I’m picking up a woman, a gnarly old witch. Banish her while telling her you’re not the one.
—Lucky Belcamino, psychic medium
Leave it to me, the author of Wicked Salem, to somehow pick up a cackling crone attachment in Concord, Massachusetts of all places.
I needed a ghost break, but no luck. During a spirited stay at Concord’s Colonial Inn the weekend before Halloween, I somehow attracted an old hag wanting to latch on to me for a bit.
At first, I thought I was communicating with a misunderstood female spirit who served as a midwife during the Revolutionary War era. However, she quickly revealed herself to be a shape-shifting trickster.
The crone had plans for me. But I refused to let her hitch a ride. According to my psychic friends who watched this ordeal unfold online during a live investigation, she was attracted to my energy. I somehow picked her up during a midnight stroll in a historic cemetery in Concord.
Confronting a parasitic entity the day before Halloween?
In Concord, I was on the hunt for haunted locations for an upcoming paranormal convention spotlighting the famous authors who lived and died in this peaceful transcendentalist enclave in Massachusetts. When I checked into Concord’s Colonial Inn, I was immediately overwhelmed with the lingering energy of the ghosts of the city’s tumultuous past.
The spirits of Concord called me. And it was more than the psychic imprint left by the “shot heard round the world.” The residual energy haunting the inn spans more than three centuries. Based on my initial baseline sweep of the property, several of the ghosts sticking around simply didn’t know that they were dead.
“Imagine waking up in the middle of the night to find a Revolutionary War soldier standing at the foot of your bed,” author Joni Mayhan warned me before my visit to Concord’s Colonial Inn. “Built in 1716, the inn is located just down the road from the North Bridge, where the Battles of Lexington and Concord occurred. During the Revolutionary War, a portion of the inn was used to store firearms and provisions for the militia. Another section was the office of Dr. Thomas Milot. Wounded soldiers were brought to his office during the battle, and many succumbed to their injuries, lending truth to the ghostly encounters.”
Converted to an inn around 1889 and renamed Concord’s Colonial Inn eleven years later, the hotel was home to Henry David Thoreau, famous for his “Civil Disobedience” essay and, of course, Walden. Thoreau lived in the inn while he attended Harvard. The eighteenth-century structure served as a boarding house before being transformed into a hotel called the Thoreau House, named after the famous writer’s aunts.
“When I had the opportunity to investigate the inn years ago, I wasn’t disappointed by the activity,” Mayhan told me. “While we didn’t see the soldier materialize in the bedroom, we did witness strange tapping sounds, shadows moving and odd smells appearing out of nowhere. While conducting an EVP session in an attempt to get the resident ghosts to speak to us through our digital recorders, a lacy doily flew off the back of a chair and landed on my head, surprising me.”
After checking into my supposedly non-haunted room, I had a long conversation with the Colonial Inn’s night auditor, Aaron. His own personal experience with the notoriously haunted inn’s ghosts involved a radio turning on by itself. No surprise but there were no batteries in the electronic device.
As the conversation progressed, the front-desk employee told me that a guest checked into the haunted Room 24 during his shift. According to his story, the woman fled her room with a “boo!” within ten minutes after she said the lights in the room mysteriously turned off and a disembodied voice said, “get out.” Of course, the freaked-out guest did.
The night auditor mentioned that employees often hear voices in the inn’s main dining area called Merchants Row. “The older employees always seem to experience the inn’s ghosts,” he told me. “Not the younger workers.”
Aaron told me that he feels uncomfortable walking into the main restaurant, Merchants Row, at night. “I can’t explain it, but it feels like I’m walking into a den of bears.” Apparently, Aaron doesn’t want to poke the bear. I asked if employees have spotted an elderly female spirit in the hotel and he confirmed my hunch. Aaron said she has been spotted lounging in a chair in the “sitting room” on the main floor next to the creepy paintings. When I walked by, I got the chills because I could see her in my mind’s eye.
After my chat with Aaron, I decided to check out Concord at night and walked to the nearby Old Hill Burying Ground in Monument Square. Originally next to Concord’s first meetinghouse, the graveyard is more than three-hundred-years old. According to superstition, it was bad luck to transport a corpse over flowing water so the community created South Burying Ground on the opposite side of Mill Brook. For years, the Monument Square cemetery was known as North Burying Ground.
As soon as I walked up to the historic cemetery, I felt like I was being watched. In fact, I somehow picked up something sinister from what locals call the “skull tombstone” at Old Hill Burying Ground. “According to the lore, there’s an eerie aura throughout the 1700s burying ground,” reported Concord Patch’s Patrick Ball. “The spookiest site is an old tombstone with a strange skull image and equally unsettling ‘bowing to the king of terror’ inscription. Some report seeing ‘real’ eyes inside the skull’s sockets, which appear to follow visitors as they move around.”
After my midnight stroll, I headed back to Concord’s Colonial Inn to report on my “creepy as hell” experiences out in the cemetery. As soon as I walked into my room and turned on my computer, I intuitively knew that I wasn’t alone. Holding my trusty dowsing rods charged for spirit communication, I set up an online video chat with my Facebook friends. I was hoping that my fellow empaths from the psychic community could figure out who, or what, was in the hotel room with me.
Oddly, my computer kept turning on and off. Issues with electronic devices, based on first-hand experience, is usually a sign that something wicked this way comes.
“There’s a woman in the room,” said Luis Escalera, a gifted spirit medium with the ability to remotely see the ghosts that I connect with at some of New England’s most haunted locations. “She’s in the corner not wanting to be seen or heard. She’s just curious.”
The psychics watching the live feed believed the spirit was possibly a nurse from the eighteenth century. However, my computer screen kept freezing and my friends were picking up all sorts of conflicting activity. “What happened to the video feed? I was going to say that the spirit is related to something medical,” commented empath Cynthia Mattison. “She was a midwife in her forties. It was often confused with witchcraft because of the herbs they used.”
Several people watching the live video, including Escalera, told me that the entity kept changing form and was possibly a shapeshifter. The spirit medium warned, “Do you know that you’re talking to a trickster?”
Escalera was right. When I asked the entity to present itself to me, I realized that I was connecting with a crone, an elderly woman often portrayed in pop culture as a wise witch with magical powers. Apparently, the entity had a sense of humor. “Could you be more stereotypical?” I joked with the shapeshifting entity. She cackled.
Several of my psychic friends who watched the series of online videos recommended that I leave the inn immediately. “She’s intrigued by your energy,” said psychic Kristen Cappucci. “She will try to mess with you tonight.”
After communicating with the witch ghost, I headed downstairs for some fresh air because I couldn’t sleep. As I walked into the lobby area, I clearly heard a male voice whisper in my ear. “Right behind you,” he said. I jumped. “Oh, you scared me,” I said, totally relieved … well for a split second.
I turned around and there was nobody there. The night auditor was on the second floor. I was completely creeped out but I was exhausted. I decided to crash in my room for the night despite multiple warnings from my psychic-medium friends.
As I tossed and turned in my my bed, the crone wouldn’t leave me alone. She kept sitting on my chest. Known as a “night hag,” the malevolent entity from folklore has been associated with sleep paralysis or night terrors. It’s a phenomenon of feeling immobilized by an unseen force.
The traumatic night was on replay and repeated itself several times throughout my sleep. I would wake up, unable to move and feeling as if I was pinned to the bed. Finally, after an intense struggle and raising myself from the bed, I would gasp for air. After about three visits from the night hag, I begged her to leave me alone. She eventually listened.
I managed to get about an hour of sleep.
After checking out of Concord’s Colonial Inn, I found myself in such a cross mood. Something was wrong. I felt like I was just a vessel and the ghost-witch entity was sort of running the show. It was very similar to an attachment that I picked up in the past but this one was less dangerous. The first clue was the food that I ordered for breakfast. Eggs Benedict? I’m not a hollandaise sort of guy. The second was ordering tea. I’m sorry but that is so not me. I’m strictly coffee in the morning. Finally, the entity was determined to express to management that she was unhappy with a few things at the hotel. She didn’t like some of the furniture at Concord’s Colonial Inn.
The crone was trying to hitch a ride with me back to Boston. I reached out to my friends in the paranormal community for help. My psychic-medium friend, Lucky Belcamino, identified the entity immediately.
“I’m picking up a woman, a gnarly old witch,” she told me. “Banish her while telling her you’re not the one. She thinks you did something to her.”
Belcamino is gifted when it comes to dealing with negative entities. In fact, her experience as the official psychic of the Lizzie Borden B&B in Fall River has exposed her to some of the darker spirits lurking in the shadows of New England’s most haunted locations.
How do I banish the crone? “Put some white salt around your feet in a circle,” Belcamino told me. “Leave her at the gallows in Salem if you get a chance to go. Put her on an imaginary ship.”
It was the night before Halloween and I didn’t have time to travel to Salem and banish the crone. My issue was that I was hosting a ghost-story event at the Somerville Theatre. What was a bit unnerving about the entity is that I could hear her cackling. She even whispered my name in my ear.
Yes, she was a talkative ghost witch.
At the Somerville Theatre, the crone kept quiet for the most part. Several of my psychic friends who watched the online videos at Concord’s Colonial Inn were at the event and sensed that she was still with me. In fact, Cappucci told me that she was standing behind my left shoulder.
Even though I was completely exhausted, I didn’t sleep much the night before Halloween. In the morning, I decided to do the unthinkable. I made plans to go to Salem, Massachusetts on the busiest night of the year.
The Witch City on All Hallow’s Eve? Now, that’s scary.
My British friend Andy agreed to make the trek with me to banish the crone at the gallows. Yes, the city was packed with costumed revelers and we had to navigate through thousands of dressed-up partygoers. However, we were on a mission.
On a pit stop at a witch shop in Pickering Wharf, I purchased some last-minute supplies including sea salt, Florida Water for the cleansing and protection ritual, Palo Santo for smudging and two obsidian or jet rocks to absorb the negative energy. Earlier that evening, I reached out to my high-priestess friend to help me plan out the bind-and-banish ritual and create a magic circle behind the Walgreens in the Gallows Hill neighborhood.
Armed with a bag of smudging tools, we headed to the execution site.
In 2016, a group of scholars confirmed Proctor’s Ledge as the location where nineteen innocent people accused of witchcraft were hanged more than three centuries ago. Two years after making the public announcement, the city dedicated a memorial for the victims near the wooded, city-owned area that abuts Proctor and Pope streets. Officials unveiled the memorial on July 19, 2017, commemorating the anniversary when five victims—Rebecca Nurse, Sarah Good, Elizabeth Howe, Susannah Martin and Sarah Wildes—were hanged.
The crescent-shaped granite memorial was eerily quiet around midnight on Halloween. For the record, the site is off-limits after dark so we were technically not supposed to be there. First, my friend and I held hands and said a protection prayer. I could hear the crone’s voice whispering in the wind. Then I created a magic circle out of sea salt and demanded that the ghost witch detach from my energy field.
“I’m not the one,” I said out loud. I invoked Archangel Michael and asked my ancestors to banish but not bind her. “You are now free,” I said. I visualized an imaginary vessel and then demanded that she take the ship to be with her people. The wind mysteriously started to gust and the trees overlooking Gallows Hill seemed to dance in the moonlight.
The last thing I heard was “leave” from the voice from beyond, as if she accepted that I had to cut the cord but she was a little sad that I had to set her free. I said my goodbyes and Andy left the jet rock at the Proctor’s Ledge memorial.
The banishing ritual worked. I haven’t heard from my ghost-witch attachment since sending her off on an imaginary cruise departing from Salem on Halloween. No more late-night whispers. Not even a cackle.
Sam Baltrusis, author of Ghost Writers: The Hallowed Haunts of Unforgettable Literary Icons, was featured on the 100th episode of A Haunting airing on the Travel Channel. Visit sambaltrusis.com for more information and to learn about his many upcoming events and lectures.