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This is the spellbook of Winifred Sanderson. It was given to her by the devil himself. The book is bound in human skin… and contains the recipes for her most powerful and evil spells.
      —Allison on the Manual

The Manual of Witchcraft and Alchemy is a book of witchcraft. Written in blood and bound in human skin, it contains the recipes for her most powerful and evil spells.

Legends say it was allegedly given to Winifred Sanderson by the Devil himself, but in Hocus Pocus 2, it is revealed the Book was gifted to Winifred by The Witch Mother, on the day she had turned sixteen (the age when a young witch is said to come into her powers), though the prospect of it being infernal in origin is best not to be ruled out.

Description[]

The book's cover is made mostly from pieces of human skin stitched together, is adorned with snake-shaped ornaments, and has a lock which can keep the cover shut. Its pages are written in human blood. It also has a human eye on the front cover which is often closed in sleep, and only wakes to the calls of its endlessly doting mistress. This means that the book is actually sentient and highly intelligent.

As an unholy record of evil magic bestowed by the Devil himself, the book itself is protected by magic, and therefore cannot be burned or destroyed by traditional means.

Content[]

Among its contents is the life potion, an evil potion that allows the sisters to suck the life-force of the drinker to replenish their youth. Other spells include cursing a victim with immortality, transforming victims into cats, raising the dead, cursing victims with boils and blisters, and numerous others.

Its most important curse was that if in the event the sisters were killed, that should a virgin light the Black Flame Candle on Halloween during a full moon, the witches would return alive for one night unless they suck the life out of a child lest they explode when the sunrise comes.

Despite the fact that it was created to solely serve nefarious purposes, and that nothing good was supposed to come from it, its contents still detailed a confirmed weakness of the Sanderson sisters (which could be used against them): a circle of salt could protect their intended victim from their powers, as seen when Allison tossed a limited amount of salt at Sarah Sanderson and it made her sorcerous ability to fly gone awry.

Appearances[]

Hocus Pocus[]

Mentioned in official records pertaining Sanderson sisters, at some point in time, after being scorned by the infidelity of her lover Billy Butcherson with her sister Sarah, Winifred Sanderson allegedly decided to sell her soul, and possibly the souls of Sarah and their other sister Mary, to Satan himself and received the spellbook, which was said to be protected by magic, and bound in human skin. The spell book is seen to be Winifred's most prized possession.

In 1693 Salem, Massachusetts, the Sanderson Sisters, graying and stooped with age, decided to use the spellbook to brew the Life Potion, which would steal the life force of a child to restore their own youth and vitality. As Winifred and Mary work on the potion, they send Sarah out to lure a child with her siren-like voice. She soon returns with a young girl named Emily Binx, whom they bewitch in no time to sit docilely in a chair as they finish up the potion. However, just after Emily obediently drinks the potion, the girl's elder brother Thackery interrupts them and attempts to rescue her. Mary and Sarah gleefully chase him around the room, but he manages to knock them down by shoving their enormous cauldron at them, spilling the rest of the potion in the process. Furious, Winifred subdues him with her powers before Mary points out that the potion is working: Emily's life force is visible. The sisters eagerly crowd around Emily and suck her life force away until their youth is restored and Emily dies of old age.

Rejoicing at the success of their potion, the witches then turn their attention to Thackery. Winifred initially plans to simply kill him, but she changes her mind when he calls her a hag and decides that he deserves a harsher punishment. Winifred calls the spellbook to find a harsher punishment for Thackery. Finally, she finds one punishment spell perfectly. Together with her sisters, she curses him to live forever in the form of a black cat, doomed to live for all eternity with the guilt of his failure to save Emily.

Just after they perform the spell, an angry mob arrives at their cottage, led by Emily and Thackery's parents. Winifred and Mary attempt to barricade the door and convince the crowd that they're merely spinsters spending a quiet evening at home, but air-headed Sarah impulsively adds that they've been killing children before her sisters can stop her. Soon enough, the sisters are captured and hanged. The book is seen at the hands of Elijah, the best friend of Thackery. But before they die, the spellbook opens the page of "Spells to Resurrect the Dead" and Winifred casts it declaring that on Halloween night when the moon is full, a virgin will summon them back from the dead, allowing them to once again claim the lives of all the children in Salem.

A full three-hundred years later, the sisters are revived when someone lights the Black Flame Candle, which mysterious powers can summon them back from the dead- but only for a single night. Nevertheless, the sisters are overjoyed at returning to their cottage. Winifred rejoices at reuniting with the spellbook, saying that she really miss it. Later, Max Dennison, the one who lit the candle, steals the spellbook at the behest of Thackery, cursed as a black cat and now able to talk, so that the sisters cannot create the potion needed to steal the life force of children and they run.

The sisters find them at the cemetery and Winifred summons Billy back from the grave to get her book back. After this they went to Max and Allison's high school where Max spoke through the microphone at the office telling them that the spellbook is here. The sisters heard a voice taking about a book which the sisters think it know about the spellbook, but it was actually a tape recording and were unwittingly lead to a kiln where the children locked the door and burned them alive.

However, they did not die due to the curse protecting them from death until sunrise. Knowing they don't have much time left, Winifred tried to make the potion from memory, but she can't remember the ingredients and called out to the spellbook, crying in despair.

Allison and Max, despite the warnings that nothing good can come from the book, open it to find a cure Thackery's immortality and the book sends out a signal after being opened. Winifred saw the signal and used a corn broom, while Sarah used a mop and Mary used a Hoover vacuum cleaner to fly to its location. They secretly invade the house and grabbed the book, but after accidentally breaking some glass and knowing that Max and Alison would come to get Dani and Thackery, they hid in the closet as Sarah hid under the blankets. Max and Alison arrived and the sisters revealed themselves. Winifred opens the spellbook to fire a ball of energy at Max in the back that he is blasted into his drum set. The sisters violently exploding from the house, but not before Winifred reveals the nature of the spell that brought them back to Allison.

Winifred and Mary made their way back to the cottage to brew the Life Potion with the spellbook while Sarah sang her siren song to all the children of Salem so they will go to the house. When Dani called her "the ugliest thing that ever lived", Winifred decides to kill her first. After brewing the potion again they try to force Dani to drink it, but are stopped by Max who tricks them into thinking the sun has risen by using the headlights of his parents' car and Max drained all the potion.

After the sisters' deaths through the sunrise, it was last seen in the witches' cottage, opening its eye, and presumably remained there. While Jay and Ernie are still trapped in their cages, the eye on the book's cover opens, indicating the book is still alive, indicating a there's a chance the Sanderson sisters could return somehow.

Hocus Pocus 2[]

The Spellbook once again returns in the sequel, having fell into possession of Gilbert who became intrigued by the existence of Sanderson Sisters and sought to revive them, believing the three were more of misunderstood individuals rather than evil as with in official records only to later learned how much mistreatments they endured pushed them to the dark path.

As expected from various witch hunts-related historical records whose certain details being twisted and romanticized, the background of Manual of Witchcraft and Alchemy proved to be more complicated; Winifred inherited the Spellbook from Mother Witch and that it was the pact between the Devil and either Mother Witch herself or their predecessor which brought it to the world instead. By bequeathing the Book to Winifred along with the warning of never performing Magicae Maxima for the price of such ritual won't bode well to her and her sisters, Mother Witch indirectly taught Sanderson sisters magical arts they eventually mastered leading the three becoming the witches everyone known nowadays.

It was through instructions provided by Spellbook along with occult ingredients he found within one of Sanderson Sisters' secret stash Gilbert managed to recreate cruder variant of Black Flame Candle devised to bring the sisters back to the land of the living. Being no longer a virgin however, he resorted to trick Becca and Izzy to lid the recreated Candle.

The Spellbook then returns to Sanderson Sisters' service upon being retrieved by them only to eventually decide to serve Becca, who is a newly-discovered witch, later on in response of Winifred's abuse and indifferent to possible worse consequence of performing Magicae Maxima. Becca and co., with Spellbook in their hand, rushed to stop Winifred only to find her depressed from unwittingly sacrificed her siblings. Using Spell of Reuniting with Spellbook's guidance, Becca, Izzy and Cassie reunite Winifred with her sisters by sending her soul to the afterlife where Allison and Sarah waited for her, turning her lifeless physical form into dust in the process. Spellbook then sheds a tear upon the death of its previous owner.

By the end of the events of the film, Spellbook is currently in possession of Becca, Izzy and Cassie who then use it to continue their own witchcraft.

Trivia[]

  • The book's description of being bound in human skin is based on the Necronomicon as it appears in the Evil Dead series of films. The May 1992 draft of the script mentions that the skin is that of a human child.
  • There were three versions of the book created for the film - One with the eye open, one with the eye closed, and one with a remote-controlled eyeball. All three versions are stored in the Disney Archives.
  • The revelation of the Spellbook being likely passed down throughout generations of witches all along in Hocus Pocus 2 left audience and fans alike mixed as it contradicted the statement of it brought to the world via. the pact between Winifred and the Devil himself. It must be stressed that the hysteria of witch hunts at the time of Sanderson sisters' execution may very well affected those who documented their cases to the point of misunderstanding them thus unwisely exaggerated and/or romanticizing certain details rather than based said records through facts as well as writing them through neutral perspective as with real-life witch hunt cases. Even in the film proper, this was touched upon by Gilbert himself who accurately thought Sanderson sisters being misunderstood and that his dismay upon learning records pertaining them being marred by lies added by misogynistic folks who held a vendetta against them, Reverend Traske in particular.
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