Witches of Abiquiu at the Placitas Library with Dr. Rick Hendricks

Witches of Abiquiu at the Placitas Library

Join Dr. Rick Hendricks Saturday, April 13 at 2:00 p.m. in the Gracie Lee Room

Dr. Rick Hendricks and Malcom Ebright wrote a book titled, “The Witches of Abiquiu: The Governor, the Priest, the Genizaro Indians and the Devil,” based on a little known event that took place in northern New Mexico in the eighteenth century. Between 1756 and 1766 there was an outbreak of witchcraft in Abiquiu, New Mexico which was five decades after the Salem witchcraft trials. The event developed into three distinct phases:

The first phase of the witchcraft activity in Abiquiu began in the summer of 1760. The governor of New Mexico, Francisco Antonio Marin del Valle, received word from the Franciscan friar, Juan Jose Toledo, that devil worshipers were preventing attempts to convert the Native people in Abiquiu to Christianity. They were sticking pins in dolls, using the evil eye, poisoning people, and forming pacts with the devil. There was a School of the Devil operating in Abiquiu run by a man known as “El Cojo” (the cripple).

The second phase began in the spring of 1763. A young Native by the name of Joaquinillo had bewitched a woman and made her ill. The civil authorities, including the governor, Tomas Velez Cachupin, started to take an interest in the goings on in Abiquiu and began to study how each and every bewitching was accomplished. A witch hunt, very similar to what happened in Salem, took place in Abiquiu. Informants including Joaquinillo, also known as the “El Descubridor” (the discoverer) began to point the finger at each other. Authorities began to create lists of victims associated with each purported witch. In the documents the witch’s name appeared in one column and the list of his or her victims in a second column. The list of witches described dozens of local witches and an extensive network extending into central Mexico.

The third and final phase began in the summer of 1764 when the Inquisition became involved. But by that date, the Inquisition was not very interested in witchcraft and that feared institution had no authority over Natives in any event. The Inquisition disputed the Devil’s involvement and suspected something might be wrong with the priest.

Join Dr. Rick Hendricks Saturday, April 13 at 2:00 p.m. in the Gracie Lee Room at the Placitas Community Library located at 453 Hwy 165, Placitas, New Mexico 87043. This presentation is co-sponsored by Historical Society of New Mexico.

Click here for the flier.

Article by By Marlane Barton