Salem Witch Trial Theories

2279 words 10 pages
Brennyn Mackey

2 May 2011

The Secret War of Salem

Exposing the Culprit behind the Mass Hysteria

The Salem Witch Trials were a series of infamous events that demand an explanation for their occurrence. The trials that took place in 1692 caused neighbors in the community of Salem Village in the colony of Massachusetts to turn on one another out of paranoia, accusing one another of witchcraft. According to Carol Karlsen, a longtime author of the subject, nineteen people were hanged and about 200 others were imprisoned (40). A few theories have been offered in order to explain the root of this mass hysteria. The theories in question need to be examined to see which holds the most credibility.

Most historians who have
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She states that people “have lots of misconceptions about what Wicca and witchcraft actually entail. People seem to confuse witchcraft with Satanism or devil worship […] Wicca […] does not seek new adherents” (14). The author implies that Wicca is a pantheistic religion that promotes harmony with the natural world and does not entail bloodletting rituals. All the “Halloween” aspects of Wicca are stereotypical misrepresentations of their beliefs. The Puritans had a deep fear that those dark conceptions were a reality.

Such preconceived notions and religious beliefs that the Puritans had regarding witchcraft must have been the fuel for the trials. According to Puritan beliefs, witches worshipped Satan. Melanie Gauch, a lifetime Wiccan, has stated that Wiccans do not believe in a devil. That is a Christian notion that the Puritans associate with paganism. The Puritans exercised complete intolerance of the Wiccan beliefs and created the paranoia in their own minds when they felt threatened. In the Bible, Exodus 22:18 states, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (King James Bible). The puritans followed the Bible wholeheartedly, and their beliefs carried them to accusations, and then on to interrogations.

However, the main problem with the witchcraft theory is that it cannot be proven. The accusations themselves could not even be proven. One way to accuse someone of witchcraft was by use of spectral evidence. If an apparition appeared to an


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