Forever Bewitched, in Historic Salem, MA

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Pressed to death, or hung from a tree, burned at the stake, boiled or pulled to pieces, the “witches” of Salem had seen better days! From 1692 to 1693, more than 200 people were accused of practicing witchcraft in colonial Massachusetts. This was a dark time, with witchcraft – the Devil’s magic – thought to be responsible. Twenty people were executed, based on these charges, before the “authorities” in Salem came to their senses.

“Eventually, the colony admitted the trials were a mistake and compensated the families of those convicted. Since then, the story of the trials has become synonymous with paranoia and injustice, and it continues to beguile the popular imagination more than 300 years later.”  (Smithsonian Magazine)
The city of Salem, Massachusetts has a current-day profile that seeps with witchery, rising up from stone walkways, historic buildings, and especially the old cemeteries. There’s as much American history to be explored in Salem as there is good old American commercialism and cheap, imported merchandising.

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There’s a Psychic on every block, prepared to read your fortune, for better or for worse, from Tarot cards, tea leaves, or the palm of your hand. Does your aura consist of a deep burgundy that pulses from within, or bright yellow waves of energy, beaming from every cell of your being? There’s someone in Salem who can see it, and won’t mind charging you $30, to let you know. If you don’t find them on this corner, keep exploring, and they are likely on the next block.

There’s a lot of money to be made, in the sale of crystals, Wiccan jewelry, and books about the hunting of witches, in centuries past. Power. Wisdom. New Beginnings. Spiritual Rebirth. All these can be pursued, while engaging in an often misunderstood, nature-based spiritual practice, worshiping Gods and Goddesses, and honoring the duality in nature. Not Satan! At least that’s what the signs that market the jewelry claims.

Trip Advisor’s “Top 10 Things to Do in Salem, MA” includes Salem Voodoo Vampires & Ghosts, Sinister Stories of Salam, Old Burying Point Cemetery, and Count Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery. The visitor who comes to Salem, to hear about witches burning at the stake, appears to also be interested in the sinister stuff of werewolves, zombies, and other aberrations.

At the top of my list was a walking tour that took me to historic sights, which also happen to have spooky stories attached to them, all around the city. “Bewitched After Dark”, presented by Bewitched in Salem, begins at the witch-themed shop, and walks off into the night, for added atmosphere. The feature of the tour was, of course, the horrors of the Salem witch trials.

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Each of the 20 deaths that resulted from the frenzied trials has a shocking story behind it, just because of the way the story ends! However, many of these deaths came after years of being ostracized, criticized, and pursued. With no one else to blame for terrible things happening in the colony, the “witches” took the brunt of the finger pointing.

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There’s an oddly exotic, and erotic, side to the notion of a witch – think of sexy Halloween costumes, more than a little bit suggestive. It’s an easy costume to throw together last minute, if you can find a pointed hat, and a little black dress. Perhaps a bit of lingerie can finish off the look.

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And then there’s the dark things witches do! They sing songs, while dancing around a boiling and bubbling black caldron, casting spells, while they tear off the wings of bats and the legs of frogs. Any manner of curse can result from this, as powerful as voodoo, and as sinister as exorcisms.

“Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.”
(Macbeth – Song of the Witches)

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Join me on my next adventure,

~ Kat

Related Links:

Trip Advisor: Top 10 Things to Do in Salem: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g60954-Activities-Salem_Massachusetts.html

Smithsonian: Brief History of Salem Witch Trials: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/a-brief-history-of-the-salem-witch-trials-175162489/

Song of the Witches: “Double, double toil and trouble” by William Shakespeare: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/43189/song-of-the-witches-double-double-toil-and-trouble

 

 

 

 

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