One of the delightful things about New England is its size. The six states together are less than half the size of California and travel between the states is quite easy. From Exeter I can drive 20 minutes north and be in Maine or 20 minutes south and be in Massachusetts. For a change, I can drive east 20 minutes and walk on an Atlantic coast beach.
Last week I took a trip to Salem, Massachusetts, to visit the Witch Museum, a fitting place to visit near Halloween. Interestingly, the museum is housed in what originally was the Second Unitarian Church of Salem, built and used as a church until 1902. After several other occupants had come and gone, the Salem Witch Museum opened in 1972. While thousands of (mostly) women were executed as witches in Europe from the 15th century onward, the Salem trials and executions took place only between March 1692 and May 1693. The Governor ended the practice when his wife was accused of witchcraft.
As the museum presentation explained, an influx of refugees from the King William war had strained the resources of the village and many quarrels broke out which the Puritan villagers blamed on the work of the devil. Fear of the devil and his works was a primal fear for the citizens of Salem during those years. Then the local doctor, Dr. Griggs, pronounced that the supernatural had caused fits in three young village girls he was called to treat. That became the trigger and the villagers decided that the scapegoats were those people who practiced witchcraft.
I was most impressed with where the museum took the Salem village trials of the 17th century and moved them forward. At the end of the presentation, we walked toward a wall with the following list of fears+triggers=scapegoat from our more current history:
I personally found it both interesting and depressing to look at our country’s more current activities and realize that our fears continue to seek convenient scapegoats.
Instead of getting angry or frustrated with the state of the world, a walk outside admiring nature refreshes mind and body. Throughout the month the leaves have continued to change and fall. Now at the beginning of November, the last of the deciduous trees are in full color with their outer leaves bright yellow. Each of the trees appears to have a golden lace cloth draped over the green leaves closest to the tree trunk. Soon these late-changers will also show empty branches and twigs, their winter garb.
Wishing you all a most happy November.