What is Traditional Witchcraft: An Introduction

What is Traditional Witchcraft: An Introduction



If you’re new to Witchcraft or merely curious about craft practices, you’ll immediately find several craft traditions open for exploration. If you do a bit of comparing with such traditions, you’ll eventually find defining a term like “Traditional Witchcraft” is a thorny process. Like craft practices, the answer seems shrouded in mystery, with the answer changing depending upon the sources you consult. Here’s a breakdown of the different views on Traditional Witchcraft and what it means to be a practitioner of the arcane arts in a traditional sense.



Witch versus Wiccan: What’s the Difference?

Wicca is a system of belief based on much of the writings by Gerald Brousseau Gardner (craftname of Scire). Gardner was a well-traveled, well-read archaeologist and anthropologist who played a significant role in bringing the practice of Wicca into the public eye. He is considered the Forefather of Witchcraft since he started the Gardnerian movement. Much of his work comes from folklore, his experiences in the Order of Cortona: a Rosicrucian group, and the New Forest Coven, of which he claimed to be an initiate. He also drew his understandings about the magickal arts from his background in Freemasonry, his study of ceremonial magick, and the works of Aleister Crowley.

After the last laws in England against practicing Witchcraft were repealed in the early 1950s, Gardner authored the book Witchcraft Today.” A second book soon followed, entitled The Meaning of Witchcraft.”The Gardnerian Book of Shadows is another one of his writings that includes information he draws from his time in the New Forest Coven, and his experiences with Crowley, since Gardner found the initial Book of Shadows sorely lacking in accessible material.

Before delving further into the meaning of Traditional Witchcraft, at this point it’s important to note that a Witch is a practitioner of magic and someone who may or may not practice the magickal arts within a religious framework. A Witch can be Wiccan but doesn’t have to adhere to the principles of Wicca to be a Witch. There are many other traditions outside of Gardnerian Wicca, with some adherents of the latter considering Gardnerian practices as a form of Traditional Witchcraft.



Other Forms of British Traditional Wicca

Gardnerian Wicca is just one form of British Traditional Witchcraft, which describes practices originating in England and the New Forest area. Traditional Wicca is said to have a lineage that’s traceable back to its original British roots. Central Valley Wicca, Blue Star Wicca, Chthonioi Wicca, Algard Wicca, and Alexandrian Wicca are also forms of British Traditional Wicca.

Alexander Sanders, often called the “King of Witches,” along with Maxine Sanders, his wife, are the founders of the Alexandrian Tradition of Witchcraft. Sander’s established the tradition in the 1960s in the United Kingdom. His system is based on what he learned from his studies of Gardnerian practices. Alexandrian Witchcraft also mingles the teachings of the Qabalah and ceremonial magick with Gardnerian practices.

Raymond Buckland (craftname Robat) was a practitioner of Gardnerian Wicca and a writer on both the occult and Wicca. He also plays a large role in Wicca’s history after he introduced Wicca to the United States in the early 1960s. He was a high priest in a Gardnerian coven who later created a new tradition, Seax Wica, which focused on Anglo-Saxon pagan practices and symbolism. Some of his writings include Buckland’s “Complete Book of Witchcraft,”Wicca for One: The Path of Solitary Witchcraft,” and Buckland’sBook of Gypsy Magic: Travelers’ Stories, Spells & Healings,” among many others.



Opposing Views of Traditional Witchcraft

According to Ethan Doyle White, an archeologist, and established pagan scholar, Traditional Witchcraft embodies any practicing group or individual who does not embrace Gardnerian Wicca. Instead, the group or practitioner has practices stemming from more ancient origins. Under this definition, “Traditional Witchcraft” defines those who adhere to a wide variety of pagan paths, providing the practices and traditions that have roots far older than Wicca.

Michael Howard, a Traditional Witch, suggests that the term “traditional” describes anyone who is not practicing Alexandrian or Gardnerian Witchcraft. Rather, “Traditional” references practices deeply rooted in folk magic, lore, and historical forms of the art. Per such a definition, Traditional Witchcraft references Cochranianism and the Feri Tradition, among others.

Cochranianism is a branch of traditional Witchcraft established in the early 1950s. The founder is Robert Cochrane, who drew his knowledge from family members who taught him the Craft.

Cochrane’s approach is a lot like Gardnerian Wicca but focuses on attaining wisdom. Interestingly, Cochrane also argues Witchcraft has nothing to do with Paganism. Meanwhile, the founders of the Feri Tradition is Victor Henry Anderson and Cora Anderson, who established the tradition in the 1960s: The tradition mingles Gnosticism, Tantric practices, and Hoodoo beliefs Qabalah, Vodou, and Faery lore.



Traditional Witchcraft versus Techno Witches

Tiktok is an app some modern witches use to share video information about witchcraft practices, traditions, and real-world experiences working with the magickal arts. The online community is mostly eclectic, meaning they don’t necessarily focus on a single tradition but rather pull information and beliefs from a variety of magickal traditions and practices. The videos are sixty seconds in length, focusing on offering one another support, healing, and tips. The video method for sharing of information on the arcane arts may seem like the opposite extreme of Traditional Witchcraft. But the practice can indeed be merged into a modernized, syncretic type of practice, where witches share information about the ancient arts and how to revive the old ways while attempting to work with the most unadulterated forms of the practice as possible.



How to Practice Traditional Wicca

If you’re interested in learning more about Traditional Wiccan practices, you might want to consider checking out the work of Thorn Mooney: A priestess in the Raleigh-based, Foxfire Coven that consists of a traditional Gardnerian inner and outer court. Mooney’s background is rich, influenced by extensive academic and religious studies focusing on evangelical Christianity, American religions, and contemporary Paganism. She is the author of Traditional Wicca: A Seeker’s Guide,” published by Llewellyn Worldwide.

Dayna Winters

"Dayna Winters is a solitary, eclectic Wiccan practitioner, priestess, an award-winning author, and artist. She earned an Associate in Arts from Hudson Valley Community College, later graduating from Sage College with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Dayna is the former co-founder and co-director of ISIS Paranormal Investigations and ISIS Paranormal Radio. Her publications have appeared in Threads, Crescent Magazine, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, and The Journal for the Academic Study of Magic. Dayna was also featured in “Chat: It's Fate”; “14 Degrees: A Paranormal Documentary,” and “Discovery Channel's “A Haunting.” She co-authored "Wicca: What's the Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions," "Sacred Objects, Sacred Space: Everyday Tools for the Modern Day Witch," and “The Esoteric Dream Book: Mastering the Magickal Symbolism of the Subconscious Mind,” all published by Schiffer Publishing."


Introduction to Faery & Celtic Witchcraft

Introduction to Faery & Celtic Witchcraft



When you think of the word “fairy,” it’s no surprise images of tiny, dainty creatures with colorful gossamer wings come immediately to mind. We’re all familiar with the creatures of legend and lore, with some that are kind or benevolent, helping humankind, and other stories that tell of devious fairies who lure people into the fairy realm only to be lost to the world forever. But these are fictitious stories, the tales that captivated us as children, and the types of faeries associated with Celtic Witchcraft and Faery Wicca are far more than mere imaginings.



What is Faery Wicca & Witchcraft?

Faery Wicca is a polytheistic religion and way of life that is just one tradition that fits under the broader term “Celtic Witchcraft.” Other traditions that fall under the main category of Celtic Witchcraft include The Druidic Tradition, the Order of the Bards, Druidic Reconstructionism, Pecti-Wicca, and Caledoni, among others. The difference between the Druids and Druid Reconstructionism is in their focus, with the lattermost group focusing on modern magickal practices. At the same time, the Reconstructionisms seek to revive the ways of old Druidism in the most unadulterated way possible. Pecti-Wicca, with a focus on the practices of the Ancient Picts, is a solitary Wiccan path, while Caledoni has a greater focus on Scottish traditions.

Faery Wicca involves the worship of one or more patron deities from the Ancient Celtic pantheon; these deities are supernatural beings or Fae. Celtic or Faery Wicca integrates magickal practices with the celebration of Ancient Pagan holidays honoring the seasonal, solar, and lunar cycles, the rhythms of the earth, nature, and the Divine understood through various God/Goddess/Fae aspects. Someone practicing Faery Witchcraft might choose a solitary path or work with the full support of a coven.

Faery Wicca is not just a religion but a practice that shapes and enriches one’s day-to-day existence. The practice is a syncretic form of Witchcraft, weaving together Wiccan beliefs while focusing on working with magickal beings, elementals, and nature spirits. Practices often involve working in nature when possible, with rituals held in the woodlands, forest groves, or near lakes or large bodies of water ( but when this is not possible, the practitioner can bring elements of the natural world into ritual practices and spellwork). Earth-centered worship is central, as is respect for all creatures, big and small. With Wicca being a part of one’s practice and a way of life one aspires to, the practitioner typically adheres to the “Harm None” principle when working with magick performing rituals, or even in day-to-day encounters.

Within a coven framework, there are elder priestesses or priests (Ollamh), and initiates, but one can also achieve such levels of knowledge when pursuing the Faery Wicca Path alone. Please note: If adhering to the Thirteen Principles of Belief, as many Wiccans do, the practitioner acknowledges and understands that the spiritual journey is not about obtaining titles as much as it is about drawing closer to the Divine and growing mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.



‘Faery’ vs. ‘Fairy’: The Not So Subtle Differences

When reading about Faery Wicca and Celtic Witchcraft, the words “faery,” “fairies,” “fae,” and “fay” are in use interchangeably. But there are some important differences in meaning. Just as it is with “magic” versus “magick,” the latter term which Alister Crowley coined to denote the differences between sleight of hand magic and the arcane magickal arts, “faery” represents real spirit beings or deities.

When referencing Spiritual Beings or Celtic and Faery Wicca deities, the appropriate term is “Faery.” “Fairy,” references creatures found among the imaginative pages of fairy tales; yes, there is some crossover here, as the characters in fairy tales can be elves, fairies, goblins, and other beings of lore. The Tuath Dé Danann is one example, where there is much written about them in fairy tales and handed down through oral storytelling traditions. Still, practitioners see the Tuath Dé as otherworldly, immortal beings who interact with the world and humankind.

As children, many of us learn that supernatural beings aren’t real. Our parents teach us to think rationally and to consider the characters in literature as nothing more than a product of the imagination. When speaking of fairy tales, the word “fairy” refers to the otherworldly realm beings as unreal or fictitious. The use “Faery” does the opposite; it allows us to honor supernatural beings by acknowledging their existence and recognizing their influence on humans and the world as very real.



How to Enter the Faerie Realm: Roads to the Otherworld

Openings in the earth or bodies of water may serve as entries into the faery realm; deep, dark, caverns hidden in the belly of the Earth Mother, or darkened lakes and whirlpools amid oceanic waters are all said to be entryways into the faerie realm. Crossroads are also a doorway but, so too are the magickal faery circles made of mushrooms, stones, or a patch of earth in the middle of the woods. Those who are clairvoyant, clairsentient, and clairaudient; people who heighten their awareness and believe in supernatural beings have a far easier time accessing the practically inaccessible world of magickal beings.

According to lore and many magickal practices, it is easiest to access the otherworld, whether it’s called the Land of the Fae, the Astral Realm, the Inner Realm, Tir na Nog, or the Shadowlands, during “between times.” Such periods are where time is transitioning from one state to another, such as dawn, dusk, and midnight, which are among the most traditional. Equinoxes, solstices, the New Moon phase, and even Samhain where the old Pagan year transitions into the new, are also ideal times to access the world of Fae and the Spirits.



Celtic & Faery Wicca Deities

Much about faeries stems from oral tradition and writings heavily influenced and changed by Christian writers, and the ancient Romans, so some of the stories about the magickal beings is muddled and ambiguous. Through the centuries, storytellers and historians often compare, and association faeries with other magickal creatures like shapeshifters, werewolves, vampires, spirits of the dead, and angels. Some writers go as far as to demonize them. In other writings, the Fae are characterized as heroes, queens, and kings with mysterious powers.

The Tuath Dé or Tuath Dé Danann, meaning “tribe of the Gods” or “the folk of the Goddess Danu,” originates from Irish Mythology where they are the pre-Christian, primary deities of Gaelic Ireland. In Latin, the magickal race is known as the “Plebes Deorum” or “folk of the Gods.” Of this tribe, you’ll find the following Celtic Witchcraft and Faery Wicca Deities (among others):

The Dadga: (alias “An Dagda”) is a depicted as a Druid, King, and Father Archetype who corresponds with Strength, Valor, Virility, Fertility, and Agriculture. He holds sway over the living, the seasons, weather, and time. His appearance may remind one of The Hermit in the tarot or Father Time himself, as he wears a long cloak with a hood and has a long beard. He carries with him a mace, club, or staff, which can bring or take life as he wills it. Dadga is analogous to the Roman Underworld God, Dīs Pater, and Odin, the Norse God of Magic, Divination, Death, Poetry, and Wisdom.

The Morrigan: (aliases include Morrígu, Mórrígan, Mór-Ríoghain, and Morrígan). The Morrigan is the wife of The Dadga, with a name that means “Phantom Queen” or “Great Queen” and is one of the most well-known of the Celtic deities. She is a Goddess of Fate and Battle, one who foretells one’s destiny, and predicts who will be the victor in war. Sometimes The Morrigan is viewed as a triune, three sisters, called the Morrígna.

Lugh: (alias “Lú,”Lug,“Samildánach,” “meaning skilled in multiple arts,” and “Lámfada,” meaning “of the long arm”) is a savior deity and part of the race of the Tuatha Dé Danann; he is a king, craftsman, and warrior, and is the God of Truth, Oaths, and Kings. The first harvest festival of the year is Lughnasadh, which is named after Lugh. He is analogous to the Welsh hero Lleu Llaw Gyffes, Mercury: the Roman God of Communication, and the pan-Celtic deity Lugus.

Nuadha: (aliases include Nuadu, Nuada, Elcmar, Necht, Nechtan, Airgetlám, or Airgeadlámh, meaning “Silver Hand” or “Silver Arm”) is consort of Boann and the Tuatha Dé Danann’s first king; he earned his epithet after losing his arm in a battle which is replaced by a silver arm and healed via magick. Nuadha is analogous to Nodens, the Gaulish and British God of Fishing and Hunting.

Aengus: (aliases include Óengus or Mac ind Óic) is the son of Boann The Dagda, is the Irish God of Inspiration, Love, and Youth. He is analogous to the Welsh deity, Mabon, whose name means “Great Son.”

Note: The Celtic pantheon is quite diverse, and the Gods and Goddesses mentioned here are but a mere sampling of the various aspects of the Divine.



How to Practice Faerie Wicca: Where to Start

Gaining familiarity with the oral traditions, lore, and mythology of the ancients is the best way to begin your exploration of Faery Wicca deities and preternatural beings. Picking up a Faerie’s book or two on the subject is like your mental doorway into the world of magickal beings; your familiarity with such spirits will make it easier for you to connect with them during visualizations, meditations, and achieved altered states of awareness. Later, you can use your knowledge to connect with otherworldly spirits via ritual and spellwork.


Morgan Daimler is a priestess of the Daoine Maithe, and a prolific author who writes about the Fae, magickal practices, and Irish myth; many of her books are perfect for the practitioner looking to gain an understanding of the faery realm and the beings that reside there. Daimler is among the foremost experts on the subject, with Faery book titles including The Morrigan: Meeting the Great Queens,” “Fairycraft: Following the Path of Fairy Witchcraft,” Fairies: A Guide to Celtic Fair Folk,” and “A New Dictionary of Fairies: A 21st Century Exploration of Celtic and Related Western European Fairies,” among others.

Dayna Winters

"Dayna Winters is a solitary, eclectic Wiccan practitioner, priestess, an award-winning author, and artist. She earned an Associate in Arts from Hudson Valley Community College, later graduating from Sage College with a Bachelor of Arts in English. Dayna is the former co-founder and co-director of ISIS Paranormal Investigations and ISIS Paranormal Radio. Her publications have appeared in Threads, Crescent Magazine, Blood Moon Rising Magazine, and The Journal for the Academic Study of Magic. Dayna was also featured in “Chat: It's Fate”; “14 Degrees: A Paranormal Documentary,” and “Discovery Channel's “A Haunting.” She co-authored "Wicca: What's the Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions," "Sacred Objects, Sacred Space: Everyday Tools for the Modern Day Witch," and “The Esoteric Dream Book: Mastering the Magickal Symbolism of the Subconscious Mind,” all published by Schiffer Publishing."


Halloween 2020 - Will It Happen in Salem Massachusetts

Salem Massachusetts Halloween 2020 - Will It Happen?

Recently on the site I posted a video/article called, “Should You Visit Salem Massachusetts?” That got me thinking about Halloween in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic. So I made it my mission to try and answer the question, “Are we going to have Salem Massachusetts Halloween 2020?” Here’s what I found.

Will Salem be open for Halloween 2020? This question has been on my mind a lot lately, so I decided to fig in and find an answer. In this video, I have a look at the toll that the Coronavirus pandemic has already had on the Witch City, what would need to happen in order for tourists to enjoy a safe Halloween in Salem, and ultimately speculate as to what I expect to happen in the coming months. Luckily, there's a lot of things you can do to help ensure Salem Halloween 2020 happens. The first is to support your favorite Salem establishments by following them on social media and buying from their online shops when available. The second is that you can reach out to your federal government (and local/state if you're near Salem) and advocate for the further ubiquity of proper COVID-19 testing. There's a lot of people/Salem locations I'm grateful for and miss terribly that I'd like to shout out. I list a few of them below. If you want to dive into the conversation happening in the business sector in Salem, check out the conversation also linked below. Together, we might just be able to #SaveHalloween. Stay weird witches. Full business conversation in Salem: https://www.salem.com/fyisalempodcast Some people/Salem places I'd like you to show some love to: Mayor Kim Driscoll: https://twitter.com/MayorDriscoll Emporium 32: http://www.emporium32.com/ Peabody Essex Museum: https://www.pem.org/ House of the Seven Gables: https://7gables.org/ Gulu Gulu Cafe: https://www.gulugulucafe.com/ Die With Your Boots On: https://diewithyourbootson.shop/ Pyramid Books: https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Gift-Shop/Pyramid-Books-290521906538/ Find way more about all things Salem at https://tosalem.com/ Facebook: facebook.com/tosalemsite Instagram: instagram.com/tosalemsite Twitter: twitter.com/tosalemsite

Video Transcript Below:

Now obviously before I get started here it’s important to note that this is developing every single day, literally tomorrow everything I say in this video could be irrelevant, at which point I will likely post some sort of update for you. So as of today, May 1st 2020, May Day, Beltane, go dance around a pole, here is where we stand.

Medical Status

So medically as of May 1st, Salem and the surrounding areas are all in their plateau phase, this means basically that they’re not adding on an exponential amount of COVID cases, nor are they seeing a decline in the ones they already have.

Now crucially the medical community is looking to see a few metrics before the city fully reopens, we’re getting back to some of these metrics later. But it’s important to point out right up here up front that unfortunately the lack of testing capacity makes the metrics that the city and surrounding areas are looking for as sort of indicators that it’s a hundred percent or ninety five percent safe to reopen for Halloween impossible. They simply don’t have enough tests to be sure or even relatively sure that Halloween is a sure thing this year.

That’s really what it boils down to and just to break this down in terms of just how big the need is right now, currently in the country we’re doing somewhere in the neighborhood of seven hundred thousand tests a day and some experts are estimating that to be truly safe, this is not just in Salem but the entire country-wide, some experts estimate that we actually need to be testing around 5.5 million people a day.

So 700,000 is what we’re currently doing, they’re saying we need to be ramping up to be able to do about 5.5 million. So that is a massive ramp up in the testing capacity that people in Salem and people all in the medical community all throughout the United States want to see to feel a hundred percent safe. Now I have personally seen some viral videos going around this past week from medical professionals that are pretty harmful in my opinion.

I think at this point it’s pretty safe to say that if you see anyone doubting the fact that we need ubiquitous testing everywhere to be safe you can pretty much just write that person off. Medical professionals in Salem are saying it, the Corona task force assembled to serve that region is saying it, everybody in the know is saying it. So that’s the first thing to point out here, that Salem like the rest of the country does not have near the testing capacity that they need to be fully safe not just for now but for October as well.

So therefore because not having the testing capacity means that you don’t have a full data set over what you’re actually experiencing or what you’re likely to experience, Salem’s health community and business community are starting to look at a situation in which they may reopen some things, see what the result is, and then close some things, and reopen some things, and close some things, and kind of have to do this teeter back and forth. And they have to do that because they don’t have adequate testing or adequate testing support so that they can just know what the landscape is.

What I will say though is that my interactions with Mayor Kim Driscoll and Dave Roberts and the corona task force assembled there in Salem is that these people are 100% committed to the safety of everyone in Salem and that includes any tourists that do come in for October so you can be sure that if tomorrow all of this changes and and Kim Driscoll announces on her Twitter, by the way she follow her she’s awesome, if Salem is officially open for business in October and everything’s gonna be great, know that she would not do that unless it were 100% safe for her to do so. So that is where the medical community is right now in Salem, that is where things stand.

The Federal and Massachusetts State Governments

Let’s talk a little bit about where the state and federal governments are having an impact on the ability of Halloween to happen in Salem. So the commonwealth of Massachusetts has formed an advisory board made up of 18 members and on May 18th they are expected to release a report that details what the reopening of services statewide might look like.

What they’re trying to with this task force has come up with a set of guidelines and systems and procedures that are sort of statewide, are everywhere because if everyone’s not following the same rules it kind of defeats the point. The great thing about this committee among other things is that they’re actively seeking the input of business owners and residents and tourists to Salem to kind of see what everybody’s thinking, get some ideas from people about what would help make their Salem October experience as good as it can be given the circumstances.

So I fully expect that when that report does drop on May 18th it’s gonna be filled with a lot of really really useful information. And it’ll likely be that however Salem does look in October, we’ll be able to trace the roots of how Salem got there back to this report. So you better believe that on this channel we are gonna be talking about that report when it does come out. Now unfortunately the scarcity of testing is not the only issue that the Commonwealth is experiencing in its relationship with the federal government and the assistance that they are providing. A lot of the halted progress toward increased sanitation, testing, and the sorts of measures you would want to see in place to make sure that a Salem Halloween is 100% safe, or as close to safe as it can be is actually coming from a sort of breakdown in communications between the state government and the federal government.

There’s a lot of guidelines that aren’t necessarily clear and procedures that aren’t spelled out in such a way so that local business owners feel like they can act and project into October and even ask the question what could we do feasibly to be open during the Halloween season? A good example of what I’m talking about here is the Paycheck Protection Program loan. Now this was sold to the American people as a very helpful way to keep small businesses afloat during this coronavirus crisis but the feedback that I am getting is that a lot of small business owners in and around Salem are actually afraid that this loan is going to cause a medium to long term load on them that they cannot bear given their short-term difficulties. So they’re skeptical, they’re tentative, they’re slow to act. They’re afraid that they’re not gonna have a business tomorrow. And so a lot of the ramp up sort of stuff that you would normally see this time of year heading toward October from the business community in Salem is really scaled down or in some cases just not there at all.

Unfortunately until adequate assistance is flowing and the lines of communication are open and the guidelines and the rules that everybody has to follow are clear, this probably isn’t gonna get much better and by better I mean that things aren’t gonna change as fast as they could, things won’t be put in place quickly, things will get delayed, and the more things are delayed the less likely it is that Halloween goes off at all. So luckily for us we live in a representative republic which means that if you don’t like anything that I just said, you can reach out to your local people, let them know that you don’t like it. Maybe we can put some pressure on some people in power and help to save Halloween this year.

Alright so now that we’ve explored the role of the state, the role of the federal government, and the medical influence that’s going on around Halloween, let’s have a look at sort of the fallout of COVID thus far in Salem. And why we should all be desperately hopeful that some version of Halloween can occur this year. So the three private sector industries that I see as being the most affected by Halloween either happening or not happening this year in Salem are going to be lodging, restaurants, and tourism. So let’s look at  each of these three industries in Salem and kind of look at what COVID has already done to them. As well as what they are currently expecting Halloween to look like.


In the lodging industry it seems that reservations are still holding strong for around the October season and they are still coming in up to 90 days out, but the reservation policies and cancellation policies in place right now are very, very generous which is a good thing, but that means that we can’t really predict too accurately if those reservations are going to stay in place or if people are making reservations sort of tentatively if they have the expendable income they can a make reservation, then cancel it later.


The dining industry has been almost totally decimated by COVID, they were the first industry to close and since then they have had nearly 93 percent, this is nationwide, 93% staff reduction across all employers in the dining history – that’s insane. So far the industry has lost about 2.3 billion dollars and a lot of this is because many in that industry are finding it hard to shift to a takeout or delivery model because that kind of changes the entire business model. The dining establishment in Salem in October depends on foot traffic, depends on people being able to walk through the streets freely so this is another area where it’s kind of like no one really knows what to expect.


And then there’s a tourism industry and this is the one that breaks my heart the most unfortunately, there are losses already in Salem in the tourism industry that are unfixable. And the really really heartbreaking thing about it is that Salem was on track 2020 to be the most profitable tourist year in the city’s history, especially because of Halloween. Halloween is on Saturday this year and it’s not just on a Saturday, it’s on a full moon, and it’s not just on a full moon it’s on a blue moon which means it’s the second full moon of the month of October.

So destination Salem and the tourism industry in Salem had a whole lineup of events scheduled to kick off actually this weekend and continue just straight through the peak season into November. There was an uptick in reservations across the board I know I personally had four, four scheduled, planned trips to Salem between now and the end of October. So everyone was looking forward to this October is the point, if you’re watching this video chances are you were looking forward to it as well. And Destination Salem and the tourism industry have not made an official call yet on whether Haunted Happenings is happening or not.

But it is important to note that as of April 21st Munich has canceled its annual Oktoberfest which is a massive festival falling around the same time of the year. And that festival has not been canceled since World War Two and there are plenty of people saying that any sort of large-scale public gatherings should just be canceled and not happen this year.

So Will there Be Halloween in Salem in 2020?

Which brings us to the point of this video: will Halloween happen in Salem in 2020? Nobody knows right now. But, it is clear that Salem is preparing for a much different Halloween than they’ve had probably since Haunted Happenings began in the 70s. And the reason why I kind of already laid out, but just imagine it you know most of the activity in Salem in Halloween happens in the downtown area which is only a mile radius and during the month of October something like 500,000 people pour into that small space and Halloween being on a Saturday this year that means that a good chunk you know maybe up to a third or even half of that number are gonna do it on Halloween night.

With that many people in that small of a space, with testing as low as it is, the conflicts between the state and federal government what they are, some states considering reopening right now, which will cause further peaks, will cause floods in the healthcare market later down the road, will extend this thing, it just seems like there’s no way you could have even a tenth of that number of people in that small of a space with anything resembling responsible safety. So that should tell you that what does need to happen this year in order for Salem to have a safe Halloween is a significant ramp up in what they’re able to do medically.

So what does that look like? Well let’s get back to those metrics that I mentioned at the very beginning of the video. So in Salem and the surrounding areas they’re really looking at four metrics that they kind of look out and say okay if we hit these four metrics this means that it is really safe to open, everyone can come and know that they’re gonna have a good time and be safe and no one’s gonna get this thing or very few people are gonna get it or basically we can have our normal Haunted Happenings go off.

One, the healthcare system has to be able to handle the current volume and severity of the patients that they are currently seeing. Two, they want to have a 14-day period without a positive COVID case or death coming in through the doors. Three, they want to be able to widely test all contacts of patients who have tested positive for COVID. This is why they need so many tests, they’re not just testing the doctors and nurses who have symptoms, they want to test the doctors and nurses you don’t have symptoms which they can’t currently do.

They don’t just want to test the patients who have late stage symptoms, they want to test the patients who have earlier stage symptoms which they can’t currently do. And when someone is positive, they want to be able to look at that person’s social network and test everyone around them to see how far it is spread and therefore isolate that particular strain coming from that particular person and if they need to provide a place for those people to stay to quarantine until they’re better, they want to be able to do that – none of that is possible without the tests. And for they want to have it so that if they introduce all these measures, one person is only infecting one other person.

Currently in the Commonwealth one person is infecting three to four people, that needs to come way down. So considering where we’re at and where we need to get to, now that we know what that is, the medical establishment and the administrative bodies in Salem are really looking at a much much different Halloween in Salem because it’s starting to become clear to them that they’re not gonna get what they need to be a hundred percent safe in October. So here are some things that they are currently exploring in Salem in terms of what Halloween might actually look like given the circumstances as they are right now. So this would be stations that offer sanitation, disinfection and masks. The promotion of small group activities and events, which follow the CDC guidelines of social distancing.

Extreme changes for any attractions and events with multiple touch points. So those attractions where you go in and you’re encouraged to touch things, got to scale that back. Likely elimination or limitation of print materials including the Haunted Happenings brochure throughout all of Salem. This includes all brochures, you go to Salem for Halloween, you come away with like 15 brochures from the tours and the museums and the attractions trying to get you to go visit. Probably not gonna happen this year, it’s just too hard to control that paper flow and keep it sanitized and safe. Restaurants and retail establishments are gonna utilize excess outdoor space like parking lots and sidewalks as shopping and dining space. I’m actually pretty excited about that. So now that is all accumulated from people I’ve talked to, heard from, and read about over the past week and a half or so.

This is what I will just say is coming from me. I would expect all large-scale gathering events related to Halloween in Salem this year to just be canceled. This might include things like the parade, concerts, Halloween balls, Samhain ritual circles stuff like that. Basically if they can’t control the volume of people and ensure that people are being 100% safe doing whatever the thing is, I just think they won’t do it and honestly I think that’s probably for the best even though it sucks. Now if we had a significant ramp up in testing, we might be having a different conversation come June, July but as it stands right now it doesn’t seem like that’s gonna happen.

So those things not being there would not be ideal, right that’s not the Halloween we all know and love. But there is plenty of stuff still to do in Salem and actually there’s plenty of cause for hope that some version of Halloween is going to go off. So here are some other sort of key takeaways that I’ve been able to gather about what we can expect in Halloween this year. The first is that if something does go off we can likely expect far fewer people to come then we have seen before.

Cause for Hope

Now there’s a significant hope that it seems the entire business and administrative bodies in Salem, everyone who has a business or is in public office and medical establishment, all of them are expecting a giant surge to come to Salem when it becomes safe to travel. Now they expect that safety to sort of go in tiers. They expect people who live within the immediate region up to four hours of driving range away from Salem to be the first to return. And so they’re gonna start reaching out to those people starting sometime around June to try and get them to come to Salem safely.

By that point, they’re gonna have their procedures and guidelines in place because that report is gonna come out in mid-may. They’re gonna have adhered to that and it’ll be relatively safe for the people around Salem to come enjoy Salem through the mid summer. After that they are gonna target people who live a further driving distance away and then just keep expanding out. Then they’re gonna go into domestic flights and international flights. But that is a process that’s gonna be going through 2021 maybe even 2022. So it’s not like you know: May close people, June the entire country.

How You Can Help #SaveHalloween

Another reason to hope is that you can actually help make sure that Salem remains Salem. There’s a lot you can personally do right now to help make sure that Halloween goes off this year and not that Halloween goes off this year but that Salem comes back from this admittedly gigantic hit. A lot of the businesses in Salem are trying to pivot into a digital first mentality, they’re trying to figure out a way that they can share their attractions, their shops, their merchandise with people digitally, so if you have a shop whose brand you absolutely love whether it’s clothing witch supplies, restaurant, whatever buy from their stores online right now if they offer it.

Keep them afloat through this time if you can and if you don’t have expendable income, find them on social media, drop them online just say hey I miss you, I love your stuff, I can’t wait for you to come back, I’m so so excited about walking into your store again when I can. I personally would like to shout out Gulu Gulu Cafe, Die With Your boots On, Pyramid Books, House of the Seven Gables, Peabody Essex Museum, Emporium 32, God there’s so many, so many places that I cannot wait to go back to and I hope you’re all staying strong and I can’t wait to see you again. I’m gonna be ramping up my buying from these places in the months to come to try and keep them afloat. I’m gonna be reaching out to these people via social media and making sure that they’ve got what they need and helping spread the word here if I can and you can do that on your own platforms as well. My bottom line is I think Halloween will happen this year.

I think it will be a very different Halloween than we’ve seen in Salem before. Nobody knows what that’s going to look like yet but the comments, the new subscribers, the support here on the channel, there’s been a big uptick recently, I’ve been producing more, you guys have been loving what I’m doing, and letting me know that, that has warmed my heart so much to log onto YouTube and see a new sub, or a new comment, or whatever, a new like. To see that on the Facebook on the Twitter on the Instagram on the website it’s like it just gives me what I need to keep going through this. So spread that around to the Salem community. Give it to them, you’re giving it to me, I’m giving it to them, you give to them, they’ll give it to you.

It’s how we get through this thing together. And you can be damn sure that if Halloween in Salem is canceled this year, it will be back. And I promise you that I will do my level best with your support to keep that autumn fire burning and stoked and ready until that beautiful city can return. So that’s all for today, that got a little sentimental there at the end. Won’t apologize for it, I’m a ooey gooey cancer. Please continue the support, it’s been absolutely phenomenal the way this stuff is growing. I really can’t believe it, I’m so so grateful. Share this stuff around, spread the word.

I’m so so excited about next week’s video, so if you are watching this and that is already out, you should check that out because the very first interactive ToSalem experience is coming your way and boy is it a lot of fun. It is my first offering into the land of let’s keep it Halloween all the time and I’m very, very excited to share it with you and I will be announcing it formally next week so check out that video if it’s popping up on your screen right now. If not, subscribe to the channel and hit the notification bell to be notified when that does go live so you can be sure not to miss it. So that’s it for today, stay weird witches, I’ll see you next time.


Should You Visit Salem MA | Is Salem Massachusetts Worth Visiting?

Should You Visit Salem MA | Is Salem Massachusetts Worth Visiting?


As a long-term lover of Salem Massachusetts I often find myself justifying my continued interest in the city. Unfortunately, my inability to think on my feet usually means that my response to, “Oh, you’re into Salem,” is usually a dull, uninformative, stuttering mess. Yet still, every couple months or so, the itch to return to Salem emerges and I pack up the car, load up Spotify with Fleetwood Mac, and head toward Boston. So I thought today I would do my absolute best to justify why you should visit Salem Massachusetts, even if you’ve been before, even if it’s not quite what you expect it to be, and yes, even if it has little to do with The Salem Witch Trials. In this video, I lay out both sides of the argument because, as it turns out, there are plenty of good reasons not to visit Salem as well. Watch the whole thing to make up your mind. Please don't forget to subscribe and follow/contribute to the hashtag #SaveHalloween on twitter and Facebook. While you're at it, you can also follow ToSalem on those platforms via the links below: Find way more about all things Salem at https://tosalem.com/ Facebook: facebook.com/tosalemsite Instagram: instagram.com/tosalemsite Twitter: twitter.com/tosalemsite


As a long-term lover of Salem Massachusetts I often find myself justifying my continued interest in the city. Unfortunately, my inability to think on my feet usually means that my response to, “Oh, you’re into Salem,” is usually dull, uninformative, and a stuttering mess.

Yet still, every couple months or so, the itch to return to the Witch City emerges and I pack up the car, load up Spotify with Omnia, and head toward Boston. So I thought today I would do my absolute best to justify why you should visit Salem MA, even if you’ve been before, even if it’s not quite what you expect it to be, and yes, even if it has little to do with The Salem Witch Trials. To begin, let’s jump into why you may want to steer clear of Salem, then we’ll progress into the myriad reasons I think Salem’s still worth loving.




Why You Shouldn’t Visit Salem MA


Salem is Basically Shuttered for Most of the Year

The first and, in my opinion, least persuasive argument for not wanting to visit Salem is a consequence of the city’s success in branding itself as Halloween-central. Be honest, when you think Salem, you think Autumn. I used to as well. Unfortunately, the popularity of Salem during the Halloween season is a bit of a double-edged sword. Many attractions that operate through the late summer to November, shutter for the rest of the year. Why? Well, the crowds just aren’t there.

Fortunately, there are tons of attractions, museums, restaurants, and much more that do indeed operate year-round. There are even a few witch-themed attractions that maintain this calendar as well. So, if this is your big reason for not wanting to visit Salem MA in any other time of the year, trust me, there is tons to do year-round. The one exception I would mention here is the dead of winter – not because there’s nothing to do, but because the winters in Salem are a notoriously frigid, icy affair. But, if that’s your thing, there are few better places in the North Shore area for seaside chilliness than Salem.


Finding  an Authentic Witchcraft Experience Is Somewhat Difficult

I’m probably going to get around to making an entire video on this topic someday, but for now I’ll just say that this is also a somewhat valid criticism. Putting aside the Salem Witch Trials for now (I’ll cover that next), tapping into Salem’s modern-day witchcraft community outside of commerce is actually pretty challenging. So if you’re hoping to spend a week visiting coven gatherings, attending Ostara ceremonies, or dancing in the moonlight with your fellow Pagans, you’re going to need to do a bit of sniffing before you find the folks who’ll join you in such revelries.

But, again, this criticism falls flat when you propose this: Even if it is somewhat difficult to root out the authentic pagan experience in Salem, point me to another New England city where the vibrancy of the community is one-tenth of what it is in the Witch City. It may not be perfect and it may need improvement, but it’s the best we’ve got.

Not where Salem Witch Trials Happened Really

I’ll close out the criticisms with the one I find to be the most persuasive and, to be brutally frank, the one that Salem itself does its best to hide: The Salem Witch Trials and modern-day Salem are loosely connected at best. There’s actually a whole lot of history that goes into why this is the case, but here are the bullet points:

The Contemporary Locations of The Salem Witch Trials
  • Most of the hearings and people associated with the Trials actually occurred/lived in the towns surrounding modern-day Salem, not Salem itself. At the time of the Trials, Salem was split between the rural, agricultural Salem Village and the more modern, urban Salem Town. These were two entirely distinct locations, who expressed a fair amount of vitriol with each other (which was actually a major factor in why the Trials occurred in the first place). Salem Village is where the vast majority of the events in The Salem Witch Trials took place. The area was renamed years later and largely encompasses modern Danvers, just a bit north of present-day Salem. The urban Salem Town is what we now know simply as, “Salem.”
  • This means that not only are there few sites historically connected to the Trials in Salem, but there never really were many in the first place. Most of the events literally occurred somewhere else entirely.
  • Still, there are a few historically relevant sites to the Trials in Salem, like the home of one of its judges where a few hearings took place, the site of the Salem Jail where prisoners were held while they awaited trial or execution, and the site of the executions.

BUT! If this fact is halting you from visiting Salem Massachusetts, there’s an argument to be made. Most of the surrounding towns where the Trials actually occurred or where their players lived have managed to restore or preserve relevant sites. And there are two memorials within Salem dedicated to the victims of the Trials. So, what better place to set up shop while you explore the entire North Shore area than Salem? You may have to do a bit of driving to see it all, but Salem is still the most active, most central place from which to explore the history of The Salem Witch Trials.




Why You Should Visit Salem MA

Now that we’ve gotten the arguments against Salem out of the way, let’s dive into why I still think the city holds a lot of magic, no matter what time of year you choose to visit.


Let’s just get the most obvious one out of the way. No one does Halloween like Salem, Massachusetts. Looking for something scary? Salem’s got haunted houses, monster museums, and ghost tours. How about something spooky fun? Check out all of the filming locations of Hocus Pocus, enjoy the yearly Halloween Carnival, or wander up the supposedly haunted hidden corridor in The House of the Seven Gables. Witchcraft more your thing? Well, check out the entire freaking town in that case. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people descend on Salem for one glorious night. And they bring with them an electricity unlike any I’ve ever experienced anywhere else. It’s an insane, glorious, beautiful thing that you have to experience at least once in your life.


Salem Massachusetts is without a doubt the place to be for Halloween in the United States. But have you ever stopped to ask yourself exactly how that happened? How did a town that was ashamed of its terrible past come to build a massive economy around it? In this first part of a three part series, we tackle that question and the answers are so very weird, there's absolutely nowhere else they could come from besides good ol' Salem Massachusetts. Research for this episode: http://salemmainstreets.org/is-salem-ma-the-halloween-destination/ https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/bewitched-salem-massachusetts-witches-180957090/ https://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/25/opinion/sunday/first-kill-the-witches-then-celebrate-them.html https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1996/10/21/why-i-wrote-the-crucible Music: Darren Curtis “Come Out and Play” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wrBEF3QLwCo Twitter: @ToSalemSite Instagram: @ToSalemSite Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/To-Salem-387980658347765/?modal=admin_todo_tour http://ToSalem.com/





The Rest of Salem’s History

I’m going to frame this in a way that most Salem historians are going to hate, but it turns out that The Salem Witch Trials is actually some of the least interesting history that’s happened in Salem. The city positioned itself perfectly at one point to be the premiere trading hub in early America. You read that correctly. I’m talking ahead of Boston, ahead of New York – the golden child of Puritan America was Salem. And then nineteen people met their deaths at the end of a rope and everything changed.

Salem then established a trade connection with China that is unparalleled anywhere else in the country. Ever wonder why there’s a giant Chinese house sticking off the back of the Peabody Essex Museum? That’s why. Go in sometime and find out more. It’s absolutely fascinating. Indeed, Salem has gone trough so many compelling eras it’s hard to distill them in this short format but the sheer volume and variety of Puritan, Maritime, Industrial, Literary, Philosophical, Occult, and Architectural history in Salem is staggering. When you visit Salem MA, start at the Visitor’s Center. They’ve got tons of information on the Peabody Essex Museum, National Maritime Site, Customs House, and much more to help you dive into Salem’s storied, fascinating past.




The Architecture

While we’re on the topic of architectural history, Salem houses an absolutely jaw-dropping array of early American homes. The list of influential architects and buildings in this town is too long to dive into here. But for my money there is no other town on the North Shore to get full exposure (meaning places you can actually go inside of, many of which feature stunning, original furnishings) to early American architecture, ranging from the Puritans to the Civil War and beyond, than Salem.

And many of these historic places have been converted to bed and breakfasts, so you can actually spend entire vacations surrounded by the thick history within Salem’s walls. I’m not even personally that much of an architectural guy, but the work of Samuel McIntire alone has filled many of my Salem trips with wonder, beauty, and a deeper appreciation of the American aesthetic than I likely would have otherwise found.

Plenty of Free Things to Do in Salem

Another incredible thing about Salem’s architecture is that it’s largely free to enjoy. You could, and I have, spend an entire weekend just wandering through the famous Chestnut Street district. Of course, if you want to go inside many of these buildings, that may be another issue price-wise. But there are structures, like the Salem Athenaeum, you can check out totally for free. There’s also a bevy of parks (Salem Willows Park, the Salem Common, Ropes Mansion garden, Salem Maritime National Historic Site, just to name a few) that are entirely free to enjoy.

If you’re around during Halloween, you could literally spend all day and night just wandering the city. And trust that you’d be fully entertained by the costumed revelers, street performers, vendors, outdoor concerts, and the fireworks display that take place on that gorgeous night. You could also stroll through The Salem Witch Trials or Proctor’s Ledge Memorial for a free dose of the Trials‘ history. Or why not spend a lazy afternoon wandering through the Broad Street, Old Burying Point, or Howard Street cemeteries? These do contain, after all, the real graves of some of the Trials accusers, judges, and accused and therefor represent some of the closest contemporary connections you’ll find in Salem to the Witch Trials. I could go on, but you get my point. Salem is a highly walkable, very well laid out city with tons of free stuff along the way.




But You Want Spooky

I get it. Salem has a bit of a reputation for the spooky, the macabre, the witchy. Can you visit Salem MA and get that experience outside autumn? Yes, yes, and yes. I could do an entire article on just this (and I just might). But here are just a few places to get that spooky vibe year-round:


Honestly, I’m limiting myself here, but you get the idea. Everything above is available year-round for your enjoyment. Some places operate, however, on fluctuating schedules due to inclement weather. This happens a lot in the winter. So always be sure to check websites before you go. If you hadn’t noticed, a fair number of the above are related directly to The Salem Witch Trials, so if you’re looking for this particularly spooky era of American history, don’t fret if you can’t visit in the fall – there are plenty of witchy resources and activities available all year in Salem. This ever-presence of spooky fun is yet another fantastic reason to visit Salem MA.


Is Salem Massachusetts haunted by more than its past? In this paranormal look at Salem Massachusetts, I explore five places you can visit in the Witch City to find out! Get your EMF readers ready and your proton packs primed - we're getting spooky! You'll dive in the deep end with a thorough overview of Salem's haunted past with a once-over on a wide range of haunted Salem history from such eras as: The Salem Witch Trials, Prohibition, The Revolutionary War, Salem's Era of Maritime Trade, The Civil War, and more! Here are my selections! 00:01:07 Number 5 - Wicked Good Books 00:02:40 Number 4 - Bunghole Liquors 00:04:23 Number 3 - Mercy Tavern 00:07:04 Number 2 - The Gardner-Pingree House 00:12:44 Number 1 - The Hawthorne Hotel Please support the site and YouTube channel by subscribing to the channel and throwing your email on the newsletter at ToSalem.com. You can also support us financially by purchasing some of the books below! ToSalem.com https://www.facebook.com/ToSalemSite/?modal=admin_todo_tour https://www.instagram.com/tosalemsite/ Supplementary Reading from this Episode: Ghosts of Salem: Haunts of the Witch City (Haunted America): https://amzn.to/2MbFY3F The Ghost Chronicles: A Medium and a Paranormal Scientist Investigate 17 True Hauntings by Ron Kolek: https://amzn.to/332fqJ3










The Culture

I saved this point for last because it is by far my personal favorite aspect of Salem, Massachusetts. It’s the single reason I keep going back time after time. Snd why I’m ultimately sure that someday I’ll be packing up my bags and headed to the Witch City for good. In a word, it’s the culture. The cumulative culture in Salem is a fascinating, perplexing, multifaceted thing. There are two specific areas of the culture in Salem that I’d like to highlight:

The Food

Salem has a very healthy and vibrant food scene both inside and outside of the city center. For our purposes, I’ll focus on anything that’s walkable from downtown. Just within this few block radius you’ve got insanely good pizza, a few coffee shops with a wide array of beverages and sweets, a couple fine dining establishments, some of the best seafood joints you’ve ever had the pleasure to visit, a vegan shop that is a must-try (Life Alive near The Witch House), a couple diners, a few pubs, some cafes, a liquor store, the country’s oldest still operating candy shop – I could go on. The food scene in Salem is an absolute delight that continues to surprise me every single time. It alone is a solid reason to visit Salem MA.

The People

Salemites sometimes get a bad rap in our larger cultural discourse for being confrontational, exclusionary, and gruff. While I won’t deny any of these – I don’t think I could unless I’d lived in Salem for some time. I will say that you won’t find a lot of these kinds of people in the tourist areas. Why? Well, they aren’t very good for business. So, for tourists, this point is kind of irrelevant.





My experience of the people of Salem is the exact opposite of this reputation. I’ve sung along in a drunken stupor with the karaoke singers at Gulu Gulu Cafe, laughed at how horrible a game is with folks at Bit Bar, had two hour-long conversations about Hermeticism with shop owners, and so much more. To me, the people of Salem are like none other. Their passion, intensity, welcoming spirit, and acceptance has always been on full display to me. This is likely why Salem is well regarded as one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly communities around. Perhaps it’s also why there are so many pet-friendly initiatives as well.

The people of Salem have massive hearts, welcoming arms, and are a delight to be around any time of year. The one key exception being November 1st, when every single person dreads the daylight. I’ve enjoyed life-changing tattoos in Salem. I’ve wept across the table from tarot readers. Shop owners and I have pontificated over Crowley and Gardener. I’ve participated in pagan rituals. And during each of these beautifully memorable events, I’ve found only welcome, only warmth, only acceptance and love. The people of Salem truly are the great hidden strength of the city. And they are by far the thing about the Witch City that I cherish the most.


What about you? Have you been to Salem? What was your experience like in the Witch City. Comment and let me know. Thanks so much for reading. Stay weird, witches!


Witchcraft in West Virginia

Witchcraft in West Virginia


One of the most intriguing aspects of the occult in America is that it truly has enjoyed a regional expression. New England witchcraft, for example, looks very different from West Coast witchcraft which looks very different from Midwest witchcraft. This trend also applies inter-regionally as well. Tennessean witchcraft looks different than Georgian witchcraft which looks different from West Virginia witchcraft and on and on it goes.

But a personal favorite of mine is Appalachian witchcraft. Perhaps that’s due to the fact that I’m from the mid-south originally or maybe it’s because this particular strain of the esoteric still lingers somewhat in obscurity, even to me.




So today I’d like to explore one of the more emblematic and representative states of Appalachian folk magic: West Virginia. First, some background.

The Early Days of West Virginia

West Virginia has always been a bit of an oddball in the cultural fabric of the United States. It’s location alone seems to beg for paradoxes. It’s not quite southern and not quite northern. But it’s situated against some of the more representative states of these respective cultures (Kentucky and Maryland, for example). And this tension between opposing ideologies is actually a part of what led West Virginia to break way from Virginia in the first place. In the lead-up to the Civil War (1861 to be precise), West Virginia became the only state to form by breaking from the Confederacy and was also one of only two states admitted to the Union during the conflict (Nevada was the second).

So, from the early days of West Virginia being West Virginia there was a rugged individualism which will become very important to the rest of this story. And the tension between exactly where West Virginia’s ideology falls extends even to the state’s regional positioning (the Census Bureau designates it as being a southern state, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics places it in the mid-Atlantic region). But the story of witchcraft in West Virginia extends back even further in time than the state’s official formation.


The First Stirrings of Witchcraft in West Virginia

The region’s earliest settlers were just as concerned with the threat of witchcraft as their New England cousins. In the same era of the Salem Witch Trials, accusations also flung in the burgeoning Virginia hills. Crucially though, they never escalated to the same degree as those in Salem or elsewhere in New England. Actually, Virginia has those trials beat, in terms of chronological placement, by some decades. In 1626 (only 19 years after the founding of Jamestown, but 66 years before the outbreak of the Salem Witch Trials), a grand jury attempted to determine if a woman named Joan Wright was indeed a witch. While the outcome of the trial has been lost to the ages, one could relatively safely hazard a guess that the verdict was in Wright’s favor.

Because, even though the threat of witchcraft was as ever-present in Virginia as it was on every other front of the early American settlements, there are actually a number of key differences that kept any Salem-esque, hysterical outbreaks from occurring in early Virginia.




For starters, early Virginians maintained a much more distinct separation between ministers and the legal processing of accused witches than their New England counterparts. In Salem, for example, one could make the argument (and plenty have) that you can really lay the entirety of the Salem Witch Trials at the feet of over-zealous, ambitious ministers (Samuel Parris, and Cotton/Increase Mather spring to mind, but they’re not alone). But in Virginia, congregation leaders rarely participated in witchcraft hearings. Perhaps this is due to the fact that one of the key differences between New England and early Virginian witchcraft is that while 1692’s Salemites viewed witchcraft as inextricably linked with Christianity (the actual offense latent in witchcraft to the Puritans wasn’t the practice of magic, it was being in league with the devil), Virginians viewed it as much more rooted in folklore and therefor essentially outside the realm of organizaed religion.


So, with the possibility of salvation or damnation not on the table, the ministers rarely got involved. But it wasn’t only this religious separation that kept the tide of hysteria at bay. The courts themselves were also hesitant to even hear cases of witchcraft. A perfect illustration of just how true this is can be found in the fact that only 19 known cases of witchcraft were brought to the Virginian courts in the 17th century and all but one ended in acquittal. The final case of witchcraft in Virginia took place in 1802 and was also dismissed.


But what accounts for this hesitation on the part of the courts and the religious leaders of Virginia? Well, the answer to that question leads us to a giant, looming, key player in this story that has yet to appear: The Appalachian Mountains.


Those Dark Hills

To the degree that West Virginia is, “southern,” a whole lot of that cultural relation comes from the secluded mountain-dwellers. Some of these mountaineers have been in those dark hills since the very beginning. As someone who grew up in Tennessee, I’m intimately aware of the folklore that still comes from those Appalachian peaks. This is the land of moonshine and outhouses, completely secluded communities out of reach of the law or government. The early settlers in what became West Virginia were a rugged people. They farmed what they could around the mountains (the state is actually entirely mountainous). They fended for themselves outside of the emergent American government. And this spirit led to a state motto that perfectly captures the essence of the people it canonizes. It reads, “Montani Semper Liberi” (Mountaineers are always free).




The practitioners of witchcraft that emerged from this way of life were different than many others outside of Appalachia. In West Virginia these, “Granny Witches” weren’t despised by their communities or ostracized by religious leaders. In fact, it was the exact opposite.


The mountain state’s witches tended to be sole practitioners. These typically older women were sometimes alone themselves, sometimes not. But they maintained by in large a coveted spot in their communities. In regions where medical care was harder to come by (due to geographical isolation), West Virginia’s witches were healers. They oversaw the physical, mental, and spiritual health of their communities. And they did it all with near total support from their churches and community members. In West Virginia, witches aren’t a threat to Christianity.



While I can’t find too much proof of this off-hand, I believe that the First Nations peoples of the region are a huge part of the reason why there was such a positive reaction to witchcraft in West Virginia. The state contains a large population of Shawnee descendants. And their ancestors were among the first people that Virginia’s European settlers encountered. The Cherokee (who may have used southern Virginia largely as hunting ground) are also still quite present to this day.


While I can only offer anecdotal evidence to support this claim, I heard many tales growing up of peaceful interaction and sharing between the secluded mountain communities of European and First Nation descendants. Perhaps it’s the case that a bit of the First Nation ethic in regards to what Europeans might deem, “satanic” rubbed off on the settlers. Maybe this is part of why witchcraft in West Virginia doesn’t carry the religious or social baggage it does in other parts of the country.


Regardless, West Virginia offers one of the most successful examples of the integration of witchcraft into the cultural fabric of a state. To this day the, “Granny Witches” are doing their good work in the mountain state. They offer the communities they serve a shoulder to cry on when times are tough. They offer a plethora of folk remedies to help community members avoid the crushing downward spiral of the pharmaceutical industry. And they offer and a through-line for the region’s distinct cultural heritage.


The witches of West Virginia are vital members of their respective communities. And those interested in the craft could do far worse than to look to West Virginia’s witches to learn how to provide occult value to their own communities.


Sources for this article:



What is Alchemy?

What is Alchemy?


Alchemy is a term that covers many philosophical traditions which span over four millennia across several continents.

Simply put, Alchemy is the art-form of liberating something from its fixed physical properties.

By fixed, we are referring to something with finite properties. In reality, in this physical dimension, there is nothing that is, by this definition, fixed. The physical laws we observe are recorded within a culturally agreed upon set of shifting perceptions.

Alchemy is actually a perfect illustration of the disparity between these designations and the deeper undercurrent running beneath them. Many of us who have heard of alchemy, are familiar with the concept of turning an ordinary metal, such as lead, or such as iron, into gold. Incredibly, that is really only the surface of Alchemy. The deeper truth beneath that very literal designation is that Alchemy actually has more to do with taking something with seemingly fixed properties and turning it into something entirely different. 




Early Alchemists used processes that would go on to be the foundations of scientific techniques, so in that way you could think of Alchemy in general as a sort of predecessor to Chemistry, Biology, and the like. But, unlike these later sciences, you absolutely cannot separate the scientific process of Alchemy from hermetic principles and spirituality.

Those principals and spiritual truths are the basis upon which Alchemy stands and understanding how they got there is a crucial component of the story of western Enlightenment thinking, witchcraft, and much more.

The Origins of Alchemy

The Alchemist Robert Boyle is credited as being the father of modern Chemistry. Iatrochemistry emphasizes the medical application of alchemy. It was also the study of alchemy that influenced Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity. But the story of Alchemy actually begins long before Newton and Boyle.

Alchemy most likely began in Roman Egypt, then spread throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia. Now one could (and perhaps this site will at some point) dive way, way deeper into the history of Alchemy, Hermes, Egypt, and much more before advancing further. But we’re mostly interested in what Alchemists actually believe and how alchemical thought is woven into the western esoteric. So, for now, just know that it’s very old, it’s origins are somewhat shadowy, and it was massively influential on Enlightenment thinkers. 




Modern Day Alchemy

Those thinkers (and the Hermetics and Alchemists who came before them) left a powerful mark on history. It’s very easy to make the claim that indirectly Alchemy is responsible for the tenor of western science, philosophy, religion, and much more. Without going that far though, one can easily see the contributions of the Alchemists in the products of the day: metal working, the production of gun powder, inks, dyes, paints, cosmetics, leather tanning, ceramics, glass manufacturing, the preparation of extracts, liquor distillation – each of these and more has its roots in Alchemy.

Fun Fact: In J.K Rowling’s beloved Harry Potter series, Alchemy is on offer at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry if there are enough pupils who want to take it. Of those pupils, only sixth and seventh-years are allowed in!





The 4 Stages of Alchemy

 Alright, we’ve had our fun. What we’re really interested in is how the Alchemists saw the world. What was their cosmology and what can we learn from it?

The great work of Alchemy is usually characterized by four stages. Each of these stages is represented by a color:


Negredo (black)



Negredo is the first, which means a “blackening,” or “melanosis.” It is representative of putrefaction and decomposition. Where ingredients had to be cleansed and cooked extensively.

Internally, this represents a kind of spiritual death and the confronting of one’s own shadow aspect.


Albedo (white)




Albedo, which means a “whitening,” or “leukosis.” It represents the washing away of impurities, where the physical object, such as an ingredient in some kind of alchemical brew, is to be purified and divided into two opposing components or principles.

Metaphorically, this represents regaining some sense of the original purity of a thing and is also connected with the receptivity of the soul, the washing away of the ashes to find the pure aspect beneath.


Citrinitas (yellow)




The third principle citrinitas, a “yellowing,” or “xanthosis.” This refers to transmutation, the actual turning of a subject, such as an ingredient, into its highest state – such as metal into gold.

This represents awakening, becoming a manifestation of the divine, a walking embodiment of the soul, rather than a muted reflection of it. This is a process of becoming.


Rubedo (red)



The fourth and final principle, a “reddening,” or “iosis.” Rubedo refers to the end state of alchemical success – the achievement of the perfect state. This final state of perfection of any subject such as an ingredient into its exalted state is the ultimate aim of the alchemical process.

It can be interpreted as achieving an enlightened consciousness and the total fusion of spirit with matter. This stage is often represented by the symbol of the phoenix.





So What Is Alchemy Saying Exactly?

As you can see, based on these 4 principles, Alchemy goes much further than just the physical process of transforming base metals into higher metals – it very much has to do with human transformation and helping one elevate their spirit to a purer state.

This relates to you if you are trying to transform yourself from your ordinary fixed, physical self into your exalted state and enlightened being. You can see this one of thinking of the self at play in most of the world’s major religions. It’s Christ-consciousness, the quest for Nirvana, individuation, and so much more.

Now, since we of the esoteric mind are keenly aware that by changing one’s mind about one’s reality, one’s reality is also changed. Therefore, it’s certainly not the biggest leap in the world to make the following statement: Alchemy is actually the practice of creating your entire reality.




The Highest Esoteric Principle in Alchemy

Now let’s jump back in time to the earliest alchemical thinkers. These distant relatives may have been Egyptians during the Roman years, they have been way later than that too, we’re not totally sure. But what we are sure of is that the early alchemists were very hesitant to divulge the highest esoteric principle in Alchemy.

And basically, that principle is that thoughts create reality. Only the mind limits. And so, liberating the mind through spiritual practice means liberating all that the mind perceives.

Alchemy is the practical application of the truth that you create all of it, your entire reality and even the perception that your reality is on some level distinct from other realities, but no less real. 




Everyone is an alchemist by these definitions, most are just unaware that they are doing it. On some fundamental level, the Alchemists believe that your mind is constructing its own reality. Your sensual apparatuses are then perceiving that construct. And the rest of your body is responding to that data loop.

Alchemy is the process of understanding that your mind is doing all of this. If you change how you are thinking and what you are thinking about, your reality will and must follow suit.





Does the Salem Dispensary Sell to Tourists?

Does the Salem Dispensary Sell to Tourists?


What’s up witches! The biggest tourist season for Salem is upon us and that means throngs of tourists are flooding into the streets of The Witch City. But, ghosts and witches aren’t the only things to do in Salem Massachusetts. You may have heard that Massachusetts has a very progressive view on marijuana legalization, but here’s the question: can you buy marijuana as a tourist at a Salem dispensary this Halloween?


I know this is an issue near and dear to my heart, so I whipped out my grinder, grabbed my lighter, and dug in for the answers. My research has been vetted by some of Salem’s licensed sellers, so you can trust this is THE place for accurate marijuana information. Alright, enough build up, here are the questions and answers you care about.





Is there a marijuana dispensary in Salem, Massachusetts?

Yes! Not only is there a very fine dispensary, but it sells both recreational and medical marijuana.


Can I buy recreational marijuana in Salem Massachusetts?

You sure can! You can check out the dispensary’s inventory on their website, this includes pricing. Here’s what you need to know before heading to the shop:

  1. Salem’s breakout dispensary is Alternative Therapies Group.
  2. They are located at 50 Grove Street Salem, Massachusetts 01970. This is about a ten minute drive or 25 minute walk west (heading past the Witch House coming from downtown) from the main Essex St. drag in Salem.
  3. You’ll need a valid State ID (any US state will do) showing that you are over 21 years of age to purchase recreational marijuana from ATG.
  4. You’re allowed to make a single purchase per day.
  5. You can purchase up to one ounce of marijuana flower per visit, this is the state limitation.


How does medical marijuana work in Salem?

If you have a Massachusetts state medical card, you’re good to go. Unfortunately, if you have a medical card from another state, you won’t be able to use it to purchase medical cannabis.


Are there any Halloween products for sale?

Alright, so maybe I’m the only one asking this question, but the answer is yes! The shop has some gorgeous pumpkin-shaped glass pipes for sale during the 2019 Halloween season, courtesy of Salem’s Witch Dr.



where do i go first in salem massachusetts

Salem Massachusetts - Where Do I Go First?

Salem Massachusetts - Where Do I Go First?


Salem Massachusetts is a hot bed of fascinating activity no matter what time of year you visit. There's so much to do that it can be overwhelming for first time visitors. This is especially true during the Halloween season when 500,000 people pour into a town that's only 18 square miles. And the vast majority of them roam a 3 square mile area (until they're spirited away by the witches).

So we've thrown together a guide to help you find your first Salem Massachusetts destination. Just find your primary interest in the bullet-points below and head to your first destination!


If You're Primarily Interested in Salem Massachusetts for:


Not Really Sure Yet

Well, luckily for you, you don't have to be! I'd say first check out this video on our Top 5 Salem Massachusetts Destinations to get a feel for some very different offerings.




If none of these speak to you, the Salem Regional Visitor Center is a fantastic place to pop in and check out everything the town has to offer. In the Halloween season, this place is filled with spooky brochures in addition to its usual merchandise. Oh, and the people working there know everything you'd want to know about the Witch City. Definitely a great place to get started.


The Witch Hysteria of 1692


the salem witch museum salem massachusetts


Why kid ourselves? Salem Massachusetts is famous for one reason and one reason only: a bunch of religious zealots did some murderously stupid stuff over 300 years ago and we're still looking back on it to (hopefully) keep from doing similarly stupid stuff. If you're here to learn about the unique brand of idiocy that our Puritan ancestors unleashed on colonial New England, than the Salem Witch Museum is your first stop. Lucky for you, we've got everything you'd want to know about this particular museum in this handy video on The Salem With Museum.


Other Salem Massachusetts History


the spirit of salem salem massachusetts


This one's kind of tricky because Salem Massachusetts is actually a pretty diverse place historically. There be more than witches on those rocky shoals. And the kind of history you're into definitely determines your first Salem destination. So here's a brief selection:

Pirate History:


Modern Witchcraft/Witch Shops/Divination


cros haven corner salem massachusetts


If you're looking to replace your smudge sticks, grab some deliciously sweet-smelling incense, have your palm read by a blind man, or participate in a ritual to raise your Great Grandmother so you can finally ask her where she hid the inheritance, Salem Massachusetts definitely has you covered. In my opinion, the best place to start this journey is at Crow Haven Corner. It's one of the more respected witch shops in Salem and there are train plenty of good reasons for that. Start there, then head west down Essex Street and you'll likely find everything you need by the time you reach the Witch House on Essex and Summer. Off the main drag, I'd suggest Pyramid Books on Derby and Union for the widest selection in town and HausWitch on Washington between New Derby and Essex for a contemporary, mindful approach to the Pagan Arts.


Great Food


lobster shanty salem massachusetts


At this point, The Lobster Shanty is Salem's least best-kept secret place for great food. But incredible reviews and being featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives hasn't gone to its head. This super centrally-located restaurant is the go-to place for seafood. Throw in a cold beer and a warm patio and you've got the perfect lunch spot. It is seasonal, though, so be sure to check out the site before you visit. We love it here so much, we've actually covered it in the past. So grab your bib, make room for some Lobster Mac N' Cheese, and we'll see you at The Shanty.

Salem Massachusetts Family Fun


salem massachusetts trolley


Salem Massachusetts might seem like an adults-only playground, but the tourism board has done a lot in recent years to ensure that's not the case. If you're visiting during the Halloween season, head to the carnival near the wharf for the best kid-friendly experience. At all other times of the year, the Salem Trolley is a fantastic option. Kids adore trolleys and this one is particularly quant and informative. It runs April-October and you can give them a ring at all other times to get their schedule.


Salem Massachusetts Art and Culture


peabody essex musem salem massachusetts


One of the more fascinating aspects of Salem culture is the tension between the witch/tourism industry and the arts community. This is no better exemplified than in the Peabody-Essex Museum (PEM). Honestly, this place has a super interesting history all its own and we'll probably cover it at some point. Until then, check out J.W. Ocker's wonderful book A Season with the Witch for a deep dive on this tension as well as a bunch of other interesting Salem coverage. PEM is a world-renowned museum featuring literally an entire eighteenth century Chinese house! They've also got deep connections all over town, so they can point you in all kinds of directions after your visit. If you're into engrossing art and expansive culture, PEM is the perfect place to start your Salem journey.

There you go! Now you know exactly where to begin your trip on the Witch City. We've mentioned it before, but be sure to chat up shop owners, service professionals, tour guides, hotel clerks, and all the others who actually live and work in The Witch City. They can turn you onto some more off-the-beaten-path attractions. That's all for today Witches. We'll see you next time.