The Puritans

While witchcraft was handled rather lightly in Virginia, the same cannot be said for the rest of New England. In the Puritan communities, witchcraft was taken much more seriously. It's hard for us to understand why people accused so many of witchcraft in the modern world. But it's important to take ourselves back to the early 1600s and imagine their day to day life.

The average Puritan home was 16ft. by 20ft. and housed around 12 people. With everyone being so tightly packed into homes, there was really no way to escape your own family. Another factor is that during winter, it was somewhat impossible to even really leave your home. With the harsh and cold winters that still happen today in New England, there was no way to be out in that weather 400 years ago. So, imagine your stuck with your entire family in a tiny little home all winter... I would probably be insane at that point, too.

Puritains also believed entirely in predestination. So, basically, you're fate was already sealed no matter what you did. God had already decided whether or not you were saved. All you can do at that point, is confess and try to be forgiven by Christ. But, if you already believed you were damned for all of eternity, then what is the motive to be a good person? There isn't one.

Reward and punishment were driving factors in their life, as well. Everything bad that happened to you was a direct punishment from God. And on the other hand, everything good that happened was seen as a reward. If something bad happened, the best thing to do was to immediately confess and start fasting to show God your regret.

In Puritan communities, people saw it their responsiblity to make sure that their neighbors and other townspeople were not sinning, either. Everyone was expected to keep a close on others, espeically their own neighbors. This explains the layout of their towns and the close proximity between homes. People were aiming to create a perfect Christian community, which created tons of pressure on townspeople because everyone was either seen as a saint or sinner - with no in between.

As the towns and communities evolved more, and people only became more aware of their neighbors, it makes sense as to why things escalted in the manner that they did. With the huge pressure everyone felt to be a perfect Christian, anything out of the ordinary was likely to turn into an accusation of witchcraft.

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