One of the most horribly savage things in American History is found in the cauldron of madness entitled the ‘Salem Witch Trials’.Twenty people in Salem, Massachusetts’s were either stoned or hung to their death, between 1692 and 1693, a truly horrific year in U.S. history. This hysteria also laid a precedent for many burnings’ at the stake and drownings’ of perceived witches throughout history. However, witchcraft and black magic aside, new theorists believe that the cause of these experiences of hallucinations and epileptic fits may have been caused by a fungus growing on the rye for their main staple of food, “bread”. Modern science suggests that in Salem, their food was in fact contaminated with Ergot (fungus growth found in LSD) and then consumed, producing some sickening and confusing behavior and general scenes of pain and suffering, which the villagers may have mistook for black magic and witchcraft.
In February of 1692, when Reverend Parris’s 9-year-old daughter named Elizabeth, and his niece Abigail Williams, aged 11, began having violent epileptic fits, it brought the town into uproar as more young girls began experiencing the same symptoms. The girls’ would shake, scream in pain and also faint, but now Scientists’ believe that the cause was as a result of “Ergot” in their rye, instead of the victim’s claims that they were being attacked by villagers that were conducting the Devil’s magic. You can never be sure, but Linda Caporael, a behavioral Scientist believes the entire fiasco of traumatic tales of witchery and supernatural magic, which resulted in various executions, were due to the fungus growing in their rye grains. The ergot in the rye was consumed by the community and the poisonous neurotoxins in ergot can produce really bad trips and hallucinations, which lead to convulsive fits, vomiting, sensation of things crawling on your skin and extreme stomach pain.
Linda from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute discovered that in the summer 1691, Salem (buy book) experienced an unusually wet and rainy period, making the perfect cocktail for this fungus to thrive in their stash of rye. A deeply religious and god fearing community, that abhorred the devils’ work, saw many young women start pointing the finger at town’s people accusing them of being witches’ or warlocks’, which resulted in the Salem Witch Trials. They claimed to be possessed by the devil and it was enough for over 150 people to be accused and imprisoned, some even executed, until in 1693, when the governor of Massachusetts pardoned those still imprisoned for the suspected witchery.
Villagers had admitted to testifying under oath that they had seen apparitions and lights that others did not see. Sounds like it could have been a ‘bout of a type of LSD, maybe? Most people experiencing these symptoms lived on the Westside of the town, which consisted of more swampy fields, which would have produced the conditions for fungus infection to grow over the rye. Thirty-two out of the thirty accusers lived on the Western side, and 12 of the 14 accused lived on the Eastern side of Salem.
So, all this could have been possibly down to not preserving food correctly or even realizing what they were eating? What does strike us as strange is the lack of men that were affected by this grain or even executed as surely they must have been eating the same food?
Whether you believe in witchcraft or not, this comes as an interesting revelation after more than 300 years. In saying that, in many places around the world it seems that Withcraft and Black Magic is more prevalent in the countries and places, where it holds some sort of religious significance. Or at least, where globalization and the full on capitalistism of society has not taken hold, just yet.
Which makes you wonder? Sure, in Salem this could’ve been down to the infected rye, but we continue to see and hear stories of cults, sacrifices and even hear of black magic practiced in modern times and so personally we’ve seen and experienced some pretty strange & supernatural stuff in our day too. Or was it coincidental or was it because of some drug, so we wouldn’t like to affirm either way, but we do believe that what happened in Salem was the birth of even more “Witchcraft”? For those who were killed under crazy pre-tenses, the souls’ of these people would no doubt forever feel betrayed and they may not yet be at rest.
Witchcraft and magic has been around forever, so, either everyone was on some form of hallucinogen or were in fact, completely crazy and uneducated, or they all genuinely believed that it actually existed.
All we can say is that we bet you that there’s a whole bunch of unsettled spirits in Salem, Massachusetts. Luckily, we don’t live in 1692 anymore or in Salem within some old house with a big garden and creaky floor boards. Buy the film, ‘The Craft’ here.
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