Girls pose by a jail that recalls the witch trials of 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts. Photo taken in 1945.
I recently learned that the water in Salem was contaminated with the fungus from which LSD is derived and a legitimate theory for the whole thing is that everyone in the town was tripping balls
This might be the greatest thing ive ever seen on the internet
We did a whole massive thing on this in history. I believe the fungus in question is called Ergot and it’s terrifying. It makes your muscles spasm so when they had seizures that was the reason, not because they were possessed. One woman had to be strapped to her bed, she was seizing so bad. And, like ‘theybuildbuildings’ said, it had the same effects as LSD; as soon as you touch it, let alone consume it, it messes with your entire system. The worst thing is, you practically always had a bad trip. Many complained about bugs crawling under their skin or monsters emerging from the shadows to scratch and bite at them until they were screaming. It was a horrendous thing and the worst part is, Ergot is still around. It grows on crops and, if your wheat isn’t properly treated, it can be eaten and you’ll most likely experience the same as the women of Salem.
god i love history
- Ergotism was well known by the time of the trials, the symptoms probably would have been identified. It was considered a terrifying disease for over a thousand years, known as “holy fire” or “St. Andrew’s Fire”. The most telling sign of ergotism, gangrene, wasn’t even present. It is uncommon for ergotism to be marked solely by convulsions.
- Ergotism didn’t poison the water supply. If it had been a threat to the town it would have been through consumption of rye.
- You’re underestimating the importance of William Griggs, the town doctor who diagnosed the so-called witchcraft. It wasn’t until after he diagnosed Betty that the accusations and claims from the girls started.
- The girls were described as “hale and hearthy” outside of court. Ergotism wasn’t called “the holy fire” because it was mild. It was awful, with rates of fatality between 10-40%. Little was mentioned of vomiting, gastrointestinal issues, skin color change, chills, headaches…. The basic symptoms.
To disregard the unbelievable affect of class and gender on the Puritans is shocking. A wild fungus may seem more interesting, but it disregards prejudice, religion bases psychosis, misogyny, and hate for outsiders that permeated Salem.
Everyone accused was a social pariah. The only exceptions to this are the people who questioned the trials. This is not by accident. Sarah Good was a beggar, Giles Corey was generally distrusted and had previously been accused of murder, Tituba was a Native American (perhaps black? her race has been in debate for over 150 years) woman who spoke of omens and magic, Martha Carrier had been accused of witchcraft only two years prior and had inherited wealth despite patriarchal norms, Sarah Osbourne was challenging property laws and social norms, Margaret Scott was a poor widow who had been disliked for as long as 20 years, and so on and so on. They struck out against people their families were suspicious of.
These little girls were under tremendous stress. They could celebrate no holidays, express no strong emotions, no dancing or music, no toys, suffered rampant abuse espoused as discipline, and lived under the constant overwhelming fear of Hell. The older generation at that time was bemoaning the youths’ lack of piety and dedication to Christ. In other words, the girls were miserable and well aware that according to their parents only Hell awaited their misbehavior. They were trying to survive in an adult world not meant, or willing to, support the needs of children. To display anger, fear, or sorrow was a personal weakness. But to do so when coerced by the devil was perfectly acceptable. So they acted out, became hysterical. And claimed the devil was behind it all.
That may not be as exciting as the, “but they ate this spore, right? and it was like a bad trip on LSD!” but it’s almost certainly correct.