Witchcraft in Europe, 1450 – 1750 Term Paper
Witchcraft is the alleged use of magical powers through the gift of supernatural beings other than God. A practitioner of witchcraft is a witch. Witchcraft was defined as superstition by magistrates in Europe. These magistrates did not believe in witchcraft and hence they reacted in horror at the superstition of the common villagers. From this point of view, witchcraft accusations were connected to the church men and magistrates. They enforced severe reforms of churches and even devotional life.
Witchcraft was also viewed as genderized mass murder. This means that gender was the central issue to the European witch-hunts of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Women or females were mostly suspected and accused of involvement in witchcraft. This is because 80% of all accused witch were women.
Traditional theology assumed that women were a weaker species compared to men. This justified the fact that they were more likely to seek assistance and succumb to the devil. There is also another reason that makes it plain that the growth of witch hunt had something to do with female. The reason is that the panic and the rumors that were going around in Europe were in separable from women stigmatization.
Witch-hunts started in central Europe. This is because this was the places where trial, torture and execution were practiced which are believed to be the causes of witchcraft. Three- quarters of those tortured, tried and executed were women.
The Back Ground of Witchcraft in Europe.
Witchcraft in Europe was formulated in the middle age. This culminated from a rapid decline in social, economic and religious transformation. Panics like natural disaster and epidemics also led to the increase of witchcraft. The people were tried to hide their panic in witchcraft.
The belief in the existence of witchcraft goes back to the time of Old Testament of the Bible. The Bible forbids witchcraft. This makes the history of witchcraft to be associated with Christianity. The church condemned all rites involving the invocation of the spirit.
The traditional attitude towards witchcraft in the 19th century underwent a tremendous transformation. This was the time central Europe was faced by several rumors and panics. There was malign conspiracy which was meant to bring down the effort of Christians and churches. They were to use magic and poison to destroy the Christian kingdoms. The intensity of witchcraft was escalated Black Death which was also known as the bubonic plague.
Witch Trials in Europe.
Witch trial is also witch hunt which is the search of witches in Europe. It also involved the search of evidence of witchcraft. The period of witch hunt falls in the year 1480 to 1750. By no means all the people who were tried by witchcraft were convicted. Some were even acquitted. Not everyone convicted by witchcraft was executed. This is because some of the witches used their witchcraft for good purposes like making crops grow better. Others used it to make humans or animals more fertile. The super natural power was also being used by others to heal the sick. The witches also used their powers to witch hunt.
There were some other lesser punishments given to the tried witches. The lesser punishments involved banishment or imprisonment. In 1735, the Witchcraft Act was introduced by the government. The main aim of the act was to report people who were claiming to follow the religion of witchcraft.
The frequency of witch trials varied over time. The number of witches in a place also determined the frequency of trials. Witch trials were most common in Germany, France and Switzerland. The first major witch hunts occurred in Switzerland in 1427 and 1428. There was a mass burning of around 100 witches. Witch trials were likely to occur in areas with political instability and religious conflict. This is because the areas are likely to have many witches who think they can offer solutions to the problems in the area.
Persecution of witches and their trial held to punish them had almost been abolished in 1680. The last legal execution occurred in 1782 in Glarus Switzerland. This is not far from where the execution of witches had started in 1427. The prosecuting officers were secular officials. They were imbued with the best of thinking prominent personnel. The personnel included theologians, philosophers and even scientists.
According to Russell (12), several theories have been put forward to explain the origin of witch trials. The geographical origin theory is one of the theories which explain that witch hunt originated from specific location like mountainous regions. According to geographical theory economic differences between regions can lead to witch hunts. This can only happen if the regions are caught in a new competition because of a commercial revolution.
The other theory is greed theory. This theory is against the elites. It says that the elites initiated the witch hunt so that they can confiscate other people properties. The elites defend themselves by saying that many persecuted people did not have much property. They also say that property was not confiscated even from wealth targets during the hunt.
The final theory is the confessional conflict theory. This theory involves the conflict between the Protestants and the Roman Catholics. The conflict led each group to attack the other using witchcraft. Hence each group used the accusation of witchcraft so as to persecute the other group leading to witch hunt.
In the period between 1542 and 1753 witchcraft was taken as a crime in law in the history of English. These years also marked a significant increase in the number of witch hunt and prosecution.
How Education Elites Ideas Were Imposed On Witchcraft In Europe.
The Elite classes had the highestlevel of witchcraft.This people constructed the idea of a black mass. This was argued that there was no foundation in the claim that witches worshipped Satan. This notion was formulated in the minds of the persecutors and the accused. However, there was a genuine fear as the witches are known to meet for rituals.
Only fewer educated Europeans believed in witchcraft. This means that they did not believe spell casting or witches flying through the sky. They did not believe even in the accusation of great hunt. They argued that witch trial was as a result of religious bigotry which was either catholic or protestant. This bigotry supported by superstitious monarchs according to educated Europeans is what the other ordinally people call witchcraft.
During the time of great hunt in the fifteenth and the sixteenth centuries. Some lawyers and physicians were doing their own research. They were testing the flying ointments seized from accused witches. They were attempting to learn the composition and the effects of the flying ointments.
This led to an argument between them and witch hunters. The witch hunters believed that the witches were people who worshipped the devil. On the other hand the physicians tried to convince the witch hunters that the witches were wrenched people deluded by drugs. They said that the witches firmly believe that they should do in awaking state everything that they dream while sleeping.
Theologians also did not agree with the witch hunters that witches were devil worshipers. The theologians made reference with witches smearing their body with oil and sentiments. A witch had been aroused from a deep sleep. Immediately he woke up he ran for the bottle of oil and started smearing it on his body as he had dreamt.
During the early middle age the church writers insisted that witchcraft was a delusion. Priests were asked to discouraged members of their church from believing that anyone could cast a spell. They were asked not to believe in the powers of witches. Those powers include the ability to blight by an evil eye, power over animas, and power of witches to transform themselves into animal shapes.
Witches were also believed to possess the power that can make them invisible. They also have the power of harming other through hurting a waxen image representing them.
However, by the end of fourteenth century the cannon lawyers, prominent inquisitors, learned academics and several popes came together. They agreed that by means with a contract with the devil whether implicit or explicit, a magician might work genuine in the world. The theorists also worked out a composite view of all the different sorts of crimes and activities that the witch are involved in.
By the end of the fifteen century many ecclesiastical had come up with a conclusion about witchcraft. They concluded that witchcraft was a fairly new heresy with its origin in the 1380s. The accounts of the persecutors in the witch trials in early modern Europe have been used to overthrow the idea that witchcraft was a satanic plot to overthrow Christianity. One of the accounts of these persecutors is the witch-cult.
Witch-cult is the hypothetical pre-Christian pagan religion of Europe. This is the group that survived the early modern period. Ginzburg discovered benandanti, a group of people with peasant stock. They were poor and very illiterate. They could not speak pure English and at times had trouble communicating with their judges.
The benandanti are believed to have also survived in the early modern period. They used to ride cocks or goats into the woods away from the village, an even which was happening mostly at nights.
According to their testimony the benandanti could threaten the witches to alter their spells.
Witchcraft in Europe waxed and wined for almost three centuries. Though there were great variations in time and space. The rate of witch hunting also varied with place throughout Europe. The most affected place was Germany with 26,000 deaths and the least affected was Ireland with only 4 deaths. This shows that witchcraft was most common in central Europe, which involves Germany and France.
It has remained difficult to judge the extent of actual witchcraft practice. But it is possible to understand part of the process that helped develop the notion that supernatural powers were indeed a reality. This explains why people in early modern England believed in witchcraft.
Russell, Jeffrey B. Witchcraft in the middle Ages. Ithaca, N.Y: Pantheon Books, 1948.
Witchcraft in Early America Research Paper
Witchcraft in America was rampant during colonial era, the seventeenth century. During the occurrence of calamities such as epidemics, dry spells, or floods, the British colonialists laid their blame on the witchcraft. Moreover, the colonial government blamed their poor governance on witches whom they believed intelligently or wittily challenged them.
Consequently, the colonialists arrested the alleged witches and then put them on trials to substantiate their crimes before imprisoning, persecuting, or torching them to death. More than eighty percent of the witches were women while some even young girls who faced the law.
In America, the fear and persecution of witches started to subside in nineteenth century and became extinct in the twentieth century. Although the colonial government blamed the occurrence of calamities on the witches, thus persecuting them, the main reason for the conflict was the contradiction in religious doctrines.
Historically, the origin of witchcraft in early America finds it way to first settlers (Hicks 1988, 5). Nevertheless, witchcraft practices are in line with paganism. According to historians, witchcraft is a cult, Satanism, or religion. The witches, especially the evil ones, had gothic and satanic symbol that usually put people in fear.
They lived in caves with satanic paintings or in dark rooms. There were different categories of witches; the social witch, supernatural witch, sorcerer, and the night witch. The social witch had powers to curse or cast a spell on a neighbor or friend they had fallen out with while the sorcerer through an ‘evil eye’ had the ability to alter the health or mind of the body, which may lead to insanity.
The night witch had the tendency to disturb people’s sleep by constantly appearing to them through dreams or visions especially at night. The supernatural witches had powers to connect the society or human beings to their gods. They had the ability to communicate with gods and predict calamites, rainfall, and abundant harvest among others in the society. Therefore, due to their magical powers the witches had the ability to manipulate the community to enrich themselves or earn respect.
In America History, generally there were two common divisions of witches applied either good/positive who majored in midwifery, healing, weather and calamities predictions. Then there were the bad/negative witches who majorly cursed or cast spells on enemies and innocent people due to jealousness.
Sometimes evil people in the community who wanted to get back at their enemies used witches to punish them. The good witch had the powers to counteract a spell cast by another witch. On the other hand, the evil witches had the powers to manipulate a person’s health, psychology, good luck, and financial wellbeing. For instance, they had powers to instill madness, sickness, poverty, or calamities in a person or a family.
The practices of most witches were always without anybody’s consent or will and the ability to instill suffering or even kill people led to the public resentment of the witches.
Although some people were against the witchcraft, others approached them to solve their social problems and even seek magical powers to acquire wealth. Some people used the witches to kill their enemies or to deprive them their wealth. For identification witches had to be coerced to reveal themselves while others publicly confessed after facing accusations from their neighbors.
The major method for performing witchcraft was through use of body parts like eyes, hands, mouth, or the whole body. The witches had to utter words or sing strange songs that were neither familiar to the common people nor to another witch. They had a collection of paraphernalia like swords, knives, herbs and mirrors, which they used to evoke their magic powers.
Witches kept Herbs and other concoctions in small pots while charms acted as a prescription for those who sought their intervention and protection. Others had the powers to communicate with spirits of the dead people especially when a calamity faced the community. The ability to communicate with the dead was the source of fear to most people in the community. The paraphernalia in their house were the major identification of any witch and used as evidence when prosecuting them.
Although witches were enemies to many in the early America, the ancient rulers or people sort their assistance to identify and punish anybody who broke the law. The most common was the identification of thieves from the community who had to pay a fine or face imprisonment. Incase a calamity like drought and disease befall the community, the supernatural witches intervened through seeking divine help.
Furthermore, witches cured diseases and psychological problems like madness from the society. Positive witches were beneficial to the society because they gave solutions to complicated problems like theft and calamities. On the other hand, some witches not only instilled fear in the society but also led to suffering of the community. Through magical powers, the malicious witches killed people or animals in the community (Saada 1981, 15).
Consequently, the community stoned some of them to death, excommunicated others, and imprisoned others. Unfortunately, it was not easy to identify witches especially those who did not do their magical powers in open place. Furthermore, some especially the evil ones even had to hide their identity to protect themselves from the wrath of the community. Therefore, the malicious witches were unacceptable in the community while the non-evil magicians received respect and honor from the society.
When Britain colonized Americans, they thought witchcraft was a constant bother to their governance. Thusly, in seventeenth century, the colonial government decided to fight against the principalities and practices of the witchcraft. Due to the widespread witchcraft in North America especially in Salem and Massachusetts, the British colonialists embarked on carrying out trials to stop the vice. They blamed the calamites that befall their colonial territory to the witches.
About one hundred and fifty suspected witches faced the trials in the courts. Consequently, approximately fourteen women and five men died through execution while about fifteen people faced imprisonment, the rest were set free due to lack of sufficient evidence against them.
Through establishment of a number of courts in the colonial Massachusetts and Salem, the government publicly condemned witchcraft, which eventually reduced in eighteenth century. On the other hand, in Latin America, women used witchcraft as a way to overcome their male counterparts especially the whites.
Through social and cultural gatherings, the Spanish women collaborated with African women to practice witchcraft (Behar 1987, 34). Moreover, witches in Mexico were from a specific cast, class, or ethnic group. Thus, witchcraft not only led to persecution of many children, women, and few men but also led to the division of the society along social classes and ethnic groups.
The fight against witchcraft in early America was a combination of efforts from the colonial government and the indigenous people. The colonial government fought the witches in America because of the contradiction in religion and not as governance as it claimed. Through hatred and suffering instilled by the witches, neighbors had to identify witches and force them to confess publicly their magical evil practices.
Incase he/she defied the orders, the public could stone him/her death. The most condemned witches were the night and bad witches who were a source of nuisance in the community. Therefore, by twentieth century, witchcraft was almost extinct in America. The few existing witches practiced their witchcraft in hideouts. Finally, there are still witches in modern America who inherited their practices from ancient witches.
In summary, witchcraft is an ancient practice that existed in America. The origin of witches is not in any records though historians compare the practice with paganism. Witches have very many categories but the commonly known are two, bad and good witches. From their names, bad witches practice evil magic, which is contrary to the good witches. Through incarnations, utterances, song and communication with the spirits, the witches could solve a problem in the community or cast a spell on the community.
Although the community sought help from the witches, the ability of some of them to kill led to their persecution. During the colonial period, the British fought witchcraft killing most of them. Most people especially Christians disliked the witches due to the contradiction of their practices with Christianity. Finally, before colonization in early America, witches existed freely in the society but all that changed immediately after colonization.
Behar, Ruth. 1987. Sex and Sin, Witchcraft and the Devil in Late-Colonial Mexico. American Ethnologist 14, no.1 (November/December): 34-35.
Hicks, Brad J. 1988. Witchcraft in America. News Magazine (March): 4-7.
Saada, Jeanne F. 1981. Deadly Words: Witchcraft in the Bocage. London: Cambridge University Press.
Witchcraft accusations, trials, and hysteria in border regions and rural areas in Western Europe Essay
The sixteenth century was marked by a great number of witch trials in rural areas and border regions of Western Europe. This situation could be observed in England, Scotland, Germany, France, and other countries.
To a great extent, this phenomenon can be attributed to the following factors: 1) official recognition of witchcraft and the activities of religious zealots who inspired the persecution of many people; 2) the stereotypes and superstitions about women and their relations with supernatural powers; 3) poverty, wars, and religious turmoil. These are the main issues that should be taken into account.
At first, one should mention that the religious authorities recognized the existence of witches. For instance, it is possible to refer to the bull of Innocent VIII in which he grants local authorities the right to “do all things necessary” in order to struggle with witches (Innocent VIII unpaged).
Furthermore, much attention should be paid to the notorious treatise Malleus Maleficarum which is also known as The Hammer of Witches. Heinrich Kramer and James Sprenger, who were the authors of this text, popularized the idea that many people could be the servant of “devils” (Kramer and Sprenger 41). To some degree, this book contributed to the growing hysteria about witches, especially in Germany.
Finally, it is critical to mention that the stereotypes according to which women were more likely to be to be seduced by the devil (Verlet). They contributed to the victimization of many women, especially spinsters and widows since they were most powerless (Verlet). These are some of the forces that increased the fear of witches.
Moreover, it is critical to remember that witchcraft accusations were more widespread in the areas that could be profoundly affected by wars and poverty (Lualdi 320). To some extent, they intensified people’s hostility to one another. Among such regions, one can distinguish rural areas of Scotland and Germany.
Under such circumstances, people were more likely to use witchcraft accusations as a means of acquiring wealth. In turn, the most unprotected victims could be widows and spinsters. Thus, one should focus on the socio-economic aspects of this phenomenon.
Additionally, witch trials were more widespread in the countries where the influence of the Catholic Church was weakest. Again, one can speak about Germany or Switzerland. These states were mostly profoundly affected by the Protestant Reformation. Moreover, the role of Catholicism in Scotland or England was reduced because the government did not want the church to interfere into its policies (Hunt et al. 464).
The main problem is that the declining power of the Roman Catholicism gave rise to people who could be viewed as religious fanatics. Moreover, even religious leaders of the Protestant Reformation such as Calvin and Luther approved of witch trials (Ankerloo 11; Brady 626). In turn, the activities of religious zealots were least controlled in rural areas of these countries. This is another aspect that can be distinguished.
Thus, one can say that the witchcraft hysteria can be attributed to a combination of different factors. Much attention should be paid to the role of zealots who raised panic about witchcraft and insisted on persecution of many innocent people. Additionally, poverty and war contributed the increased number of witchcraft accusations especially in rural or borderline regions. These are the main factors that made witch hunt possible in Western Europe.
Ankerloo, Bengt. Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: The Period of the Witch Trials, New York: Continuum, 2002. Print.
Brady, Thomas. Handbook of European History 1400 – 1600: Late Middle Ages, Renaissance and Reformation, London: BRILL, 1994. Print.
Hunt, Lynn, Thomas Martin, Barbara Rosenwein, and Bonnie Smith. Making of the West, Volume II: Since 1500: Peoples and Cultures, London: Bedford, 2012. Print.
Innocent VIII. Bull Summis Desiderantes. 5 Dec. 1484. Web. <https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/source/witches1.asp>
Kramer, Heinrich and James Sprenger. The Malleus Maleficarum, New York, Book Tree, 2000. Print.
Lualdi, Katharine. Sources of The Making of the West, Volume II: Since 1500: Peoples and Cultures, London: Bedford, 2012. Print.
Verlet, Melissa. The Witch Hysteria. 28 Sep. 2013. Web.
The Salem Witchcraft Trials Research Paper
Arthur Miller wrote ‘The Crucible’ in order to critic a period in history. Society substituted fact and reason with fear and irrationality to solve its problems. Nineteen people lost their lives owing to the Salem witch trials. However, this appalling occurrence was in the history of the people of Salem; it was not an isolated incident.
Historical events in Salem prior to and at the time of the Salem witch trials
During the 16th and seventeenth century, people in the New England colony were highly religious. Puritanism was the main religion among this close-knit community. Furthermore, most of the adherents believed that forces of evil and purity prevailed in like measure, in the world. They claimed that natural catastrophes, diseases and ill fortune were manifestations of supernatural forces. Therefore, this thinking caused Salem residents to believe in witches and wizards as agents of the devil.
New England had recorded witchcraft cases before. In fact, a reputable member of this community had written a book known as ‘Memorable Providence’ in 1689 (Hoffer 78). The author of the books was Cotton Mather, and he wrote about certain episodes of witchcraft that took place in the previous year. In the piece, he describes a washerwoman – Goody Glover – who was a typical witch. His accounts became a household name in Puritan New England. Even Samuel Parris; the Salem clergyman had the book in his household library.
These thoughts enforced the belief in the existence of witchcraft in New England. They also demystified the rituals that witches and wizards used in the practice. Additionally, some cases existed even in Europe. However, these beliefs had started to fade in that continent during the mid seventeenth century. Therefore, these strong belief systems inspired the Salem witch craft trails.
A few years prior to the events of the Salem witch trials, the community suffered from an attack of smallpox. Many people did not know how to interpret these misfortunes and readily accepted supernatural intervention as one of the explanations. Such tendencies set the pace for later acceptance of the same justification in the witchcraft trials.
The political landscape at the time was highly volatile. The people of New England were in the middle of a war with the Indians. The British settlers had lived in that part of the world for approximately seventy years. Furthermore, they were not doing especially well in the war. If this poor performance continued, it was likely that New Englanders would accuse their administrators of incompetence. Senior reporters needed a scapegoat that would divert attention away from their inadequacies in the war. The people who others accused of witchcraft served as an avenue for diffusing the tensions that arose out of the poor performance in the wars. This was the reason why judges were quite eager to sentence them even when little or no evidence existed.
In relation to the frontier wars at the time, Salem Village also contended with congregational strife. A certain degree of factionalism existed in Salem village as some people supported Parris and these were the Pro-Parris camp while others belonged to the anti-Parris camp. In 1688, a man known as Samuel Parris arrived in Salem Village upon invitation by John Putnam. The latter was a highly influential elder in the community.
One year later, the leaders requested Parris to move to their community and take on the responsibilities of a minister in the Village. He accepted this invitation and moved with his family. Little did he know that he would fuel a split between various camps in the community. At the time, the Village witnessed a rise in mercantile classes. Two clans wanted to control the town, and they were the Porters and the Putnams. Since Putnam invited Parris to the Village, then the Putnam clan fell in the Parris camp while the Porters fell in the anti-Parris faction.
The two groups also debated about the center of trade in their community. Some wanted the area’s economy to focus more on agriculture areas such as Salem Village; others wanted it to dwell on sea trade, away from the Village. These divisions continued up to and including the Salem witch trials. At the time, the girls were no longer relevant in the unfolding scene; they became pawns that adults used to achieve their own ends (Cooley 44). The parties read their own expectations and concerns from the trials.
They accused members of the opposite camps of witchcraft in order to resolve their personal differences. At first, non supporters of the Parris camp bore the brunt of this injustice by becoming the first defendants in the witch trials. However, it later became apparent that anti-Parris members could also use this platform to settle their political scores, and that is exactly what happened to their opponents in the witch trails.
The judicial system in New England was in its infancy. In fact, many participants did not know how to separate their religious beliefs from the actual judicial process. The court system was such that defendants had minimal rights. The system did not guarantee defendants legal counsel. Furthermore, they had no right to bring in their own witnesses. New England had no mechanisms for appeal at the time, so it was difficult to look for legal redress in case one went through an unfair trial. The only rights that defendants had was to defend their actions as well as produce their own evidence or ask accusers questions.
It was these systems that carried on into the Salem witchcraft trials. The judges felt that it was permissible to use spectral evidence in the examinations even when this was an unreliable source of proof. Spectral evidence is a testimony given by witchcraft accusers who claim to have seen a suspect’s specter. It was only after the witchcraft hysteria ceased that the judges openly admitted to having faulted in the dispensation of their duties. This was the reason why they abandoned the method at the end of the trials. When the judges only relied upon non spectral or concrete evidence, they freed all the accused persons.
The manipulations of the witnesses and the accused persons further testify to the weaknesses of the court system at the time. The authorities promised suspects life if they confessed to the crime of witchcraft. Many of them succumbed to this pressure because they wanted to save themselves. In fact, it was only Giles Corey who refused to either say no or yes to the accusations that the town made against him.
He asserted that he did not want to ruin his name and his children’s future by confessing to the crime. The judges that presided over the Salem trials were extremely sadistic as they caused people to confess to crimes that they had not committed or sentenced them to hang if they denied the accusations (DeRosa 15).
It should be noted that, during the trial process, a number of events led to the tragedy that befell the suspects. First, many people confessed to the accusations in order to save their lives; the punishment that they received was imprisonment. Prisons in Salem filled to capacity and the town’s administrators had no way of dealing with the excess capacity.
The situation warranted fast action; Governor Phips, who had just come back from Britain, made a series of changes that further weakened the judicial system. He appointed a new court called Oyer and Terminer to deal with the witchcraft cases. All five judges chosen for the court process were close acquaintances of Cotton Mather (he had written a lot about witchcraft practices). Already, this was a group that had a bias against the suspects. One of the members of this five-judge bench was William Stoughton. He was a friend to Mather, who urged him to use spectral evidence in the cases.
The judges did not have any legal training in witchcraft issues when they carried out their judgments. Furthermore, many of them asked for their Church Ministers’ guidance throughout this process. The ministers involved in the trial continued to use outrageous methods in the process such as the examination of witch marks and the touching test (Miller 16).
The latter involved an analysis of whether the accused could stop contortions in the patients. The judicial process was so wretched that it used hearsay, unsupported testimonies and gossip to pass judgment against the accused. The ineptness of the judicial process before and during the trails led to the hanging of nineteen people.
A number of factors contributed towards the grave injustices of the Salem trials. First, people of the Village were deeply religious and believed in the intervention of Satan and God in their daily lives. Additionally, the social and economic conditions that existed at the time caused them to apportion blame to ‘agents of the devil’, who were the accused witches. Furthermore, many of them used the trials as a platform for settling political scores. Additionally, New England’s judicial system was absolutely inept.
Cooley, Nicole. The Afflicted Girls. Louisiana: Louisiana State University Press, 2004. Print.
DeRosa, Robin. History and the Whore: Arthur Miller’s Crucible. NY: Longman, 2009. Print.
Hoffer, Peter. The Devil’s disciples: masters of the Salem witchcraft trials. Baltimore: John Hopkins, 1996. Print.
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. Internet Broadway Database, 1957.
Santeria: Religion or Witchcraft? Term Paper
This paper focuses on Santeria as a religion and tries to compare it with witchcraft. The research tries to find out if they are the same thing or are completely different. The method of information collection used mainly is literature review. It is important to know the differences and similarities if any so that people are in a better position to make informed decisions. Santeria has existed for hundreds of years and it is largely believed to have developed in Cuba based on native African traditions. It has also evolved over time due to environmental factors and times. One of the major changes forced by the environment was the adoption of Catholic saints to hide when it was considered evil.
Santeria is an African-based religion that is rooted on native African traditions. It is believed to have originated in Cuba and primarily combines traditional Yoruban deities and the worship of Catholic saints. It honours a number of gods referred to as orishas (Ruben, 2015). Each of the gods has their myths and command certain aspects (Ruben, 2015). There is also a supreme being called Oludumare who is above all other orishas. In the past, Santeria has been largely compared to witchcraft because they have some similarities but is Santeria witchcraft or is it entirely different? This can only be known by doing extensive research and literature review on the topic. This paper addresses the above question.
Santeria can be considered as a blend of different aspects of various faiths (Wiggington, 2015). This is despite the fact that most of these religions are contradictory. It is complex as it combines worship of divine beings and several Yoruba orishas (Wiggington, 2015). Santeria also uses spells like witchcraft (Spells, 2015). The spells are not easy to come by as spell work is a rare thing in Santeria. It is important to study Santeria in depth to understand how the religion works.
It is important to study what the religion of Santeria involves so as to be able to know the differences and similarities between these religions. In the past, some sections of people have largely compared Santeria to witchcraft and even voodoo (Lanning, 2015). This study aims to clarify this by clearly defining if it is the same as witchcraft, just similar to witchcraft in some aspects, or they are completely different (Witchcraft, 2015). It is also therefore important to study it so that people who practise it can be given their freedom to do so without being discriminated as most people judge negatively what they might not understand fully.
Santeria and witchcraft are both religions, but they are not the same (E., 2015). Although both of them may have roots in African religious traditions, Santeria evolved in Cuba. Santeria is more organised and governed as compared to witchcraft (Between.net, 2015). It is mixed, with Catholic religion and the presence of priests gives it a sense of order as they preside over functions as compared to witchcraft mostly seen as a way of harming people (Mastin, 2015).
Spells are also done in Santeria although rarely as most of their spells are hard to find let alone perform on the other hand witchcraft is seen as largely linked with many spells (Spengler, 2015). Santeria also adopted the names of many Catholic saints so as to cover for their practises that were forbidden likewise witchcraft is also viewed by many as evil, and most of their practises are seen as illegal and harmful.
Most of the research done in the past on Santeria may contain large inconsistencies due to the bias of researchers (Robinson, 2015). Santeria is completely different from witchcraft even though they may have some similarities. Similarities include use of magic and belief in several gods who command different aspects. They also both originated from native African culture. On the other hand, they have different aspects as Santeria adopted the use of Catholic saints, and there is a supreme being. In witchcraft, such aspects do not exist. Further, comprehensive research should be conducted on the topic without bias so as to get the correct information to enable people understand Santeria in depth before forming an opinion about it.
Between.net, D. (2015). Difference Between Santeria and Voodoo. Web.
E., R. D. (2015). What is the difference between Voodoo, Hoodoo and Santeria. Web.
Lanning, K. (2015). Santeria, witchcraft, voodoo, and most religious cults are not satanism. Web.
Mastin, L. (2015). What Is Witchcraft? Web.
Robinson, B. (2015). Santeria, A syncretistic Caribbean religion. Web.
Ruben. (2015). SANTERIA. Web.
Spells, S. (2015). Santeria Spells. Web.
Spengler, P. (2015). REAL SANTERIA SPELLS. Web.
Wiggington, P. (2015). What is Santeria? Web.
Witchcraft. (2015). Witchcraft. Web.
The Salem Trials And The False Witchcraft Accusations
In the year 1692 an incident that resulted to twenty people being executed and even an additional two hundred people being accused of witchcraft .These injustices had prevailed in the society and people would be randomly accused and randomly killed because people believed that witchcraft was a punishable crime like other. In the most bizarre events in the American history the Salem trials had entirely become rampant and even shaped the court decisions (Levin,1955) However in the year 1933common sense prevailed and most people argued that witchcraft would not be a punishable offense since supernatural forces could not be used as evidence in a court of law. Before the trials were brought to an end many prejudicial killings and occurrences of people being hanged after being accused of being witchdoctors had prevailed in the Salem community. The paper will basically address the various injustice son Salem trials and also give logical conclusions about these trials
The initial events of these Salem trials began when a number of young girls in a particular community got a strange illness in February 1962 .Some of the possible and famous symptoms include fever aches and even pain. At that particulate point the medical examination could have directly proved that it was a bad flue. However these symptoms further progressed and become more volatile that the caused the girls to scream and even contorted their bodies in strange position by crawling under furniture. They were also heard uttering strange sounds and claiming that they were pricked by pins. In an attempt to examine and find the cause of these strange behaviors a local doctor closely examined the girls and claimed that they had been inflicted by a supernatural witchcraft force (Blumberg, 2007). In the seventh century the Salem had been known of blaming witchcraft of the evils of the world and even prosecuted those who were thought of conducting these evils. As the mysteries continued the girls blamed three women for afflicting them with these estrange illness and hence the Salem trials began.
Some of the first three women who were to face these charges were Sarah, Tibuta, Good and Osborne. These women were seen as outcasts in the community and these made them an easy target for people in the Salem community to spread rumors that they were the ones who had bewitched the girls and even made them to suffer these strange illnesses and even make strange sounds at night. Both Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne strongly denied and even said that they had no association with witchcraft or even the devil. However Tibuta on the centrally decalred that indeed the devil had visited him and all she needed was to serve him.(Warshow,1953). She did these in order to spark a debate and also believed that it could stop her from being further beaten and would go and jail to avoid her being killed. When she admitted of being a witch all the three were damned to jail
Chaos broke out and in the other consecutive months many people were being arrested for witchcraft accusation of bewitching young girls in the Salem. However no one was bullet proof to these accusations when a famous loyal churchgoer was charged with witchcraft and people began to panic. This is because pinpointing of even innocent people that had not history of witchcraft began to occur. When people needed to eliminate someone from a leadership position they went ahead to ensure that they were falsely accused of witchcraft and even went into jail. The basic assumption was that if Martha Corey a famous churchgoer had been charged and accused of witchcraft then basically anyone else in the Salem community would probably face same charges because she was seen and perceived to be the most religious. As more and more charges were brought before courts and responsible authorities people from Salem and even surrounding areas were brought in for questioning. Many of the accused however were simply unable to defend themselves because these charges were simply biased in nature and it was also very difficult to prove whether an individual was with or not. It was pathetic that the authorities went ahead to allow fake evidence such as foul gossips and other merely unsupported evidence and assertions. For example dreams and visions by people believed to decode witchcraft would be used against people and victims and these sets of evidence in a modern day would not build any form of solid evidence against the people. For example even after Rebecca nurse had even provided enough evidence that were beyond any reasonable doubts to prove that she was not guilty the presiding judge in these trial decided to reconvene the jury in order to reconsider the laid down facts. To the surprise of many after the trial the nurse was found to be guilty and even convicted to be hanged. It was now clear that those who were weak and timid in their justification about their association with witchcraft would definitely be hanged .killed or convicted. In the year 1692 frenzy executions were conducted and an elderly old man was crushed to death with heavy stones.
There seemed to be no end to these prejudicial killings and trials until the then educator and president of Harvard College begged the court to reconsider their decision since there was no room for testimony and evidence that included dreams or even visions. He also went on record in his publication it would be better to release ten suspected witches than killing one innocent person. In response to these Mather’s appeal The then Governor of Massachusetts William Phipps finally put an end to these unfair and unjust trials by suspending all th trials and even releasing all the people charged with witchcraft on may 1963.These action was widely welcomed by people and also put an end to this prejudicial kills that had occurred. Both religion and the church also played a major role in facilitating these trials because most of those accused were thought of being sinners and those who did not go to church. The trials also became personal and those who were in conflict with the church norms and tradition would easily be victimized and even mad to undergo trials. Solid and tangible evidence have to be well incorporated before a judge can fully declare someone guilty. From a critical point of view witchcraft is not verifiable an d no evidence can be used to prove whether someone is a witch or not. For example in the case scenario for the three girls, medical examination would have proved that they were suffering from a bad flue as opposed to witchcraft which many had claimed. During the 17th century religion also played major role in also determined who was right and wrong which was totally against their free will and ability to make decisions and live their lives how each one wished.
In conclusion the trials in Salem were clearly unjust. Witchcraft was non verifiable and no one could claim that supernatural forces could be used as evidence in a court of law. Accusing people of witchcraft was simply a clear way of getting rid of people regarded as outcasts and sinners in the church. Just by the mere fact that those accused were not allowed to have a legal counsel was clear violation of their human rights and the court had even failed to protect its people by allowing fake evidence in its rulings (Fels, 2017) Since the Salem trials were banned in 1702 the justice legal systems dramatically improved and hence before any accusation or case laws were allowed to precede solid evidence had to be provided before a court of law and carefully evaluated. In case the evidence was not sufficient the clients had to advise. Social rimes such as witchcraft which mostly rely on dark and supernaturally forces cannot be verified and accusing an individual would be totally wrong and illegal. Other dispute resolutions such arbitration would be used in order to settle this matters outside a court of law since it would be very hard for a judge to ascertain when, where and whether the occurrence had occurred or not.
The Witchcraft-Substance Of The Azande Belief
Among the Azande, a person doesn’t become a witch, a person is born a witch. Being a witch, which is determined by one having the witchcraft-substance or not, is something that is passed on by genetics. If a father is a witch, then all his sons will be witches. If a mother is a witch, then all her daughters will be witches. As clearly stated by the title of the first chapter, “witchcraft is an organic and hereditary phenomenon”. The Azande believe that the witchcraft-substance can be found within one’s belly, attached to the liver.
Although all the Azande entirely believe in witches, sorcerers, and the witchcraft-substance, it hasn’t been seen that a witch accepts his or her crimes. On the contrary, those who are deemed as witches by the poison oracle usually state that they don’t wish injury or death on anybody, and that if they are a witch, it is unknown to them. In short, witches within the Azande aren’t conscious agents when they are bewitching others. Even if someone has ill-will against another, they wouldn’t realize when or how they bewitched someone. Those who have been accused of bewitching others but who are unaware of doing such a thing often conclude that the witchcraft-substance had its own soul that gained independence whenever the said witch went to sleep.
However, even if a Zande is doubtful of themselves bewitching someone, when a fowl’s wing is placed on the doorstep of their homestead, it is rare that a Zande is offended and shows anger. Rather, a Zande tries to prove his innocence by emphasizing the fact that none of his kinsmen have the witchcraft-substance since they haven’t been accused of bewitching anyone before and they don’t wish any injury not death on anyone. But a Zande normally follows the tradition of the community by blowing out water and saying that if he does indeed possess witchcraft in his belly that he is unaware of it and that he wishes it to cool. When a Zande discusses of the witch-craft substance remaining cool, what they mean to refer to is that they wish that their witchcraft-substance will be inactive, without a harm to anyone.
Witches have witchcraft-substance that is believed to be attached to their liver, which is examined during autopsies. However, whenever bewitching takes place, the witchcraft-substance takes the form of a bright light that can only be seen at night by those who aren’t witches (it can always be seen by those who are witches, but within the day those who aren’t witches can’t see it) that has been seen heading to people’s homesteads who have either died before or had relatives that had died. Whenever one is bewitched, they are usually afflicted with a painful injury that leads to a slow death. Witching is distinguished clearly from sorcery. But the witchcraft concept is thoroughly embraced by the Azande, and daily problems that one faces and usually links to relevant causes, is linked to witchcraft by the Azande. For instance, if a Zande has a poor hunting trip, he might blame it on witchcraft.
The Azande have this perception of double spears, with the first spear being the actual cause, and the second spear being the witchcraft. So, if one’s homestead burns to the ground, one would see the first spear as too much of a close proximity between fire and the house, while the second spear would be witchcraft. But as aforementioned, witches aren’t conscious agents of bewitching, so they don’t have organizations, nor do they get together. Even though that’s what the details point to, the Azande believe that witches lead a confidential life where they share their killing with other witches and show off their slyness.
The true story of Mrs. Witch
I was never called a witch before until those greedy and wretched children came to my house.
I knew heaps concerning witches, of course, as I am positive that you simply do too. Children are much wiser and know about these things than their folks. A man called Roald Dahl composed a play about witches, quite a while back, and all of a sudden, the entire world was ‘witch this’ and ‘witch that’. You couldn’t sell your house and relocate if you heard that your old next-door neighbour had put a curse on people who live in the area because they didn’t offer her a glass of milk, or that a lady had come wandering into the city and made all the animals ill because no one let her stay the night.
But all of this is far from truth, you know. Witches are not an invention of Roald Dahl. He hired them, like every author did in the olden times. Be that as it may, I am not a witch. I even have survived for a really, very, terribly very long time, however, I’m not a witch. I’m a touch bit magical. positively not a witch although. Are we clear?
You see, I am very well-travelled. Back in my early hundreds, I travelled around the globe when I was a lot younger.
You see, we folks have received hundreds of assorted titles from the various nations we lived in. Some societies call us elf, fairy, sprite, leprechaun or nymph. If people scrutinised adequately, they would understand that we are so similar; fairy-tale folks are really terribly uninteresting and dreary. I know everyone on this earth and you should know one thing, when you’ve known the same people for as long as I have, you would soon aspire that you were a witch, because it might make things more fascinating. Do not forget that I am not a witch, just a little mystical creature, down on her misfortune.
When I was done with my trouble-making tricks and tired of putting magic spells on people, I was ready to put down my roots. Now, you might think you know rest of my story. The fairy tales you have read say that my little house in the forest was made of gingerbread. Gingerbread? If you’re a practical person you know how foolish that idea sounds. Humans should know what happens to gingerbread when it rains? It is not a good construction material, and neither are chocolates as roof tiles, or icing as cement. If the rain did not melt everything away into a puddle of sludge, don’t you think that the hungry animals in the forest might have come along and eaten it before Hansel and Gretel reached there? People, especially grown-ups, have their heads so filled up with nonsense that the reality could do gymnastics in a silly hat and they still wouldn’t see it.
So, bear in mind, my house may look like made of gingerbread, but it definitely wasn’t. Those little monsters had no business to be creeping around, and certainly no right to be trying to break bits off my wall, I won’t lie that I didn’t tell them off, because that wouldn’t be true. I was furious and I screamed a bit, but then Gretel started to cry and I felt bad. I always quite loved children, even when they were badly behaved.
‘We apologize. We haven’t eaten in days and are so very hungry,’ Gretel muttered as tears trickled down her cheek.
I asked, ‘Why are you wandering around the forest by yourselves without any grown-ups? The animals could have attacked and eaten you for dinner.’
‘Our dad left us here,’ Hansel put his arm around his sister, ‘He said he would return but it’s been days and he hasn’t come to take us home! We are worried something happened to him.’
‘Oh dear,’ I sighed, patting Gretel on the head, ‘You’d better come in. I have some biscuits – real gingerbread, if you are hungry.’
They stayed for a little while, eating all my biscuits and drinking all my milk. I drew them a map of the forest paths, so they could find their way out, and off they went.
At eight o’clock the next morning, a man was pounding on my door and shouting, ‘Mrs. Witch? Mrs. Witch, are you home?’
Mrs. Witch? I ran down the stairs and opened the door.
‘I am NOT a witch. Who are you?’
‘Jack Stringfellow, Woodland News,’ he said, licking the tip of a pen and holding a notepad, ‘Mrs. Witch, what do you have to say about the statement made by Hansel and Gretel that you tried to lock them up and eat them?’
‘I am not a wit— Wait, what did you say?’
He smiled a slimy smile. ‘Hansel and Gretel. Apparently, you put them in a cage and wanted to eat them.’
I was so flabbergasted I couldn’t even speak.
‘They’re saying they absconded by pushing you into your oven. It’s not looking good for you, Mrs. Witch.’
I persisted, ‘I am not a witch.’ I observed that he was continuously writing something even though our conversation was anything but significant. I asked politely, ‘Would you mind sharing what you are writing?’
‘I merely write the truth, ma’am,’ he said. ‘Mrs. Witch, they were not fibbing about the gingerbread house, were they?’
‘You silly man, the house is not made of gingerbread and I am not a witch! Also, if they had pushed me into my oven, wouldn’t I be burnt and turned into a crisp?’
‘I don’t know, lady,’ Jack Stringfellow laughed and clicked a photograph of me, ‘It will be hot off the press that you are a witch. Who knows what kind of magic spells you can do? You can demonstrate some if you want. This will be published in the evening edition, if you’d like to buy and read it!’
And that’s what really happened. Those mischievous children made up horrid lies about me and then a spiteful man wrote them down and published it in the newspaper that I was a dangerous and crafty witch. Could you do one thing for me, now that you know the true story? Next time you hear someone telling lies about me, make sure that you tell them what actually happened. And, if you’re ever in the woods, please drop by for coffee and real gingerbread and I can tell you another funny story about the time a not so bright princess pricked her finger on a needle and had to sleep for a hundred years just to get over it. You won’t believe that one either.
The Accounts of the Salem Witchcraft and Massachusetts Bay Colony Case Against Anne Hutchinson Trials
The Massachusetts Bay Colony Case Against Anne Hutchinson and Accounts of the Salem Witchcraft Trials are both accounts of cases that are being held in colonial times. The Massachusetts case is about a charge against Anne Hutchinson for practices and beliefs deemed threatening to the stability of church and commonwealth. Hutchinson was conducting meetings at her residence which entailed her attacking doctrinal premises, denouncing ministers in her community, and her inclination to mysticism. The trial is composed mostly of the prosecution questioning her about the details of the meetings such as , “Why do you keep a meeting at your house as you do every week upon a set day?” (Shi Mayer 26). The prosecution keep pressuring her into admitting guilt of the charges with these constant questions about very specific details about her meetings. Towards the end of the trial she starts to justify her actions by comparing herself to Abraham in the sense that they were both spoken to by God. The trial ends with her being found guilty of the charges and being exiled. In the Accounts of the Salem Witchcraft Trials a summary of the hysteria that occurred during the Salem Witchcraft Trials is told. According to the passage 43 people were brought to trial for witchcraft. The accusers would often provide evidence such as being cursed by the defendant. By the end of the trial many people were pressured into confessing guilt; however, of the 43 accused only eight were found guilty and prosecuted.
The authors point of view in The Massachusetts Bay Colony Case Against Anne Hutchinson is to recount what was said during the trial. The trial clearly shows the prosecutor’s attempt at forcing Hutchinson to admit guilt. It also provides Hutchinson’s reasoning as to why she held these meetings and why she felt right performing these meetings. The author’s point of view in Accounts of the Salem Witchcraft Trials is to show the evidence of satan’s work. The author was not so much providing an account of the trial as to show how the town itself was being influenced by the work of the devil. This is evident since the testimonies are the most ridiculous and far-fetched that are available. An example of this is shown in the account of Joseph Ring. “This man has been strangely carried about by Daemons, from one Witch-meeting to another, for near two years together; and for one quarter of this time, they have made him, and keep him dumb tho’ he is now again able to speak…” Although these articles are both about trials they do have some major differences and similarities.
The similarities between the two articles are that they are both accounts of trials and they both contained evidence of prosecutors attempting to force defendants into admitting guilt. The prosecutor that questioned Hutchinson consistently tried to pry incriminating details from Hutchinson through slight variations on questions about her meetings. The prosecutor during the Salem Witchcraft Trials successfully forced some defendants into admitting that they sold their soul to the devil. “When these Witches were Tried, several of them confessed a contract with the Devil, by signing his Book” (Shi Mayer 47). Obviously these people could not have signed a contract with the devil however the prosecutors beat into the defendants the belief that they were witches so much that the defendants started to believe it themselves. The difference between the two articles is that they both have different results. In the first article, the prosecutor successfully gets Hutchinson exiled. In the second article the prosecutor only successfully gets three people charged with the witchcraft. Both of these articles possess a significance in history.
The trial against Anne Hutchinson showcases the struggles of expressing freedom of speech and freedom of religion before the Bill of Rights was created. Since there were no rights protecting Anne to speak freely she was charged with threatening the stability of the commonwealth and church for simply expressing her dissatisfaction with the current way that the bible was being interpreted. The Salem Witchcraft Trial showed the danger of the mob mentality and the damage that it can cause. There was no factual evidence to support the charges. The testimonies consisted of speculation of coincidental circumstances and were probably exaggerated to further their case. For example this testimony by John Atkinson states, “he exchanged a Cow with a Son of Susannah Martin’s, whereat she muttered and was unwilling he should have it … She broke all the ropes that were fastened unto her and … yet she made her escape … and gave them such further trouble, as they could ascribe to no cause but Witchcraft.” (Shi Mayer 46) In today’s times this evidence would be unbelievable; however, in colonial times this evidence was seen as probable.. This also displayed the irrational fear and hysteria that these colonists had. These trials serve as an example of how hysteria and fear can result in unnecessary deaths. These articles are also part of U.S history being that the trials occurred during the colonial era.
The trial against Anne Hutchinson is a prime example for the reasoning behind the creation of the Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights was created to protect U.S. citizens from these kinds of injustices. The first amendment seemed to have been written to protect Hutchinson in particular since it would have guaranteed her freedom of speech at her meetings, her freedom to assemble to have the meeting, and the freedom of religion so the charge of corrupting the church would have been lifted. The Salem Witchcraft Trial occurred in Massachusetts during colonial times. So it is United States history on the horrible events that transpired in the town of Salem in 1692.
Corey the Marty
Giles Corey was a prosperous, uneducated, eighty-year-old farmer and full member of the church. He and his wife Martha lived on a farm in the southwest corner of Salem village. Martha Corey, his wife, made a mistake of questioning if the girls accusations were sincere. The girls learned of this and accused her of witchcraft. They said that she summoned a yellow bird flying around. Martha was sent to jail to await her hanging. Giles Corey, certain of his Martha’s innocence, spoke out against the girls who sent his wife to jail. Unsurprisingly, the girls countered with accusations of witchcraft against Giles in April 1692.
Ann Putnam claimed that on April 13 the specter of Giles Corey visited her and asked her to write in the Devil’s book. Later, Putnam was to claim that a ghost appeared before her to announce that it had been murdered by Corey. Other girls were to describe Corey as “a dreadful wizard” and recount stories of assaults by his specter. Corey was examined by magistrates on April 18, then left to languish with his wife in prison for five months awaiting trial.
When Corey’s case finally went before the grand jury in September, nearly a dozen witnesses came forward with damning evidence such as testimony by Elizabeth and Alice Booth that Corey served bread and wine at a sacrament attended by over fifty witches. Both Ann Putnam and Mercy Lewis described Corey as “a dreadful wizard.” Corey knew he faced conviction and execution, so he chose to refuse to stand for trial. By avoiding conviction, it became more likely that his farm, which Corey recently deeded to his two sons-in-law, would not become property of the state upon his death.
The penalty for refusing to stand for trial was death by pressing under heavy stones. It was a punishment never before seen–or ever again inflicted–in the colony of Massachusetts. On Monday, September 19, Corey was stripped naked, a board placed upon his chest, and then–while his neighbors watched–heavy stones and rocks were piled on the board. Corey pleaded to have more weight added, so that his death might come quickly.
Samuel Sewall reported Corey’s death: “About noon, at Salem, Giles Corey was press’d to death for standing mute.” Robert Calef, in his report of the event, added a gruesome detail: Giles’s “tongue being prest out of his mouth, the Sheriff with his cane forced it in again, when he was dying.” Judge Jonathan Corwin ordered Corey buried in an unmarked grave on Gallows Hill.
Corey is often seen as a martyr who “gave back fortitude and courage rather than spite and bewilderment.” His very public death played a role in building public opposition to the witchcraft trials.