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Witchcraft In Early North America Essay

1084 words - 4 pages

The thought of magic, witches, and sorcery to be fact is seen as preposterous in modern America. Coincidence is accepted as such and accusations of possession and bewitchment is extinct. When North America was first colonized by Europeans, however, the fear of magic and the like was all too real. Alison Games’s “Witchcraft in Early North America” describes the effects of the Europeans’ on the Native Americans and vice versa. As decades progressed, the ideas on witchcraft of the Spanish and British changed as well. “Witchcraft in Early North America” introduces different beliefs and practices of witchcraft of Europeans before colonization, Native Americans after colonization, the Spanish of New Mexico, and the British Colonies.
The Spanish and British each adapted to the environment based on who they were involved with as well as what conflict was encountered. Views on witchcraft seemed different when evaluated post colonization, but Europeans, pre colonization, all agreed on the fact that Christian theology was linked to witchcraft. All witchcraft was seen as works of the Devil, projected through weak spirited individuals who had abandoned the path of God. The Devil was said to allow people to know the location of certain objects and the thoughts of others, also known as coincidences that had no explanation at the time. Either something was done by the hand of God, or by the wrath of the Devil and his followers. With this idea glued into the judging minds of seventeenth century Europeans, witch hunts were widespread and frequent. Most of those targeted were women, due to the stigma that women were weak and lustful creatures. Women wanted luxury and wealth, as well as sexual gratification, which the Devil could offer. Why target a man for witchcraft if men were strong and Godly, unlike women who were lustful and deceptive? Even with the infrequency of torture used during the time, torture was used extensively when excreting information from accused witches. It was thought that the Devil would allow witches to be more tolerant to pain. Understandably, many of the accused confessed. When under panic and extreme pain, many will say what is wanted to be heard.
The spiritual beliefs of the Native Americans are not known fully due to the biased documentation of the practices observed by the Europeans. Still ingrained with the notion of Manifest Destiny, Europeans saw Native Americans as devil worshiping witches. To Europeans, the Devil was driven out of Europe and sought refuge in the New World. The success of colonization was a war between God and the Devil. Willing to spread the word of God, Catholic missionaries were used to try to convert Native Americans; a converted Native American was easier to manage and overtake. Disease was soon rampant and Native Americans thought the cause to be the Europeans and their beliefs. Resistance and conflict arose, further solidifying the European idea that resistance to what was thought to be true and fact was...

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