Posted by Doc M on January 20, 2000 at 09:12:53:
In Reply to: Re: Historical Background Regarding Witchcraft ... Continued posted by Goody Sandy on January 20, 2000 at 04:48:20:
: Hi Elaine:
: Thank you for posting this fascinating history of the Great Hunt.
: :: By the way, those killed in Massachusetts were falsely accused and they were most enthusiastic in their denials of witchcraft & 'magick.'
: Ironically, the accused who plead guilty to the charge of witchcraft were spared the death sentence, while those who were convicted of the charge were put to death. Those who were found guilty were found so based on non-empirical “evidence” that the defendants could not disprove, such as allegations that the “witch” was in two places at one time. Many witnesses for the prosecution testified that the “witch’s” spirit visited him/her in the middle of the night while defense witnesses testified that the accused was actually elsewhere at the time of the alleged “visit.” Once the courts disallowed such “evidence” no more defendants were found guilty and thus the “witch hunt” in Salem came to an end.
: Best wishes,
: Goody Sandy
Excellent posts on this topic! The latest book I've read
on the Salem trials is "A Fever In Salem" by Laurie Carlson.
Her theory is the hysteria was caused by an outbreak of
encephalitis, spread by the mosquitos that infested the
area at the time -- even now, Salem is surrounded by
marshes which are prime breeding grounds. Apparently
many of the symptoms of the "afflicted" are the same
as those of encephalitis. The outbreaks are cyclical,
and her research showed the East coast has periodically
been affected by the disease (this summer, for example.)
One of the time periods of the outbreak was in the 1690s.
Fascinating book, even if you don't buy the theory.
Interesting how such a "local" event over 300 years
ago has become such a integral part of American history
and literature isn't it?
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