March 1692: The Salem Witch Trials

 

March is International Women’s History Month. It also marks the beginning of the Salem Witch Trials. Since this disturbing event in American history was centered largely around women, I thought it might be fun to explore the specifics!

Witch Trials continue to fascinate and puzzle historians. Witchcraft hysteria ran rampant throughout Europe in the 15th – 17th centuries, and carried over to the American colonies, solely driven by religious beliefs and outrageous superstition. But there was much more to the Salem Witch Trials than overactive imaginations…

Don’t Have a Hissy Fit!  But They Did…

In the winter of 1692, in Salem Village, nine year old Betty Parris and her eleven year old cousin Abigail Williams  began to have uncontrollable fits. The girls would scream, run around and throw things. They claimed they were being hit and attacked by some unknown presence. Luckily, Betty’s father Samuel Parris happened to be a Puritan Reverend and he had a perfect explanation: the Devil was afoot in New England.

Puritans had a strong belief in the Devil. He walked among men, unseen. He needed to get his bidding done, so he would recruit humans. Sometimes he chose men, but mostly he chose women — as they were weak, vulnerable and easily persuaded. You know. Like Eve.  Old Scratch would bring his book to sign – and it had to be signed in blood.  Once the transaction was complete, a woman gave away her soul and body, leaving the Devil to do with them as he pleased.

As Betty and Abigail continued to have their incurable fits, doctors were brought in. After several weeks, no one could diagnose the problem, but finally the girls blurted out that it was, in fact, the witchy spirit of Tituba, the family slave, who had been harming them.

There was a thing called ‘spectral evidence’ which became very important during the witchcraft trials. Any accuser could claim that the specter or spirit of a witch was harming them, and that claim was taken seriously.  It was not even necessary that another person actually see the specter.

Meanwhile, on the other side of town, a girl named Anne Putnam was experiencing the same kinds of fits. She claimed the witches attacking her were two women – the neighborhood beggars – one Sarah Goode, and one Sarah Osborne.

Sarah Osborne was what Puritans would call a ‘loose woman’. She had lived with a man out of wedlock and did not attend church services. Osborne was elderly and also known to be argumentative.  Sarah Goode was married with a young daughter, but even her own husband suspected she was a witch. Both women were poor.

So, the first women accused were a slave and two social rejects. But the accusations didn’t stop there. They would go on to reach epic proportions. In order to understand the mentality of the trials, it is necessary to look at the outlying events which took place simultaneously.

Blame it on Politics

In 1692’s bleak winter, Salem Village was in bad shape. Fields were frozen and people were starving. Indians, wolves and other wild animals were a constant threat. To make matters worse, the territories of North America were engaged in a civil war.

In 1689, English rulers William and Mary had started a war with France in the American colonies. Known as ‘King William’s War’, or ‘The Second Indian War’, it ravaged regions of  what is now upstate New York, Massachusetts, Nova Scotia and Quebec. Homeless  refugees traipsed into the county of Essex and, specifically, into Salem Village.

The displaced people created a strain on Salem Village’s resources. The harsh terrain of New England had never been very fruitful, and there was only so much firewood and food to go around. Hunger, cold and poverty were rampant. In addition to all this trouble, the village’s two most prominent families – the Putnams and the Porters – were engaged in a power struggle.

Two Households, Both Alike in Dignity

The Putnam family had always been powerful in the Massachusetts Bay Colony.  This stemmed from an English land grant given to their grandfather, way back in 1640.  The Putmans were farmers.  But in the rising change of fortune, new and lucrative opportunities were coming from the busy colony seaport. Commerce and trade, not farming, would be the business of the future.  The Putnams were losing their stronghold. The Porter family – up and coming sea merchants – were the ‘new money’ in Salem Village.

In what was perhaps a desperate attempt to use religion to gain back his influence, Thomas Putnam enlisted the services of Reverend Samuel Parris.

The Reverend Parris had not always been a reverend. He was, in fact, a struggling salesman who had lived most of his life in Barbados. He came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony and took to the pulpit only after his business ventures had failed miserably.  He brought with him his wife, his daughter Betty, his niece Abigail Williams and two slaves – Tituba and John Indian.

Reverend Parris was not popular. People thought he was greedy. For example, one law was imposed requiring villagers to give up their firewood as a new taxation plan that gave the wood to the Reverend. His sermons were guilt inducing, full of fire and brimstone. He strongly warned of dealings with the Devil. Many folk opted to attend a different church in Salem Town, rather than sit through Parris’ sermons. The influential Porters went to church in Salem Town.

It was as though there were two separate cities, and two separate philosophies. Salem Village was ‘Putnam-land’ –  backwater, bumpkin, farm-bound and superstitious.  Salem Town was ‘Porter territory’ – progressive, sophisticated, merchant-driven and logical.

Lizzie and Joseph: Forbidden Love

The story gets better!

Thomas Putnam had a half brother named Joseph. Joseph was the product of his father’s second marriage to one Mary Veren. When the father died in 1686, he left a good deal of his land holdings to young Joseph. Thomas and his brother Edmund were jealous, to say the least. They challenged their father’s will in court, but to no avail. Young Joseph Putman was known as the wealthiest man in Salem Village. And who did Joseph fall in love with? You guessed it – a Porter!

Seventeen year old Lizzie was the pride of the Porter family. Her father Israel was fond of Joseph, and also eager to wed his daughter to a rich landholder.

Twenty one year old Joseph married Lizzie on April 21, 1690. Needless to say, the wedding was much frowned upon by his half brothers. Thomas Putnam now stood to lose even more of his dwindling wealth and power.

Not coincidentally, the girls that made the first witchcraft accusations all had some tie to  Thomas Putnam.  These were: Betty (the Reverend’s daughter) Abigail (the Reverend’s niece) Anne Putman Jr. (Thomas’ daughter) Anne Putnam Sr. (Thomas’ wife) and Mary Walcott (Thomas’ niece).

Similarly, many of the accused had some tie to the Porter family.  These were: Rebecca Nurse, Giles and Martha Corey,  John and Elizabeth Proctor, and George Burroughs — all neighbors and associates of the Porters.  John Proctor and Giles Corey were landholders who sat in at town council meetings and were likely to cast votes to favor Israel Porter. (Of course, once accused of witchcraft, one’s land went forfeit and they no longer held that position… ) George Burroughs had been the Reverend of the church in Salem Town.

‘Fess Up!

On March 1, 1692, Tituba, Sarah Osborne and Sarah Goode were taken for questioning. Tituba confessed, telling a wild story of how the Devil had recruited her, but now she was repentant and wished forgiveness.  Osborne and Goode insisted upon their innocence. On March 7, the three were jailed in Boston.

Astonishingly, Sarah Goode’s four year old daughter Dorothy was put in jail as a witch also, making her probably the youngest prisoner ever. Months later, the child was released on a 50 pound bond — the equivalent of around $10,000 in today’s money.  Dorothy was referred to in court records as “it” rather than “she”.

Tituba was no fool. Puritan law at the time would allow an accused person freedom ONLY if he or she confessed. Those that would not confess would be hung. (Sarah Goode was later hung and Sarah Osborne died in prison.)

The accusers may have started by singling out the lowest of society, but eventually they made their way up the ladder. On March 19, Abigail accused a woman named Rebecca Nurse. Rebecca was considered a pillar of the community. She was kind, charitable, church-going and flawless. Fear spread like wildfire. If Rebecca could be accused, anyone could.

And anyone was! Before the trials were ended, over two hundred people were accused of witchcraft and jailed. Nineteen were hung, one was pressed to death, and at least four died in the squalid conditions of prison.

The Governor, Sir William Phipps, established a Court of Oyer and Terminer to investigate the allegations. It was presided over by all the top officials: Lieutenant Gov. William Stoughton, Nathaniel Saltonstall, Bartholomew Gedney, Peter Sergeant, Samuel Sewall, Wait Still Winthrop, John Richards, John Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin.

Interesting aside — John Hathorne was an ancestor of author Nathaniel Hawthorne of Scarlet Letter fame.

Nathaniel changed the spelling of his name to avoid association with the elder Hathorne, who was the only judge that never apologized for his part in the witch trials.

The accusing girls were at first revered by the community. They had rock-star status, traveling around pointing the finger at anyone they pleased, while onlookers begged to touch their garments.  However, as the accusations accumulated and crept steadily into the elites of society, folks became suspicious. Finally, the girls went too far.

One story claims that an accusation was made against the Governor’s wife, Mary Spencer Phipps.

The Governor adored and cherished his wife. The idea of her being a witch was abominable to him. Plus, by then he may have had his doubts about the accusations — as any reasoning human being would.  At any rate, in October of 1682, Governor Phipps dissolved the Court of Oyer and Terminer. In November he declared that spectral evidence would no longer be considered valid.  In May of the following year, Phipps pardoned all the remaining accused witches.

Fun Facts:

  • Tituba Indian was, in fact, a Native American Indian. Conquered Wampanoags from New England were often brought to Barbados as slaves. Historians believe Tituba was raised on a Barbados plantation, but was a member of the Wampanoag Tribe.

  • Although Tituba is often associated with voodoo, there is no historical evidence that she had knowledge of it. By her own confessions, any witchcraft she knew was taught to her by English mistresses.
  • Tituba even baked a ‘witch cake’ according to English traditions,  made with urine and rye, then fed to a dog who would reveal the true witches. (This tactic either did not work, or people did not believe the dog.)

  • Elizabeth Proctor was an herbal healer and may have been the only true witch in the bunch. She was pregnant at the time of her arrest and her life was spared, although her husband John was hung.
  • Giles Corey was pressed to death with boulders because he refused to declare himself innocent or guilty. Puritan laws stated that once an accused person acknowledged himself as innocent or guilty, his land would be forfeit. Not wanting to give up his land, Giles stubbornly succumbed to the crushing death, asking only for “More weight.”

  • Giles’ efforts paid off. The Corey land was kept in the family up to the 21st century!
  • Accused victims were made to pay for their own room and board in jail. The fees were collected from any savings they may have had. Freed persons usually left jail penniless, or in debt to the state for their rat infested stay.
  • Having confessed, Tituba was never put to death. However, after being released she was unable to pay her fees and was sold again into slavery.
  • Abigail Williams – portrayed as the ‘Femme Fatale’ of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, was, in fact only eleven years old. Miller recreated her as a seventeen year old who had an affair with John Proctor. Sex sells. The play was a huge hit!

  • Years after the trials, Anne Putnam Jr. admitted that she had lied about the accusations. However, she took no personal responsibility, insisting she had been under the influence of Satan. The Devil made her do it.
  • After the tragedy of the Salem Witch Trials, folk finally started to realize how ridiculous Puritanism was.  The religion was abandoned.

Happy Women’s History Month!

 

 

New Year’s Day/ U2

 

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Hard to believe it has been thirty-three years since Bono & company penned this song for their 1983 album ‘War’.  Although it was originally written for Lech Walesa and the Polish Solidarity movement, I find a lot of relevance in this song as applied to the issues of today.

I have always loved U2.  Once upon a time several years ago I was lucky enough to meet Bono and The Edge at a loading dock in Chicago. They struck me as kind and considerate gentlemen.

Hope you are having a fantastic New Year’s Day!

 

 

Happy Xmas by John Lennon

 

xmas-4

Today, December 8th, marks the 36th anniversary of the death of John Lennon.  A man who strove for peace, both in his personal life and world wide, he ironically died a violent death by gunshot.

John taught us that instead of protesting  war we should try to live our daily lives in peace, celebrate peace and even advertise peace!   His vision of world peace was never far from his heart. I am posting this video in honor of John Lennon and U.S. Troops everywhere, with hopes that my government, the United States of America, will END its GREEDY AND INSANE  war mongering.

Imagine Peace. Pray for Peace. Live in Peace.

Blessed Be 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Free Assange

 

 

“If wars can be started by LIES, peace can be started by TRUTH.”  –  Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been in exile in the Embassy of Ecuador/ London since August 2012 for telling the TRUTH about the Middle East wars.  We ask President Elect Trump to give Julian a full pardon.

If you agree please sign the petition here.

 

messenger

 

 

 

 

 

 

Give Peace a Chance

 

give-peace-a-chance

Today, September 21, 2016 is the official International Day of Peace. However, if we really want peace (and rest assured, many DO NOT!) then we must be acting in terms of peace in our every day lives. This means:  Breathe peace, think peace, BE peace.

My county, the U.S., has been at war for 13 years. My government spends about a trillion-billion-gazillion dollars on war. (Really, I daresay most economists could not even keep track of it. The numbers are too humongous for any human being to actually fathom.)   So I come to the conclusion that my government must like war. Otherwise why spend all that money promoting it?

This perplexes me. I mean really?  Really??

(PLEASE BE WARNED! Graphic pictures  will follow! It ain’t pretty but it is REAL.)

 

They choose war. Therefore they choose this.

iraq_troops-pd

And this.

war-pd

Not to mention THIS.

war-injury

And of course THIS.

girl_dead_usrael_attack_sidon_lebanon

 

 

(Jeez, good thing I’m not being censored by Zuckerberg, eh?)

War is ugly. Nothing sleek nor stylish about it.

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that war has never done any good and never will. Just study history and you will find this is true.

No one in their right mind would choose what I have just shown you. (Unless of course you were a Wall Street crony, far removed from such violence, and war was a guarantee that your stocks in Haliburton would shoot up and make you a gazillionaire.)

There is, however, a difference between being pro-peace and being anti-war. Pro-peace means putting our focus on PEACE. Anti-war means actually putting the focus on war, and therefore (inadvertently)  creating MORE war. (That is why the ‘War on Drugs’ has created more drugs and the ‘War on Terror’ has created more terrorists. Have you noticed?)

Each of us, in our daily lives can choose to be peaceful. We can be more accepting, more patient and kinder. This may mean taking a step back. It may mean learning to accept someone who has a different belief system or lifestyle from your own. It may mean tuning out the snarky media who likes to promote hate and intolerance. It may mean getting more sleep, eating healthier food, learning to breathe, learning to love.

In the end, I trust that  humankind do not really want to blow each other’s faces off.  In the end, I trust that our planet has enough resources to go around with many untapped and more being discovered each day. If a trillion gazillion dollars can be spent on War, then the same amount can be spent on Peace. Gardens are cheaper than bombs. Serenity is cheaper than PTSD.

When John and Yoko did their commercial for peace, they called it ‘Bed Peace’ and spent a week in bed talking to the press about peace. (Note guitar, flowers and, oh yeah, hair 🙂 )

bed-in_for_peace_amsterdam_1969_-_john_lennon__yoko_ono_17

The idea was to get the media to actually focus on Peace (also music, love and nature) rather than War. To this day, I do not think the world has understood this concept — focusing on what we want, rather than what we do not want.  John and Yoko urged us to ‘Give peace a CHANCE.’  Just step back and give it a chance. This is not some airy-fairy, hippie sh*t. Nor is it some pie in the sky dream. This CAN BE OUR REALITY.

I do not think humankind has given peace a chance. I think we are too busy believing the lies and the hype promoted from those that would like to control us.

But we can begin now to change our thinking and shift the paradigm that insists upon war.

Peace further explained:

Parallel Universes & The Berenstein Bears

berentsein-bears-parallel-universe

We all remember the Berenstein Bears, right?  That wacky family of talking bears that got into all sorts of mischief?   They even had their own cartoon show. The Bears were outlandish, witty and fun. I remember their name distinctly. It was Berenstein. Such clever alliteration.  As  I got older, I even pictured the Berenstein Bears as Jewish comedians, right up there with Seinfeld or Larry David.  I am certain —  positive — I mean,  lie detector test SURE —  that the name was Berenstein! Stein with an ‘e’.  However, it seems I am wrong.

There currently exists not one book, not one cartoon, dvd or vhs of the Bears in which their names are spelled Berenstein. Look ‘em up on Wiki.  Their name, it seems, is Berenstain (like a grass stain or a stain in your blouse.)  It has, apparently, always BEEN Berenstain.

Huh? This actually freaked me out.  How do you remember the name?

I had some of the books, like this one:

Berenstain learn to read

I first became aware of this of few days ago while perusing youtube for parallel universe vids. The one I happened to find stated several ‘matrix glitch’ incidents which could be explained as parallel universes. But the spelling of the Berenstain Bears really hit home for me, because I DEFINITELY remember them as ‘Berenstein’. And so do a lot of other people.

I am a believer in parallel universes.   Even before this Bear phenomenon, I have been certain they exist. As I have stated in other blogs, recent findings of quantum physicians suggests that there may be as many as eleven different dimensions existing on unseen microscopic planes.  If these multi-dimensional planes exist, why not parallels of space and time? Past, present and future could all actually be happening at once, cutting through distance in a super-imposed matrix of reality.

Cool, huh?

space-suits-shot-from-a-parallel-dimension-6

Some psychics and paranormal observers have suggested that humankind actually move through several different parallels on any given day.  The problem is, the parallels are so similar that we do not notice the slight differences. Like the spelling of a bear’s name, for example 🙂

This matrix glitch has become a bit of a pop cultural phenomenon.  There are TONS of other videos out there exploiting the theme and declaring that all sorts of commonplace items have ‘mysteriously’ changed names. Take Jif peanut butter. Was it always Jif? Some claim it was  Jiffy.

For the record, and as a bona-fide peanut butter connoisseur, I contend it was always ‘Jif’! There was, however, ‘Jiffy Pop’ popcorn.  There is also Jiffy Lube and Jiffy Cakes. Memory is selective. Memory is peculiar.

Here are some more examples of the so-called matrix glitches: Is the product Fabreze or Fabreeze? Coca-Cola or Coke-Cola? Sex in the City or Sex and the City?  Captain Crunch or Cap’n Crunch?  Fruit Loops or Froot Loops? What was Forest Gump’s famous line — either ‘Life IS like as box of chocolates’ of ‘Life WAS like a box of chocolates’?

Yeah I admit it sounds a bit contrived.

I contend it was always Fabreze. It was always Cap’n Crunch. It was always Froot Loops. This being because advertisers, like rock bands, know the value of bad spelling. It draws attention to the product. That is why we had The Beatles, not The Beetles.  (Interestingly I notice as I type, my spell check does not even pick up Beatles as a misspelled word!  Way to go Lennon 🙂  )

I contend it was always Sex AND the City – this being because the city of New York was considered a character in the show as much as Carrie, Samantha, et al.

Coca-Cola? You know the story and it is true. In the 1920’s when cocaine was still legal in America, this soft drink did indeed contain strains of the substance itself.  It was always Coca. (At least I think so…)

The doomsday theorists have taken this whole parallel thing one step further. They are claiming the King James Bible itself has been tampered with.  Pop quiz for Bible enthusiasts:  Does the Lord’s Prayer ask ‘Forgive us our trespasses’ or ‘Forgive us our debts’?  Do the ‘Lion and the Lamb’ sit together in the peaceable kingdom, or is it the ‘Wolf and the Lamb’?   Well now. The poor old Bible has been interpreted and translated from Aramaic, Greek, Hebrew and Latin so many times, it would actually be strange if we did NOT have some  ever changing words in it.

Here is where Dana Carvey pops in, purses his lips and asks: “Could it be… SATAN??”

satan

 

Although there are a plethora of youtube clips exploring this phenomenon, I will include the following because it makes an interesting comparison to Star Trek. (Incidentally, I remember ‘Interview With THE Vampire’, not ‘A Vampire’, which is apparently correct in this current matrix… but I am a huge Anne Rice fan 🙂 )

 

At any rate, I also contend that no matter how you remember any these words, parallel universes DO exist and they always have existed. It is only now that they are actually coming to the surface in tangible, pop culture type ways. Finally!  (Thanks, Berenstein Bears!)

What starts out as tiny, seemingly insignificant words can grow to greater awareness, paradigm shifts and life changing phenomena.

Would you like to live in another parallel where, for example, the current system of banking is changed? Would you like to live in a parallel where water is abundant? (Yes, California, I mean you.)  Would you like a parallel where food, clothing and shelter are adequately provided for all regardless of economics and demographics?

But where would all this stuff come from? you ask. Well now.  Where did electricity come from?  Where did this very internet upon which you are reading, actually come from? Either the grand Magi pulled it out of her hat, or there are several hidden parallels which are constantly adding to the development of humankind. Which is kind of the same thing, really…

Nikola-Tesla-1

To take it one step further, would you like to live in a parallel where wars are eradicated, where hatred and power-mongering have been replaced with love and world peace?  Well then. Follow your matrix. It is the human mind that leads to discoveries, inventions and the archeology of new dimensions.  We will get what we think about. Whether we want it or not. We will achieve as little, or as much, as we believe to be possible in human capacity.

BrighteningthePath