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

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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, 13 women and five men were convicted of practicing witchcraft, though 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. 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 was a 70-year-old invalid when she was accused by disputing neighbors. At 71, she became the oldest woman 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 midwife

Put simply by writer Joel Southern, a midwife’s “age, social and marital status, autonomy, pagan influences, secret knowledge of herbs and most importantly, the vilification of her profession as unclean and demeaning served to demonize the midwife. In short, the midwife represented everything the Church feared.”

10. You are married with too many children

You have an unnaturally fertile womb that can only be the result of a dark magic. Add to that a young couple nearby having a difficult time conceiving, and you are almost certainly stealing would-be babies from them. Because you are a witch.

11. 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.

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 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 during the Salem Trials mention spoiled dairy products in connection with the accused. Be honest about the condition of your fridge before you continue.

15. You have had sex out of wedlock

Throw yourself directly into a blue hellfire if this one applies to you. In 1651, Alice Lake of Dorchester was tried as a witch for having “played the harlot, and being with Child.” Her guilt was so intense that she eventually confessed to convening with the devil “through the commission of her sin.” She was hanged that same year.

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. Tituba encouraged young girls to predict the identities of their future husbands and became the first woman in Salem accused of practicing the craft. And thanks to dreamy succubi like you, she won’t be the last.

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

Here are a handful of rules the Puritans observed. Breaking any could lead to a witchcraft accusation:
-The strict observance of Sabbath, "the training day of military discipline.” This includes no fire, no trading, no traveling, and something called “new showbread In the holy place.” That last one is punishable by death.
-No adultery
-No leading people to other Gods by prophecy or dreams
-No getting raped
-No planting more than one type of seed in a field
-No touching a pig carcass
-No wearing clothing made of more than one kind of cloth or fabric
-No round haircuts
-No braided 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.

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Penn Vet Working Dog Center
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Stones, Bones, and Wrecks
New Program Trains Dogs to Sniff Out Art Smugglers
Penn Vet Working Dog Center
Penn Vet Working Dog Center

Soon, the dogs you see sniffing out contraband at airports may not be searching for drugs or smuggled Spanish ham. They might be looking for stolen treasures.

K-9 Artifact Finders, a new collaboration between New Hampshire-based cultural heritage law firm Red Arch and the University of Pennsylvania, is training dogs to root out stolen antiquities looted from archaeological sites and museums. The dogs would be stopping them at borders before the items can be sold elsewhere on the black market.

The illegal antiquities trade nets more than $3 billion per year around the world, and trafficking hits countries dealing with ongoing conflict, like Syria and Iraq today, particularly hard. By one estimate, around half a million artifacts were stolen from museums and archaeological sites throughout Iraq between 2003 and 2005 alone. (Famously, the craft-supply chain Hobby Lobby was fined $3 million in 2017 for buying thousands of ancient artifacts looted from Iraq.) In Syria, the Islamic State has been known to loot and sell ancient artifacts including statues, jewelry, and art to fund its operations.

But the problem spans across the world. Between 2007 and 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Control discovered more than 7800 cultural artifacts in the U.S. looted from 30 different countries.

A yellow Lab sniffs a metal cage designed to train dogs on scent detection.
Penn Vet Working Dog Center

K-9 Artifact Finders is the brainchild of Rick St. Hilaire, the executive director of Red Arch. His non-profit firm researches cultural heritage property law and preservation policy, including studying archaeological site looting and antiquities trafficking. Back in 2015, St. Hilaire was reading an article about a working dog trained to sniff out electronics that was able to find USB drives, SD cards, and other data storage devices. He wondered, if dogs could be trained to identify the scents of inorganic materials that make up electronics, could they be trained to sniff out ancient pottery?

To find out, St. Hilaire tells Mental Floss, he contacted the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, a research and training center for detection dogs. In December 2017, Red Arch, the Working Dog Center, and the Penn Museum (which is providing the artifacts to train the dogs) launched K-9 Artifact Finders, and in late January 2018, the five dogs selected for the project began their training, starting with learning the distinct smell of ancient pottery.

“Our theory is, it is a porous material that’s going to have a lot more odor than, say, a metal,” says Cindy Otto, the executive director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center and the project’s principal investigator.

As you might imagine, museum curators may not be keen on exposing fragile ancient materials to four Labrador retrievers and a German shepherd, and the Working Dog Center didn’t want to take any risks with the Penn Museum’s priceless artifacts. So instead of letting the dogs have free rein to sniff the materials themselves, the project is using cotton balls. The researchers seal the artifacts (broken shards of Syrian pottery) in airtight bags with a cotton ball for 72 hours, then ask the dogs to find the cotton balls in the lab. They’re being trained to disregard the smell of the cotton ball itself, the smell of the bag it was stored in, and ideally, the smell of modern-day pottery, eventually being able to zero in on the smell that distinguishes ancient pottery specifically.

A dog looks out over the metal "pinhweel" training mechanism.
Penn Vet Working Dog Center

“The dogs are responding well,” Otto tells Mental Floss, explaining that the training program is at the stage of "exposing them to the odor and having them recognize it.”

The dogs involved in the project were chosen for their calm-but-curious demeanors and sensitive noses (one also works as a drug-detection dog when she’s not training on pottery). They had to be motivated enough to want to hunt down the cotton balls, but not aggressive or easily distracted.

Right now, the dogs train three days a week, and will continue to work on their pottery-detection skills for the first stage of the project, which the researchers expect will last for the next nine months. Depending on how the first phase of the training goes, the researchers hope to be able to then take the dogs out into the field to see if they can find the odor of ancient pottery in real-life situations, like in suitcases, rather than in a laboratory setting. Eventually, they also hope to train the dogs on other types of objects, and perhaps even pinpoint the chemical signatures that make artifacts smell distinct.

Pottery-sniffing dogs won’t be showing up at airport customs or on shipping docks soon, but one day, they could be as common as drug-sniffing canines. If dogs can detect low blood sugar or find a tiny USB drive hidden in a house, surely they can figure out if you’re smuggling a sculpture made thousands of years ago in your suitcase.

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olympics
9 Scandals that Rocked the Figure Skating World
ERIC FEFERBERG, AFP/Getty Images
ERIC FEFERBERG, AFP/Getty Images

Don't let the ornate costumes and beautiful choreography fool you, figure skaters are no strangers to scandal. Here are nine notable ones.

1. TONYA AND NANCY.

Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding
Pascal Rondeau, ALLSPORT/Getty Images

In 1994, a little club-and-run thrust the sport of figure skating into the spotlight. The assault on reigning national champion Nancy Kerrigan (and her subsequent anguished cries) at the 1994 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships in Detroit was heard round the world, as were the allegations that her main rival, Tonya Harding, may have been behind it all.

The story goes a little something like this: As America's sweetheart (Kerrigan) is preparing to compete for a spot on the U.S. Olympic team bound for Lillehammer, Norway, she gets clubbed in the knee outside the locker room after practice. Kerrigan is forced to withdraw from competition and Harding gets the gold. Details soon emerge that Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, was behind the attack (he hired a hitman). Harding denies any knowledge or involvement, but tanks at the Olympics the following month. She then pleads guilty to hindering prosecution of Gillooly and his co-conspirators, bodyguard Shawn Eckhart and hitman Shane Stant. And then she's banned from figure skating for life.

Questions about Harding's guilt remain two decades later, and the event is still a topic of conversation today. Recently, both an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary and the Oscar-nominated film I, Tonya revisited the saga, proving we can't get enough of a little figure skating scandal.

2. HAND-PICKED FOR GOLD.

Mirai Nagasu and Ashley Wagner at the podium
Jared Wickerham, Getty Images

Usually it's the top three medalists at the U.S. Nationals that compete for America at the Winter Olympics every four years. But in 2014, gold medalist Gracie Gold (no pun intended), silver medalist Polina Edmunds, and ... "pewter" medalist Ashley Wagner were destined for Sochi.

What about the bronze medalist, you ask? Mirai Nagasu, despite out-skating Wagner by a landslide in Boston and despite being the only skater with prior Olympic experience (she placed fourth at Vancouver in 2010) had to watch it all on television. The decision by the country's governing body of figure skating (United States Figure Skating Association, or USFS) deeply divided the skating community as to whether it was the right choice to pass over Nagasu in favor of Wagner, who hadn't skated so great, and it put a global spotlight on the selection process.

In reality, the athletes that we send to the Olympics are not chosen solely on their performance at Nationals—it's one of many criteria taken into consideration, including performance in international competition over the previous year, difficulty of each skater's technical elements, and, to some degree, their marketability to a world audience. This has happened before to other skaters—most notably Michelle Kwan was relegated to being an alternate in 1994 after Nancy Kerrigan was granted a medical bye after the leg-clubbing heard round the world. Nagasu had the right to appeal the decision, and was encouraged to do so by mobs of angry skating fans, but she elected not to.

3. SALT LAKE CITY, 2002.

Pairs skaters Jamie Sale and David Pelletier of Canada and Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze of Russia perform in the figure skating exhibition during the Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games at the Salt Lake Ice Center in Salt Lake City, Utah
Brian Bahr, Getty Images

Objectively, this scandal rocked the skating world the hardest, because the end result was a shattering of the competitive sport's very structure. When Canadian pairs team Jamie Sale and David Pelletier found themselves in second place after a flawless freeskate at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake, something wasn't right. The Russian team of Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze placed first, despite a technically flawed performance.

An investigation into the result revealed that judges had conspired to fix the results of the pairs and dance events—a French judge admitted to being pressured to vote for the Russian pair in exchange for a boost for the French dance team (who won that event). In the end, both pairs teams were awarded a gold medal, and the entire system of judging figure skating competition was thrown out and rebuilt.

4. AGENT OF STYLE.

Jackson Haines was an American figure skater in the mid-1800s who had some crazy ideas about the sport. He had this absolutely ludicrous notion of skating to music (music!), waltzing on ice, as well as incorporating balletic movements, athletic jumps, and spins into competition. His brand new style of skating was in complete contrast to the rigid, traditional, and formal (read: awkward) standard of tracing figure-eights into the ice. Needless to say, it was not well received by the skating world in America, so he was forced to take his talents to the Old World.

His new “international style” did eventually catch on around the globe, and Haines is now hailed as the father of modern figure skating. He also invented the sit spin, a technical element now required in almost every level and discipline of the sport.

5. LADIES LAST.

In 1902, competitive figure skating was a gentlemen's pursuit. Ladies simply didn't compete by themselves on the world stage (though they did compete in pairs events). But a British skater named Madge Syers flouted that standard, entering the World Figure Skating Championships in 1902. She ruffled a lot of feathers, but was ultimately allowed to compete and beat the pants off every man save one, earning the silver medal.

Her actions sparked a controversy that spurred the International Skating Union to create a separate competitive world event for women in 1906. Madge went on to win that twice, and became Olympic champion at the 1908 summer games [PDF] in London—the first “winter” Olympics weren't held until 1924 in France, several years after Madge died in 1917.

6. AGENT OF STYLE, PART 2.

A picture of Norwegian figure skater Sonja Henie
Keystone/Getty Images

Norwegian skater Sonja Henie was the darling of the figure skating world in the first half of the 20th century. The flirtatious blonde was a three-time Olympic champion, a movie star, and the role model of countless aspiring skaters. She brought sexy back to skating—or rather, introduced it. She was the first skater to wear scandalously short skirts and white skates. Prior to her bold fashion choices, ladies wore black skates and long, conservative skirts. During WWII, a fabric shortage hiked up the skirts even further than Henie's typical length, and the ladies of figure skating have never looked back.

7. TOO SEXY FOR HER SKATES.

Katarina Witt displaying her gold medal
DANIEL JANIN, AFP/Getty Images

A buxom young beauty from the former Democratic German Republic dominated ladies figure skating in the mid- to late 1980s. A two-time Olympic champion, and one of the most decorated female skaters in history, Katarina Witt was just too sexy for her shirt—she tended to wear scandalously revealing costumes (one of which resulted in a wardrobe malfunction during a show), and was criticized for attempting to flirt with the judges to earn higher scores.

The ISU put the kibosh on the controversial outfits soon afterward, inserting a rule that all competitive female skaters “must not give the effect of excessive nudity inappropriate for an athletic sport.” The outrage forced Witt to add some fabric to her competitive outfits in the late '80s. But 10 years later she took it all off, posing naked for a 1998 issue of Playboy.

8. MORE COSTUME CONTROVERSY.

For the 2010 competitive year, the ISU's annual theme for the original dance segment (since defunct and replaced by the “short dance”) was “country/folk.” That meant competitors had to create a routine that explored some aspect of it, in both music and costume as well as in maneuvers. The top Russian pair chose to emulate Aboriginal tribal dancing in their program, decked in full bodysuits adorned with their interpretation of Aboriginal body paint (and a loincloth).

Their debut performance at the European Championships drew heavy criticism from Aboriginal groups in both Australia and Canada, who were greatly offended by the inaccuracy of the costumes and the routine. The Russian pair, Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, were quick to dial down the costumes and dial up the accuracy in time for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but the judges were not impressed. They ended up with the bronze, ending decades of Russian dominance in the discipline. (With the glaring exception of 2002, of course.)

9. IN MEMORIAM.

While not a scandal, this event bears mentioning because it has rocked the figure skating world arguably more than anything else. In February of 1961, the American figure skating team boarded a flight to Belgium from New York, en route to the World Championships in Prague. The plane went down mysteriously (cause still questioned today) as it tried to land in Brussels, killing all 72 passengers. America's top skaters and coaches had been aboard, including nine-time U.S. Champion and Olympic bronze medalist-turned-coach Maribel Vinson-Owen and her daughter Laurence Owen, a 16-year-old who had been heavily favored to win the ladies event that year.

The ISU canceled the competition upon the news of the crash and the United States lost its long-held dominance in the sport for almost a decade. The United States Figure Skating Association (USFS) soon after established a memorial fund that helped support the skating careers of competitors in need of financial assistance, including future Olympic champions like Scott Hamilton and Peggy Fleming.

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