Samhain. The witching hour. Salem. All Hallows’ eve. I love the fall and nothing says fall like crunching leaves under the feet of children as they race from door to door begging for sweet treats. History also fascinates me so the idea of coming to Salem at the peak of the season, on All Hallows’ Eve was a chance of a lifetime. Over the past several years I’ve learned to embrace the inner witch. The clairvoyant self. The mindful self. The herbalist and the dreamer. I’ve set clear intentions. Focused on healing and being in tune with the other side. I hear my father’s voice call to me and feel him in the presence of birds. I watch for signs and realize the deeper meaning of my dreams.
To make it better I get to spend my time here with like minded people. My high school friend Jess and I connected over our outcast status, our depression and mental illness and our fondness for the unordinary.
Tonight, after the museum we went to the plotter’s field where Giles Corey was pressed to death. Michael refused to enter the cemetery. He doesn’t like to go into them, and it was not his kind of thing. He stood on the street while us girls braved the stones. Jess said after that she felt something sinister and unsafe was outside the cemetery trying to get in and wanted to urge Michael to join us at least inside the fence. Kayla is not fond of the spooky and this cemetery was certainly that. Many of the stones had worn away in such a fashion to leave the stones looking like someone or thing had clawed at them. Others were so worn down or sunk that they were illegible. Shadows played at the stones in beautiful and eerie ways. The haunted feeling of the place was heightened by the witching hour and then there was the feeling around of some of the stones. Trying to take photos I was not expecting some of the results. An accidental photo made three stones look transparent while the lights blurred. Those same stones when viewed from the other side had the vestiges of men and the vibe off them was all together strange and eerie. I felt as though a shadow man would step from the stones as if in the move Ghost. It was a powerful feeling and a very deep experience.
We finished the night with a race back to the car to be sure we wouldn’t get towed, although the officer reassured us that we wouldn’t be. Then we had a HUGE feast at an Irish pub. It was tasty and we all had good laughs.
Spoons and doors make great distractions from when the top of conversation turns into TMI (too much information) for Kayla. Mike keeps saying that she is his niece because that is what the people upstairs called her.
The roses are still blooming here. The leaves are still the perfect hues of autumn splendor. My heart is solemn and overjoyed. Three crows appeared before us and heralded joyful celebration and this weekend is all about that.
It is getting past the fear of Covid and the worry of sickness and the turmoil of politics. The instability of life has drained us all. Getting back to something that is for ourselves. Travel can be healing. It can bring out the best in us. Discovery helps us in so many ways, as does connecting to the past. It is a time when we can learn and grow and share and remember and I am thankful it is with these amazing people.
Salem Pt. 2
The weekend had its stressful points, as traveling always does. A Nor’easter decided to blow it’s way up the coast and we were shut out of one of the attractions I very much wanted to see. Crowds kept us from others, but the moments we did have together and the laughter or solemn moments all made up for anything else for me.
I felt comfortable walking around in my bright pink cloak, a reminder of my days as the “pink plague” during marathon RISK games with friends. I walked arm in arm with a girl I’ve known and admired since high school, who is an inspiration to me. I watched my cousin’s daughter explore the world and see the ocean for the first time.
It is those experiences that give me hope for the future of the world and for myself as well.
So what stood out the most after that first night?
Early morning coffee, window shopping and sightseeing made for a long day on Saturday. The weather was wet and cold. A combination I’m not fond of but didn’t mind as much because of where we were. Wandering among the stones of the Burying Point was more crowded than Howard Street cemetery, but it was just as spiritual. Here the presence of a shadow in the corner grave, along with the sense of children overcame me. Walking with my darling Jess we ambled along and took in the feeling of the place. Then we walked through the memorial. There was a disconnect, that the memorial should be outside the stones of the cemetery and yet so close to the resting spot of a man responsible for their fate.
Our haunted Airbnb spooked us but we didn’t share our findings with the landlord, lest they think we were nuts. While laying in bed with my head near my husband’s feet I saw a black cat dash by. I went to call out to it, to pet it when I remembered there was no cat. We also heard meowing in the night when no cat was present. The rough winds and heavy rain also lent an air of spookiness to the weekend.
Sunday was a rough start but a gorgeous Halloween day. The sky was clear from the storm passing through and the air held the scent of the ocean. We visited a cemetery and lookout, missed out on the Witch Village due to flooding, but found our way to Marblehead and the beach. I could have spent the whole day there in my stocking feet looking for sea glass, but I restrained myself after an hour or so.
I used to consider myself a fan of the mountains and the forest, but after the first time I explored the ocean I recalled a quote that fits my nature now.
Legolas Greenleaf long under tree
In joy thou hast lived. Beware of the Sea!
If thou hearest the cry of the gull on the shore,
Thy heart shall then rest in the forest no more.
[The Two Towers, LotR Book 3, Ch. 5, The White Rider]
We also went to Gallows Hill, Proctor’s Ledge. It was crazy that cars zoomed by at high speeds while we walked to a narrow stretch of road. On one side trees and a rise in the hill, on the other the memorial dedicated to those who lost their lives in the witch hunts of 1692. I could hear a nearby brook as we walked and imagined the sounds of horses pulling a cart laden with the condemned. The noise of the river and the cries of fear and mourning from the crowd there to watch the murders. For a moment, standing there, I was in another time and another place. It was unlike any other experience I’ve had in such a place. I could feel the tug at my heart as the empath, the witch, the woman, the mother, the crone all pulled at me. This was a place that was not home and yet I felt a kinship to those who had come before.
Alas we had to leave the sea-shore and go home the next morning. It was a fantastic time, and something I was glad to experience at least once in my life.