Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Witches and Witchcraft

I am reading a book by Donald Lines Jacobus and wanted to share some parts with you.
One of the chief delights of genealogy researchers is the insight it gives us into the motives, the customs,the daily manner of life, of people who lived in a different era. They lived in a different world than us. Think about it, we have washers, and dryers, they had rivers and tree branches to hang the clothes, we have stoves, they had fireplaces,we have lights they had lamps ,we have cars they had horse and wagons and the list goes on.
Those who view cemeteries as a gloomy place to be avoided can never experience the mingling of reverence and exultation felt by the genealogy researcher,when at last he stands in front of the long sought gravestone of an ancestor. And nor can they know the furtive delight of collecting curious epitath. ( I noticed on some graves, photos of hunting cabins, or even a truck that they drove, something that connects to the deceased.)
Now about witches and witchcraft.
Those who take a satisfaction in writing of our witch-burning ancestors would do well to persue their historical studies a little further,for witches were not burned in the American Colonies. The usual method of execution was to turn them off ladders and leaving them hanging. In Europe witches were much more cruelly dealth with than in America.
The explanation of witchcraft craze is simple. Witchcraft existed two or three centuries ago solely because people believed it existed. An angry woman might give a neighbor a hateful glance or utter a half veiled threat. It would be remembered, and misfortunes subsequently occuring would often be connected with it in the mind of a neighbor. Significance would be extracted out of mere coincidences, and entirely natural events would be attributed to the malignant agency of the suspected woman. These suspicions would be bandied about, in whispers or even openly. Oftentimes, imaginative children or neurotic adolescents, overhearing the talk, would discuss the matter between themselves. There was a thrill in it, and they would shudder deliciously when the suspected witch passed by them or spoke to them.
Sometimes the children became obsessed with the idea that the witch was persecuting them. They imagined they seen apparitions of the witch,their parents would then see their previous suspicions confirmed. Formal complaints would be lodged against the witch. Then the witch was brought to trial and so on. The Salem craze reached the dimentions of mob hysteria and many innocent victims suffered. Can you imagine? If you did something a little bit out of the ordinary it was believed that you were a witch??? Very scary situation, I am very happy that I wasn't there during those sad and terrible times.
Well we had two days of snow, yesterday I had to clean my car, and I hadn't cleaned the top of it, while we were driving down a busy street, we stopped for a red light and Poof a pile of snow came tumbling down on the windshield, You should have seen how fast I moved out of the car and cleared the window. grin.
Our Bergeron-Damboise reunion plans are going very well. I have had some folks contact me from various places who would like to attend. That is good. We are getting closer to the date in July. And the CMA2009 also is getting nearer, if you are looking for accomodations I have a friend in Bouctouche who has an old house converted into rooms that she will rent, Bouctouche is not real close to Caraquet but now everywhere you look the motels , hotels ,B&B are all booked solid.
I hope you enjoyed todays blog and will return.
Have a great day


Anonymous said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


alineskee said...

Thank you Ruth, I am pleased that you like my blog,please stop by anytime. Aline

Anonymous said...

Hi Aline,
I am also leaving a first comment.
As always, it's a pleasure to read your blog.

I was reading the part about witches, another thing that was done to a person being accused, was to burn them alive in the public place. Before doing this, they would cut every hair on the body. The reason is that everyone was convinced that the power of the witch was in the hair. Often, her children where burn with the mother to make sure it wasn't transmited to the next generation.

Thank you!

Lorraine C.

Lorraine said...

Hi Aline,
Even if this is the first time I write a comment, it's always a great pleasure to read anything your writing.
This time, I was captivated by the witches part of your blog.
I would like to add to that that another thing they would to to someone accused of being a witch, is to burn them alive on the public place. Before they burn this person, they would cut every hair on the body. The reason was that it was beleived that the witches power came from the hair. Often, the mother was burned with her children that also received the same treatment before being burned. The children for the children being burned also was to make sure that the power was not transmitted to them.
Thank you.
Lorraine C.

alineskee said...

Wow Lorraine, I did not know that. But if we really think about it, people were so superstitious back then, how many innocent people died .Sad huh?