I got home from vacation and wanted to share a little day trip we took to Salem. Yes, Salem, Massachusetts…yup, the place of the horrific witch trials. A city dripping with history. The old buildings still stand, making it a neat place to visit. Because of time, I didn’t get to see everything. Dude, I didn’t even know about the everything there was to see.
Note: Give yourself an entire day to see Salem.
I thought it would be a cool place to see, but more than that, a fascinating place to just be. I wanted to walk the streets, to set foot where such terrible and interesting history happened.
There are plenty of touristy shops! And yes, I got a T-shirt. BECAUSE. And yes, the stereotypical “witch” image is everywhere, but you have to look past that.
First stop was the Salem Witch Museum.
Cool, huh? There are two parts to this place. The first presentation focuses on the witch trials, the facts. All around the top of the room, eerie lights lit scenes of life in 1692 New England as a creepy voice told the tale of a group of girls, who, for reasons no one will ever truly know, began the craziness.
Fear. Accusations. Witches.
Many people died. Innocent people. Their names were written on a glowing circle on the floor to honor them, to remember what fear, what paranoia can do.
This hangs on the wall of the waiting room of the Salem Witch Museum. And yes, that column is labeled hanged.
Nineteen people were hung for witchcraft in Salem. And despite what the stories say, no one was burned at the stake, well, not in the good ole US of A…in England, however, that happened. Yup. The settlers brought the fear with them.
No pictures were allowed inside the museum, so if you’re interested, you’ll have to find the time to go.
The second part of the museum took a look at witches through the ages. From Celtic women, who used herbs to heal, to scary crones hiding in the woods casting spells, to the green-skinned wicked witch of the East, to the witches of now, yup, now. In the 1980’s Wiccan was recognized as a religion.
I was impressed with the museum. Even though they added plenty of creepiness, dim lighting, and a bit of drama to the story telling, I learned something. I left with the knowledge that the real horror of the time was not witches casting harmful spells, but the fact that so many innocent people died. Why did so many die? Because humans are constantly looking for a reason, for someone to blame.
To the people of 1692 Salem, the Devil roamed the Earth. He could be anyone, anything, influencing the weak and controlling the strong.
People trying to survive, to start a new life in America, constantly afraid…of death from disease, from accidents, from the weather. They looked over their shoulders for the Devil or for the evil lurking in someone else, blaming their neighbor when something went wrong, accusing each other of witchcraft.
That is true horror. Paranoia and fear, which comes from a lack of knowledge.
And still in the present, when bad things happen, we point fingers and pass the blame. And so the terror continues.
Salem is full of neat old buildings. I got to walk most of the city, but I did miss out on a few things. I’ll list them here, just in case.
Gallows Hill Museum and Theater… facts, myths, and legends of the witch trials.
Salem Wax Museum
The Witch House…the 17th century home of Judge Jonathan Corwin from the witch trials
Witch Dungeon Museum…A live reenactment of the trial and a guided tour of the dungeon
Witch History Museum…with scenes depicting untold stories of the witch trials
And of course there are walking tours of Salem…After Dark Walking Tour, Haunted Footsteps Ghost Tour, and The Salem Witch Walk. And I hear during the month of October the place is hopping!
I didn’t get to experience everything, which makes me sad, but what I did see was pretty awesome! Let me leave you with some of the pictures I took.
Street of Salem
The House of Seven Gables…The Nathaniel Hawthorne house
Nathaniel Hawthorne birthplace
A great old cemetery…love to hang out there at night!
A fun day! One that made me think. One that made me sad about what humans can do to one another.