Did a Maine Church Really Hold a Witch Trial in the 1990s?
History is so weird.
You know how we look back at things that happened a few hundred years ago and look at them through a modern lens, they can look pretty silly. No one these days would ever consider letting blood out of their bodies as a way to fight illness. Nor in this day and age, would we think that a soda like Coca-Cola could cure anything at all.
But there was a time when both of these things were totally common. I also imagine a few hundred years from now, they'll also laugh at some of the things we do in the name of technology or advancement. One thing that always comes to mind is the Salem Witch Trials. We really thought that witches were a thing?
Apparently, one church in Belfast thought witches were still a thing in the 90's.
Valerie Van Winkle used to run the Temple Heights Spiritualist Camp back in the early 90's. She was accused by the National Spiritualist Association of Churches of being a witch. Hilariously, it was based on her being "unusually fond of cats and frequently wore black clothes." She also allegedly hissed at a town clerk and threatened the person with a hex, according to a New York Times article from 1996.
Valerie claimed to be a medium and a channel, meaning she could potentially speak to spirits on the other side. She maintained she never once claimed to be a witch. But just the same, she was convicted of being a witch by the board of the church. But the real reasons were pretty obvious.
And then the real heart of the matter shines through.
According to the NYT article, the more likely issue is that the camp was sitting on a potentially lucrative piece of land in Northport. At the time, it was believed the church was possibly trying to take over the camp in an attempt to sell the property and absorb the money back into the church.
Obviously, the latter part didn't happen, as the Temple Heights Spiritualist Camp still exists to this day in Northport, just outside of Belfast. It's funny too, because all the things Valeria Van Winkle claimed to be back then, a medium/psychic/healer... seem to be what they're known for now.
At the end of the day, it sounds like this whole witch trial was more about politics and land control more than anything. There was no eye of newt, or old cackling ladies flying on a broom. This was about money, and whatever it might take to reduce the number of people with a say in how it was handled. Basically, making it about as real as any with trial that was held hundreds of years ago. Some things never change.
But this village and start your own religion/camp/witch town...