And now about the cauldron sing
Like elves and fairies in a ring.
After Carlton Fisk’s stirring World Series homer in 1975, the next year the Red Sox quickly fell out of the race. By May 12 they had lost 10 straight, their longest losing streak in 50 years, and were in last place.
A Boston TV station, WBZ, called on Laurie Cabot, a Salem Witch, to help, and she agreed to fly to Cleveland, where the Sox would meet the Indians.
Hollywood has given us such strong images of “Witches” that it’s hard to take an objective look. I earlier driven to Salem to a weather-beaten clapboarded old house. With three of my kids, we climbed the well-worn stairs to the third-floor and a door marked “Salem Research Center,” decorated with a star in a circle.
Laurie met us in black robe and shoulder-length black hair. Inside, a black mastiff sat on his haunches. Two cats (black, naturally) curled up asleep. Herbs hung from the ceiling.
Beside the door stood a collection of brooms, which people have sent her, and a variety of canes. Some were “energized,” making them wands. “If I want to send energy for healing, I can use that piece of wood,” she said, nodding to one that looked more like a four-foot knotted shillelagh.
On one wall hung a shield with runes written on it, proclaiming that a protective shield surrounds the house. She smiled us to seats around a table charged with pink light symbolizing love and life.
“Just what is a Witch?” I asked.
In a lilting, somewhat sultry voice, Cabot said:
The dictionary says a witch is “an ugly old hag who cavorts with demons and makes a pact with the devil. But I’m not green. I don’t cackle. I don’t have a wart on my nose or wear a pointed hat. And I don’t have scraggly teeth – Witches go to the dentist just like everyone else. I’m a human. I care a lot about people.
My black robe absorbs all the colors of the spectrum, so I’m picking up all the vibrations of the world around. Priests, nuns, and rabbis wear black for the same reason. During the Inquisition, or ‘the burning times,’ Witches also wore black in order to do their rituals more safely in the woods at night.
The word “Witch” comes from the Celtic word wicca, meaning “wise person,” To its practitioners it’s a religion, like Presbyterianism or Episcopalianism. Many Witches capitalize it. In Massachusetts Cabot can legally perform marriages.
Witchcraft is the old pre-Christian religion of Europe – they had to have some religion. King Arthur’s Merlin was a Witch (both males and females are called Witches, incidentally). Witchcraft survives today in Christmas trees, yule logs, mistletoe, and the Easter bunny.
Was she a good Witch or an evil Witch?
Do I look like a good person? If you were to interview a fireman, would you would ask him if he was a good fireman or an evil fireman? Witches are not Satanists. There are 6,000 in the United States, and none of them is satanic or evil. We believe in God as being perfect, whatever God is – we don’t know what God is, no one does.
On a TV talk show once, Cabot was baited by an evangelist until she snapped: “It’s a good thing I’m not a bad witch, or you’d be in a lot of trouble now!”
Some 600 Witches live in Salem. Some are lawyers, psychologists, writers; some were also practicing Catholics, Protestants, Jews, and Zen Buddhists. Most dress like everyone else.
They don’t drink blood or eat babies. We use potions and herbs to make ourselves better and have everything we really want in our lives without doing harm to anyone. We care about ecology and other people. I’m like an Earth Mother. I’m everybody’s mom.
Naturally the new religion had to stamp out the old. Cabot blamed the King James Bible for much of the prejudice against Witches. Exodus 22:18 says, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” The original meaning, she said, is “Thou shalt not allow a murderer to live.” In Europe “they had nine million people burned and hanged because of that.”
Why not call herself something else and avoid trouble?
Yes, that would make it easier for people to understand. But if they’d rather live with their ignorance, that’s their problem.
I don’t go in for nudity. That’s a lot of baloney. Why should I take my clothes off? If you want to run around nude, that’s fine, I’m not opposed, but we have never found a reason to do it. It would scare everybody off.
“I was born a Catholic and a Baptist.” Laurie claimed that by the age of three she knew what people were thinking, could see the future, and “make things happen.”
She traced her philosophical roots back to the Nazarenes and Essenes, who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls and taught John the Baptist.
Laurie has been interviewed by CBS, NBC, ABC, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the London Times, and Sports Illustrated. She was also teaching Witchcraft classes at Salem State College. “I have a waiting list a mile long.”
Even hard-bitten cops marveled at Cabot’s powers. In 1975 detective Ken Downing from Joliet Illinois asked her to help solve a grisly murder. The body of a girl had been found, apparently murdered ritualistically by a cult of Satanists. Cabot went into alpha, the relaxed mental state when brain waves slow down, like the last stage before falling asleep. “The description of the murder I gave them fit perfectly with their pattern,” she said. She also gave Downing descriptions of people, “and even the exact day and time of the killing.”
I called Downing, who said her information was confirmed by police sources. “That,” he said, “was strikingly interesting.”
Cabot has been known to change the weather 40 degrees. She was asked to do it in the summer of ‘76, when a searing heat wave knocked out air conditioners in the Boston area. Nursing homes were especially hard hit. So at dusk Cabot and three friends gathered at the historic Derby Wharf, along with photographer Ralph Turcott. He told me:
The temperature was over 100, and both the short-term and the three-day forecast called for more. One of the Witches had a long stick, possibly a cane, possibly a wand. One had a short broom stick and dipped it into the water. They treated the whole thing as though they were having fun.
Science has proven it works. It’s your thought patterns that make it work. If you hold it in the alpha mental state, you can transfer your aura into the wood. We treated the broom like a dowsing rod and made circles in the water. We drew in the energy and changed the weather just by directing our thoughts.
Turcott scratched his head. “The next day,” he said, “it was about a 40-50-degree drop. All I know is, it was impressive.”
Cabot believed she could diagnose illness and heal it, all mentally. One four-year-old facing open-heart surgery underwent healing by Cabot for a year before the operation. At year’s end “the hole in his heart was much smaller.”
Yet when Cabot was invited to address Harvard University, the professors arrived with bags of popcorn as if at a circus.
Laurie’s fingers were heavy with rings. She indicated her right index finger, “my projection finger.” It focused energy: “You can stop dog fights with it.” Her daughters learned that when she wagged her finger, they’d better duck.
Rows of bottles contained her potions. For success and attainment of goals, Cabot prepares a Leo potion, made during the sign of Leo, on the day of Leo, and in the hour of Leo. Leo is the sun, so Laurie seeks a golden yellow color. She uses cloves, frankincense, and goldenseal. Goldenseal is a cure-all, she said; if you rub it on an open cut, the wound will soon heal.
Her popular love potion should be made under the influence of Venus. It is made of dried rose petals, symbolizing love, plus mandrake root and basil, also known for their love properties. She also adds an old bone, though she admits it had no special significance.
What about a love affair for Laurie? “That’s not hard to do,” she laughed. “I’ve had quite a few.”
Before leaving for the game in Cleveland, Cabot sat down with Amy Konowitz of WBZ-TV.
I don’t know anything about baseball, the teams, or the players, but I went into the alpha level to scan the team in my mind’s eye and try to see what was wrong. I saw a group of men, and one stood out very much on my ‘screen.’ I got the feeling that he was a very good player, had kept the team together last year, but this year had a very bad attitude and was dispersing the energies of the team.
Amy produced a team photo, and Cabot pointed to Carlton Fisk, the World Series hero and the leader of a hold-out by several stars. “Oh, no,” Konowitz protested, “he’s the Red Sox’ fair-haired boy.”
“I’m sure it’s him,” Cabot replied. “This is what I see.”
In Cleveland, Laurie flounced down a stadium aisle and paused at the three-foot drop to the field, waiting for a hand. “What do you expect me to do, fly down?” she quipped. “I came here on United Airlines, not a broom.” Cabot donned a Boston cap and posed for photographers while the players looked on diffidently. Manager Darrell Johnson said a curt hello.
Luis Tiant, however, “asked some very sensible questions, like why I wore black and why I called myself a Witch.”
Another receptive player was outfielder Bernie Carbo (right), who brought his bat to Cabot. “Touch it,” he said, “and make it magic.” She complied. (After a long bout with drugs, Carbo is now an evangelist preacher.)
Carl Yastrzemski was also nice, in contrast to most of the other players. “If you can do it,” he smiled, “I’ll leave you box seat tickets for every game.”
“But guess who threw a tantrum on the field? Carlton Fisk!” He complained loudly that she had no business on the field, that she was making a laughingstock of the team. “He threw his bat on the ground, threw a tantrum.”
WBZ announcer Len Berman exchanged looks with her. “Oh my God,” he said, “you were right.”
Carlton is an angry young man. He’s obnoxious. He’s a brat. Stubborn. He’s a Capricorn? Oh my God, no wonder. The Cleveland players were much nicer. I told them I was going to project aura energy, or group team energy, around the Red Sox. I made it very clear to them that I wasn’t going to hurt them.
The women took seats behind the Red Sox bench.
I projected psychological balance, an orchid light for self-esteem. Their energy on the physical level would be augmented by their aura energy of the white light, which is God, or universal mind energy. That’s what makes us walk and talk.
Cecil Cooper (.282), the first Sox batter, tapped the ball between the legs of John Lowenstein for an error, one of three John would make that night. Cooper scored later on a ground-out by Fisk.
I’m a real cynic, a non-believer, but she was concentrating very, very hard on each player and each pitch. Whenever someone came up to ask for her autograph or to pose the usual question, “Where’s your broom?” Cabot’s concentration was broken, and something horrible happened on the field. The Red Sox would make an error or someone would strike out.
There must have been a lot of interruptions in the third inning: The Indians scored four runs, one on another error by Fisk.
Carlton Fisk was in the middle of every scoring play. He obviously was the person who seemed to disrupt the plays. We could see the Boston pitcher [Reggie Cleveland] getting very nervous every time a player would get on. You could see an “evil eye” sort of that would throw him off. He’d throw two balls and somebody would hit a double off the wall. Laurie said she was going to make recommendations to the Red Sox management.
The Indians’ fourth run came in on a wild pitch. Fisk retrieved the ball and threw to Cleveland, but Rico Carty kicked the ball out of his glove. “That’s the way things were going,” Fisk shrugged later. “A guy who can’t run scoring on a ball 10 feet from home.”
Losing 4-3 in the fifth, Fisk was hit by a pitch, then Carbo (.235) smashed a drive off the rightfield fence and bumped into Lowenstein as he raced around second. The umpire awarded Carbo third base and waved Fisk home with the tying run. Lowenstein had had a hand in three of Boston’s four runs with what the Boston Phoenix called “three of the most bizarre errors on record.”
“I didn’t do anything to the Indians,” Cabot insists. “If they made errors, it could be the law of polarization. It would weaken their energy a little bit. But I didn’t set out to do that.”
The Red Sox suffered a blow in the tenth. Their best hitter, Fred Lynn (.414 at game time), protested a called third strike and was thrown out of the game. Rick Miller (.212), suffering from a sore back, replaced him.
In the 11th the Indians put a man on second with one out, and Tom House relieved. House had never won a game since joining the Sox, but he struck out the next two men, and the clubs went into the 12th under a cold midnight wind. In the 12th Boston’s Doug Griffin (.189) hit a bloop single over the infield and was sacrificed to second. Cooper hit a weak ground ball between short and third for a single, and Yastrzemski (.267) drove in Griffin with a fly.
House got the final out a strikeout. “We did it! We did it!” he cried, jumping up and down as the Sox swarmed over him.
Konowitz scratched her head. “Admittedly, it was a publicity stunt,” she said. “But it worked.”
The Globe‘s Larry Whiteside:
Oh, yes, the witch lady. She sat in her Count Dracula outfit and screamed and yelled. And who is to say it wasn’t her presence that did it?
In the locker room the jubilant players squirted beer. Yaz:
We were a different team tonight. We went after them. We made things happen. And the best thing is that everybody contributed.
We got a bloop and a ‘chalk hit’ [on the foul line] and a ‘tweener’ [between the infielders] to win it, even a balk. But it’s about time those things broke our way.
It was 2 a.m. when Cabot arrived at the hotel. Several Sox were drunk, and a few, hostile. “You’d better not try to take credit for this,” pitcher Bill Lee snapped.
Actually, Cabot didn’t want credit:
There’s no way I can maneuver the ball. The Red Sox did that themselves. I was just catalyzing their ability. If the Red Sox weren’t good players on the physical level, the power wouldn’t have worked.
That fall Laurie was called on again, to help the hapless New England Patriots (4-11 the year before). While she sent energy, they whipped the Raiders 43-17, the only game Oakland lost all season. They went on to an 10-3 record and the playoff.
You can look it up.
Meantime, Cleveland went into a slump. On May 21 an error let in the winning run, their ninth loss in 12 games. Next day they lost again, on a bloop single. The Indians loaded the bases in the ninth, but a strikeout ended the game.
Cleveland disk jockey Jack Reynolds of station WWE decided to act. An elderly Sicilian woman, known for her power to heal with prayer and holy water, said the Indians had the evil eye – maloucchio – left by Cabot.
(Laurie denied it. “The Indians were super guys,” she insisted. “I liked them better than the Red Sox as people.”)
At 2 a.m. the night of May 22, Reynolds said, “a black limousine pulls up to Cleveland Stadium. The old lady got out and began blessing each gate with holy water and olive oil.”
That afternoon the Indians beat Milwaukee 2-1 in the first game of a double-header. Lowenstein scored the winning run. He batted in four runs in the second game, which Cleveland won 8-5. Catcher Alan Ashby saved three wild pitches with great stops, and two good catches robbed Milwaukee’s Hank Aaron of extra base hits.
The Indians flew to Baltimore and won two more. They won the first 4-1. Dennis Eckersley (left) gave up only one hit, then put two men on in the ninth, but reliever Stan Thomas struck out three straight, including Reggie Jackson (.277). Then they beat Jim Palmer (22-13), the best pitcher in the league.
The Indians won nine out 14. “It was their hottest streak of the season,” said Dan Coughlin of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, who had been told the story by Reynolds. However, Coughlin decided not to print it.
“I didn’t think anyone would believe it,” he shrugged.
Can Cleveland Win with Wahoo?
As they have for the entire post-season, Cleveland took the field in the opener of the playoff finals defiantly wearing on their hats “a vile-looking, disgusting, racist” logo, in the words of Robert Holden of the National Congress of American Indians.
And, as they have for decades, protesters were out in force.
And, as they also have for decades, the biggest names in American sports writing walked right past them without stopping to interview anyone or reporting the news to you. It is one of the most disgraceful failures in the history of American journalism. The embargo has been so long and so complete that the orders must have been given by a single source. I suspect the baseball commissioner himself.
Only a few days earlier the game had escaped a lawsuit on the subject in Toronto. (The judge ruled that the be case should be heard in a U.S. court.) But it forced Commissioner Robert Manfred to face the issue for the first time. He declared that “some fans” find Wahoo offensive while others have invested history and millions of dollars into buying Wahoo hats and t-shirts. Manfred urged a “thoughtful” discussion, and said he will meet with Cleveland owner Paul Dolan (left), but not until after the Series. This news was also largely unreported.
Baseball Aces is proud that it was one of the first – and one of the few – to raise the issue.
So for the next few days we’ll watch two teams under curses – Wahoo vs the billy goat – fighting to see which curse is stronger.
The billly goat offended only one man, a Chicago tavern owner, whose complaint was trivial, though his curse apparently had real consequences.
Wahoo offends many people, whose complaint is serious and its consequences just as tangible. To their credit, I’ve never heard of an Indian actually casting a curse: “You won’t win unless …” But the vibes are just as strong anyway.
And history shows (see our earlier post) that the goat can be turned into a blessing: No team – Cubs, White Sox, or A’s – has ever lost when the goat came to the game. So why not tap into that positive energy? It’s free and absolutely harmless.
Meantime, my fearless prediction: One of the two teams this year will lose. The last time we faced this question, the Indians played the Braves. And I was correct that time too:
One of them did lose.
Ask Questions. Question Answers
Thomson and Ted
I loved your last post about mind-reading – I think this is ideal to try on kids, since kids work on instinct and gut feelings. I may try a test or two with my son Nicholas guessing the cards. (Tim Joyce.)
I used to do some fishing with Carl Erskine. What a great man!!! Always enjoyed our times together. (Don Thompson)
I really enjoy your posts, but I believe they should be devoid of politics. (Ed Walsh)
Stick with the baseball. (John Bushman.)
I did not realize SABR was a political organization. Fortunately, you are supporting Crooked Hillary, so the IRS will make contributions to SABR tax deductible. I consider your politization of what should have been a good experience as deplorable as your favored candidate. (Larry Schultz)
(I’m not SABR.)
I enjoy your writings about baseball. Not so much, your political commentary. Your narrative on Trump’s words, which are unacceptable, pale in comparison to the Clintons’ deeds, which have compromised our DOJ, the State Dept., the FBI, the IRS, and the administration. The culture of corruption in the Democratic party will contaminate our country for years, no matter what happens in the election. I grew up in the Democratic party but left when a President committed sexual acts in the Oval Office, lied to the court and his country, and left office as a hero. And you find Trump offensive? Stick to baseball please. (Brandt Ross)
The baseball universe is part of the larger universe. And no one else had said what I did.
If you read it here,
you probably won’t read it anywhere else.
If you read it anywhere else,
you probably won’t read it here.
I was referring to Trump’s rambling, self-destructive speeches about “lying” women and rigged election. He lost his self-control and was not, in my opinion, acting rationally for his own sake or his party’s.
I could have added one more thought: “Locker room banter.”
Trump implied that guys change personalities when they walk through the locker room door. I’ve been in a lot of a lot of locker rooms, and, with few exceptions, we’re pretty much the same guys inside that we are outside.
One exception is after a huge victory, like a World Series. You can’t do it now, with all the TV cameras, but in the old days, you never heard so many f-bombs! Victory is one heck of an aphrodisiac.
Another was the Red Sox clubhouse in the ’80s. Pitcher Oil Can Boyd and skipper John McNamara were bouncing “bombs” off the walls at the tops of their lungs. If you were hoping to interview someone, forget it! Thurman Munson of the Yanks was pretty good at it too.
Trump’s clubhouse sounds like a junior high boys’ bathroom, where pubescent boys fantasize about adventures they are too terrified to try in real life. That’s because, alas, real life includes rejections. Trump knew his prey couldn’t make a scene and ruin the entire party for her hostess. That’s kind of a sad love life.
With most grown-up guys in locker rooms, you can sit down and have an extended, quiet chat that would bore your Aunt Nellie.
I once walked into the Atlanta clubhouse to talk to Satchel Paige and found him deep in conversation with Hank Aaron – comparing colognes, of all things! Satch probably had more women than any politician but didn’t brag about his conquests. (Is copping a feel a “conquest”?)
The closest he came was a modest grin: “I’m not married, but I’m in great demand.”
A real he-man bosst would have been: “All those women – they just can’t keep their hands off me.”
Ted Williams, was a staunch Nixon Republican, who probably was essential to George Bush’ election. Bush was losing the New Hampshire primary, which might have torpedoed the rest of his campaign. He asked Ted for help, and Williams crisscrossed the state for him. Bush won a narrow victory and went on from there.
I never heard of Ted boasting about his many dalliances, which probably out-numbered Trump’s 10-1, or slipping his hand under the table. He didn’t have to. I don’t think he even mentioned women, one way or the other. That was his business, nobody else’s.
I admit he was the world’s worst husband, and two of his wives poured out their paeans of pain to reporters. But Ted never responded.
In the hours I spent with him, I never heard him say a negative word about any player. Ever! The closest he came was to say that Mickey Mantle should tighten his swing – “but I’m not gonna tell him.” (I’m sure he would have if Mick had asked; Ted never turned down anyone who asked for help.)
Despite his vesuvian reputation, I heard him use the procreational gerund only once, and that was immediately preceding the words, “Boston writers.”
Ted had class.