How dare you cross our threshold, Mary Sibley?
— Hag to Mary Sibley

The Essex Stronghold is an ancient underground shelter, nest to the surviving Essex Witches. To ensure the safety of the place, no witch except the Elders is allowed inside of the "Forbidden Threshold".

Description[edit | edit source]

The Essex Tree is deep and wide, but unseen as any breath. I pay the price to come inside though it may mean my very death.
— Mary Sibley

The Stronghold of the Essex Hive is set in an underground cave, whose entrance is sealed by a magical shield that opens only at the presence of those who are worthy to worship at the foot of the Old Ones. The passage is concealed by two trees tied together by vines and twigs that move magically when the words of power are spoken by those who ask to appear before the Widdershins. From Mary Sibley's speech, it is clear that the Stronghold is a sacred place and no one is allowed to go to that place, not even the Samhain. According to Countess Von Marburg, the Essex witches are savage and twig-worshipping barbarians. As the Countess is extremely curious to know the secrets of this stronghold from Tituba, it is possible that this place hides some magical artefacts or the Essex witches are aware of useful secrets to the old German witch.

The Tree of Life[edit | edit source]

The Tree of Life, also known as the Primordial Tree, is a massive hollow tree trunk which stands in the heart of the Essex stronghold. Its roots go deep into the earth, while the branches rise to beyond the surface, coming to equal the height of the common trees of Salem's woods.

This enchanted tree enables one to directly channel and cast the magic of the Earth itself, and after the Essex witches abandoned their contractual powers bestowed by the Devil, the tree served as the source of their magical powers — something that was confirmed by the Devil himself.

The most notable magical feat achievable through this potent tree would be raising the dead by means of a dangerous ceremony known as “Breach the Wall of Silence”. The corpse is placed in the centre of the cavity of the trunk, and through a blood sacrifice and the recitation of a spell, thick roots will create a protective enchanted chrysalis around the body, which soon will come to life, escaping from the chrysalis which is reminiscent of the amniotic sac. The person brought back to life through its magic is bound to the place where this primordial tree traces its ancient roots. In the case of Mary Sibley, she is bound forever to Salem according to one of the Essex Elders and Tituba.

Throughout the Salem Series[edit | edit source]

In despair at the approach of midnight, the fateful hour of the supreme sacrifice that would mark the fulfillment of the Grand Rite, Mary Sibley let her spirit soar from the House of the Seven Gables to the woods, where she used magic to open a passage to the Essex Stronghold. Once inside, she met an earthly monster; a crone's head attached to thick legs similar to those of a spider. Despite the monster had warned her not to dare enter the sacred place, Mary asked for an audience to the Elders. Here, she tried to convince the elderly and decadent witches to ally with her to defeat Countess Von Marburg. Mary's attempts were in vain because they had already made a pact with Tituba, an emissary of the Countess, to save their own life in exchange for granting the ancient witch the honor to complete the Grand Rite, thus ensuring the Dark Lord a human body to inhabit after sacrificing Mary's son, John Sibley, using the boy as a Vessel. (Midnight Never Come)

Following Mary's suicide, Tituba snatched her corpse from the grave and came to the Stronghold to ensure that the witches broke the Wall of Silence to resurrect Mary. After an initial refusal by the Essex Elder, Tituba was able to convince them, and they enshrined the corpse among the roots of the portentous Primordial Tree, ensuring Mary Sibley to come back to life, but at very high price. (After the Fall)

Once back to life, Mary was informed by the Essex witches that her spirit had been magically linked to Salem, Massachusetts, the place where the roots of the Tree of Life stood. In vain she tried to escape, finding himself increasingly to the starting point, although she undertook any road to escape the stronghold. (The Heart Is A Devil)

Once they were sure that Mary had survived the terrible "Reckoning," a satanic ritual to deprive a witch of their powers, Essex witches joined their forces to summon Mary among their midst in order to protect her. Here, the Essex Elder briefed Mary about the drastic condition of the Tree of Life, close to death because of the Great Terror unleashed by the Dark Lord on earth. The tree was in fact tainted by the evil that was pouring into the world as if it were befouled with Hell-blood. Mary Sibley, then, decided to fight back, leaving the threshold to devise a plan to overthrow and destroy the Dark Lord once and for all. (Night's Black Agents)

While Mary was trying to make ends meet every detail of the plan, she sent Sebastian Von Marburg to the stronghold to alert the Essex Elder and the other witches to prepare for the Dark Lord's demise. Ready to assist Mary, the best among all of them, they left the stronghold, never to return. (The Man Who Was Thursday)

Memorable Quotes[edit | edit source]

John Sibley: "They didn't let me have toys."
Anne Hale: ""They"?"
John Sibley: "The Widdershins. The Old Ones in the tree where we hid."
Anne Hale: "But surely, your mother gave..."
John Sibley: "My mother wasn't allowed there."
Midnight Never Come
Mary Sibley: "I will not stand by and let it all just happen. I will do anything to stop it, even violate my Essex oath. Hear me, Old Ones. I swear I will not let you ignore me. I will cross the Forbidden Threshold. I am coming to see you. Fail me and we are all doomed."
Midnight Never Come
Hag: (speaking backwards) "How dare you cross our threshold, Mary Sibley?"
Midnight Never Come
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!"
After the Fall

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • During Comic-con, Adam Simon has announced that in the third season we'll have more information on the Stronghold and we'll see its interior. Adam Simon also said that the stronghold extends far beyond the room seen in "Midnight Never Come," but consists of several tunnels and secret passages.
  • The images of the official photoshoot of the third season were made in the Essex Stronghold.

See Also[edit | edit source]

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