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Episode 18 Burning Witches Part 1



The world plagued with an epidemic of Witch trials in the 1500 to late 1600s. Although a few men were accused and executed on occasion, it was a war against women. I went down a research Rabbit hole to ask, Why woman? Why witchcraft? The answer is a carefully crafted potion in the cauldron, with dashes and pinches of the socio-economic, political, religious climate of every place in time. No witch trial is the same, and no single one exists in a vacuum.

My interest was peeked from my own story of reincarnation. As I began my first dabble in the spiritualist and mystical world, I had a Reiki Healer/past life regressionist tell me that I had lived many lives as a Charmer, Healer, Witch, and possible outcast. She told me that I had been in the last wave of executions in the Salem Witch trials. If I researched the names, I would recognized my own. I went home and did just that. I found the name Alice Parker stood out to me most. Come to find out, Alice was the wife of a fisherman. She was on her own much of the time as he was away on ships. One account of her said that she stormed into Sam Beadle's Tavern one night, upset at her husband for being there drinking. When someone tried to calm her, she said "Mind your own business." . . . if I needed proof that I was a reincarnated Alice, this was it.

As Beltane season is upon us, let's not dismiss the celebrations of Walpurgisnacht in places of Germany. In the 8th Century an English nun, Walpurgis, travels to Germany on a mission to convert the populace to Christianity. She was Abbess there, Sainted for “ridding pests, whooping cough, and witchcraft”. Associated with Beltane May Day celebrations in Sweden, Norway, Germany, Austria, Denmark. It is celebrated with lighting fires to rid the town of witches and evil spirits. Now celebrated on April 30th, Walpurgisnaught is the Eve of St. Walpurgis Night. Instead of ridding the world of witches, the pagans have taken it back and celebrate just as Beltane in Celtic areas are celebrated. There wasn't evidence of anyone accused of witchcraft by the Abbess and Saint, but she did the missionary work to convert the pagans into Christianity.

There are many witch trials recorded in France and Switzerland in 1428-1447

Heir to the throne of England after Queen Elizabeth I, King James 1 travels to Denmark and marries a Dutch Princess. The stormy seas on the return home is traumatic, but not so much as a remark from a seaman blaming a "witch on board" the vessel. This makes King James I fear Witches and any evil that might be associated with the Devil. The impact maybe a consequence of the Reformation, church of England and Catholicism. In this time, Puritans are born! They don't feel as though Protestants go far enough in their religious zealot and are on a mission to purify the world of EVIL (aka. Women)

Notable trials that took place in these years:

  • 1597 Scotland- Great Witch Hunt, 400 dead in England, 4k-6k on trial and executed in Scotland.

  • 1674-1675 Torksaker Sweden: Largest witch hunt and execution. 71 accused (65 female) all beheaded on a single day in a mass grave. A Minister appointed two boys to name the witches by an invisible "devil's mark" on their forehead. One of them names the minister's own wife.

  • 1677 King ordered ministers to declare the witches GONE.

  • New Jersey, the story of Mary Moore buried in Edison Park in several places on unmarked graves. The town feared if she was given one burial plot, her powers would return.

  • 1600s: Hadley Massachusetts, the story of Mary Webster. Phillip Smith is sick and the townspeople are convinced it is Mary cursing him. The law isn't enough, so they hang Mary themselves. Mary is hung, Philip dies, but Mary is cut down and survives another 11 years. There is a fantastic poem written by her relative, Mary Atwood: Half Hanged Mary


To find more information about these trials:

My best resource were well researched episodes of the LORE podcast by Alan Menke. Episodes with stories mentioned were episodes 28, 41, 57, 70, 183

Season 1 of the podcast Unobscured by Alan Menke is a deep dive into the Salem Witch trials specifically.

Link to the poem Half Hanged Mary by Margaret Atwood:


Want more info on Salem Witch Trials and people of interest?


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