Author Topic: Salem Witchcraft Trial Transcripts  (Read 1068 times)

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Offline PPI Brian

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The Salem Witchcraft Trials are a subject of endless fascination for me. For those who may be interested, I found these links to the actual transcipts from the court of Salem Village (now Danvers, MA) regarding the accusation, warrants, examination and conviction of the victims in this case.

http://etext.virginia.edu/salem/witchcraft/texts/transcripts.html
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."--Carl Sagan

Offline PPI Brian

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On a related note, people are still being accused of witchcraft in the 21st century.

In Eket, a city in oil-rich Akwa Ibom state of Nigeria, some teenagers are branded as "witch children." Many have traits that make them stand out, including learning disabilities, stubbornness and ailments such as epilepsy. They are blamed for causing illness, death and destruction, prompting some communities to put them through harrowing punishments to "cleanse" them of their supposed magical powers. Pastors have been accused of worsening the problem.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/africa/05/18/nigeria.child.witchcraft/index.html
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."--Carl Sagan

Offline SCP Ellie

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Wow Brian these are amazing. I mean if a group of people just didn't like you then you were screwed.
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Offline PPI Tracy

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Wow Brian these are amazing. I mean if a group of people just didn't like you then you were screwed.

Choo hit da nail on da heed gurl.

Offline SCP Ellie

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I've always been fascinated with the witch trials. Imagine being stoned to death, or burned to death or even being locked in a room full of snakes and such. Brian, do you think you might be able to find some of the different torture techniques they used on them?
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Offline PPI Jason

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Ellie,

I can actually answer that one for you. The answer is that, with one excpetion, no torture was used during the witch trials.

The one exception was the Giles Corey case. Giles Cory was brought before the court on charges of witchcraft. What made him unique was he refused to speak to the court. It was like an arraignment where he was expected to plead "guilty" or "not guilty." He refused to say anything. To get him to talk they took him out to a field, layed a flat board across his chest as he lie on the ground, and began placing rocks on the board (a type of torture called "peine forte et dure"). Eventually the load of the rocks becomes so great that the person can't hardly breath, gives a confession of being a witch, and then dies of suffocation. The only comment Giles Corey ever made to the court during the two days of torture before his crushing death was, "More weight."

Torture was outlawed in New England at the time so the traditional witch torture practices were off limits. Here is an interesting website that gives a brief overview of some of those "traditional" torture techniques used in Europe http://home.comcast.net/~burokerl/torture_and_death_for_accused_witches.htm.

Even peine forte et dure had been outlawed in England decades before. As far as I can recall, only a few of the accused admitted to being witches. Most were found guilty anyway. They weren't tortured but were simply hung after they were found guilty.

An interesting side note for paranormal investigators is the fact that the most common type of evidence used to convict the "witches" was known as "spectral evidence." This was essentially eyewitness testimony to the effect that the witness stated they saw the accused visit them at night in the form of a ghost. Cotton Mather advised the court to not use this type of evidence. His argument was that it was unreliable because the devil could take the form of innocent persons and then visit witnesses as a ghost at night. In the end, however, the courts chose to ignore the advise and it was this "spectral evidence" that convicted many of the subjects who were later hung.
« Last Edit: May 24, 2009, 12:50:07 AM by PPI Jason »
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Offline PPI Brian

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The whole witchcraft thing is ironic, isn't it? An allegedly close-knit group of Christian Puritans making false accusations against their neighbors for personal gain seems to go against the idealistic view of colonial puritan existence we were taught in grammar school. But people are people, regardless of their religious beliefs. People in desperate situations are seldom altruistic, and the people living in the colonies had been through hell. Being a "good Christian" doesn't magically make one a good person.

Case in point: the martyrdom of Hypatia of Alexandria. 16 centuries ago, Alexandria was the shining jewel of Western Civilization. And one of the most prominent citizens of the time was a brilliant woman named Hypatia. She was a scientist, a mathematician, a remarkable astronomer, a writer, a philosopher and an inventer. She wrote extensively on the motions of planets and she was a popular lecturer, drawing students from many parts of the empire. She was also a pagan.

There was a large Christian movement in Alexandria at the time, and one of their core objectives was to rid the world of all things pagan. Number one on their hit list was the library at Alexandria. Christians at the time were offended by Hypatia for a number of reasons: she represented heretical teachings, including experimental science and pagan religion. She was an associate of Orestes. And she was a woman who didn't know "her place". Bishop Cyril's preaching against Hypatia is said to have been what incited a mob led by fanatical Christian monks to attack Hypatia as she drove her chariot through Alexandria. They dragged her from her chariot and, according to accounts from that time, stripped her naked, dragged her into a church and flayed her flesh from her bones with abalone shells, scattered her dismembered body parts through the streets, and burned some remaining parts of her body in the library of Caesareum. In the wake of her death, the library was ransacked and the accumulated knowledge of the Western world was destroyed. It would take science two thousand years to rediscover the knowledge that was nearly lost forever.

Ironically the Christians celebrated this act of treachery and inhuman brutality by making Cyril a Saint.

Here's a link to a video about the Library of Alexandria:
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/lf0pvT8i-EQ&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/lf0pvT8i-EQ&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;</a>

Here's a link to a video about the destruction of the Library of Alexandria, and the brutal murder of Hypatia:
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/6MsF8JhkRIk&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer" class="bbc_link bbc_flash_disabled new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/6MsF8JhkRIk&amp;hl=en_US&amp;fs=1&amp;</a>

Here's a link about Hypatia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypatia_of_Alexandria
« Last Edit: June 09, 2010, 03:21:09 PM by PPI Brian M »
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."--Carl Sagan

Offline SCP Ellie

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Oh wow guys!! I love all of this. Thank you so much!!
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Offline PPI Brian

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Hi Ellie,

I'm glad you found this article interesting. I will keep digging around to find more items to add to this thread.  :)
"Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."--Carl Sagan

Offline SCP Ellie

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