Witchcraft: forget the broom

By Jill C. Hindman
October 25, 2001

Amanda Howard

When someone mentions witches we tend to think of Samantha on “Bewitched” with her cute little daughter Tabitha, or the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch of the North from “The Wizard of Oz.” It is rare that we would actually think back to when witches were in fact very real and not just a character on our television screens. The history lies in Salem, Massachusetts where a wiggle of the nose wasn’t so cute.

It all began in January 1692. Two young girls of Salem Village became ill with no explanation. It was deemed that bewitchment was the cause. The two girls accused three women of afflicting them with spells. In other words the girls said that they were tormented and possessed by the three women. These women were everyday women. They did not have big noses or wear pointy hats and the certainly were not green.

This case started witch trials, the first was held on March 1, 1692. These trials led to a witch hunt. Nineteen people, including five men, were hanged as a result of this witch hysteria. One person was pressed to death, which means exactly what it says. It is unknown where the bodies of accused witches were buried because they were not allowed to be buried on consecrated ground. The trials lasted for less than a year, but their impression on history will never die.

The Salem Witch Museum located in Salem, MA gives those who are eager to inquire a detailed display of what exactly happened in 1692. Life-size figures and lighting are used during a narration to give visitors a sense of what went on during the time of superstition and mass hysteria.

Witchcraft is a pantheistic religion, which means a belief in and worship of all gods, which includes respect for nature. The practice of witchcraft focuses on the good and positive in life and in spirit. This practice rejects any connection with the devil, although this may be contrary to common belief.

Facts of the Craft

Witchcraft means “Craft of the Wise Ones.”

Witches believe in the “Three-Fold Law”, which states that whatever you do, be it good or evil, comes back to you three times over.

The Pentagram, a five-pointed star in an upright, one-point-up position, is the symbol of witchcraft. The top point symbolizes Spirit. The four elements of life: air, fire, water, & earth are the four lowerpoints.

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Jill C. Hindman

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