After I heard the story of Mary Webster, “Half Hanged Mary”, I felt so moved by her.
She had survived being hung for witchcraft and left hanging overnight. Her actual crime was being a woman who was called “ill tempered”.
She was said to be unpleasant to those in town (“you should smile more”) and often was gruff when dealing with other residents of Hadley, Massachusetts. Because she was not kind, or friendly faced to her neighbors she was declared a witch. (“Be nice.”)
After the subsequent trial, she was sent to Boston, as her nearest court felt they were not equipped to handle such a trial. She was found innocent there, but after the illness of one of the judges, the locals decided she was hexing him and decided to take it upon themselves to hang her.
She was hung in January 1684, the stories say she was left hanging there overnight, cut down the next morning and was left where she fell in the snow.
But….she was not dead. She survived her attack and was left alone for her remaining years.
Author Margaret Atwood is presumed to be a descendant of Mary Webster and wrote a poem about her ordeal called “Half-Hanged Mary”.
And from that poem came the quote that I used as inspiration.
She was attacked at the beginning of the witch trials, surviving the second wave of 1692 that wreaked havoc in Salem. Safe in the precedent of Double Jeopardy
While those women were assuredly not witches…I still think of them as women who paid the ultimate price of trying to live in the full power of being a woman.
At this time, in politics and with the #metoo movement, I wanted to make something that reflected claiming female power.
I hope you enjoy.