Words by Simone Botte

When you arrive in Massachusett, you immediately notice it looking out the window of the bus that takes you to Boston. I think I have consumed the landscapes that darted before my eyes between wooden houses, white fences and impeccable gardens.

I was hosted by Bette in Marblehead, the seaside town that runs alongside Salem and on the first day I decided to reach the city of witches on foot through a path inside the woods. When I found myself in front of the “welcome to Salem” sign I realized that I was in the city that inspired the books and films I love the most like Hocus Pocus, Stephen King’s Night of Salem and Rob Zombie’s Salem. The houses all had wreaths outside the door and everyone I met greeted me with an exaggerated smile. Had I walked into a gay town of the movies with robots in full skirts or are people really so friendly here?

Having always lived only in New York, I didn’t know this friendly part of America and it took me a few days to get used to it and remind myself that marijuana is now legal and every 5 steps a happy blast of smoke could come. I reached Essex Street, the main street that I had already peaked on the internet and it was actually as I imagined, full of magic shops, masks, Halloween souvenirs or “nerd” about any horror movie you can think of. I went to the Visitor Center in Salem and they handed me a shopper with a Pass that would open the doors of every attraction in town and some gifts from local activities such as the Curly Girl candy and sweets shop or caramel chocolate. artisanal salty km0.

I felt welcomed and at times I also felt the new one in town, like when I was in the Crosby market parking lot and everyone who loaded the groceries was looking at me whispering or when I went to have dinner at the pub where they make the best sandwich with Marblehead lobster and opening the creaking door everyone who was eating at the counter took their attention away from the Rugby game and turned to me to understand who was asking for a table in that place where everyone comes in and does what they do wants. I met a lot of people during the period in Salem, 20-year-olds who don’t want to flee the city to go to the metropolis as I’m used to feeling when I compare myself with those generations. They all seem happy to live there and respect the origins and traditions that make Salem what it is. 

Mary, a 22 year old girl from Salem, is a white magic witch; she told me that she has been working in a magic shop for two years and she found herself in there helping people with just even an advice.

Luana works as a fortune teller and told me that I am the first Italian she knows in Salem. She thinks that Europe completely ignores that part of America and she is sorry for this. 

George is a 28-year-old boy who works in a Friendly bar in Salem and he tells me that the past and the horrible stories that city has has led all people to a level of open-mindedness that makes all kinds of diversity coexist without prejudice and so he is happy that the citizens of the city of witches have learned from the mistakes of the pioneers to become better people.

I visited the famous Witches Museum which from the outside looks like a Gothic church and inside through scenes created with wax statues they explain the birth of public hysteria towards witches, trials and fires.

Then, through a path, the stereotypes that have distorted the image of the witch on the one hand and have helped people to familiarize themselves with this figure that should not be attributed to the Devil on the other.

And we end up in front of a kind of diagram that makes us wonder what are witches? Who among us is not a witch?

Once it was women who were condemned for looking for different remedies than usual, then the Japanese and then all the Japanese-Americans were discriminated against in Pearl Harbor, then the homosexuals with the arrival of viral infections, in an instant a huge marginalized group of people with easy calculation Gay + Diseases = HIV

And they end with a reflection that warns you about the danger of discrimination that can start from a sentence said as a joke and can go so far as to do enormous damage.

In the end, this whole witch thing started with a criminal who wanted to avoid being tortured and invented a story that led to a massacre based on ignorance, lies and pure evil.

I started out wanting to explore the magical places of this city and with the desire to find and understand witches, but what Salem and its people taught me is that a witch is the boy who is bullied, who is shown on the street between one sneer and the other, who is excluded and considered different and pointed to a new idea and too tiring to understand, the witch is the one who goes against the current and does not follow the common way of doing things.

The real witches are all of us.

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