Salem Witch Trials

It is likely witchcraft was being practiced in Salem Village. There is a large granite rock located deep in a wooded section of Salem Village with magical markings, which have been dated to the late 1600's. The actual extent of Witchcraft being practiced is unknown.

The shameful chain of events of the Salem Witchcraft Trials started with Samuel Parris, a merchant from Barbados, when he moved to Boston in 1680. He was invited to become the minister of Salem Village by John Putnam in 1688. He arrived at Salem Village in 1689, and brought with him his wife Elizabeth, daughter Betty, niece Abagal Williams and a slave couple; John and Tituba.

Tituba (pronounced Ti-shoo-bah) is widely depicted as being African, but 17th century documents from Barbados suggest she was actually a Native American captured from an Arawak village in South America. Nonetheless, Barbados had a rich Creole culture and Tituba was very familiar with voodoo-like African rituals.

Tituba entertained Parris' nine year old daughter Betty and his eleven year old niece Abigal Williams with mystical tales that dealt with Magick. Other girls from the village began to attend these stories, as they dealt with exciting topics for a Puritan town. By the winter of 1691, attendance of these clandestine meetings had grown considerably. The girls and their friends started practicing fortune telling. The participants now included: Mary Warren, 20 Mercy Lewis, 19 Mary Walcott, 16 Elizabeth Hubbard, 17 Ann Putnam Jr, 12

In February of 1692, nine year old Betty Parris became strangely ill. She contorted in pain and suffered convulsions. There are many theories today about the cause of young Betty's illness, including mosquito encephalitis, exposure to a hallucinogenic fungus called ergot, clinical hysteria, repressed emotions, etc. At the time, however, there was no explanation for her condition.

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