Five stones lie in a perfect circle in a cemetery in Gaylordsville, Connecticut. And people have claimed to feel unusual when standing there. “The legend is that the town was founded by a man who started a convent. The town was all witches, so there’s a place with five stones in a thirty feet radius. When you connect them together, the point of the star faces due south.” My friend, Avary Ann Noto, told me this information when I asked her if she knew of any haunted locations we could visit. Most people know of the Salem Witch Trials, but not many high school history books tell that the first person in America executed for suspicion of witchcraft was in Connecticut. The Connecticut Witch Trials occurred many years before the Salem witches swung from rope.
There was a brown iron gate at the entrance of the cemetery that was guaranteed to make a screeching sound. Next to it was a plaque mounted to a cement wall reading “Gaylordsville Cemetery 1737.” The discolored graves were staggered along the tall hill so far up we couldn’t see the top from the street. The gray sky made it even more eerie. I unzipped my pink pouch to ensure that my sage and lighter was in there, something I’ve seen paranormal investigators do in Youtube videos to get rid of bad energy. Just in case.
Dead leaves crunched beneath our feet as Avary read the text message from her dad. “You walk up the paved road to the circle at the top of the hill,” she recited. My shoulders relaxed a bit, as it seemed to be nothing but old gravestones and bare trees with their leaves all over the ground.
Avary and I chose a terribly cold February day, bundled up in jackets, to go look for this so-called “place with five stones.” We were hoping to feel energies from the witch spirits. She doesn’t normally do ghost-related things; she’s a fiery but delicate soul. Luckily, she was willing to put fear aside for investigative journalism.
“Oh my god,” Avary quivered and stopped dead in her tracks. There was a perfect circle of cedar trees and a few gravestones, all facing each other. The hairs on my arm stood up. “I felt something. When I looked up and saw it, full body chills, like, in my tongue,” Avary blurted, her eyes wide open. “I’ve never felt that before.”
There was a strange gap between two of the trees that looked like someone had carved an entrance into the circle. My eyes locked on the crooked trees in the distance under the gloomy sky. Avary entered first. When I stepped inside, a hot breeze blew all over my body. It was only forty-five degrees out, but it felt like walking into the witches’ ritual while they danced around a fire, burning sacred items and casting spells.
“The rumor is that the witches would go to this circle to perform witchcraft,” Avary said. Going all the way back to medieval times, a number of religions believed witches were associated with the Devil. There were many different reasons as to why the witch trials may have happened in Connecticut, politics, fear, rivalries, or the Puritans’ looking for the Devil to blame for their catastrophes. Witch rituals are typically done in secret, so if there really were witches performing witchcraft in the circle, no one could really ever know their true motives. William Gaylord, a deacon in the Puritan church, and a land surveyor, had the land that surrounded the circle turned into a graveyard in 1737.
All the trees were oddly shaped. A couple inches off the ground, the trunks began to curve outward. Up above towards the sky was a roof of tree-tops that all caved in together. The stones were barely readable, and completely weathered down. The silence was frightening. There was no wind, sounds, nothing. I felt trapped.
“Is it not warmer in here?” I asked, horrified.
“No, it is,” Avary replied.
Avary told a story about her dad coming here in high school. He was with a group of friends who brought a ouija board, and a wooden plank that everyone places their fingers on. During the game players ask questions, and the plank is supposed to move on its own, spelling out words or using numbers to answer. Although, there’s no way to tell what you are actually talking to.
“He described the day as clear blue skies. They started playing Ouija, and they asked a question, and he wouldn’t tell me what the question was, but right after they asked,” she paused the story, took a shaky, deep breathe, then continued, “lightning struck right outside the circle, near the gate, on a clear day without a single cloud in the sky. Then it began to downpour.”
That story made my knees shake. I was interrupted by a loud thud to the left of me. “What was that?” My hands started shaking. “What was that? That bang.” Avary tilted her head, she didn’t hear anything. I pointed in the direction of the bang.
“Someone’s talking to you!” Avary told me, lightening up the mood.
“Stop! I’m so scared.”
She shook her head as the wind outside the circle blew leaves around. “I keep thinking I see something out of the corner of my eye and I think I have to leave.”
“I keep thinking I see a person walking,” I replied. Avary started walking out of the circle, and I followed. “I feel like something’s walking behind us,” I looked behind me.
Avary ran, screaming “I just heard bells. We have to go.” She made her way far down the path.
At the bottom of the hill, I pulled out my pink pouch with sage in it. The lighter sparked multiple times, but wouldn’t light. I finally got it, and burned the sage giving off an herb scent. I drew the smoke over us for about five minutes and we hopped in the car, trying to calm down.
Avary turned her car on and calmly said, “Oh! Something just popped up on my car.”
“That’s the check engine light!” I screamed, my heart started pounding. Her shaking hands gripped the steering wheel as she slammed on the peddle. Maybe that was a coincidence, but my heart told me the witches didn’t want us there.
Erika Russo is a staff writer for Blue Muse Magazine
Header image courtesy of Erika Russo