Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Way Back Wednesday

324 years ago this week, the Salem Witch Hunts began.  In the end, 19 innocent men and women were executed "suspected" of being a witch.  It would eventually come out that those involved were simply settling grudges against those they didn't like but nonetheless, the Witch Trials began.

Different tests could be used to implicate a witch.  It was thought that since a witch had rejected the sacrament of baptism that the water would reject the witch and thus the witch would float.  Typically, a rope was tied about the waist of the accused but this test did result in drowning.  If by chance the "witch" floated, they would then be burned at the stake(Europe), hung(American Colonies) or whatever was convenient at the moment.  Another test was to have the person recite a portion of Scripture since it was reasoned that a witch could not say it properly.  ANY mistake would be an indication of being a witch.  Could you pass this portion of the test saying either Psalm 23 or The Lord's Prayer.  Remember, if you forget or misplace even ONE word, you could be considered a witch.  Another test was to have a person supposedly possessed be touched by the witch.  If the possessed did not react, the "witch" was considered innocent.  However, if the possessed came out of their fit(unclenched their fist for example) then the accused witch would be executed.  Surely no one could fake this, right!?  Another test was to search the "witch's" body for extra marks.  A birthmark, a mole, a scar or any other unordinary mark could indicate a witch.  

Now you can see why we call false trials a "witch hunt".  When true justice is abandoned and false tests and false witnesses rule the day, it is usually to settle a grudge.  It is true that the Mosaic Law did not allow a witch to live among the Israelites, but the Salem Witch Trials were not about truth but about hysteria and ill will towards individuals.


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