Merry we meet - Merry we meet - Merry we meet
(The ‘Official Witch of Salem’)
Written and compiled by George Knowles
Laurie Cabot is an American Witch, author, artist and businesswoman. She is the founder of the ‘Cabot Science Tradition of Witchcraft’ and the ‘Witches League for Public Awareness (WLPA)’. As a prominent civil rights activist she founded the WLPA as a watchdog to act as an anti-defamation organization aimed at correcting many misconceptions about Witchcraft.
As an only child Laurie was born on the 6th of March 1933 in Wewoka, Oklahoma, at a time when her businessman father was in the process of moving the family from Boston to Anaheim in California. Cabot her maiden name, she claims is descendant from a long line of Cabot’s based in Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands situated off the southwest coast of England and the northwest coast of France, a place steeped in the lore of witchcraft.
By the time she was six years old Laurie was aware of her psychic gifts and was constantly was in trouble for discussing alleged information she picked up through extrasensory perception. Laurie felt an affinity for witches and made claims that she possessed the genetic memory of a mysterious witch, one from her Jersey lineage, who had lived some 4,000 - 5,000 years ago.
Later in her life Laurie wrote in her book ‘Power of the Witch’ about the magical and mystical experiences she had felt as a child: "The Magical experiences in childhood and adolescence that both confused and excited me fell into four categories: receiving knowledge not available to other people through the normal channels of information; healing others with herbs, spells and touch, going into altered states of consciousness and communicating with spirits". Laurie was originally raised in the Catholic Church and says it was in such a Church that she first experienced an altered state of consciousness: "Mary, the mother of Jesus also fascinated me and I wondered how she could give birth to someone divine without being divine herself?"
In 1947 accompanied by her mother, Laurie returned to Boston in order to finish her high school education. At the same time in an effort to understand her psychic gifts, she started on a comprehensive study of religion. Spending much of her time alone at the library, she soon caught the attention of a friendly member of staff, a woman who encouraged and advised her to look beyond Christianity into other belief systems for more information on psychic paranormal phenomena. Later the woman revealed herself to be a witch.
Over time as her studies continued the lady introduced Laurie to two other witches, one of whom was an elder. Together the three witches helped to school Laurie in craft practices. At the age of 16 when they deemed she had learned sufficient knowledge, they initiated Laurie into a craft coven proper. It was during the ceremony of initiation that Laurie underwent a profound transformational experience. After being anointed with oil and dubbed with a sword, she took up the sword herself and impaled it in the ground saying, “I return to earth my wisdom and henceforth call myself a witch”, and so began her life long association with witchcraft.
From her father, a science orientated man who did not believe in witchcraft; Laurie retained a keen interest in science, and used it as a base to her approach on witchcraft, the occult and the paranormal. However, after leaving high school Laurie decided not to continue on to college as her father would have liked, but instead started a career as a dancer in the Latin Quarter of Boston.
Through the 1950’s, early 60’s Laurie was twice married, first to an Italian and then to a Greek, each marriage producing a daughter, Jody in 1963 and Penny in 1965. After her second marriage broke down and they divorced in the late 1960’s, Laurie with a friend and her two daughters moved to the northern end of Boston. It was here that Laurie made a vow that she would live the rest of her life 'totally as a Witch', that she would wear nothing but traditional Witch clothing (long black robes), wear her Pentacle pendent displayed and emulate the Goddess by using black ‘eye-makeup’, according she says to an ancient tradition.
At the urging of her friend, Laurie next moved into Salem where they rented a house on the historic Chesnut Street. The house stood on what was once the site of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s home, the home on which he based his fabled novel ‘The House of Seven Gables’ (moved to a new site on the harbour in 1958 and re-opened as a tourist attraction in 1959). Sometime earlier Laurie had been through a past life regression session during which she believes she picked up traces of a genetic memory belonging to the life of a Susan Prescott, believed to have lived in Salem during the 1700’s. Later she discovered that Prescott had indeed existed and that her father had been the builder of the original house.
Having moved into Salem, Laurie started teaching ‘Witchcraft as a Science’ classes as part of the continuing education program at the local Wellesley High School, and thus began forming the beginnings of her ‘Science Tradition of Witchcraft’. Later she also taught classes for seven years at the Salem State College, again as part of the continuing education program. Despite her flamboyant style and outspokenness, and the petty criticisms such a style evoked from others, her reputation expanded and more and more people sought her advice. At one point she worked as a consultant for an Oil Company and even helped local police enquiries with her psychic abilities.
Laurie next turned her attention to personnel business and in her first venture opened ‘The Witch Shop’; the first of it’s kind to open in Salem. The shop was situated at 100 Derby Street and boasted a wooden pentacle sign above its door. Laurie opened the shop on a mere $250 worth of stock in the spring of 1971. However the venture didn’t do well and she was forced to close it. In a second attempt she opened another witches shop called ‘Crow Haven Corner’ situated on Essex Street. The new shop proved a tremendous success and eventually became a tourist attraction in Salem. In 1981, Laurie turned over the shop to her first-born daughter Jody for her 18th birthday.
Up until the early 1970’s, Laurie Cabot was the epitome of what every contemporary witch aspired to be. She was a pioneering witch with her own tradition, a civil rights activist not afraid of knocking on doors and banging heads in her quest for equal rights with other religions. She had achieved success in business and was now self-sufficient, and with burgeoning media attention was approaching fame both locally and nationally within the USA. However, as it has done through the ages, fame attracts criticisms and jealousies from lesser peoples. Perhaps due to her appearance and want of a title, Laurie now began to suffer accusations of commercial exploitation and self-seeking recognition.
As happened to Alex Sanders in the early 1960’s, his use of the grandiose title ‘King of the Witches’ brought upon him scorn, ridicule and criticism from many in the community. Now in the early 1970’s, Laurie in turn by seeking a similar title ‘the Official Witch of Salem’ upset not only the witchcraft community but local government officials as well. Her petition was turned down by the then Mayor ‘Samuel Zoll’ who is quoted as saying: “he thought it would be ‘improper’, and that the historical recognition of the city would be internationally demeaned by allowing the ‘commercial’ capitalization of its name by one individual”.
Undaunted by this rejection and the many other snide remarks she received, Laurie continued to build her reputation and use it to aid her work in the local community, at the same time striving to make Witchcraft a recognized religion. In 1973, Laurie started up what was to become one of Salem’s main annual events, the ‘Witches Ball’ (a celebration of ‘Samhain’, more commonly known as ‘All Hollows Eve’ or ‘Halloween’). This was a real Witch hosting a real Pagan festival in front of eyes of the general public. It attracted major media attention and over time has drawn national and international crowds.
In 1977, Laurie finally received the title she had long been seeking and was named ‘the Official Witch of Salem’ by the then governor of Massachusetts ‘Michael Dukakis’. He bestowed upon Laurie the states Patriot Award, known as the ‘Paul Revere’ citation, this is an historical award issued by the Governor to honour citizens of the state for their public service. The citation for the award is signed by the Governor and the Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and in her case it reads: “I proclaim Laurie Cabot the Official Witch of Salem for her work with children of special needs”.
Despite her growing fame and public commitments Laurie continued her work in aid of the local community. In 1980 she became a member of the executive board of the Chamber of Commerce, while at the same time she was a popular lecturer and teacher speaking on spiritual well-being and Celtic Witch mythology at Wellesley College, Salem State College, Rutgers College and Interface, among others. She also made frequent television appearances on such programs as: Unsolved Mysteries and Oprah, as well as giving interviews and speaking out on National Radio helping to educate the public about Witchcraft as a nature religion and its association with the environment.
Laurie was also fiercely defensive of a witch’s civil rights and has long urged other witches to make a stand for their equality, rights and public image. To help with this in 1986 she founded ‘The Witches League of Public Awareness’, an institution that serves as a media watchdog and civil rights advocate for witchcraft. The League’s mission statement reads: “The Witches' League for Public Awareness is a proactive educational network dedicated to correcting misinformation about Witches and Witchcraft. The work of the League springs from a shared vision of a world free from all religious persecution”.
As the founder of the Witches League of Public Awareness, Laurie felt obligated to enter into the 1987 Salem mayoralty elections after incumbent Anthony V. Salvo made derogatory comments about Witchcraft and Witches in the press. He claimed that one of his opponents ‘Robert E. Gauthier’, who happened to be a friend of Laurie’s, was also a ‘Warlock’, a term not favoured by Witches of either sex. Gauthier replied and denied it, blaming the Salvo camp for spreading the rumours. He was also quoted as saying: “he discounted witchcraft and that no one of average intelligence believed in it”. With that Laurie jumped into the foray simply to prove that Witches had civil rights of equality and were indeed present in abundance and had a strong voice. After running a spirited campaign that attracted local and national support, on the 11th August the deadline for returning nominations, Laurie dropped out of the race citing business commitments and work on a book.
In the following year 1988, Laurie established the ‘Temple of Isis’, a chapter of the ‘National Alliance of Pantheists’. Through the ‘Alliance’ she was ordained as the ‘Reverend Laurie Cabot’ and is now legally able to perform marriage ceremonies, further recognition that witchcraft is a valid religion.
Of her tradition, the ‘Science Tradition of Witchcraft’, Laurie describes it as Celtic and pre-Gardnerian (see Gerald B. Gardner). It teaches practical magic and witchcraft, and adheres to the ‘Wiccan Rede’ and the ‘Three-Fold Law of Return’. As an author Laurie has written a number of books including: Practical Magic: A Salem Witch’s Handbook (1986), The Power of a Witch, co-authored with Tom Cowan (1990), Love Magic, also with Tom Cowan (1992), Celebrate the Earth: A Year of Holidays in the Pagan Tradition, co-authored with Jean Mills and Karen Bagnard (1994) and The Witch in Every Woman: Reawakening the Magical Nature of the Feminine to Heal, Protect, Create and Empower, co-authored with Jean Mills (1997). Her books have reached a large audience being published in the United Kingdom, Japan, Italy, Brazil and even Russia.
In this year 2002 and well into her reclining years aged 69, Laurie still heads the family and continues to teach and write, she has also opened a new Witch shop in Salem, a magical Witch's cottage filled with the wonder and mystery of the old ways, it is situated at: 63R Pickering Wharf, Salem, Massachusetts (Tel (978) 744-6274), and is called ‘The Cat, The Crow and The Crown’.
The Next Generation
As Laurie enters into her final stage of the triformis aspects of a witch ‘Maiden, Mother and Crone’, so her legacy of witchcraft will be carried on though her daughters Jody and Penny.
The Cabot Sisters – Jody and Penny
For her 18th birthday Jody aided by her sister Penny was given the responsibility and ownership of the Cabot’s shop ‘Crow Haven Corner’ situated on Essex Street in Salem. Then after 10 years of successful trading the shop was already a must see attraction for anyone visiting Salem, for its little rooms were bursting with all things mystical and magical. Under Jody’s new management the shop continued to prosper.
Weeks before Halloween would see lines of people queuing outside the door and often down the street, so much so that Jody started hiring street entertainers to cater to their patient customers. Such was the carnival atmosphere created that people would wait for hours just to see the wonders the small place beheld, and if they were lucky, they might even have a chance to peer into the future with a Cabot Witch.
But as the turn of the century approached, Jody decided the old shop had run its course and was no longer large enough to contain them. She also felt a profound sense of change and a need for a new direction. After considerable consultation with ‘those that be’, she elected to close the doors on Crow Haven Corner and shift her focus to Outreach and Spiritual Counseling. Jody then launched her own new store called ‘Practical Magic: A Victorian Spirit Parlor’, it is situated at 190 Essex Street in Salem (Tel – (978) 745-8883). In the new shop she has a ‘spirit room’ where she conducts private psychic readings, while in the main store she offers a dazzling array of Victorian mystical treasures and magical accessories.
Much had she learned from her mother Laurie, who continues to teach and write and has even opened a new shop in competition. But while each now walks two close but separate paths there is no animosity between them. Each has taken what they have learned from the past and planted new seeds in Salem. So the Cabot family tradition of witchcraft and magic continues, and long may it do so.
The Encyclopedia of Witches & Witchcraft - by Rosemary Ellen Guiley
Plus numerous website resources
First published on the 04th March 2007, 18:22:05 © George Knowles
Best wishes and Blessed Be
Site Contents - Links to all Pages
A Universal Message:
Let there be peace in the world - Where have all the flowers gone?
Wicca & Witchcraft
The Wiccan Rede / Charge of the Goddess / Charge of the God / The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) / The Witches Chant / The Witches Creed / Descent of the Goddess / Drawing Down the Moon / The Great Rite Invocation / Invocation of the Horned God / The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief / The Witches Rede of Chivalry / A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality
Traditions Part 1 - Alexandrian Wicca / Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) / Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) / Blue Star Wicca / British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) / Celtic Wicca / Ceremonial Magic / Chaos Magic / Church and School of Wicca / Circle Sanctuary / Covenant of the Goddess (COG) / Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) / Cyber Wicca / Dianic Wicca / Eclectic Wicca / Feri Wicca /
Traditions Part 2 - Gardnerian Wicca / Georgian Tradition / Henge of Keltria / Hereditary Witchcraft / Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) / Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) / Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition / Nordic Paganism / Pagan Federation / Pectic-Wita / Seax-Wica / Shamanism / Solitary / Strega / Sylvan Tradition / Vodoun or Voodoo / Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /
Other things of interest:
Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) / Esbats & Full Moons / Links to Personal Friends & Resources / Wicca/Witchcraft Resources / What's a spell? / Circle Casting and Sacred Space / Pentagram - Pentacle / Marks of a Witch / The Witches Power / The Witches Hat / An esoteric guide to visiting London / Satanism / Pow-wow / The Unitarian Universalist Association / Numerology: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / A history of the Malleus Maleficarum: includes: Pope Innocent VIII / The papal Bull / The Malleus Maleficarum / An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum / The letter of approbation / Johann Nider’s Formicarius / Jacob Sprenger / Heinrich Kramer / Stefano Infessura / Montague Summers / The Waldenses / The Albigenses / The Hussites / The Native American Sun Dance / Shielding (Occult and Psychic Protection) /
Sabbats and Festivals:
The Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Rituals contributed by Crone:
Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar) / Antelope / Bats / Crow / Fox / Frog and Toads / Goat / Honeybee / Kangaroo / Lion / Owl / Phoenix / Rabbits and Hares / Raven / Robin Redbreast / Sheep / Spider / Squirrel / Swans / Wild Boar / Wolf / Serpent / Pig / Stag / Horse / Mouse / Cat
In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder
Rocks and Stones:
Stones - History, Myths and Lore
Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:
Apophyllite / Amber / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Wisdom and Inspiration:
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murdered by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A Kelly / Albertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Amber K / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Biddy Early / Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christina Oakley Harrington / Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Doreen Valiente / Dorothy Morrison / Dr. John Dee & Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake / Fiona Horne / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater - Horrible Herman / Isaac Bonewits / Israel Regardie / James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches / Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone / Jessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” / Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred / John Michael Greer / John Score / Joseph John Campbell / Karl von Eckartshausen / Laurie Cabot - "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" / Monique Wilson / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellars / Mrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning Glory / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Philip Heselton / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" / Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) / Rudolf Steiner / Sabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough" / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - (includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) / Thomas Ady / Vera Chapman / Victor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest /
Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
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