Salem, USA - July 2017


Just the name of this town conjures up such great fascination.

A historic town that has swum around in my imagination since I was a child, and now I find myself here.

I am not sure what I was hoping to find, after all the whole point of the Salem ‘witch’ trials is hysteria not witchcraft.

What I did find was a wonderful irony and a beautiful culture that has grown out of a dreadful persecution.

How can you not love the very narrative where fanatical religious hysteria leads to the murder of 20 townspeople, on no evidence, in order to ‘drive out’ an imagined threat of witches and what then leads to the town, 300yrs later being renamed ‘City of Witches’ and becoming a mecca for witches around the world to live in and visit!

This is the similar story for the other great draw of Salem.

Nathaniel Hawthorn was a resident author who was hounded our of Salem after writing a scandalous novel set in his home town, centuries later there are streets named after him and museums dedicated to him!

Is this another case of “Treason be just a matter of dates” and cynically, nothing being more important than the almighty dollar or is this how we respond to out-of-touch ideologies and honouring the unjustly persecuted?

The clear message the town of Salem wishes its visitor’s to take home is be very careful of mass hysteria and witch hunts whether your witch is a communist, a person of the LGBTQ community, a muslim, a catholic or anything else as it is the persecutors who always end up on the wrong side of history.