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Witchcraft In U.S. History Essay

2159 words - 9 pages


The religion of Witchcraft dates back about 25,000 years, to the Paleolithic Age, where the God of Hunting and the Goddess of Fertility first appeared. Out of respect for the overwhelming power of Nature grew a belief in beings, gods, who controlled the winds, the seas, the earth and the fires (Rinehart). People have been slaughtered for ages because they had different belief systems or they simply were not liked. Whether they were witches or not, hundreds of thousands of people have been burned at the stake, dunked in freezing rivers, or otherwise tortured because people accused them of being witches.

People have been moving over to get a better life Shortly after Christopher Columbus sailed across the Atlantic trying to get to India and unknowingly bumped into South America. People started moving over very quickly after finding that gold was present in South America. Several countries moved into various parts of South America, Central America, what is now Mexico, North America, and Canada. This new place was ripe for the taking there was gold, plenty of game and a lot of farmland. In 1620, a group of Separatist Puritans called Pilgrims landed at Plymouth in the Mayflower seeking religious freedom.

Once the pilgrims got settled down in various villages people started accusing each other of practicing witchcraft. Whether it was new people from another separatist group or just jealousy the accusations flew.

The people who were often thought to be the accusers of witches were commonly believed to be men wishing to suppress unruly women. This may be true, but is far more indirect and subtle than popularly believed.

The responsibilities held by a housewife had immense importance in her role in society. Women were responsible for preserving the boundaries of social and cultural life. When this process was disrupted, the authority and identity of the housewife were put into question, she could no longer control the processes needed to fulfill her role. Instead of admitting this loss of control, it may have been easier for the housewife to blame a witch, usually someone who had wronged her. (Starkey 24)

Female accusers may have felt the need to prove their own “normality” and their willingness to accept the restrictions and assumptions of a religious society. Accusing another may also have been a way of diverting attention away from themselves.

It may also have been that men manipulated such fears in order to dominate women.

Due to the anxiety surrounding pregnancy, when a woman was nearing birth, she chose four or five close friends. One of them would be the midwife, and they saw her through the labor. They provided her with a mother’s caudle, which was warmed ale or wine with sugar and spices. They also blocked the keyholes in the room and hung heavy drapes over the windows. This served to separate the mother from normal household affairs. No men were allowed in the house during the birth period.

(Marshal 53)

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