|Many historians have said there were no witches or witchcraft practiced at Salem, and
the behavior of the afflicted persons were not due to witchcraft. The executions
were illegal and fortunately, unique in Western civilization. It resulted from
fanaticism and the over repressive Puritan religion.
However, recent research shows that witchcraft was widely practiced in
seventeenth-century New England and throughout the world. For example, historian
Chadwick Hansen says that "in a society which believes in witchcraft, it works. If you
believe in witchcraft and you discover that someone has been melting your wax
image over a slow fire...the probability is that you will get extremely sick."
It appears that there is evidence that the curse-maker Sarah Good, was probably a
practitioner of witchcraft and another accused witch, Bridget Bishop, had a cellar
filled with pin-stuck puppets.
There was also evidence that another accused witch, Wilmot "Mammy" Redd, had
practiced witchcraft. Redd was often heard to curse a hated neighbor woman, so that
she would never again urinate or defecate.
In 1711 the Massachusetts Bay colony compensated the families of those persecuted
as witches in the 1692 Salem trials.
Although 50 witches were burned at the stake in America, more than 5000 witches
were burned in Europe in Alsace France during the same period.
Thank goodness that today we have free speech in America, that people are allowed
to have interests and beliefs in esoteric knowledge and that accusations alone will not
get a person hanged.
Historians believe there may have been many more accused of witchcraft. Some
people who were held for trial, for example, left no record of their complaint, arrest,
In other cases, a dated examination record exists, but there is no complaint or arrest
warrant, making it difficult to know whether the examination immediately followed
an accusation or took place months afterward.
|Were There Practicing Witches in Salem,
Massachusetts in 1692