To the Witchest Place on the Planet! (Or at least, in the United States)

If you read July 27th’s entry, you probably were aware of my plans of going to Salem, Massachusetts. While I was initially planning on going by myself on Saturday of that week (which is yesterday at this point), my Palmistry class decided they all wanted to take a trip there too, on that Sunday. I went to bed last night around 4 AM or so making sure my sound on my phone was on, waiting for the Saturday call to confirm Sunday’s trip. I initially woke up at 8-something AM, but since I was like “I wanna rest my still slightly aching hand”, I went back to sleep until around 11:30 AM. At 11:44 AM, I received the call I had been waiting for – about the trip.

And just as I thought – no one was able to go on Sunday. So that trip was cancelled, but they were planning to do another one in a few weeks.

I wasn’t disappointed though! Actually, I kind of felt happy about it. I think my social quota would have filled up too fast if I went with them, plus I probably would feel rushed like I often do when I go places with friends. 

I decided that I should still get out of the house and to go with my original plan, despite it being so late. I was thinking in my head about my last few trips places, where 3 or 4 hours was more than enough time to fully explore the places I had interest in. I quickly took a shower, got dressed, and looked online for the places I was thinking of visiting. I aimed to get to Salem by 3:00 PM and I left my house at about 12:45 PM, but stopped for gas before I headed off.

I began driving and about an hour in, I realized something – I didn’t have my E-Z Pass. Well, my mom’s E-Z Pass. For the Toll Booth. I called up my mom and frantically asked her if the E-Z Pass was still in my car, which according to her, wasn’t. I was like “CRAP” because I’m not used to going through toll booths and I had no cash on me. Once I hung up on her, I got off at a rest stop exit and GPS’d an ATM for the bank I’m apart of (after I searched the location on my phone because my GPS didn’t have it in their system). When I got there, I drew out $40 and went back on my way to Salem, kind of frowny. At this point, I wasn’t going to be in Salem until after 3:30!

In the forefront of my mind, I seemed to be telling myself to turn around. Go home. You left too late. All the places you want to visit will be closed. But there was a much more honest, calmer voice telling me to just go ahead and go to Salem anyway. Everything will be fine.

When I got to Massachusetts and to my first toll booth, I was surprised to be given a ticket. I don’t remember them ever doing that before. Apparently, you get a ticket at the first toll booth, then the next one, you pay and give them the ticket. It was an odd, but interesting experience. Still doesn’t stop me from wishing I had the E-Z Pass on me though. Oh well.

The drive up didn’t seem too bad at first, but within the last hour of actually driving up to Salem, I just wanted to get there and get out of the car. I was tired of being in there.

When I finally got into Salem, anxiety started setting in. I was particularly feeling anxiety over the idea of finding parking and the large amount of traffic. I’m not used to driving in heavy traffic areas and Salem itself didn’t really seem to have too many places for the public to park (except in front of parking meters,

Myself in Salem!

A picture of myself in Salem. Just took this so my mom wouldn’t complain about the scenery pictures. Which are far more interesting than me.

which I’m too scared to do). Luckily, my GPS found me a parking garage, so it was all good. After just barely managing to find a spot on the first floor, I got out & locked my car, and headed for the elevator. I got slightly confused and pressed the “1st” floor button, thinking it would bring me to the lower level.

Which it more or less did.

To the mall.

Yes, it brought me into a mall. But not a nice mall either. It reminded me a lot of the hideous looking, cheap atmosphere Chinatown malls. The place itself felt potentially grimy. I looked around the exit, walked out side..and had no idea where I was. Where was the parking garage? Where was that street I passed that looked like it was pedestrians only? What the heck are all these buildings around me?! I started walking in one direction, but quickly went back inside the mall, following the “Exit” signs in another direction in hope that they would bring me to where I wanted to go. Luckily for me, they did. I walked onto the pedestrian area and looked around, starting to plan out where I was going to go.

Between having Karen’s voice in my head recommending a shop called Hex and me only really having three shopping destinations I wanted to visit, I opened my photo album on my phone and looked at the address for Hex that I took a picture of. I looked up at the street signs, noticing I just happened to be on the right street. I crossed the street and my eye quickly caught onto a statue of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha

Samantha from Bewitched Statue

The very pretty statue of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha from Bewitched!

from Bewitched riding on a broomstick. Obviously, since this was a character I knew from a show I liked and one that my mom & younger sister liked as well, I took a picture. I had to wait though, since two other people were taking a picture with it before me. Once I took it, I walked off, trying to find Hex.

A part of me felt like I was in the right area, but I was missing it. I looked around at the different buildings, soon noticing the numbers of the building addresses were getting higher. I think Hex was 246, but I was at 289 when I finally decided to stop and turn around. Normally on trips where I can’t find where I want to go, I would just wander around until I got to the destination, but with how late it was, that was something I couldn’t do. I crossed the street again and found myself standing in front of a place called Rockafellas. I used the GPS on my phone to walk from Rockafellas to Hex, which I found to be only about a minute or two walk from where I was standing. Instead of using the left-side crosswalk, I had to use the right. I felt kind of strange doing that, but it was for the best. Just as I was thinking “where is it?”, the sign appeared before my eyes. I felt kind of strange and nearly walked pasted it due to the large number of people just sitting outside of it, wondering if there was some type of line for the shop or if people needed permission, but knowing the clock was ticking down to zero, I walked inside.

I was really surprised that the shop itself didn’t have a dark atmosphere. It was pretty positive, actually, welcoming even. I hovered over to the books section and my face quickly lit up – they had the book Pendulum Magic for Beginners! I grabbed it off the shelf and poked around the books for a bit more, finding really nothing of interest. My mind quickly thought “what did I want to get again?”, which was quickly followed by “oh yeah, crystals!” as I turned my head and saw a small selection of them, which just slightly disappointed me as most places that offer crystals do. (Isn’t there a shop anywhere that just specializes in crystals?!) I picked out a crystal quartz that seemed to be taking to my energy well, as well as a moonstone! Yes, you Pokémon fans who are reading this – there is really something called a moonstone. Once I was done with that, I started making my way over to the rest of the shop. I internally cried again at the fact there were herbs that I wanted to get, but couldn’t because I don’t know how to use

Stuff Round Up 1

Everything I bought at Omen and Hex.

herbs for anything. I saw protection bags, mojo bags, oils, and sprays. My eyes quickly caught on candles as well, but none of them appealed to me. As I was just glossing over the candles, a wall of “package spell skits” grabbed my interest. They were spell skits that came with a mojo bag, a crystal, incense, charcoal, candle, and ritual oil that did different things. I was originally thinking of getting spirit guidance ones, but one entitled “Clean House Spell Skit” seemed more interesting. I kind of chuckled at the title, with my first thought being, well, you know, cleaning the house up of all its physical stuff. However, when I read the back, I realized that the “cleaning” was referring to something else important to clean up – negative energy. The spell skit was designed to wipe negative energy from one’s house, whether created by themselves or by others. I know sometimes I have major negative emotions going on that make my room uncomfortable to be in, so I was like “YES, GETTING”. Before I headed to pay, my eyes caught onto Pendulums that seemed to be horribly vibrating from something. I was guessing from people walking buy, but I was kind of hoping it was to something else. Picked up one that was super shaky and held it, only to find the same result I get with my pendulum: it barely does anything. I put it back and went up to the counter, paid, and left. On the other side of the bag my items I put in was the logo for a store called Omen, so I decided that was to be my next destination!

I walked back across the road and looked at the line of shops, gazing at the different ones. A lot of them looked like they had either nothing to do with witchcraft or had to do with illusions, not real magic (bizarre sounding statement, I know – I’ll go more into this later). I did end up finding Omen pretty quickly, but I can’t really remember if I went to another shop before than though. I don’t even remember what the other shop was, but it was attached to the mall and I thought the lady at the counter was going to be mean, but she was really nice and told me that the book section was blocked off because there was stock laying everywhere, since she was behind.

Crow Haven Corner

The Crow Haven Corner sign.

Anyway, I got to Omen and was surprised by the lighter feeling of the store. It probably had something to do with the fact the shop was large, but there was so few things. My main interest, obviously, was the crystals. I was pretty excited to see a Sunstone (yes, Pokémon fans, another crystal that sounds like a Pokémon evolution stone) for the first time in person. I kind of poked around the store for a while, debating if I should get another set of tarot cards and if I should get some books (which I did). After looking around for a bit, one of the workers was like “We’re bored, so please, talk to us” or something like that, which made me laugh. I ended up getting a few crystals (including a lovely citrine on a keychain that was just calling to me) and an “Ace of Pentacles” necklace. I left afterward and walked around, eventually wandering to Crow Haven Corner, Salem’s oldest witch shop.

As soon as I walked in, I was greeted by a rather enthusiastic, friendly, goth-looking woman. I looked around the store and once again found myself wanting to cry because I want to do some herb magic, but I know nothing about it. I briefly looked through the crystals (picking a quartz crystal and something I don’t remember right now) and eyed the tarot cards and candles, before entering into the next room. I’m pretty sure my face lit up when I saw the books. There was a nice, large wall of books relating to witchy things. I think I got even more excited by seeing the row of “For Beginner” books, including the ones on Herb Magic and Numerology, which I have been wanting for a while now! Especially the Herb magic. Oh man, I want to learn Herb Magic SO badly. I also picked up The Complete Book of Incense, Oils, and Brews and Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen, both by Scott Cunningham. I actually though Wicca in the Kitchen was a cookbook at first, but then I realized it was an encyclopedia of foods, their magical properties, and their associations (for instance, an Apple is associated with the planet Venus, the water element, and the energies of love, health, and peace). I know it’ll still be helpful to me in a few different ways. Anyway, I also got a wicca necklace with the pentacle on it, which represents the elements. As I was paying, the woman at the counter told me about a “Salem Witch Walk” tour that they were having. I had briefly heard about it earlier from Omen and was definitely interested in it, deciding that I would definitely go. Seemed educational.

The Final Display

The final display with the woman looking far off.

I left the shop and wandered off, eventually finding myself in the graveyard of people involved in the Salem Witchcraft Trails. I don’t really like going through graveyards since I feel like I’m disturbing the dead (yes, I’m aware that they are dead – I just feel like it’s rude, especially to make noise). My head turned to the museum nearby that had to do with the witchcraft trials and pirates (witches AND pirates?! Oh my!) and decided to walk through it. The displays looked pretty nice and I really wanted to touch them, but…um…luckily, I saw a sign that said that sensors will go off if anyone even tries to. The museum started out showing the pirates coming to Salem and eventually getting hanged. Then it started to go into the more familiar part of Salem’s history – the Salem Witchcraft trials. The history on the plaques in front of the displays were the ones anyone whose ever studied US history knows – how the witch trials began, stuff like that. The last display with a Katy Perry look-a-like struck me out of the other displays. The faraway look in the woman’s eyes was frightening and the words on the plaque made me realize a sad truth about the world, as well as a happy one. There was a lot of hate and mass hysteria going on during these trials, leading to the deaths of innocent people. This stillhappensin the world. Not to mention, still quite often. The world would benefit know of these trials and what would happen. Granted, ignorant idiots who refuse to get educated will always be a problem…

Stuff Round Up 2

The stuff I got at Crow Haven Corner and the Salem Wax Museum.

Anyway, I went into the basement section of the place (which had a bunch of hands-on activities) and left. I ended up going across the street and ended up walking into another Salem-history-related place. I asked the young woman (who probably was around my age) with a bright personality at the counter what they did there, which she said give a brief, 15 minute tour of witchcraft throughout the ages and that the last tour was in about 15 minutes. I said I would take it, got my ticket, and decided to walk around the giftshop area. As I was walking around, I quickly noticed something very, very odd for my settings – Korean Pop was playing over the speakers. I was in Salem, at a witch tour, in a gift shop selling witchy and souvenir items, with K-Pop blasting. This actually made me kind of happy, since most of the places in Salem played some really dreary, generic music instead. I ended up buying a “Power” candle and a bunch of incense (…5 for $1 is nice) and an incense holder. I ended up going on the tour, with some slightly cheesy displays. The tour guide was non-other than the young woman I had talked to earlier, who seemed to know her stuff (despite claiming she was still pretty new to giving the tours). There was quite a lot on the tour – what they did to “witches” in the dark ages, shamanism, where the stereotype of a witch came from, why witches wear black, and the truths about Gargoyles and Dragons.

Rather than going over everything I learned on the tour, I’m just going to tell you the more interesting bits of information I learned (or had reinforced), in bullet points. It’s much easier that way.

Behind the Witch Stereotype:

A Medicine Woman

How the women who made medicine might have looked.

During the medieval ages, woman were not allowed to become doctors because the church had control of everything; however, there were some women, who lived outside of town, who could afford to go see a doctor, so they started mixing their own remedies. (This is where aspirin comes from!) Since they were cheaper, and sometimes better than the town doctors, people went to them. Of course, the church hated this and decided to scare people into not going to these women. This is where the stereotypes start coming from (a.k.a. the church stretched the truth) –
– Pointed hat = brimmed hats commonly used by farmers, in order to shield her eyes from the sun while they were gathering herbs to make their remedies;
– Green skin = since running water wasn’t a thing back in the medieval ages, they didn’t usually wash their hands, so after pulling up a ton of plants, their hands would get green (think “green” thumb)
– Old, wrinkled skin = these women were out in the sun all day long, so they would end up getting tanned and wrinkly faster than their in-town counterparts
– Riding on a broomstick = 1.) broomsticks were used to gently bury seeds in the ground – let them get sunlight, at the same time as not getting eaten by birds and 2.) they may have performed…I think it was called “symbolic” magic, where they would jump on a broomstick to show how high they wanted their plants to grow

Things About Real Witches:
– Regardless of a persons’ sex or gender, they’re called a witch (which is something I’ve known for a while). Males who practice are not wizards nor are they warlocks (which is actually generally considered an insult). They’re witches.
– They wear black to represent all colours, as they believe that colours have energy and if they want to use all the energy of all colours, they should use black (since when you mix all the colours together, you, more or less, get black)

Dragons & Gargoyles:
– Both of them are protectors; you know, good guys
– Supposedly, if you gave Dragons a crystal and rubbed their belly, you can get good luck

See what I learned? Oh ho ho ho

Witch Walk Ticket + Smokey Quartz

The ticket and the free smokey quartz we got! The smokey quartz looks more like a crystal one to me though. It’s not as “smokey” as the ones I have.

ANYWAY…after that, I walked around in the rain, going to my car, putting my stuff in there, and deciding to head towards Crow Haven Corner to take that Witch Walk Tour. I got confused since the flyer I had said nothing about a 7:30 tour, but I ended up going just to make sure. I got a ticket and waited. I ended up having a conversation with a young woman wearing a rather pretty dress (who I later found out was our tour guide) about tarot cards. She apparently loved the fairy tarot she had. When it hit 7:30, the tour started. We first started with a ritual (about something I can’t remember). We gathered around a small alter with three candles burning and were taught how to make a magic circle (which, just like with all magic, is entirely visualization). Watching the witches perform their magic makes me wonder if they seriously believe in everything that they’re saying. After the ritual was done, we headed off on the tour itself. I don’t really remember the order of the tour too well – I think we first went to the graveyard I visited earlier. She said that before witches entered a graveyard, they knocked at the gates to indicate that, hey, they’re coming through (which is a gesture I quite like). We ended up coming to a crossroad-ish area and she began to tell use about a goddess named Hecate who was this crossroads goddess of guidance who apparently loves honey buns. We gave her an offering and walked off, continuing the tour. Again, I don’t really remember where we went. We checked out a bunch of different landmarks, including a statue by the Salem Witch Museum of the founder of Salem that everyone thinks is a witch. We ended the tour in front of Hex.

Afterwards, I went back to my car and left, dreading the car ride home. Which I did. Stupid GPS fell off my window too while I was driving. I had a chance to fix it though. The car ride back wasn’t too bad in terms of roads once I got out of Salem, but it was still much longer than I would have liked.

Overall, the day was pretty relaxing. I felt that it was just another step into researching magic for both myself and my stories and touching into my spirituality side which has seemed to overall make me a much happier, more relaxed person, even though I still choose to hold onto the chance that none of this is true and I’m just making it all up in my head (but it’s churning out extremely positive results…so why not keep with it?).

Going to Salem also reminded me of something important, especially after one of my friends jokingly (?) was like “no witchcraft Kelly” – the average person has no idea what the heck real magic is. We’re so used to seeing the fantasy magic of bright spells that turn people into frogs and such, when we hear “magic”, we generally think of it as something bad, an illusion. Things like that. Magic – real magic – is the power of manifesting one’s own potential using a number of tools to help guide that potential to where it needs to be. It’s helping us listen to our inner voice – our intuition, that we’re so often taught from childhood to shut off – and allow us to be the best that we can be. Truly, most magic is just us taking all that hidden potential we lock away in our minds and brings it out. It’s not mixing potions with “eye of newt” and other ridiculous things. It’s not turning people into frogs or bats or changing their hair colour with words. It’s bringing out our energy and our potential and using it to the best of our ability.