Last October I was able to travel to Salem, Massachusetts with my two girlfriends. I had visions of spinning through the Halloween decorated streets in my witch cape, dancing through pumpkin patches and snuggling black cats. Eating endless amounts of candy corn while listening to monster mash on repeat.
October is the most wonderful time of year and there’s no other place I wanted to be then in Salem . It was a bucket list trip I have been waiting to take for a long time. As we rolled into the beautiful clean picturesque town I started to realize that maybe what I had pictured in my head wasn’t exactly reality.
The city was packed with tourists everywhere who were dressed like regular everyday banana republic normal people which was the complete opposite of what I hoped for. The three of us from Jersey looked like we stepped out of “The Craft” with our all black everything attire and people were literally crossing the street away from us. This wasn’t the Halloween costume atmosphere I was hoping for but I had set out for Salem with a complete tourist guide provided by my good friend Bryan Abrams who introduced me to Frederick Sedit the official go to person for everything Salem so what could go wrong ?
We decided to break out the list and start checking off spots to visit one by one .
First on the list were, Places to eat : Gulu Gulu, Witch’s Brew, The Hawthorne Hotel, Rockafellars (which is haunted and the lights turned off and on as we were eating dinner), Finz, Marble Head, Reds ( a must for breakfast because the pancakes are huge )and Christina’s pizza . You can’t do touristy stuff without eating first! Every place was amazing. Just keep in mind everything closes very early. The last seating for dinner was 8pm. This was definitely not going to be a “up all night” party town. It was more of a in bed by 9:30 watching Halloween cupcake wars on the food network type of town. So we went to bed early at the Salem Waterfront Hotel.
We got up early the next day and visited the first recommended tourist spot which was Essex street because it leads to the heart of everything. You can follow the red line painted down the middle of the sidewalk and it will lead you to downtown . Downtown has vendors and shops as far as the eye could see. Moving through the downtown area we came across a stage that was set up in the park and as I spun around to a Stevie Nicks song being played by a cover band my little black Halloween witch heart was so full this was truly an amazing experience. The red line on the sidewalk will also lead you to the Witches Museum, Witch house, Wax Museum and Witch Dungeon. (ALL OF THESE attractions told the SAME STORY OVER AND OVER )!
Here is the History Lesson:
Salem witch trials began in 1692, after several young girls in Salem Village, Massachusetts, claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women of witchcraft. The hysteria spread quickly . Bridget Bishop along with 18 others were hung at Salem’s Gallows Hill. 150 more men, women and children were also accused over the next several months of witchcraft . Though the Massachusetts General Court later annulled guilty verdicts against accused witches and granted a pardon to their families the painful legacy of the Salem witch trials continued for centuries.
Betty Parris and 11-year-old Abigail Williams (the daughter and niece of Samuel Parris, minister of Salem Village) began having fits, including violent contortions and uncontrollable outbursts of screaming so the local doctor ,named William Griggs, was called to examine the girls and he diagnosed the girls with bewitchment. Soon other young girls in the community began to exhibit similar symptoms. Ann Putnam Jr., Mercy Lewis, Elizabeth Hubbard, Mary Walcott and Mary Warren were all examples of women who showed signs of bewitchment. The courts decided to arrest Parris’s slave, Tituba, along with Sarah Good and Sarah Osborn and charge them with bewitching the girls. The sad part is the girls were completely faking their symptoms and lying to everyone but no one knew that .
Jonathan Corwin and John Hathorne questioned the accused women in court as the young girls put on a show of spasms, contortions, screaming and writhing. Tituba confessed trying to save herself but that didn’t work and she was sentenced to jail . The hysteria of witchcraft had completely taken over and because of this the trials began to overwhelm the small Salem courts.
Everyone was accusing everyone of witchcraft . There were so many cases that the new governor of Massachusetts, William Phips, ordered a special court just for the witchcraft cases. The minister ,Cotton Mather, felt that the standards of evidence for witchcraft must be equal to those for any other crime. The governor finally came to his senses and in 1693 pardoned and released all those in prison on witchcraft charges.
Now that you know the story I recommend The Witch Museum out of all the choices because it told the story using really cool displays while actors interacted with the crowd.
We also went to the House Of Seven Gables. It was such a cool piece of history and you get to walk through the house with a tour guide explaining each detail. The house was made famous by the author Nathaniel Hawthorne who wrote the novel entitled “The House Of Seven Gables “. The house overlooks the water and the scenery is remarkable .
Frederick also suggested to do a ghost or cemetery tour. By far this was the best event there.
We all wore our witch capes and I loved going trough the town at night listening to all the tales of the buildings and also the infamous Salem history speech. The tour also brought us to the bottom of Gallows Hill and the guide warned us not to go on the hill. That was enough for me to NOT go traipsing around where all those people were hung and now their spirits are said to haunt the grounds . The guide also said that dangerous people hide out and wait for tourists and that it just wasn’t safe to walk around that area at night.
Next up on the tour was the downtown cemetery. The guide warned us to be careful when walking through the cemetery and to not to step on anything . We needed to respect the land and the spirits that are moving around the head stones and trees. He also said that a ghost of a young boy is often seen by the one tree at night. I noticed all the offerings on places around the tomb stones . There are candles, flowers and change such as quarters , nickels and dimes . You should not touch any of those items because they were offerings to the spirits.
We also got a brief history on Vampires and how people truly believe they are the undead. The town had several real cases of people drinking each other’s blood and that’s why the cops have to keep such a close eye on things during the heavy tourist season of October . This also contributed to the early curfew.
Frederick also suggested Hex and Omen as the places to go for a psychic medium encounter. We all did participate in a reading and I have to say my reading was very accurate. Obviously you have to have a open mind and actually want to go and do this activity or else you won’t have a positive result. The woman who performed my reading was kind , sweet and very accurate.
Frederick then suggested to go to the Satanic Temple.
Now if you have read any of my articles you will know that I am 50% italian and 50% polish . I was raised Catholic and all of the catholic guilt and scare tactics were instilled in me from a very young age . I don’t know why I thought it was a good idea to go to the Satanic Temple .
It was way out of the downtown main area . It took forever to get there and when we did get there it was a house . We didn’t even know it was the right place. It is described in the tour guide books as a museum.
So we walk into this house and were greeted by two workers. They took us to a small room off to the side that had a small old TV playing footage from the 80’s on it. It was a loop of people being interviewed on a talk show about following Satan . There were old books all over the room that were about satanism. We sat in there for a little bit and then continued to tour the small downstairs of the house. Walking down the hall we noticed sculptures of Satan and men and women in sexual poses. There were also paintings of the same type of imagery on the walls. The hallways led to a living room that was full of 100 plus Ouija boards from all different time periods . I didn’t touch anything in there because the vibe was very strange .
They had what was believed to be the very first ouija board ever on display. If you are into ouija boards it was an impressive collection.
That was it for the tour so as we were walking out the girl working there asked us if we would like to see their sculpture outside . So we followed her outside to a shed . She said “this is our statue that we are fighting to have on display in public” (I can’t remember where she said ) because the Satan worshipers want to be recognized as a religion. She described the statue as being equivalent to walking up to a church and seeing a statue of Jesus except this is a statue of the devil. It can’t be on display in public yet due to protesting and it has to be kept under close surveillance so nothing happens to it.
Then she flings open the doors to reveal this huge goat like Devil statue with two sculptures of children on either side . My girlfriends were speechless and stood there in complete shock . Then she asked if we wanted to climb on its lap and take a pic .
I am never at a loss for words and I was completely at a loss for words . I managed to say” no thank you “ and we kind of swiftly walked out of there completely freaked out, Every single horror movie I have ever seen about the devil combined with my catholic upbringing came flashing before my eyes. I was not prepared for that experience at all. I do not know why I got such a eerie weird uncomfortable vibe but that place is just not for me .
I am definitely not into the dark side of magic or anything that has to do with ouija boards but I would never tell anyone what to believe in and what not to believe in.
They are just people who gather there to practice their religion and that religion just happens to be satanism. I am definitely from the love, light and peace frame of mind.
At that point I had definitely experienced every aspect of Salem and then some but no trip to Salem would be complete without visiting the infamous Hocus Pocus House and Heidi’s House from Lords Of Salem.
1993’s Hocus Pocus is a Halloween staple every year. It’s about a teenager who moves to Salem and accidentally frees a coven of witches. You can see the house where they filmed the big dance scene. It’s definitely a fun movie for all ages.
2013’s Lords Of Salem from Rob Zombie is about a DJ named Heidi who becomes possessed by evil witches after playing a mysterious record by a group named “ The Lords”. Being a huge Rob Zombie fan but I could hardly get through this movie. I couldn’t really follow what was happening but the music was good and of course there are weird bloody gory uncomfortable X-Rated scenes . Rob doesn’t disappoint in that area.
Both of these attractions are easy to find and any local can easily point you in the right direction just be respectful of the buildings because people live in the Heidi House .
My four days in Salem were filled with a whirlwind of activities and experiences and I am grateful I got to travel to that beautiful town.
So as the daylight gets shorter and the air becomes colder it’s time to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year and remember why we are so fascinated with Salem and it’s history.
Witches are protectors of the earth, guardians of the animals ,worshipers of the moon , followers of the sun and practitioners of magic but most importantly…not all witches live in Salem .
Here’s my top 5 picks
1. 1931 Dracula with Bela Lugosi
I am a huge fan of classic horror
3.1994 The Crow
5.1973 The Exorcist ( I have only watched this movie a handful of times because it absolutely terrifies me )
A little bit about me ....
I am a fan of slasher movies , in particular 70’s -80’s era .
I prefer Vampire movies over Zombie movies .
I will not watch anything that has to do with religion . I grew up Catholic and the Exorcist terrified me . I just don’t enjoy that type of genre . The church scared me enough growing up .
Sci -Fi Horror doesn’t really interest me too much .
Thrillers are my second pick to watch over slasher movies .
Some of my favorite directors are John Carpenter , Eli Roth , Steven King and Rob Zombie .
I look forward to sharing my experiences and opinions to all of you ....
“ Welcome to my nightmare, I think your gonna like it , I think your gonna feel you belong “ - Alice Cooper