Archive for May, 2012

Queen of Swords

Be very careful not to resort to manipulatory tactics to get things done today – you will be found out and you won’t be popular for it!

Focus on taking positive action to achieve your goals today; avoid anything that could be construed by others, or yourself, as devious.

The Magician

This is a day where you can achieve whatever you want, provided you have the determination and self-belief to make it happen.

There is great potential for you here, either at work, with a financial prospect or concerning a relationship. Harness that inner power and you will find the charm, wit and possibly sheer cheek to achieve the outcome you want.

If you lack self-confidence or are indecisive, you risk letting today’s opportunities slip by.

Take care if you have any dealings today with a man who you feel unsure about. If you doubt his trustworthiness and sense a devious nature or hidden agenda, you may well be right!

The Sun

This is a day for you to show just what you’re made of, you will excel yourself. You will shine as bright as the sun and your self-confidence will be contagious. Days don’t come much better than this!

You will enjoy yourself and have fun whether you are working, socialising with friends or family, or enjoying a day’s holiday.

You may receive good news today concerning children or the conception or birth of a much-wanted baby.

The Devil

It will be important not to give in to temptation today. There’s a risk of distraction, caused by an unhealthy obsession with someone or something.

Certainly don’t vent your anger or frustrations on others who aren’t to blame for your situation. This will most likely concern a personal addiction such as a sexual affair, gambling, drinking or any other form of addiction that is threatening your livelihood or family affairs.

The Tower

This may be a day where you wish you’d stayed in bed!! There may be unexpected disruption, disappointments and challenges all round.

However difficult it may be to see the positive side of such a day, try to accept that sometimes such upheavals are necessary to create new opportunities.

King Wands

Today may be your lucky day! If you’re in the mood for a little flutter, go for it!

Alternatively, there’s a possible dispute of some sort in the air today, and if it shows up you’ll need to be a skilful mediator and see all sides of the argument. Think sensibly and wisely and don’t allow your emotions to muddy the water – you will resolve it.

3 Pentacles

Teamwork will be the focus of your day today.

You’ll probably be feeling very ambitious and determined to win. This is most likely to concern promotion, recognition, financial return or something to do with sports.

You may be dealing with property issues today too, either to improve your current home or looking at the possibility of a new home.

The Lovers

You could be faced with some pretty significant choices to make today concerning an intimate relationship or relationships, the consequences of which could have quite an impact on you.

In this situation, relying on your heart more than your head is the rule of the day – inspiration over reason is the better way forward.

Pay attention to your integrity and stay true to your moral code. No matter how tempting the ‘easy’ option seems, it won’t turn out to be easy in the end!

Sometimes we feel we must act out of duty when we should simply act out of truth and honesty.

The Fool

Unplanned or unexpected influences could effect your decisions and choices today. Don’t go doing anything hasty or make impetuous decisions. Be patient and watch how the day unfolds.

You should be feeling optimistic about today’s events, and you may well create new opportunities for yourself, or at the very least have some new ideas that you wish to follow through with.

However, remember that not every new idea or new beginning reaches a successful conclusion. This is why you must not rush anything today.

J is for Judicial

Judicial in Paganism … well there are many ‘Laws’ we feel we must follow, but only one that has been passed down from generation to generation … “and it harm none, do what thy will”

Of course there is another side to Judiciary and Paganism, in particular the witch hunts


A witch-hunt is a search for witches or evidence of witchcraft, often involving moral panic, mass hysteria and lynching, but in historical instances also legally sanctioned and involving official witchcraft trials. The classical period of witchhunts in Europe and North America falls into the Early Modern period or about 1480 to 1750, spanning the upheavals of the Reformation and the Thirty Years’ War, resulting in an estimated 40,000 to 60,000 executions.[1]

The last executions of people convicted as witches in Europe took place in the 18th century. In the Kingdom of Great Britain, witchcraft ceased to be an act punishable by law with the Witchcraft Act of 1735. In Germany, sorcery remained punishable by law into the late 18th century. Contemporary witch-hunts are reported from Sub-Saharan Africa, India and Papua New Guinea. Official legislation against witchcraft is still found in Saudi Arabia and Cameroon. The term "witch-hunt" since the 1930s has also been in use as a metaphor to refer to moral panics in general (frantic persecution of perceived enemies). This usage is especially associated with the Second Red Scare of the 1950s (the McCarthyist persecution of communists in the United States).

Witch hunts still occur today in societies where belief in magic is predominant. In most cases, these are instances of lynching, reported with some regularity from much of Sub-Saharan Africa, from rural North India and from Papua New Guinea. In addition, there are some countries that have legislation against the practice of sorcery. The only country where witchcraft remains legally punishable by death is Saudi Arabia.

I guess the one we all identify with is the Salem Witch Trials of 1962

The Salem witch trials occurred in colonial Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693. More than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft—the Devil’s magic—and 20 were executed. Eventually, the colony admitted the trials were a mistake and compensated the families of those convicted. Since then, the story of the trials has become synonymous with paranoia and injustice, and it continues to beguile the popular imagination more than 300 years later.

Salem Struggling
Several centuries ago, many practicing Christians, and those of other religions, had a strong belief that the Devil could give certain people known as witches the power to harm others in return for their loyalty. A "witchcraft craze" rippled through Europe from the 1300s to the end of the 1600s. Tens of thousands of supposed witches—mostly women—were executed. Though the Salem trials came on just as the European craze was winding down, local circumstances explain their onset.

In 1689, English rulers William and Mary started a war with France in the American colonies. Known as King William’s War to colonists, it ravaged regions of upstate New York, Nova Scotia and Quebec, sending refugees into the county of Essex and, specifically, Salem Village in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. (Salem Village is present-day Danvers, Massachusetts; colonial Salem Town became what’s now Salem.)

The displaced people created a strain on Salem’s resources. This aggravated the existing rivalry between families with ties to the wealth of the port of Salem and those who still depended on agriculture. Controversy also brewed over Reverend Samuel Parris, who became Salem Village’s first ordained minister in 1689, and was disliked because of his rigid ways and greedy nature. The Puritan villagers believed all the quarreling was the work of the Devil.

In January of 1692, Reverend Parris’ daughter Elizabeth, age 9, and niece Abigail Williams, age 11, started having "fits." They screamed, threw things, uttered peculiar sounds and contorted themselves into strange positions, and a local doctor blamed the supernatural. Another girl, Ann Putnam, age 11, experienced similar episodes. On February 29, under pressure from magistrates Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne, the girls blamed three women for afflicting them: Tituba, the Parris’ Caribbean slave; Sarah Good, a homeless beggar; and Sarah Osborne, an elderly impoverished woman.

Witch Hunt
All three women were brought before the local magistrates and interrogated for several days, starting on March 1, 1692. Osborne claimed innocence, as did Good. But Tituba confessed, "The Devil came to me and bid me serve him." She described elaborate images of black dogs, red cats, yellow birds and a "black man" who wanted her to sign his book. She admitted that she signed the book and said there were several other witches looking to destroy the Puritans. All three women were put in jail.

With the seed of paranoia planted, a stream of accusations followed for the next few months. Charges against Martha Corey, a loyal member of the Church in Salem Village, greatly concerned the community; if she could be a witch, then anyone could. Magistrates even questioned Sarah Good’s 4-year-old daughter, Dorothy, and her timid answers were construed as a confession. The questioning got more serious in April when Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth and his assistants attended the hearings. Dozens of people from Salem and other Massachusetts villages were brought in for questioning.

On May 27, 1692, Governor William Phipps ordered the establishment of a Special Court of Oyer (to hear) and Terminer (to decide) for Suffolk, Essex and Middlesex counties. The first case brought to the special court was Bridget Bishop, an older woman known for her gossipy habits and promiscuity. When asked if she committed witchcraft, Bishop responded, "I am as innocent as the child unborn." The defense must not have been convincing, because she was found guilty and, on June 10, became the first person hanged on what was later called Gallows Hill.

Five days later, respected minister Cotton Mather wrote a letter imploring the court not to allow spectral evidence—testimony about dreams and visions. The court largely ignored this request and five people were sentenced and hanged in July, five more in August and eight in September. On October 3, following in his son’s footsteps, Increase Mather, then president of Harvard, denounced the use of spectral evidence: "It were better that ten suspected witches should escape than one innocent person be condemned."

Governor Phipps, in response to Mather’s plea and his own wife being questioned for witchcraft, prohibited further arrests, released many accused witches and dissolved the Court of Oyer and Terminer on October 29. Phipps replaced it with a Superior Court of Judicature, which disallowed spectral evidence and only condemned 3 out of 56 defendants. Phipps eventually pardoned all who were in prison on witchcraft charges by May 1693. But the damage had been done: 19 were hanged on Gallows Hill, a 71-year-old man was pressed to death with heavy stones, several people died in jail and nearly 200 people, overall, had been accused of practicing "the Devil’s magic."

Restoring Good Names
Following the trials and executions, many involved, like judge Samuel Sewall, publicly confessed error and guilt. On January 14, 1697, the General Court ordered a day of fasting and soul-searching for the tragedy of Salem. In 1702, the court declared the trials unlawful. And in 1711, the colony passed a bill restoring the rights and good names of those accused and granted £600 restitution to their heirs. However, it was not until 1957—more than 250 years later—that Massachusetts formally apologized for the events of 1692.

In the 20th century, artists and scientists alike continued to be fascinated by the Salem witch trials. Playwright Arthur Miller resurrected the tale with his 1953 play The Crucible, using the trials as an allegory for the McCarthyism paranoia in the 1950s. Additionally, numerous hypotheses have been devised to explain the strange behavior that occurred in Salem in 1692. One of the most concrete studies, published in Science in 1976 by psychologist Linnda Caporael, blamed the abnormal habits of the accused on the fungus ergot, which can be found in rye, wheat and other cereal grasses. Toxicologists say that eating ergot-contaminated foods can lead to muscle spasms, vomiting, delusions and hallucinations. Also, the fungus thrives in warm and damp climates—not too unlike the swampy meadows in Salem Village, where rye was the staple grain during the spring and summer months.

In August 1992, to mark the 300th anniversary of the trials, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel dedicated the Witch Trials Memorial in Salem. Also in Salem, the Peabody Essex Museum houses the original court documents, and the town’s most-visited attraction, the Salem Witch Museum, attests to the public’s enthrallment with the 1692 hysteria.

Editor’s note – October 27, 2011: Thanks to Professor Darin Hayton for pointing out an error in this article. While the exact number of supposed witches killed in Europe isn’t known, the best estimate is closer to tens of thousands of victims, not hundreds of thousands. We have fixed the text to address this issue.

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