Friday, July 24, 2009

SALEM WITCHCRAFT TRIALS

We have all heard of the Salem Witch Trials right? But, do you really know the story behind them?

When I go on my cruise next month, one of the stops is going to be in Boston. Now I have to admit, I was excited to stop there because I've never been to Boston and there is so much history there that I have always to see and experience.

However, when I saw one of the shore excursions we could purchase was a tour to Salem, I just had to sign up. I've always been very interested in the Witchcraft Trials and this was my chance to see things up close.

I did a little research and found out more about the Trials and thought I would share them with you too.

Between June and Sept. 1692 there were 19 men and women who were hung because they were found guilty of being a witch. One man in his 80's refused to stand trial and so he was brought out to the fields and heavy stones were placed on him as a way to get him to agree to the trial.

He never did agree and finally died from the weight of all the stones that kept him from being able to breathe.

Many many more men and women were placed in prison for life because, if one admitted to being a witch their life was spared. The people felt that if you admitted your "sin" then it was up to God to decide how long you lived.

But what caused the frenzy anyway? Do you know?

Well, the Salem Witch Museum will answer all the questions. I can't wait to go and see what awaits me there.

But until then, I'll share what I do know.

Rev. Parris was raising his daughter Betty Parris and his niece, Abigail Williams, who's parents had died.

The two girls were not allowed to play normal children games like Hide and Seek because Rev. Parris felt that playing was sign of idleness and that idleness allowed the Devil to work his ways.

So the two girls read a lot. One book popular at that time was a book about Prophecy and Fortune Telling.

To help the time pass in the long cold winters, young girls would form circles and practice what they learned.

Betty and Abigail asked two of their friends to join them and formed their own circle. Rev. Parris' slave, Tituba, joined them and would often tell the girls stories of witchcraft, demons and mystic animals as well as participated in fortune experiments by cracking an egg into a glass of water and "reading" the picture the egg formed.

Several other young girls sooned joined the circle when they heard about the stories Tituba would tell.

Soon, Betty and Abigail got frightened over what their "fortunes" were reviling. They started to act out with throwing tantrums. Screaming and throwing their bodies on the ground.

Rev. Parris brought the girls to see the Dr. to find out what was wrong with them, as they never told him about why they were acting out. By doing so would surely get them into a lot of trouble with Rev. Parris.

The Dr. found nothing wrong with the girls and advised Rev. Parris that he felt the girls were bewitched.

At first the girls didn't want to speak the name of the "Witch" who put a spell on them but finally felt so pressured to do so they claimed that Tituba was the witch.

Since she was a "lowly" slave the people were quick to believe the children.

Two other women were named. One an elderly lady that never went to church. The people felt she clearly was a witch because of that. The other woman was a homeless woman that would go door to door begging for food.

Tituba admitted to being a witch and thus was saved from being hung. But she also testified against the other two who claimed they were innocent.

This is how the Trials began. The people picked up on the hysteria, as they figured out a way to get the people they didn't like or those they didn't agree with to be removed from their life. Just act like you were possessed and speak the name of the "Witch" that put the spell on you.



Over 200 men and women were arrested during the 3 months in 1692.

We look back now and wonder how this all happened. How could a few young girls cause so many to lose their life.

Tomorrow I'll tell you what "proved" if someone was a witch or not. I'm sure some of you will be thankful we are no longer living in that time. If we were, then some of you may have to stand trial yourself. I know I would.

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4 comments:

Tracey said...

I love Salem!! I've gone twice as it's not far from my home here in Maine. The Witch museum is wonderful as is the Cemetary where all are buried..it's a very interesting, historical, fun place to visit. A lot of the locals still dress in witch attire and there are real witches living in Salem.. it's a great place to visit and you'll love the scenery there.. if you every saw the move "Hocus Pocus"..it takes place in Salem and you'll be able to see some of the same places.. enjoy it yourself!

Donna @ Party Wishes said...

I love history like that! Thanks so much for sharing the stories.

When I have my backyard movies, I like to look them up on the internet and give some backround of the making of the film and it's actors.

I'm a trivia freak like that!

Donna said...

Oh, Joanne, you will have a blast! We took the girls to the witch museum back when they were in elementary school and had such a greeat time in Salem! I'm bumming that I can't spend time with you during your stopover in Boston. But I am praying that we will be all rained out by the time you come so that you have gorgeous, sunny skies!... Donna @ An Enchanted Cottage

Couture de Papier said...

I love Salem.....I use to live there and graduated from Salem State College.Now I live on South Shore.Love your blog.