Girls pose by a jail that recalls the witch trials of 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts. Photo taken in 1945.
I recently learned that the water in Salem was contaminated with the fungus from which LSD is derived and a legitimate theory for the whole thing is that everyone in the town was tripping balls
This might be the greatest thing ive ever seen on the internet
We did a whole massive thing on this in history. I believe the fungus in question is called Ergot and it’s terrifying. It makes your muscles spasm so when they had seizures that was the reason, not because they were possessed. One woman had to be strapped to her bed, she was seizing so bad. And, like ‘theybuildbuildings’ said, it had the same effects as LSD; as soon as you touch it, let alone consume it, it messes with your entire system. The worst thing is, you practically always had a bad trip. Many complained about bugs crawling under their skin or monsters emerging from the shadows to scratch and bite at them until they were screaming. It was a horrendous thing and the worst part is, Ergot is still around. It grows on crops and, if your wheat isn’t properly treated, it can be eaten and you’ll most likely experience the same as the women of Salem.
god i love history
This is hella cool and almost correct…
The effects on the people of Salem were probably from consuming bread with the fungus in it, not from contaminated water. And apparently rye is way more commonly affected than wheat. In fact, often the members of the clergy were able to afford nicer bread made from wheat and thus were not as commonly affected.
You don’t go on a spasm-y trip just by touching it. You have to consume it for weeks, which results in chronic poisoning. ( If you stop eating it early enough, you may recover. So when people suffering from these “demonic possessions” took refuge in churches and stopped eating low-grade rye bread they were sometimes miraculously healed.
More interesting facts:
Ergot poisoning can result in convulsions & hallucinations, or it can cause gangrene, depending on which group of active alkaloids are present. (Horrifying, either way.) It killed a lot of people in Europe in the Middle Ages.
In Europe, often there was a strong correlation between wet summers (which provide ideal conditions for ergot) and reports of witchcraft/ possession. And in Norway and Scotland, records of witch persecution are only found in areas where rye was grown and used to make bread.
And I just learned right now that one author dude translated the word “Beowulf” as “barley-wolf” which could indicate a connection to ergot. The LSD-like effects could be a valid explanation for stories of Old Norse warriors going into the a sort of trancelike battle rage.
(this is exactly the kind of stuff my
herbologymedicinal plants class is about, it’s so cool omfg. we had a lecture on ergot last week.)