Comparing the Salem Witch Trials and Modern Satanic Trials

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The Salem Witch Trials and Modern Satanic Trials Cotton Mather, in his The Wonders of the Invisible World, preserved for posterity a very dark period in Puritanical American society through his account of the Salem witch trials in 1692. His description is immediately recognizable as being of the same viewpoint as those who were swept up in the hysteria of the moment. Mather viewed Salem as a battleground between the devil and the Puritans. "The New Englanders are a people of God settled in those which were once the devil's territories. . . . The devil thus irritated, immediately tried all sorts of methods to overturn this poor plantation" (Mather 421). Here Mather is alluding to the Native Americans as being a people associated with the devil rather than with their God, a common point of view held towards all savage people. Mather saw the witches of Salem as being "his [the devil's] incarnate legions" sent to Salem "to persecute us. . ." (Mather 421). The Salem witch trials have become a part of American mythology which has been passed down to each succeeding generation for over 300 years after the village of Salem sent its last witch to the gallows. However, it is the witch trials relevance to modern society more than any other factor that has contributed to its legendary place in American history and mythology. The witch trials that occurred in Salem, Massachusetts, are the precursor to the modern trials where adults are accused of crimes including ritualistic sexual molestation of children. These types of ritualized abuse are commonly linked to Satanic cults. Modern beliefs in Satanists mirror similar beliefs held of colonial witches. However comforting it is to look back at the Salem witch trials as a ... ... middle of paper ... ...ct that the same social forces that were in place in Salem in 1692 are still present and at work in modern era courtrooms across the country where innocent people stand accused of horrific acts. Works Cited Mather, Cotton. "The Wonders of the Invisible World." The Heath Anthology Of American Literature. Third Edition. Vol I. ed. Paul Lauter. New York: Houghton Mifflin Co. 1997, 421-424. Rosenthal. Bernard. Salem Story: Reading the Witch Trials of 1692. Cambridge Mass: Cambridge University Press, 1995. Sebald, Hans, Ph.D. Witch-Children: from Salem Witch-Hunts to Modern Courtrooms. New York: Prometheus Books, 1995. Starkey, Marion L. The Devil In Massachusetts: A Modern Inquiry Into The Salem Witch Trials. London: Robert Hale Limited. Victor, Jeffrey S. Satanic Panic: The Creation of a Contemporary Legend. Chicago: Open Court, 1993.

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