Concord Earthquake – Connections

While I was researching the Etowah Quake, I cam across the story of an Earthquake that occurred in Concord, NH recently.  It  actually happened  while I was working on the Concord/Concordia posts.

Naturally, my curiosity was peaked and I was compelled to take a look.  At first, it appeared there was not much to see…but that did not last long.

Those who are familiar with my website you already know that I don’t look at things like most people.  So what follows is what I found just by looking at the names.

Funny, that just reminded me a of  an old phrase often used on Crime TV shows:  “ONLY THE NAMES WERE CHANGED, to protect the innocent.”    Only these folks aren’t interested in protecting anyone but themselves.

Let’s take a look.



USGS: 2.7 magnitude earthquake hits New Hampshire


NEW HAMPSHIRE — According to the United States Geological Survey, a 2.7 magnitude earthquake was recorded on Friday evening in New Hampshire.

The earthquake hit Concord around 11:15 p.m. on Friday, December 22nd.

Experts say the quake hit about three miles below the surface. The epicenter was just southeast of the Steeplegate Mall.


New Hampshire Resident describes what he heard after the earthquake in CONCORD


‘A big loud boom’ resident reports what they heard when a 2.7 magnitude earthquake shook Concord

Researchers say earthquakes in New England are common

After a 2.7 magnitude earthquake was detected south of the Steeplegate Mall in Concord, one resident tells News 9 what they heard.

Peter Beadle’s home felt the seismic activity about a mile from where the earthquake centered.


“It started just with a little rumble and it started growing and growing,” Beadle said. “And then suddenly just a big loud boom, and it was a big sustained boom for like two or three seconds.”

Beadle added he didn’t realize what he was hearing at the time. “I’ve really never known earthquakes themselves could be so loud,” he said.

Experts tell News 9 that earthquakes are common in New Hampshire and around New England.

“In New England, we detect anywhere from 20-50 earthquakes a year somewhere in the region.” Weston Observatory senior research scientist John Ebel said.

“We know from historic records that there was an earthquake in 1638. I have published that I think that earthquake was centered in the Concord area and therefore this earthquake last night would be an aftershock of that, an aftershock that happened several hundred years later,” Ebel said.


Native American Concord, NH’s Indigenous Peoples

The land that would become Concord was originally settled thousands of years ago by an Abenaki people called the Pennacook. That tribe fished for  salmon, sturgeon, and alewives with nets in the swift seasonal rapids of the Merrimack River. They traveled in birch bark canoes, going from Lake Winnipesaukee to the Atlantic. The rich soil of the Merrimack River Valley floodplain helped them grow beans, gourds, pumpkins, melons and corn.

But with the influx of Europeans, their existence was severely impacted and their cultures suffered. These cultures are a legacy to New Hampshire, one that is increasingly celebrated today – and they were unique.  The history of Native American culture in NH goes back millennia. Much of the archaeological digs done in NH today is related to Native American artifacts.


Concord (/ˈkɒŋkərd/) is the capital city of the U.S. state of New Hampshire and the seat of Merrimack County. As of the 2020 census the population was 43,976,[5] making it the 3rd most populous city in New Hampshire after Manchester and Nashua. Governor Benning Wentworth gave the city its current name in 1765 following a boundary dispute with the neighboring town of Bow; the name was meant to signify the new concord, or harmony, between the two towns.[6]

The area was first settled in 1659.[1] On January 17, 1725, the Province of Massachusetts Bay, which then claimed territories west of the Merrimack, granted the Concord area as the Plantation of Penacook.[7]: 107  It was settled between 1725 and 1727 and, on February 9, 1734, the town was incorporated as “Rumford.”[7] In 1808, Concord was named the official seat of state government.[7] The State House was completed in 1819 and remains the oldest U.S. state capitol wherein the legislature meets in its original chambers.[8]


A Brief History of Concord, NH

The first settlers to the area were the Abenaki Native Americans, who called their greater Concord area Pennacook or “bottom of a hill.” The city has had a few different names throughout history and was switched to Rumford in 1733 when it was first incorporated as a township, then finally Concord in 1765. In the 1790s, a community of Shakers was formed outside of the city in Canterbury. Today, the Canterbury Shaker Village offers a unique insight into the Shaker life and the early days of living in the greater Concord area.

After Samuel Blodget opened a canal and lock system in 1807, vessels were able to pass around the Amoskeag Falls down into Boston, creating a great trade hub. During the Revolution, the township became an important geographical location and logical choice for the state capitol. Noted for granite quarrying and furniture-making, the city later became an important focus for the expanding railroad industry in the 19th-century.

Later in the 19th-century, the city became very well-known for carriage making boasting fantastic designs called the “Concord coaches.” Many of these world famous coaches were modeled after the coronation coach of King George III and were seen to be the height of fashion. Some great examples of the fashionable Concord coaches can now be found in the Museum of New Hampshire History, for those who are interested in looking at their intricate designs.

Concord was also the home of teacher/astronaut Christa McAuliffe, who died in the Columbia space shuttle disaster in 1987. The Christa McAuliffe Planetarium, built in her memory, is the nation’s most technologically sophisticated planetarium.  Source


Clearly, Concord, NH has had three name changes.  The first official name was Pennycock. pacer

Near as I can tell the name Pennycock means:   Head/Top/Summit – in – Mountain

Pennycook Family History

Pennycook Name Meaning

Scottish: habitational name from Penicuik in Midlothian. The placename is from Brittonic (Cumbric) penn ir gog ‘cuckoo summit’ (from pen ‘head summit’ cog ‘cuckoo’). English: occupational name from Middle English peni ‘penny’ (Old English penig) + cok ‘cook’ (Old English cōk) denoting a cook selling meals worth a penny. English: perhaps also from a pet form of the rare Middle English personal name Pening + the hypocristic suffix cok.

Source: Dictionary of American Family Names 2nd edition, 2022


Etymology edit. From Cumbric pen (“head, top, summit”) + Cumbric *y (“(of) the”) + Cumbric *cṻg (“cuckoo”). Proper noun edit. Penicuik.

penny (n.)

English coin, Middle English peni, from Old English peningpenig, Northumbrian  penning  “penny,” from Proto-Germanic *panninga- (source also of Old Norse penningr, Swedish pänning, Danish penge, Old Frisian panning, Old Saxon  pending, Middle Dutch pennic, Dutch penning, Old High German pfenning, German Pfennig, not recorded in Gothic where skatts is used instead), a word of unknown origin.

Penn Middle Welsh

Etymology  – From Proto-Brythonic *penn, from Proto-Celtic *kʷennom.

Noun penn

  1. head
  2. chief

surname Penn (Welsh, literally “head”)


assimilated form of the two Latin prefixes in- “not,” or “in” (see in-) before -r-.

cuckoo in Welsh

cuckoo translate to Welsh meanings: gog.
In other words, gog in Welsh is cuckoo in English.


Now we see that those who have been hiding our history wanted to change the name of the town to avoid the obvious connection. 


Gōg. Gog = “mountain 1) the king of the land of Magog who will come from the north and attack the land of Israel. Part of Speech: noun proper locative. ..

Gog [N] [H] [S]

1Ch 5:4  The sonsH1121 of Joel;H3100 ShemaiahH8098 his son,H1121 GogH1463 his son,H1121 ShimeiH8096 his son,H1121
1Ch 5:5  MicahH4318 his son,H1121 ReaiaH7211 his son,H1121 BaalH1168 his son,H1121
1Ch 5:6  BeerahH880 his son,H1121 whomH834 TilgathpilneserH8407 kingH4428 of AssyriaH804 carried awayH1540 captive: heH1931 was princeH5387 of the Reubenites.H7206

religion and mythology

Gog and Magog, in the Hebrew Bible, the prophesied invader of Israel and the land from which he comes, respectively; or, in the Christian Scriptures (New Testament), evil forces opposed to the people of God. Although biblical references to Gog and Magog are relatively few, they assumed an important place in apocalyptic literature and medieval legend. They are also discussed in the Qurʾān (see also Yājūj and Mājūj).

In 1 Chronicles 5:4 (see Chronicles, books of the), Gog is identified as a descendant of the prophet Joel, and in Ezekiel 38–39, he is the chief prince of the tribes of Meshech and Tubal in the land of Magog, who is called upon by God to conquer the land of Israel. With a great coalition of forces from throughout the world, Gog and his entire army will invade Israel “like a cloud covering the earth” (38:16) and will plunder and loot the cities. God, however, will send terrible natural disasters that will destroy Gog and his forces. The defeat of Gog will demonstrate the greatness and holiness of God and restore good relations between God and his people

In the Revelation to John (20:7–10), the names Gog and Magog are applied to the evil forces that will join with Satan in the great struggle at the end of time. After Satan has been bound and chained for 1,000 years, he will be released and will rise up against God; he will go forth and deceive the nations of the world—Gog and Magog—gathering them together in great numbers to attack the saints and Jerusalem, the city God loves. God will send fire from heaven to destroy them and will then preside over the Last Judgment.

The name they selected to replace Pennycook is Rumford.  I don’t think they had any idea that name would become another connector to their origin and purpose.

perhaps also a habitational name from Romford (Essex) which is probably named in Old English with rūm ‘roomy spacious wide’ + ford ‘ford river crossing‘. Source

Rumford History, Family Crest & Coats of Arms

Early Origins of the Rumford family

The surname Rumford was first found in Essex at Romford, a market-town and parish, and the head of a union, in the liberty of Haveringatte-Bower. “It is supposed by Dr. Stukeley to occupy the site of the Roman station Durolitum, and he considers its name to be a contraction of Romanford.” [2]


The experiments of Rumford, Davy, and Joule were instrumental in establishing the equivalence of mechanical energy and heat. The New Gresham Encyclopedia |
  1. Count. Benjamin Thompson

    Benjamin, Count Rumford, 1753–1814, English physicist and diplomat, born in the U.S.

Rumford Genealogy and Rumford Family History Information

Create your Family Tree.
Discover your Family History.

About the Rumford surname


Somewhere in England centuries ago, there was a shallow river crossing. People called this crossing the ‘rum ford’ and those who lived closest were known as being from Rumford. What exactly it was that the people were describing when they talked about this particular ford has been lost to us. Unlike the transparent compounds Blackford, Redford or Longford, Rumford remains difficult to analyze. Some say that the ‘rum ford’ was known for its wideness and originated in the Old English adjective rûm, which survives today as ‘roomy.’ Others say that this is doubtful, since the regularities of language change would have produced a present-day ‘Rumiford’ or at least a mediaeval ‘Rumeford.’ These people point to two other words as possible origins: hruna meaning ‘a landslide at the bottom of a hill’ or ‘fallen trees’ and run meaning ‘council, discussion.’ So, the ford may have been known for the fallen log that marked its spot until it rotted away, or it may have been known for an important meeting that had once taken place there. Not only has the original meaning been lost to us, but also the site of the ‘rum ford’ – at least, that site which gave rise to the surname. This is not because there are no villages called Rumford on English maps, but because there are no records of any Rumfords having lived near these villages. This is unlike, for example, the Rainfords, who, at one time, lived around Rainford, a small village in western Lancashire. Throughout English history, there have been five places called Rumford. Three survive today on British maps: Rumford, Cornwall; Rumford, Sterling and Romford (pronounced Rumford) in Essex and named for the wide ford it offered travelers. The other two place names survive today only in legal documents. The Manchester Court Leet Records for the year 1610 mention in connection with the will of George Hi[u]lton a manor called Rumford. The manor may have been named either after a relative or after the nearby village of Rumworth. The Roll of the Pipe [1188] records the present-day Rufford in Nottinghamshire as Rumford. Either the recorder miswrote Rufford, meaning a ‘rough ford’ or confused it with Rainworth, a village a few miles downstream. Rainworth was of Scandinavian origin: hreinn vath, ‘clear ford.’ A partial English translation would have produced ‘Rainford’ and local pronunciation a possible but short-lived Rumford. But which of these places gave rise to the surname? Perhaps all of them did at one time or another as a man living near one of these Rumfords came to be called de Rumford or ‘from Rumford.’ There is a Warren de Rumford from the town of Romford in Essex, also a Willelmus de Rumford, who was called upon to be knight for Havering in Northhampton in 1220, and an Enkeyn de Rumford, who lived in Windsor in 1251. These are early instances of the place name being used as a surname, but there is no evidence of these people being progenitors of the Rumford family. There are also instances of Rumfords with no known connection to a place. Sometime between 1100 and 1115, Robert, Bishop of Lincoln, granted some land in Edeltorp [?present-day Addlethorpe] to Rumfar, also written in some records as Rumsaro, Romfare, Romphare or Romfard. For the next hundred years mention is made of men designated as filii Romphar, sons of Romphar’Š a bailiff in 1178; Alan, son of Rumfar; John, son of Rumfar and landowner; and in 1202, Augustinus and Willelmus, sons of Rumfer or Rumfard’ and plaintiffs in a Lincoln murder trial. Several centuries later we find Rumfords living around Boston, fifteen miles from Addlethorp: Rd. Rumforth [1506], Nicho Rumford [1520], Margaret Romford 1532. Could these be descendants of the filii Romphar’? It is difficult to say. Too many years of war and pestilence intervened to weaken the link between the twelfth century and the sixteenth, when records become more reliable. And as the sixteenth century opens up, we find a picture much different from the one we would expect. There are no Rumfords in Essex or are there any Rumfords living around any places called Rumford. Except for the Rumfords already mentioned living in Lincolnshire and a John Rumfford, whose will was read in 1557 in Worcester County, there are no other Rumfords living in England until we reach the County Durham. Here we find not one or two Rumford households but a dozen or so scattered throughout the northern half of the county. There are Rumfords, Rumbats, Rumfets, Rumfitts, Romfoths, Romfoots, Rumphatts, Rumpets, Rumpforths, Rumpharts-Rumfords all, living in an age when spelling was not fixed but at the mercy of court and parish secretaries. It is curious that in the sixteenth century there are so many Rumfords in Durham, where no Rumford village exists. Did a knight from the south known as de Rumford settle there? Did the filii Rumphar’ move there from Lincolnshire? Or was there, as suggested in the opening paragraph, a place in Durham known as Rumford which defined for a time a family living nearby-a family that flourished long after the place name was forgotten? Surely one of these possibilities is correct, for this county was, if not the ancestral home of the Rumfords, the home of its largest branch.


From Durham, then, came the Rumfords to Northumberland, Yorkshire and perhaps to Worcester and Lincoln. From Durham, too, we suppose, came the earliest Rumfords to America: John Rumford [1697], whose descendants make up the greatest part of this genealogy, and William Rumford [1713], a close relative of his. Unfortunately, the origin of other immigrants to America is not as easy to determine. Such is the case with a Reverend Rumford or Rainford, who baptized African Americans in North Carolina in 1711, and with William Rumford, who came to Maryland in 1775 as an indentured servant, fought in the Revolution and disappeared after 1790. By the nineteenth century, as the Industrial Revolution began to uproot the English people, point of origin is no longer an indication of one’s ancestral family home. Other than George Rumford who was born in Yorkshire in 1796 and who arrived with his family in New York in 1842, the rest of the Rumfords who immigrated in the nineteenth century, seem to appear out of no where. Charles Rumford immigrated with his family to Boston, Massachusetts around 1874. Ann Rumford and her children landed in Philadelphia in 1883. A spinster Sarah Rumford, and a Thomas Rumford from Ireland, also arrived in 1883. And sometime at the close of the century, came Charles Rumford, who died in South Dakota in 1954. Some of these later immigrants left descendants while others died in obscurity. Once the name came to America, it no longer remained the property of white Englishmen but passed on to people of other races. Records show an African American Rumford family living in Chester, Pennsylvania around 1815 and another living in Waterford, Connecticut just before the Civil War. There is a Burmudan woman, Emma Rumford, living in Florida in 1900. And in the winter of 1862, a glimpse is caught of a part Indian, Malina Rumford, held in confinement at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, with the rest of her Sioux relations.

American Towns With The Name Rumford

As the surname came to America so came the place name. In 1692, a Nathan William willed a hundred acres, which he called ‘Rumford Division’ to his heirs. In 1780 a Thomas Whiting bequeathed Rumford Plantation in Gloucester County, Virginia, to his sons Henry and Horatio. In 1733, colonists, many who were from Romford, Essex, incorporated Penacook Plantation in New Hampshire under the name Rumford. Thirty years later the name was changed to Concord. That Concord was once called Rumford would have remained an obscure note to history, if it had not been for Benjamin Thompson, who turned Rumford into a household word in the nineteenth century. In 1772, Thompson married a wealthy widow from Concord, New Hampshire. When the Revolution broke out, Benjamin Thompson sided with the British and was knighted for loyalty. After the war, Sir Benjamin went to Bavaria, where he rose high in the government as a civil servant, inventor and scientist. His work resulted in improved fireplaces and a new, more accurate theory of thermodynamics. His inventions included a kitchen stove, the drip coffee pot and ‘Rumfordsuppe’, a soup of barley and potatoes, which he tried unsuccessfully to feed to the poor of Bavaria. In 1791, Thompson was made a Count of the Holy Roman Empire. For nostalgic reasons perhaps, he chose the erstwhile name of his wife’s home as his titled name. Thus, Sir Benjamin became Count von Rumford. As his fame quickly spread, so did his adopted name. For a time, Rumford became a household word and ‘to rumfordise’ meaning ‘to improve a chimney on Count Rumford’s system,’ entered the dictionary. There are several towns in America which owe their names to the Count. Rumford, Maine was settled by former inhabitants of Concord, New Hampshire and was first known as New Penacook Plantation. Because Count Rumford owned property there, the town was renamed Rumford about 1800. Rumford, Rhode Island was probably named for the Rumford Chemical Works of Providence (now the Rumford Company of Terre Haute, Indiana). This company produced a special all-phosphate baking powder from a recipe invented by Professor Horsford, who held the Rumford Chemistry Professorship at Harvard, a professorship established by the Count himself. Rumford, Virginia, which no longer exists, was named after the Rumford Academy. This school, probably named in honor of Count Rumford, was begun in 1805 by John Roane as a preparatory for William and Mary College. Its doors closed after the Civil War and the building was turned into a private residence and eventually torn down. All that remained was Rumford Post Office, which too disappeared about 1970. Rumford, South Dakota, a town of some thirty people in 1970, was named in the 1880s by an employee of the railroad after, it is believed, Rumford, Maine.

What began as a name for a wide, shallow ford somewhere in England has become, a thousand years later, a surname of some seven hundred people world wide and the place name of a half dozen villages and towns. It is an uncommon surname, and yet, thanks to Count Rumford, people say that they have heard of it. It has lost its original meaning, yet some wits are quick to point out that drinking rum and driving Fords do not mix. It is a name like any other, a mixture of geography and history, folklore and myth.


Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, ca. 1800

Contributed by Pierce Family Collection through Maine Historical Society


Benjamin Thompson (1753-1814), Count Rumford, a native of Woburn, Massachusetts, was the son of Benjamin Thompson and Ruth Simonds Thompson, who later married Josiah Pierce II of Woburn.

Thompson was known as a scientist and designer. He helped create the modern idea of energy, designed the Rumford stove, and helped to establish the Royal Institution, the first research center.

A loyalist during the American Revolution, he moved to London after the war and later to Bavaria where he was made a Count of the Holy Roman Empire in 1791.

His mother’s son from her second marriage, Josiah Pierce III, along with Loammi Baldwin, a childhood friend of Thompson’s, were among the first settlers of Flintstown, later Baldwin, Maine.

Rumford – the colourful Count

Rumford’s paper recounts his first substantial scientific investigation in England and was deemed to be of sufficient merit to earn him fellowship of the Royal Society. Evidently a loquacious man, his ninety-nine page report has a title of matching length: “New Experiments upon Gun-Powder, with Occasional Observations and Practical Inferences; To Which are Added, an Account of a New Method of Determining the Velocities of All Kinds of Military Projectiles, and the Description of a Very Accurate Eprouvette for Gun-Powder.”

In meticulous detail Rumford describes a lengthy series of experiments to test the efficiency of gunpowder, a matter of no small importance to a nation with Britain’s imperial ambitions. Not every experiment worked. His attempts to use muskets to set fire to objects at a distance were a total failure, but Rumford was not the type to allow such an outcome to perturb his self-regard.


American-British physicist
Written and fact-checked by The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica
Category: Science & Tech
Born:  March 26, 1753, Woburn, Mass. [U.S.]
Died:  Aug. 21, 1814, Auteuil, France (aged 60)
Subjects Of Study:  heat

Sir Benjamin Thompson, count von Rumford, (born March 26, 1753, Woburn, Mass. [U.S.]—died Aug. 21, 1814, Auteuil, France), American-born British physicist, government administrator, and a founder of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, London. His investigations of heat overturned the theory that heat is a liquid form of matter and established the beginnings of the modern theory that heat is a form of motion.

In 1772 Thompson married a wealthy widow, Sarah Walker, and lived in Rumford (now Concord), N.H. Loyal to the British crown, he served as a spy after the outbreak of the American Revolution, but in 1776 he was forced to flee to London, leaving his wife and daughter behind. There he served for a time as a government clerk and undersecretary of state. As a lieutenant colonel he later commanded a British regiment in New York, but with the end of the war he resigned himself to exile.

Knighted by King George III in 1784, Thompson subsequently received the crown’s permission to enter the Bavarian civil service and became war and police minister and grand chamberlain to the elector of Bavaria. He introduced numerous social reforms and brought James Watt’s steam engine into common use. His work resulted in improved fireplaces and chimneys, and among his inventions are a double boiler, a kitchen range, and a drip coffeepot. He also introduced the potato as a staple food. He was created a count of the Holy Roman Empire in 1791. Interest in gunpowder and weaponry stimulated his physical investigations, and in 1798 he began his studies of heat and friction. He reported some of his findings in the classic paper “An Experimental Enquiry Concerning the Source of the Heat which is Excited by Friction” (1798) and made one of the earliest measurements of the equivalence of heat and mechanical energy.


Biography: Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford Biography: Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford

Much of what we know today about heat began with the ideas of Count Rumford which he developed in the late eighteenth century in Munich, Germany. That, however, is not all for which Rumford is famous. He originated the study of human nutrition and the insulating properties of clothing, created the soup kitchen, and invented thermal underwear, the coffee percolator, the kitchen oven, and central heating, to mention but a few of his many innovations. Rumford was not born with that name and not in Germany. In 1753, in the town of Woburn, Massachusetts, USA, Ruth and Benjamin Thompson became the proud parents of a baby boy, whom they named Benjamin. This biography is about Benjamin who, secured a knighthood from the King of England and at the age of 39, became Count Rumford of the Holy Roman Empire.

You may be surprised to learn that Witchcraft and Magic run deep in Concord, NH.  But, really, with whom is the concord formed?


MAY 18TH, 2024

Embark on a captivating journey through Concord, NH on Saturday May 18th, 2024 with Witchcraft & Wizardry: Murder by Magic!

Perfect for groups of families and friends, each ticket to this extraordinary outdoor experience allows up to 6 adults to become detectives in a magical murder mystery set in a realm of sorcery and spells.

Along the way, you’ll hunt for clues, solve perplexing puzzles, and uncover the secrets of the city like never before. Get ready for an unforgettable adventure and be the first to crack the case!


The following posts were created by folks who are obviously supportive of witchcraft and magic, so that is their bias.  I on the other hand am supportive of the plan of GOD and that is my bias.  Suffice it to say that I am not aligned with their version of the stories, but, I put them here so you can see that witchcraft has a long history in the Concord area.  


You Asked, We Answered: Who Are The Real Witches Of N.H.? (Part 1)

Sara Plourde
The Real Witches of New Hampshire

Decades before the Salem witch trials, two women were accused of witchcraft in New Hampshire. Jane Walford and Eunice Cole stood trial in the same year, within just a few miles of each other, but their lives ended quite differently. The fates of these women might provide insight into what a historical witch actually was, and why some survived their trials while others did not.

This is first episode of “The Real Witches of New Hampshire,” a three-part series and collaboration between New Hampshire Public Radio and New Hampshire Humanities.

Listen to the rest of the series:

You can tell a lot about a person and the time they lived from their grave. But even more telling are the gravestones missing from the cemetery.

Credit Justine Paradis Sarah Good’s memorial bench in Salem, Mass.

In Salem, Massachusetts, at the edge of a 17th century graveyard, off a side street near downtown, lies a memorial. It’s a shady square lined with stone benches, each carved with the name and death date of the victims of the 1692 witch trials, the biggest witch hunt in early America.

During the witch trials in Salem, nineteen people were hanged, one man was pressed to death, and five died in prison, including an infant. In total, at least 150 people were arrested and perhaps 200 were accused.

Since the victims were found guilty of a religious crime, the memorial in Salem today is not a grave – in fact, no one actually knows where their bodies are buried.

The story of the Salem witch trials has become the dominant and, perhaps, only story that people know about historical witch trials, even though witch trials occurred throughout New England. Yet even in Salem, questions remain surrounding the cause of the witch hunt, and new theories regularly emerge to try to explain why many people got caught up in the fear and why so many people died.

But decades before the Salem Witch Trials, two women stood trial for witchcraft in New Hampshire in the same year. Jane Walford and Eunice Cole lived within just a few miles of each other, but their lives ended quite differently. Their fates might provide insight into what a historical witch actually was, and why some survived their trials, and others did not.

What’s a Witch?

The figure of the witch has transformed radically over time. In some depictions, like The Witch (2015), they are terrifying acolytes of the devil.

Credit Justine Paradis The Hampton Historical Society has binders full of witches. Tricia Peone, historian and program manager at New Hampshire Humanities, gets ready to dig in.

A “pop culture” version emerges in the Wicked Witch of the West in the Wizard of Oz and more relatable modern witches like Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Monty Python and the Holy Grail depicts a medieval witch enduring a sham trial, making a joke out of one of the scariest aspects of the witch: the label functioned as a means of persecution, and a definition that leaves no way out.

Historian Emerson Baker defines witchcraft as “a satanic pact that an individual makes with the devil in order to gain power and knowledge from Satan… the enemy of God and mankind.” Victims of historical witch trials didn’t proclaim themselves to be witches but were accused of witchcraft by others.

New Hampshire’s Seacoast communities might have been primed for a potential witch hunt.

“You almost could have had a mini outbreak of witchcraft [on the Seacoast],” said Baker. “Under different conditions, I think there might have been.”

There were several factors that likely contributed to outbreaks of witchcraft accusations in New England: primarily, the Puritan population on the Seacoast.

The Puritans were a very devout group of Christians who left England because it wasn’t devout enough for them. Their belief structure meant that for them, the world was a terrifying and enchanted place, and all the more so when they arrived in the New World. Essex County, Massachusetts – which includes Salem – was predominantly Puritan.

The Puritans were responsible for more witch trials and executions than any other group of early American colonizers, partly because in the 17th century, they grew more interested in rooting out common forms of household magic. At the time, a lot of people routinely performed small acts of magic, like spells for toothaches or finding lost objects.

Some people found themselves on the wrong side of the line, a confusing and terrifying turn that was codified into religious and legal doctrine in England, and eventually New Hampshire:

“Yf any man or woman be a witch (that is) hath or consulteth with a familliar spirit, they shall be put to death.”

The Only Person Convicted of Witchcraft in New Hampshire

Credit Justine Paradis Lori White Cotter poses with her book, “Toppan’s History of Hampton”, in front of the Goody Cole case in the Tuck Museum

By the time Eunice Cole and her husband William arrived in New England in the 1630s, she and her husband were already in debt from their passage from England.

They settled in Hampton and Eunice quickly found herself running afoul of her neighbors. She gained a reputation as a grumpy, argumentative person, and frequently got into fights with over issues like property boundaries and roaming livestock.

“At the time that they moved over here, all of sudden, things start happening for Eunice. She had a mouth… she was not well-liked by her neighbors,” said Lori White Cotter, an author, retired teacher, and volunteer at the Tuck Museum in Hampton.

Eunice was charged with slander in 1645. Two years later, she and her husband were charged with stealing pigs. In this dispute, Eunice bit the constable.

In the 1650s, the stakes escalated. Instead of neighborhood disagreements, people started accusing her of being responsible for their personal misfortunes, like the deaths of young children, sinking ships, and ailing cattle.

“They started trying… to pinpoint this one thing. They had to have a reason. They went to church every Sunday and heard these speeches of people who said, ‘the Devil is among us! If you don’t do what the Church says, you’re going to be struck by the Devil.’ When people listen to that, they think, who is the devil among us?” said Cotter.

The devil is in the details

Eventually, Eunice was accused of being a witch.

The case against her relied on signs and evidence explained in guidebooks that helped people identify witchcraft, including one published by King James I of England.

First, witches were associated with animals, especially cats. This is because, after a witch makes a pact with Satan, he gives them an animal familiar, or a demon in animal form.

Credit Matthew Hopkins, The Discovery Of Witches (London: 1647)
A depiction of a witch finder inspecting animal familiars.

In Eunice’s case, signs of an animal familiar appeared during her first trial. Her neighbors testified that, while they were discussing the possibility that Eunice might be responsible for a child’s death, they on a sudden “heard something scrape against the boards of the windows,” but they “looked aboute and could see nothing.”

The scraping “was so loude that if a dogg or a catt had done it.”

Credit Tricia Peone The Eunice “Goody” Cole memorial stone on the town green in Hampton

Second, a witch can be recognized for her “witch’s mark.” Today, this might be interpreted as a skin tag, mole, or another sign of aging, but in the 1600s, a witch’s mark was the place where an animal familiar fed on a witch’s blood.

The discovery of a witch’s mark was a key piece of evidence in Eunice Cole’s trial.  During one of her punishments, in which she was publicly whipped, the constable “saw a blue thing like unto a teat hanging downward about three quarters of an inch long not very thick..”

When the court called for a group of women to inspect the mark more closely, Eunice scratched it off her body.

Eunice was found guilty and sent to prison. While she was in prison, her husband William passed away. When she returned to Hampton, she found herself poor and landless. With nowhere to turn, she became the town’s responsibility.

Eunice was accused of witchcraft again in 1673 and 1680. In each case, the court found her likely guilty of witchcraft, but lacked the evidence for a conviction. When she wasn’t in jail, Eunice lived out the rest of her days in a hut on the town green.

“We’re not sure when she died…. she couldn’t be registered because she was not a Christian,” said Cotter. Historical information is sparse and like the victims of the Salem witch trials, no one actually knows where Eunice Cole was      buried.

“So the rumour that was said, that they dragged her out of the house… she had boarded up the house, didn’t want any visitors. Didn’t show up for three days or so, so they went in and found she had passed away. So, they took her out. The people gathered her up, threw her in a ditch somewhere, and then on top of her grave, put the stake with the horseshoe on it to ward off any evil spirits.”

Behind the Accusations

“Frankly, you can look into it with a mirror and see whatever you want to see when you’re looking at witchcraft,” said historian Emerson Baker.

“I see witchcraft more than anything else as a sign of community trouble, and it plays out in many different ways… whether it’s gender, whether it’s ethnicity, or any number of different factors.”

For instance, to explain the factors contributing to the Salem witch trials, Baker points to a combination of fears: frontier warfare with the Wabanaki, tension between different religious groups, and a period of particularly bad weather.

That being said, though, “it clearly is a gendered crime,” said Baker. Historically, roughly three-quarters of people accused of witchcraft were women. Historians of witchcraft in New England have also identified a pattern of accusations being leveled against women who had property by people who were in a position to buy or take control of that property – including in Salem.

The Rarest of Witches

Some of those political and gendered dynamics are evident in the case of Jane Walford, another woman tried for witchcraft on New Hampshire’s Seacoast in 1656. Like Eunice Cole, Jane Walford was accused of witchcraft three times. But her story played out quite differently.

“She’s one of the rarest of witches to have not only accusations at three different times in her life, but to have survived them all!” said Emerson Baker.

Jane was first accused of witchcraft by Elizabeth Rowe in 1648.  Jane then sued Elizabeth for slander and the court, amazingly, ordered Elizabeth to publicly apologize to Jane and to pay her two pounds.

Credit Justine Paradis An advertisement for New England Curiosities Ghost Tours outside of Deadwick’s Ethereal Emporium in Portsmouth

Unlike Eunice, Jane had the protection of her husband, who was, in the early days of Portsmouth, an important man in town. Since most accusations of witchcraft were made against women and women had very little status in the 17th century, a woman without a man to stand up for her was more likely to end up in trouble. Plus, Jane’s accuser was known to be “quarrelsome,” the kind of woman who might herself be vulnerable to a witchcraft accusation.

Jane was accused again a few years later after an encounter with a neighbor, Suzanna Trimmings. Suzanna reported that she heard rustling in the woods one night and saw Jane emerge from the trees. Suzanna was attacked by “a clap of fire” and she saw Jane Walford turn into a cat and then canish.

But Jane had her supporters. One neighbor testified that he’d seen Jane at home on the evening when Suzanna claimed to have seen her. Ultimately, Jane was acquitted, and when she was accused a third time – by a physician in Boston, no less – she again sued for slander and won five pounds.

Ghostly Testimony

If Jane had lived elsewhere, perhaps in Salem, she might not have escaped a death sentence. One explanation for why she was spared could be the evolving legal system in New Hampshire.

Part of the case brought against her was spectral evidence, which relied on the theory that a witch’s spirit or animal familiar could be sent out in the night while her physical body was somewhere else – perhaps at home, as Jane’s neighbor testified.

Credit Justine Paradis A Goody Cole doll, sold at Hampton’s 300th anniversary celebration, and the canister of ashes and soil from the ceremony

The inclusion of spectral evidence puts the accused in an impossible position: if witches can be in multiple places at once, demonstrating one’s innocence might prove difficult.

Spectral evidence played a major part in escalating the Salem witch trials. But in New Hampshire, which was home to a mix of Puritans and more moderate Anglicans, the courts were growing stricter about the types of evidence allowed.

For instance, a different witch trial originating in Hampton in 1681 (brought by some of the same people who accused Eunice Cole) was eventually brought before a higher court in Dover, but was dismissed.

New Hampshire’s legal system protected Jane but accusations of witchcraft continued.

In fact, one of Jane’s daughters was later accused of witchcraft because of a belief that witchcraft traveled in families.

To this day, Jane Walford is still associated with witchcraft.

Author and metaphysical instructor Roxie Zwicker operates historical ghost tours of Portsmouth, and her “Spirits of the Past” trolley tour of Newcastle includes the setting of Jane Walford’s story.

Over three centuries later, the site is still called Witch Cove.

Guilt, Memory, and Commemoration

Credit Tricia Peone Another headline from the period announced “Hampton Folks Sorry Ancestors Condemned Witch”

At some point, collective public understanding of witchcraft largely shifted from fear to a sense of massive injustice. Eventually, the town of Hampton began to demonstrate regret for its treatment of Eunice Cole.

“We talk about things being cyclical in our culture,” said Amanda Reynolds Cooper, executive director of the Lane Memorial Library in Hampton. “They come around. But there is a reason!”

“We basically persecuted this woman for being a single elderly lady who had a bad attitude… how do we make this all okay, with a wave of our magical wand?” added Stacey Mazur, the library’s assistant director.

In 1938, Hampton threw a week-long party to celebrate its 300th anniversary. The celebration included a remembrance of the Eunice Cole organized by the Society in Hampton for the Apprehension of those Falsely Accusing Goody Cole for having Familiarity with the Devil.

Credit Justine Paradis Amanda Reynolds Cooper and Stacy Mazur, librarians at the Lane Memorial Library in Hampton, browse their materials on Eunice Cole.

The event involved a ceremonial burning of copies of her court documents, and the ashes were placed in a canister with soil from her “home and burying place,” according to articles covering the affair. The event was attended by 3000 people, including Mrs. Harry Houdini.

At their town meeting that year, Hampton also voted to exonerate Eunice and declared her “unjustly accused of witchcraft and of familiarity with the devil.”

But some residents were concerned with the protection of their ancestors’ reputation, including Arnold Philbrick from Haverhill, a descendent of one of Eunice Cole’s accusers, Thomas Philbrick.

The Hampton Union & Rockingham Gazette reported that, “with considerable pride… [Arnold Dodge Philbrick] pointed out qualities of his ancestor and the other pioneer settlers to the town, which made them able to withstand the rigors of the time and trying conditions which they were continually to meet and which they successfully overcame.

He registered his opposition to any action which would in any way discredit those concerned in the persecution of Goody Cole. They acted in good faith. ‘Pity them if you will, but do not censor them,’ he wrote.”

Credit Justine Paradis Robert McClung holds a Goody Cole doll, a replica of a doll made in 1938. This one is reversible: in this picture, she’s dressed as a Puritan woman, but if you flip her skirt, she becomes a witch on the other side.

Decades later, Hampton Falls resident Robert McClung doubted the town’s motivations in 1938, partly because they didn’t actually install her memorial until the 1960s. His doubts were not eased by the sale of Goody Cole dolls, commemorative coins, and stamps at the 1938 celebration.

“I could relate to her story because I basically felt that this was a woman that had gotten picked on,” said McClung.

In 2013, McClung produced a symphonic progressive rock album called “The Legend of Goody Cole,” and used the proceeds from its sales to install a plaque in front of her previously unmarked memorial stone.

But even after her exoneration and memorial stone, Goody Cole still makes appearances in legends and ghost stories, including a story featured in a 1997 docu-drama produced by NH Public Television called The Mysteries of New Hampshire.

In the film, a police officer notices an older woman walking the streets of Hampton. When he slows to speak to her, she simply tells him, “I have been walking here for centuries.” Before he can stop her, she disappears – but not before leaving an old bonnet in her place.

In the story, Eunice Cole is still a witch.

The Real Witches of New Hampshire continues

While historical witches like Eunice Cole and Jane Walford would never have called themselves a witch (and almost certainly hadn’t signed a pact with the devil), that’s not the case now.

Today, there are plenty of witches in New Hampshire.

That’s in the next episode of Second Greatest – dropping October 30.



Concord (/ˈkɒŋkərd/) is the capital city of the U.S. state of New Hampshire and the seat of Merrimack County. As of the 2020 census the population was 43,976,[5] making it the 3rd most populous city in New Hampshire after Manchester and Nashua. Governor Benning Wentworth gave the city its current name in 1765 following a boundary dispute with the neighboring town of Bow; the name was meant to signify the new concord, or harmony, between the two towns.[6]

The area was first settled in 1659.[1] On January 17, 1725, the Province of Massachusetts Bay, which then claimed territories west of the Merrimack, granted the Concord area as the Plantation of Penacook.[7]: 107  It was settled between 1725 and 1727 and, on February 9, 1734, the town was incorporated as “Rumford.”[7] In 1808, Concord was named the official seat of state government.[7] The State House was completed in 1819 and remains the oldest U.S. state capitol wherein the legislature meets in its original chambers.[8]

Amid the central forests of beautiful New Hampshire sits the city of Concord. Built right on the Merrimack River and nearby Penacook Lake, this city has lots of natural beauty in store for any traveler who visits. Although Concord, New Hampshire, is the state’s capital city, it is only the third-largest city in the area.  Originally, the area was home to Abenaki Native Americans, who utilized the area for its excellent fishing, fertile soil, and birch forests.  S  ource

The area was first settled by Europeans in 1659 as Penacook, after the Abenaki word “pannukog” meaning “bend in the river,” referencing the steep bends of the Merrimack River through the area.[1] On January 17, 1725, the Province of Massachusetts Bay, which then claimed territories west of the Merrimack, granted the Concord area as the Plantation of Penacook.[7]: 107  It was settled between 1725 and 1727 by Captain Ebenezer Eastman and others from Haverhill, Massachusetts. On February 9, 1734, the town was incorporated as “Rumford”,[7]: 147  from which Sir Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, would take his title. It was renamed “Concord” in 1765 by Governor Benning Wentworth following a bitter boundary dispute between Rumford and the town of Bow; the city name was meant to reflect the new concord, or harmony, between the disputant towns.[6] Citizens displaced by the resulting border adjustment were given land elsewhere as compensation. In 1779, New Pennacook Plantation was granted to Timothy Walker Jr. and his associates at what would be incorporated in 1800 as Rumford, Maine, the site of Pennacook Falls.

Concord grew in prominence throughout the 18th century, and some of the earliest houses from this period survive at the northern end of Main Street.[14] In the years following the Revolution, Concord’s central geographical location made it a logical choice for the state capital, particularly after Samuel Blodget in 1807 opened a canal and lock system to allow vessels passage around the Amoskeag Falls downriver, connecting Concord with Boston by way of the Middlesex Canal. In 1808, Concord was named the official seat of state government,[7]: 324–326  and in 1816 architect Stuart Park was commissioned to design a new capitol building for the state legislature on land sold to the state by local Quakers.[15] Construction on the State House was completed in 1819, and it remains the oldest capitol in the nation in which the state’s legislative branches meet in their original chambers. Concord was also named the seat of Merrimack County in 1823, and the Merrimack County Courthouse was constructed in 1857 in the North End at the site of the Old Town House.[16]

In the early 19th century, much of the city’s economy was dominated by furniture-making, printing, and granite quarrying; granite had become a popular building material for many monumental halls in the early United States, and Concord granite was used in the construction of both the New Hampshire State House and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.[17] In 1828, Lewis Downing joined J. Stephens Abbot to form Abbot and Downing.[7]: 339–340  Their most famous product was their Concord coach, widely used in the development of the American West, and their enterprise largely boosted and changed the city economy in the mid-19th century. In subsequent years, Concord would also become a hub for the railroad industry, with Penacook a textile manufacturing center using water power from the Contoocook River. The city also around this time started to become a center for the emerging healthcare industry, with New Hampshire State Hospital opening in 1842 as one of the first psychiatric hospitals in the United States.[18] The State Hospital continued to expand throughout the following decades, and in 1891 Concord Hospital opened its doors as Margaret Pillsbury General Hospital, the first general hospital in the state of New Hampshire.[19]

Concord’s economy changed once again in the 20th century with the declining railroad and textile industry. The city developed into a center for national politics due to New Hampshire’s first-in-the-nation primary, and many presidential candidates still visit the Concord area during campaign season.[20] The city also developed an identity within the emerging space industry, with the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center opening in 1990 to commemorate Alan Shepard, the first American in space from nearby Derry, and Christa McAuliffe, a teacher at Concord High School who died in the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster. Today, Concord remains a center for politics, law, healthcare, and insurance companies.


You Asked, We Answered: Are There Modern Witches In New Hampshire? (Part 2)

Justine Paradis

In fewer than three hundred years, New England moved on from witch trials and executions and became a place where people openly call themselves witches.

But there are many ways to practice modern magic.

This is the second episode of The Real Witches of New Hampshire, a collaboration with New Hampshire Humanities.

Listen to the rest of the series:

Historically, if someone was accused of witchcraft, they were being accused of making a pact with the Devil. But witchcraft means something very different for modern practitioners like Roxie Zwicker.
“What do I call myself?” she said, laughing. “When people ask me that question, I always have such a hard time with it because I know, as soon as I say what I think I am, immediately someone’s going to have their perception of what I’m trying to say.”

Credit Justine Paradis A sign for Roxie Zwicker’s tours on a side street in Portsmouth

Zwicker is an author, teacher, and artist. She runs New England Curiosities, leading haunted history tours in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

“I always tell people at first blush that I’m pagan and follow earth-based spirituality. If you want to dig in a little bit deeper, then I will tell you that I do practice witchcraft.”

But she wonders if the word “witch” will lead to judgment.

“Is that going to skew you now? You’re going to be thinking, she’s going out in the woods and worshipping the devil. I’m not. That’s not what I believe. You’ll find me at the ocean, sitting there and meditating. That’s what I do.”

Zwicker grew up in western Massachusetts in the 1970s, and she was the kind of kid who encounters spirits and talks to ghosts. When her mother realized what was happening, she introduced Zwicker to magic.

“She had tarot cards. She had incense. And right away she started showing me ways to look at the incense and to derive pictures and to do fortune telling.”

And a few years later, “she took out the big blue. Buckland’s Book of [Witchcraft].”

Credit Justine Paradis Rachel Christ in her office at the Salem Witch Museum

Zwicker had encountered the writing of Raymond Buckland, the man who introduced Wicca to the United States and brought New Hampshire to the cutting edge of the occult.

A Magical Transformation

In the decades after the Salem witch trials in the early 1700s, there was a kind of collective silence around the whole affair.

“Nobody wants to talk about the Salem witch trials. This is seen as something that’s incredibly embarrassing,” explained Rachel Christ, director of education at the Salem Witch Museum.

While Massachusetts paid some reparations to the victims of the witch trials, the colony mostly tried to forget about them.

“To whatever degree of guilt people are acknowledging, there is kind of this general consensus that something went wrong. Innocent people had, at least, been accused, if not executed. There was even a legal ban that the governor put out that said you can’t publish about the Salem witch trials. We’re done talking about it. It’s over and we’re moving on.”

Over the next few hundred years, some things changed dramatically.

First, the United States was established, and with it, a new government and legal system.

“It’s not necessarily a direct connection. You can’t draw a straight line, but I think it would be a massive oversight to say the reminder of the Salem witch trials didn’t impact our judicial system as it was being formed,” said Christ.

Elements of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights speak to the legal problems of the Salem witch trials, including the right to a trial by jury, to confront your accusers, and the right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

Second came scientific understanding, especially when it came to natural phenomena and the causes of disease.

And in the meantime, writers like Mary Shelley and Edgar Allen Poe popularized new genres of literature, including horror and science fiction.

Finally, the popularity of stage magicians helped demystify the idea of magic. Audiences paid for the pleasure of being tricked, and sometimes the performer even demonstrated how it was done.

New Hampshire even had its own very famous magician and ventriloquist, Richard Potter.

By the 1930s, the collective idea of witchcraft and magic had transformed significantly.

In 1938, the town of Hampton exonerated the only person convicted of witchcraft in New Hampshire, Eunice Cole. The town celebrated her in a public ceremony attended by 3,000 people, including Bess Houdini.

New Hampshire and Figures of the Occult

“Important occult people have been here… for some reason, their paths have taken them through New Hampshire. They were drawn here for some reason,” said JW Ocker.

A resident of Nashua, New Hampshire, Ocker contributes to Atlas Obscura and writes travel books focused on haunted and macabre sites across New England, including The New England Grimpendium.

Another New Hampshire notable is Raymond Buckland, who  brought Wicca to the United States in the 1960s. He was initiated by Gerald Gardner, the “father of Wicca.”

In 1954, Gardner laid out the central tenets of Wicca in Witchcraft Today.

In his book, Gardner contends that Wicca was an ancient system, surviving unbroken in corners of Western Europe since a pre-Christian, Paleothic era. Wicca is a duotheistic religion, centered around a god and goddess, and revolves around the “wheel of the year,” including seasonal festivals like Samhain (which falls on Halloween), Beltane, and Yule.

In 1953 (just a year before Witchcraft Today), Arthur Miller published The Crucible, a play inspired by the Salem witch trials and seen as an allegory for McCarthyism. So, as attention began to return to Salem, a form of modern witchcraft began to come out into the open.

Credit Laconia Evening Citizen Raymond Buckland’s collection was on display in Weirs Beach from 1973 to 1976.

By the 1970s, when Roxie Zwicker was growing up, interest in the occult was growing significantly, with increased access and exposure to ideas and tools of magic.

Wicca helped open the door, partly due to Buckland’s work; while Gardner had required new members to be initiated into a coven by a high priest and priestess, Buckland invited practitioners to initiate themselves and start their own covens.

Buckland published several books during the 1970s, including Witchcraft From The Inside and The Anatomy of the Occult.

The first edition of the classic fantasy role-playing game Dungeons and Dragons was released in 1974, and it was a golden age for horror in movies and television. The TV show Bewitched even filmed a few episodes in Salem, Massachusetts.

And by 1973, Buckland moved to Weirs Beach, New Hampshire.

Credit Justine Paradis Erika Shoukimas and Veronica Light of Spirit Wise Herbs in the tulsi garden

Buckland had started collecting occult objects and artifacts from the neopagan movement in the United States. He’d founded a museum on Long Island, but after getting divorced in the early seventies, he moved it to the lakeside tourist town.

“Literally, you’d go there, you’d hit the beach, you’d go to a ferris wheel ride, and then you’d go see the witchcraft museum,” said Ocker.

“When you think ‘witch museum,’ especially in New England and in Europe, too, you think of museums dedicated to the tragedy of witch trials…. so it’s a much different experience.”

The Buckland Museum remained in New Hampshire from 1973 to 1976, and after moving in and out of storage, the collection is now on display in Cleveland, Ohio.

“We have a lot of stuff going back to Ray’s early coven,” the current director Stephen Intermill explained.

“One of my favorite pieces to talk about is a mandrake root that is estimated 200 years old… it’s carved to look like a woman carrying children, so it was probably actually used in magic to help with fertility,” he said. “That is really special.”

“I love to point the DIY nature of a lot of the artifacts that we have, because Wicca is a religion of DIY, do-it-yourself.”

Not much is known about the museum while it was in New Hampshire. But for a moment, Weirs Beach  was on the magical map.

Since then, neopagan traditions have branched off, including the “official witch of Salem” Laurie Cabot, who started her own tradition, and the Temple of Witchcraft in Salem, New Hampshire, founded in 1998.

Many Ways To Practice Modern Magic

Plenty of people identify as pagan, but not Wiccan. That includes Erika Shoukimas and Veronica Light, the women who run Spirit Wise Herbs. They make plant-based remedies like salves, tinctures, and Erika’s specialty, moon flower essences. You might describe them as “green witches.”

“I think a big part part of being a witch is living mindfully in everything you do, and everything is with intention,” said Shoukimas. “It is a lot to do with living within the ‘wheel of the year’ and the seasons, and just knowing that you’re a part of something much larger than yourself.”

“Being a witch has everything to do with how you walk in your daily life,” said Light. “There is a witches’ creed. For me, the most powerful is really the last line: ‘in harming none, do what you will.’”

But there are many, many ways to practice modern magic.

“Magic, to me, is using energy and your will to bend the will of the world,” said Knate Higgins. He’s a modern occultist and program manager at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The practices of magical people like Erika, Veronica and Knate are connected and overlapping in some ways, and quite distinct in others. But as both Light and Higgins described their definitions of magic and witchcraft, they both used the same keyword: will.

This word reveals the influence of Aleister Crowley, one of the most important figures in the history of the occult and a person who had a huge influence on pop culture in the twentieth century.

Credit Justine Paradis A detail of Knate Higgins’ altar space

“I’ve studied lots and lots of different systems of magic, and I found a lot of them come back to Aleister Crowley,” said Higgins.

“He was one of the foremost occultists, probably the foremost occultist of our entire generation, [our] lifetime.”

Crowley was born in England in 1875. In the early 1900s, he founded a religion called Thelema.

“I think he kind of set a modern precedent, not just for not being ashamed of what he wanted and what he wanted to do and how he wanted to do it, but being good at interacting with the press. Setting himself up with a person,” said Ocker.

“He was also known as the wickedest man in the world, and that’s a title that he absolutely relished and loved,” said Higgins.

Crowley experimented with sex and with drugs, and he incorporated both into his rituals and philosophy.

“His [Diary] of a Drug Fiend, we get mirrored by Hunter S. Thompson and all those guys later on,” said Ocker.

Crowley wasn’t just an occultist. He was also a poet, mountain climber, and world traveler.

In 1916, Crowley visited Hebron, New Hampshire, for four months to ghost write for noted astrologer Evangeline Adams.

“He wanted a magical retirement. It’s what he called it because again, he loved drama. He couldn’t just take a vacation, or go away for a few months,” said Ocker.

Crowley spent his time in Hebron writing and practicing magick (the spelling is Crowley’s). In his diaries, he also states that he captured a frog, ritualistically crucified it, and ate it.

Crowley appears in pop culture in many places but perhaps most especially in rock and roll.

Watch: Ozzy Osbourne performs “Mr.Crowley” in 1981

“The Rolling Stones mention him… Led Zeppelin is obviously the most connected with him,” said Ocker.

Crowley even appears on the album cover of the Beatles’ Sargent Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

“‘Classic rock’ was [about] opening up morals and, social mores… drugs, free sex.. that’s directly from Aleister Crowley,” said Ocker.

“But also, again, that self-fashioning, persona-building that every rock star has to do, that David Bowie was so great at… they took him as a template. How do we be bad guys but still have culture not hate us? That’s exactly what all those guys did.”

Aleister Crowley died in 1947. Despite, or perhaps given, his larger-than-life influence, his legacy is complicated. He made misogynistic and racist comments, and some considered him to be an instrument of Satan.

“I always took everything about Aleister Crowley with a grain of salt. I think there’s lots of ways to look into the history of him and feel icky… kind of weird and gross,” said Higgins.

Chaos Magick

While Crowley is certainly an influence on many systems of magic, including Wicca, modern practitioners like Roxie Zwicker, Erika Shoukimas, Veronica Light, and Knate Higgins make their practices their own.

Higgins practices “chaos magick,” a system that revolves partly around setting an intention around a symbol.

“You set it aflame with either an excitatory practice or inhibitory practice. So, excitatory practice would be playing music around it, dancing with it,” said Higgins. “There’s also inhibitory methods, so meditating with it, doing sensory deprivation and holding it there. So, using both extremes of energies.”

Credit Justine Paradis Knate Higgins in his apartment in Portsmouth

In his Portsmouth apartment, Higgins has an altar space with books of magic, shelves of herbs and animal bones, stones and grass clippings from sites like Stonehenge.

A couple years ago, Higgins began incorporating part of his excitatory practice into his performance as drag queen Bunny Wonderland. He often performs a “banishing ritual” to a cover of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone.”

“Sometimes we need to just banish or neutralize our feelings,” Higgins said. “I just say, while I perform this for you, take all the bullshit that you have in your life, feed it through me. I’m the conduit. Let my performance be your sanctuary in this moment. We’re all here together in this room. If we have a collective energy together, we can banish whatever we want from our lives.”

This kind of performance is an example of a public and communal experience that is difficult to imagine happening regularly before the mid-20th century.

In 2019, Higgins was the Grand Marshal of the 25th annual Portsmouth Halloween Parade. The previous year, the crowd was estimated to be somewhere between 8,000 to 10,000 people.