salem witch hunts


Going to the Salem Witch Trials Memorial is something I will never forget.  

In my younger years as a witch, I never really wanted to see that part of Salem–Honestly, I am not sure if it is because I just wasn’t interested as a young practitioner or I didn’t quite grasp the weight that the Salem Witch Trials and mass hysteria had on our world.  Only as I have gotten older have I become more and more passionate about the historical events aligned with witchcraft.

In 1692, nearly two hundred people in the Salem area were accused of witchcraft, then considered a crime.  This episode is one of Colonial America’s most notorious cases of mass hysteria. It has been used in political rhetoric and popular literature as a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations, and lapses in due process.  Twenty of the accused were tried and executed–victims of fear, superstition, and a court system that failed to protect them.  

The abuses of the Salem witch trials contributed to changes in U.S. court procedures, playing a role in the advent of the guarantee of the right to legal representation, the right to cross-examine one’s accuser, and the presumption of innocence rather than of guilt.  A memorial was created to honor the memory of these twenty victims and to remind us of the enduring lessons of human rights learned from the tragedy of the witch trials.  The memorial was designed by architect Jim Cutler and artist Maggie Smith, and was dedicated in 1992 by Elie Wiesel.

“The Salem Witch Trials Tercentenary Memorial attempts to give form to concepts of injustice…The designers approached the idea of injustice through four words: Silence, Deafness, Persecution and Memory. To represent silence, they graded and organized the site to emphasize the surrounding tombstones as mute watchers looking into the memorial. For deafness, they inscribed the historical protests of innocence on the entry threshold and had them slide under the stone wall in mid-sentence. For persecution, they planted black locust trees, from which the accused believed to have been hanged. For memory, they inscribed the names, dates, and manners of death on stone slabs, which were then cantilevered from the stone wall as benches.”

When we first got into Salem and stood outside the Witch House, the architecture struck me as odd and the color choice was so stark in contrast to the lively summer green of plant life in the front garden.  My friends and I took the usual tourist-y pictures and then began crossing the road to walk to our next destination.  That’s when I heard it: my name, whispered up against my right ear.  I stopped in the middle of the street, thinking it had been my friend’s husband.  I spun on my heels only to find him hand-in-hand with her, just to the left of where I had been crossing.  I asked, “Did you hear that?”  He shook his head and kept walking.

Something kept tugging at my insides.  The more historical sites we came across, the more insistent this feeling became.  The whole city hummed with it, this magic–both kitschy and real–and that warm energy propelled us visitors further and further in.  It wasn’t until we drove up a very unassuming alleyway that I realized where the epicenter of this powerful pull brought us.  There, at the top of a small incline, was the Salem Witch Trials Memorial.

There is a stillness to the air when you stand before it and just beyond its entrance are towering, ancient trees; sentinels protecting the names of those who died without justice.  There are inscriptions on the ground at your feet and they read of the last words uttered by the accused witches of Salem.  One in particular caught my attention:

I am wholly innocent of such wickedness…

Twenty benches protrude from stone walls, suspended and slowly being weathered by the elements.  Names are carved into them; the description of their execution marr the faces of stone and the date of their deaths resonate from the masonry.  People walk in silence, quietly reading and leaving flowers for those that died during the witch hunt.  It is a place of very heavy spiritual energy–whether or not it comes from the living who visit or the departed resting in the nearby cemetery is to be determined.  The short amount of time I spent there can only be described as surreal.  

The first few names I came across were the last ones to be executed before logic and law intervened.  These victims died on my birthday, September 22nd.  The very thought caused me to shudder, but still I moved forward and observed a moment for each person at their bench.  Around I walked, counting down from twenty to one, and there before me was the memorial to the unusual and outspoken Bridget Bishop.  The red flowers at this small monument were fitting of her, as I had read previously that she often was seen wearing a crimson cloak about town.  People had misjudged her; she died because she was different.  

The truth of the matter is this: none of these men and women were witches and yet they died because people feared what I am lucky enough to practice today.  And that bothered me.  It still does.  It stuck with me the entire way home as we road-tripped sixteen more hours.  I dreamed of the memorial, of Salem and its daunting trees and the fading headstones at the top of that hill.  On Monday, when I returned to work, I began researching and I came across something that just absolutely stunned me: Bridget Bishop died on June 10th, 1692.  I stood in front of her memorial on June 10th, 2017.  The weekend we visited–down to the day–was the anniversary of the first execution of the Salem Witch Trials that took place 325 years ago.

Fate and coincidence are two things that I struggle with on a day-to-day basis, but like my experience so many years ago at the ocean, I cannot help but feel that I was in the right place, at the right time.  I am just not quite sure what I am supposed to take away from this yet.  Am I supposed to research and write about it?  Am I supposed to share the stories of these victims?  Is this more of a reaffirmation that the rights I fight for are valid and important?  Is it that I just needed to see it on that day?  Or perhaps it was something so very simple: that I was called so that I could learn to evoke the spirit and strength of those people who chose to die rather than compromise their personal truths.

The Burning Times were not just a couple hundred witches burned by puritans in Salem.

Sorry, no. The witch hunts were a holocaust of women; a political move by the church, during the rise of Christianity and the fall of Rome, to discredit female healers and midwives who, up until then, had been respected, equal, and admired members of their community. Also, to change female sexuality from something that was celebrated amongst the old religions into a shameful sin and something that stands as an obstacle between men and holiness.

The next time someone tells you that gender roles and gendered values are ‘just how it is,’ remind them that the Catholic Church murdered nine million women across over a hundred years through Europe and the states just because they were scared of women being respected.

The Hunt - Part 1 (Mercy76)

The last of my three Mercy76 Halloween-inspired fics. This one is about white witch Mercy and how’s she’s being hunted for being a witch. Just when she thinks she’s about to die, a man comes to her rescue. And, together, they run for safety.

Part 1 - Running

No matter how fast feet flew against the browning grass, she just couldn’t get far enough ahead to catch her breath. Her footing was getting sloppy and her breath heavy and ragged. It didn’t matter what she did, she just couldn’t escape. She couldn’t find peace. Find sanctuary.

Panic consumed every inch of her and fear was ever prevalent in her serene blue eyes. Salem was yet another dead end only, this time, she wasn’t sure she’d make it out alive.

For the past hundred years, a woman by the name of Mercy had migrated across the land. Or rather, the Atlantic Ocean. She fled from Europe to escape prosecution (living for two hundred years wasn’t considered normal so she couldn’t stay in Europe much longer without being found out). She heard rumors of a magical  little town in a place called Salem, Massachusetts. It was a part of the New World. A new world meant new faces and a chance to start over. It sounded like a dream come true.

For years, she would aid the sick and injured. She’d invite them into her quaint home and tend to their ailments. By day, Mercy would appear to be a simple, kind nurse. But by night? Well, that’s when Mercy’s true colors showed. It was in the middle of the night, when said individual was asleep, that the real treatment would begin. With the flick of her wand and the light chanting of ancient prayers, the potion would brew. Once perfected, Mercy would slip the concoction into the morning stew and the ill patient would recover with uncanny speed. In days, they would leave with full-health and a sparkle in their eyes.

Or at least that’s how it was for the past five or so years…

Keep reading

anonymous asked:

Hey!I remember what Dot said about her shop in Salem and I was wondering if what she was talking about was also about mundane racism or only about the supernatural(witch hunt) because I'm from a tiny white country in eastern europe lmao so the only thing I know about Salem is the witch hunt.Because this ep was amazing and I was thinking that line also had undertones to mundane racism.If you know anything could you explain me?

The Salem witch trials was a complicated event and I’m not familiar enough with it to talk about it in detail. I do know that race, xenophobia, religion, gender, and class all played a factor in what occurred, as nearly all of the accused were women who were lower class/servants/slaves and at least two that I’m aware of weren’t white (there’s likely more). Those who were white often faced discrimination in some form, whether bc they were Irish immigrants, Roman Catholics, or something else that caused them to stand out from the highly conservative Puritan majority at the time. But there’s also a number of local politics that played into it, too, like feuds and land disputes.

Most American series that has witches or warlocks in some form tend to bring up Salem just because the idea that there may have been real witches at the time is a common one. But it is one of the more well-known cases of mass hysteria and persecution in America (although I mean the entire world in general has…a lot of those tbh and still does), so in that sense it does relate to the events of the episode, too.


  1. This isn’t the first time something political has come up. You just noticed?
  2. One political post without cutting commentary doesn’t negate the wonder of this blog, unless of course the statement is contrary to one’s own political bent and this is too much to bear. (And I can’t mourn losing those who support an anti-science, anti-societal-diversity, anti-laws-and-rules, anti-common-sense person sending my country to Hell in a handbasket.)
  3. The old saying is “those who do not remember history are destined to repeat it.” And this blog is all about history, afterall. Not all history is sunny, and in the future (heck, right now) history will not be kind to the current legacy.
  4. You aren’t sad to say goodbye, or you wouldn’t be saying it so dramatically. But you go your way and be true to yourself, and the average of twelve people per day that newly follow this blog will fill the tiny void you leave.

Okay, this qualifies as the most ridiculous thing I have read today. Guy has done more to set this country back to the 1970s years in 100 days than the previous three administrations. How is rebuffing the Paris Accord or attempting to repeal health care for everyone (not just the ACA but defunding Planned Parenthood) doing something positive? What part of Russia’s influence on the American electoral process doesn’t make your entire body itch? His people are looking at repealing Dodd-Frank, which was enacted because of the devestating financial crashes of 2008… huh?? Why is his agenda visibly to roll back everything good his predecessors (and not just Obama but especially Obama) have done in office? Nothing in the original post or my response to that message predate November 2016.

There was another brilliant comment below the one above, “Both titles went to Hussein back in 2009“, but since that’s pretty inane and (additionally) that writer’s avatar was Obama with a Hitler mustache in front of a swastika – and there were no posts on their page, not even rhetoric reblogs – it wasn’t worth giving a proper reponse to. But thank you for contributing!

You’re welcome to believe what you want but thusfar you have provided no meat to your bones. History will scoff at the willfull ignorance and fabrication that this administration’s adherants subscribe to, in the same vein as the Salem Witch Hunts of the 1600s were also a form of mass hysteria and alarming delusion. Get together with marerider, you’re more the voice he’s seeking to hear and he’s more the sort you should be following.

Peace out.

Inspired by @kawaiilo–ren‘s art for @reserve’s 17th century witch AU. (STORY IS BELOW, THIS TOP PART IS MAINLY ME TALKING ABOUT HISTORY)

A popular misconception:

People weren’t actually accused of having sex with witches. Witches were accused of communing (a.k.a. having sex) with the Devil, after which they would receive the devil’s mark, which allowed witch hunters to identify them. The vagueness of this description meant that any random scar or blemish could be interpreted as evidence of witchcraft.

Can we just take a moment to talk a bit about the history of witch hunts in the British Isles?

Everyone knows about Salem c.1692, but witch hunting in Europe was most prominent from the mid 15th to the end of the 17th century. This was prompted by the publication of the Malleus Maleficarum by Pope Innocent VIII in 1484, and King James the VI and I’s Daemonologie in 1597.

In Salem 19 people were executed for witchcraft, while in the British Isles, over 1,000 people were tried and executed for witchcraft from 1500 to 1660. Scotland had no less than 5 “Great Witch Hunts,” the bloodiest of which occurred from 1661-62(Which is where I decided to set this thing).

When the Enlightenment began in the 1680s, witch hunting decreased drastically, with the last large scale execution taking place in Paisley, Scotland in 1697.

Now, on to the actual story:

“I know you all have heard news of the witch hunts running rampant across our country, but we must not give in to this mass hysteria.” Hux took a breath, running his fingertips over the wood of his pulpit. “We must think rationally in this time of uproar, we must not give in to fear.”

He watched in silence a while later as the parishioners left. He stored his books away and turned to see that one had lingered after all the others. “Ben, is there anything I can do for you?” He sat sown in one of the Pews at the front, waving to the seat beside him to invite Ben to join him.

The man cocked his head, staring intently at Hux. “Do you believe in witches, father?” He stayed standing, despite Hux’s invitation.

Hux pursed his lips, choosing his words carefully.“I believe that there is evil in the world.”

Ben nodded, but continued his question. “But do you believe in witches? The consorts of the devil, who fly into people’s homes at night to offer them the same deal.”

“Watch what you say, Ben. A church is no place for such words.” Hux snapped, gesturing to the walls around them. He saw the way Ben’s head dropped, his broad shoulders curling inward. Hux softened and reached out to brush his fingertips over the back of Ben’s hand. “No, I do not believe in witches.”

“Why not?” The question caught Hux off guard and he looked up, opening his mouth to answer, but closing it with a sigh when he couldn’t find one. After a long stretch of uncomfortable silence Ben smiled. “I’m sorry to ask such a personal question, father. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Hux nodded, saying his goodbyes as Ben strode out of the church. The heavy ‘thunk’ of the door closing echoed across the empty room. He sat in the pew for a long time, just staring at his hands,

Hux woke with a start when a cold breeze washed over his face. He pulled himself upright in bed and saw the small window across the bedroom was open. He tried to stand, planning to close it, but a heavy weight landed on his chest, pinning him to the bed. He looked up to see Ben leaning over him, leering. His face was deathly pale, eyes open wide with deep shadows pooling beneath them. His hair hung down from his head, cascading over Hux’s shoulder to pool on the floor beside the bed.

Hux opened his lips to scream but was cut off when an index finger curled into his mouth, pressing down on his tongue. Numbness spread through his entire jaw as he saw Ben grin, a flush visible on his cheeks even in the dark. “That’s a lovely sound, father.”

The finger withdrew, leaving the numb feeling behind. “Ben?” Hux slurred. “What are…why are you here?” He was slightly more awake, and realised that Ben was sitting astride his hips, palms pressed to Hux’s chest, using his superior size to keep Hux pinned to the bed.

Ben giggled, his smile full of teeth that seemed to shine too brightly. “Do you still not believe in witches, Hux?”

Hux creased his brow. “What? Is this some kind of joke.”

Ben shook his head, curling forward to press more of his weight down on Hux’s chest. “Answer my question, father.”

“No.” Hux gasped against the pressure, an ache forming across his sternum. “I don’t.”

“Hmm?” Ben raised an eyebrow with a smirk. “That’ll change.”

History of Witchcraft in Early America

If anyone wants the documents we use for this class message me


  • The Salem Witch Hunt: A Brief History with Documents by Richard Godbeer
  • The Devil in the Shape of a Woman (1987 or 1998 ed.) by Carol Karlsen
  • In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 (2002 or 2003 ed.) by Mary Beth Norton