Witches. The cat went with her. Ceremonial sacrifices of god-cats were replaced by massacres of cats who were considered to be devils. The popular medieval practice of burning baskets of cats to death on Good Friday or whipping them on Shrove Tuesday were examples of this. Puss had apparently become the scapegoat of Christianity. It was said that every Good Friday black cats tended to disappear, hiding in shame — though it would seem far more likely in the circumstances that they hid on that day to save their skins. At times the symbolic nature of this cat-persecution was hideously petty. At the corona- tion of Elizabeth I of England a wickerwork dummy of the Pope faith in a matter of a century or two. For many hundred years, through the era of the Danish invasions, Christianity for the masses remained largely a matter of what was expedient for the rulers. A and magic murder rather than for practising any particular rituals. It is important to bear in mind that the word 'witch' denotes different things at different eras. 'Witchcraft' is whatever the standard, established cult is _not_. Witches in the ancient world ...
Observe that as Rosemary flips through the book from back to front, Chapter Seven (1:27:22) actually comes earlier in the book than Chapter Six. “Prudence Duvernoy” is actually the name of a minor character from Alexandre Dumas fils’ 1848 novel La Dame aux Camélias; and the name does not appear in Ira Levin’s novel. I have no idea who’s in the photograph on the verso page. The caption under it seems to say “Mary Butters,” but that’s probably not right, as the famous Mary Butters pre-dated photography. (FilmDope has a screencap including the caption.) The text comes from Tindall page 43 (with four lines chopped out between “…god/Devil” and “reports…”) and Tindall page 31.
CHAPTER SEVEN PRUDENCE DUVERNOY The popular prejudice is in favour of them eating dead babies, but the reality seems to have been rather more complex. The weekly _esbat_ was mainly a business meeting to discuss any pro- jects afoot, there would be some sort of meal at it but not much in the way of religious ceremony. It was usually held at night for the reasons mentioned in the last chapter (convenience) but it could be held by day and sometimes was. In spite of the popular idea to the contrary, witches' activities were not inevitably linked with darkness — after all, the original fertility rites could hardly have been, and the few vestiges of them that have come down to us in _respectable_ guise as opposed to witchcraft guise (Morris dances, the maypole) are very much sunlit-afternoon affairs. The Sabat, however, was always held at night in the centuries with which we are dealing. The general pattern of a full-scale Sabat seems to have been as follows: The worshippers began by paying homage to the god/Devil, reports of magic worked since the previous Sabat, demands for advice, etc. Then came new admissions into the society. The candidates had to join of their _own free will_ (a point that is often monotheistic, ascetic and (most important) moral, it was not the complete innovation one might suppose. I have said that no religion is ever entirely new. Christian dogma contained (and con- tains) a number of ideas which are older than itself and which seem to form a kind of psychological staple in most religions. The ...
1:27:27: Rosemary pauses again at a custom-written paragraph about “Devil’s Pepper” (i.e., tannis root) sandwiched between snippets of Tindall page 31 reused from the Colley and Duvernoy pages. Again the inserted text does not replace any of Tindall’s words.
It is important to bear in mind that the word 'witch' denotes different things at different eras. 'Witchcraft' is whatever the standard, established cult is _not_. Witches in the ancient world would hardly be persecuted for rites concerning a Hornèd God, since such fertility rites were then a part of established religion. And even after the coming of Christianity, some of the old rites continued to be tolerated (see previous chapter). It was a number of centuries before those who practised ancient rituals — or per- sonal, idiosyncratic ones — began to be regarded with real horror or fear. In their rituals they often use the fungus called Devil's Pepper. This is a spongy matter derived from swampy regions having a strong pungent odor. Devil's Pepper is considered to have special powers. It has been used in rituals and worn on charms. Although Christianity was a considerable new departure, being monotheistic, ascetic and (most important) moral, it was not the complete innovation one might suppose. I have said that no religion is ever entirely new. Christian dogma contained (and con- tains) a number of ideas which are older than itself and which seem to form a kind of mythological staple in most religions. The Holy Trinity were foreshadowed by a similar mystic three-in-one, ...
The “Adrian Marcato” page appears in its entirety (1:27:40). In addition to the two custom-written paragraphs at the beginning, it contains snippets from Tindall page 52, the bottom of Tindall page 94, and the top of Tindall page 30.
CHAPTER FOUR ADRIAN MARCATO Born in Glasgow in 1846, he was soon after brought to New York. He resided for several years in the United States but spent a great deal of his time on the Continent and in travel. He was educated at Oxford and during the course of his stud- ies he became interested in Black Magic. Soon he left England and devoted himself completely to Satanism. The peak of his popularity was in 1896 when he claimed to have called forth Satan and was attacked by a mob outside the Bramford. He had to leave New York soon after. Similar happenings occurred in Stockholm in 1898 and in Paris in 1899. We know who he was in mythical terms. He was a decadent Janus and thus both evil and good. He was also, in part, Dis the Greek god of the Underworld, Loki the wicked Norse god, the Jewish Satan, the Eastern djinn, and even the Indian Siva the Destroyer. He was also the hornèd Osiris, his descendant Pan, and all the other classical satyrs and local European animal gods. It was from these last that he inherited the distinctive features usually ascribed to him: he was black, or at any rate dark-skinned, he had horns, a hairy or leathery skin, cloven hoofs, long ears, a cat into the sea to raise a storm is the best example of this). The true familiar, that was regarded by the Church, and sometimes by the witch as well, as an imp or "devil" with a small "d", was always small, a domestic pet. Sometimes these seem to have been Jupiter. The Isis and Osiris cults "went underground" and filtered both southwards into Africa and northwards into Europe. This
She turns to the next page (1:28:01). The full page is visible, except for the dog-eared upper right corner; the text comes from Tindall page 83. Tindall is describing the 1662 trial of Scottish witch Isobel Gowdie. (The original giveaway was the phrase “riven upon iron harrows, and worse.”) Tindall describes Gowdie as having been hanged and cremated; in fact there is no historical record of her execution.
for I have done so many evil deeds, especially killing of men... I deserve to be riven upon iron harrows, and worse if it could be devised.' In fact she probably knew this would not happen, she was simply hanged at the West Point of Elgin, and her body was afterwards burnt and the ashes scattered. It is possible that she _wanted_ to die, seeing herself making a kind of ultimate sacrifice to the Devil, her master? Psychologically she is a most interesting puzzle. It does not seem likely that she was completely mad and imagined the whole thing. Her evidence, all of which fit in with that given in other cases, was delivered clearly and soberly. She was examined on several different occasions and never once con- tradicted herself, as she surely would have if the wealth of factual, and circumstantial testimony had been totally delusional. Nor does it seem likely that she was consciously story-telling. The typical pseudo-confession of a hysteric 'snowballs', gaining more exotic embellishments at each recital, hers did not. Moreover, though much of what she said may seem fantastic, very little of it is actually implausible. She could hardly have assumed cat and hare shape except in a dream, but the 'fairy-land' she visited sounds quite earthy enough to have been a secret encampment of hill-folk or outlaws. (Fairies and bandits were sometimes identified, as wit- ness the folk-character Robin Hood, who is mentioned in Chapter Seven.) The prosaic details she gave of coven organization and membership are entirely convincing. It is clear, however, that at no time did she have any doubt that the cult she followed was evil — unlike, probably, the less intelligent, peasant witches of earlier times. This suggests that she was a psychopathic personality — that is, one in full possession of her wits in the legal sense, but quite undeveloped emotionally, in whom the definitions 'good' and 'bad' have only a shadowy, theoretical meaning rather than a personally perceived one. If this was her case, it may be assumed that beneath her apparently cool and rational exterior she hid an insatiable craving for power and attention — even punishing attention, notoriety being much pre-
On the facing (verso) page is the picture captioned “Paris 1899 — Adrian Marcato, His Wife and Son, Steven”. Hutch has underlined “Steven” twice in bold marker. The café window behind the family reads “VINS CAFÉ LIQUEURS — MARC DE BOURGOGNE.”