America Bewitched: Witchcraft After Salemby Owen Davies
The infamous Salem witch trials of 1692 are etched into the consciousness of America. Nineteen people executed, one tortured to death, four others perished in jail--the tragic toll of Salem remains a powerful symbol of the dangers of intolerance and persecution. As time passed, the trials were seen as a milepost measuring the distance America had progressed from… See more details below
The infamous Salem witch trials of 1692 are etched into the consciousness of America. Nineteen people executed, one tortured to death, four others perished in jail--the tragic toll of Salem remains a powerful symbol of the dangers of intolerance and persecution. As time passed, the trials were seen as a milepost measuring the distance America had progressed from its benighted past. Yet the story of witchcraft did not end in Salem. As Owen Davies shows in America Bewitched, a new, long, and chilling chapter was about to begin.
Davies, an authority on witches and the supernatural, reveals how witchcraft in post-Salem America was not just a matter of scary fire-side tales, Halloween legends, and superstitions: it continued to be a matter of life and death. If anything, witchcraft disputes multiplied as hundreds of thousands of immigrants poured into North America, people for whom witchcraft was still a heinous crime. Davies tells the story of countless murders and many other personal tragedies that resulted from accusations of witchcraft among European Americans-as well as in Native American and African American communities. He describes, for instance, the impact of this belief on Native Americans, as colonists-from Anglo-American settlers to Spanish missionaries-saw Indian medicine men as the Devil's agents, potent workers of malign magic. But Davies also reveals that seventeenth-century Iroquois--faced with decimating, mysterious diseases--accused Jesuits of being plague-spreading witches. Indeed, the book shows how different American groups shaped each other's languages and beliefs, sharing not only our positive cultural traits, but our fears and weaknesses as well.
America Bewitched is the first book to open a window on this fascinating topic, conjuring up new insights into popular American beliefs, the immigrant experience, racial attitudes, and the development of modern society.
"Owen Davies tells a fascinating tale that has never been told before with all the skills of a true craftsman. Its sheer breadth of coverage amazes from the start." --Ronald Hutton, author of The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Pagan Witchcraft
"An extraordinary achievement... I was frankly staggered at the range of Davies's research." --Professor H. C. Erik Midelfort, University of Virginia
"Davies tells a highly original story, yet one that makes instant sense... This is a vivid, arresting, insightful book, written with sympathy and human understanding. It extends Davies's reputation as an original thinker in the field, when so much work is derivative or merely illustrative of well-established ideas." --Malcolm Gaskill, Fortean Times
"Davies's catholic approach has produced a volume densely packed with fascinating material. Along with detailed excurses into folklore -- there are sustained discussions of hairballs, hag-riding, and skin shedding -- the author presents a trove of historical anecdotes and case studies drawn from his wide research into local histories, obscure newspapers, and other neglected byways." --Nova Religio
- Oxford University Press, USA
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- New Edition
- Sales rank:
- Product dimensions:
- 6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.40(d)
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