Regarding Witchcraft ... Continued & Ergo ergot!

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Posted by MMMMarcia on January 20, 2000 at 16:46:03:

In Reply to: Re: Historical Background Regarding Witchcraft ... Continued posted by Doc M on January 20, 2000 at 14:49:15:

Bill writes:
: : I'm laughing a little here....the theory of ergot the tour guide mentioned most likely came from a work of fiction...about some researchers looking into the witch craze having resulted from a characteristic mold that grows on rye seeds and when ground and made into bread causes some of the symptoms described. Most likely she had read the book (I think it might have been by Robin Cook but am not sure and for the life of me cannot remember the title) and all of a sudden - walla! - THE answer to the mystery. It actually was an interesting book, the main character had ancestors involved in that period of time, and his estate and property descended from acquisitions of his ancestors taking over property from those accused. I believe he was trying to prove the ergot theory to downplay the theory of the girl's behavior being motivated and encouraged by parents and others wanting to profit from it. GGGG at work again. I am sure the tour guide got her idea and statement from the novel, and I remember the broad strokes of it...but forget title and author. *shrugs*

And Doc M replies:
: Yeah, my friends and I wanted to take over the tour and
: give folks the REAL story, but we decided to give the
: poor thing a break. I mean, she had to wear a dopey-looking
: pilgrim outfit and talk to people in polyester leisure
: suits all day, so her life was hard enough.

>>Just to defend the tour guide a wee little bit, I saw a lengthy documentary on this subject that indicated quite seriously that ergot in rye seed WAS responsible for many an hysterical episode in those times. So...maybe she was instructed to give that explanation, or was going on the information at hand when she was trained as a guide. I know there was a novel written about it all (I read it, too, Bill, and can't remember the name, either) but I think even the novel was based on this research. Perhaps that's all disproven now, but I think it was given serious consideration for awhile there.


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