Witch Trials and Error

So, lately I’ve been watching a show called Salem. It’s been entertaining thus far, but last night the entertainment gleaned came from an unintended vector. Bear with me a minute. The Salem witches were trying to find out who killed one of their own, so they performed a “spell” in which they first removed a finger from the dead dude, placed a pound of coarse salt in a pan, buried the finger in it, simmered over high heat (uncovered), and added a bottle of blood. They then took the pan out of the fire, killed a frog over it, and sprinkled in some McCormick ® Italian seasoning (to taste). Lastly, they removed the fricasseed phalange, placed it on a foot-long spike and began reciting rhymes at it. When the rhyme didn’t work the first time, they just kept repeating it until the finger began to spin wildly before coming to a halt. Obviously, it was pointing in one direction. How could it not? At first, I thought the display was like a macabre version of spin the bottle since I know who the killer is and that he is the lost love of the Salem witch hive’s leader. They then followed the direction the finger indicated as the went looking for the witch hunter.

Now I’m no witch, but I am familiar with the scientific method and even cooking experiments that probably came out worse than their salted finger frog frittata attempt. I was left wondering how in the world they concluded that the steps above would produce a finger that could…finger their target. That was seriously unintended, by the way.

So, let us examine the process of trial and error that might have played out.

“I’m looking for a witch hunter,” says witch “A”.

“Say no more, fam,” says witch “B”. “We’ll just ask Dead Witch here.”

“Has that ever worked before, B?”

“No,” B begins. “But we haven’t tried it with the finger removed now, have we?”

“Brilliant!”

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“So, yeah. That didn’t work either, B.”

“What if we add salt and cook it, A?”

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“Looks like we’ll need to kill a frog on it, B.”

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“It’s biting, A!! Put it back in the pot! putitbackputitbackputitiback!”

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“Rinse it off. We gotta start over, bruh.”

“Let’s try some seasonings, A.”

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“I said Italian seasoning, B.” A shakes her head. “This is clearly cilantro, you daft bint.”

“Still no answer, A. Let’s put it on a nail.”

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You see where I am going with this? If they followed a pattern of failed experiments to find the solution that makes a severed finger point at the guy who killed the finger’s erstwhile body, they undoubtedly went through a great many steps, additions, deletions, and failures before getting it right. But why on Earth would anyone think to salt, season, cook, impale, and chant could produce these results? If this is indicative of the way magic might be used to defend oneself, it’s a wonder anyone would even bother. By way of example:

“Oh no!” Exclaims the evil wizard. “That good knight is charging at me on horseback! I must weave a spell of protection or invisibility! Let’s see here. I have some bay leaves, bits of dried mouse poo. Kill this snake on the concoction. Chant some clever sounding rhymey things about knights and frights and fights. And voila!”

Then the knight is all “Dude. I cut off your head fifteen minutes ago. Please shut up.”

“No. I can make this work. I just need to use oregano. Nobody ever sees people from Oregon.”

There is no rhyme or reason to it. Kind of like this post, really.

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