The witch trials of Salem are widely known for their despicable treatment of young women who were accused of witchcraft beginning in 1692. You have no doubt seen a fictionalized version of this time in film or on television, as this seems to be the absolute height of witchcraft pop culture. Even light hearted shows such as Sabrina the teenage Witch from 1996 couldn’t help but reference the horrors of the past by naming the sardonic talking cat Salem. No matter where you hear the stories, the main talk points are the same, crazed people with no good reason accused girls of being witches and as a result they were set on fire. It’s a tragedy what happened here and what makes it most disturbing is that people really did die here as a result of this collective social fear, however not everything you hear is true.

There Were Not Countless Victims

One thing that seems to be pervasive about the witch trials is that they were this huge event that spread all over Salem. Sometimes the trials are depicted as such an aggressive culling that few young women were left alive in the town afterwards. This however is not accurate. Although this a was fairly large scale ordeal for the time, it wouldn’t match a modern day rock concert. Its true over 200 people were accused of being witches but the actual amount who were found guilty and killed is a less epidemic 19.

Witches Were All Women

This is another common misconception. Though the witch is commonly associated with the female gender, men can be witches too. This was apparent during the witch trials as a quarter of those who were killed were actually males. This is something that isn’t often focused on in the many reproductions.

The Witches Were Burnt at The Stake

This is probably one of the biggest piece of false information out there about the witch trials. The phrase ‘burn the witch’ is likely to have come from European witch hunts where women were killed by fire, but in Salem that didn’t happen. Everyone found guilty here was hanged and not a single fire was lit to cook someone alive. Its likely that the persecution of witches elsewhere is commonly muddled with that of Salem’s resulting in a mess of information and methods.

Only Humans Could Be Witches

Its not really spoken about that during the trials a dog was once accused of witchcraft. The rampant and fatal finger pointing that happened during this period really did get out of control, an a pet dog was killed because of suspicion. Another was killed because it was thought to be under a spell, but these people crippled by fear weren’t taking any chances.

The Spellbound Were All Fakers

It seems in hindsight that clearly several people were lying in Salem and so all the testimony from the accusers can be thrown out as false. This may also not be the case. Recently researchers have devised that many of these visions, convulsions and other odd behaviours may have come from Ergotism. This is a condition caused by a fungus that can infect grains, hallucinations similar to those from LSD can all come from exposure to this which may be the reason why these disturbing events began in the first place.