Societies that believe in witches also hate and fear them. Since actual witches who can conjure magic spells and cast curses don’t exist outside the realm of fiction, this hate is often directed at ordinary women (and sometimes men). Such unfortunate people have been subjected to witch trials many times throughout history, and their fate has generally been less than pleasant.
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10The Islandmagee Witches
Photo credit: belfasttelegraph.co.uk
In September 1710, an old widow of a local priest was staying in Knowehead House in the rural region of Islandmagee, Ireland. Her stay was plagued by mysterious events, such as invisible hands hurling stones at windows.
Household objects disappeared and reappeared, and bedclothes were rearranged in the shape of a corpse. The widow even saw a frightening demonic creature warning her that she would die soon. The apparition was not joking. On February 21, 1711, the widow died after experiencing a series of stabbing pains in her back.
The locals immediately suspected that witches had something to do with the widow’s terrible fate. After a young girl called Mary Dunbar found a strange apron containing the bonnet of the dead widow, supernatural events started to happen around her, too.
She appeared to be possessed, vomited small household objects like pins and buttons, and even levitated above her bed. After a month of torment, Mary managed to name eight women from the area as the witches responsible for the events. This was based on the way their spirit images had been visiting her.
The local clergy started investigating the case with Edward Clements, the mayor of the nearby Carrickfergus. (He was an ancestor of Samuel Clemens, whom you might know better as Mark Twain.) The eight women were taken to court despite their pleas of innocence.
There was very little actual proof against them apart from Mary’s accusations and eyewitness reports of her convulsions. Even so, the “witches” were sentenced to a year’s imprisonment in a filthy prison (because the judge probably wasn’t happy about killing witches, especially ones who could apparently visit him in his sleep).
The Islandmagee witches became one of the creepier stories in the area’s folklore. Although modern scholars think that the women were innocent, it’s worth noting that their sentences are still in effect. They’re still witches in the eyes of history. WEIRD THINGS,WEIRD THINGS,WEIRD THINGS