Salem’s connection to the Witch begins with the tragic events that unfolded during the Witch Trials of 1692 when 20 innocent men and women were accused of practicing witchcraft and executed. In the 1950s, Arthur Miller used this event in the Crucible, which served as an allegory for social “witch hunts.”
Episodes of Bewitched were filmed in Salem following a studio fire in Hollywood, and later productions including Sabrina: The Teenage Witch, Charmed, The Simpsons, and Hocus Pocus would also come to find inspiration in Salem’s Witch theme.
Green-faced Witches are the result of Technicolor with the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz. While connected to Halloween, the green-faced Witch is seen as a stereotype and is not something that is recognized by Salem’s community of modern Witches.
Witches have found a home in Salem today through our community’s emphasis on the importance of human rights and acceptance. While those accused of practicing Witchcraft in 1692 were not greeted with tolerance, nor were they practicing Witchcraft, today’s Witch community is built upon guiding principles of harming none and supporting social justice.
Witches in Salem and around the world follow various forms of peaceful, Pagan traditions that encompass a variety of spiritual practices that have never involved performing magic or spells with negative intent or worshipping Satan. In fact, Witches do not even acknowledge the existence of Satan.
While in Salem, plan a stop at the Witch Trials Memorial on Liberty Street to reflect on the events of 1692. Review the words engraved on the ground to consider the connection between the victims’ pleas for tolerance during the Trials and the Witch community of today’s focus on acceptance.
What does it mean to be a Witch?
It varies for each Witch. Historically Witches have been guided by pre-Christian Gods and Goddesses and many Witches today focus their energy on supporting human rights, and fighting social injustices.
Why do Witches wear so much black?
Not all Witches wear a lot of black, and those who do wear lots of other colors as well. Black is worn for certain rituals, but generally a Witch’s clothing is simply a reflection of their individualism and self expression. Many clergy in western religions also wear black.
Do Witches really perform magic and cast spells?
Yes, but perhaps not in the way you may imagine. Spells are comparable to prayers in that they are meditations or thoughts used to attract an intended result.
Do all Witches practice Wicca?
No. Wicca and Witchcraft have some similarities but they are not always mutually exclusive. Wicca is a form of Paganism, so while it is possible to be a Pagan Witch, not all Witches are Wiccan and not all Wiccans are Witches.
Are there any basic teachings that all Witches follow?
There are two rules that Witches in general follow: (1) Harm none, and (2) Whatever actions or intentions you send out will be returned to you, or rather: “What goes around comes around.”
Why is Halloween important to Witches?
Halloween, or Samhain, is a Pagan tradition marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter. It is believed that the barriers between worlds (separating the living and those who have passed on) are thinnest during Samhain, or October 31-November 1.