a plague caused by the opening of the Malum in order to decimate the population and cleanse the land for the rise of Satan.
|“||A month from now every man, woman and child in this cursed town will be dead by the pox or on our side.||”|
The opening of the Malum leads to the spread of a terrible disease that affects humans in the body, destroying them quickly, as the bubonic plague that decimated the populations of Europe in the Middle Ages.
One of the intermediate steps of the Grand Rite is to spread a plague in order to use the bodies of the victims as fuel to unleash the fires of Hell on Earth. The disease, as mentioned by Dr. Wainwright, does not spread neither by air nor by contagion, but simply pollutes the bodies of the victims without any type of distinction. We discover why the most powerful witch of Salem, Mary Sibley, which states that the disease affects everyone who is not aligned with the witches, or is a witch itself. The bodies of the suffering are covered with festering pustules that secrete a fetid liquid and cause extreme pain in the afflicted. The plague, however, shows a sign of compassion because kills very quickly. Internal organs dissolve and transform the entire body in a pool of Hellblood, the fuel that, along with hundreds of other melted bodies, helps to form an hellblood lake that will be the real Gate of Hell.
Plagues are not just a Bible story. A plague - or a pox in Salem - was any disease that decimated a population. People believed that it was a punishment from God. It was the only way to make sense of such a devastating loss of life. The best known cases of plague in the Middle Ages are the ones who decimated entire villages of Europe, under the name of Black Death. For many years, any doctor who tried to cure a plague was labeled a witch. The pox was God’s will after all, and must be a fitting punishment to any who succumb to it. However, as the years went on and the death toll from disease mounted, even Puritans gradually accepted inoculation as an acceptable alternative to death. Thanks in part to a leading inoculation advocate, Cotton Mather.
The origins of Smallpox
Small pox has been with mankind for over 10,000 years. It has killed Pharaohs and peasants alike. It decimated Europe in the late 18th century. It is estimated to have killed 300-500 million people in the world in the 20th century alone. And it came close to completing a genocide of every Native American in the land until the government began offering vaccinations to Native Americans in 1832.
An outbreak in Salem, Massachusetts
Small pox came to Massachusetts in 1633. A young Increase Mather declared the outbreak a “divine judgement” in favor of the Pilgrims. He believed it would wipe out the non-believers and leave only the Puritans. Yes, there was much fighting between colonists and Native Americans. And yes, the colonists had vastly superior weaponry. However, these battles did virtually nothing to harm the Native American population next to the true killer: disease. Europeans had built immunities to the germs they carried with them for countless years. The Native Americans, however, had no such defense. Smallpox mercilessly ripped through tribes and communities up until 1832, when the Federal Government, a vaccination program for Native Americans was established.
The weaponization of Small Pox
While it was the disease that killed the Native Americans, in some cases Colonists were accomplices at the very least. In order to thin out and weaken a tribe before a push for their land, some colonists gifted tribes with blankets to stay warm through the winter. These blankets were covered in the small pox virus.
The Plague Doctor
A plague doctor was a special medical physician who treated those who had the plague. They were specifically hired by towns that had many plague victims in times of epidemics. Since the city was paying their salary, they treated everyone: both the rich and the poor. Some plague doctors wore a special costume, although graphic sources show that plague doctors wore a variety of garments. The plague doctor's costume was the clothing worn by a plague doctor to protect him from airborne diseases. The costume originated in the 17th century consisted of an ankle length overcoat and a bird-like beak mask often filled with sweet or strong smelling substances (commonly lavender, mint , camphor, rose petals), along with gloves, boots, a brim hat, and an outer over-clothing garment. The purpose of the mask was to keep away bad smells, which were thought to be the principal cause of the disease in the miasma theory of infection, before it was disproved by germ theory. Doctors believed the herbs would counter the "evil" smells of the plague and prevent them from becoming infected. The beak costume worn by plague doctors had a wide-brimmed leather hat to indicate their profession.
Throughout the Salem series
After the preparative part of the Great Rite, sacrificing thirteen humans, the Salem witches continue with the next step of their dreadful intent to purge the Earth so that the Devil can walk on it. Once the Malum was opened, the plague began to spread through the streets of Salem, hitting all those people who are not aligned with the witches. The first outbreak of plague is Knocker's Hole, the neighborhood of the poor. Here a man chasing a chicken thief, ventures into a hovel, although a child has predicted that in there is nested Death. Here the man finds the chicken thief, but also a dozen bodies infected with plague. One of them, a woman horribly disfigured by pustules, falls on him, puking on him infected pus. The infected bodies are gathered by hooded men who wear masks with a beak filled with medicinal herbs. John Alden exploits this mask to walk unnoticed in the streets of Salem.
Mary Sibley is strong in her convictions and is proud of the achievement she reached, as long as her authority is not challenged on several fronts. Mercy Lewis is reckless and refuses to accept the hierarchy inside the hive, claiming for herself the crown of Queen of the Night. Even on the political level, Mary is losing power. The city council is tired of being controlled by a woman (although on behalf of the husband). To be seen to that is Wendell Hathorne, which aims the role of magistrate. This small political drama is a distraction that must be erase before the witches are unmasked; Mary needs a major role in deciding the fate of the victims of the plague. The woman, in fact, gave the order to bury the infected dead away from the city, in the crags, to avoid contagion. She's strongly supported in this choice by Dr Wainwright, a man just arrived in the city to provide his services. The doctor, in fact, is an expert on plagues and think he can help Salem with its outbreak of plague.
The man really demonstrates himself to be prolificent in his research and discovered that the first to fall ill was Isaac "the fornicator", who was really the first victim of the disease released by the Malum. Using Isaac's blood to prepare a vaccine, with the help of Cotton Mather, Dr. Wainwright also discovers that the victims of the plague are mere empty shells inside which boils hellblood, a fetid and corrosive liquid similar in the consistency to tar. The two men join their knowledge, namely the scientific and the spiritual one, to get to the bottom of the mysterious pox. Unfortunately the doctor is seduced by Mary Sibley and joins the cause of the witches, making vain the attempts of Cotton Mather.
The victims of the plague are so thrown into the crags where, with the arrival of a misfortune comet, turn into pools of steaming Hellblood. The doctor, however, ends up a victim of the feud between the witches of Salem and the Von Marburgs, when Sebastian Von Marburg, driven by jealousy since he's in love with Mary Sibley, throws him while he is still alive in the lake of Hellblood, saying to him that will walk in Hell as Dante Alighieri. The plague has served its purpose, now it is time to proceed to the next step to complete the Grand Rite and awaken the Devil, making him rise from the lake.
- Mary Sibley: This is not the time to fall into despair. Yes, since the discovery of this awful pox in Knocker's Hole, four more households have been felled. And not all of them in that downtrodden place. Good homes in fine neighborhoods are not immune, and none of us are safe. This scourge has taken our own Magistrate Hale and his loving wife, leaving behind their sorrowful daughter, Anne. But we can and will protect ourselves from the ravages of this pox. It may require some sacrifices, some strictures. But these are small prices to pay.
- --in Cry Havoc
- Hathorne: God has given us a clear sign that we have offended him. A pox on all our houses. Now we must do whatever is necessary to win back the Lord's favor!
- Mary Sibley: And presumably, Mr.Hathorne, you know what God's will is. What is it that has offended him so?
- Hathorne: I am quite certain what god is most displeased with. But what is a surer sign of a world turned upside-down than a world with a woman on top? We have utterly upended the most fundamental principle of how things are to be, which is led by men Men of property, men of substance, men of godly goodwill... But above all, by men!
- Dr. Wainwright: If you think this pox cares whether you be led by a woman or a man, you will all die. The pox no more discriminates by sex than a lion prefers to eat a man or a woman. Though like a lion, it may take the weakest first. And I have just been to where your weakest reside, in wretched Knocker's Hole. I had hoped to give them more voice here than they obviously have, but I find you all consumed with petty politics. I'm headed back there now to see what can be done.
- --in Cry Havoc
- Mary Sibley (to George Sibley): With the first bodies being delivered to the crags, we are well under way. You people have no idea what's coming for you. You are so dim, with no more understanding of the celestial movements than ants have. We witches have always understood the skies and known how to predict what is coming. And what is coming is death for all of you and a new life for us. The comet will be here soon. Our plague turns your dead bodies into Wells of hell-blood. The crags will be filled when the comet passes over. Well, then you puritans will be right for once. The comet really will be a portent of doom Your doom. All of your dooms.
- --in From Within
- Witch Pox, one of the main theme of the second season, was already planned during the writing of the first scripts. In fact, as stated by Adam Simon, co-creator of the show during several interviews, season one had the function to introduce the characters and the dynamics between them, while the focus of the story begins with the second season.
- In Season Two Special "Witch War", show co-creator Brannon Braga described the Witch Pox as a supernatural bio-weapon.