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 nineteen 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.

Cry Innocent

Cry Innocent

Critically-acclaimed live reenactment of the witchcraft examination of Bridget Bishop. Featured on The Travel Channel, NPR, TLC, and more. ♿

Gallows Hill

Gallows Hill

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

Salem Wax Museum

Salem Wax Museum of Witches and 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

Learn about true causes and events behind Salem’s witchcraft hysteria through our Salem Witch Hunt film (35 minutes) featuring reenactors at actual 1692 locations and…

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…

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…

Within the Witching Hour- Live Spell Casting

A live spell casting presentation by a practicing witch that will take you through the steps of a ritual circle creating a sacred space, magical…

From the Calendar

Annual Psychic Fair and Witchcraft Expo

Explore the future with a psychic reading at Salem’s longest-running psychic fair! Hosted by Christian Day, Brian Cain, and the Witches of Salem, The Annual…

Death and 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…

Devotions: Self Care for Modern Witches with Liz Migliorelli

This workshop is centered around simple at-home recipes and remedies for revitalizing your magical self. We will work on the exceptional acts of transforming stress,…

Enhancing Intuition with Essential Oils

Essential oils are the life blood of plants, trees, and herbs. When blended correctly, they become a powerful synergy that can open your third eye…

Full Moon Guided Meditation for Clearing and Gratitude

Twice-monthly meetings with a meet-and-greet hour followed by a guided meditation. $7 Add to Itinerary

Full Moon Guided Meditation for Intention Setting and Manifesting

Twice-monthly gatherings with a meet-and-greet hour, followed by a guided meditation. $7. Add to Itinerary

Graveyard Conjure

Join traditional Hoodoo worker Sen Moise as you learn to connect with your ancestors who walk beside you through the magical power of the graveyard….

Haunted Happenings 2017

A festive celebration of Halloween and fall in New England, more than 250,000 people come to Salem Haunted Happenings each year.  Events include a Grand…

Introduction to Tarot and Intuitive Development

We all have the gift of intuition, we’ve just forgotten how to use it! Reading tarot can be a powerful tool to develop your intuition,…

Messages from the Spirit World: A Séance with Kyri Spencer

Take a trip through the Veil Between the Worlds with acclaimed medium Kyri Spencer. Hear the spirits’ messages through many different means, including psychometry. Attune…

Portal to the Spirit World: Through Necromanteum with Rosemary Ellen

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…

Sap Rising: Medicines of Spring with Liz Migliorelli

This class will harness the renewed energy brought to us by the blooming Spring Equinox. We will call in the vernal plant allies that teach…

Sound Healing Meditation

Experience sacred sound. With healing instruments from around the world, we will explore how positive vibration can be used to help facilitate deep relaxation, meditation,…

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…

Tarot Salon

A monthly gathering to practice the tarot together Learn new spreads and magical skills. Individual, partner, and group readings. All levels welcome! Tickets ($12) may…

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…

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 Salem Witches’ Magic Circle

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

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