Hocus Pocus

How we inadvertently give our power away

This past weekend I went on a ghost tour of Salem Massachusetts (home of the famous witch trials of 1692).

By far the most fascinating story was that of Bridget Bishop who was accused of practising witchcraft.

My interest in her story lay predominantly in the description of the accusation itself.

According to our guide, a number of the townsmen in Salem accused Bridget of forcing them to conjure up and savor rather un-puritan-type images of her in their minds.

Essentially, the accusers claimed that Bridget must be a witch since she got in their minds and forced them to feel all tingly in their nether regions.


Such a story seems bizarre to our ears, doesn't it?

From our 21st century perspective, we shake our heads at the outrageous ridiculousness of such an accusation.

We easily recognize that it is the accusers who are, in fact, responsible for any and all thoughts and feelings they may have had about poor Bridget Bishop.

And yet...

how often

in this day and age

do we lay the same kind of claim against another...

albeit softened and shrouded in disguise

thereby making it more palatable to our current sensibilities?

How often have we laid claim that another is responsible for how we feel?

'She hurt my feelings.'

'He made me angry.'

'This makes me happy.'

While we find it easy to identify the misunderstanding around thought and feeling in the extreme examples of 17th century life, we often overlook our own continued misunderstanding in this day and age.

It is a trick of the mind to attribute our feelings to anything outside of our own thinking.

Other people or things are simply incapable of directly impacting how we feel...no matter how much it may seem otherwise.

For the men of Salem, living in a strict puritan society, it may have made sense to attribute their wanton feelings to something outside of their perceived realm of responsibility.

For many of us today, perhaps it still makes sense to attribute our feelings to something outside of our perceived realm of responsibility.

In either case, however, the FACT remains that our feelings and therefore our experience of life only and ever comes from our thinking in the moment.

The magic happens when we truly understand this.

Lana Bastianutti