On this Halloween Day, I see my old friends The Salem witches and warlocks are in the news again, specifically, The Boston Globe. (“Looking for a little Magic’: Millennials and Gen Z embrace witchy New Age spiritualism,” Boston Globe 10/31/19).
A few years back, there was an ugly falling out within that antic and endearing north-of-Boston occult coterie of self-proclaimed witches and warlocks. It was just before I retired from covering news for Boston television, including witchy news. And that particularly noisy eruption, in all its bizarre novelty, was irresistible to Boston television newsrooms. There was even a well-attended media news conference, because Witch Lori Bruno was actually suing Warlock Christian Day. I began my live report saying, “cauldron boil, cauldron bubble…when a witch sues a warlock, there’s bound to be trouble.”
I forget the specific grievance in the suit, but a big, old fashioned personality conflict seemed to have “boiled over” between these former spiritualist collaborators. Lorelei Stathopoulos, described by The Globe as “Salem’s “Famous Love Clairvoyant’” (whom I also knew as genial blond Doreen from Revere, with a positively enchanting Revere accent) seemed, at the time, to have taken Day’s part against Bruno. I hope I have the facts of the case right – and, in any event, I hope the whole bubbling, boiling kerfuffle has simmered down and been thrown out of court and out of the coven. I like these folks. I hope they kissed and made up, under the guidance of The Love Clairvoyant. I hope she handed around some Rose Quartz or sprinkled a little something from the Healing Power Spell Kit.
But the story now is how, as the Globe headline suggests, a wide range of people are embracing the occult as a genuine religion.
Globe reporter Deanna Pan interviewed what she described as a 28-year-old, well-dressed and accessoried female Boston lawyer awaiting her appointment with a clairvoyant. (I’ve always suspected that some lawyers were giving us advice they got from a crystal ball.)
“What’s the harm in it?” says the lawyer. “It’s just fun.”
Fun! That’s how I always saw it when I did a few television stories about the witches. It beat another trip to the State House where they were reading tea leaves or inspecting the entrails of sacred cows. Most “fun” and memorable, perhaps, was the day Lori Bruno and Christian Day – as noted, witch and warlock respectively and, at that point in time, still friends – joined up to drive evil spirits out of a newly purchased home in, I believe, Lynn – at the request of the new homeowner. They wandered from room to room, Christian rattling some mysterious object, each of them spouting assorted nostrums – after which I insisted on linking arms with them on camera and — channeling Sinatra — leading them in a few bars of, “Witchcraft.” (“Those fingers in my hair/ that sly come-hither stare/ that strips my conscience bear, it’s witchcraft.”). Fun, right? And I dare say the ironically named Christian and the estimable Lori, in her black witchy garb (she describes herself as a “high priestess of the craft”) managed something just south of good karaoke.
But I wonder if, anywhere in their sensitive psyches, Lori, Christian and his business and life partner Brian (who’s real or adopted surname, dripping with dubiety, is Cain, as in the Biblical bad brother) ever thought maybe people are taking all this “fun” a little too seriously, including the Millennials and G Xers of the Globe headline.
But here’s the inescapable reality of this Halloween Day: Lori, Lorelei, Christian, Brian and, according to the Pew Research Center, an estimate one million U.S. adults identify as pagan or Wiccan. A staggering six-in-ten Americans ascribe to at least one “New Age” belief, including astrology or psychics, or believe that objects like crystals contain spiritual energy.
And another reality check. American practitioners of sorcery and witchcraft are obviously good capitalists with a good motive for not reigning in all the “fun.” According to the Globe story, Christian and Brian expect their empire of witch-related business ventures, stretching from New Orleans to Salem, to generate $3 million in revenue this year, up from $1.3 million in 2015.
Where do I get my witch’s license? (Just kidding). Here’s the humble Catholic boy’s little spoiler, right out of the Catechism: All forms of divination “contradict the honor, respect, and the living fear that we owe to God alone.”
After all, if you truly believe in the spirit world, who’s to say you’re not talking to The Beast when you start talking that jive? A good atheist would tell you you’re talking to the wall. I like the little priest who, overhearing Shirley MacLaine speaking of her past lives, said, “that woman needs a good religion.”
Trick or treat, everybody! Be careful! Have fun! And blessing to Christian, Lori and company. I do like you folk.