The Salem Witch Trials were long ago but perhaps very relevant today. Learning a few lessons from the incidents that occurred would benefit us in today’s society since we go by labels rather than fair judgment. 

What Is A Witch?

carlssonedgard / Pixabay

Our idea of witches has always been a little bit off of reality. Most people still picture a child eating, broomstick riding, and a green woman. In fact, to this day Oxford Languages defines a witch as 

a woman thought to have magic powers, especially evil ones, popularly depicted as wearing a black cloak and pointed hat and flying on a broomstick.

Merriam-Webster is slightly more accurate in their definition;

1: a woman who is thought to have magic powers

2: a person who practices magic as part of a religion (such as Wicca)

3:informal: a very unpleasant woman

Well slightly might be a stretch, but #2 is the closest, and no matter what anyone says, all women can be very unpleasant at times, so we will give #3 a little credit. 

The sad fact remains, it was not witches that were tortured and murdered during the witch trials. Even going by these definitions, you would be hard-pressed to come by an actual witch. 

The reality is a witch or anyone who practices witchcraft would be no more noticeable most of the time than anyone else. These days we feel more inclined to share our path, so in that sense, we may be more noticeable.

Back then it was not quite accepted, but a witch is simply someone who uses plants, herbs, spices, crystals, and other things derived from the earth for its metaphysical and chemical properties. Witches were not focused on Oogie Boards and the terms laid out by Wicca. In fact, Wicca was not even created until 1954. 

What Really Happened?

Once accused, it was virtually impossible to prove yourself innocent. Many times, when women were accused of witchcraft or being investigated they would turn over friends, family members, and neighbors to save their own lives. 

Between false accusation and epilepsy, boredom, and possibly ergot poisoning the “witches” in the witch trials were proved later on to be nothing more than sick or innocent girls and women.

But think carefully, using herbs for health and wellness? Who else does this? EVERYONE, but especially those in the medical field. We fail to think about the possibilities, but back then women would have been more inclined and had more time to discover these things.

ksyfffka07 / Pixabay

Men typically were hunters and workers, women tended the gardens and managed the home. Finding herbs and spices for culinary purposes, using plants and trees for medical and wellness purposes, and determining the best way to address wounds, rashes, etc was in all essence, the woman’s place in society at that time. 

Why Are We Still Seeing Effects Of Witch Trials?

Imagine the possibility of documentation and practice for medical purposes during that time. If we went a year back to the past we would notice the advancement that occurred without any doubt during that time, in medicine and scientific research. 

Religion and politics brought on the witch trials, and as they did any medical advancement or advancement in our society during that time was stalled. No one dared to share a lotion recipe for fear of being deemed a witch. Society stalled in fear and anger to follow the religious and political agendas of that time.

The Casualties Were Far Greater Than We Realize

When we speak of the witch trials, we commonly refer to Salem, so I am sure you are thinking in the back of your mind, “how could our world be affected now because of the 20 people that were executed and the five people that died in jail during the witch trials?”

Barring the belief that it only takes one person to change the world, what happened in Salem may have not changed the world. But instead, we should step out of the realm of common knowledge and take notice of witch trials in other parts of our country or even, the world. Tens of thousands of people are the estimate for those who were executed for witchcraft in Europe and America over several hundred years. 

Foragers and herbalists were the ones who made large advancements in medicine. Penicillin is derived from a plant, so are Aspirin, Morphine, Chemotherapies, and so many more. That isn’t including our lotions, soaps, shampoos, and more.

mirey2222 / Pixabay

If even one person with enough knowledge and drive had been able to practice and study, we may have a cure for cancer or would have been more advanced in medical treatments. So I believe, like so many acts of cruelty and war, we have ended up stunting our growth as a society due to needless hate and discrimination. 

So no, I Don’t Believe Witches Were Killed During The Witch Trials

I think it was doctors, pharmacists, cooks, along with the mentally ill or sick. That is of course not including the wrongfully accused, or those who were accused because they were a little different, or they had an enemy with a stronger voice. 

We have proved time and time again that hate does us a great disservice and most of the time is unneeded. Yet, we still follow down the same path, perhaps even worse now because we place more labels on each other. It’s far easier for us to find things we dislike about each other than it is to accept everyone as an individual, but why do it when you know you are not only hurting your future but the future of your family line.

Perhaps, it would be easier to accept each other’s differences and co-exist. 

We are all floating on a giant space rock in the middle of nowhere, being held to it by imaginary forces. Look at the stars or something and stop being so awful. -Unknown