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The History of Witchcraft in Salem


When researching on Witchcraft in Salem using the web sites that were given, I learnt that Salem was not the first place where witchcraft was performed. This is so because witchcraft is something that has been there quite long time before Christ. For instance, witchcraft was condemned in the bible in the books of Leviticus and Exodus which were written around 6th century before Christ. The author of the two books who most likely was a priest believed on existence of witches and condemned them and said that anybody who was considered to be a witch was supposed to be killed.The term witch was associated with one who cast a spell and the concept of witches was written in the book of Exodus and Leviticus to encourage the Jews to adhere to the practices of their religion and not copy those of others. What was written in the two books took place in Present Iraq on daily basis during Evil Merodach’s reign.

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In early 400s a Christian theologian by the name St Augustine argued that only God had super power and therefore witches were powerless and hence the church should not be worried about their spells. This made many Christian believe him and stopped the whole process of seeking witchcraft. However, the cases of witchcraft were reported on regular basis and in mid 1400s some of the witches accused of witchcraft admitted to have been practicing the gods. In addition, in early 1500s there was an outbreak of a hysteria that was believed to have been caused by witches. As a result 500 people who were accused to be witches were burned in Geneva and Switzerland. There were many more incidences of witchcraft which led to the look out of these witches and many were killed. In this paper I am going to describe witchcraft in Salem (Linder, p. 7).

Witchcraft in Salem

Salem was the first place where Europeans’ settled in Massachusetts. The people of Salem were focused on eternity but a lion that is talked of by peter, where he told people to be sober because of their adversary, walked among the good people of Salem and as a result the village was divided in a town that was prosperous and a farming village. These two were always at loggerheads and in addition, the villagers also continued to debate whether they should have their own political and ecclesiastical systems from the town (Boyer &Nissebaumss, p. 13). In 1889, they built their own church and chose Reverend Samuel Parris to be their minister but later his many demands to be compensated made the church to stop contributing to his salary in 1691.

In February 1692, the lion roared again and Betty Parris became so ill where she became so afraid and hid under the chairs, shouted nonsense and complained of fever. The same signs were observed in Abigail Parris and Ann Putnam who were Betty’s player mates among other girls (Heyrman 4). The doctors and priest tried to look for the cause of all these and some said it was due to stress, asthma but this was not the case.

As a result of lacking any natural cause of the illness that had befallen the girls, these people of Salem said that the girls were bewitched. When they were urged by Parris and other adults to tell them who had bewitched them, they mentioned Sarah Good, Sarah Osbun and Tituba.This women were examined by magistrates John Harthome and Jonathan Carwin in the meeting house. Sarah Osbun and Sarah Good claimed to be innocent with the latter blaming the former for the misfit. On the other hand, when Tituba was questioned, at first she claimed to be innocent as she feared that she might be the scapegoat but later confessed and told the magistrates that the devil appeared to her in different forms, sometimes in form of black dogs and in others as a white haired man and made her sign books that she was going to serve him (Shirley. 14). In addition, she said that there are many more witches who targeted puritans (one of clans in Salem) that were undiscovered including both Sarah Good and Osbun. These women were jailed. As a result of the information given byTituba, both Salem and Massachusetts began searching for the witches and between June and September 1692; about 150 people were jailed after being accused of witchcraft. Some of those who were in jail confessed while others like Bridget Bishop and other people about twenty did not (Krensky, p. 6).

The same year a special court was called on May by Williams Phips the.It was meant to try the cases of the individuals that had not confessed. Subsequently, Bridget was destined to death in June with eighteen more by September. Moreover, Giles Cory was tortured to death and other five people, including Sarah Osbun, died in jail (Linder, p. 8). In the beginning of 1693, people were tired of witchcraft’s issues and complained that there were no evidence for the accused and as a result the witchcraft horror came to an end.


It’s clear from the discussion above that witchcraft is real and those who are accused of engaging themselves in the practice face many consequences. Witchcraft is an old practice and has occurred in many places in addition to Salem. However, there are many lessons that can be learnt from witchcraft in Salem that are applicable today when dealing with issues of hunting witches or other behaviors that cannot be condoned in our society.

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References List

  1. Boyer, Paul &Nissebaum, Stephen. Salem-village Witchcraft Documentary record of local conflict in colonial New England. England: North Eastern University Press, 1993. Print.
  2. Heyrman, Christine.Witchcraft in Salem village: Intersections of Religion and Society. South Cross: Delaware University press, 1982. Print.
  3. Krensky, Stephen and Witch, Hunt. It happened in Salem Village. New York: Random House, 1968. Print.
  4. Linder, Douglas. A Brief History of Witchcraft persecutions before Salem, 2005.
  5. Shirley, Jackson. Witchcraft of Salem Village. United Kingdom: Landmark paperback Books, 1984.Print.

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