We are all responsible. Together, we turned the witch hunt against the hunters. And we sought justice for all our sisters burned and hanged in the old country.
— Essex Elder to Mary

Essex Elder was one of the old witches of the Essex Hive, hidden in the Stronghold. As she acted as the spokeswoman for the Widdershins, it is likely that she was their leader.

Credited only as "Essex Elder", she is a character in the third season of Salem portrayed by actress Morgana Shaw.

Early Life[edit | edit source]

Her origins are unknown, but she seems to be part of the generation of witches who escaped the persecutions from the Old World and found a safe haven in the New World, where it was possible to enact their revenge.

Personality[edit | edit source]

Despite being one of the witches who secluded themselves in the refuge due to fear of the Devil, the Essex Elder was still a proud and austere woman. As a connoisseur of the Old Ways, she perfectly understood the consequences that could result when dangerous practices are put in place, such as raising the dead. Hence, she initially argued with Tituba over resurrecting Mary, even claiming that there was no place for Mary's corpse in the sacred location.

Later on, even when the resurrected Mary vented her rage over how the Essex Hive had abused her, the Essex Elder calmly pointed out that they (including Mary) were all responsible, but still justified the actions of the hive as necessary to avenge their siblings burned at the stake or hanged by the witch hunters for centuries. Though this demonstrates a definite vengeful streak, it also testifies to the Essex Elder being a calm and reasonable woman who was willing to accept responsibility for her mistakes. During the final days of her life, she demonstrated a wiser, kinder side of her character.

Physical Appearance[edit | edit source]

The Essex Elder was an old woman, with a gentle face and a broad forehead, highlighted by silver hair coiffed according to the canons of the XVIII Century, with a hairstyle reminiscent of Marie Antoinette. Unlike the hags of the woods, who were dressed in rags, this Elder was wearing an elegant dress, almost aristocratic, though covered with dust and cobwebs. She also wore a black cape with a wide collar.

Throughout the Salem Series[edit | edit source]

Season Three[edit | edit source]

The Essex Elder opposed Tituba when she went into the Stronghold with the corpse of Mary Sibley, stating that there was place not even for Mary Sibley's corpse amidst their sacred place. She was also hesitant in practicing Necromancy since she was afraid of the repercussions that raising the dead could have caused. Nevertheless, she decided to help Tituba to revive Mary Sibley through the Primordial Tree. [1]

Once Mary was awakened from the sleep of death, the Essex Elder put the woman aware of the situation, saying that Mary alone, in all Heaven or on Earth, is able to stop the Dark Lord. The witch has also justified the terrible acts committed as a response to the persecution suffered for centuries. [2]

After she had made sure that Mary had survived the "Reckoning," the Essex Elder combined her magic with the other witches to lure Mary inside the Stronghold, offering her protection. But when Mary proved to be angry and eager to destroy the Devil, Essex Elder proved satisfied. Recognising Mary Sibley as the most powerful of them all, she revealed to the former Queen of the Night that they must act quickly because the Tree of Life is dying. Once it will cease to exist, they will die as well. [3]

Deceived by Tituba about a potential spy within the Hive through a fabricated vision, the Essex Elder used her power, combined with that of the other witches from the hive, to kill the traitor by trapping him in the thick roots of the Primordial Tree.[4]

After Mary's assurance that she did not need the Essex Hive's protection even after her Reckoning, the Essex Elder observed that Mary was the strongest of them all. The Essex Elder made an agreement with Sebastian Von Marburg, sent to the Stronghold by Mary Sibley, so they could carry out their plan to defeat the Devil.

Once deceptively lured the Dark Lord in the woods, the hive used an unknown form of magic to bind the Devil's vessel to the tree branches. She, then, offered her own life by stabbing her chest along with other Widdershins, letting Mary Sibley bathe her face with the blood from the pool obtained with the ultimate sacrifice of Essex Hive. In her final moments, she also seemed to have retrieved part of her past beliefs in the Earth as a manifestation of the divine feminine - when Mary mourned over the sacrifice that the hive would have to made, the Essex Elder reminded her that their original duty was to serve Mother Earth's will. She also told Mary how proud she and the other Essex were of her, even stating that they, including the Earth itself, were indebted to her. In fact, she seemed to fearlessly look upon her own death as something bringing her solace, and even taunted the Devil for being ignorant of the true power of sacrifice. [5]

Powers and Abilities[edit | edit source]

An ancient witch, probably the head of the wretched inhabitants of the Stronghold, she showed to hold a glimmer of the powers she had before the Essex Hive submitted themselves to the Dark Lord's will, along with beliefs in the divine feminine within Earth itself, acknowledged as the driving force behind their actions.

Her powers were closely related to those of the Tree of Life and the control over the earthly element, as she was able to command some roots to act as an extension of her arms, doing her biddings. All the spells that she has employed have been made in communion with the other witches within her hive, suggesting that she was no longer strong enough to perform a spell on her own, but needed a sort of connective magic.

Her most noteworthy ritual is that performed before her death. Resorting to secret magic arising from Earth, the Essex Elder was able to hinder the Devil's vessel with vines and, along with other Widdershins, sacrificed her own life in order to bestow upon Mary enough power to defeat the Devil's earthly body. This was a testament to her skills, taking aback the Devil with a deep understanding of witchcraft rather than raw power. In fact, by exploiting the power released by the mass sacrifice of the whole hive, she was able to help Mary to acquire enough power after she was stripped of any magic by the Dark Lord.

Memorable Quotes[edit | edit source]

Essex Elder (to Tituba): "How dare you bring that traitor into our midst. There is no place in the Essex stronghold for even the corpse of Mary Sibley!"
Essex Elder (to Tituba): "You know better than any of us how dangerous it is to breech the Wall of Silence. Raise the dead and you never know what you raise."
After the Fall
Essex Elder: "We are all responsible. Together, we turned the witch hunt against the hunters. And we sought justice for all our sisters burned and hanged in the old country."
Essex Elder: "You are the only one in Heaven or Earth who can destroy him. You and he were of one body. You knitted his flesh in your womb."
The Heart Is A Devil
Essex Elder: "There is no shame in failure, Mary Sibley."
Essex Elder (to Mary Sibley): "I couldn't have demanded it if you hadn't the strength, but you do. You are you again the strongest of us all. And not a moment too soon. They are winning. The tree is dying, and with it will die you and us and all our world."
Night's Black Agents
Essex Elder: "My child Mary.
Mary Sibley: It is a grave hour I fear.
Essex Elder: Yet one of ultimate freedom. I am so proud of you."
Mary Sibley: "Would that this day had never come."
Essex Elder: "The course of life is not ours to direct but the primordial right of the Earth. Hers is the only will we carry forth. She is indebted to you, as are we, Mary, for what you will do."
Mary Sibley: "It is I who am grateful."
Essex Elder (to the Dark Lord): "Once you were the source of Mary's power. Not anymore. Now t'will be our power coursing through our sister. You've never understood the real meaning of sacrifice. Nor its power. No one may sacrifice another. Only themselves."
The Man Who Was Thursday

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The Essex Elder is the second witch portrayed by Morgana Shaw, after Mab in the first season. However, the two characters, although both Essex Hive elders, appear to be distinct from each other.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Brannon Braga & Adam Simon (writer) & Nick Copus (director). November 2, 2016. "After the Fall". Salem. Season 3. Episode 1. WGN.
  2. Adam Simon (writer) & Tim Andrews (director). November 9, 2016. "The Heart Is A Devil". Salem. Season 3. Episode 2. WGN.
  3. Brannon Braga & Adam Simon (writer) & Joe Dante (director). November 30, 2016. "Night's Black Agents". Salem. Season 3. Episode 4. WGN.
  4. Adam Simon (writer) & Nick Copus (director). December 7, 2016. "The Commonwealth of Hell". Salem. Season 3. Episode 5. WGN.
  5. Brian Peterson & Kelly Souders (writer) & Jennifer Lynch (director). January 4, 2017. "The Man Who Was Thursday". Salem. Season 3. Episode 7. WGN.

See Also[edit | edit source]

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