1 - How This Book Was Born
I had no intention of writing a book on witchcraft. That was the farthest thing from my mind. I did have a couple of other book ideas. I dropped a note to my graphological colleague, Dorothy Sara, asking her if she knew of any publisher who might be interested. She got my letter on Monday, March 10, 1969. That same morning H.C. Publishers, Inc., had asked her if she knew of an author who could write a book on both witchcraft and hypnotism for them. She did.
Dorothy Sara and I have known each other for over twenty years and were both members and officers in the American Graphological Society. She had been both President and Secretary and I was Treasurer. Years ago I gave a lecture before them on hypnographology, the study of handwritings and their analysis under hypnotic age-regression. At the time I was directing the American Hypnotism Academy in New York. So she knew that I knew hypnotism. I called the publishers that same day and set up an appointment to meet them the next. Contract was signed then and there for two books: One on Witchcraft, the other on Hypnotism.
Thus began a fantastic series of intuitive experiences and "coincidences" relating to this book. Though I was not totally unfamiliar with the "ways of witchcraft" having read my first book on the subject, Witchcraft in The World Today by William Seabrook when I was about fourteen or fifteen, plus countless other books on interrelated subjects, and even having known people in my life who claimed to be witches, and personal experiences with clients who claimed to be "hexed," I was in no way involved with the subject. That changed fast!
For some unknown reason I had collected a file of witchcraft articles, stories, news items and newspaper clippings throughout the years. I had no conscious purpose in mind, certainly not a book on the subject. The day that I signed the contract I mapped my course of action: 1) I sent out letters and requests to the various publications that I write for and to various correspondents throughout the country and 2) I used a technique that 1 have practiced for years. I projected my will ... simply sent out the thought that I would be guided into the right channels in my research.
At two o'clock one morning I decided to take my two dogs, Boom Boom and Baby, for a "walk around the block" and see if there were any retrievable discards in the local trash baskets (one of my "hobbies" is junk picking ... I could write a book on that!). I found a number of recent magazines in perfect condition and was returning home when a "hunch" told me to walk to the corner. I had nothing to lose so I did. Just before I reached the corner I noticed a red-edged magazine lying under a trash can. I pulled it out, picked it up and lo! and behold! it was the March 21, 1969 issue of Time magazine with a full cover story on "Astrology And The New Cult Of The Occult" mentioned elsewhere in this book.
The Archfiend exercising his power. It is believed that witchcraft evolved out of medieval pagan cults. Consequently, its beliefs are contrary to the Church.
The article contained a great deal of information, some on witchcraft. From this I learned that Professor Sidney Birnbaum was teaching a course on "The History Of Witchcraft" at the University of South Carolina. I got the full and correct address through some long-distance telephone calls and immediately wrote to him. His reply and data is included further on.
In trying to track down the address of the Heliotrope Free University (It had a "how to" course on witchcraft) in San Francisco, I called controversial radio station WBAI (listener-sponsored, noncommercial, anti-establishment) in New York. The girl who answered suggested that I call the Switchboard Renaissance, a group that helped hippies, runaways and the homeless to find lodging, food, jobs etc. The man who answered
didn't have the address of the Heliotrope Free University but said he'd put my request on the Bulletin Board. I also found out that his hobby was witchcraft! During our conversation he mentioned a couple of books that I didn't know about.
Correspondents began sending me clippings. One of them, David G. Graham, editor of Infinity, Cedar Rapids, Iowa sent me a batch that he had collected. Since these were copyrighted news features I wrote to the Associated Press and the United Press International for permission to either quote or use these features in full. Both agreed. You'll find them in the "Witchcraft In The News" chapter.
Another correspondent, jazz pianist, teacher and concert artist James Woods of Ridgewood, New Jersey sent me a copy of the magazine Strange/Unknown which contained a few articles on witchcraft. I wrote a letter to its Managing Editor, John R. Nichols, who sent me an immediate reply which follows:
"Dear Dr. Martello: Thank you for your letter of April 2nd. I regret to say that today is my last day as managing editor of STRANGE/UNKNOWN. The next issue of the magazine is going to be a witchcraft special, which may interest you. It should be on the stands soon.
I'll turn your letter over to the publisher (who holds all rights to the magazine articles) and pass on your offer to do an article to the proper people.
If you are interested in witches, I happen to know a rather extraordinary young man (see enclosed article) who lives here in New York. He is rather sensitive about publicity, but you may wish to chat with him. If so, call me at my home number, and I'll arrange an interview for you.
I'm moving to another company as managing editor of a lively newspaper.
John R. Nichols
More about this later. During this time I had taken out the following advertisement in the April 3, 1969 "Bulletin Board" of the VILLAGE VOICE. Here it is:
News Items, New Witchcraft Book"
I listed my address. I also warned my superintendent, Dave, that "If you see a parade of women in pointed hats and broomsticks going in and out of the. building, followed by an army of black cats, you'll understand why." I told him that people were supposed to WRITE to me, not call on me at my apartment without an appointment, so that if anyone came asking-looking for "Hero" (the name I used on my AD) to give them no information. Both of us were hysterical with laughter. I forgot to tell him that I had a client coming, Sally, an old friend of many years. When she got to my door she looked for my name on the bell and saw it missing.
The superintendent, Dave, having been warned, and thinking her to be one of the "visiting witches" said "I don't think Dr. Martello's in. I can hear his dogs barking." Sally went out, looked at the building address again and knew something was peculiar. She said, in answer to his question, "Oh, I've known Dr. Martello for years and usually visit him around each Easter." At that Dave rang my doorbell. Sally and I greeted each other and I told Dave that it was "O.K." Some new tenant who moved upstairs had removed my name from the bell, thinking it was his, thus the mix-up.
When I explained the situation to Sally, showing her my Village Voice ad, she laughed with tears streaming down her face, all the while exclaiming "You're too much. This is just too much!" She said: "The super was very nice and friendly, but I noticed that he looked at me in the strangest way, all the while eyeing my shopping bag." I said: "It's a good thing that you just didn't stop by the store and buy a broom. That's all he would have had to see!" At this we both became hysterical again. Later I told Dave jokingly: "She's a modern witch: She carries a portable broom that can be folded up like an umbrella?"
Following is Professor Sidney Birnbaum's letter to me, dated March 31, 1969, on University of South Carolina, stationery:
"Dear Dr. Martello:
This is in reply to, your recent letter concerning my course on Witchcraft.
I hope you understand that this is not a formal course offered by the University for credit toward a degree. Moreover, I do not possess academic qualifications in a related area: I am, in fact, a mathematician.
The genesis of the course is quite simple. The Student Union compiled, from responses to a questionnaire, a list of subjects that students would be interested in pursuing in an informal manner. This list was sent to the faculty together with a call on volunteers to teach the various courses. Finally, I believe, about twenty were offered including, in addition to Witchcraft, Astrology, Lovemaking, Bar-tending and Alchemy.
We had our first meeting last week with about 50 students attending. Some of these students are convinced believers in occult phenomena and appear to be fairly knowledgeable on the subject. Some are acquainted with Dr. Murray's Old Religion theory and are interested in pursuing this area. It really isn't possible to tell just yet in how many directions the course will go.
In medieval iconography witches are often carried away by devils. In this case the Prince of Darkness is heading in a leftward direction. This is regarded as a sinister direction.
The only source material I have consists of books, and I have enclosed a reading list. Please feel free to make any use of it that you care to.
My own interest in the subject is a development of my interest in history. As to whether witchcraft works: quite frankly I've never given the matter serious thought. My reflex answer is no; but this is by no means a well considered position. That at one time people generally believed that it works, and believed strongly enough to influence the course of history, makes the subject interesting. That belief in the power of witchcraft still lingers on, adds to the interest.
I'm looking forward to the publication of your book. If you have available a list of your previous titles I am sure many of my students would be interested.
The three witches I interviewed for this book came about in the following way: Elijah Hadynn was referred to me by John R. Nichols, editor of STRANGE / UNKNOWN. He received and answered my letter on his "last day" with them. A week later he returned having been offered a more challenging position. Maria wrote to me through my Village Voice ad. Through her I met" The Baron. One Sunday I was walking my dogs to Central Park (New York). Two girls came up to me and asked "Could you tell us how to get to the fountain where all the groovy people are."
I answered "Sure. Follow me. I'm going there." In the course of conversation one of the girls said "I'm a witch." I had said nothing about this book. She volunteered that her mother was a witch, believed in the "powers of the mind," and mentioned that the October 1 issue of Vogue Magazine had a feature on witchcraft. I called Vogue to verify this. It was an article by Richard Goldstein entitled "Season Of The Witch."
On the 1 A.M. NBC-TV NEWS, April 23rd, 1969, there was a report from Rome that about 10,000 of Rome's witches were threatening to go on strike for social security benefits etc. It was pointed out that though they had no official recognition they nevertheless were full time professionals and wanted the same benefits as other workers. I wrote to NBC News Commentator Bob Teague to try to get a transcript of this. Here's his reply:
"Dear Dr. Martello:
Unfortunately, the film story you asked about has been shipped out of the country, which is standard procedure at NBC News after 24 hours. I'd suggest that you write a letter to the NBC Newsman who covered the story: Irving R. Levine, NBC News, Rome. That simple address ought to do it. Also, you might write to one or more newspapers in Rome ... Best wishes, Bob Teague."
On the morning of this broadcast I had a plane reservation at 7.15 AM to Syracuse. N.Y. John Curtin, President of John Curtin Associates, creators, manufacturers and distributors of various promotional games, contests and Sweepstakes, booked me for a TV taping at WHEN - TV Syracuse, N.Y. There we met the Manager of the P & C Supermarket Chain who planned to use me in conjunction with their promotional game, Tic Tac Zodiac. He chose four girls to participate. I gave each one a cold Psychic Astrology "reading". All I requested was their birthdate. These tapes were then spliced into one-minute segments in conjunction with P & C's advertising throughout upstate New York.
The following Monday John Curtin told me in his office that one of the girls I "read", Sue I believe, was dumbfounded over my accuracy. I had told her "Your husband travels from state to state, deals with machinery or cars, and I see him in a new position. One person who will be very important to him in the new job has the name of either William or Williamson." When she got home that night she asked her husband "What's the name of your new boss?" The answer? "William Williamson!"
I mention the above because it happened on the day of the NBC-TV News broadcast about Rome's witches going on strike. If I hadn't been TV taping in Syracuse I would have called NBC that very day. For years I've maintained a steely detachment from being identified as a "Psychic" or "Clairvoyant". I have always maintained, and still do, that psychism and ESP are merely branches on the tree of knowledge. Reason is the root. Reason and intuition are no more opposed to each other (or shouldn't be) than the branch is opposed to the tree from which it stems. I turned down one New York based TV show because I didn't want to be identified as a "psychic."
However, a series of circumstances began happening all at once. Many publicized "psychics" had made contradictory predictions, many of them wrong. Some refused to commit themselves or were vague. Whenever close friends and clients had asked me to predict the outcome of the elections, the World Series and whatever, I did. I was 100% accurate in all those I did. Of course I made very few of them ... would not say unless 1 felt absolutely sure that I was right. I predicted Nixon would be President three years before the election. For other published prophecies see the chapter on "The Prophecy On Ghengis Khan's Bones."
I had turned down one request and opportunity after another. I am psychic enough to know the pitfalls of being a public prophet. I also knew that there were many in the field who had less genuine ability in their whole bodies than I had in my little toe. This is not egotism. It's a statement of fact. I also recognized that many of them sought power over others through their publicized ESP ... I have always considered the seeker of power as a second-rate individual. What was really shocking to me was that some of these "psychics" who made so many pretentious claims actually hadn't the ability to empty a bedpan! I have always maintained that it's not so important to know "what's going to happen" but rather "how to go about making it happen." And I still value the sensible person far more than I do the psychic person.
Over the years I've seen many so-called psychic persons who "couldn't read for themselves" and who "went to pieces" when faced with a serious problem. Or I'd hear "I'm good for others but not for myself." I've never accepted that. It's a contradiction in terms. I've always been psychic enough ... but more importantly, sensible enough ... to work out each problem by myself. I consider it unmoral to burden others with my problems. And I most emphatically don't think that the inability to live a full, productive, life, or the inability to solve one's own problems, qualifies such a person to "help" or "advise" others.
All of this is most relevant to witchcraft since all witches are psychic (at one time it would have been vice versa!). During Inquisitional times a witch was anybody you didn't like! Today it's anyone who claims to be one. In my research on this book I met several persons who claimed to be witches. The one characteristic they all had in common was their belief in it ... modernized into mind-power ... as opposed to the physicalised witchcraft of the past. Most of their rituals were streamlined and simplified. Since Witchcraft has as much right to exist as any other religion, all one needs to become a witch is the belief in it. What makes one a Christian, a Jew, a Buddhist, a Moslem?
The acceptance of the teachings of those particular faiths, followed up by some study, acceptance of occultism, Astrology, ESP, parapsychology mysticism, Eastern philosophies (notably the popularized Zen Buddhism), and even the use of marijuana and psychedelic drugs, is a symptom of modern man's desperate quest for some meaning to life, a quest which organized religion has failed to fulfill. Upbeat, updated, under the collective name of parapsychology, and with academic respectability, no one today need become "uptight" about his "belief" in these things. Just as long as you don't identify any of this with its old label: Witchcraft!
Occult Number Diagram of Man