In January of 1692, the daughter and niece of Reverend Samuel Parris of Salem Village became ill. William Griggs, the village doctor, was called in when they failed to improve. His diagnosis of bewitchment put into motion the forces that would ultimately result in the hanging deaths of 19 men and women. In addition, one man was crushed to death; several others died in prison, and the lives of many were irrevocably changed.

To understand the events of the Salem Witch Trials, it is necessary to examine the times in which accusations of witchcraft occurred. There were the ordinary stresses of 17th-century life in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. A strong belief in the devil, factions among Salem Village families and rivalry with nearby Salem Town combined with a recent small pox epidemic and the threat of attack by warring tribes created a fertile ground for fear and suspicion. Soon, prisons were filled with more than 150 men and women from towns surrounding Salem; their names had been “cried out” by tormented young girls as the cause of their pain. All would await trial for a crime punishable by death in 17th-century New England – the practice of witchcraft.

In June of 1692, the special Court of Oyer (to hear) and Terminer (to decide) sat in Salem to hear the cases of witchcraft. Presided over by Chief Justice William Stoughton, the court was made up of magistrates and jurors. The first to be tried was Bridget Bishop of Salem who was found guilty and was hanged on June 10. Thirteen women and five men from all stations of life followed her to the gallows on three successive hanging days before the court was disbanded by Governor William Phipps in October of that year. The Superior Court of Judicature, formed to replace the “witchcraft” court, did not allow spectral evidence. This belief in the power of the accused to use their invisible shapes or spectres to torture their victims had sealed the fates of those tried by the Court of Oyer and Terminer. The new court released those awaiting trial and pardoned those awaiting execution. In effect, the Salem witch trials were over.

As years passed, apologies were offered and restitution was made to the victims’ families. Historians and sociologists have examined this most complex episode in our history so that we may understand the issues of that era and view subsequent events with heightened awareness. The parallels between the Salem witch trials and more modem examples of “witch hunting” like the McCarthy hearings of the 1950’s, are remarkable.

Learn more here:
Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archives
Salem Witch Trials Weekly, produced by the Salem Witch Museum
Bewitchment in Salem, produced by the Salem Witch Museum in conjunction with SATV
The Salem Witch Trials: A Day-by-Day Chronicle of a Community Under Siege by Marilynne K. Roach (Jul 22, 2004)

Or click the categories below to learn more about this historical time.

“The True 1692” 3D Film

Visit CinemaSalem at the Museum Place Mall, and learn about the Salem Witch Trials of 1692 in a 3D documentary. Showtimes are available at CinemaSalem.com….

Broad Street Cemetery

Broad Street Cemetery

Brothers, George Corwin, High Sheriff of Essex County in 1692, and Jonathon Corwin, a Salem merchant who lived in the “Witch House” when he served…

Cry Innocent

Cry Innocent

Critically-acclaimed live reenactment of the witchcraft examination of Bridget Bishop. Featured on The Travel Channel, NPR, TLC, and more. Multiyear TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. ♿ Groups…

Gallows Hill Museum/Theatre

Immerse yourself in the facts, myths & legends surrounding the witch trials. Witness ghosts & more with our live theatre experience! Five-star rating on TripAdvisor….

Salem Wax Museum

Salem Wax Museum of Witches & Seafarers

Salem’s original wax museum, family-owned and operated for over two decades! London-made wax figures depicting Salem’s history from the witch trials hysteria and bold seafarers….

Salem Witch Hunt

Salem Witch Hunt Film & Tours

The Salem Witch Hunt Film exposes the true causes and events behind Salem’s witchcraft hysteria, featuring Witch Trials scholars and reenactors at actual 1692 locations…

Salem Witch Museum

Salem Witch Museum

The Salem Witch Museum is Salem’s most visited museum. Open year-round with extended hours throughout the summer and October. We are the perfect start to…

Salem Witch Village

Guided by a practicing witch, discover the myths and the facts surrounding witches and their craft! For the answers and truth behind the legends, make…

Witch House

The Witch House

Salem’s only building with direct ties to the witch trials, the 17th century home of Judge Jonathon Corwin. Open daily mid-March through November. Call for…

Witch Dungeon

Witch Dungeon Museum

Award-winning live reenactment of a 1692 witch trial, followed by a guided tour of the dungeon. The most exciting experience in Salem. Open daily 10am-5pm…

Witch History Museum

Witch History Museum

Experience all the historical stories surrounding Salem’s 1692 witch trials told through an interactive tour. Walk among 15 life-sized scenes depicting these tragic untold stories…

From the Calendar

House of Shadows: Learn the Lenormand Oracle

Meet Monica Bodirsky- Canadian witch, author and illustrator of the House of Shadows Lenormand Oracle deck! She will be at The Witchery teaching us how…

Full Moon Guided Meditation

Twice monthly guided meditations starting promptly at 8 pm at HausWitch Home + Healing. Doors open at 7:30 for shopping and mingling. Add to Itinerary

Feminist Voices in Print – A Screen Printing Workshop

Join artist and screenprinter Marissa Malik for a workshop at HausWitch Home + Healing where we will learn the basics of screenprinting, and discussing feminists…

Divine Liturgy of the Serpent of Holy Wisdom

The Magi and Witches of The Cauldron Black are calling the faithful to prayer on the first Sunday of every month in the Spirit Parlor as we…

New Moon Guided Meditation

Twice monthly guided meditations at HausWitch Home + Healing starting promptly at 8 pm. Doors @ 7:30 for shopping and mingling. Tickets ($13) available at…

Salem Fairy Door Trail

The Salem Fairy Door Trail is a fairy scavenger hunt through downtown Salem. The Fairy Doors will be hidden in businesses around the city and…

Astrology 102

The houses, aspects & the elements. What is a square, a conjunction, an opposition , etc, and what do these aspects say about you? What…

Astrology 103

Chiron and the healer within you. We will explore your unique gifts to the world through the lens of Chiron. We will also explore Black…

Astrology 1-4: Pluto + Social Change

Pluto , Social Change & You. Pluto stays in one sign for an entire generation. As the ruler of social change, each generation comes in…

Astrology 105: Astrology + Essential Oils

Astrology and Essential Oils. Explore the intersection of Astrology and Herbalism as we create a customized zodiac essential oil blend based on your energy and…

Spectral Evidence with Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Journey into the unknown with paranormal investigator and author Rosemary Ellen Guiley as you learn how to investigate haunted places! Rosemary has investigated hundreds of…

Speaking to the Dead with Laurie Cabot

Join Salem’s Official Witch, Laurie Cabot, as you learn to communicate with loved ones on the Other Side! High Priestess and Founder of the Cabot…

Hekate: Unveiling the Queen of the Dead

“Gorgo, Mormo, Moon of a thousand forms, cast a propitious eye on our sacrifice…” Shrouded in mystery and reigning as Queen of Phantoms and of…

Portal to the Spirit World with Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Join paranormal expert Rosemary Ellen Guiley as you voyage into the shadowy doorway that bridges our world with the afterlife! Since ancient times, darkened mirrors…

The Official Salem Witches’ Halloween Ball: Elements of Magic

Join Christian Day, Brian Cain, and the Witches of Salem with guests Dragon Ritual Drummers for a night of magic, music, and powerful rituals at…

Death & Rebirth: Ritual Transformation

Join Salem Witch elder and high priestess Sandra Mariah Power as you draw on the magic of Salem, the power of Witchcraft, and the strength…

The Mourning Tea: Remembering the Dead

Join Salem Witches Leanne Marrama and Sandra Mariah Wright for a 3-course High Tea in grand Victorian tradition. Don your finest mourning attire and celebrate…

The Dumb Supper: Dinner with the Dead

Join the Salem Witches as we honor the dead with a dinner observed in utter silence. Salem Warlocks Christian Day and Brian Cain invite you to a banquet of…

The Witch’s Familiar: Conjuring Animal Spirits

Join Witchdoctor Utu, as you learn to connect with and conjure the spirits of the animal kingdom, known through history and magical lore as the…

The Annual Salem Witches’ Magic Circle

Join Christian Day, Brian Cain, Sandra Mariah Wright, and Leanne Marrama with drumming by the Dragon Ritual Drummers as Witches from around the globe gather…

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