The Witch Hunt Podcast is a series that tackles a fascinating topic of American lore. Nancy Mades-Byrd and her husband, Daniel Byrd, host the podcast and it’s available on their SoundCloud, iTunes and Stitcher, among other popular podcast outlets.
As a journalist, Nancy does extensive research alongside Daniel to bring factually-accurate and important information about the Salem Witch Trials. In a bigger thematic approach to the stories that inspired parallel constructions to modern day witch-hunting, such as The Crucible, Nancy asks in their introduction: “Why do we need scapegoats?” This mindset is apparent and leads the Byrd’s to examine what caused such hysteria. Indeed, they bring a unique perspective to events that have had wild speculation attached what exactly caused the witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts. They sparked conspiracy theories that range from group paranoia, psychedelic ergot poisoning to simple jealousy and hatred. The Byrd’s take on the approach of using witches to pin the town’s problems on. American society, and humanity in general, has a rich history, though dark, in blaming “others” for the problems of the majority, including Communists in the 1950s and 1960s, to immigrants in modern times.
For those interested in law, like myself, I highly suggest the fourth episode of the series’ first season: Law and Order, 1692. The couple brought on a lawyer and history professor, who specializing in Anglo-American legal history to discuss what institutions existed in the new colonies. This included the new court that was not authorized, to determine whether someone was practicing witchcraft using all sorts of ridiculous evidence. “If there was a desire to prosecute someone as a subversive threat to society, it had to be under witchcraft,” Professor David Konig said.