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Salem Witch Trials

Today’s episode, “Salem Witch Trials” is on Apple Podcasts, SpotifyOvercast, Libsyn, Pocket CastStitcher, iHeartRadio, or anywhere you listen to podcasts.

Happy Halloween! We are releasing Tuesday’s episode early because how could we NOT? Next Tuesday is soooo close to Halloween, and we just wanted to end the month of October with a doozy of a story. Most people know about the Salem Witch Trials, but not everyone has a direct connection to the participants in that very sad time of American history. Well, to be honest LOTS of people might be connected, but not every Mugly Truth Podcast cohost has that connection. Yep, you have a 50% chance of guessing which of us has a very infamous ancestor and how said great, great, great, great, great, great, etc. grandsomebody or other wasn’t exactly the nicest person in the village. Can’t pick your family, amirite?

In our research we both realized that the truth about the Salem Witch Trials was so much darker than the history we learned eons ago in grade school. Back then it was a watered-down skimming of the story, topped at one point by reading Arthur Miller’s dramatic and largely fictionalized, The Crucible. As adults, naturally we have learned more about life and the bonkers things that people do—regardless, we sure had our eyes opened about the true horrors of 329 years ago.

Depiction of the witchcraft trials in Salem Village. Engraving, 1876. (Public Domain)

The truth was embroiled in many factors affecting the colonies, particularly Massachusetts, in the 1600s: extreme weather resulting in a very cold winter; government and judicial dysfunction; deadly pushback from local indigenous people; archaic, oppressive superstitions and religious beliefs; lack of scientific knowledge of illnesses both physical and mental; extreme racial, gender, and social class prejudice; and lots and lots and lots of land envy. Some even believe that the aftermath was actually the first government cover-up in American history since so many of the documents and “evidence” obtained during the trials were destroyed.

Aside from the government-sanctioned murders of 20 innocent men and women, three accused people died while awaiting trial in jail. Many who survived the experience of being accused, and/or jailed (which often included torture) had their reputations, which were sacrosanct in those times, destroyed. There were no treatment resources to help cope, heal and recover after the trials ended. Dorcas Good, for instance, was only 4 when she was jailed alongside her mother Sarah and her siblings. She died at the age of 16, reportedly mentally ill and homeless.

This illustration by John W. Ehninger depicts Tituba, an enslaved woman of color who was the first to be accused of and jailed for witchcraft, only to be released back into enslavement a year later.(Public Domain)

Tituba, enslaved – and beaten – by village Minister Samuel Parris, was the first to be accused by Parris’ daughter Betty and niece Agibail Williams. She was jailed for a year only to be released to a new “master” who was willing to pay her jail fees.

Some who took part in the accusations repented of their horrible part in the affair. Ann Putnam, one of the original accusers, apologized after her parents died. Judge Samuel Sewall begged forgiveness for his sins relative to the trials. Yet, others thrived and spent the rest of their lives denying any wrong-doing (Betty Parris, Judge William Stoughton, we’re looking at you).

Even though the government later attempted some form of restitution to the families of those who were executed, it was a fairly hollow gesture since not everyone involved in the accusations were brought to justice. People such as Sherriff George Corwin profited nicely from the proceedings. Corwin never returned the property he illegally “impounded” (aka stole) from those who were thrown into his jail. However, he did die at the age of 30 only a few years later. Karma? Who knows (but in our opinion, yeah, kinda).

Today we understand the long term ripple-effect of such horrific trauma. We can also look back and identify the possible psychology and science behind the girls’ behavior (mass hysteria, teenage hormones, possible fungal poisoning, mental/emotional abuse or oppression, the list is so long) whereas back in those days anything other than piousness was chalked up to bewitchment. It was a terribly sad and horrific point in America’s history (among many others…#enslavement). Yep, we definitely did NOT learn the whole truth in school.

Even though we now know more than the we did as children, we realize we have only learned about and recounted a very small part of this entire saga. And even then there are likely inaccuracies in today’s conversation.

We also want to acknowledge that although we are releasing this on Halloween, we know there is no connection between the “witches” we celebrate during Halloween today and the innocent men, women, and children (and two dogs) who were ruined on so many levels in the name of witchcraft in 1692.

Photo by Wallace Chuck on Pexels.com

As we said in the episode, we want to visit Salem, MA someday but will do so with a more sober perspective than we had before we started learning the deeper truths. The history of Salem is vast and there are many documentaries, books, podcasts, and YouTube videos out there, some better than others. So if what you hear on our episode today piques your interest, we encourage you to do your own research…it’s a huge rabbit hole to jump into so good luck with your sleuthing!

Sources We Mention in Our Episode

This vintage postcard depicts the kitchen of the Governor’s Faire House, which was built in 1930 as part of a living history museum in Pioneer Village near Salem, Massachusetts. (Public Domain)
Photo by Matheus Bertelli on Pexels.com.

Thank you for visiting our blog and HAPPY HALLOWEEN! If you like what you read, please tell a friend or two, you can even share the article. It all helps! If you haven’t listened to the episode yet, give it a go…we think you’ll like it.

Check out The Mugly Truth Podcast’s episode Salem Witch Trials on Apple Podcasts, SpotifyOvercast, Libsyn, Pocket CastStitcher, iHeartRadio, or (almost) anywhere you listen to podcasts. Then all you need to do is 1) subscribe, 2) download, and 3) listen! AND!!! 4) If you enjoy what you hear, please leave a rating and a review. The more subscribers and reviews we get, the more opportunities we will have to grow this podcast!

Don’t forget to follow us here at themuglytruth.com (click that blue WordPress Follow button on the right side of your screen) so you get notifications every time we post an episode blog! You can also follow The Mugly Truth on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. Please also follow Kym on Tiktok at kymtok.

© The Mugly Truth 2021 and © The Mugly Truth Podcast 2021. All rights reserved.
Intro and outro music,
Clever as a Fox by Espresso, Inc. through premiumbeats.com.
Outtake music
At the Fair by The Green Orbs, courtesy YouTube Audio Library.
Featured photo of Creepy Forest by Francesco Ungaro on Pexels.com

Episodes

Please Don’t Eat the Children

TMT_Ep36_IGPhoto

Happy Tuesday and Happy National Tell a Fairytale Day!! That’s right, February 26 is all about celebrating fairytales. Naturally Kym and Kris have chosen to take what’s lovely and beautiful and seemingly happy-ever-after and turn it on it’s morbid little head. Because if you really believe all those Disney happy endings, honey sit down, because the truth is downright scary. AND mugly.

First of all, the fairytales we all know and love have been around for centuries (the oldest known tale called “The Smith and The Devil” is believed to be 7,000 years old!). Among the most well known set of stories published in the early 19th century were by librarian brothers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm as a way to prevent the stories of their Germanic heritage being lost forever. Prior to that, most tales were passed down in oral tradition as moral teachings and guidance. Apparently, telling children not to wander into the forest for fear of being baked by a witch was a great way to keep them playing in the front yard.

But beyond just moralizing opportunities, the tales were a snapshot of the social norms of the day. The value (or lack thereof, let’s face it) of women and children, the struggles of day to day existence, famine, disease…many of the stories we fawn over today as lovely and feel-good really were quite gruesome. So much so that over time some storylines actually became omitted. (Do you know what the ugly step sisters actually did to get that damned slipper to fit?? DO YOU??)  We’ll warn you now…many include the deaths of women and children and there seemed to be just a smidge of cannibalism going on. Remember, famine.

Interesting side-note: according to this article History of Fairytales, by Susie McGee, the oral origins of the stories made famous by male authors like the Grimms, Hans Christian Andersen, and Charles Perrault, “[go] back much further than the 17th century, and many of these stories are actually just retellings of age-old tales, many created by women and retold throughout history” and “women typically created fairy tales with a distinct purpose in mind-to protest the societal constraints that were placed upon them and to emphasis their own rights as women in a man’s world.”

 Hmmm. 

Mostly the takeaway is we’re REALLY glad we’re 21st century women and that our kids have no idea how great their lives are.

Speaking of grim, those brothers are the ones mainly responsible for the rest of the world learning about Little Snow White, The Golden Goose, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Cinderella, The Brave Little Tailor, The Pied Piper, and Rumplestiltskin.

Wilhelm_Grimm _and_Jacob_Grimm_1855_painting_by_Elisabeth_Jerichau-Baumann
Wilhelm Grimm (left) and Jacob Grim, 1855, painting by Elisabeth Jerichau-Baumann. Photo from Wikipedia. This photo is in public domain.

Frontispiece and title-page
Frontispiece and title-page, illustrated by Ludwig Emil Grimm of the 1819 edition of Kinder- und Hausmärchen). Source: Toronto Public Library and Wikipedia. This photo is in public domain.

Pied Piper of Hamelin
The Deutsche Sagen (German Legends) included stories such as “Pied Piper of Hamelin”, shown here in an illustration by Kate Greenaway. Artist: Kate Greenaway (1846–1901) Engraver: Edmund Evans  (1826–1905) Photo from Wikipedia. This photo is in public domain.

But they’re not the only ones who you know about even if you don’t know you know them. Mm-hmm.

In France, Charles Perrault created the classic Tales of Mother Goose including a version of Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood, as well as Puss In Boots, The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood, and Bluebeard. In Denmark Hans Christian Andersen gained fame with The Little Mermaid, The Ugly Duckling, Thumbelina, The Snow Queen, and many others.

Clearly, ticking off popular Disney movie title after movie title after movie title, one doesn’t have to look very far in today’s entertainment industry to understand how far-reaching the legacies of these stories have been.

Don’t even get us started on how all the happy-ending purty la la renditions have caused a whole generation of people to expect unrealistic life arcs. Which makes them easily offended. Which makes life annoying a lot of times. There’s no scientific data to back that statement, we just feel VURRRY strongly that that is accurate. Just an observation.

We ARE glad certain huge movie makers are creating better female characters who are heroic, brave, and can save their own hide and a couple other people’s as well. And they don’t necessarily have to marry anyone in the end either. You go Elsa and Anna!

Anyway. Hey. Look. Looklookie here. Listen. Don’t mind us. Have we mentioned we’re getting older and hormonal? OF COURSE we’re going to find the bitching in the pudding (by the way, the story behind Jack Horner is kind of cool)…but don’t let us ruin a perfectly amazing opportunity to crack open your favorite Beauty and the Beast illustrated book and read it to a loved one (including yourself) if you’re so inclined. Because truth…mugly truth that is…be told, we’re suckers for happily ever after, so bring on the sanitized versions dear friends. Let’s all d’awwww together.

For more information on the articles cited in this episode and blog post please visit the following:

How the Grimm Brothers Saved the Fairy Tale by Jack Zipes

History of Fairy Tales by Susie McGee

The True Stories Behind Classic Fairy Tales by Valerie Ogden

And, if you’re motivated, unlike Kris, to write your very own fairytale, feel free to check this article out: Exploring genre | How to write a fairy tale

Check out our Please Don’t Eat the Children episode on  iTunes/Apple Podcasts, SpotifyOvercast, Libsyn, Pocket CastStitcher or anywhere you listen to podcasts. Then all you need to do is 1) subscribe 2) download and 3) listen! AND!!! 4) If you enjoy what you hear, please leave a rating and a review (pretty please?). The more subscribers and reviews we get, the more opportunities we get to grow this podcast and bring you richer content.

And don’t forget to follow us here at themuglytruth.com (click that blue WordPress Follow button on the right side of your screen) so you get notifications every time we post an episode blog! You can also follow The Mugly Truth on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

© The Mugly Truth 2019 and © The Mugly Truth Podcast 2019. All rights reserved.
Intro and outro music, “Clever as a Fox”  by Espresso Music through premiumbeats.com
Photos courtesy Wikipedia commons and public domain.