It was a very early Summer day when I took a few hours at the end of a trip to Cambridge sped to Salem on the Commuter Rail (4 stops from the North Station in Boston).
Not having been to Salem before, I walked into the first window with a "tourist-information" sign that I came across: the Griffen Theatre, where I was welcomed and treated to a private showing of their live play.
The play was fun and informative, it had some nice attempts to be scary, but that was really serving two purposes: (1 ) entertainment, and (2) giving you a feeling for how the people felt about anything unexpected and unexplained in their lives, theirs was a magical worldview. The Native Americans were thought by these Puritans to be Devil worshippers, and they in turn believed in monsters in the woods that devoured people. The little play gave this and other facts of local belief as a background and then told some salient parts of the witch craze story. It was very well done, actually, and they came through on the window's promise of tourist information, I got insights, brochures, and advice.
In the question and answer session after the play one of the actors explained that during the witch craze, there were no witches: all 19 people hanged, the dog hanged for giving someone the 'evil eye,' the man crushed, the more than 50 who died in prison, all were innocent! None had made a pact with the Devil that gave them supernatural powers, which is what a witch was supposed to have done to become a witch.
But today, out of a population of 40,000, fully 3,000 are self-declared witches! He then explained that the modern witches are part of a Nature religion, and explained that their spells are like prayers, and their Deity is both male and female, and they do not believe in the existence of the Devil (therefore, a pact is out of the question).
As I walked into the building later for another answer to a question, a strikingly attractive person in a colorful long dress walked out. To me her attire suggested she was a modern witch. We exchanged hellos and smiles, so she wasn't afraid, I must not have looked like a Puritan.
This is the Griffen Theater:
Across the street was the Witches Gaol (jail), but I walked past it, I had limited time, so just took a picture of the historical plaque:
Backing up one street was the historical marker for the old Courthouse:
Downtown Salem is a very pleasant place, very busy, but I especially liked the residential streets with several houses nicely decorated with flowers:
Salem has a sense of humor too, as illustrated by the "Samantha" statue (depicting the actress Elizabeth Montgomery of the television program "Bewitched" which shot several episodes in Salem).
Turning right at this statue brought me to the "Witch House" which I toured, I'll show it to you on the next Salem page.
Go to second Salem visit page (Witch House)
Go to third Salem visit page (Witch History Museum)
Go to fourth Salem visit page (cemeteries, trees and a storm)
Go to my fictional, graphic tale of a witch-burning (rated ~R, children under 17 should not read this without parental permission)
Go back to 'where in the world' page three A
Go to yearbook for 2007
Go to ThoughtsandPlaces.Org home page