The Medium and The Message

I’ve been to Salem many times, primarily because one of my best friends from High School lives there, and partially because there is an excellent gourmet pie store, Gourmet Fare, on Pickering Wharf off Derby Street. The town is also host to one of my favorite Thai restaurants (Bangkok Paradise), an excellent comic book store, and a crowded joke shop near the Peabody Essex Museum. And of course Salem is infamous for being the site of the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, in which hundreds of people were accused of witchcraft during the frenzy. Nineteen people were hanged, sealing Salem’s fate as Witch Central here in the United States for the next several hundred years. Today, Salem features several museums and attractions about the witch trials. There are also plenty of practicing witches, fortune tellers, spooky houses, magic shops, and ghost tour operators that help make Salem the interesting hodge podge of kitsch and history that I enjoy. I purposefully get my hair cut in nearby Danvers because it ensures I am in the area at least once a month to have dinner with friends.

This past week, I was back in Salem for a different reason. It was a beautiful late autumn day with several friends and acquaintances, and we were there to get tarot readings from a medium who was, according to a work acquaintance of one of my friends, one of the best she had come across. I’d never been to a fortune teller before, though I’d thought of going for a while for the experience. While I’m generally a rational person, there’s a ritualistic side to me that I enjoy exercising. I am the first person to toss fistfuls of salt over my shoulder should spillage occur on my watch. If I inadvertently say something unlucky, I automatically look for the nearest piece of wood to knock. When I board an airplane, I do a private little ritual that for some reason I don’t want to share in case it’s bad luck. I don’t know why I do these things, but part of me likes the idea of being mindful of what you do. So there’s that part of it. A more practical application of my latent superstitious side can be found in how I process patterns in my experience. When I notice something happen twice, I will often postulate some cause of theory related to that observation. When I notice something happen THREE times, then my brain is compelled to drop everything and investigate the matter more thoroughly. I see the repetition of three as a kind of sign or omen that I should be paying attention.

NOTE: I am still getting used to Expression Engine and was not expecting my quick saves to be published…oops! So I will split this entry, which I actually had just started writing, into two posts. And to prevent future gaffes, I’ve changed my default EE publishing preference to save entries as CLOSED now.