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Tuesday, 4 August 2009

hold your breath 'till the sun goes down

Salem witch number 1
We've left the upscale tranquil splendour of our harbourside suite in Boston and headed North.

Quite a contrast between the sedate couples strolling the waterfront in our well-heeled part of Boston and the late night noisy swirl right outside our doorstep in the new place.

"You might want to come back to the bar at about eleven", explained the grinning lady at the check-in. "There'll generally be singing by that time." We headed off to our room across the road overlooking the landing where the lobster boats come in.

On the way here we did stop off at Salem although the cutesy candy coloured toy witches and occasional Wiccan symbols didn't really give a sense of the witch trials. In fairness there was also a museum but my own impression from the town gave mixed messages.

The original Salem events near the time of the new settlements lacked legislative balance with Puritans creating a claustophobic, oppressive and hysterical environment. A sub-text was that land could be reclaimed upon the death of widowed women.

So the rumour mill and use of pseudo spiritual accusations meant anyone slightly nonconformist could be accused as a witch with potentially material gains.

Around 150 were accused and nineteen received capital punishment before the use of spectral evidence such as the 'touch test' was abolished. The touch test was a way for an accuser to devine whether the person they accused was guilty based upon the lifting of pain following the touch. Hocus Pocus? The Salem trials were in 1692, only 10 years after the last witch executions in England.

Anyways, the lady at our waterfront stop was right. The local tap beer in the noisy lobster joint is great.

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