By Lee Grady
Rumors about a “state-appointed witch” linked to Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis have spread rapidly around the U.S. since the Democratic nominee began his campaign this year. To clear up the matter, The Forerunner did some extensive research and uncovered several disturbing facts.
The news about about Laurie Cabot – called the “official witch of Salem, Massachusetts” – was published by National Geographic in April, 1979. The magazine described her as a descendant of a well-known Massachusetts family. According to the article: “Ten years ago (1969) she felt drawn to Salem from her home on the West Coast. Shortly after settling in the town, she announced herself to the mayor as a witch. Since then Laurie Cabot has made a living lecturing on witchcraft and selling herbs, astrological charts, and magic mirrors.”
In 1979, there were 350 witches in the Salem area. An employee at the Crow Haven Corner, Cabot’s store, told us that this number has now grown to 2,000. She also stated that Cabot has launched a new organization, the Witches’ League for Public Awareness, which is attempting to link witches together from all over the nation.
One spokesperson for the Salem Chamber of Commerce confirmed the statements made by National Geographic, agreeing that she was the official, state-designated witch of Salem. However, press aides at the Dukakis campaign headquarters in Boston denied the allegations. The first aide reported that Cabot had actually only received what is known as a Paul Revere Citation – which he described as a “humorous,” unofficial commendation awarded to outstanding Massachusetts citizens. Cabot had been recommended for this certificate by a state legislator from her district. “The Governor did not even sign it,” he added, saying that the citation only bears a facsimile signature by Dukakis.
The Dukakis-Bentson camp is concerned about the rumor. One spokesman admitted that he receives “two or three calls a day” on the matter. He also suggested that the city of Salem capitalizes on the “officiality” of Cabot because it draws tourism to the area. Each October, for example, the Chamber of Commerce sponsors a month of so-called “Haunted Happenings,” that last until Halloween. In the past, that celebration has included a public seance. Salem has been historically linked to witchcraft since the late 1600s because of the Salem Witch Trials.
Terry Bergman, speaking from the Dukakis headquarters, compared the Paul Revere Citation to “making someone a Kentucky Colonel,” and emphasized the humorous nature of the award. “I can’t tell you how lighthearted it really is. It’s a joke up there (in Salem),” she said. Bergman also attempted to defend Cabot and downplayed her involvement in witchcraft: “She’s a good witch. She’s not into satanism or anything.” The National Geographic report, however, described a ritual led by Cabot in which a coven of her followers called upon the ancient Egyptian goddess Isis. She was also described as being involved in group chanting and displays of psychic power.
Bergman also emphasized that Dukakis has no sympathetic ties to Cabot: “Governor Dukakis doesn’t believe in witches. He doesn’t even believe in astrology.”
Another spokesperson at the Salem Chamber of Commerce defended Cabot, but denied that she was state-appointed. Her position as “official Witch of Salem,” according to the employee, is a role that has simply been accepted by the community. “She’s very popular and a very nice person,” she stated. Cabot is reported to be a noteworthy citizen because of all the beneficial things she has done for the community. One Dukakis aide claimed that Cabot was given the citation for her work with dyslexic children, and not for her role as a witch. However, Salem Chamber of Commerce spokesmen were unaware of such a claim.
In fact, an employee of Cabot’s store in Salem did not even know about the supposed services available for dyslexic children. “If we do that,” the woman said, “you can find out about it by writing the Witches’ League for Public Awareness.” Apparently any “community service” that Laurie Cabot is offering has been in obvious connection to her witchcraft.
A city official, who wished to remain anonymous, set the record straight by researching the records of City Council meetings. According to those notes, Laurie Cabot came to the mayor of Salem and requested that she be made the official city witch and “greeter.” The Council discussed the issue, and in April of 1977 released a statement that they did not want “any person or spirit” to be the official witch of Salem. A letter was even sent to the office of Governor Dukakis in Boston to express the decision of the City Council.
However, Cabot bypassed the council decision and, with the help of a state representative, Elaine Noble, went directly to the governor. Although it is still unclear as to what exactly went on in that meeting, Massachusetts newspapers the next morning announced that Cabot had been named the “official” witch. Salem Evening News, on April 28, 1977, ran a news article with the headline, “Governor Dukakis Unwittingly Gives ‘Witch’ Her Wish.” The story stated: “This week Ms. Cabot apparently worked her magic on Governor Dukakis, and he unwittingly did for Ms. Cabot what Salem mayors and councils have refused repeatedly.”
There is still some confusion about whether the Paul Revere Citation was the document that gave Cabot this official status, or whether Dukakis simply told Cabot she had the office. Rev. Russel Ely, pastor of the Salem Christian Assembly, confirmed that this has been a mystery. He did cite, however, an article from the popular Yankee magazine (October 1986) which ran a story called “Why Salem Is in Love with Witches.” That article, in describing the meeting between Dukakis and Cabot, seemed to suggest that an appointment had been made in addition to the citation. Said the report: “The petition (to make Cabot official) found its way to Governor Michael Dukakis, who, against the wishes of Salem’s mayor at the time, appointed Cabot Salem’s official witch and gave her a citation to boot.”
Pastor Ely, who has had numerous confrontations with Cabot and other witches in Salem, said the matter needs to be clarified. “In my estimation,” he said, “Dukakis needs to make this clear. But he has just ignored it.” Ely confirmed that Salem, a city of 38,000 people, does have approximately 2,000 practicing witches.
“Laurie Cabot is serious about her witchcraft,” added Ely. “She’s also a serious businesswoman. In fact, she tells people that she is ‘the American dream’ because of her financial success.” Cabot is very well-known across the nation, and has been featured on television talk shows including “The Oprah Winfrey Show” and “Good Morning America.”
Given all of these facts, it still may not be totally clear how aware Michael Dukakis is about Laurie Cabot, or how far he went to make her an official witch. We should be alarmed about the spiritual forces at work in Massachusetts – which have, no doubt, been manipulating this campaign. The Church in America, while praying for the upcoming election, should make it a point to bind the powers of witchcraft that seem to be headquartered in the city of Salem.