Friday, January 11, 2013

Vendredi: Chthonian Histories

On January 11, 1696, a group of the jurors who sat on the Salem witch trials four years earlier signed a "Confession of Error" meant to relieve those tried and executed of the taint of witchcraft. Curiously these jurors, trying so hard to wipe the blood of innocent men and women from their hands, turned around and blamed Satan. Again.

We whose names are under written, being in the year 1692 called to serve as jurors in Court at Salem, on trial of many who were by some suspected guilty of doing acts of witchcraft upon the bodies of sundry persons, We confess that we ourselves were not capable to understand, nor able to withstand the mysterious delusions of the Powers of Darkness and prince of Air *; bu t were, for want of knowledge in ourselves and better information from others prevailed with to take up such evidence against the accused as on further consideration and better information we justly fear was insufficient for the touching ** of lives of any.

Whereby we fear we have been instrumental with others, though ignorantly and unwittingly, to bring upon ourselves and this people of the Lord the guilt of innocent blood... We do therefore hereby signify to all in general, and to the surviving sufferers in especial, our deep sense of, and sorrow for our errors in acting on such evidence to condemnation of any person. And we do hereby declare that we justly fear that we were sadly deluded and mistaken, for which we are much disquieted and distressed in our minds, and do humbly beg forgiveness, first of God for Christ's sake for this error...

* Satan
** some scholars translate this word as taking, although that opinion of etymology remains in question

You can read the Confession of Error in its entirety here

Header: Arresting a Witch by Howard Pyle from Harper's volume 67 1883 via Wikimedia


Timmy! said...

Oh, sure, blame Satan. It's always Satan's fault, Pauline...

Pauline said...

I know, right? It's always that guy.