The figure of a witch is one of the most common for Halloween costumes. But do we know about witches? We all have heard some stories about old women who live in a small hut somewhere in a dark forest with her black cat, making spells, flying on a broom, and eating kids. However, one of the scariest stories about witches is related to the small American town of Salem. Scientists still cannot explain what a privilege the inhabitants of a small town are to behave in such a strange way. Were they really engaged in witchcraft, or perhaps such accusations were made for profit?
A New Disease
It all began in the spring of 1692, when in the small town of Salem, in a Massachusetts colony, Bethy, the daughter of a Puritan pastor, and her cousin Abigail began to behave strange. Two girls of 9 and 11 years old rolled on the ground, had a fever, felt body pain, had itchy skin, and shouted dirty words. Soon, similar symptoms had a few other girls. One of them was the daughter of the richest man of the town, so doctors were called urgently. Based on a very popular book by one Boston pastor about witchcraft and other paranormal phenomena, doctors and parents quickly concluded that the girls were possessed by the devil.
Communication with Devil
The girls interviewed spoke of three persons: the beggar Sarah Gud, the slave of pastor Tituba, and old woman Sarah Osborn. The slave was also accused of being an Indian, not a Christian, by telling the girls stories about Indian traditions and religion and teaching them to guess the future. In court, the girls testified to see witches flying around town. On March 1, 1692, the town court confirmed three women of being witches and imprisoned them. But the witchcraft did not end there. Five other women, a four-year-old daughter of Sarah Gud and one man were suspected also. In one month another 80 people were arrested. This intrigued even the state governor himself who personally were working with every case of each witch and decided its outcome. Most of the accused persons were sentenced to death. Only those who confirmed their guilty or betrayed the names of other “witches” have survived.
Genocide of Freaks
Many people run away after hearing that they might be accused of witchcraft. Most of the people who had to leave were the ones that were not liked by the majority, who did not attend a local church or had land that made others envious. Because the land, houses and other property of the so-called witches were confiscated by the city board. In less than a year, more than 200 people were charged with witchcraft. 19 of them were hanged, several others died in prison.
Government Broke Down
Even the wife of Governor Phillips became a suspected witch. Taking advantage of the high position, the head of state established a law prohibiting to use paranormal phenomena as judicial evidence. Later, several judges resigned, and the witch hunt ended. All arrested people were released. One of the girls who started the witch hunt apologized to the town community and excused her for being possessed by devil. In the end, the courts were found to be illegal. After a few years, symbolic compensations were paid to the families of the victims.