Salem — the very name conjures witches. Witches hanged in the notorious trials of 1692, witch houses and covens, a Salem Witch Museum and the Witch Dungeon Museum. This city of 41,000 souls is so closely identified with its witch history that flying witch logos adorn police cars and firemen’s uniforms — and Salem High School’s mascot is, shockingly, a witch.
A thriving, modern witch community practices witchcraft and even has a new public relations outfit, the Witches Education Bureau. Tourists flock to the Salem Common during the town’s “Haunted Happenings,” a month-long celebration of Halloween.
In the off season in this historic Massachusetts seaport, warlock Christian Day holds forth in a quiet, dimly lit room, where visitors who pay $65 for a 30-minute psychic reading watch as he moves his hands in graceful, fluid motions over a sparkling crystal ball. At a nearby mall, a ghoul dressed in black, his face painted white with fake blood around his mouth, stands near a black coffin, spooking customers for a kitschy thrill near a house of horrors.