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Folk Magic and the Salem Witch Trials with Maya Rook

Salem Witch Trials and Folk Magic with Maya Rook Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast

Josh Hutchinson and Sarah Jack present historian Maya Rook. She is a cultural historian, educator, and host of Illusory Time and Salem Oracle, and a yoga and meditation instructor.  We discuss Salem Witch Trials folklore, divination, and magic facts in depth, along with the pop culture portrayal of the witch.  Find out what can be known by the records about accused witch and slave Tituba. What is Sympathetic Magic? Was Counter Magic being used? We also look for answers to our advocacy questions: Why do we witch hunt? How do we witch hunt? How do we stop hunting witches?Marilynne K. Roach, The Salem Witch Trials: A Day By Day Chronicle of a Community Under SiegeElaine G. Breslaw, Tituba, Reluctant Witch of Salem: Devilish Indians and Puritan FantasiesUniversity of VA, Salem Witch Trials Documents and TranscriptionsSalem Oracle by Maya RookIllusory Time by Maya RookAdvocacy Against Witch Hunts, South AfricaTickets for Salem Ballet, Ballet Des Moines Join us on Discord to share your ideas and feedback.Please sign the petition to exonerate those accused of witchcraft in ConnecticutWebsiteTwitterFacebookInstagramPinterestLinkedInYouTubeTikTokDiscordBuzzsproutMailchimpSupport the show

Show Notes


Josh Hutchinson and Sarah Jack present historian Maya Rook. She is a cultural historian, educator, and host of Illusory Time and Salem Oracle, and a yoga and meditation instructor.  We discuss Salem Witch Trials folklore, divination, and magic facts in depth, along with the pop culture portrayal of the witch.  Find out what can be known by the records about accused witch and slave Tituba. What is Sympathetic Magic? Was Counter Magic being used? We also look for answers to our advocacy questions: Why do we witch hunt? How do we witch hunt? How do we stop hunting witches?


Marilynne K. Roach, The Salem Witch Trials: A Day By Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege

Elaine G. Breslaw, Tituba, Reluctant Witch of Salem: Devilish Indians and Puritan Fantasies


University of VA, Salem Witch Trials Documents and Transcriptions

Salem Oracle by Maya Rook

Illusory Time by Maya Rook

Advocacy Against Witch Hunts, South Africa

Tickets for Salem Ballet, Ballet Des Moines 

Join us on Discord to share your ideas and feedback.

Please sign the petition to exonerate those accused of witchcraft in Connecticut

Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast links

Support the show


[00:00:00] Josh Hutchinson: " Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." Exodus 22:18.
[00:00:26] Josh Hutchinson: Welcome to another episode of Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast. I'm Josh Hutchinson.
[00:00:31] Sarah Jack: And I'm Sarah Jack.
[00:00:33] Josh Hutchinson: Today we're talking to historian Maya Rook about folk magic in the Salem Witch Trials. We'll also talk about Tituba, the afflicted girls of Salem, and pop culture. 
[00:00:43] Sarah Jack: Maya's approach to discussing these historical topics is very approachable and interesting. So I'm really looking forward to having that [00:01:00] conversation with her on this episode. 
[00:01:02] Josh Hutchinson: So am I. Been fascinated with the Salem witch trials for a long time. 
[00:01:07] Sarah Jack: And this time of year, you start thinking about these things.
[00:01:11] Josh Hutchinson: I think it's at the forefront of people's minds, seasonally. It is Halloween coming up.
[00:01:21] I'm pretty jazzed, and I don't always get into Halloween, but this year there's something about it that's drawing me to it.
[00:01:30] Sarah Jack: I love seeing the events popping up, the articles coming out, all the different ways that Halloween starts approaching. 
[00:01:43] Josh Hutchinson: I'm ready for the chocolate. 
[00:01:46] Sarah Jack: They said there was gonna be a shortage, but we've already had quite a bit of Halloween chocolate in our house. 
[00:01:52] Josh, I'm really looking forward to hearing your history segment on this episode. I believe you're gonna be [00:02:00] giving us some details on Tituba.
[00:02:03] Josh Hutchinson: Yes, I am. Thank you. We did talk about Tituba a little bit last week, and we're going to talk to Maya about Tituba some more.
[00:02:13] So I'm keeping this one brief. Generally people who know about Salem know about Tituba, either through The Crucible or history class, some way, but there are a lot of misconceptions out there about her. For one thing, she's actually an indigenous person, possibly from South America or the Caribbean. Somehow the legends about her, she morphed and became not an indigenous person, but all of the records referred to her either as a quote "Indian" or a "Spanish Indian".
[00:02:49] So we do know that she was an indigenous person who was enslaved. The minister, Samuel Parris acquired her [00:03:00] when he lived in Barbados, before he moved to Massachusetts and became minister of Salem Village. 
[00:03:08] Another misconception about her is that she was practicing magic and teaching magic to the girls who became afflicted and became the first accusers in the witch hunt.
[00:03:22] There's no evidence whatsoever for her doing that. The only time that we know she did practice some magic was when she baked a witch cake, which was at the instigation of an English woman. And we'll talk to Maya a little bit more about that. I recommend that everybody reads Elaine Breslaw's book, Tituba: Reluctant Witch of Salem to get more details about what is known about her and the possibilities around her origins. 
[00:03:57] Sarah Jack: I'm so happy that author was [00:04:00] able to present that origin information. And I'm really happy that we're talking about her. I think the more that the facts of her life are talked about that we understand her experience in a real important way.
[00:04:22] I think she's been an important figure to many people, and I think she can remain that as we get to know her better. 
[00:04:32] Josh Hutchinson: She was a victim in so many ways, all her life. It's really important to get her story out there so people know about these things that happened in the past. 
[00:04:45] Sarah Jack: Thank you for introducing us to some of that information about Tituba. 
[00:04:50] Josh Hutchinson: You're welcome.
[00:04:51] Sarah Jack: Our next guest wears many hats. She is a cultural historian, a college history teacher, a public speaker and artist, a [00:05:00] writer, a podcaster, and a yoga teacher. When she's not teaching college, she teaches publicly available classes on a variety of history and cultural topics, including the Salem Witch Trials. She also posts about Salem online under the banner of Salem Oracle. We'll have links to all these offerings in the episode description, and these classes that she offers are packed full of great information and just very interesting and intriguing topics. So you definitely want to follow her calendar of events, because there will be something you don't wanna miss.
[00:05:39] Without further ado. Here's Maya Rook. 
[00:05:42] Hi, Maya. 
[00:05:44] Maya Rook: Hi. 
[00:05:45] Josh Hutchinson: Hello. 
[00:05:46] It's nice to meet you. 
[00:05:47] Maya Rook: How's it going? It's nice to meet you. 
[00:05:50] Seen you both a lot on the internet. So I feel like I know you already.
[00:05:56] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah, same here. Do you wanna talk a [00:06:00] little about folk magic? Figure folk magic is a good thing to talk about right around Halloween. 
[00:06:07] Maya Rook: I've done some work on the folk magic of Salem. I've been really intrigued, because I think a lot of people are drawn to the Salem Witch Trials because of an interest in magic or witchcraft, and it lures people in and it has this air around it.
[00:06:25] And then you start learning about the trials and you realize that they're just really incredibly brutal and dark, and that there wasn't actually the kind of magic that a lot of pop culture shows as happening in Salem. So I got curious, though, from going through the records and just reading so much and researching the trials, is there any evidence that folk magic was practiced during the Salem Witch Trials?
[00:06:51] And you can find elements of folk magic throughout it. So I've spent some time going through secondary sources, primary sources, and trying to cull [00:07:00] out where is the actual magic in Salem. The big things that I have found are the witch cake incident is a big example of folk magic, the use of poppets, those show up throughout the trials, different forms of divination, as well, and fortune telling. We see that in the trial records, too. 
[00:07:20] Josh Hutchinson: I understand one of the popular legends out there is probably not true that supposedly may have started the thing, the whole Venus glass thing. Can you tell us a little about that? 
[00:07:37] Maya Rook: Yeah, absolutely. So yes, there was one report from John Hale a few years after the Salem Witch Trials, and he said that he was told by one of the afflicted girls that they were practicing this form of divination, the [00:08:00] Venus glass and egg is oftentimes what they called it in 17th century New England.
[00:08:05] But the practice actually goes back to ancient Greece. So it's pretty old. It's called oomancy. And it's the use of egg in water to divine one's future. So we do know that this was a practice that people would've used during this time. Typically young girls would crack an egg, put it in water and then try to read the shape within it to see who their future husband might be.
[00:08:30] And so John Hale says that one of the girls was playing with this before the afflictions began and they saw a coffin. So they got really spooked and it has been this one source, which we don't even know who the girl is that he's talking about, has been used to create all these legends around Salem.
[00:08:53] A lot of people say oh, was Abigail and Betty, and then Tituba gets thrown in there too, that they were doing this [00:09:00] magic together, and then they got really scared. And then the girls were afraid they had let the devil in, and then they started exhibiting the afflictions. So would the girls have been playing with this? Possibly because it was a practice that people did, but to me, I don't really see a lot of credibility in it.
[00:09:18] He doesn't say who the girl was. So if you look and try to figure out who it possibly could have been, cuz he says that she died by the time this was published, and this is just a few years after the trials. So there's only about four girls it could be. And I think it's Mary Beth Norton, and she posits that it's probably one of the older girls, because she doesn't think somebody like Abigail Williams, being only 11 years old, would've been playing this particular game, trying to figure out who her husband was. That it actually would've been one of the older girls, but yeah, people love to latch onto that story.
[00:09:52] I'm a history teacher. I get papers from people and they outline this because it's in the [00:10:00] sources. We have historians who have said that this happened, based off this one source. 
[00:10:04] Sarah Jack: I noticed one of the sources that I think sometimes people come across is the book written by W. N. Gemmill, and he has no sources cited from where he wrote his book.
[00:10:17] And I was actually going to ask you what materials he may have been looking at when he wrote his book. I find it very interesting that he called the afflicted girls, the circle girls, named the 10 of them, said they were meeting nightly with Tituba. Where did he get that information to write about it?
[00:10:36] And that was in 1924. 
[00:10:40] Maya Rook: That was in 1924. Interesting. I was gonna ask that because it makes me wonder now. Marion, L Starkey wrote The Devil in Massachusetts in the forties, and she really plays on this whole thing, but now I wonder if maybe she was looking at his book, and that's where she got those ideas.
[00:10:56] It very well could have come from his [00:11:00] imagination, but there are some sources in the late 1800s that start to play with the idea of Tituba teaching the girls magic and witchcraft. So it could have just been part of that progression as well. 
[00:11:13] Sarah Jack: Yeah. I noticed The Witchcraft in Salem Village by John Fisk really paints Tituba in this light, that she was pulling them into her magical world, and he has something cited, but a lot of his descriptions would just be coming from his pen, it appears, so Gemmill would've had the opportunity to read Fisk, possibly. 
[00:11:36] Maya Rook: And if we look back at the first real full-length history in the 1860s by Charles Upham, he says in there that Tituba and John Indian may have originated the Salem Witchcraft.
[00:11:51] So I think he plants the seed there, and then other people pick up on it, and it becomes this [00:12:00] legend, really, that has no roots. The only magic that Tituba could have been said to have practiced during the Salem Witch Trials was her help baking the witch cake, which was an English folk magic custom that was taught to her by Mary Sibley, an English Puritan woman.
[00:12:17] It's so unlikely that Tituba would've been teaching the girls these things. 
[00:12:23] Sarah Jack: And I found it also interesting, when we look at Tituba's examination and she's naming witches and asked questions and pressed, she, in that circumstance, is saying, no, I did not bring magic over, but yet many authors and writers have portrayed her as most likely having done that.
[00:12:46] And we can't obviously take what she said then as any truth, because her whole thing there is untruth, but I just was like, oh, that's interesting, she just said, no, I didn't use magic before.
[00:12:58] Maya Rook: That happens with [00:13:00] another enslaved woman, as well. There was two others in the trial Candy and Mary Black, and I can't remember, I think it was Candy who said this. They ask her, cause she's from Barbados, if she was made a witch in Barbados, and she makes it very clear that she was not. She did not become a witch when she was in her home country, that it happened while she was in Massachusetts.
[00:13:22] So I think that's very interesting that they're looking. We look for people to blame even as we get into historical accounts in the 1800s, 1900s, like who could have been, who could have been responsible for this? And the same thing is happening then too, right? People are just pointing fingers, looking like, where could this possibly have been coming from?
[00:13:41] And, in a lot of ways, the only people they can really blame are themselves, because it's from their own minds and beliefs that all of these fears are originating. 
[00:13:50] Yeah. And I don't know if you found this, I've been just researching and teaching on the trials for years, but it's almost like the more I know, the more I realize what I don't know, [00:14:00] and it just keeps expanding. There's so many different directions and different paths that you can go down and keep exploring. 
[00:14:06] Sarah Jack: Absolutely. I think I this week referred to it as peeling my witch hunt onion. I'm like, oh my goodness, it's another layer, but I often personally think about seeing the trees for the forest. You just see more and more trees and you see the bark on the trunk and how old that tree is and who else has been looking at that tree.
[00:14:28] And I don't know. I totally agree with what you're saying. 
[00:14:32] Josh Hutchinson: Could you elaborate on the witch cake? 
[00:14:37] Maya Rook: So the witch cake, I always find that one of the most fascinating parts of the trials, and when I tell the sort of narrative of the trials, I think it's this beautiful way that really draws people in, cause they're like, oh, witch cake, what could it possibly be? So the witch cake incident happens pretty early on. Abigail and Betty have been afflicted. They can't figure out what's going on. Then they get diagnosed as being [00:15:00] bewitched. 
[00:15:00] And one day, this would've been in February, the Parrises are out of the house, and their neighbor, Mary Sibley, comes over, and the story goes that she is determined to figure out who the Witch is. So she instructs Tituba and her husband, John Indian, they're both enslaved in the Parris household, how to make a Witch cake. And I believe the earliest records we have of witch cakes is in the early 1600s, but essentially it's a combination of sympathetic magic and counter magic. So they take urine from the afflicted girls, which must have been an interesting endeavor so they take the urine from ththe girls. They mix it with rye flour, and then they bake it in the ashes and feed it to a dog. So it's called sympathetic magic because it's believed that the witch has [00:16:00] this connection to the body of the girls, that she has bewitched them, cursed them.
[00:16:05] So if they can take something out of the girls, like the urine or hair or blood, something that comes from the body, but the witch has a sympathetic connection to that excrement basically, right? So they take it and then it can be manipulated. So it's manipulated into this cake form, which I always imagined is probably more like a really hard biscuit, like hard tack or something and that once it's manipulated, they can do something to it that might affect the witch.
[00:16:37] So there's some debates about how this actually worked. Some people think that maybe it would make the witch reveal herself. Some people think that it might actually hurt the witch. Some people thought that by feeding it to the dog, it might transfer the bewitchment to the dog. This is also known as counter magic because it was using this folk magic tradition as a way to try to [00:17:00] counter the harmful magic of this witch. But in the case of the girls it's not successful.
[00:17:06] My understanding is that the Witch cake happens after the examination that they have the confirmation that they're bewitched. And so then it's okay, if there bewitched, there must be a witch out there somewhere, who could it be?
[00:17:21] Josh Hutchinson: I feel bad for the dog. 
[00:17:24] Maya Rook: Yeah, me too.
[00:17:26] Josh Hutchinson: That's pretty gross. 
[00:17:28] Maya Rook: We don't really know much about the dog. I did find out that other ways that people might use witch cakes would also be to bury them in the ground or to burn them. So there is this element of that the cake is being destroyed in some way. That is so it can cause harm to the Witch. 
[00:17:44] Josh Hutchinson: So when they burned it, would they have believed that the witch would then be burned?
[00:17:49] Maya Rook: My understanding is it would just potentially harm the witch or be able to cut that tie of magic.
[00:17:57] Josh Hutchinson: Were other methods of detecting [00:18:00] witches employed? 
[00:18:00] Maya Rook: It seems like with the Salem Witch Trials, a lot of the methods for determining witches were just accusations from people. In the records, people will like, oh, I got an argument with them. And a lot of times it's livestock, right? Like my livestock got ill suddenly afterwards, or there was some strange incident that occurred after I had an issue with this person. So a lot of times just seems like it's stories that people then interpret. Okay, then maybe that person is a witch. Once somebody has been accused and if they are arrested for it, they'd be examined.
[00:18:35] So a lot of times they did look for some kind of witches mark on them. So they would usually strip the people naked and then, and look for this mark. Sometimes it was believed, described as like a third nipple or something like that. And I always think the thing with the witch's mark is if you go looking for it, you're probably gonna find something. It could be a mole. It could be a skin tag. It could be like a [00:19:00] weird birthmark. It could even be a bug bite, just like something that is a little bit different. Cause if you wanna find it, then I think you will. 
[00:19:10] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. I think everybody has at least one of those things. But they wouldn't have used other folk magic methods for detecting witches?
[00:19:18] Maya Rook: It does also make me think though, of some of, one of, one of the incidents was with poppets, which I mentioned before. So poppets are similar to the way we might think of voodoo dolls in popular culture. Whatever you do to the doll or the poppet happens to the person it's supposed to represent.
[00:19:37] So again, that case with Candy, she confesses to the crime of witchcraft and she says that she has poppets. They ask if there's poppets you, I want we wanna see them. So they allow her to go and retrieve the poppets, and she comes back with like some grass and some rags, a handkerchief, that's tied into knots, and it's described that [00:20:00] they, afflicted girls say, oh she, she plays with the handkerchief and that's what torments us. So they ask candy to untie the knots. It doesn't do anything. They make her eat the grass that doesn't do anything either .The girls are still afflicted. So then the magistrates start playing with the handkerchiefs and trying to see, oh if we do it, will it stop the affliction?
[00:20:21] So I'm reading this. I'm like, okay, the magistrates are playing with magic right now. And I love it cuz it gets really out of hand where they try to burn one of the rags and then the girls complain of being burned. They dump it in water. They act like they're drowning. Someone runs out towards the river.
[00:20:38] So it's just this incident where things really start to go off the rails, the trials. 
[00:20:44] Sarah Jack: We need an illustration of that little segment for sure. 
[00:20:50] Josh Hutchinson: That's amazing. The magistrates are doing witchcraft. 
[00:20:53] Sarah Jack: I can just see the. Comic strip or the, the graphic novel art on that [00:21:00] one.
[00:21:00] Maya Rook: Absolutely. 
[00:21:02] Josh Hutchinson: I know there were some other methods of divination. Could you tell us about those? 
[00:21:08] Maya Rook: I do know. So the Venus glass and egg, or the oomancy definitely shows up. And then the other one that stood out to me was the sieve and scissors, which also goes back to again like ancient Greece. And that shows up a couple times in the trials.
[00:21:26] And I remember one of the cases, the sieve and scissors is just basically a way another fortune telling technique where you turn, I think you like turn the sieve with the scissors. And in one of the cases, the person who was being examined said that. She ended up confessing that she was using it to try to find something out.
[00:21:50] And this basically led to her making, being approached by the devil and making a pact with him. So it's almost shown as like a gateway drug, [00:22:00] where it's she was messing around with the sieve and scissors and thought it was this innocent way to figure out the future, and then all of a sudden she's in the pact with the devil.
[00:22:09] So it's almost like they planted this little seed and she admitted to playing with that. And then it just spun out into this larger tale.
[00:22:17] Sarah Jack: I was thinking some of the other accused witches that entered into a pact with the devil, they were approached at night in their beds, I believe, some of them. So this, I wonder this is interesting, cuz that is very different if it happened, like while she was working with her magic. 
[00:22:39] Maya Rook: Yeah. It's Sarah Hawkes. And she says she confesses at this last spring, after she had turned the sieve and scissors, the devil came to her and got a promise of her, and then it goes on and says, she saith she went to the Salem Village meeting of witches with Goody Carrier. She promised to serve the devil three or four years [00:23:00] and to give him her soul and body and that she signed a paper he offered to her.
[00:23:04] So there's this very simple folk magic custom. And then yeah, right away, the devil is there. 
[00:23:10] Sarah Jack: He's there. She's got a contract with details. 
[00:23:15] Maya Rook: It's crazy.
[00:23:16] Josh Hutchinson: Oh, I believe there were a couple people who were supposedly practicing fortune tellers or soothsayers. Is that right? 
[00:23:26] Maya Rook: Yeah. Dorcas Hoar, who is one of my favorites in the trials was said to be able to tell people's fortunes. So that comes up, and it also is said that she was able to tell her own fortune, that she predicted that basically, that she would have a miserable life while her husband was still alive.
[00:23:46] But then after he died that she, she would come into better fortune. And so then this comes, this is oh, this came true. So she predicted her own fortune. I always thought that was really funny. But yeah, I know she is, and then there's a [00:24:00] man as well.
[00:24:00] Yeah. Dorcas also had it said she had an elf lock, so her hair was like knotted together. I imagine like a giant dreadlock, and it was said to be four feet long. And they believed that it was a place where she could hold power. So during her trial, they actually cut her elf lock off. Which was, yeah, I think that's should be considered torture. You shouldn't just cut somebody's hair they've been growing for that long off of them. 
[00:24:30] Josh Hutchinson: That sounds like Samson, cut his hair off and he loses his power. 
[00:24:34] Maya Rook: Yeah, absolutely. 
[00:24:37] Sarah Jack: I wonder if what they did with the hair, I'd like to know, did they bury it? Did they burn it? Did they construct something out of it? I don't know. I wanna know. I wonder what color hair she had.
[00:24:50] It'd be just interesting, if she had like a really dynamic hair color too, or maybe it wasn't. 
[00:24:55] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. I don't think they remarked about hair colors [00:25:00] very often. Except when they're describing like George Burroughs as being dark, he might have had dark hair. 
[00:25:07] Maya Rook: I think she was on the older side, so she might have had gray hair also.
[00:25:12] Josh Hutchinson: They were accused of doing so many things that they couldn't have done. Could you tell us some of the powers that the witches were said to have? 
[00:25:21] Maya Rook: With the Salem Witch Trials, it seems like a lot of the powers that these men and women were said to have was really having this like power to harm over the people of Salem, the power to change into different forms. So you have these instances where somebody's like turning into a cat or turning into, I think a wolf follows one of them home, turning into a bird, and they could change shape, that they could harm people in different shapes, that they could actually appear in the shape of somebody else as well. And so tricking people. So that you'd [00:26:00] think that one person was there, but it was, the witch was actually just throwing their specter around. 
[00:26:06] So that's pretty big, and the use of their specter to be able to leave their bodies and to go to other locations would be a major power. Of being able to fly as well. We do see incidents, reports that the witches would fly. And I think we might have mentioned this before, but like the, these meetings and Sabbaths of the witches, where they would gather together in the darkness of night. And a lot of times, and we see, especially with the Salem Witch Trials, they're kind of inverting Christian practices. So they talk about these, basically these dark sacraments, like they're drinking blood and reversing a communion during the Sabbath 
[00:26:50] Josh Hutchinson: I get confused on their flying, because Tituba describes it as she gets on a pole, and then she's instantly at her destination, but then [00:27:00] there's descriptions of actually their pole breaks, and they crash to the ground. So they're actually in the air moving. 
[00:27:10] Maya Rook: Yeah, the one that always stands out to me is Tituba. She's like and we we were there presently. Like they just, all of a sudden she's, many miles away from where they started. They couldn't always get their stories straight about what these witches were doing. They just knew that, they were doing it, they were doing something terrible and evil in the night.
[00:27:28] Josh Hutchinson: Increase Mather. He seems to imply that the devil could be impersonating an angel of light. How widespread do you think his belief was towards the end of the trial? Was that something that was catching on and affecting the outcomes?
[00:27:46] Maya Rook: I think that it definitely catches on you start to see the doubt really creeping in really around this time of year. As we wrap up September, begin to get into October. And I think that, this [00:28:00] community has been through so much over the last few months, and there's a lot of fear that kind of fear can only sustain itself for a certain amount of time. It's really difficult to live with that kind of mindset where you're suspicious of everybody, and you're afraid you're gonna be bewitched, and people are watching really horrible things happening. You have Dorothy Good. Who's a child who's been in prison for months at this point in time.
[00:28:29] Her mother and her infant sibling are dead. You have a man has, who's been pressed to death. He's been tortured to death in front of everybody. You've had a former Reverend who's been hanged. You've had people who are full members of their church being excommunicated and hanged. 
[00:28:49] And then for other people, their loved ones are in prison. And they're about to face the winter time. They know it's gonna be really horrible conditions, and people become desperate. They wanna get people. And I [00:29:00] think it begins to shift people's mindsets. You start seeing the petitions increasing September, October. And so I think that idea, people are looking for ways to start prove it the other way.
[00:29:12] And so like that kind of that that comment, the devil could be tricking them. I think it becomes very valid in people's minds. And I think people were starting to realize that, the people who are dead, what if they were wrong? They can't bring them back, but maybe they can prevent other innocent people from dying. 
[00:29:30] Josh Hutchinson: Who are the afflicted girls as a group, and who are some of the individuals that are key? 
[00:29:37] Maya Rook: I was looking back in my notes today, and in Marilynne K. Roach's book, she has a, an incredible index, and she lists 73 people total as being afflicted.
[00:29:50] So it's really high. But a lot of times when we talk about the people who are afflicted, we're talking about this smaller group and it's just about 10 girls. So [00:30:00] two of the really big names where it starts would be Abigail Williams and Betty Parris. They're the ones that have the initial afflictions and they're only nine and eleven years old, so they're quite young, and they are an interesting case cuz they, they live in the Reverend Samuel Parris's household. So this place, this home, where he's supposed to be this spiritual leader in the community, and that's where it all starts. It's almost like something was rotten at its core, in Salem, and it's in his home, and there's a lot of theories about what could have started their afflictions, but it is the spark I think that leads to everything that happens. And it doesn't stop with them. It spreads to all these other people. So Ann Putnam Jr would be one of the other major names, and she's probably one of the most, in a lot of ways, one of the most well known, because she makes an apology several years later. So Ann Putnam was just about twelve [00:31:00] years old and she's becomes one of the most active people in the trials.
[00:31:03] Abigail Williams sticks around, as well. She's also well known, because she's transformed into a character in the play of The Crucible. Now Betty Parris, interestingly drops off from the trials. They remove her from the situation just maybe a month after the trials start, because she's not getting better, and they don't want her to be a part of everything that's going on in Salem.
[00:31:23] But Ann Putnam goes on to become so active, her mother as well. Her family makes a lot of accusations, and it seems like there's ties of other young girls to Ann Putnam. So she's been presented a lot of times almost as like a ringleader of the afflicted girls. And she's the only one to ever apologize for her role in the trials, which is a whole thing we could unpack, because that apology, it happens many years later, and essentially she wants to [00:32:00] join the church, and to do she has to make this public apology. And I can give her props. And I'm like, you did say that you were sorry. And she does specifically name Rebecca Nurse and her role in that trial. But she also says that she was tricked, that she was deluded by Satan. She deflects and is almost like I didn't really know what I was doing.
[00:32:24] Yeah. So I go back and forth. Depends on what kind of mood I'm in if I'm like gonna be kind to Ann Putnam Jr or not. , 
[00:32:33] Josh Hutchinson: It's like the devil made me do it.
[00:32:36] Sarah Jack: I've seen in some comments from descendants or just people researching and commenting on social media. They recognize that for them, the devil was a real problem, that he was pulling people in. And if she still believed that but was sorry that she got pulled in, [00:33:00] then it's an easier apology pill to swallow. But I know the first time that I read that, cuz Rebecca nurse is my ancestor. So I was like, that's what apology that the Nurses got for that.
[00:33:14] But reflecting on just who, what player the devil was in the problems that happened, then I cool off for a minute. 
[00:33:25] Maya Rook: Yeah. And Ann Putnam, Jr. also, she didn't have a very good life. Her parents die. She ends up taking care of her siblings. She's the eldest. And she dies pretty young as well. And she never marries. So I don't think that things turned out very well for her. 
[00:33:42] I'd love to give the ages because we, a lot of times we think of 'em or like oh the afflicted girls. And so in our imaginations, they're all pretty young. Like they're children, but Betty and Abigail are the youngest, so they're 9 and 11. Ann Putnam, Jr. Is 12, and then we jump up. So [00:34:00] Elizabeth Hubbard is 17, Mary Walcott is 17, Mercy Lewis is 18, Mary Warren is 18, Susannah Shelden is 18, Elizabeth Booth is 18, and Sarah Churchill is 25. And she's put in with the afflicted girl group, which seems like she's a little bit old to be hanging out with them.
[00:34:21] But they're the ones who are pointed to as being this core group of the afflicted girls.
[00:34:28] Josh Hutchinson: But then there were also some afflicted adults as well. Weren't there? 
[00:34:33] Maya Rook: There were, there was many afflicted. I already mentioned, like Ann Putnam's mother also becomes afflicted and yeah, 73 total are in Roach's accounts that she's put together from the records, which is a lot. Even John Indian, Tituba's husband, becomes one of the afflicted.
[00:34:50] And my guess with him is that I always wonder did they have some way that they met with each other and they talked and, are just like, you need to save yourself basically [00:35:00] by pretending like you are afflicted. Otherwise you're gonna get accused as well. 
[00:35:04] Josh Hutchinson: I know Mary Warren, she starts as afflicted, but then she gets accused herself.
[00:35:10] Maya Rook: She does get accused herself. Yeah. She is afflicted. And then she begins to say that she's like getting better. Yeah, she's doing well. And so there's this reaction from the afflicted girls and say it's because she's actually a witch. And if you look at her trial records, it just goes back and forth. It's so intense where she appears to be both afflicted and being accused of afflicting others at the same time. Yeah. So pretty wild case. 
[00:35:44] Sarah Jack: One of the things that you mentioned in one of your podcast episodes that I listened to recently was you pointed out that the afflicted girls don't really have, we don't have their perspective.
[00:35:58] I think that is a huge hole, but [00:36:00] I was just thinking, oh we have Ann Putnam, Jr's apology, we have a little bit, she's still connecting it to trickery of the devil. And then you mentioned this gal who was afflicted and accusing. So we really have very little of their perspective. What would they say about it? We don't know. We know what they were saying about what was happening, 
[00:36:22] Maya Rook: We are so blessed to have all of these records from the trials, but they're also, they're not perfect records, right? It's not like there was a video and a microphone that was recording everything.
[00:36:35] You have people who are in the room who are writing things down while it's happening. You also have people who are writing things down afterwards and summarizing what went on. And we don't know exactly, sometimes there's direct quotes written down, but how accurate are they? So it is interesting.
[00:36:55] While we have descriptions of what the girls were saying and doing, and maybe even [00:37:00] particular things they said during a case, we don't actually have anything that's from them. It's this is what my experience was. It's one of the reasons I really love, if you're familiar with Katherine Howe the writer. She wrote this book Conversion, and she plays with a present day situation, but she links it back to the trials, and we see it through Ann Putnam's eyes. And, obviously there's a lot of things that are being fabricated there, but I just appreciated adding this human element to it. What would it have been like to be a 12 year old girl during this time? And how might you get pulled into this situation?
[00:37:38] Josh Hutchinson: Could it have been stress related, specifically in the Parris household? 
[00:37:44] Maya Rook: Yeah. That kind of gets into the, again, the conversion disorder theory that, you know people will take things, mental anguish, and then convert them into physical symptoms so that these girls could have been experiencing intense emotion, stress, pressure, [00:38:00] whatever, and then it manifests this way that they might not even been aware necessarily that they were doing it at least, perhaps not in the beginning, when the symptoms start.
[00:38:08] So the Parris household does seem like it was a pretty intense place. And I think that there probably was a lot of pressure, because things were not going very well for Reverend Parris.
[00:38:20] And he was upset about his situation as a Reverend not getting enough, people weren't really coming to the meetings. He wasn't getting the proper pay and the firewood that he was supposed to be getting. So there could have been a lot of pressure on the family. Like they're hearing about all of these issues that are going on.
[00:38:41] And then at the same time, we don't know for sure, but perhaps, he wanted his children to present themselves in a particular way. Like they're an example to the rest of the community that he would've wanted them to display their good, puritan behavior. So I think that it is quite likely that [00:39:00] they could have been experiencing stress that would manifest this way.
[00:39:02] Yeah, I think of all the theories about why the girls were afflicted, the conversion disorder offers me the most substance. There's probably a lot of other factors going on, but I think that that one comes up for me a lot.
[00:39:15] Sarah Jack: I was thinking about when it started, and the congregation would've been hearing the reverend's children are afflicted. The other thing that I think about is how he was in a lot of stress with his congregation. There was a huge financial stress there for him, and then you look at the trials and over the course of it, how costly it was for all those villagers, all those church members. I just think that's very interesting. Everyone was having a hardship, these families who had their loved ones in the prison. I think it was Giles Cory, he didn't get to go on the ferry to say goodbye, because he [00:40:00] couldn't afford it. 
[00:40:01] Maya Rook: I think that's a great point about the finances, and I think it's something that a lot of people don't realize was just how much it cost to be in prison, and people were racking up a bill the entire time. They're paying for the chains that hold them in place. They're paying for, whatever kind of like food or water they might be getting. And so it was really hard even to get bailed out, because the bills could get so high and a lot of people just didn't have money. And that's what happens with Dorothy Good being so little, under the age of five, but it took another person coming in to pay for her bail so that she could actually be released, cuz her father couldn't do it. 
[00:40:44] Josh Hutchinson: With the afflicted girls and maybe some of the root causes, some of them were refugees from the war, and I wonder how that might have affected them. 
[00:40:55] Maya Rook: Yeah. So there was a lot of warfare going on[00:41:00] in the areas of the frontier at the time. So actually I'm up in Maine. And so the trials, people don't realize all the time, but they affected as high up as here.
[00:41:11] So there was warfare going on, and some of these girls have been orphaned. Some of them are refugees. They've experienced war and death and that fear firsthand. So again, if we look at that idea that these girls might be converting some of their stress, if they're suffering from what today, we would call post traumatic stress disorder. If they're converting that into these afflictions it makes a lot of sense. They've experienced really horrific situations being in warfare, losing their families. And then there's also this kind of association with being on the frontier and being closer to the indigenous people, and in these areas were seen as being very dark, that there was more opportunities [00:42:00] for the devil to be out, to be lurking. So even when they lived in these areas for however long they might have been there, they probably also had a lot of things planted in their minds, a lot of fear about where they were and that the devil could be just around the corner, ready to lure them away.
[00:42:18] Josh Hutchinson: I know Abigail Hobbs, she mentioned that when she lived at Casco Bay, which is the area that's now Portland, that's where she got converted to witchcraft. I happen to be related to Mercy Lewis. I have a theory that some of these afflicted girls, another thing that they did was bring these stories down to the Salem Villagers. Mercy Lewis lived in the household with Ann Putnam Jr., so she must have shared some memories at some time. And I wonder how that could have affected the younger children.
[00:42:53] Maya Rook: Yeah. I think that if those stories were being shared, then I think that would have a big [00:43:00] effect. Stories are how we make sense of the world, and if they're being told stories about firsthand accounts of warfare, that's like getting a horror story, horror movie, put into your mind, except it's very real. So I think that could have definitely contributed to a lot of fear that they experienced.
[00:43:17] And it also seems to have contributed to their descriptions of the afflictions or like seeing, they might describe people that look like indigenous people as being associated with the devil. So sometimes it seems as though they're pulling from those experiences that they had on the frontier.
[00:43:36] Between the three of us, we probably have a lot of ancestors in the Salem Witch Trials, and we could be related. That's possible. 
[00:43:46] Josh Hutchinson: We could well be I've found about 72 connections so far to the Witch Trials either directly or aunt, uncle, cousin, that kind of thing. And I [00:44:00] know I'm related to Sarah, because we're both descendants of Mary Esty.
[00:44:05] Maya Rook: Oh, wow. Yeah, my big one is the justice Dudley Bradstreet. So I'm descended from the sort of the Bradstreet clan of the Mass Bay Colony, and he was responsible for issuing a lot of arrest warrants. And then when he said, I'm not gonna do this anymore, and he steps down from his position, he refuses to issue any more warrants, he's pretty much immediately accused of Witchcraft, but he flees the area and this waits basically until things have settled down for to come back again. 
[00:44:37] Josh Hutchinson: He was accused, but I don't believe he was ever indicted. 
[00:44:41] Maya Rook: No, he's just accused. I don't think there was any like arrest warrants or anything put out for him. And this would've happened in September. So things are already starting to they're intensifying with the trials themselves, but other areas are winding down. And I think because he was a more prominent individual, it probably protected him [00:45:00] a bit in that way, too.
[00:45:00] Josh Hutchinson: I noticed that some of the other critics, like Samuel Willard was speaking out about it, and somebody would name them, and then the other adults in the room would say, not him. 
[00:45:15] Maya Rook: Having some element of power, prestige in the community definitely seemed to help, but not always. 
[00:45:23] Josh Hutchinson: They did go after the Englishes pretty hard, and John Alden.
[00:45:26] Sarah Jack: One of the things I wanted to ask you about Tituba was you mentioned how her image has changed over time. And I thought that is such a very important point. And what we know more of her now is newer, and it hasn't really taken center stage for her yet of who she is. She's still followed by the previous descriptions of her, but I thought that was a really important point that you made [00:46:00] about her.
[00:46:00] Maya Rook: Yeah, Tituba has shape shifted so much over the years, and I always like to point people towards Elaine Breslaw's work, because I think she was really instrumental in giving us a clearer image of who Tituba really was. So a lot of times Tituba is presented as being an enslaved black woman of African descent, to the point where it's just taken at sort of face value that's who she was.
[00:46:30] And that went through a whole development, but I really see The Crucible as a thing that fully cemented it in people's minds. But if we look back at her life, it appears she was actually an indigenous person, likely from South America and that she was kidnapped and taken to Barbados where she lived and then was purchased by Samuel Parris, served him, and then was brought to Massachusetts. I love looking at language, and I think that it's really [00:47:00] helpful when we look at the records, because if you look at the way that Tituba is described in every account, it's Indian servant, Indian woman, Indian servant woman. But like her racial and cultural identifier is always Indian. And then we know from other aspects that she was purchased from Barbados.
[00:47:21] So because of the way the Puritans saw the world, if a person had any African features, if there was any chance of African ancestry, if they were black at all, they would've used the term Negro to describe them in the court records. And we do see that with two other individuals, as you mentioned before, Candy and Mary Black, but we don't see that with Tituba, and in all the accounts afterwards, anything that's written about her, the years immediately following the trials, there's no indication. So it's really not until the 1800s that transformation occurs. And at first she's presented as oftentimes being quote "half [00:48:00] Negro", " half Indian," or "half savage".
[00:48:02] And then at some point, even the indigenous connection drops off, and she's presented as being a black woman. And then by the time we get to The Crucible, it's she's doing things in the woods with chickens and it gets into almost like she's practicing voodoo and all of this stuff. And that's the way that she's largely been remembered in our culture. I have a whole presentation, talk, discussion around this. I'm like, I wanna get it out in the world of who Tituba really was, as much as we can understand her. 
[00:48:32] Although I do think that it's important that she be has become a figure for other people, there is literature and artwork and poetry of Tituba as the black witch of Salem that is very meaningful to people, so I don't think we should dismiss that either. But she is a figure that has taken many different forms over the years. 
[00:48:53] Sarah Jack: It's so relatable to the actual portrayal of witches over the [00:49:00] centuries, how that image has changed. 
[00:49:04] Maya Rook: It's really fascinating to see how that's developed over time. And that's been some of my favorite research, actually has been on Tituba and diving into what do we know about her? And then looking at the historiography, how have historians portrayed her over time and tracing that development and watching the shifts and how has literature impacted it.
[00:49:25] Because even in the late 1800s, a couple plays come out that include Tituba that start having her practicing magic, that have her as half black, half Indian. And it almost seems like that literature, those cultural elements enter the scene and then historians actually get inspired by that.
[00:49:45] And then they put that into their stories, right? So there's this back and forth going on, this interplay between the popular culture and the historical work, that form the image of Tituba.
[00:49:57] Sarah Jack: That's a [00:50:00] beautiful explanation of it. I agree with you. I think that who she has symbolized and what she has meant to so many writers and anybody, I think any type of positive strength that one of these victims can be for their descendants or for someone who just looks at them and recognizes they were in a really awful situation and they survived.
[00:50:31] Maya Rook: And it's one of the great mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials is what happened to Tituba. She's the first to confess, one of the first people to be imprisoned. And she's one of the last people to be set free. And then we just have no idea. She's disappears. 
[00:50:48] Sarah Jack: I hope we find out I that's one of the things I love about witch trial history is, you never know what's gonna pop up in a journal or on a record someone's looking at. It's right [00:51:00] there, and we're gonna find out.
[00:51:01] That's what I hope.
[00:51:02] Josh Hutchinson: Yeah. One of our hopes is that all of the victims will be known as the humans that they were.
[00:51:10] Sarah Jack: Absolutely.
[00:51:12] Maya Rook: I love that. 
[00:51:14] Sarah Jack: And I think talking about the history and the different pieces that are interesting to people gives us the opportunity to talk about the individuals. So the ones that came up in our discussion today, that's humanizing them, and we're looking at the situation they were in and thinking about them as an individual. I think it's one of the other great things about talking about witch trials. 
[00:51:36] Maya Rook: Yeah. And I think to go back to where we started this discussion around folk magic, it's that, a lot of people are drawn to Salem because of the, oh was there real magic? There's witches, you know, what's going on there? And it's so magical and spooky, and that captures people's attention. But if you can use that as a hook to draw people in and then present this very human story, that's where the real [00:52:00] power is, I think. And that's where people make a true connection to what happened. 
[00:52:05] Josh Hutchinson: In many ways, Salem is so sensationalized. The witchcraft element is really played up, magical aspects and possibilities are played up. But I think that, like you said, is a good way to draw people in and get them interested in the history. And the true story is so much more powerful to me than those legends out there about the magic in witchcraft, the story about the persecution and the endurance of a lot of those people going through that suffering. 
[00:52:42] To touch on pop culture, which is another thing you talk about, I like to separate the pop culture from the fact, because a lot of the pop culture, it's off base, but it's entertaining. And you can learn a little bit from every movie that [00:53:00] comes out that's about witch trials. So what are some of your favorite pop culture elements about Salem? 
[00:53:07] Maya Rook: I will say my favorite pop culture witch probably is Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the version played by Melissa Joan Hart. Sabrina spent through many different iterations, but the show that came out in the nineties. And there are some connections, of course, to Salem. She has a cat named Salem, who's actually a warlock who is being punished by having to be in a cat's body for like a hundred years or something like that, but he's named Salem. But early on in the show, they actually do like a field trip to Salem, her school does, and she's afraid. She's like I don't wanna go to Salem. I'm not going. They weren't very kind to witches, and her aunts were like, oh, you don't have to be afraid. There were no real witches in Salem. Only thing you have to be worried about. There is overpriced souvenirs, so, you know, they have fun. They play with [00:54:00] that kind of stuff.
[00:54:00] On a more like more serious note, I think one of my favorite pop culture, representations of witches in New England, it's not specific to Salem, but the movie The Witch that came out a few years ago, I think is really incredible and really powerful. And I really like that they didn't make it about the Salem Witch Trials, that they fabricated the story about a family, like basically on the frontier, which we've been talking about, that element, on the edge of the settlement, by themselves, and fears that develop around the daughter being a witch, because it allows us to look at what common beliefs around witches and witchcraft were at that time through the lens of this family. But we don't have to worry about is this accurate to Salem or not? It's almost like its own little case study, little horror movie. And I just found from my studies of the Puritans in general of Mass Bay Colony, [00:55:00] of the Salem Witch Trials, of my understanding of witches and witchcraft, I just thought they captured so much there. It really immerses you in the experience, so I think that's a really incredible pop culture portrayal of witches during this time or fears around witches, rather I should say. 
[00:55:17] And I think something that's interesting about Salem is that, even if people don't know the details of the Salem Witch Trials, almost everybody in the United States has heard of the Salem Witch Trials. They have some idea, some association, so it shows up in pop culture a lot. There's a lot of mistakes that are made. I'm sure you've encountered this many times, where you have this, a popular depiction and a kind of offhand thing about Salem, and it's like about witches being burned, and we're on the sidelines. No, no witches were burned. They were hanged , but it's just the way that people, they just make this assumption about it.
[00:55:54] So we see that show up a lot throughout our culture, I think. But it's becoming little more nuanced. [00:56:00] It, it does seem like people are interested in actually learning about what happened during the trials, which I I'm really happy to see, and it's not, it's really not that difficult to get a good, solid rundown of more. I have a hard time as a historian saying like the truth, because that's always iffy, but just getting a more, maybe a more clear picture of what really happened during this time.
[00:56:25] Sarah Jack: What you would like to say today about your work? 
[00:56:30] Maya Rook: Yeah. So in my sort of general life, I wear many different hats.
[00:56:38] I'm a cultural historian, I teach college history, and I'm also a yoga and meditation instructor, but the Salem Witch Trials has just been this longstanding passion in my life and especially with my work with education and researching history. So a lot of this has culminated in recent years, I've [00:57:00] created just many different talks.
[00:57:02] So we've touched on some of those topics already, like the folk magic, the afflicted girls, Tituba. I have one looking at specific people that are involved in the trials, like the first people to be accused of witchcraft, Salem in popular culture. All these different elements. So all these different dives.
[00:57:20] And then one of the other ways that I've been presenting this work to the world is through my Salem Oracle account, which is, I think how I've got connected with both of you. So @SalemOracle on Instagram and Twitter is a day by day account of the Salem Witch Trials. And so I try to use this like daily touch in, on the trials as a way to make it more real for people. 
[00:57:47] One of my big talks is just like the Salem Witch Trials. It's an overview. We pack a lot into an hour for that particular talk. But there's certain things you just have to gloss over and, be like over the course of these three [00:58:00] months, blah, blah, blah, this happened.
[00:58:01] So to go into the day by day details of it really makes you, I think, have a better sense of what really happened and what it might have been like to watch this unfold in person. So this is the second time around the second year that I'm doing it. I did this once before with the Donner party, actually, similar idea, and I did that for three years.
[00:58:23] And every year, you learn something new, and it becomes more real, and it becomes more human. So I think we've already really touched on a big part of what I wanna do with this work is to humanize the trials, to make the past something that people can relate to, to understand, to touch, and to look at.
[00:58:42] And I also love the magical element, the sensationalism, but to be able to separate those two things, to appreciate the sort of that fun, magical quality, but then to be able to see the trials for what they were and the people for what they were, not [00:59:00] as witches but as human beings.
[00:59:02] So I think that's a really important part of the work here. .
[00:59:04] This has really been a pleasure. I appreciate that you asked me to participate in this. I love that you are putting this podcast together, and you're gonna be sharing this and bringing in different people for interviews.
[00:59:17] There's just so much to, to explore in this realm. And the more ways that we have to do it, I think the better. 
[00:59:24] Josh Hutchinson: I feel like we could go on the three of us chatting for hours about this, because we're all interested in the same thing. And it's been really lovely to meet you, and you've been a great guest.
[00:59:37] Maya Rook: Yeah. Thank you both. Yeah. 
[00:59:41] Sarah Jack: Thanks, Maya. 
[00:59:42] Maya Rook: All right. Bye everybody.
[00:59:43] Sarah Jack: Witch Hunt Happenings in Your World
[00:59:48] Here at Thou Shalt Not Suffer Podcast, along with the Connecticut Witch Trial Exoneration Project, we have prioritized remembering the stories and names of innocent witch hunt victims in North America. [01:00:00] These victims are from the 17th century. 
[01:00:02] We have the benefit of time passing and can look back at past history and write some wrongs, but on the continent of Africa, South African Pagan Alliance's Advocacy Against Witch Hunts is in the living situation of real witch hunts. It's not a historical situation. The families of those killed for witchcraft are still living in fear within those communities, where killings motivated by superstitious fear are active threats and have harmed their loved ones. 
[01:00:27] Much like the American colonies, the witch hunting is intending to stop evil, but the murdering is the evil, and rural South African community members are not safe from it.
[01:00:38] Podcast listener Damon Leff of the Alliance, legal professional and witch hunt advocate, has kept a record of reported cases. That project is called Remembering Their Names: Victims of Witch Hunts in South Africa, 2000 to 2021. 
[01:00:52] We recently spoke with Damon Leff of the Alliance, who has informed us of the Advocacy's progress and work with South African leadership. We are so [01:01:00] appreciative that he reached out to help us bring awareness to all witch hunts. His advocacy brings the matter of the living situation of witch hunts in African countries to us, and we must respond. His advocacy brings the matter of the living situation of the witch hunts in African countries to YOU and YOU must pay attention. Stay tuned. 
[01:01:22] As you've seen, we are highlighting art that stands against the witch hunt. Art is a powerful and special message, and I am so thrilled to see it working to educate the right message about witch hunting being a crime. However, some art is still not sending the needed message. Witch hunt murders are happening on our planet, yet some American singing and baking artists use the witch burning image lightheartedly to further their art. This choice perpetuates the acceptance of persecuting other. It has a clear message and that message is that the witch was real, she was to blame, and we killed her. It's a murder message. Those men and women represented on a burning pyre [01:02:00] were innocent, not in a devil pact.
[01:02:02] Yes, this sounds strong and maybe it sounds inflexible, unimaginative. It most certainly is a strong and inflexible request I am making to stop witch fear. Many art forms are making efforts to educate against witch hunts, and it's now out of touch to continue ostentatious use of the image of a witch burning in the flames.
[01:02:20] We have witch hunting to stop. We still have the flames of which fear to stomp out. So citizens of the USA, I urge you, now that you know what's happening. If you get out your frosting and ganache for a witch interpretation, think twice about what you're saying with her image. Performers. Put your microphone all the way up and stand against witch killing, instead of drawing a crowd with a witch burning theme. Harm is happening to innocent humans, while we educate. Listeners, let's support the countries in Africa and across the world where innocent people are being targeted by superstitious fear. Support them by acknowledging and sharing their stories.
[01:02:55] Please use all your communication channels, including your art form to intervene, [01:03:00] not disregard the victims. Stand with them. Talk about what you have learned here. 
[01:03:04] Josh Hutchinson: Thank you for sharing how ongoing witch hunts are affecting another part of the world, Sarah. 
[01:03:12] Sarah Jack: You're welcome. 
[01:03:14] And now we'll hear from Tom Mattingly in Jami Milne of Ballet Des Moines about their upcoming ballet Salem.
[01:03:21] Tom Mattingly: I have always loved ballet as a vehicle for storytelling, and I think that there can be so much left to interpretation with the subject of witchcraft and that interpretation lends itself really well to ballet. So what I've done with Salem is I've taken inspiration from the historical events to create a fictional story, one that could have happened during the time, but isn't necessary a recreation of actual events.
[01:03:52] Fear itself is very powerful, and when we are led by fear rather [01:04:00] than reason, there are horrific consequences.
[01:04:03] The character of fear is very important to this ballet. Fear is played by one of the male dancers in our company, and he is not a townsperson of Salem, but he is a constant presence and influence on the entire cast, so he really interacts a lot with the girl. The girl is the one who is making the accusations of witchcraft. She feels fearful from the pressures of the people around her, and especially her father, the preacher, to continue accusing and testifying against the people of Salem.
[01:04:35] The Salem Witch Trials has always been a captivating subject. One of the main reasons I chose the witch trials for a ballet is because I knew it was something that would capture people's attention. 
[01:04:49] I hope that people are moved by what they see and think about how they view others, if they're viewing others with kindness, with the benefit of the doubt, if they're [01:05:00] giving a chance to these people that they don't know. I hope that they are inspired to learn more about the Salem Witch Trials themselves.
[01:05:07] It is a fictional story that I'm creating, but every element is based on historical fact. A lot of it is different people from the past kind of combined into become one character, like the Mathers with our preacher. There is one character who attempts to defend his wife, who has been accused, and he himself gets accused of witchcraft and demonic possession. Even down to the costuming, it's going to be a modern reinterpretation but based on the strict puritan dress codes of the time with the muted colors, being covered up, those natural fibers, no lace, no ribbons, very much bare bones, utilitarian in a lot of ways.
[01:05:50] Same thing with the set design, too, of these furniture pieces that can be used in many different configurations so that our meeting house can serve as a [01:06:00] place of worship. It can serve as the home for the trials themselves in the courthouse. Our set even has a different modular design to become the gallows when one of the characters is hanged.
[01:06:12] Jami Milne: Tom and I were talking just this last week, and he said, "everyone knows the end of the story here. There's not a surprise, because we all know the Salem Witch Trials and what happened." 
[01:06:24] I don't want anyone to forget the power of a somber ending and this idea that great change can come, feeling so emotionally disrupted that you have no choice but to think differently upon leaving. And I think that will really be the power of audiences walking in the doors and then leaving with very different emotional state.
[01:06:46] Tom Mattingly: The music for Salem will primarily be Stravinsky's Rite of Spring.
[01:06:53] Rite of Spring is typically the story of ritual sacrifice, and in a way, I feel like that's what happened [01:07:00] with the Salem Witch Trials. It became this ritual of accusations, trials, and hangings that just continued over and over until it was finally put to an end. And it's an amazing score. It's difficult as a dancer, because it's difficult to count and the melodies are so surprising, but the overall effect, I think, is incredible, and it takes this kind of animalistic quality. And the dancers are really able to embody it, especially in these group scenes at the church or at the gallows. It's really moving. 
[01:07:32] Salem will be performed at the Stoner Studio Theater in downtown Des Moines, October 20th through the 29th.
[01:07:39] Tickets can be purchased at
[01:07:42] Josh Hutchinson: And thank you all for listening to another episode of Thou Shalt Not Suffer: The Witch Trial Podcast.
[01:07:51] You want to set your calendar for this one. Next week, we'll be talking with the renowned historian and emeritus [01:08:00] professor Dr. Malcolm Gaskill, author of Witchfinders, Witchcraft: A Very Short Introduction, Between Two Worlds: How the English Became Americans, and The Ruin of all Witches: Death and Desire in an Age of Enchantment, which releases in the United States on November 1st. That book details the story of a witch trial in Springfield, Massachusetts.
[01:08:29] Once you hear that episode, you will have to buy that book immediately at your local book seller or online, and you'll be thrilled.
[01:08:40] Sarah Jack: He wrote it. We're talking about. We're so excited to have this special opportunity. This timely opportunity. 
[01:08:48] Josh Hutchinson: We're excited to have this opportunity to introduce this book to you.
[01:08:54] Sarah Jack: You're gonna buy it. 
[01:08:56] Please follow us wherever you get your podcasts.[01:09:00] 
[01:09:00] And check out our website,
[01:09:04] Our website will keep you up to date on what's happening with our podcast. 
[01:09:09] You can look forward to our upcoming weekly newsletters.
[01:09:13] Josh Hutchinson: We'll have links to everything in our show notes.
[01:09:16] Sarah Jack: Bye.
[01:09:18] Josh Hutchinson: Bye.
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