March 22, 2011

Witch Cake - A Recipe You Won't Like

Here's a funky little recipe from the 1600s that I doubt you'll like. It's for something called witch cake. The secret ingredient? Human urine.

Back in February 1692, some of the young girls in Salem Village were acting strangely. Puritan girls were definitely supposed to be seen and not heard, and these girls were really causing a commotion. Among them was Betty Parris, the daughter of Salem Village's minister.

William Griggs, the local physician was called to take a look at them. Maybe he could explain why these young ladies were acting out. His diagnosis? Witchcraft! Someone had bewitched the young girls!

Now, if you were to go to your doctor today and get a weird diagnosis for your kids you'd want a second opinion. The villagers felt the same way, but they didn't have easy access to multiple physicians.

Instead, a local woman named Mary Sibley suggested the Parris's slave Tituba make a cake out of rye meal moistened with urine from the bewitched girls. After the cake was baked (imagine what the kitchen smelled like!) it was fed to a dog, who was to be studied for signs of bewitchment. If it acted strangely after eating the cake, it was proof the girls really were under the influence of baleful magic. I suspect any dog would act strangely after eating a cake made with urine.

Although witch cake probably sounds strange to contemporary readers, believe it or not there was a theory behind it. The Puritans (and many other pre-industrialized people) believed that because witches directed their magic towards a person's body, the magic would also be present in the products of that person's body. Therefore, if someone had evil magic operating on them that magic would also be in their blood or urine, and could be passed onto anything that consumed them (like a dog).

The witch cake operates similarly to the witch bottle, but the witch bottle was used as defensive magic while the witch cake was used merely to prove there was witchcraft present.

Strangely, there's no record of what happened to the dog who ate the witch cake in 1692. The girls didn't improve, however, and eventually accused Tituba of being one of the witches tormenting them.

I found a lot of this information from various places on the Web and also in Marion Starkey's book The Devil in Massaschusetts.

3 comments:

Heather Rojo said...

Ewwwwwww!

Robert David Sullivan said...

How disgusting. But eggs boiled in boy urine is a treat:

http://www.popjolly.com/eggs-boiled-in-childrens-urine-anyone-1954

Anonymous said...

This all happened! It's true! In the 1960's in the Salem Witch Trials! Thank you for giving me this information! I needed to know more about this for a project, just need the knowledge and know it in my head to explain. I'm 16, and what the witches did are true, I've been near them so close one stepped on me, I will never forget their laugh, I was six when I saw a real witch, they turned into birds, I covered myself up completely, the next morning everybody was gone, it was burning hot, I felt like a sunny side up egg! I walked on the hard burning cement, and down the stairs I went, they were all there! Whew! To my relief, I thought something happened to them! Well, two of my cousins got sucked, one on their finger and the other on the knee, it looked disgusting!! This is all my experience! My mother told me that when she woke up in the morning, a woman came with an axe and chopped down the tree where the witches were! Scary huh?! They were talking! Never ever will I forget my first encounter with a witch, and I don't wanna' see my second one!