Twenty people executed. Nineteen hanged and one pressed to death by stones. Historian Mary Beth Norton knew the outcome of the Salem witchcraft crisis and trials of 1692, but she didn't buy the story of how it all came about.Her inquiry would result in a prize-winning book called "In the Devil's Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692." On Thursday, University of Tennessee students heard Norton's take on the subject during a lecture called "Salem Witchcraft: Myth and Reality."She told students the "standard brief narrative" about the cause of the trials, one she tested and eventually debunked in her 2003 book.Allegedly the crisis began this way:
winter of 1691-92, a group of young girls and teenagers, bored with
life in the rural village of Salem, Mass., began experimenting with
fortunetelling, perhaps even with voodoo or black magic, under the
leadership of a black slave owned by a local minister.
Out of that,
accusations of witchcraft arose and the hysteria spread into a
Digging through Cornell
University's Witchcraft Collection, Norton found many of the accused
were not from Salem. The accused were not all women, or even young
women. About a quarter of the accused were men, and some of them were
She looked at the region as
a whole, which hadn't been done before, she said. Using that approach,
Norton would find a link between the Indian Wars on the Maine frontier
in the1660s and the witchcraft crisis. She decided to write a "dual
narrative of war and witchcraft because the two things were totally
"I realized that so many of
the people whose names I was familiar with from the trial records were
actually from Maine," she said. "They were playing out conflicts that
had started, in many cases, from years earlier on the Maine frontier."
The climate of fear from
the Indian Wars figured into the crisis. The towns and settlements of
that time were dealing with a "mysterious enemy" that seemed to appear
and disappear "mysteriously."
"I don't think the northern
wars caused the witchcraft crisis, but the crisis would not have
occurred if the wars had been averted. Because the wars created the
climate of fear that allowed theexpansion......
The adventures of boy wizard Harry Potter can stay in Gwinnett County school libraries, despite a mother's objections, a judge ruled Tuesday. Laura Mallory, who argued the popular fiction series is an attempt to indoctrinate children in witchcraft, said she still wants the best-selling books removed and may take her case to federal court."I maybe need a whole new case from the ground up," Mallory said. The woman, who said two of her four children attend public schools in thecounty,...At witch school, spelling has new meaning
When witch school came to town, Mayor Terry Prillaman stopped in to welcome the owners, as he does whenever a new business opens. "If you don"t like them, don"t patronize them," he says. "It"s like a tattoo parlor: You don"t have to go in." Youth pastor Andy Thomas, though, believes the arrival of witches in this town of 1,200 created a "spiritual battle" pitting "the forces of darkness against the forces of light." Rosella Ray, who runs the Village Art & Culture Center, a shop near the school, ...Defining witchcraft
Anthony North: The French court of the Sun King, Louis XIV, was a flamboyant, extravagant place. But underneath the facade was a cauldron of hatred, deceit and social climbing. And underpinning the more unsavoury factors of the court was a conspiracy of murder and supposed witchcraft. After the suspicious deaths of several of the French nobility, Louis ordered the Commissioner of Police, Nicholas de la Reynie, to investigate. Opening the Chambre Ardente, or Burning Court (a black draped room wit...Campaigners bid to clear the 'witch'
When the battleship Barham was torpedoed by the Germans in November 1941, with the loss of over 800 lives, the Admiralty delayed announcing the news to maintain morale. But the secrecy was ended within a few days when medium Helen Duncan told a couple during a seance that their son, a sailor on the ship, had appeared from the spirit world to tell them it had sunk. In one of the most bizarre acts of the Second World War, Mrs Duncan was accused of leaking military secrets - and became the last wom...'Witches' face fine in Tajikistan
The lower house of parliament in Tajikistan has endorsed a bill to try to tackle what it describes as fortune-telling and witchcraft. Those found engaging in superstitious activities could be fined $200 (£98). Belief in the occult is widespread in many former Soviet societies. The Tajik authorities say those claiming occult powersare charlatans. The bill still needs the upper house of parliament and the president to approve it, but this is considered a formality. Earlier this year President Emom...US town escapes 666 phone prefix
A town in the US state of Louisiana is to be allowed to change its telephone prefix so that residents can avoid a number many associate with the Devil. Christians in Reeves have been unhappy since the early 1960s about being given the prefix, 666 - traditionally known as the Biblical "number of the beast". For the next three months, households will be able to change the first three digits of their phone numbers to 749. Mayor Scott Walker said CenturyTel"s decision was "divine intervention". Howe...Dawn of the witch
Anthony north: We"ve all heard of the witch, but do witches have a real existence? Yes, they have existed since the dawn of history, and most likely for millenia before. In the Bible, Saul, afraid of the might of the Philistine army, took himself off to be counsellefd by the Witch of Endor. In Classical literature we have Homerís Circe who bewitched men and turned them into swine. Ovid tells us of the Strigae; erotic beings who flew through the air to carry out their murderous deeds. But with su...Even witches cant catch a break
Romanian witches may soon see earnings from their profession taxed, for better or worse.Witches from across Romania are assembling to either protest or praise potential legislation that will tax their trade. While many are angry at the prospect of paying into social security and having their net income cut by 16 percent, others are glad to finally have their occupation officiallysanctioned - "our magic skills, which are recognized and accepted worldwide, are now authorized in Romania too," say...Warlock allowed to break curfew on full moon
A 52-year-old warlock sentenced to stay indoors has been permitted to go out on a full moon.Cerwyn Jones was sentenced to stay indoors between the hours of 7pm and 7am after being caught carrying a ceremonial knife in a pub, however magistrates agreed to lift the restriction on four nights so that he can go out and practicehis faith. During the full moon, Ďmagicí ceremonies are performed and the gods and goddesses of Wiccaare honoured. . These ceremonies may be officiated by a cho...Influence of the occult
Anthony North: The Occult. The term sends a chill down the spine -for some. This is the world of evil and mystery, where sinister magicians prowl the borders between the physical and ethereal. Where the subject causes real fear, it is sanitised for western feeling, and images of Harry Potter fill our heads. Yet in reality the Occult has been essential to the life we live today. Its birth: The Occult was actually born following the life of Christ. Up until this time, most religions had been pagan...