Oct 31, 2012

My Trip to Salem

So, I recently took a trip down to Salem, MA ~ not much of a haul as I live only about two hours away ~ to see and experience not only the Halloween festivities that wreak havoc all through the town, but the horror and mayhem that was the witch trials of 1692. I remember reading The Crucible in one of my high school English classes, and I've wanted to make the trip ever since.

Anyway, I never thought I'd get to go ~ at least not this soon. Living and growing up in South Texas doesn't exactly make travel to Salem, Mass convenient ~ those of you who grew up around the area probably went there on junior high field trips... us southern kids went to The Alamo. But lucky me, I was able to fulfill my dreams and move north, north, north, to Southern Maine, making one of my bucket list items completely possible.

I'm a huge fan of anything paranormal ~ no, really? I never woulda guessed... It's just fun to imagine a world that's bigger and more mysterious than meets the eye. And that obviously trickles down into a love of Halloween. Salem is pretty much the place to go if you want to dress in costume all day, stroll your way through haunted houses, and get an up close and personal look at how the stupidity and selfishness of a few rebellious teenagers can cause hysteria, turmoil, and ultimately, 19 executions and dozens of tainted lives.

The town was filled to the brim with tourists from all over the country. Banners hung from old fashioned lamp posts celebrating "Witchy Salem" and pointing us lost folks in the right direction toward attractions we'd circled on our printed-out agenda. We passed by shops with voodoo dolls in the windows, vials of hex powders lined up neatly on racks, and books of spells neatly displayed for any random Joe to take a gander at. In front of those shops, lining the blocked-off streets, were booths selling anything and everything Halloween. Masks, face-painting, festive jewelry, t-shirts, and yes, even fang fittings. Needless to say, it was very easy to get distracted from reaching your goal destination.

But even just wandering through the streets, was amazing to be walking over the same ground that was the site for the Salem Witch Trials. *Mind Blown*

Witch Dungeon Museum
Our first stop was the Witch Dungeon Museum. A very dark place ~ you almost don't want to get too close to the building that sticks out like an omen on a strip of harmless-looking buildings. When you enter the building, it opens up to a small auditorium, red velvet curtain and wooden benches. Lining the walls are stories of the people and history surrounding the events of the Witch Trials. The curtain opens and we see Mrs. Proctor take a seat in what looks to be a courtroom. She's explaining herself and what has brought her to this place. Stage left enters Elizabeth's accuser, Mary Warren. Mary had just retracted her previous accusations of Mrs. Proctor, insinuating that the girls had been lying about their paranormal experiences the entire time. After Mary realized the other girls would make her their next target, she had Elizabeth dragged back to court ~ for a second time ~ under charges of witchcraft. This reenactment used actual lines from the recorded courtroom script, and the acting was breathtaking. The young woman posing as Mary was just incredible, making me believe that she was being plagued by some unknown evil. She screamed and writhed, causing me to sink back into my seat as far as I could go and wrap my arms around myself to keep the chills at bay. When the show came to an end, it was nearing seven in the evening, and everyone was getting ready to go down into the "dungeon." It wasn't the actual dungeon used back in the 17th century, but it was an exact replica. I was excited to see it until I pulled out my phone to check the time. Unfortunately, we had made a previous appointment, lucking out with tickets to a sold out show. We couldn't be late.

Across the street and down a ways sits The Witches Cottage. AMAZING show, lemme tell ya. It's like a tiny little theatre complete with a stage that is built into the audience. There's a door in the center of the stage, set up almost like the entrance to a house with windows on each side. The lights go out, and you can't see your own hand in front of your face. Suddenly, a spotlight shines on an unusual looking character scaring us all into gasps and screams. Turns out, it's only a witch, there to explain what we might experience in our visit to The Witches Cottage. The show is full of mysteries, legends, things that go bump in the night... and of course, the history of the Salem Witch Trials. Ghosts come at us from behind the door, bats swing down from the ceiling, and mysterious glowing orbs surround us at different points in the show. I couldn't stop laughing as creatures popped out of the walls where we thought mere pictures hung and shadows passed by, seen through the glow of the windows. My little brother asked me, "What's so funny?," but I think I was just so excited to be doing something so traditionally Halloween that it literally tickled me every time I was spooked. As the show comes to an end, the two men who make it all happen take the stage and talk a little more about the history of Salem's witchy accusations and give us a few hints on what to expect from their show next year. I know I'll be there :).

We find ourselves back on the now darkened street. There are even more people in costumes and the bustle hasn't even begun to slow down. What to do next? The shops are amazing, and we stop in a few on our way to we don't know where. We hear bagpipes in the distance, and soon we can't even hear each other speak as a parade of played march by in traditional kilts and such. Completely random. We continue walking past the dozens of booths set up, and I find one that is selling venetian style masks, and I just have to pick one out. Everyone else is in costume, and I feel a little out of place dressed "normal."

After I have my black, sparkling mask firmly in place, we come upon a huge crowd, and not only do we hear the laughter and talking that comes with a large group of people, we can hear the buzz of a chainsaw and the screech of teenage girls screaming. Haunted house. Yes, please.

I've always loved haunted houses. My brother takes the lead, thinking he's pretty tough, but eventually I find myself in front, as usual, and have to turn around constantly to tell the others to hurry up. I find myself more curious than scared about what these "devils" might have up there sleeve, and I can't wait to see what's waiting around the corner.

Four haunted houses and a few screams later, we make our way to the Salem Witch Museum. By this time it's 10:00, and of course, we got so caught up in the fun of giving ourselves a decent fright, we've lost track of time and our schedule. They've just closed the doors behind the last tour. Bummer. But it's still beautiful, and the gift shop is still open, so, not a total loss.

There's always next year.

At a loss for what to do next, we pull out our completely touristy itineraries and maps  to see what we've missed. DUH! The House of Seven Gables.... And we're in luck. They stay open until eleven.

We walk what seems to be a couple of miles (that may be a bit of an exaggeration...) before we reach the parking lot. They have two tours going on, and we pick the tour based on the book by Nathaniel Hawthorne. We'll go from room to room and meet the spirits and characters that make up the book. The house itself is beautiful. As soon we enter, you can feel the age of the creaking floorboards beneath your boots. There's a man sitting, seemingly asleep. I'm not really sure what to expect, but I sit down and wait. He "wakes up" from his little snooze and begins to tell us the tale of The House of Seven Gables and what we can expect from our tour of the house. He says we can enter, and right before I make my way through the next door, he taps me on the shoulder and acts as if he's going to tell me a secret. "BOO" he whispers. Crap.

We go from to room, meeting a very vengeful ghost, an old man with the mind of a child, a kind young woman, an overzealous and very loud stranger to the house, and the old woman who owns it. Not to mention the very persistent and mildly evil man banging on the door outside, begging to be let in, he "means no harm." This totally a book that I have to read, and I am completely surprised at myself for not having read it yet. The acting in this tour was incredible. Such an amazing and real feeling when you have a person standing or pacing in front of you, remembering or ranting, telling you their side of the story. It was as if the characters were real people who were each trying to get us on their side. It was an experience I'll never forget and would gladly go through again.

Once we exit the house, we find ourselves in the gorgeous gardens. It's the one rare moment that night that I wished it was day so I could see it in full effect. You could stand in front of it's beauty, but it's fairy-tale like quality is immediately contradicted by the dark House of Seven Gables looming behind it, casting shadows and exuding this ominous aura. Maybe it really is haunted, maybe it was just the theme of the night, but it certainly didn't feel like an empty house from where I was standing.

By this time, it's 11:30 and we're exhausted. We didn't get started until late in the day ~ around 5:00 PM ~ but with all the walking and excitement, we're ready to head out. There's so much I wish we could have done, but that just leaves more to look forward to for next year. Definitely more than a one night trip that I will be making again.

If you haven't been to Salem in the month of October, I strongly suggest you add it to your bucket list. :)

~ Keely ~


  1. Oh you are so lucky to be that close to Salem! It would probably be more like an 8 hour drive for me but it's a dream of mine to go spend Halloween down there...and stay for a week or two :D I (obviously) love anything related to Witches & Halloween as well ♥ I loved your description of your adventures throughout...I would have SO gotten the creeps at that Witch Trial reenactment too! I can totally see myself going crazy buying witchy stuff at every booth and boutique!

    Thanks so much for sharing your adventure & gorgeous pictures too :)

  2. You're so lucky! Salem sounds like such an awesome town. I read the Crucible last year and loved it. Your pictures are lovely, especially the Witch Dungeon Museum. Sounds like a fascinating place. :) Anyways, have a blessed day!

  3. Thank you! Glad you stopped by :) If you can make it there one day, you definitely should. Halloween aside, it's rich with history... Incredible...


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