# Transcription of All Of Them Witches

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 originally credited to “unknown sources” also came from various places in Tindall’s book.

The name “J.R. Hanslet” is apparently a reference to Chief Inspector Hanslet, from a series of detective novels by John Rhode, beloved by Ira Levin. (Source: TVTropes.)

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’.”

A fleetingly visible verso page (1:27:20) quotes from Reginald Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft (1584); the source doing the quoting is Tindall page 38.

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
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

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