A Political Witch
This is your reminder that marginalized people have always been used as scapegoats throughout human history. The Crusades, the Witch trials, the Holocaust, Japanese Internment camps, the Communist Red scare, the AIDS crisis, Immigrant children in cages indefinitely, labeling Queer people as sexualizing predators, the attack on trans people and bodily autonomy… We as humankind have systematically used marginalized humans to push political propaganda.
A Witch Cannot be Apolitical
Last year I visited Salem, Massachusetts and while I knew much of the history of the Witch trials of 1692, I was less aware of the political impetus behind it. What started with a few adolescent girls playing with folk customs ended in the death of 20 innocent people and two dogs.
Puritan women, especially the children, not only had no real rights, but no real voice. The misogyny of the male ruling class caused so much fear in these girls when they were caught, they blamed Tituba, an enslaved woman charged to care for them. She was stolen from her home in Barbados and the only woman of color in all of Salem. She was the first to be accused and she was beaten by her enslaver till she confessed. What spiraled afterwards was a year long witch hunt that drove these adolescent girls and other members of the community mad with power, power to move an entire seaside town with the point of one finger.
You see, that power was contagious. More and more began to point accusing fingers and the mass hysteria grew. With Salem split into Salem town (by the harbor) and Salem village (more inland and now modern day Danvers), hostility grew as Salem Village had been vying for independence. In the map shown here, you can see the politics that played a part in the hysteria. The closer to the town, the more wealth and opportunity. It was those that lived on the boundary line that slowly pushed from Salem Village into Salem township that were accused. Why, you ask? The accused lost their wealth and land whether they pled guilty or innocent, and who do you think stepped up to take ownership of it? The accusers.
What started as a lie so a child could save her reputation became mass hysteria and the murder of some of Salem’s most vulnerable population. Hundreds were jailed and never tried. Even in 1693 when the trials ended, the debt accumulated by those imprisoned was so substantial, many once freed were left homeless beggars.
An American legacy
It’s now 2023, and we as a society are still using the marginalized as stepping stones to amass political power. Right now, people of color, bodily autonomy, transgender, and queer human rights are under attack by our conservative court system. Bogus anecdotal evidence is being used to pass harmful legislation that target vulnerable people. Real doctors, psychologists, educators, and experts in their feud of humanity are being ignored. We as witches carry the legacy of not only being part of the marginalized, but fighting against it.
I’ve heard certain groups of “spiritualists” say things like “Real witches don’t get into politics” and I can’t tell you how wrong that is. Historically, magical practitioners, astrologers, and magicians have been by the side of kings, queens, dictators, emperors, and even presidents. The idea that a self identifying witch could stand in their power with the history of being literally hunted (whether one was a witch or not) and abstain from standing up for the vulnerable and the marginalized in modernity is preposterous!
Here you see the memorial stones of several of the most well known accused who were sentenced to death during the witch trials. These women, men, and children were literally murdered by their community leaders because they were accused of being witches. So the next time you question if your spirituality excludes you from paying attention as tyrannical fanatics target minorities, the poor, people of color, queer people, immigrants, and other vulnerable populations, I want you to think of these names:
Bridget Bishop (June 10, 1692)
Rebecca Nurse (July 19, 1692)
Sarah Good (July 19, 1692)
Elizabeth Howe (July 19, 1692)
Susannah Martin (July 19, 1692)
Sarah Wildes (July 19, 1692)
George Burroughs (August 19, 1692)
George Jacobs Sr. (August 19, 1692)
Martha Carrier (August 19, 1692)
John Proctor (August 19, 1692)
John Willard (August 19, 1692)
Martha Corey (September 22, 1692; wife of Giles Corey)
Mary Easty (September 22, 1692)
Mary Parker (September 22, 1692)
Alice Parker (September 22, 1692)
Ann Pudeator (September 22, 1692)
Wilmot Redd (September 22, 1692)
Margaret Scott (September 22, 1692)
Samuel Wardwell Sr. (September 22, 1692)
Giles Corey (September 19, 1692) – Pressed to death
When people ask me why I’m so political, this is why…
From the Crossroads of Texas,