SALEM — The veil between this universe and the next is thin on Halloween, say the city's witches and warlocks, and that makes Oct. 31 the perfect time to cast ritual magic circles.
For years, Salem witches have done so on Gallows Hill, marching in robes to the site just as tens of thousands of tourists converge on the city. This year, for the second time, two magic circles will be convened — one on Salem Common and the other at Gallows Hill Park.
"What happens for us is that we gather to receive energy that is very transformative," said Gypsy Ravish, high priestess of the Temple of Nine Wells, who has been making the 1.5-mile trek from her Pickering Wharf shop to Gallows Hill for 19 years. She estimates 500 participants join in.
"We honor the goddesses and gods, the ancestors, our loved ones," she said.
Her husband, Richard Ravish, said the holiday is considered one of the greatest sabbats — a holy day or festival — on the witches' wheel of the year.
"It's the new year," said Richard Ravish, a high priest grand master of the temple.
He said those interested in witches in Salem seek the authentic, not something "ersatz."
Christian Day, a Salem warlock and owner of shops Hex and Omen, is organizing a second magic circle on the Common as a way to share the magic of Halloween with tourists and visitors.
"It's designed to be extremely accessible," he said. "Our method is not to convert people."
The ceremony is to remember the beloved dead in the spirit world, he said.
At the same time, he said, the goal is not so much to show people witchcraft.
"It's bigger than that," he said. "It's to show the impact of what's on the other side."