witch hunt

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  • President Donald Trump has apparently grown so irate over the media’s dogged coverage of the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia that he’s literally started yelling at his television, according to the Associated Press.
  • “Trump advisers and confidants describe the president as increasingly angry over the investigation, yelling at television sets in the White House carrying coverage and insisting he is the target of a conspiracy to discredit — and potentially end — his presidency,” the AP reported.
  • This was a particularly angry Friday for Trump, who earlier seemed to publicly accuse Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of being complicit in the “witch hunt” to discredit him. Read more. (6/17/17, 12:04PM)

There is witchcraft in our blood,
in our bones we carry the magic
that you could not burn away.

You see, fire does not eat fire.


Your mother would have taught you that
if the world hadn’t convinced her
that despite her body being able
to bring life into this world,
she is not a magical thing.


Maybe the witches you burned
were the daughters of something
more holy than you could ever handle.
So you set them alight for being different,
forgetting that even the son of your God
was once condemned for being too pure,
too beautiful, too different for this world.


History devoured your name,
but we have never forgotten
what you did, witch hunter.


You see, fire never forgets.


When you burned the witches
you thought what you did was small.
But the flames gave birth to ideas
and the ideas set alight souls.
For every witch you burned
there are now a thousand witch women
living differently, and standing tall.
And you may have burned some of us,
but you will never destroy us all.

—  Nikita Gill, To the Men Who Burned Witches

The last known instance of residents of Rhode Island exhuming a body to perform a bizarre ritual in an attempt to kill a vampire took place in 1892. Tuberculosis struck the family of George and Mary Brown from Exeter, Rhode Island. It was believed that this was caused by the undead so they, along with the townsfolk, decided to exhume the bodies of two family members who had already died from the disease. These family members showed regular decomposition and were then re-buried. Next, they exhumed the body of their 19-year-old daughter, Mercy; she showed absolutely no signs of decomposition. The family took this as a sign that Mercy was undead and that she was a vampire. They removed her heart, burnt it, and then mixed the ashes with water for her brother, Edwin, who was sick, to drink. It was believed that if the sick victim were to consume the heart of a vampire then they would be cured. Unsurprisingly, Edwin died two months later. Mercy’s grave stands in Chestnutt Hill Cemetery.

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Trump decries “witch hunt,” claims 50% approval rating in early morning tweetstorm

  • President Donald Trump started off his Father’s Day with a tweet decrying the perceived “witch hunt” against him with the ongoing Russia investigation.
  • In an early morning series of tweets from his first trip to Camp David, Trump touted the success of his “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN agenda” despite the “Witch Hunt” against him, pointing to “high business enthusiasm,” “36 new legislative bills signed” and other actions during his presidency. Read more. (6/18/17, 11:59 AM)
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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.