Salem Witch Trials

Haunted Towns – Salem – S01E02

haunted-towns-salemThe TWC team makes Salem their next stop to investigate the paranormal energy associated with the witch trials. They have three locations on their agenda, the Peirce farm where one of the accused, Mary, tried to hide before being captured and hanged, the Salem Cinema, former location of the tavern where the examinations took place to determine if someone was a witch, and the Barnard house, home of Reverend Barnard who believed strongly there were witches in the town who needed to be stopped.

First stop is at the Peirce Farm, where Sean, the owner, has meager information to share about hauntings or paranormal events. The most he offers is a staffer may have seen something in the study and the attic could be worth a look.

Despite Brandon’s belief, a half turned off flashlight is not evidence. And we should ignore the spaghetti bundle of exposed wires coming out of that basement panel box. However, they do get the words, “View” and “Hidden”, which Chris tries to weave into a narrative.

Up in the study, they get “Marry”, “Sacrifice”, “Slain” and, “Alice”, all words that could be associated with the trial. Even though “Marry” is spelled incorrectly for a name, they link together Mary and Alice being hung on the same day.

For Day 2, they investigate the Salem Cinema and the Barnard House. Porter and Brandon project court documents onto the screen and read from the trial notes while Doogie and Chris look around the reverend’s house.

At the cinema, we have more flashlight tricks, along with “Alice” and “deal”. At the house, Doogie feels something is wrong in the attic. Chris claims to get “six hundred sixty –” on the device as though the place is evil. Within earshot of Doogie, Chris asks the entities to touch Doogie on the left side of his face. No surprise for guessing that a few minutes later Doogie says something touches his left ear. Additionally, he feels something grabbing at his throat.

Now, pay attention to the scenes and notice the massive bundle of herbs or similar hanging from the rafters. It’s just as likely Doogie is having an allergic reaction to whatever that is rather than evil entities leaping out to get him.

And speaking of leaping, when Doogie asks for the entity to take it easy on him, he gets “Yank” followed by something touching his leg.

And that is the extent of the activity. Throwing away the ridiculous flashlight experiment, there’s not much else to work with. All the words they get fit together in an interesting little story that is a touch too convenient and a dash to obscure to be believed. But, maybe so.

It’s also interesting to note that Brandon says these women were “probably” innocent. How can you possibly say, “probably”? These innocent people had their lives ruined and taken through absolute ignorance and hysterics, there is no “probably” about it.

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Salem – S01E01

A new series has presented itself and it goes a little something like this: Set in the volatile world of 17th century Massachusetts, ‘Salem’ explores what really fueled the town’s infamous witch trials and dares to uncover the dark, supernatural truth hiding behind the veil of this infamous period in American history. In Salem, witches are real, but they are not who or what they seem.

At the start of things we have Tituba taking care of Mary Sibley who has found herself in a "family way" but isn’t married. From the punishment dealt out in the opening scene Issac is flogged and then branded a fornicator for kissing a girl, an unwed mother would be an utter disaster. Mary’s beloved, John Alden is sent off to war, but returns 7 years later to find things are a little different than when he left.

The ritual Tituba performed has given Mary great power and put her into a contract with an "unknown" force. Mary has moved on to web George Sibley, perhaps the most powerful and most feared man in town. But George isn’t the force he used to be. In fact, we see he’s being controlled quite handily by his new wife. On the outside he appears to be ailing of something akin to a stroke, but when we look deeper he has much bigger problems.

The talk of witches begins to permeate the town as children see visions and speak of hags and visitors in the night. One man who might know the truth finds himself on the receiving end of being accused of witchcraft. He made the mistake of trying to force Mary Sibley’s hand and reveal to her former love, John Alden who and what she is. He doesn’t to spill the beans, but he spills a great deal of blood as he’s pressed to death to reveal his guilt about witchcraft.

John Alden isn’t one to give in to the power or even existence of witches, that is until he’s taken to the edge of town by Isaac and stumbles upon a ritual he can’t comprehend. Mary’s payment has been broken and John might be in the middle of something quite dangerous.

It looks like things have just gone very wrong.

And that’s the start of the series for the new series Salem on WGN. A rather graphic taken on the stories surrounding the Salem Witch Trials. The accusations of witchcraft abound, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real. We begin to see the power, but we don’t have a full meaning for them yet. Why Salem? What other forces are at work? Did Tituba unleash something horrible on the town or is she trying to save them from an older evil?

This is shaping up to be an interesting show with all the characters we’re familiar with. And all the punishments too. He hangings, the dunkings, the burnings are all here. These episodes may not be the feint of heart but it should make for an interesting story and an interesting interpretation of the events that took place in Salem all those years ago.

I’ll have to revisit this topic after a couple of episodes have come out and get ourselves pointed in a certain direction.

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Haunted History – Salem Witch Trials – S01E07

Haunted History presents another fascinating episode, this time centered around the Salem Witch Trials. This is not exactly a crowning moment in American History and over time this true series of unfortunate events has come to symbolize, greed, hysteria and the lust for power. The religious fervor of wild accusations without a shred of proof, turned into a way to seize property and livestock as well as ride the town of people who had too much wealth and influence as well as those who had too little to their name. I think we can all agree that these original events had absolutely nothing to do with the paranormal or the supernatural. Ironically, the very thing the original residents feared may a presence in modern day Salem.

Salem, originally founded in 1626, gained it’s infamous reputation in 1692 when the fear of witchcraft spread through the town and 19 men and women were hanged after being accused. The "Trials" were far from fair, with little to no evidence being supplied against the accused. Instead, they relied on the Will of God to keep innocent people from being hanged. Good thing we don’t follow the same rules today. Interesting, the idea of "spectral evidence" was used during this time. People firmly believed in the devil and the power of the supernatural. A person who was cursed or under the influence of a witch could see their energy and power manifest itself. Of course nobody else could. Makes for a good way to point the finger at someone. And it worked.

At the first location they visit, the Witch House, the believe the spirit of Bridgette Bishop still lingers there. She was a wealthy landowner who was put to death and the restaurant, 43 Church now stands on the former apple orchard she once owned and coveted. The owner and staff all claim to see a dark figure roaming the grounds and are firmly convinced they’ve seen the shadow multiple times up in the attic. They also claim the chairs to dining room tables were stacked and then unstacked while they worked in the restaurant one night.

The next site is Gallows Hill, where the hangings actually took place. Oddly, it’s now a sort of park with a children’s playground. The accused were brought to the hill and left to swing in the oak trees that dotted area in the day. When dead, their bodies were buried off to the side. They weren’t given a proper burial, since of course they were witches and didn’t earn any respect. Many people feel they hear voices or feel a presence in this area.

Finally, there is the Howard Street Cemetery where Giles Corey was crushed to death under the weight of rocks used to illicit a confession. His silence on the accusation of witchcraft against him infuriated the court, so they turned to torture. More weight was piled on until he finally suffocated. It was death about as bad as hanging. It’s claimed his spirit still lingers in the area. Many people claim to photos of mists and vapors floating around the grave markers. Some claim he can be seen walking among the headstones. But, if you see Giles Corey, Salem will burn. If he speaks to you, you will die within days. Many fires have broken out over the decades that Salem has been around and lots of people link these events to Corey sightings. It’s claimed he put a curse on the town and on the Sherriff who arrested. Funny, a man accused of witchcraft throwing out curses in his final moments.

But, Sherriff Curwin died of a blood diseases shortly after the witch trials were over. Additionally, every Sherriff they had after that died of illness and blood disease. Currently, there is no registered Sherriff for Salem. I guess they have intent on tempting fate, or curses.

As a final footnote, it was Increase Mather (cool name by the way) who brought things to a halt in

Salem. He is attributed with –

"It were better that ten suspected witches should escape, than that one innocent person should be condemned"

And that spectral evidence has no place in the courtroom. With his help and guidance, the remain prisoners were acquitted of their crimes and finally set free. But obviously the damage had been done. So the question remains, is the area of Salem haunted by the events of the past? Does Bridgette Bishop haunt/visit the area that is now part of her former apple orchard? Does Giles Corey walk the cemetery? And if he does, why does his presence signal fires and destruction. Again, this sort of gives him the power of reputation of really being a witch. And were the death involving the Sherriff all simply coincidence, more to do with poor sanitation and nutrition of the time rather than curses?

One explanation that was brought up for the cause of the original events and indeed the sightings that continue today, and that is the idea of a Ley Line. A line of EMF that runs through the town. It is believed this line runs through prominent homes, as well as the court house and up to Gallows Hill. There is a claim they weren’t necessarily responsible for their actions and these high EMF areas caused erratic and uncontrolled behavior. An interesting theory, one I find hard to latch onto, but more and more evidence keeps coming out about these trials so perhaps this natural phenomenon might end up playing a role after all.

Personally, I find the Salem Witch Trials fascinating. It shows what happens when mob rule comes into play and common sense goes out the window. It proves that greed and power can bring out the worst in people and set them against their fellow man. We also have to keep in mind that so much of what we hear has been told and retold and that tends to distort the truth. The evidence surrounding these sightings is based on hope and want rather than anything solid or tangible. It sort of proves the point that the power of suggestion is alive and well and still has influence, just like it did hundreds of years ago.

Haunted History – Salem Witch Trials

 

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