She had blue hair, and she told me I had once been a witch.
Salem, Massachusetts, is many things — a traditional New England maritime town, the epicenter of the art scene on the North Shore of Boston, a tourist trap full of cheesy museums and certified weirdos. But, above all else, it remains the most supernatural town in the country, home to more covens and occultish shenanigans than even the best corny Halloween movie can capture.
It was the occult that my friends and I were interested in learning more about one sunny day last October. Salem was at its autumnal peak — multicolored leaves littered the ground and clogged the cobblestone streets almost as much as the many costumed tourists. The air was sharper than a lightning spell cast by a vengeful Sanderson sister, and we were on the hunt for a psychic reading.
After popping into several of the witch shops along Essex Street, Salem’s pedestrian-only thoroughfare of supernatural boutiques and museums (each of which smelled more of incense and dried herbs than the last), we stumbled into a psychic fair. We had just made it for the last round of appointments for the day, so penciling ourselves in was a harried process.
And that was how I ended up seated in a metal folding chair, across from a psychic with blue hair.
I wasn’t nervous, per se. In fact, I was quite comfortable with the idea of a psychic reading. Both my mother and aunt are frequent fliers at psychic parlors, and it had become a de facto family tradition for my family to pilgrimage to Salem every year for this very purpose. But this year — my freshman year in college, surrounded with a new group of friends — would be the first time that I would be participating in what had become a family tradition.
So no, I wasn’t quite nervous, but I did feel a thrill of anticipation as I saw the tarot cards and a crystal ball set out on the plastic table. The woman in front of me did not fit the psychic stereotype — she wasn’t a middle-aged woman who wore brightly-covered scarves, chunky jewelry and smelled of patchouli. In fact, she was quite the opposite — she was in her early 20s, had a septum piercing, donned quirky tattoos and had shoulder-length azure blue locks.
After shuffling the tarot cards, she began the reading with the generalizations one usually expects of a psychic — the typical hocus pocus, if you will. I would live a long life, of course, and experience many successes, despite any obstacles in my way. Love was on the horizon, a fact found in an unexpected source. I needed to stay true to myself and continue working hard in school.
Much more interesting than these vague affirmations, however, were the more specific details of my character — that I had always loved to write, was an extravert and always manage to embarrass myself in front of cute boys. And, of course, I had what she called “an inherited intuition” — an ability to “sense” something about people and situations that cannot be explained beyond a gut feeling, an ability found in other members in my family. According to the psychic, this was most likely a family trait because somewhere along my ancestral line, there had been a bona fide witch.
Now, I have no way of confirming such a story, and I don’t put too much stock in my “inherited intuition,” either — though I do find myself able to occasionally predict when there will be apple pie in the dining hall. But what I do believe is that psychic readings can be an inherited obsession. I, like my mother and aunt, have found myself deeply interested in the workings of the supernatural, in hearing a magical perspective on my personality.
Whether it’s true or not, being the descendant of a witch is a great story, and that makes it worth telling. At the end of the day, psychic readings could be a bunch of hocus pocus. But it’s the “what if?” that makes psychics so compelling, and what keeps people coming back for more, especially in Salem.
So, if you get the chance, I would definitely recommend meeting with a psychic. You will definitely come away with an interesting story to tell, and maybe even find out something about yourself as well.