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September 20, 2022

Honoring the Victims of the Salem Witch Trials

 

Christmas Day 2020, I was watching my favorite childhood Christmas movies and researching the Salem Witch Trials.


When I was at the library, I came across the witch section on a shelf of paranormal books in the children’s section. I checked out every book they had on witches. These four books. I wanted to see how they handled the subject. The only one I didn’t really like was the small one (Witches! The Absolutely True Tale of Disaster in Salem by Rosalyn Schanzer). At times, the author’s tone rubbed me the wrong way. The others were great, though: The Salem Witch Trials: A Primary Source History of the Witchcraft Trials in Salem, Massachusetts; The Salem Witch Trials by Michael Martin; and Creatures of Fantasy: Witches by Cynthia A. Roby.


On September 22, 1692, the last eight INNOCENT victims were hanged, which is why I am posting this on September 20th.

This post is about the Salem Witch Trials, and I am posting it to honor the nineteen people who were wrongly executed.

I also want to honor the THOUSANDS (40,000 - 60,000) INNOCENT people who were wrongly executed during the European Witch-Hunt that took place in western Germany, the Low Countries, France, northern Italy, and Switzerland that lasted more than 200 years.


EUROPEAN WITCH-HUNT:

Although this post focuses on the Salem Witch Trials, which is just a brief moment in the overall nightmare of witch-hunts, I still want to discuss the European Witch-Hunts.


MIDWIVES AND HEALERS:

Many of the women who were targeted and executed as witches were the wise women, healers, and midwives who used plant medicine (and were likely poor or considered peasants), and the Catholic Church didn't like their use of plant medicine one bit. [1]

The Church and the medical field were best buds, and the Church supported male physicians, not female healers.

Male physicians, who knew NOTHING about women, did not like that midwives and female healers were taking patients from them because those women knew their shit and the male physicians did not. So, the Church and male physicians teamed up to get rid of their competition; male physicians accused wise women of witchcraft.


DEVIL'S TEAT:

It's also known that women were accused of witchcraft for having a spot (birthmark/freckle) on their skin that was called the "Devil's Mark."

Oh, and let's not forget the "Devil's Teat." In The Malleus Maleficarum, a guide for finding witches, it was said that the clitoris was the "Devil's Teat," and any woman with one was a witch. 😂 No one had any clue about women's anatomies, so when one was found on a victim postmortem, it was deemed evil. [2

What I find interesting is that the jailer and his wife did the postmortem search. I wonder if his wife later looked to see if she had one and kept it a secret after she helped classify it as evil. Or did her husband ever notice it later? Not all clitoris' are the same size, but all vulvas have one.

To think that a unique part of a woman's anatomy that has no bodily function other than pleasure (which the Church definitely would've labeled sinful if they'd known), and has 8,000 nerve endings, double that of the phallus [3] was used to accuse women of being in league with the devil. (If male physicians knew their phalluses weren't as superior in comparison, they really would've felt emasculated). It's partly laughable, but also deeply horrifying. That truly goes to show you how powerful a woman's body is and how scared the Church and patriarchy are of a woman's pleasure and power. Then and now. *mic drop*


Before I move on, here's a little musical inspiration:


I'm A Witch Playlist

This isn’t just a playlist of songs with witchy vibes, but a playlist that’ll make you feel empowered in embracing the witch inside, because we all have a little witch in us.

NOTE: Although the victims weren't real witches, now-a-days people are taking back the word “witch” and claiming it for themselves. These people connect with nature, honor ancestors, work with plant medicine, seek knowledge, pass on wisdom, hone their intuition, nurturer the Earth, want to make the world a better place, celebrate the change of the seasons, live cyclically with their menstrual cycles or phases of the moon, and are open-minded. They may use Tarot cards and pendulums for guidance. They may use crystals and herbs for protection. They may use spells for manifestation. They are not evil. In fact, they are forces of good. Anyone can be a witch. Some may identify as Wiccan or Pagan or Jewish or Christian. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that you're being your AUTHENTIC SELF.

You can also check out the playlist on the Spotify app here and add it to your library by clicking the ❤️.


Salem Witch Trials:

I don't want to repeat info you likely know, so I’m sharing info you may not know. I'm also choosing not to talk about the accusers. This post isn't about those idiots. This post is about...


Dorothy Good:

Dorothy (Dorcas) Good was the youngest victim of the Salem Witch Trials. She was four years old. Her mother, Sarah Good, was also accused of witchcraft. Dorothy was interrogated. The nature of the interrogation is unknown. Were they gentle because she was a child or were they harsh because they thought she was evil? It doesn't matter. She admitted to being a witch, as any frightened child would, especially if they don’t understand what is happening.

At the age of five, she was sent to prison for almost nine months. Shackled. Unable to move her limbs, just her fingers. December 10th, 1692, she was released from prison, but the damage had been done. The abuse, neglect, and horrible conditions resulted in her mind deteriorating. She passed away not long after.

RIP Dorothy.


Sarah Good:

Dorothy's mother went to prison as well. Although three people testified that Sarah Good was more likely a victim of witchcraft rather than an actual witch, she was still sentenced and hanged on July 19th, 1692. Moments before her hanging, when Nicholas Noyes, the official minister of the trails, tried to get her to confess to being a witch, she said, "I am no more a witch than you are a wizard; and if you take away my life, God will give you blood to drink!"

According to legend, Nicholas Noyes died of a hemorrhage that caused him to choke on his own blood.

After what she and her babies went through, I say, DESERVED.

RIP Sarah.


Infant Good:

Sarah Good was also pregnant when she was thrown into prison. She gave birth behind bars, but the baby died before Sarah's hanging.

RIP Baby Good.


Rebecca Nurse:

Rebecca Nurse was a sickly 71-year-old grandmother, who everyone loved and respected. Everyone but two asshats who accused her of witchcraft because of old grudges against the Nurse family. Like her father fighting with the Putnams over their farm boundaries, and Francis Nurse voting against paying Reverend Parris's salary so he'd leave Salem.

The "Pretty Little Liars of Salem" got everyone in court to believe she was a witch with their outbursts. And they did that because they saw everyone sympathizing for Rebecca Nurse. They were losing, so they made up stories.

Rebecca Nurse was sentenced on June 29th and executed on July 19th. Just before she died, she asked God to forgive her accusers. Her body was dishonorably disposed of in a shallow grave. That night, her family retrieved her body to give her a proper burial at home.

In 1711, the government compensated the Nurse family for her wrongful execution.

RIP Rebecca.


Giles Corey: 

All the executions in the Salem Witch Trials were horrible, but Giles Corey probably had the most horrific one. Naked and forced to lie on the ground, boards and stones were stacked on top of him. For two days he endured this while maintaining his innocence. Hours and hours. Board after board. Stone after stone. Hundreds of pounds. He didn't give in. On the second day, when asked if he'd confess, he managed to shout, "More weight!" before dying. He lies in an unmarked grave.

RIP Giles Corey.


Bridget Bishop:

Bridget Bishop was the first innocent to die in the Salem Witch Trials. One book said she owned an apple orchid. Another said she was a tavern keeper and wore a red bodice. Either way, she had a "bad reputation." She was said to drink apple cider all night. Oh, my. How evil! And she played shuffleboard, which was apparently a forbidden game. She also was in her third marriage. Of course, any woman in a marriage not her first is a sinner, right? She was also known for quarreling with her husband in public, which was against the law, a misogynistic law that favored men. She was an easy target to kick off the Salem Witch Trials hysteria.

RIP Bridget.


Salem Dogs:

As if it wasn't enough to accuse innocent people, from a child to a grandmother, two dogs were accused of belonging to the Devil. They were hung by the neck. A third dog in the town of Andover was also executed after claims of being bewitched.

RIP puppies.


The Final 8 Victims:

Thursday, September 22nd, 1692, the final victims to lose their lives in the Salem Witch Trials were:

Mary Easty

Martha Cory

Margaret Scott

Alice Parker

Ann Pudeator

Wilmott Redd

Mary Parker

Samuel Wardell

These eight innocents were piled into a single cart. On the way to Gallows Hill, the cart got stuck in a rut and nearly overturned. Spectators believed the Devil was trying to prevent the cart from completing its journey. Interesting that they didn't think God was trying to save them. That's how much they believed their own lies and the hysteria that gripped them all.


185 people had been accused (141 women, 44 men), although this may not be an exact number. Check out this article from HistoryofMassachusetts.org for a list of accused people.

19 people were hanged (14 women, 5 men).

Bridge Bishop

Sarah Good

Elizabeth Howe

Susannah Martin

Rebecca Nurse

Sarah Wildes

Reverend George Burroughs

Martha Carrier

John Willard

George Jacobs Sr.

John Proctor

as well as the 8 final victims I listed above

5 people died in prison.

Sarah Osbourne

Roger Toothaker

Baby Good

Ann Foster

Lydia Dustin

1 person was pressed to death.

Giles Corey


In 1711, every single person accused of witchcraft was exonerated. Rightly so, but much too late.




To all the innocent victims of the Salem Witch Trials and European Witch-Hunts...

REST IN PEACE


To the accused who were not executed but traumatized...

I'M SORRY


And to all the descendants of the Salem Witch Trials and European Witch-Hunts who now have generational trauma...

MAY YOU HEAL


Final Notes:

On October 29th, Massachusetts's Royal Governor William Phips forced further arrests to halt and disbanded the court of Oyer & Terminer, which, it has to be side...NONE of the judges in that court were schooled in law. 

Not a single one of the accusers were prosecuted, not even the ones who admitted to lying, causing innocent people to lose their lives.


Finally, here's some fiction and non-fiction book recommendations:



QUESTION: Will you help me to honor the innocent victims of the Salem Witch Trials, as well as the European Witch-Hunts? Drop a "RIP" in the comments. <3



6 comments:

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great post, Chrys. You're right that many of these women were midwives and healers. The stories you shared were so sad. My heart broke reading what happened to Dorothy.

Liz A. said...

Very sad story. Have you seen the meme going around? It goes something like, rather than being afraid of witches, we should worry about those that accused people of witchcraft.

Chrys Fey said...

@Natalie, Dorothy’s story is heartbreaking.

Chrys Fey said...

@Liz, I did see that meme a year or two ago, and I even shared it to my IG stories once. It says, “Why were we taught to fear the witches and not the ones who burned them alive?” And I couldn’t agree more.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chrys - RIP all executed incorrectly. excellent post ... if only we could be humble and diplomatic, as well as forgiving - our world would be better. But excellent write - up ... all the best, always good to read a post from you - Hilary

M.J. Fifield said...

I, too, was going to bring up the "Who knows why we were taught to fear the witches, and not those who burned them alive." quote. Not sure of the original source, though.

I've been to Salem a few times, but I don't know very much about the European witch-hunt.