Setting aside the ancient book of spells she’d recently purchased at an estate auction in Connecticut, Callie stood by the warmth of her study’s fireplace with a freshly refilled glass of wine.

Standing by the fire, I felt a sudden and darkly foreboding chill spreading across the bare skin of my back as I thought about the horrifying implications of what I’d just read. If authentic, it appears that I’d purchased an ancient book of spells that had once belonged to Alse Young, the first woman hanged for witchcraft in the colonies on 26 May 1647. Passed down through a long line of her female descendants, all of whom it seems were witches, each generation adding new spells and incantations to the book.

That was until her last known living female descendant, Lydia Gilbert, died in a terrible traffic accident last month, that I’d acquired this book of spells at her estate sale. It was a purchase I made on a whim, almost as if something was compelling me to buy it. Now having read some of the early twentieth-century entries, I knew why.

Pausing to take a larger sip of wine, I realized that my great grandmother was one of Alse Young’s descendants. And while related only through my grandfather and father, it appears that I was Alse’s only surviving female descendant.

Interestingly, the book’s earliest entries date from England during the 1300s. The book arrived in New England when Alse, already the inheritor of a long line of witches, emigrated to Windsor, Connecticut, in early 1630. Surprisingly, while books in colonial times were often listed in estates, it wasn’t until Lydia Gilbert died that this book appeared in its first estate sale, and I was its sole bidder.

It was clear from what I read that Alse escaped England mere steps ahead of the witch hunters. Sadly, the witch hunters were already here in the Massachusetts Colony when she arrived. Still, there was another terrifying revelation concerning the witch hunters in the passage. They are an ancient and secret Vatican organization that is still active today, one whose guiding principle remains, Exodus 22:18, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.”

A profoundly disturbing question lingered in my mind. As the sole surviving female descendant of Alse Young, did mere possession of the book make me a witch in their eyes? Well, the trouble is, they'd be right, I am a witch...