After a few minutes the episode seems to end and the screaming stops. Just as everyone in the crowd gives a sigh of relief, a blood-curdling scream is let out by one of the girls. She holds her arm out for everyone to see, and to the astonishment of all in the courtroom, bite marks send drops of blood ascading down her forearm. The other girls examine their own bodies and instantly find bite marks of their own.
"Stop biting me!" one girl screams at the old lady on the witness stand.
"Stop pinching me YOU WITCH!" another girl yells out as the old lady looks down with worry and bites her lip.
"You see everyone?!?" one girl says, "She is using her black magic to HURT us by biting her own lip. Witch!"
The lawyer steps forward, "Madame, I demand you cease to do the devil's work in this courtroom!"
"But I do no such thing," the old lady replies.
"Witch!" A man in the audience exclaims, "Witch! Witch! WITCH! WITCH! WITCH!"
The whole courthouse is filled with screams of terror and accusation.
"She rides a broomstick! I see her fly at night," one woman screams.
"The devil visits her house and strange noises erupt from her window!" another neighbor offers.
"She has the mark of the devil himself, look!" says a man pointing at a mole on the old lady's neck.
The old lady tries to cover her neck, but it is too late. Audience members of the court rise up and attempt to tear her hands away from her neck. The bailiff has to charge in to save the old woman from the violence of the mob. But the old lady already faces a deadly inevitability. The jury returns with the verdict on the accusation of witchcraft: Guilty as Charged.
A few days later, the old lady is put to death by hanging.
What could make an entire town of adults so murderous?
At this time, Isaac Newton was just coming out with his laws of motion, explaining natural occurrences according to scientific principles. His revolutionary vision of life was known to only a small handful of scientific thinkers. Common people still relied on their Pagan belief system, based on thousands of years of religious practice. The Pagan religion is based on the worship of countless gods and spirits, the most important one being the Earth Goddess. Pagans are the ones who brought us the original Christmas (a celebration of the end of winter), and Halloween (originally called "All Hollow's Eve," the Pagan new year where the layer between reality and the spiritual world is thinnest). In England, France, and America, Pagans began to be seen as a threat to the structure of the Church and Kingdom. They were labeled witches, and thousands, if not millions, were put to the stake and murdered for their beliefs.
Who were the witches in America?
In a Puritan society where power lay in the hands of a few wealthy landowners, being a witch gave women limited power. Still, the little power a witch gained did not go unnoticed by those in charge.
To convince their followers that the devil was responsible for various calamities, those in power often used witches as scapegoats. Witches were not only convenient people to blame; they also served as examples of what could happen to you if you did not follow the rigid rules of Puritan society.
Once a witch had been accused, her future was grim. Sometimes a mob of people would take the accused to a lake or a river and place her in a drowning chair. The chair was attached to a long pole like a seesaw and after lifting the accused above the water the pole was released and she was dunked into the water. If her body floated to the surface this was seen as proof that "the waters hath rejected her" and that she was indeed a witch. If she sank to the bottom it meant that she actually was not a witch, but it was too late now because she was a goner.
The lesson to be learned from this unfortunate episode in American history is to always think critically of what others tell us to do. Just because somebody is in an authoritative position does not automatically make what he or she says to be true. Always use your own judgment to decide between right and wrong, and never be afraid to speak your voice.
Witches in America:
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