This is my Weekly Witchy CHALLENGE - History of Magick entry
I learned about the Salem Witch Trials in school, living in Massachusetts, there was a lot of information & every Halloween it seemed to be a topic of discussion in one class or another. However, there were witchcraft laws and/or trials throughout New England & not just Salem.
I have lived in Plymouth County, MA in the past. Through the school systems & friends & life in general, that is the area that first piqued my interest in paganism/witchcraft. Along with information from my family & friends, I had decided to practice with a couple of friends of mine.
Witches had troubled the European colonists from the get-go. In 1635, Plymouth Colony made it a crime to “form a solemn compact with the devil by way of witchcraft.” As late as the 19th century, women were persecuted for cursing butter churns, making animals sick and causing people to die.
The Plymouth Colony’s court records are very interesting, as they provide a glimpse into the everyday life of the Pilgrims (albeit usually the negative side). They provide insight into how the Pilgrims interpreted scriptural and English law, and a look at their moral and religious values.
In 1636, the Plymouth Colony formally codified its five crimes that were punishable by death:
- willful murder
- forming a solemn compact with the devil by way of witchcraft
- willful burning of ships or houses
- sodomy, rape, and buggery
There were two witchcraft trials in Plymouth Colony, decades before the more famous Salem Witchcraft trials of 1692. Both Plymouth Colony witchcraft trials ended in not guilty verdicts: in fact the accusers were fined by the court for having made false accusations.