A Very Blessed & Good Beltane Eve To All Our Brothers & Sisters Of The Craft!


I apologize for running late this morning. However, I did have time to scan through our email real quick. It was called to my attention by a very dear friend that I said a prayer yesterday for Nepal. But I neglected to say a prayer for peace for our brothers & sisters in Boston. If you have figured it out by now, I try to avoid civil unrest topics or activities in our country. I know you are probably wondering why. I wondered that myself this morning also. I found the answer while I was searching my soul. I like to think of all of us here in the states as being civilized with good heads’ on our shoulders. Common sense and good judgment will eventually rule out without our intervention. Unfortunately, that has not happened. The conflicts that are occurring in our own country are going by the day. I realized if we do not do something our country will get even further out of control. People mistrusting people, people shooting people in the streets, riots, burning towns down, we don’t want that for our great country. Order has to be restored. We have to play apart in that process.


The Goddess gave us this great country and I believe She entrusted us with the betterment of mankind. I would ask that each of you, every day, say a prayer for peace for our great country. Also every day we will start with an opening prayer for peace to return to our country. I hope you will join us in this prayer.


Today, join us as we pray for peace in the great city of Boston….

Divine Mother

Loving and Wise

Help the people in Boston let

Go of their hatred and unrest

Open their hearts to compassion instead.

Let them be patient for the truth

And the shortcoming of other

And let them have tolerance

For those who are different from themselves.

Help them to remember

That we are all your children

More alike than not

And equally loved in your eyes.

Banish the darkness

and negativity from their thoughts

Wash away prejudice

With the purity of your waters.

Let them love others

Let them love theirselves

As all are loved

By your encompassing spirit.

Let them know we are all of the Human race

Brothers, sisters, no matter what the color of the skin

We are all your children and must remember how to

live in peace once again.

Bless them, dear Mother, for we are all your children.

So Mote It Be



Every Day is Earth Day

Every Day is Earth Day

Author: Peg Aloi 

I write to you from Boston, where last week we had a day that hit NINETY-THREE degrees (breaking the previous record for that day by eleven degrees!), and yesterday we had an earthquake measuring 5.1, and tonight, I hear, it’s going to snow. Global warming? NAAAAHHHH… .

Today was Earth Day. Did you celebrate?

A picnic in a favorite park, perhaps? An outdoor benefit concert with inspirational speakers? (I went to an Earth Day concert in Central Park a few years ago: Mario Cuomo spoke, and the B-52s played. And there sure was a lot of trash on the ground afterwards. Same with an Earth Day concert on the Esplanade in Boston several years ago. Cool bands, great speakers, boatloads of garbage.). Maybe you participated in a community clean-up effort? Or maybe you just did some things to make your own environment more earth-friendly: put in low-flow shower heads or toilets, or planted herbs in pots on your windowsill, or finally recycled all those empty bottles, or replaced high-watt bulbs with more energy-efficient ones. Or perhaps, being a pagan or a witch, you performed a ritual to heal the planet, or created a special altar in your garden.

Good for you!

What will you do tomorrow?

Every day is earth day, you know.

I was born in 1963. That means I was coming of age during the environmentally conscious 1970s. I remember Carter implementing energy-saving laws, I remember nation-wide advertising campaigns about using LESS of everything: less water, less electricity, less gasoline, less oil. Conserve! Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! I remember little signs posted in classrooms and office buildings: “Save Energy: Turn off lights when not in use.” Or “Conserve water; turn off the tap while brushing teeth.” And I did that stuff. Drove my family nuts, but I did it.

And I remember crying when Iron Eyes Cody did, his single tear falling after he rode his horse through a polluted valley and saw his beautiful homeland covered in garbage. A very successful ad campaign, why, so successful they even bring it around every few years so people remember: People Start Pollution. People Can Stop It. Recycling a TV commercial from the 1970s! Gosh, that’s clever.

Except it isn’t working.

Americans today are worse litterbugs than ever (and just so you don’t think I am only picking on America, I was horrified the last couple of times I went to great Britain: they have finally caught up with us on this one and are as disgusting about throwing trash in the streets as we are. London’s streets were so full of trash that in some areas it looked like a war zone). We buy huge amounts of over-packaged convenience foods in non-recyclable containers because we just don’t have time to cook (never mind what this is doing to our bodies , the increase of garbage in the landfills is also harming us). We buy artificially flavored nutrient-empty junk food because our obese nation has an obsession with snacking all day, every day (and of course we can’t be bothered to throw our cookie wrappers, soda cans and chip bags in the proper receptacle! Why should we? Everyone ELSE throws them on the ground!)

We eat chicken and beef that has been pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, so much so that girls in this country now start their menstrual periods an average of five years earlier than they did twenty years ago. Japanese kids who started eating American beef in their lunches outgrew their school desks in one generation. Pueblo Indians in the Southwest now have soaring rates of obesity and diabetes due to their “Americanized” diets full of fat and sugar. American factory farming practices has so polluted our water table with potent pesticides that hardly any so-called “pure” spring water source can be guaranteed untainted. These same factory farming practices (which stress production over conservation of the land) have so eroded topsoil that vital minerals and nutrients once present on our vegetables (read that “dirt in our diets”) have all but disappeared, leading to an alarming rise in asthma among children. The use of bovine growth hormone in milk products (the only purpose of which is to make cows produce more milk and increase profits in an industry that is already struggling to sell its product for even slightly more than what it costs to produce it) has been shown to lead in some cases to sever endometriosis and increased rates of breast cancer in women. Irradiation of fruits and vegetables could be exposing to gods only know what sort of toxicity. And genetic manipulation of our foodstuffs may well end up altering the food chain as we know it.

We have to wear the latest fashions and so we buy up those fancy new threads made in Taiwan or Thailand by workers who make pennies a week, but so what? We need new clothes! We drive around huge gas-guzzling SUVs to transport our groceries to our homes or our kids to soccer practice. We complain when gas prices go up, forgetting that in other countries gasoline is four or five times the price we pay here. Hey, why shouldn’t I drive a huge vehicle? Everyone else has one! Besides, I feel more aggressive, er, safer on the road when I drive one. We have bigger and better electronic devices that use enormous amounts of electricity and we are so desperate to “stay connected” that we use our cell phones everywhere (even while driving! Gosh, THAT sure is convenient!) that unsightly towers have been erected all over the country just to make sure those signals keep us in touch with our friends, family and business associates and can have those loud, inane, one-sided conversations in public (researchers are exploring the effects of cellular phone use on humans, and the relationship of increased cancer rates to the proximity of cellular towers to residential areas).

We demand newer and bigger homes and so we demolish historic houses, we want a new office building so we take the wrecking ball to the slightly-dilapidated old municipal buildings in the town center, we have to house a new multiplex and so the old art-deco opera house (which costs a lot to heat and besides the paint is peeling) gets torn down so we can put up a climate-controlled glass and cement monstrosity… and those weather-beaten, beautiful old barns? Unsightly! And so hard to keep up! Tear ’em down. I remember in the 1980s, when yuppie greed and wastefulness was everywhere (everyone had a new BMW and snorted coke off its dashboard), and the environmental movement seemed all but forgotten. Then, to appeal to the baby boomers that were perhaps feeling a bit guilty at leaving their morality and ideals behind once their stock portfolios became all important and they needed money to buy Baby Nikes and designer water bottle holders. Then some smart entrepreneurs had an idea: put “green” and “environmentally-friendly” on the package and people will actually think they’re doing something good by spending their money on it! Dolphin-safe tuna! Recyclable container! All natural! Fat-free soda pop! I think the straw that broke the camel’s back for me was when the company formerly known as “Chem Lawn” changed their name to “TruGreen” AND put pictures of killer whales on their vans (whales? Are these a danger in suburban America?). That’s almost as bad as when Kellogg’s took the word sugar out of their cereal names, but Chem Lawn’s act is far more insidious. I mean, we can taste the sugar in cereal. But we don’t go around eating our lawns to see how much pesticide is on them. Here’s a tip: if it has the letters “icide” at the end, IT KILLS LIVING THINGS. It may kill bugs and weeds faster than it can kill us, but all such products are certainly doing a job on our planet, and how many of the diseases that have become more prevalent in the late 20th century and 21st are due to our toxic environment?


Perhaps you think I am ranting to no purpose. After all, issues such as a nation’s nutritional habits , and the loss of topsoil, and sweatshops making our running shoes, are all very complex and there are no easy answers. And of course it is easy to become angry or frustrated or overwhelmed by all this. But what can one small person do? (Besides implement the many earth-friendly tips given in this week’s update compiled by our lovely Dio!) What can we do? It all seems too much to comprehend at times, and depressing.

That is why I leave you with one simple, singular thought, on this Earth Day, 2002.

LIVE in HOPE and WORK for the future.

That means: don’t just see the dirty river or the trash on the banks: see the sparkling water that COULD be there if effort is made now. LIVE as if the Earth is generously allowing us to stay here, and as if She might toss us out on our butts any minute if we don’t clean up our act. HOPE that government and local organizations will start to clean up natural parks and communal areas. But know that all of us can and must WORK to make this happen. That might mean something as simple as picking up a bag of trash every couple of weeks until others start to take the hint. (I have been doing this in my own favorite nearby nature spot: Franklin Park, part of Boston’s Emerald Necklace, an amazing historic park designed by Frederic Law Olmsted, that sometimes has more than its share of trash). Start your own local society for the preservation of your favorite spot! You’d be surprised to find how many others in your community would be willing to clean up a park they also like to use. One tear from Iron Eyes Cody was all it ever took for me… to this day I cannot understand why people litter with impunity. I mean, I really don’t get it. But I am willing to set an example, anyway.

LIVE as if there’s a point to it all, as if a healthy lifestyle is actually making a difference not just to yourself, but to your loved ones, and to all humanity. HOPE that our frenzied consumer culture will evolve and start to see the problems with going too fast, buying too much, and not cleaning up after ourselves. But this takes WORK. Study alternatives to the status quo. Walk or bike to school or your job. Find a farm in your state that raises natural poultry and see if your local stores will stock their products. Turn off your cellphone. Turn off the computer. Take a walk. Smile up at the sky. Hug a tree. Love your Mother.

Go outside already! What are you waiting for? Tomorrow?

Peg Aloi

February 4 – Daily Feast

February 4 – Daily Feast

To stand alone does not mean there is no one else around. It means we are u na tse li dv-u na to tiv hi…. We think for ourselves in an independent way, using our heads rather than our feet. We fit life to us instead of letting it press us into a mold that would not makes us happy. Letting the world dictate to us is being one of the herd that runs – not because it is the right thing to do, but because we think everyone else is doing it, and so must we. Is it the right direction? Refusing to be swept along with every trend is cultivating our inner awareness of right and wrong. Awareness is there within us, but we have to hear it and heed it. This is why we were given intelligence – to stand alone so that we may have something to offer when someone else needs us.

~ Too many misinterpretations have been made….too many misunderstandings…. ~


‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

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Daily Feng Shui News for Jan 15 – ‘Humanitarian Day’

On ‘Humanitarian Day’ do something totally swell for someone without letting them know. Pay the toll for the car behind you or sneak a latte onto a coworker’s desk without telling them who put it there. Then do something in your own space that will affect a shift towards peace and harmony. Bring home a healthy green plant, or hang a round and faceted crystal somewhere in your space. The plant will facilitate healing on every level while the crystal will lift the soul and the psyche. When you do anything to improve the place where you reside, you will also improve the neighborhood you live in. And why stop there? This ripple effect can improve the whole world. Just one special something placed with intent inside your space can have a huge impact on the entire universe. That makes you a real and true humanitarian and global citizen in good standing.

By Ellen Whitehurst for Astrology.com

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Your Animal Spirit for November 9th is Fox

Your Animal Spirit for Today
November 9, 2013


Fox medicine represents the ability to blend in. She can change colors to blend with the seasons—becoming almost invisible against a backdrop of snow or foliage. Fox also has an amazing sense of smell that enables her to sniff out dangerous situations. Be like a Fox—street smart and safety savvy—don’t call attention to yourself as today is a day of watch and wait.

Do You Remember……..

The Dove Of Peace

Copy the Dove
Paste into Your Reply 
Take the Dove to your Group
Help send Peace around the world

I went back to our old group yesterday. I ran across “The Dove of Peace.” I hadn’t seen her in years. It seemed sort of strange I would find her now. I go back and forth to that site all the time. But this is the first time, the Dove actually popped out at me. Perhaps there was a reason it did.

I know there is a horrible mess in Syria. I also know the President and a few others are ready to drop bombs on this country. Personally, I have a very bad feeling about this. I feel so bad for the people in Syria. Just stopping and thinking that their government would do something like that to their own people, makes me sick at my stomach. I can understand the President wanting to take action against the Syrian government. But we are trying to get out of two wars we are already in. Which I don’t believe we will ever completely get out of. We will have to maintain a military force in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

It is horrible to say but it seems like we have turned into a country of war-mongers. Or perhaps I am totally wrong about this. You know opinions are like a**holes, everybody has one, lol! If Obama thought he could have gotten away with it, he would have already bombed Syria. I think he finally realized he doesn’t have that authority. Thank the Goddess!  Our forefathers definitely knew what they were doing on that one!

After the last two wars, of which I think only one of them we should have fought (Afghanistan). I think it is time for the U.S., to become a peaceful nation again. Bring all of our soldiers home. Let them return to their families. Let them rest for they have gave so much for this great country of ours. Let them rest and most of all let them know peace again.

Let the U.N. step in and talk over. Let the U.N. decide if Syria needs action taken against it. Then let the U.N. call up it’s military forces. Of course, we make up about 88% of. But let the U. N. do it’s job. That’s why it was formed. Let it do its job!

I think that some of our Leaders need to stop beating the war drums again. We need to ask the Goddess or what Divinity you honor to give our leaders a cooling off period. Let them come together with the U.N. and decide what is appropriate to do. Not go off on our own and take actions into our own hands. Let us pray that cooler heads will prevail. Pray for peace, my fellow witches. Pray for peace. Then while we are praying for Peace, let us also pray that the Syrians that have done this gets exactly what they deserve. There is more than one way of handling a situation like this. Pray that those son of a bitches that dropped those chemical weapons on those poor people get exactly what is coming to them. Let them know the suffer and horror those children felt and their parents.  Pray they get what is coming to them plus some extra.

It is in our hands, we can turn this whole situation around. You ought to have realized that the last two times I ask us all to pray and petition as a community. It didn’t surprise you when the Boston bombers were caught so quickly. It didn’t me because that is what we petitioned for. You see when we combine our powers there are no limits to what we can do.  I am asking you once again to Pray and Petition that cooler heads will prevail in Washington. And also the monsters in Syria get exactly what they deserve. Also, my family, pray the peace will rule over our great Nation and nations everywhere. Pray that our grandchildren will never have to fight in a war. Pray they won’t even know what the word “war” means.

Take the little Dove of Peace and place it somewhere on your site. Let it remind you to pray everyday for Peace. Pray for Peace, my family! Pray for Peace!

Spell of the Day for July 9 – Protective Celtic Blessing for the Family

A Protective Celtic Blessing For The Family

This is especially good if you have to be away from the family temporarily or if the family are widespread. It also sends strength to individual family members at times when they need protection. You might like to perform this blessing regularly, making it a special centering time first thing in the morning before you go about your day – if you are busy, once a week or once a month is fine. Think of it as your ‘chicken’s call’, sending protection to all of your chicks, especially if your away.

Items You Will Need:

A candle, a fire or a wood-burning stove (in a hotel you can improvise with a lamp.)


When you get up in the Morning.

The Spell:

  1. Light the candle, fire or stove
  2. Facing the source of light or heat, name those you wish to protect, focusing on any who are currently in special need of protection.
  3. Recite three times:  “I kindle my fire this morning with this good peat, without fear or envy of any who walk beneath the good Sun this day. I kindle this flame in my hearth and my heart for food on my table, health in my home and a gentle parting when my days are ended. I kindle in my heart this morning a flame of love to my neighbors, my foe and my kindred and God over all protecting May you be protected.”
  4. If you are using a candle, blow out the flame, sending light to the family. If you are using a fire or stove, add a small piece of fuel.
  5. Before you rush into the day, send a few special words to anyone among your friends you feel might be in special need.

Precious Pup of the Day for April 25th

Name: Rocky
Age: Eighteen months old
Gender: Male Breed: Boston Terrier
Home: St-Jerome, Quebec, Canada
Rocky is a Boston Terrier dog that is owned by Daniel. Like a typical Boston Terrier breed, he is friendly, alert, expressive and playful. He generally doesn’t bark except when necessary. He really likes to play with the balls and toys. He really enjoys going at the park to run fast, to expend energy and to play with balls. Every time we come home from work or anywhere, he is really happy to see us and wants to play.We think he is a very cute black and white Boston Terrier. He really likes to stay with his owners to play and he also likes to play with everyone, even with the cats. He is friendly with all other dogs, too. He likes to go for a walk and explore everything. He loves to go for car rides and going to the drive-in for watching movies. We really love Rocky and he is like our baby. He even inspired us to create a website for Boston Terriers!He is our first Boston Terrier and the first dog we have had. We decided to get him because we were interested in having a dog. We had seen some video and pictures of Boston Terriers and we thought that they were really beautiful and fun dog so we started learning more about the breed. We discovered that we found the perfect dog breed for us. The tricks he have learned so far are to sit, lay down and shake each paw. For his favorite games he likes to play, he likes to play baseball with us. He also likes to fetch sticks and he really likes to chew them. He also like to come camping with us and going for a canoe rides.

Because there is a cold winter season in Quebec, Canada and the Bostons don’t have long fur, we found it is a good thing to protect him from the cold weather by getting him a leather jacket and some hoodies. He fares well in the cold weather, but when it’s too cold he prefer going back inside where it’s warm. He doesn’t like spending too much time outside when it’s cold, but like us he likes the snow and everything else about winter.

Rocky, the Dog of the Day
See more images of Rocky!

Doggie of the Day for April 18th

Saito, the Dog of the Day
Name: Saito
Age: Six years old
Gender: Male Breed: Alaskan Malamute mix
Home: Milford, Massachusetts, USA
Hello! I would like to honor my dog Saito; he is wonderful and handsome.

Hello. My name is Saito, named after ancient Japanese warrior Hajime Saito. I insisted on writing my own Dog of the Day summary, as I consider myself more human than dog:

Exhibit A – I prefer people food over “kibble.” My favorite is pita; I don’t like jalapeños. Once when my humans were away, I ate all of the leftover pizza! Minus the jalapeños, which I removed with surgical precision and lined up on the living room rug.

Exhibit B – I prefer people furniture. My favorite is the couch when my humans are lounging on the floor. Every night, I slumber on the guest bed with my little sister curled up on the floor in front of me like my dog.

Exhibit C – I am proud of my looks. I stand straighter and walk with more swagger when I wear my favorite bandanas. My looks have gotten my humans countless free drinks at Starbucks drive-throughs. Once when we were in Boston, a couple stopped us to offer me one of the hamburgers they just picked up for take-out (which my humans turned it down! I’m still upset about that).

Exhibit D – I need my personal space and freedom. Unlike most canines, I am choosy about when I dole out affection…most typically when I want something or think I’ve done something wrong. When my humans call me over, I stop just far enough out of their reach. And finally, I believe a man needs his adventures; if the backyard gate is accidentally left open, I unfailingly run away!

My humans sometimes call me “Emo Boy.” It’s true that occasionally I cry for seemingly no reason or stare blankly into space for minutes at a time. The characterization falls a bit flat though, because my favorite toy is a stuffed pink dragon named Marjorine. I have seven Marjorines whom I love equally.

My humans constantly shower me with affection, toys, and treats and also tell me how special I am. I know they love me more than anything, which I deserve.

Saito, the Dog of the Day
Saito, the Dog of the Day

NASA Image for February 27th – Eastern Seaboard at Night

 Eastern Seaboard at Night

Eastern Seaboard at Night

An Expedition 30 crew member aboard the International Space Station took this nighttime photograph of much of the Atlantic coast of the United States. Large metropolitan areas and other easily recognizable sites from the Virginia/Maryland/Washington, D.C. area are visible in the image that spans almost to Rhode Island. Boston is just out of frame at right. Long Island and the New York City area are visible in the lower right quadrant. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are near the center. Parts of two Russian vehicles parked at the orbital outpost are seen in left foreground.

This image was taken on Feb. 6, 2012.

Image Credit: NASA

Honoring Yourself – Adjusting to the Dark Time of Year

Honoring Yourself – Adjusting to the Dark Time of Year
Did you know that you can maximize your energy levels by adjusting your food and exercise to match the season? Now Autumn is in full swing, and it’s chilly! It’s a lot more work for your body to stay warm, but you can ease the process by focusing your diet on warm dishes using seasonal foods to give yourself that extra nutritional boost and exercising regularly to heat your body up! Adding pungent and spicy herbs can warm you up too: garlic, oregano, thyme, onions, cayenne, chili, curry, rosemary, basil etc…
Colds, congestion and constipation are pretty typical this time of year. We’re too busy to rest and exercise as much as we need or we indulge on sweets during the holidays or all of the above! These conditions are simply signals from the body that you need to simplify and cleanse a bit. To balance out: rest, hydrate, exercise and eat plenty of seasonal produce, especially in soup our stew form. Even the seasonal fruit is cleansing for your system. Check your local farmer’s market, but it’s likely you’ll find these seasonal foods available: cranberries, apples, pears, pomegranite, oranges, pumpkins, squashs, turnips, parsnips, beets, brussel sprouts, peppers, and sweet potatoes, garlic, and onions.
One way to lower your chances of coming down with a cold or the flu this season is to practice deep relaxation on a daily basis. Often relaxing deeply will give you an energy boost because the energy your muscles were using to stay tense is now directed back into the body system and available for you to repair damage, neutralize a “bug”, or simply to recharge. The most simple at home technique for deep relaxation is to sit comfortably and breath slowly. Inhale for a count of four, pause briefly, and then exhale for a count of 8. Repeat for 5 or 10 minutes until you feel peaceful and calm. You can do this simple breathing exercise anytime and anyplace – while sitting in traffic, in a meeting, waiting in line, while on hold on the phone, when you first wake up, in bed to help you fall asleep, etc…

For many this time of year also means going to and leaving work happens in the dark. You might not be getting enough sunlight to regulate your body’s rhythms so that you feel your best. If you can, expose your hands and face to the sun outside daily in the morning for 5-15 minutes to let your body know it’s time to be alert, awake and energized. If you can’t get outside, consider investing in a natural spectrum lap and give yourself a light treat every morning during breakfast for 5-15 minutes. The resulting alertness and focus is quite amazing!

Whether your schedule is busting at the seams, you don’t want to leave the house, or the usual holiday stressors are looming on the horizon – the best thing you can do for yourself to float through the holidays with peace and bliss this fall is to make self-care a priority.
Schedule an appointment with yourself to relax and rejuvenate every day, or at the very least every week. And, keep this appointment with yourself like it’s a date with someone important to you. (I hope you are important to you.) Taking this time out on a regular basis is the key to being energized, staying calm, and feeling good about all the decisions you have to make during the busy time of year – about what you eat, what you buy, how you spend your time, etc…

I recommend you pull out your calendar right now and set aside your self-care appointments before the holiday invitations start coming in. The trick is to honor these appointments with yourself by saying no to invitations that conflict, or if you can’t or don’t want to say no to an important event, rescheduling your self-care appointment to another time that day or day that week. The key is making self-care a priority and sticking with your commitment to relax and rejuvenate.

By Artemisia
About the Author– Artemisia is a High Priestess of the Order of the White Moon. She is one of the co-founders of the branch sisterhood of the Order – Sisters in Celebration. She can be reached at artemisia333@…. She lives and works in the Boston area as a Reiki & Wellness practitioner.

In The News……Haunted Happenings in Salem

Massachusetts town famous for its 1692 witch trials is the busiest Halloween tourist destination in North America

By DAVID JOHNSTON, The GazetteOctober 15, 2011

The busiest Halloween tourist destination in North America has no shortage of costumed ghosts and goblins wandering through town in the weeks before the arrival of the witching hours of Halloween night Oct. 31.

But there was nothing theatrical about the shock and the horror that gripped the seaside Massachusetts town of Salem in 1692, when 20 local residents were accused of witchcraft and put to death after the infamous Salem witch trials.

Ever since then, witch hunts in various shapes and forms have been a recurring metaphor in U.S. society. When Arthur Miller based his 1952 play The Crucible on the events of 1692, it was seen as an allegory for the anti-Communist fear and hysteria that was sweeping the United States at the time.

The historical and cultural backdrop to the Salem witch trials is a subject that is exhaustively interpreted by the many different niche museums in Salem devoted to this grim chapter in early U.S. history.

But the witch trials have also given rise, more than three centuries later, to a busy local tourist industry revolving around witchcraft in general, one that peaks in October with an annual Halloween festival, Haunted Happenings that attracts more than 200,000 people. (hauntedhappenings.org/)

The month-long celebration features parades, costume balls, various children’s events and witch-themed activities ranging from light fun to serious exploration of the world of witchcraft past and present. These activities include Ask a Witch – Make a Wand, a weekend event hosted by the local Witches Education League, where the public gets to ask questions of women and men who are self-described witches.

The Witches Education League is an outreach organization that reflects the demographic reality of Salem, a city north of Boston with a population of 38,000 where 2,000 people describe themselves as witches. Some are formally affiliated with the worldwide religious movement of Wicca, while others are known locally for their commercial profile. The commercialism is evident along the downtown Essex St. pedestrian mall where stores like Omen or Bewitched in Salem sell witch-themed products, but also conduct crystal-ball readings and seances, and give workshops in witchcraft magic.

The best way to see Salem is to start out by taking the Salem Trolley tour of the downtown area. It begins in the city’s fascinating old port district, the Salem Maritime National Historic Site, and then loops back from there into the downtown area, pointing out places of special interest relating to the Salem witch trials, and to architectural history as well.

The spiritual centre of Salem’s tourist industry is the Salem Witch Memorial, inaugurated in 1992 by Nobel Laureate Eli Wiesel. It’s a little garden bounded on three sides by a low stone wall. Embedded into the interior sides of the wall are 20 stone benches, each one bearing the name, date and method of execution of one of the 20 people put to death in 1692.

Not to be missed is the Salem Witch Museum, which tells the story of the witch trials using special sets, and life-size figures in a darkened auditorium, and then projects forward in time in connecting rooms to show how outbreaks of mass fear and intolerance have been a recurring theme in U.S. history.

The narrator of the auditorium show explains how the early Puritan settlers of Salem lived with a variety of overlapping fears that induced a form of paranoia. There was fear of their colonial charter being revoked, of Indian raids, of smallpox, of crop failure. Most of all, there was fear of the Devil, as common belief among the Puritans held that the Devil had come to New England to undo God’s new Kingdom – even creaky floors suggested the Devil’s presence.

And so when a group of local girls in Salem in 1692 started going into hysterical fits and accusing fellow citizens of having bewitched them, the underlying conditions were already in place to produce a witch hunt. Family feuds over property rights were also a contributing factor, and those forced Salem’s 550 residents to take sides during the witch trials.

Today, of course, Salem is a much different place. It is a busy northern Boston suburb, part of the metropolitan transit network. And so while Salem can be visited by commuter train as a day trip from Boston, Salem can also be used as a place to stay while visiting Boston more generally. Hotels are generally cheaper in Salem than in Boston.

The two main hotels in downtown Salem are the Hawthorne Hotel and the Salem Waterfront Hotel; there are also plenty of bed and breakfasts. The Salem Waterfront has an indoor pool and might be the better option for families with young children. The Hawthorne, built in 1925 when 1,000 local residents chipped in to buy shares to create a new “modern” hotel for the town, has a well-regarded local restaurant, Nathaniel’s (named after Nathaniel Hawthorne, a noted 19th-century Salem author), which serves up a famous apple-pumpkin bisque soup. Another renowned Salem edible delight is Gibraltar rock candy, which is sold at Ye Olde Pepper Compagnie, near Salem harbour. The store was founded in Salem in 1806 and is the oldest candy store in the U.S.

Short hops returns in mid-December with ideas for winter excursions.


To get to Salem from Montreal by car, drive as if you are going to Boston. That is to say, take Interstate 93 South. There are two ways to get to the 93 – either from Interstate 89 at the Philipsburg/ Highgate Springs, Vt., border crossing, or Interstate 91 from the Stanstead/Derby Line, Vt., crossing. As you approach Boston on the 93, take Exit 37A in order to get on Interstate 95 North. After a brief stint on the 95, take Route 128 North and Route 114 East into Salem. There are also air and bus options to Boston, but no direct rail link.

Doggie of the Day for August 10th

Shelby, the Dog of the Day
Name: Shelby
Age: Two years old
Gender: Female Breed: Border Collie
Home: Amesbury, Massachusetts, USA
I met Shelby a few months ago and instantly fell in love. She’s the sweetest, most athletic and well-trained dog I’ve ever met. Shelby is two and currently lives in Amesbury, Massachusetts, about an hour north of Boston. She’s a huge Red Sox fan and even sports a Red Sox collar!

Shelby loves the outdoors and anything sports-related. Her favorite sports in particular are tennis, Frisbee and climbing trees. When she comes to Boston to visit, she’s a bit hesitant of the city life, but quickly adjusts, especially when I give her a pupcake from Four Preppy Paws, a bakery in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood.

She gets along great with other dogs and her best friend is Logan, a six-month-old yellow lab (included in one of the photos). Shelby has charming good looks and wonderful personality. One of the things I love best about Shelby is that her left ear always curls under when she looks at you and nods her head. It’s really the cutest thing ever. I hope you enjoy these photos as much as I do!