In the winter of 1692, a wave of witch hysteria surrounded the settlement of Salem Village in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. The accusations began with two little girls who were acting very strange. There are many underlying thoughts to why these ideas of witchcraft started coming about. These issues were going on before the winter of 1692. The winter of 1692 was the start of the hysterics behind the witchcraft trials.
To understand the reasons behind the hysteria, you have to know a little about the people who settled in the area of Salem Village. Mainly Puritans inhabited Salem Village. There were very few other religions at that time. The Puritans left England to escape religious persecution. Puritans wanted to purify the national church by eliminated what they saw as, Catholic influence. They believed in the total sovereignty of God and the absolute sinfulness of man. Puritans believed they were entering into a sacred compact with God in the founding of the Massachusetts colony. They thought that when someone communicated with Satan, it invited Godâ€™s wrath and exposed the entire community to a threat of great retribution. Individual sin was considered an act of treason.
The people of Salem Village believed in witches. The word witchcraft meant the â€œart of bewitching, casting spells, or manipulating the forces of natureâ€. It was the idea of the people that this was impossible without the cooperation of the Devil. Many perceived that the Devil resented their way of life. The Devil had to act through a witch to do any physical harm to human beings. He couldnâ€™t do it on his own. People who believed in witches were always on the lookout for them. As a result, many people were wrongly accused of witchcraft.
The simplest acts of innocence were looked upon as questionable behavior. Sinners were severely punished in Salem Village. The punishments were meant to humiliate the person as well as hurt them.