These days the term 'Witch Hunt' is often heard and seen in the news. The term is being used too loosely describing a perceived irrational search and persecution of a political figure. For many of us, the term brings forth mental images of wild crowds of peasants carrying flaming torches, pitchforks and shovels screaming “Kill the Witch!” All too often, in times past that person was a talented, outspoken woman who was perceived to have power over others.
Mention witch trials and most people think of Salem, Massachusetts, and Puritans. America wasn’t the only place witches were being hunted and executed, however. One of the most famous – and most deadly – witch trials happened in England in 1612. The Witches of Pendle Forest, as they have come to be called, were ten women and two men who were accused of witchcraft and tried. Also at the trials of 1612 were eight others, the Samlesbury Witches. The aspects of the trial were documented and published, allowing us to have insight into what occurred. The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster, by the clerk of the court Thomas Potts, provides detail that would otherwise be lost to legend and myth
Every Witch, young and old, should know or at least recognize the Salem Witch Trials. The Salem Witch Trials were a dark moment in Witchcraft history that triggered a downward spiral of negative connotations towards Witches. Because of these Trials, Witches now have to suffer from a negative image and reputation, stereotyping, and downright rude remarks that we can do little about. The Salem Witch Trials are not something pleasant to think about, but if we educate ourselves in what these Trials were, we can use the knowledge to show people who Witches are.