Pine Nuts: A short history of the witch hunt |

Pine Nuts: A short history of the witch hunt

McAvoy Layne
Pine Nuts
McAvoy Layne

Don’t you love history? Me too. But nobody loves history more than a witch loves history, because today, all you need to say is, “It’s a Witch Hunt,” and the object of that slur is off the hook, along with the witch.

The whole sordid story of the witch hunt began in Salem, Massachusetts, known for the strength of its brandy, away back in 1692, when two wicked Salem girls were diagnosed by a family physician as being under the spell of a witch. What those two girls did to deserve that diagnosis one can only guess, but to escape being fingered as witches themselves, they pointed their bony fingers at their tormentors, the true witches, and boy, oh boy, did those Puritan mobs make it warm for them.

Colonists started seeing witches behind every broom, and they dragged those alleged witches into the dock to be tried, and when convicted, well, the expression came to be, “Is it hot in here or is it just me?”

I have not words to describe what was done to alleged witches in Salem in 1692, but the effect was to cause every woman in Salem to walk a straight line, and not eat the mushrooms. Yes, there was an abundance of mushrooms in Salem that year, and some of those mushrooms were chock-full of psilocybin, which when ingested could cause one to adopt a black cat, or sit down and howl at the moon.

Therein lies the possible origin of the Salem witch hunt, psychedelic mushrooms.

Therein lies the possible origin of the Salem witch hunt, psychedelic mushrooms.

Well, once those Puritan colonists discovered what those mushrooms could do to innocent citizens, well, they had egg on their faces, and the term, “witch hunt” took a sharp satirical turn, to eventually become everybody’s favorite smear for, “Nothing here!”

But here’s where the history of the witch hunt takes a turn toward a silver lining. In 1953, playwright Arthur Miller exposed the anti-Communist witch hunt of Senator Joseph McCarthy with his allegorical play, “The Crucible.”

Then guess what happened? You could never guess, and I could never make this up, but the most beautiful girl in the world fell in love with Arthur Miller and married him. Her name? Born, Norma Jeane Mortenson, baptized, Norma Jeane Baker, she would legally change her name in 1956 to, could we have a drum roll please … Marilyn Monroe. Crashing cymbals!

And this is where my history of the witch hunt comes to an end …

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