17 Signs That You'd Qualify as a Witch in 1692

Getty Images
Getty Images

Discover whether you are guilty of maleficium and/or would have been accused of practicing witchcraft according to the laws and evidence used during the 1692 Salem Witch Trials.

1. You are female.

Are you a woman of any kind? If so, you are probably one of the devil’s many hellbrides. Since the medieval period, “an aspect of the female has been associated with the witch.” For thousands of years, people have believed women to be more susceptible to sins than men, and sinning is a clear indication of devil worship. In Salem, of the 19 people hanged for witchcraft, five were men and 14 were women. Historically, the numbers dramatically favor accused women over men.

2. You are poor/cannot support yourself financially.

The poor, homeless, and those forced to rely on the community for support were among the most vulnerable and often accused of witchcraft. Sarah Good, hanged in 1692, was extremely disliked and distrusted by neighbors because she wandered from house to house begging for food.

3. You are rich/financially independent.

If you’re a grown woman living this life without any additional support, you probably also have a jar of eye of newt in your pantry. Any indication that a woman could live without the help or supervision of a man raised alarm. She would likely have been isolated from the community—until, of course, she was arrested and put on trial. Of the women we have enough information about, between 1620 and 1725 women without brothers or sons to share their inheritance comprised 89 percent of the women executed for witchcraft in New England.

4. You have one or more female friends.

A note to all popular teens and the cast of Sex and the City: A group of women congregating without a male chaperone was deemed a “coven meeting to worship the Devil.” Ladies be communing with flirty cosmos and the devil.

5. You have had an argument with one or more of your female friends.

Infamous witchfinders like Matthew Hopkins and John Searne inspired such terror in the community that it didn’t take long for women to accuse other women of witchcraft as a way of deflecting their own indictments. According to author Elizabeth Reis, “women were more likely than men to be convinced of this complicity with the devil, and given such convictions about themselves, they could more easily imagine that other women were equally damned.”

Take the case of Rachel Clinton: “Women of worth and quality accused [her] of hunching them with her elbow” when she walked by them at church. Rachel, herself a former woman of “worth and quality,” had a mentally disturbed mother and a late-in-life marriage that caused her to slip to the bottom rung of the class system. Add to that some finger-wagging biddies screaming about an elbow jab and, double double toil and trouble, Rebecca was convicted of witchcraft.

6. You have had an argument or disagreement with someone.

The important thing to remember is that anyone could accuse anyone. And they did. If you found yourself accused of practicing witchcraft of any kind by any kind of person, you might as well have been seen flying naked over the moon on a broomstick made out of a cursed lover’s ears.

7. You are very old.

Older women, both married and unmarried, were extremely susceptible to accusations. Rebecca Nurse, for instance, was in her early seventies when she was tried, convicted, and put to death for being a witch.

8. You are very young

Dorothy Goode was only 4 years old when she confessed to being a witch (simultaneously implicating her mother, Sarah, who was hanged in 1692). Dorothy was imprisoned for nine months before her release. The experience left her permanently insane.

9. You are a healer.

There was one particular job that put people at risk of being accused: female healers. One named Margaret Jones was executed in 1648. She had warned people that if they didn’t do her prescribed treatments, they’d keep being sick. Which today we’d say is just common sense.

10. You are married with too few (or no) children

The devil cursed your unholy womb with infertility. Plus, if your neighbors and their six children are suffering in any way, they almost certainly believe the jealous crone living next to them has hexed their home.

10. Your neighbors are having trouble conceiving.

If a young couple nearby is having a difficult time conceiving, you are almost certainly stealing would-be babies from them. Because you are a witch.

12. You have exhibited “stubborn,” “strange,” or “forward behavior."

Let loose any kind of sass or backtalk and ye be a witch, probably. Again, in the trial of Rachel Clinton, her accusers solidified the case against her with the following: “Did she not show the character of an embittered, meddlesome, demanding woman—perhaps in short, the character of a witch? Did she not scold, rail, threaten and fight?”

13. You have a mole, birthmark, or third nipple.

Any of these found on the body could be interpreted as the Devil’s mark. This is also where the witch’s familiar—usually animals like a dog, cat, or snake—would attach itself to her to drink her blood. The accused were completely rid of their body hair until some kind of marking was found. Now imagine a tiny puppy guzzling from Marilyn Monroe’s beauty mark.

14. Butter or milk has spoiled in your fridge.

Several testimonials against witches mention spoiled dairy products in connection with the accused. Be honest about the condition of your fridge before you continue. If any of the local cows aren't producing milk, that's probably your fault, too.

15. You have had sex out of wedlock

Throw yourself directly into a blue hellfire if this one applies to you. One of the victims at Salem was Martha Corey, who in her youth had an illegitimate and likely mixed-raced son. She’d eventually marry twice, the second time to Giles Corey, who himself was noted as “a scandalous person in his former time.” When the witch trials came about, Martha's past indiscretions didn't exactly help her defense, and she was convicted and hanged. (Her husband would be famously pressed to death.)

16. You have attempted to predict the identity of your future husband.

Ever daydreamed about your soulmate? Written his name in cursive in your notebook? Then, like Tituba, a slave woman living in Salem, your activities could be construed as witchcraft. For a long time it was thought that Tituba encouraged young girls to predict the identities of their future husbands, and she became one of the first women in Salem accused of practicing the craft.

17. You have broken virtually any rule in the Bible and thus entered into a pact with the devil

Breaking any biblical rule could lead to a witchcraft accusation. Remember: The Puritans strictly observed the Sabbath, which meant no kindling of fire, no trading, and no traveling. You couldn’t commit adultery, lead people to other Gods by prophecy or dreams, lie, be gluttonous, idle, or miss church. There would be no long hair and definitely no suffering a witch to live.

Did you do any of these things? Then congratulations, you are guilty of practicing witchcraft. You are hellbound, and will likely be hanged, burned, or left to rot in a filthy prison until you die. May the dark shadows cloak you in their wretched embrace. Hail Satan.

All images courtesy of Thinkstock unless otherwise noted.

Hard Sell: A History of the Pet Rock

Amazon
Amazon

You may have heard the story of the Pet Rock, the Mexican beach stone that could be purchased in bulk for less than a penny, retailed for $3.95, and made inventor Gary Dahl a millionaire during a kind of novelty gift hysteria in late 1975. But Dahl didn’t really get rich off of the rock.

He got rich off of a cardboard box.

Dahl was working as a freelance advertising copywriter in California that year when, while having drinks at a bar with friends, the conversation turned to the destructive nature of pets. Dogs and cats ruined furniture. Worse, they required constant attention, from being walked to being fed to cleaning up after them. Dahl said that he didn’t have to worry about any of that because he had a “pet rock.”

It was, of course, a joke. And it got a laugh. But Dahl decided there could be more to it than that. He went home and began writing an owner’s manual for this hypothetical pet rock, which detailed how best to handle it, the tricks it could perform (“play dead” being the most popular), and how it could remain a faithful companion due to its “long life span.” The gag was not so much the rock itself but the way it was presented. In addition to the manual, Dahl conceived of a cardboard box with air holes that resembled the kind used by pet shops. It also bore a passing resemblance to a McDonald's Happy Meal container.

 

Dahl's motivation in making a serious effort to monetize his pet rock idea was due in large part to his precarious financial situation at the time—he was struggling to keep up with his bills. He recruited George Coakley and John Heagerty, two colleagues, to come on as investors. They both signed on, with Coakley investing $10,000—a not-inconsiderable sum in 1975, especially when the intention was to sell virtually worthless rocks.

The Pet Rock packaging is pictured
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Dahl, however, knew what he was marketing. Like chattering teeth, the Hula Hoop, and other fads, the Pet Rock was the beneficiary of good timing. Vietnam had ended but Watergate was still fresh; the country’s mood was slightly downcast, and Dahl believed people would see the inane nature of the Pet Rock and recognize the humor of it. He boxed the rocks with the manual and packed them in excelsior, which may be best known as comic book legend Stan Lee’s catchphrase but also means a softwood shaving pile meant for protecting fragile items. The rocks were purchased from a local sand and gravel company, which sourced them from Mexico’s Rosarita Beach. Dahl debuted the rock at a gift show in San Francisco in August of 1975, then waited for a reaction.

He got one. People understood the appeal right away and he began taking orders. Neiman Marcus wanted 1000 rocks. Bloomingdale’s later signed on. Newsweek did a story with a picture, which spread the word. Dahl had retail and media credibility for what was superficially a nonsense product. His bar joke was turning into a national phenomenon.

When the holiday season arrived, Dahl estimated he was selling up to 100,000 Pet Rocks a day. Ultimately, he would sell between 1.3 and 1.5 million of them within a period of just a few months. Coakley made $200,000 back on his initial $10,000 investment. Dahl gifted both Coakley and Heagerty with Mercedes. Making 95 cents in profit on each Pet Rock sold, Dahl earned over $1 million. He launched his own firm, Rock Bottom Productions, which was itself another joke. “You’ve reached Rock Bottom” is how the receptionist answered their phone.

 

The fad did not last—by definition, they’re not designed to—but Dahl was satisfied. His two investors were not; they "claimed they had received too small a share of the profits" and later sued Dahl for more revenue. After a judgment in the investors' favor, Dahl wrote them a six-figure check.

The Pet Rock is pictured
Amazon

There were attempts to prolong the life of the rock by offering a Bicentennial version in 1976—it had the American flag painted on it—and mail-order college degrees for them. Dahl sold Pet Rock T-shirts and Pet Rock shampoo. There were also copycat gifts, since Dahl could not really patent a rock. (He might have been able to obtain a utility patent because of the rock’s particular purpose as a companion, but he did not.) The humor was transient, however, and people had moved on.

Dahl had other ideas. There was the Official Sand Breeding Kit, which claimed to provide guidance on growing sand, and Canned Earthquake, which consisted of a coffee can that had a wind-up mechanism that caused it to jump around on a table. Neither was particularly successful. Dahl’s real passion, though, was buying and renovating a bar in Los Gatos, which he named Carrie Nation’s Saloon.

This was not without its problems, as people who believed they had the next Pet Rock would often stop by the bar to try and secure an audience with Dahl for his insight. Many times, their idea consisted of packaging bull or elephant excrement. There were also proposals to market a pet stick. Dahl had no patience for these inventors, believing the Pet Rock could not be duplicated. Later, he went back to advertising after taking what he described as an “eight-year vacation” following the success of his project.

The Pet Rock can still be found online, though it’s no longer Dahl’s business. He died in 2015. Of the unsold rocks he had left over at the end of the fad, he was indifferent. If they didn’t sell, he said, he would just use them to repave his driveway.

Submarine Expedition Reveals Parts of the Titanic Have Fully Decayed

NOAA/Institute for Exploration/University of Rhode Island
NOAA/Institute for Exploration/University of Rhode Island

In 1985, oceanographers Robert Ballard, Jean-Louis Michel, and their crew located the wreck of the RMS Titanic at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Images of the shipwreck have since become as iconic as photographs of the ocean liner taken before the 1912 tragedy. But the ruin's time in the ocean is limited. As part of an upcoming documentary, a crew of scientists carried out the first manned expedition to the wreck in 14 years and discovered the Titanic is rapidly decaying, BBC reports.

After it sank, the Titanic settled in two parts on the seafloor about 370 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. Most of the wreck is still intact, but a lot has changed since 2005, when it was last visited by a human-occupied submersible.

While working on a film for Atlantic Productions London, an exploration team from Triton Submarines visited the wreck five times over eight days and discovered that entire sections of the ship have disappeared. The starboard side of the officer's quarters has deteriorated, and the captain's bathtub is totally gone. The deck house on the same side and the sloping lounge roof of the bow are also on the brink of collapse, according to the crew.

Unlike other artifacts and historic sites, there's no way to preserve the wreckage of the Titanic for future generations. Churning ocean currents, corrosive salt, and metal-eating bacteria will continue to break down the steel behemoth until it becomes part of the sea. Some experts estimate that by 2030, it's likely that no part of the wreck will remain.

Whether that projection is off by years or decades, these findings suggest that every new team that visits the Titanic may find something different than the team before them. On this most recent expedition, the Triton Submarines exploration team was able to film the wreck in 4K for the first time. That footage may end up being some of the last ever captured of many elements of the ship.

[h/t BBC]

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