Salem Witch Trials

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: November 10, 2011

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Submitted: November 10, 2011



Salem Witch Trials

During the Salem Witch Trials, the Salem community had many strange beliefs about witches and what witches practiced.  At the time, the people of Salem didn’t necessarily know what to believe because not many people had much experience or knowledge of witches. Witches could have been young children, teenagers, men, women, or old people. So it would have been difficult to tell the difference between an elderly woman from a witch.

There are two different kinds of witches, the white witch, who is a good witch, and a black witch, who is a bad witch. Black witches specialized in doing harm by using charms, potions, curses, waxen and other images and poison. For example, if someone offended a black witch, she might put a curse on them. These witches mixed strange and offensive things in their potions and would say the chant of Shakespeare’s witches in Macbeth as they boiled their kettle. The chant goes, “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble. Fillet of a snake, In the cauldron boil and bake;  Eye of a newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s led, and howlet’s wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.” White witches used their skills to heal people. Many medicines today originated from plants that these witches used in their potions.

Black witches always got into all kinds of mischief. It was believed that they could raise storms to sink ships or destroy crops, cause houses to catch fire, make cows go dry and give no milk, prevent cream from being churned into butter, turn milk sour, or even dry up wells. For example, if a housewife’s batch of bread fell flat in the oven or was burned, she would be sure she had felt a little breeze as she opened the oven door to put the loaves in; that was an invisible witch flying in to spoil the bread.

Witches were also believed to have familiars or imps. It was believed that they were given to the witch by the Devil when she sold her soul to him, and that without a familiar she was powerless to work magic. There were many kinds of familiars. They could be dogs, cats, goats, fowls, hares, rats, mice, weasels, toads, all sorts of birds and even people. Some were even strange creatures that resembled some animal and yet were different in one way or another, or sometimes like two animals combined. One witch that was under torture, spoke of two weird familiars, one was like a fat spaniel with no legs at all, and the other was a greyhound with a head like an ox.

Another witch talked about her rat imps that were shaped like cows, with little horns. They always had strange names. There was a mole named Pygine, a dog called Dunscott, a cat called Lightfoot, and another called named Satan. In 1928, a newspaper writer wrote a article about a woman that died two years before named Horseheath. People believed she was a witch and they went to her for her cures. According to the story, she had sold her soul to the Devil, who made her sign her name in a book and then the Devil gave her five imps to help her work her magic. Soon afterwards she was seen out walking with a cat, a toad, a ferret, a rat and a mouse. Witches had to feed their familiars with the witches own blood. The witch would cut herself and mix her blood with the familiars food, or sometimes the imp would suck her blood from a witch mark. A witch mark could be a small pimple, wart, or some small swelling on a person’s body, usually hidden from view.

Witches held sabbats to discuss their magic and to worship their master, the Devil. These groups of witches were called covens. There is a lot of disagreement about covens by writers of witchcraft, but many people believe that witches were organized in this way and that a coven consisted of thirteen people, twelve witches and a leader. The leader is thought to have been the Devil. People think that the number was thirteen because even today that number is supposed to be connected with evil or bad luck. Some tall buildings don’t even have a thirteenth floor, the fourteenth floor just comes right after the twelfth floor.

Many people that lived in Salem during the Salem Witch Trials didn’t know what to think about everyone going insane over a few girls saying that there were witches. Even though they were just little girls saying all of it, the people of Salem believed them. After the judges started to really think if it was true or not they kept on going with the executions to keep themselves looking good.

© Copyright 2019 Christine Vinson. All rights reserved.

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