Common section

America Bewitched: The Story of Witchcraft After Salem

America Bewitched: The Story of Witchcraft After Salem

History of witchcraft in America - from the Salem witch trials of 1692 to the present day.

The infamous Salem trials are etched into the consciousness of modern America, the human toll a reminder of the dangers of intolerance and persecution. The refrain "Remember Salem!" was invoked frequently over the ensuing centuries. As time passed, the trials became a milepost measuring the distance America had progressed from its colonial past, its victims now the the righteous and their persecutors the shamed. Yet the story of witchcraft did not end as the American Enlightenment dawned - a new, long, and chilling chapter was about to begin.

Witchcraft after Salem was not just a story of fireside tales, legends, and superstitions; it continued to be a matter of life and death, souring the American dream for many. We know of more people killed as witches between 1962 and the 1950s than were executed before it. Witches were part of the story of the decimation of the Native Americans, the experience of slavery and emancipation, and the immigrant experience; they were embedded in the religious and social history of the country. Yet the history of American witchcraft between the 18th and the 20th century also tells a less traumatic story, on that shows how different cultures interacted and shaped each other's languages and beliefs.

Chapter One - Aftermath

Salem: Never again?

The witchcraft of others

Reporting witchcraft

Where to find witchcraft

A Five Points witch

Chapter Two - Magic of a new land

Snakes and roots

Witch balls

What happened to the fairies?

They shoot witches don’t they?

Chapter Three - The law

The squire

Fiasco in Fentress

Delaware witches beware

What’s in a name?

Dealing with slander German-style

Popular understanding

Chapter Four - Witches

Three sorts of witch

Doing witchcraft: Lizards, bags, and dolls

Witchcraft fantasies

Skin shedding and shape-shifting

The new witches

Chapter Five - Dealing with witches

Pillow talk

Confronting the witch

The witch must die

Attacking from a distance

Warding off witchery

Written charms

Catholic armoury

Bringing in the experts

Chapter Six - Dealing with witch believers

The other Salem witch trials

Alaska: Of barbers and gunboats

The Pennsylvania problem

Chapter Seven - Insanity

Putting it to the test

Blame it on the roots

Paranoia in the heat

A danger to the public: Incarcerating witch believers

Chapter Eight - Witch killings up close

Beard-stroking and friendly words: Witchcraft in Sullivan County

Big Trouble at Booger Hole

Solomon Hotema: Choctaw witch killer

Chapter Nine - Times a-changing

Reinventing witchcraft

Finding an American heritage

And so back to Salem

Endnotes

Further reading