Monday, October 31, 2016

A Spooky, Dog Friendly Halloween

What better place to spend a spooky Halloween than Salem, Massachusetts, or "Witch City" as it's been nicknamed!  Salem gets it's Witch City moniker from the infamous Witch Trials that occurred in Salem in 1692, when witchcraft accusations occurred throughout New England.

The Coven's Cottage,  just one of the many interesting shops around Salem, Massachusetts.
I learned that there are actually practicing witches who reside in Salem today!  Several of the village stores are "witch shops" that even carry paraphernalia that might be used in practicing witchcraft.

An entire season of the popular 1960's TV show BEWITCHED was filmed in Salem.  Sometime later, this beautiful statue was erected in honor of Elizabeth Montgomery, the show's star.
Although Salem is a pretty dog friendly place, there appear to only be two pet friendly hotels in the town of Salem.  We stayed at The Salem Inn's West House, a lovely quaint B&B across the street from the historic Witch House.  Their location is perfect and they're very welcoming to dogs.

Relaxing in our room at The Salem Inn's West House.

Our favorite place to eat was the Gulu Gulu Cafe.  They have the best Goulash and an awesome, unique Mac 'n Cheese.  The food was delicious and they were so friendly to us and our dogs on the outdoor patio!  The hot chocolate was to die for, and according to John so was the beer.

Our favorite Salem restaurant, Gulu Gulu.  "Do You Gulu?"
I thought our trip to Salem would be interesting, fun, and mostly kind of hokey.  It was all those things, but a large part of it was more sobering.  The witch hunts and Salem Witch Trials were real.  It wasn't some scary movie or novel, these horrific events actually took place.  Innocent people, real people, were subjected to horrible accusations and torment, and suffered even more horrible deaths.

The Witch House, the gabled house on the right, in Salem Massachusetts where initial examinations of the accused witches were held in 1692.

Inside the historic Witch House in Salem, owned by the wealthy Jonathan Corwin from the late 1600's to mid 1800's.

The table where accused witches were confronted and questioned by Jonathan Corwin  and John Hathorne.

This plaque hangs in the gift shop just outside the Witch House.  It lists the names of each of the 25 falsely accused victims of the Salem Witch Trials.
Plaque bearing the names of the 25 victims accused of being witches during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.
Far more important than the house itself are the people who were falsely accused of witchcraft and subsequently condemned to death.  Most of the accused were women, two of them being elderly. Contrary to popular belief, the accused witches of Salem were not burned at the stake.  Most were hanged, one was pressed to death with stones, and the others died in jail awaiting their fate.  Burning at the stake had been outlawed many years before by British rule.

Salem Witch Trial Memorial that remembers and honors those accused of witchcraft and condemned to death in 1692
A memorial was erected in Salem to remember and honor those falsely accused of witchcraft and to reflect on the tragedy of the witch trials. The accusations lasted barely a year, but the horrific incident lives on in the hearts and minds of Americans.  This large grassy area has stone benches all around it, each one dedicated to the memory of one of the 25 condemned victims.  Here is an up close photo of one of the benches, this one dedicated to Wilmot Redd, condemned and hanged for using witchcraft:

Salem Witch Trial Memorial stone bench dedicated to accused witch Wilmot Redd.
The fear of witches and witchcraft was a very real threat in the minds of the early settlers, especially the Puritan Pilgrims.  It was one of the things that caused the community and it's leaders a lot of stress and anxiety.  There were even books written about how to judge whether a person was a witch and how to guard against witches and witchcraft.

One of the early books written about witchcraft and how to ward off the evils of it.
I found one of the strangest ways the Puritans judged whether or not a person was a witch involved dogs.  They would bake a "witch cake", containing rye flour and the urine of the person believed to be bewitched, or tormented by a witch.  They fed the cake to a dog and if the dog showed the same symptoms as the afflicted person, they believed witchcraft was to blame.  The dog was then believed to have the ability to point out the witch responsible for the afflicted person's torment.  

In addition to cats and other animals, they also believed that dogs could be a type of familiar associated with the devil and witches.  As such, at least two dogs were hanged during the Salem Witch Trials.


Seriously??  Dogs doing the devil's bidding!?  Ridiculous!
It all started with 3 Salem village girls who claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women of witchcraft.  It was largely fear and suspicion that led to the hysteria and subsequent witch hunts.  Greed also appeared to be a cause of people accusing each other of practicing witchcraft. You could accuse a land owner of witchcraft and ultimately end up taking possession of his property. 

I was greatly moved by the following words, which I saw mounted on the wall as I was touring the Witch House:

"Throughout history, when one group perceives a danger or threat from another group, mankind is capable of great cruelty in our effort to nullify or remove that threat.  We consent to acts that bring dire consequences in our attempts to control our circumstances, our fortunes, and engineer their improvement.  From the ongoing persecution of "child witches" in Africa to global terrorism, to classroom and cyber bullying we are still surrounded with events that marginalize the group or individual through acts of violence or domination."

Although these accusations and subsequent hysteria seem ridiculous to most of us, it's important to remember and reflect on events like the Salem Witch Trials.  We must be careful not to let fear and suspicion convert sensible people into terrified beings that commit acts that chip away at our humanity.

In addition to discovering it's rich history, there are SO many fun and interesting things to see and do in Salem Massachusetts. There are museums, Witch Trial re-enactments, historic places, ghost walks, historic walks & lectures, harbor tours, a trolley tour, some great restaurants to eat in and more!  Start planning your Salem, Massachusetts trip by visiting the Salem visitors site.   We stayed only 2 nights, but I'd love to visit again to see and do all the things we didn't get to on this trip.



Of course, no trip to Salem Massachusetts would be complete without a visit to the House of the Seven Gables, on which the 1851 novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne is based.  The home was owned by his cousin and Nathaniel spent much of his youth at the house.   His ancestors were involved in the 1692 Salem witch trials.  His novel makes references to the supernatural and witchcraft.


The gardens at the House of the Seven Gables in Salem Massachusetts are lovely and overlook the harbor.


On our way to the House of the Seven Gables we passed lots of fun little shops and attractions.


I popped into a place called WITCH WAY GIFTS.  Lo and Behold, I found the adorable Halloween flag I'd seen a year ago but didn't buy!


I'd been searching for it for 2 months in stores and online.  How fitting that I finally found it in SALEM MASSACHUSETTS days before Halloween!  Coincidence?  Hmmmmm.....

What spooky or fun things did you do this Halloween?  Leave us a comment and share!
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10 comments:

  1. Wow, I didn't know about the animal aspect of the trials! That really sad, as is the entire process. We'll be moving to New England this coming year, so I'm curious to check out Salem (perhaps take Salem the cat, too!).

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    1. Isn't it so weird, the strange things they believed!? The whole thing was so tragic, it's amazing that they truly believed these things. How exciting to be moving to that area, it's so beautiful but not quite as nice as Florida! I'm on Long Island, NY. We head up to New England a lot, so many great places up there.

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  2. Oh wow! What a neat trip!!! Happy Halloween!

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    1. It really was a fun trip. Hope you had a great Halloween too!

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  3. Mom loves going to places like that. So interesting
    Woof,
    Lily & Edward

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    1. It was so interesting and educational too. I love historic places.

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  4. What a fascinating trip. It is so hard to believe that witch trials happened here in the U.S. No way would dogs be involved! BOL!

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    1. It really was fascinating, I just can't believe the tragedy of it all. It truly is incomprehensible to think it happened here. It's crazy that they even dragged dogs into that mess!

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  5. The witch hunt is indeed a sobering part of American history, I admit I don't much about it, including the part about the dogs. I am saddened that people still commit horrible acts against someone who is "different" based on fear.

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  6. I didn't know about the dogs either. It's such a fascinating aspect of history, yet horrifying when you really think about it. Thanks for sharing the reality of it!
    Jan, Wag 'n Woof Pets

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