Yes, I went back for another adventure in Salem. How could I stay away? This time, I went with my “fun-size” strega, Toni. In my last post I mentioned I won a free ticket to a ghost-hunting tour run by Paranormal Salem. Toni and I decided to make a day trip out of Salem and end it with the ghost tour (I runs from 10p-12a).
We started off by going to the Witches Cottage…and then we found out it’s only open in October. When I do go back, I’ll be more than happy to find out and share what it is.
That being said, we moved on and went to the Salem dungeon tour. The tour started in a church/courtroom (may have been the same thing, 300 years ago) and 2 women dressed as puritans re-enacted a trial where 1 of them was accusing the other of witchcraft. I know we’ve all heard about the Salem Witch Trials and people were being ridiculous about who was a witch and they were falsely accused of consorting with the devil, et cetera, et cetera but to see it played out live just reinforced HOW ridiculous the accusations were…and among grown women and men! It all seemed rather petty and childish and the courts ate it right up.
After the courtroom display, another (very pregnant) woman dressed as a puritan guided us downstairs into a recreation of the dungeon. We learned that the actual dungeon was filled in and buried over after the trials later to be re-discovered by some company when they were laying the foundation for their new building. The tour guide explained that no light was in the dungeon unless someone was opening the door to it and when it rained, prisoners would have to deal with water up to their ankles in their cells. The cells had pretty gruesome depictions of what happened to the accused and displays of different elements that lead up to the witch hysteria.
There was a nice little gift shop at the end. Quite a few pagan items for sale, too (you know, for all us real witches <|:^) ). The only thing I would have considered buying was an intricately sculpted ceramic faerie candle-holder, but knowing me, it would have been in pieces by the time I got home.
Then we ate lunch/dinner at the Great Escape. It’s the building that used to be the Old Salem Jail. According to the menu, it stopped operating as a prison in 1990 then 20 years later the inside of it was renovated into condos and the restaurant attached. The restaurant, itself, has some barred doors up, making it look kinda like a jail and 3 of the walls are the original brick foundation…other than that, it wasn’t very jail-y. It was a fancy place where the food is about 20$ a plate. It’s mostly Italian dishes (they must have known Toni was coming) but the staff was VERY nice and always had sincere smiles on their faces. I guess there’s also a bar in the back you can rent out for parties and book live entertainment.
I, personally, think the coolest thing about the Great Escape is the graveyard attached to it. It’s open to the public until sunset so after our meal, Toni and I spent a good 15 minutes out there. We didn’t find any tombstones older than the 1820s. I heard from a local that the graveyard is the exact location where Giles Corey was pressed to death but I also heard someone else say the same thing about a different location, so who knows?
Our next stop was the Harry Potter store near the Hawthorne Hotel. We spent about 5 minutes in there (just long enough for me to blow 5$ on a chocolate frog…don’t waste your $.) Then we went to Crow Haven Corner! 😀 This is probably my favorite pagan shop in all of Massachusetts (and I’m not just saying that ’cause I know someone who works there). They sell all kinds of good stuff there. Good book selcetion, good amount of herbs and candles…but they have a kick-ass jewelry display! They had lots a faerie (not fairy like the Fairy Shop) jewelry that I was very tempted to buy. I settled on a pair of butterfly studs…and a wicked cute tank top! 😀 They were totally my kind of shop. I noticed a song from the Practical Magic soundtrack was playing. The girls who worked there told us about a tour they were running called Witch Walk. I think that’ll be another future blog post. 😉
Then we headed near the Museum Place Mall and stopped in New England Magick. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take any pictures. They had some extravagant Books of Shadows on display and qite a few pagan books. My personal favorite was what I like to call the “Juicy Couture” Book of Shadows. It was covered in beige and pale gray fur with leather straps buckling the book shut. Right next to that was a recreation of Winnie Sanderson’s book of shadows from Hocus Pocus. Toni bought “Italian Witchcraft” by Raven Grimassi (I’d been on her ass about buying that since she’s a strega…and now I get to borrow it!) The store sold some cool stuff and a lot of useful stuff but the crowd who shopped there seemed a bit flashy. As we were leaving some fashion victim walked out behind us and asked if we knew where Omen was. Toni directed her in the right place which kinda surprised me. Apparently, Toni knows Christian Day is full of crap but from personal experience. He “bought” a tea-room from Toni’s aunt but never gave her the money…Speaking of which, I still have yet to pass by Hex.
We went down to Pickering Wharf and ate at Scratch Kitchen. Nice little casual restaurant with servers. Seemed very mom and pop. Since we were in the neighborhood, we went to Pyramid Books. They have the biggest collection of pagan books I’ve yet encountered. Every kind of book you can imagine dealing with the metaphysical. The other half of the store sells some (rather expensive) jewelry (which of course Toni had to buy) and other odds and ends like crystals, tarot cards, pestles and mortars, etc.
As we headed back to the Witch Memorial to start the tour, we stopped in a gift shop of some museum. The cashier told us the tours they provide talk about real witchcraft not the Salem Witch Trials…SO excited to check that out!
After we visited that store, I started to realize Salem is kind of overwhelming with all the stuff there is to do. I was convinced Salem was pretty small because we had covered so much ground, but as it turns out we only saw the touristy downtown parts. We didn’t see Witchcraft Heights or Gallows Hill or Salem Willows Park…In fact we bounced around a lot because we felt like we had to get everything in. Toni and I agreed that next time we go, we need to just enjoy whatever little section first we explore to get the whole experience and no just a survey.
Anyway, we finally get to the Witch Memorial (in the middle of Salem’s oldest graveyard, mind you) and as we’re waiting for the tour to begin, we met a mother and daughter, Sue and Ashley, who were just as into ghost-hunting as us so we paired up with them. The tour guide, Kevin, showed us all of the equipment we were going to use and described how it worked. Since Toni brought her own equipment, we just used the pendulum and dousing rods he was passing around. Kevin proceeded to give a us a brief history of the graveyard and filled us in on which spirits they usually got responses from. Interestingly, the victims of the trials are buried around the judge that sentenced them all. I wonder how that guy’s holdin’ up being surrounded by all the people he had executed. The whole time Kevin was talking, I kept seeing people walking around in the graveyard out of the corner of my eye…and they would disappear as soon as I looked in the direction. We got a response from a little boy named Michael while I was holding the pendulum. Ashley had some luck with the dousing rods (well 1 of them, anyway).
Soon, we moved on to Derby Square and stopped right in front of good ole 43 Church St. Word has it that it’s the most haunted location in Salem. We didn’t go inside of course. Then we went to Town Hall which is the oldest continuously-running town hall in the state, I think. Then we ended the tour in the basement of the Old Salem Fire House. As we were going down the stairs, Kevin talked about the ladders they used to go up and down the bulding from within. Looked pretty dangerous. We found a dead rat right in the middle of the room…That was pretty yucky. It was squished flat. We did an EVP recording where we asked a bunch of questions for the spirits, later to be reviewed by Paranormal Salem to see if they picked up anything.
I’d say the 4 of us got better responses from the old-school tools. The technology didn’t really do anything for us. In my experience, however, spirits tend to make themselves known when they know that no one can hear you scream.
The tour was a lot of fun and I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who’s interested in ghosts or is looking for something fun to do in Salem (as if there’s not enough, already). Paranormal salem is getting widely popular and they were even on a TV special.
**Disclaimer–All photos courtesy of Toni Faria.