SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

September 11, 2013

Enchanted witch shop in Salem has that Cabot magic

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — SALEM — Salem witch Laurie Cabot likes to tell the story of how she went to Cleveland in 1976, at the behest of a Boston radio station, to help the Red Sox break a 10-game losing streak.

“So I did exactly what we do — I did magic,” Cabot said. “I did an energy thing where you connect everyone together so they would work at their peak level.”

Magic or not, the Red Sox won the game, and Cabot made the headlines.

In the years since she has often been in the headlines, but last year she closed her latest witch shop on Pickering Wharf and moved to an online business. Now that is changing again.

Cabot, now 80, has found a new home at a new shop called Enchanted, which opened at Pickering Wharf in July. The shop is selling Cabot’s hand-crafted products — she creates her own perfumes and incense, spell kits and candles — and providing her with a space to give psychic readings and teach classes.

The shop is owned by Malcolm Porter of Maine and Chris LeVasseur of Lynn. Porter is a member of the High Council of the Cabot Kent Hermetic Temple, a temple of witchcraft that conducts many of its events at the Moose Lodge in Salem. LeVasseur took witchcraft classes with Cabot and worked in a couple of her shops over the years. He is now a high priest in the Cabot tradition.

“He knows a great deal about magic, how to use herbs and potions and magic wands,” Cabot said.

In 2009, LeVasseur started an online store for witchcraft products and approached Cabot to see if she was interested in putting some of her wares online, “and it kind of went from there,” LeVasseur said.

Now he’s expanded to a physical store on Pickering Wharf, and Cabot has agreed to be part of it, though she said she is no longer interested in owning or running a shop.

Cabot, of course, opened what she says was the first witch shop in the country in 1970 on Derby Street in Salem. At the time, she said, there was nothing like it.

“You could hardly find an herb shop; you couldn’t find anything,” she said. “We created everything from our knowledge.”

Because there were no vendors for many of the items she sold in her shop, she had to create a lot of them on her own, she said.

“There was a lot of opposition to it from the fundamentalists,” Cabot said, “and there wasn’t a lot of support because people didn’t know we were a legal religion. Even the police didn’t know that.”

Business got a big boost in 1977, however, when Gov. Mike Dukakis proclaimed her the official witch of Salem.

The store had various incarnations and locations over the years, moving from Derby Street to Essex Street and later to Pickering Wharf. Her most recent store, The Official Witch Shoppe, closed in January 2012 but still has a large online presence featuring Cabot’s products.

While Cabot may have opened the first witch shop in Witch City, today there are plenty of others.

“Competition is good,” Cabot said. “If you go for antiques, you usually see several antique shops in the same area. There is a reason for that, you know. Yes, we have a lot of witch shops. Very few of them create their own magic, you know. They usually buy it from vendors that have popped up over the years, finding it popular, because there are witch shops across the country as well.

“But there is nothing like Enchanted,” she said, “because Enchanted has magical tools which are made specifically by the Cabot witches who really know the science and really know the depth of magic that can be used by even ‘muggles,’ ordinary persons.”

Cabot said you can make a living running a witch shop if there is no recession, but it is no way to become rich.

For one thing, it’s a seasonal business. “After October it (business) goes down to a silent whisper until the late spring,” she said. Enchanted will have lectures, workshops and celebrations during the winter.

Cabot said many tourists come to Salem for its “magic,” its maritime history and its ties to the witchcraft hysteria.

“We are the exact opposite of what happened in 1692,” Cabot said. “We are the real thing.

“It is historical if you think about it — we are alive and well and living here and practicing magic under the true definition of the word ‘witch.’ It’s not the devil-worshipping, black magic, evil. We have never been that, ever.”

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Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.