The moon is a powerful symbol that has been used since ancient times for guidance and illumination
Witch hysteria began in Salem in January of 1692 when two young girls, Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams, fell ill. Betty, as Elizabeth was known, was the daughter of Reverend Samuel Parris, and Abigail was his niece. They had fits that included uncontrollable outbursts of screaming and violent bodily contortions. After a doctor couldn’t diagnose their illnesses, he told Reverend Parris that they had been the victims of witchcraft. Between January 1692 and the spring of 1693, over 150 people were accused of witchcraft, and 19 of them were hanged. When the hysteria was at its peak, almost anything could get you accused of being in league with the devil. Below, we’ll talk about some of the sillier things that would qualify you as a witch in 1692.
- Having a Vagina
Yes, simply being in possession of a vagina made you 80% more likely to be accused of witchcraft than someone without one. This was because it was believed that women were more susceptible to sin, and thus more susceptible to the devil’s trickery and temptations.
- Being Too Poor
If you sometimes have trouble supporting yourself and have to resort to asking your community or friends for help, you could have been a suspected witch in 1692. One of the first women hanged for witchcraft in Salem was Sarah Good, a poor woman who often begged her friends and neighbors for food, and was thus disliked and distrusted by the community. Due to this, they accused her of witchcraft.
- Being Too Rich
Are you self-made without the need of a man or family to help you financially? If yes, then you’re obviously a witch. In the 17th century, it was believed impossible for a woman to be financially comfortable – or even stable – without the help of a man, which meant she had to be in league with the devil.
- Having No Friends
Are you an introvert? BURN HER! BURN THE WITCH! Women who were shy or had trouble making friends were often accused of witchcraft because they were easy targets. With no one to stand up for them, the trials were a breeze, and off to Gallows Hill they were marched.
- Having Too Many Friends
On the flip side, if you are an extreme extrovert with a whole squad of awesome women surrounding you, you’re also a witch. The famed Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins, started this rumor after he happened upon a group of women chatting together and having a good time. He called them a coven and accused them of chanting incantations. They were executed.
- Being Too Old
Older women were an easy target for witch hysteria. Whether married or not, it was believed that only the work of the devil could help a woman get to an advanced age, and so seniors were often accused of witchery. Rebecca Nurse, a septuagenarian, with a husband, children, and many grandchildren, who was also a respected member of the community, was hanged for witchcraft because of her advanced age.
- Being Too Young
Are you starting to see a pattern here? Quite literally, no one was safe from the accusations of witchcraft in 17th century Salem. Dorothy Good, daughter of Sarah Good, was accused, at the ripe old age of four, of witchcraft. Her accusers claimed she bit them and attacked them like an animal. After being interrogated for two weeks, Dorothy broke down and admitted to whatever her accusers were saying. She was imprisoned for four months, an ordeal which left her with permanent and extreme psychological damage.
- Having Too Few/No Kids
Being married and having no or too few children was grounds for execution for witchcraft. The devil must have cursed you and your unholy womb with infertility. Additionally, if any of your neighbors who had a lot of children found themselves with problems, it was obviously because the childless crone next door had put a curse on them due to jealousy.
- Having Too Many Kids
Of course, on the other hand, if you had too many children, you were obviously performing witchcraft and stealing the babies that would have been born to the infertile couple next door.
- Being Kind to Animals
You better not let anyone see you cooing to the cute dog down the street, or petting the stray cat behind your house because everyone knows that people who are kind to animals are witches! Believing in the idea that all witches had familiars – animals that would help them in the devilry – this meant that any woman caught talking to or paying attention to an animal would automatically be assumed to be a witch and put on trial.
- Being Eccentric Or Loud
Talking to yourself, being different from the rest of society, or even being too loud and sassy was a surefire way to get you put on trial. Women in the 17th century were supposed to be quiet, calm, submissive, God-fearing Christians. If you displayed any kind of characteristic that went against these traits, you qualified as a witch.
- Being Able To Swim
The ability to swim was not as widespread in 1692 Salem as it is now. One of the reasons trial by water became so popular during witch trials was because it was believed that if a person, once dropped in water, was able to make it back to the surface, evil forces had to be at work.
- You Made Someone Angry
At the height of the Salem Witch Trials, people were accusing each other left and right. All it took was for you to upset someone, or make someone angry, or, in the case of Rebecca Nurse, accidentally bump into someone at church, and they would accuse you of witchcraft.
- You have birthmarks
Called the Witch’s Mark, any birthmark, or mole, or scar, or tiny skin imperfection you had was all it took for you to suddenly be a suspected witch. It was believed that through these Witch’s Marks, the witch would feed her family her blood.
- You Had Spoiled Dairy Products
During the Salem Witch Trials, something as simple as your butter or milk spoiling could qualify you as a witch. Essentially, anything out of the ordinary that happened in everyday life that the people of the time couldn’t understand was blamed on witchcraft, including spoiled dairy products. Several people claimed that their butter had gone bad in the presence of a witch on trial. This was considered evidence against her.
1692 was a dangerous time. Literally, anything could be misconstrued or misunderstood and that would automatically qualify them as a witch. To learn more about the witch trials, check out our blog about the weird tests they performed to prove someone was guilty of witchcraft in the 17th century.
Greek mythology has given us many of the most enduring figures in Western culture, from Zeus and his wife Hera to the tragic figure of Prometheus. But who were these Gods and Goddesses? How did they rise to power? This list of the most important deities in the Greek pantheon will help you understand their power, personality, and divine responsibilities.
When Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, it didn’t come without controversy. The Romans saw Christians as hostile heathens who rejected the religion of their ancestors. But many of the customs practiced by early Christians were actually borrowed from the pagans they so despised, all as a means of converting the Pagans to Christianity. Here are the 10 most mind-blowing ways Christianity stole from Paganism!
1) The Number 12
The number 12 has an important place in both Pagan and Christian traditions. Pagans worshipped a number of gods, usually 12, but also 22, 32, or 36 depending on the region. Early Christians paid homage to Jesus’ 12 apostles and even today it is said that he will return to Earth with his 12 disciples. Likewise, early Pagans often built temples in groups of 12, with circular designs like Stonehenge (in England) or The Sanctuary at Corsepius (in Turkey). Today, Christians are encouraged to welcome Jesus into their lives through 12 steps programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. 12 is also considered a good omen because many people believe it has no imperfections.
2) Christmas Trees
Early Christians were called tree worshippers by Romans who noted their custom of decorating Christmas trees during holidays. The first documented use of Christmas trees was in Germany in 1521. The ancient Greeks and Scandinavians also decorated trees to celebrate the Winter Solstice, but it is uncertain if they were using evergreen or just hung ornaments on their trees. Early Pagans would bring evergreen branches into their homes and decorate them to bring light and life into the home during the dreary winter months. It has been suggested that Pagan cults worshipped sacred groves of evergreens, thus giving rise to modern-day Christmas tree traditions, but there is no hard evidence to support these theories.
If you’ve ever partaken in a Communion service, you’re familiar with its origins: Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding by turning water into wine. (The first documented Communion ritual was practiced in Alexandria and involved bread and wine.) The fish symbol appeared on early Christian tombstones and other artifacts as a nod to Jesus, who stated that he will make you fishers of men. But the reality is that the symbol of the fish finds its roots in Paganism. The Christian symbol of the fish, called the Ichthys, even gets its name from a Pagan God, coincidentally named Ichthys, who was the son of the sea goddess, Atargatis, in Babylonian mythology. Pagans worshipped the symbol of the fish, often drawn by two intersecting crescent moons, as a symbol of fertility, believing it resembled a woman’s womb, thus representing the monthly cycle.
In ancient times, humans used fire as a tool for cooking, keeping warm, and light. In addition to these benefits, fire also had religious significance in many cultures. It was believed that divine forces were responsible for providing fire to humankind and so certain rituals were performed to appease these gods. Fire rituals were performed by Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Hebrews, Incas, Native Americans, and many other cultures around the world. One of these Pagan beliefs is represented in Christmas celebrations where families gather together around a Christmas tree, which has lights adorned on it. Lights that, in ancient times, were actual candles, not the string lights we see today.
5) Easter and Easter Eggs
Pagans and Christians alike observed that eggs were a magical and unique thing: they start out in a lifeless shell and turn into a living, breathing animal over time. It didn’t take long for Pagans to adopt eggs as symbolic of new life, springtime, and transformation, while in Christianity, eggs, and Easter eggs, in particular, symbolize Jesus’ resurrection and emerging from his tomb after three days. Like with many Christian holy days, the holiday known today as Easter got its origins from the Pagan festival of Ostara, a celebration of the Vernal Equinox.
6) The Virgin Birth
Think Mary was the first virgin to give birth to a god, demi-god, or son of God? Think again! Virgin births have been around in mythologies for centuries before Jesus. One of the earliest mythologies of an immaculate conception was that of the Egyptian God Horus, borne of the virgin Isis. Other virgin births prior to Jesus consist of Zoroaster, Mithra (who’s birthday is also written as December 25th), Krishna, and the Tien-Tse (Sons of Heaven) in China, among others.
7) Death and Resurrection
Like the myth of the virgin birth, Jesus’ resurrection cannot be solely (or even primarily) attributed to Christianity. 5000 years before Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Egyptian God, Osiris was killed and resurrected (more than once!). Osiris’ son, Horus, was also killed and resurrected. Moving onto Greek mythology, Adonis, Hermes, Dionysus, and Herakles all died and were resurrected. Other deities who were killed and subsequently resurrected include Tammuz of Babylonian mythology, Zarathustra, Mithra, and Krishna. The latter of which was believed to be crucified as well.
8) Longer Days at Easter
The earliest Christians may have decided to celebrate Easter on a Sunday because it meant they could worship for longer. During some years, Easter would be celebrated on April 21st or 22nd, rather than March 25th—but Christians still kept their firstfruits celebrations by congregating in church. Pagans, on the other hand, held celebrations at night since they thought that’s when spirits were most likely to wander into our world. It’s no wonder that Christians started celebrating Easter sunrise services!
9) Sunday Rest Days
The ancient Romans had a day of rest on Sunday. The ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Persians, and even ancient Jews had a concept of a day of rest. Some have speculated that Christians stole their Sabbath from Pagans, but it’s possible that all religions were taking a page from history.
The Christmas tree tradition can be traced to Pagan practices in Germanic Europe. Heathens decorated fir trees in honor of their god, Thor, around December 24—the same day that early Christians used to celebrate Christ’s birth. But the theft from Paganism goes far deeper than simply Christmas trees. The entire holiday of Christmas – you know, the supposed day of Jesus’ birth? – was stolen from the Germanic celebration of Yule, and the Roman festival of Saturnalia. Though it is widely accepted that Jesus’ birth coincides with Christmas Day, historical texts suggest that Jesus was, instead, born in the Spring, however, in an effort to convert Pagans, who were very attached to their holy days, early Christians adopted Pagan celebrations and renamed them.
Written by Vehemence
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