By Owen Davies
America Bewitched is the 1st significant background of witchcraft in the US - from the Salem witch trials of 1692 to the current day.
The notorious Salem trials are etched into the cognizance of contemporary the US, the human toll a reminder of the risks of intolerance and persecution. The chorus 'Remember Salem!' used to be invoked often over the resultant centuries. As time handed, the pains grew to become a milepost measuring the space the United States had stepped forward from its colonial prior, its sufferers now the righteous and their persecutors the shamed. but the tale of witchcraft didn't finish because the American Enlightenment dawned - a brand new, lengthy, and chilling bankruptcy was once approximately to start.
Witchcraft after Salem was once not only a narrative of fire-side stories, legends, and superstitions: it persisted to be a question of lifestyles and demise, souring the yank dream for plenty of. we all know of extra humans killed as witches among 1692 and the Nineteen Fifties than have been done ahead of it. Witches have been a part of the tale of the decimation of the local american citizens, the adventure of slavery and emancipation, and the immigrant event; they have been embedded within the non secular and social heritage of the rustic. but the background of yankee witchcraft among the eighteenth and the 20 th century additionally tells a much less annoying tale, person who indicates how various cultures interacted and formed each one other's languages and ideology.
This is accordingly even more than the story of 1 persecuted group: it opens a desirable window at the fears, prejudices, hopes, and goals of the yank humans as their nation rose from colony to superpower.
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Extra info for America bewitched : the story of witchcraft after Salem
Cunning-folk and other magical healers were occasionally prosecuted for prescribing potions to deliberately poison clients for one reason or another, but in the West African sorcery tradition the relationship between -witchcraft and the use of poison -was inseparable. Witches -were commonly thought to enact their malicious -work through the direct and ritual use of poisons. One early nineteenth-century missionary -working among the Bassa tribe of Liberia, observed that 'they live in much dread of being poisoned, and, as they seem generally to connect this poisoning -with -witchcraft, they -wear on their bodies something furnished by their grigri men'.
Amongst the Cheyenne, arrowheads that had killed enemies or those of enemies that had failed to kill their intended victims, were kept on necklaces. The Pueblos wore arrowheads as protection against •witches, and they and the Apache used quartz found at the base of trees blasted by lightening to fashion 'medicine arrows' used by women in 91 healing rituals. The colour of arrowheads also had spiritual associations. There is little evidence, though, of European settlers ascribing supernatural powers or causation to the Native-American stone arrows and axes they found.
It reveals shared cultural traits, fears, thought patterns, and -weaknesses. The history presented in the ensuing pages will, I hope, spark greater scholarly and public interest in a subject that plumbs the depths of-what it meant to be American. MAGIC OF A NEW LAND P ost-colonial America was the backdrop for one of the most extraordinary cultural confrontations. The story of human migration and environmental challenges is as old as human existence, but never before in the history of the human race had so many different peoples, their myriad languages, cultures, customs, and beliefs been thrown together so quickly and so chaotically in a new land, facing an environment strange and yet familiar in equal measure.