Honoring the Witches of Salem

Honoring the Witches of Salem

I've been reading about the Salem Witch Trials and was interested to learn that of the 20 killed for witchcraft, several of them were men.

Most of the men who were killed were called witches and accused BECAUSE they spoke up against the witch hunts.

One was the Deputy Constable of Salem, who was involved in arresting the first of the accused witches before he decided that it was impossible for so much witchcraft to be happening as it snowballed, and he spoke up against the mass hysteria.

He quit. The village then accused him of witchcraft.

Turned out he escaped Salem and came to Nashua, NH (my hometown and where I live again now) and they put out a warrant for his arrest, got him in Nashua, brought him back to Salem and hung him.

Other predominant men in the village who spoke against the witch craze were similarly hung.

I found this aspect interesting both because of the witch hunt arrest in my own hometown, but because even more of how it shows that those who speak up against injustice are often likewise targeted.

This is a HUGE aspect of why abuse gets perpetuated because of the fear of speaking up, even on an unconscious level.

This is happening today too, in different ways.

The other interesting thing is that all the people killed as witches pleaded innocent.

While over 200 people were accused of witchcraft, if one admitted that they were guilty of being a witch and then named other people as witches, they were let off.

So blaming others to save one's self is what allowed those accused to survive.

Survival instincts in humans can be cruel, pitting one's life against another, often in the name of power, money, land, bloodlines, and religion.

I am fascinated by the witch hunts, particularly because the burning times of witches in Europe from the 14th to 17th centuries targeted so many women healers, midwives, wise women, and female social leaders.

While the Salem Witch Trials in the US were different (fueled from land battles, Puritan intolerance, and potentially ergot), they are especially relevant because it really wasn't that long ago, and it's part of the fabric of US history, politics, and religion.

Today, thousands of people flock to Salem every day in October to be immersed in the spooky vibe of the witchy town.

Last night I watched Hocus Pocus again, it's the 25 year anniversary of this Halloween cult classic movie set in the town of Salem, where three witches come back to life to steal the life-force from children to maintain their own beauty and youth.

While it's a campy, totally-fictionalized, ridiculous movie, it's fascinating that this type of depiction of witches is SO popular in our culture today, and perpetuates the idea of evil women being killed as witches for selling their soul to the Devil.

The real evil thing about the Salem Witch Trials is that only those who were righteous in their innocence and refused to turn against their neighbors were hung.

Those who were able to go free after being accused were the ones who sent their neighbors to the gallows.

I hope that in today's call-out culture we can remember the past and bring some awareness into the complex future of communication.

It takes big courage to speak up against injustice as it's likely to cause a backlash.

Also, getting caught up in mass-hysteria can cause those who think they are speaking out against wrong to actually become the perpetrators.

Have you seen people stand up against injustice and become lambasted themselves?

Have you seen people point fingers at others to maintain their own positions of power or deflect from their own?

This is how the legacy of the witch trials still effects us today.

So, at this time of year, when tourists flock to Salem to get freaked out by the witchy vibes, I want to bring awareness to the bravery of the victims of the witch trials for both speaking up against injustice, and for not turning on their neighbors in the manner that had been done to them.