The Salem witch trials all started when some children had come down with a strange mental illness that no one had ever seen or heard of. They called in the town "doctor" who, after examining the children, had no idea what was wrong with them. In those days, whenever a strange sickness had befallen people and the doctors couldn't diagnose the condition, they automatically defaulted to affliction by witchcraft. This was, more than any other reason, a way that the doctor could save his reputation as a valued diagnostician. That being said, the town doctor immediately sited witchcraft as the cause of the children's sickness.
next step after determining witchcraft as the cause of the
ailment was to interrogate the children under great pressure
until they cracked, and gave them the names of the witches.
It is important to note that there had to be a scapegoat, weather there was an actual witch or not. This is because the townspeople expected the authorities to find the witches, and to save their reputations, the authorities would not fail to produce a witch, real or imagined.
witches they found. Not real witches, but rather
people that the children said had done innocent little
things like reading their palms or cooking strange soups and
the like. Again, the children were under great
pressure to reveal the supposed witches, so it is quite
possible that the authorities of Salem simply picked out
some people that they thought were strange, or not a member
of any important families, and used them as scapegoats to
save their own reputations.
Most of the the people that were killed had never read a palm in their lives. In the late 1600's of early America, just not showing up for church was sufficient cause for serious punishment and or banishment. Indeed, many people who did not go to church were branded as witches.
So the Salem witch trials ensued. People were brought before the town authorities and interrogated and tortured until they either confessed to being a witch or they died. These were not trials by any means, but rather mockeries of justice. For the defendant accused of being a witch it was a lose/lose situation; once they had you in the interrogation room, you were either going to be tortured to death or be hanged to death, there was no other alternative available. It's quite obvious that anyone would consent to the quick death of hanging as opposed to a slow, painful death by torture.
So, in 1692 at a place outside of Salem Massachusetts known as Gallows Hill. A long rope was strung up over a strong branch of a large tree, and at least 19 people were hung by the neck until dead. This was a merciful death compared to being burned alive, which was being done in Europe at that time.
those evil town authorities that resided in Salem were alive
today, they would have quite a job on their hands
trying to round up the thousands of real witches that flock
to Salem these days.
Salem Massachusetts is the most popular place for real witches at the present time. Members of the group known as WICCA, proudly pronounce that they are indeed witches.
It is important to note that even the Bible makes no reference to witches being direct Satan worshippers, but rather, it names witches as people who worship the creation rather than the creator. Although the Bible warns against people worshipping the creation or nature, the modern day witches do not believe in the Bible and thus, do not believe in Satan, or any kind of devil. In fact, Satan worshippers don't even believe in Satan. They merely use the image of Satan as the ideal for there belief in gratifying the lusts of the flesh.
The modern day witches are not dangerous people, and do not believe in casting spells on people or using their religion to control or manipulate others. They practice a religion based on the worship of nature and the powers of the earth which is a bit like a cross between Pagans and Indian Shamanism. Since they are not a threat to the American way of life, it is not likely that we will ever see witches hanging from trees or being burned at the stake again.