Appetites: Which Old Witch
I put a spell on you
Here’s a fun fact about me: I never went trick-or-treating. I did wear Halloween costumes–always homemade–and participated in school events or went to the occasional Halloween party. I was not wanting for candy. I just missed out on the seminal experience of begging for it at my neighbor’s doorsteps. Why, you ask? To be honest, I’m not really sure. I mean, it was the eighties, so on one hand, we were all raised to believe that razor blades in apples and LSD-laced stickers were in rampant circulation in our hometowns (is this why I always cut my apples into slices?) But on the other hand, gangs of unsupervised children explicitly instructed to stay out of the house until dark roamed the streets, wearing housekeys around their necks. So who knows. My parents were just not into it.
As a teenager, there was a period when I felt I’d missed out. When we were sixteen, my friends and I half-assed some costumes and drove to a neighborhood that none of us lived in or even near, and were summarily turned away at the first doorstep, outed as the bad actors we were. We shrugged it off and went to a diner instead.
The following year, we skipped the candy grift, but kept the costumes. My friends Holly, Jennifer and I dressed up as Captain Hook, Peter Pan, and Tinkerbell, respectively, and went to see this scrawny, folksy rapper-type dude we were into called Beck at Toad’s Place in New Haven. Holly and I kind of cobbled together our outfits (I did what I could with a flesh-toned leotard and some glitter), but Jenn’s mom actually made her a full Peter kit, complete with adorable green felt hat. Man do I wish I had pictures of that, we were freakin’ adorable. Actually now that I think about, that show was not on Halloween at all. Welp!
Happy Harryween to all who celebrate!
(Btw, I’ll gladly take all that rejected candy corn off your hands.)
Witch is it?
An interesting read in Boston magazine about Salem’s brooming economy:
“Is a witch-based tourism economy the best way to honor the legacy of executed individuals who weren’t even witches in the first place? Or is continuing to transform the town into the epicenter of modern-day witchcraft actually the perfect way to right the wrongs of the past?”
Since I’ll be home in Boston next month, I might visit the Peabody Essex Museum to check out The Salem Witch Trials: Reckoning and Reclaiming. Drawing “parallels between the country’s most infamous example of mass hysteria and current culture,” the exhibit crosses time to consider the ways a woman’s “virtue” continues to be subject to persecution and injustice.
The work of author and photographer Frances F. Denny brings a contemporary perspective on the reclamation of the witch archetype. The PEM exhibit includes a portraits from her 2018 series, Major Arcana: Witches in America. Denny traveled around the United States to capture the diverse faces of modern witchcraft from self-identifying practitioners. From Yoruba High Priestesses to herbalist healers, Denny’s striking images challenge assumptions and invite curiosity about the timeless powers of the feminine mystic.
Taken by the wind
Is it even a newsletter if I don’t write about Stevie Nicks? The correct answer is no. Especially a witch-themed newsletter. First, enjoy this exceptional 1976 performance of “Rhiannon,” which is like opening a treasure chest full of chiffon scarves and woven shawls. Then, read a bit about how Stevie’s song about an “old Welsh witch” is based on Rhiannon, a goddess of fertility in Welsh folklore