How to spot a witch in medieval times
Being a woman
Are you a woman? If so, then you may well turn out to be a servant of the Devil. In the Middle Ages, women were often associated with witches: people believed that women were much more sinful than men for thousands of years, and sinfulness clearly indicates Devil worship. In Salem, 13 women and five men were accused of witchcraft, but many more women died during the entire Witch Hunt.
Being poor or just can’t provide for yourself
Beggars, the homeless, and those who had to beg were often accused of witchcraft. Sarah Goode, for example, was hanged in 1692 because she wandered from house to house and asked for food – the neighbors did not like her and did not trust her, so they accused her of witchcraft.
Being rich or financially independent
If you are an adult well—off woman and live without any financial support from a man, then in your pantry, most likely, there are cans with alcohol-soaked newt’s eyes.
Any case when a woman lived independently, without the support of a man, caused alarm. Most likely, society would have shunned such a woman, and then she would have been accused and tried. Between 1620 and 1725, women who had no husbands, sons, or brothers but who nevertheless succeeded were often accused of witchcraft in New England – about 89% of those hanged were just like that.
Having one girlfriend or several
A group of women gathering together without men could be mistaken for a “devil-worshipping coven.” Probably, it was more convenient for the ladies to make eyes at him.
You argued with one or more of your friends
Witch hunters like Matthew Hopkins or John Sirne inspired such horror in society that some women accused others of witchcraft just to protect themselves. According to the writer Elizabeth Reis, women more often than men were suspected of collusion with the Devil, and the women themselves believed in it — so friends could definitely be cursed.
For example, take Rachel Clinton — decent women accused her of making them hunch over when she passed them in church. Rachel, herself a woman of “decency and dignity,” was also mentally unstable: her late marriage and subsequent motherhood put her at the bottom of the social ladder.
The complete set — it remains to add other women screaming absurdities on all corners, and Rachel can safely be accused of witchcraft, which happened.
You argued or disagreed with someone
It is important to remember that anyone could blame anyone, which everyone did. And if you suddenly find that you are accused of witchcraft, then check where the wind is blowing from — it is quite possible that a former lover saw you naked on a broomstick.
You are very old
Older women, both married and unmarried, were ideal targets for accusations. Rebecca Ners was 70 years old, she was disabled — and the neighbors suddenly started blaming her. She went down in history as the oldest woman who, at 71, was convicted and executed as a witch.
You are very young
Dorothy Goode was only four years old when she confessed to witchcraft (at the same time, her mother was accused of it and hanged in 1692). Dorothy spent nine months in prison, but eventually, she was released. However, the girl lost her mind forever.
Being a midwife
The writer Joel Sutern said this well: “Social and marital status, independence, pagan influences, secret knowledge of herbs — everything spoke against midwives. The main thing is that the profession was considered unclean and humiliating, so such women simply had to be in collusion with the Devil. In short, everyone was afraid of midwives.”
You are married and have too many children
Such unnatural fertility is probably the result of black magic. Put a couple in the neighborhood who can’t conceive a child in any way, and they will decide that you are stealing their happiness because you’re a witch.
Married with only one child (or none at all)
The Devil cursed you and rewarded you with infertility. In addition, if your neighbors and their six children have already suffered, then surely those who live next to them have also turned to evil.
You can be called “strange”, “stubborn” or “defiant”
Allow yourself any audacity — and you will most likely be called a witch. During the trial of Rachel Clinton, the following accusations were testified against her: “Does she not behave like an embittered, annoying, rude woman? Yes, this is the character of a witch! Isn’t she swearing, threatening, getting into a fight?”
Having a mole, birthmark, or third nipple
All this could be interpreted as a diabolical sign. It could also mean that a dog, cat, or snake is attached to the Witch to drink her blood. The accused had their entire body hair completely shaved off to find a mark.
There is spoiled butter or milk in your cellar
At the Salem trial, the accused were accused of having spoiled dairy products in their cellars. So check out the refrigerator.
Have you had s^x outside of marriage
If this applies to you, you can throw yourself into the blue hellfire. In 1651, Alice Lake of Dorchester was tried as a witch for “being a harlot and having a child.” She was tortured so much that she finally confessed that she had slept with the Devil, and the child was from him. She was hanged the same year.
You tried to predict the identity of your future husband
Do you dream about your other half? Are you writing his name in your notebook? Then your actions can be interpreted as witchcraft — which is what happened to Tituba, a slave from the city of Salem. Tituba invited young girls to learn the names of future husbands and became the first woman in Salem to be accused of witchcraft. But not the last.
You have violated any rule from the Bible — so you have made a contract with the Devil.
The Puritans had to strictly observe the following few rules. Violation of any of them could become grounds for accusations of witchcraft.
Strict observance of the Sabbath: you can not light a fire, trade, travel — sometimes it was called “new offer loaves in a holy place”, it was punishable by death;
Not to commit adultery;
Not to incline people to other gods by prophesying or dreaming;
Do not allow yourself to be raped;
Do not sow more than one type of seed in the field;
Do not touch pork carcass;
Do not wear clothes made of fabrics of more than one type;
Do not cut your hair in a circle;
Do not braid your hair in a braid;
And, of course, not to let witches live.
If you have done anything from this list, then you can safely be accused of witchcraft. You will probably be hanged for this, burned, or left to rot in prison until you die yourself.