The History of Abortifacients

The peacock flower (or flos pavonis) is an arresting plant, standing nine feet tall in full bloom, with brilliant red and yellow blossoms. But it's more than beautiful; it's an abortifacient, too. One of the most striking records of the plant comes from German-born botanical illustrator Maria Sibylla Merian who, in… » 11/21/14 5:41pm 11/21/14 5:41pm

Salem Could Have Been Scarier If It Had Been More Historically Accurate

The first season of Salem has come to close with a good deal of blood and a major revelation, but as we reflect on the season, it's clear that the show missed an opportunity to mine its historical inspiration. While Salem went for gore and the occasional bit of shock value, it ignored the truly terrifying paranoia… » 7/14/14 6:15pm 7/14/14 6:15pm

Salem Is More Interesting When It Shows The Suffering Of Puritan Women

Salem is a strange show. After all, it takes the Salem witch trials, a period of history during which women were especially vulnerable to persecution, and inserts actual witches. But the thesis of the show may be that becoming a witch—or participating in witch hysteria—is the best option many women in Salem have. » 5/19/14 4:40pm 5/19/14 4:40pm

Salem's Witches Are Sexily Shocking, But Its Puritans Are Wicked, Too

When we learned that Brannon Braga was returning to television drama with a fantasy show about the Salem witch trials, we had high hopes. And Salem is off to a fun and demented start, imagining that the American colonial witch hysteria involved real witches, while keeping its questions about good and evil complicated. » 4/21/14 4:40pm 4/21/14 4:40pm