SATANISM AND WITCHES
selected by Dennis Wheatley
This is an out-of-series volume; for it is neither a novel, a serious study of some aspect of the occult nor a collection of short stories. It is a book mainly of essays that contain so much valuable information upon supernatural happenings, and historical records of witchcraft, that I feel it would be a serious omission not to include them in this Library.
The earliest of them dates back to the mid-1500s and is by that remarkable genius Benvenuto Cellini. He was a man of many interests and here tells us of his attempt to raise the spirit of his dead mistress, Angelica.
Sax Rohmer gives us an account of the horrifying fate that overtook scores of people in Europe who were accused of witchcraft during the following two hundred years, the tortures they suffered and the iniquities of professional witch-finders such as Matthew Hopkins.
During the seventeenth century witch-baiting was at its height. In Britain it was initiated by King James I in 1597 and William Godwin writes of the Lancashire Witches, who were the subject of Harrison Ainsworth’s famous novel. In Germany witchcraft was particularly prevalent and Robert Anthony gives us a graphic picture of its practice there.
In the 1670s and 1680s Paris was riddled with practitioners of the black art. This led to the ‘Chambre Ardente Affair’ about which Ronald Seth tells us. Francis Mossiker’s long novel The Affair of the Poisons also deals with this, and contains a detailed description of the infamous Abbé Gibourg performing the Black Mass on Madame de Montespan. We are publishing it in our Library in February 1975.
With her The Initiation to Witchcraft Professor Margaret Murray, famous for her books, The Witch Cult in Western Europe and The God of the Witches, gives us a graphic description of the abominable ceremonies by which Satan accepted his devotees and conferred occult powers on them. And P. T. Barnum writes on the questionable effect of casting spells.
At the end of the seventeenth century there occurred the terrible scandal of the Witch Trials in Salem, when nearly everyone in the town became possessed. Cotton Mather, a puritanical Boston minister, writes here about the trials. Then a hundred years later Nathaniel Hawthorne – the father of American Literature – who was born in Salem, gives us a story describing the Salem Mass.
With Aleister Crowley’s episode (although not admitted) from his own autobiography we come to comparatively modern times, and learn of ‘The Black Lodge’. This is followed by Betty May’s account of life at the Abbey Thelame on the island of Cefalú, to which she went only reluctantly, because her husband was one of Crowley’s disciples.
Elliott O’Donnell, a master of occult literature, tells us of strange happenings. And that great writer, Robert Graves, describes a revival of witch-hunting in Germany under the Nazis.
There are in addition five anonymous pieces – ‘An Indictment for Witchcraft’, ‘A Pact with the Devil’, ‘How to Raise a Spirit’, ‘The Black Goat of Brandenburg’ and ‘The Confession of the Witches of Elfdale’.
Also six essays by myself concerning witches, sabbats, and the black art that I wrote for a national paper some years ago.
Finally we give ‘The Secret Grimoire of Turiel’ which portends to tell one how to raise a demon. But if you try it and fail, please don’t ask me for your money back.