Friday, June 10, 2011

Salem, Massachusetts

After graduation, I stayed in Boston for an extra week with my sister.  She helped me pack up my apartment and took some day trips around Boston with me.  Our first day trip was to Salem, MA.

Salem Witch Trials - 1692 ish

Lil' Simz and I went to the Salem Witch Trial Museum, where we were guided through a historical perspective on the happenings during the witch trials.  The guide told us that the whole craze began with a woman who was simply telling stories to pass an afternoon and entertain the family for whom she worked.
Later, many people became sick with a disease that a very bad doctor apparently diagnosed as "bewitchment," and the storyteller was blamed.  Growing up in a Puritan society, in which the guide told us children were treated as adults and given a full workload, was extremely oppressive, especially for young girls who were stuck doing house stuff.  As a result, they met in groups, and acted out by acting bewitched, and eventually believing it was true.  The tour guide's final point was that many people were accused of being witches simply because the society needed a scapegoat, and no one took the time to learn the truth.  Well, those who spoke against the society's actions were also accused of being witches.  The guide drew many parallels to this dangerous pattern throughout history - people are afraid to think critically as individuals and speak up, so innocent people are blamed and sometimes killed.  Sad.

Marissa and I went to see the Salem Witch Trial Memorial.  It was a memorial for the people who were accused of witchcraft, and consequently hanged in 1692.
"Alice Parker, Hanged, Sept. 22, 1692"
The Salem Witch Trial Museum also had a short exhibit on the Wiccan religion.  It was pretty interesting, since I really knew nothing about it before going.  The exhibit emphasized that followers, known as Witches, do not harm people; rather, they focus on connecting with nature.  Many of the shop owners around Salem consider themselves practicing Witches.  They said they were calm, peaceful people - quite different than the stereotypes surrounding them.  Good to know.  They also said the star with five points is a symbol of connecting with nature, and sending energy into the Earth - not a symbol of the devil, as the popular stereotype states.  Apparently, they invite you to watch spells being cast too (see photo on right).  We didn't go to though.
At the giftshop of the Salem Witch Trial Museum

On a brighter note, Salem has really capitalized on their history.  There are tons of museums about witches, and cutouts to stick your face in and take a picture.  Photo of a spell book below.

The House of Seven Gables

Lil' Simz and I next toured the House of Seven Gables, which actually has four gables now.  In case you don't know, Nathaniel Hawthorne based his book, The House of Seven Gables, on this house.  Our tour guide knew everything about the house - right down to the type of wood in all the walls and floors.  Many parts of the house were still originals from the 1700s, and other parts were designed to fit in historically and by the social class (high) of the family who lived there.

Gable diagram from
A "gable" is like a mini roof with a crease that connects to the main roof.  Not surprisingly, the House of Seven Gables used to have seven decorative gables.  Today, the house only has four gables because the family decided to remove three gables when the architecture fad changed to Federalist style.  They wanted their home to fit in with the times.  Can you imagine making a fashion statement by changing the architecture of your house?  It's one thing to buy new shoes, but to remove three gables from your roof?  Clearly, this family had a lot of money.
The House of Seven Gables

No comments:

Post a Comment