"Anything they say about us becomes ours, to do with as we please."

(C. F. Moore)

 

If (like me) you're one of those who has read pretty much everything that there is to read on the subject of witches, let me ask you: what do you think of J. R. Hanslet's 1933 All of Them Witches?

Isn't it a classic? Beautiful writing, good research, and—best of all—all that hot, hot information on what the Craft looked and felt like back BW (Before Wicca).

If you've got a copy (that beautifully-crafted J. Waghorn edition, with the real gold lettering and the black goatskin binding), hold onto it. It's never been reprinted, and (if you can find one), it will go for more than $1300.

Ha! Gotcha! If you think that you've read Hanslet's magnum opus, apparently you're one of those witches (gods know there are plenty of us out there) who can't admit that there's anything Craft-related that she doesn't know. Call it the Granny Weatherwax Syndrome.

In fact, you can't have read J. R. Hanslet's All of Them Witches because there is no such book. It's straight out of Ira Levin's brilliant 1967 witchsploitation novel Rosemary's Baby. Remember? It's the book that Hutch leaves to Rosemary that enables her to figure out that her neighbors (the ones who brought over the black candles during the big power outage) are actually witches and are planning to sacrifice her baby to Satan.

Or so she thinks.

“It's a religion,” she tells her husband (but it turns out he's a witch too). “It's an early religion that got—pushed into the corner” (177).

Personally, I think Rosemary's Baby is required reading for every modern witch: a little black gem of a novel, beautifully structured, with lots of twists and a delicious hermeneutic of suspicion. Don't trust anyone: they're all of them witches.

And, I mean. When, in the closing scene, Roman Castevet ( Steven Marcato) cries out: “He shall overthrow the mighty and lay waste their temples! He shall redeem the despised and wreak vengeance in the name of the burned and the tortured!” (236). Well, really, how can you help but chime in with a Hail Satan! or two, regardless of whether you actually believe in him or not?

Whenever I'm drawing up a bibliography on the Craft that lists enough books to make it inconspicuous, I almost always slip J. R. Hanslet's All of Them Witches in amongst the others. For those in the know, it'll read as a joke. For those that aren't, well...let 'em wonder. The god of witches—Old Wagtail Himself—is a notorious Trickster, and we, his children, are like him.

Because, best of all, Rosemary's Baby is a true story. That bit about the Horned siring children on mortal women: it's all true. In fact, my dear brother or sister in the Craft, he sired you.

Yes, indeed. That explains why some people are witches and some aren't. He overshadowed your father at the very moment of your begetting.

So, there we are, sure as my name's Steven Marcato.*

Hey, you wouldn't happen to have any spare tannis root laying around, would you?

 

*You didn't seriously believe that "Posch" was my real name, right?

 

 

J. R. Hanslet, All of Them Witches (1933) Torquay: J. Wagtail and Son.