Witchcraft and Religion in the Colonies

The Salem Witch Trials have long been discussed by many historians and, no doubt, many history classes before ours. The beauty of historical analysis however, allows us to form our own opinions and voice unique thoughts either bouncing off previous theories or creating an amalgam of different thoughts. I read Sherwood’s(http://sites.davidson.edu/his141/taylor-chapter-15-norton-witchcraft-a-supernatural-inclination/) post and agree that the witch trials and evangelical movement cannot be completely independent of each other. Anyone can see the spiritual similarities and make a guess that there was correlation if not causation. In class, someone (I sadly have no idea who it was) mentioned Taylor’s point about women’s roles in societies in New England. They created networks of information that could be better identified as gossip (the same we all know and love in today’s society as well). I believe that the Salem debacle evolved from what EVFARESE (http://sites.davidson.edu/his141/author/evfarese/) described as “social warfare”. I’m not sure if this phrase is original or not but I like it. My views may be misconstrued by Hollywood’s The Crucible, but I believe the social aspect of Puritan society, mixed with a strong desire to be holy and good, started the entire unfortunate sequence of events. The girls were in small, strict towns and rarely travelled. Some might even spend an entire lifetime (if you weren’t hanged for black magic) in the same colony. In any small community, people have disputes and some simply do not get along. Whether hallucinogens acted as a catalyst or not, I believe this was in fact “social warfare” that ignited the powder keg that was evangelicals’ spiritual paranoia. Witch accusations, hangings, and mass hysteria can all be listed as results. As Sherwood mentioned, Evangelism definitely had a hand in what happened. The spiritual intensity fits like a perfect puzzle piece into the story of Salem’s witches.

 

*NOTE: I couldn’t find the passage from Taylor mentioned in class and was unsure how to cite someones comment in class.