Witchcraft Museum

Witchcraft Museum

Boscastle Cornwall

News – Museum of Witchcraft and Magic

We welcomed Ken from Cornwall Air Ambulance last week to collect the donations from our wishing well… Visitors have dropped their wishing coins into our moon-faced well since April 2017, …

We welcomed Ken from Cornwall Air Ambulance last week to collect the donations from our wishing well…

Visitors have dropped their wishing coins into our moon-faced well since April 2017, and this is the first time the proceeds – which all go to Cornwall Air Ambulance – have been collected.  The well is fed by a natural cascade of water which runs down the hillside and also fills up the shrine in the Museum.  A charm, taken from a traditional source and modified, can be said when dropping your coins in:

 

There were three bucketfuls of coins – we don’t know the total yet – and there is a wager on about how much has been collected…

 

Plants around the well are doing well – especially Cuckoo Flower (or Lady’s Smock) and Water Avens (pictured)

The only downside to the well is that the coins get abit mucky – but Ken doesn’t care – he’s used to it and will use a pressure washer to clean them all when he gets back to base!

Ken in front of our lovely Delabole sign…

Author: Collections Researcher (PH)
Posted: May 19, 2018, 11:01 am
In collaboration with Scarborough Museums Trust, the Pitt Rivers, Wellcome Trust and host of other fantastic institutions, the Museum of Witchcraft & Magic will be celebrating International Museums Day (Friday …

In collaboration with Scarborough Museums Trust, the Pitt Rivers, Wellcome Trust and host of other fantastic institutions, the Museum of Witchcraft & Magic will be celebrating International Museums Day (Friday 18th May) by tweeting and blogging about items in our collection that were originally collected by Edward Lovett.

Lovett (1852- 1933) worked in a bank in London for many years but spent much of his time collecting from working-class people in East end of the city.  He amassed a huge collection of charms, amulets as well as a lot of folklore about beliefs and customs.  His private collection was sold to various institutions after his death, including the Museum of Witchcraft & Magic.

These objects, over thirty in number, were acquired by the Museum’s founder, Cecil Williamson (1909-1999) probably in the 1940s and 1950s.  They include an Elizabethan coin recovered from the mast of a ship, lumps of wax and pitch used by Mary Nalder of Stepney to make magical poppets or effigies, moles feet used by Widow Morely of Atcham and many others.

International Museums Day (Friday 18th May)

Look out for tweets about these objects during the day, together with an extended blog on our website.  The project, organised by Jennifer Dunne at Scarborough Museums Trust (also look out for her article in the Museum’s own journal The Enquiring Eye Issue 2) connects the Museum with other places that also share Lovett’s collection: the Cuming Museum in Southwark; the National Museum of Wales at St Fagan’s; the Museum of Childhood, Edinburgh; the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford; the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge and the Wellcome Collection, London.

Follow the story on twitter  #IMD2018 #wehaveacharmforthat #welovett and on the Museum’s twitterfeed: https://twitter.com/witchmuseum?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

 

Object/s 1

These three brass charms were purchased from the Lovett Collection by Cecil Williamson.  He writes:

“Having once been the property of the Gipsy medicine woman, and fortune teller, Mary Mitchell. Well known in the Elephant and Castle district, London, at the beginning of this century.

On one is engraved a running horse upon the other a running He-goat. Both animals being closely associated with Gipsy lore. The small circular gilt ornament is studded with seven pieces of coral [probably semi-precious stones].

[Overleaf, note in Williamson’s hand:]

“The number seven is the number of those born under the sign of Cancer (June 21st to July 20th) and also belongs to those born on the 7th 16th or 25th of any month. Was Mary Mitchell one of those?  More likely though she wore this amulet, being a fortune teller, for the reason that Gipsy lore lays down that the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter can tell the meaning of dreams. In common Gipsy slang she had: — ‘seven senses’.”

Object 2

Large Lumps of Wax and Pitch

Being the raw material used by Mary Nalder in fashioning her wax figures or puppets as she termed them. Purchased from the E. Lovett Collection.

Object 3

A Small Collection of Bone Tools

Purchased from the E. lovett collection, stated as having belonged to Mary Nalder, witch or wisewomen of Stepney, London, and used by her when shaping and making wax  figures for use in her spell casting operations.

Aquired by E. Lovett in 1909.

Object 4

This old silver “Elizabethan”  coin was found by a Scarborough fisherman, John Fuller embedded in the wooden mast step of the fishing smack “Sea Breeze” when she was broken up in 1912. Till the time of his death John Fuller wore it on his watch chain as a lucky charm. (Purchased from the E. Lovett collection)

Object 5

“Small wrist manacle with adjustable band. Specially made for female prisoners. Acquired many years ago by a collector from York castle and purchased from the Lovett Collection.”

Object 6

“Moles paws from the Lovett Collection; These were used by the wise woman, (some would have her for a WITCH) Widow Morely of Atcham near Shrewsbury, who practised her art of fortune telling, cures and charms c. 1900”

Object 7

“Bells used in various witchcraft rituals such as conjuring up a spirit. This set dates from 1778 and was purchased from the Lovett collection were it was described as the property of Anne Dyson, the witch of Thame 1822-97”

(Unfortunately these are no longer in the Museum – it is probable that Williamson took these objects with him after he sold the Museum in 1996.  This still is taken from Legend of the Witches, a film partially shot in the Museum c. 1970.)

 

Author: Collections Researcher (PH)
Posted: May 17, 2018, 3:03 pm
Above: Elizabethan magician John Dee with a crocodile above his desk. For several years, the Museum has had a beautiful stag in its main window display.  This was made by …

Above: Elizabethan magician John Dee with a crocodile above his desk.

For several years, the Museum has had a beautiful stag in its main window display.  This was made by Marti Bogie, a talented artist and Friend of the Museum.  We changed it every time the Wheel of the Year turned and created some lovely seasonal displays.  As much as we loved it, it began to feel like time for a change and when we met a local artist who had created some wonderful pieces which he was looking to display, we felt the time had come to have a change so we now have a new window display for this year only.  Come and have a look next time you are in Boscastle!

Above: Museum founder, Cecil Williamson, in the Witch’s Cottage (an old display at the Museum) with a hanging crocodile.

The window display is made up of three separate sections.

  1.  Artworks made by Ian Elliott.  A Cornish artist inspired by Vodun art/magic/processes, in a communication with the Museum about these works of art, Ian said: “In Vodun the primary structure is usually carved quite crudely from wood. This form becomes enhanced from the activating material that is placed inside, tied to or pegged into the body, this empowered body is capable of various magical outcomes both constructive and malevolent.
    The forms used in the activation of the cadaver, exchange simplistic interpretations for a greater poetic comprehension of the materials themselves and their elective affinities.
    Effectively they become fetish objects. As such they communicate quite effectively entirely by themselves.”
  2. Two Bocio figures: these start as a basic sculpture and people then pin and add different significant objects (including blood and clay) onto them over time so they have layers of meaning and are said to ward off evil and protect the community. 
  3. Museum objects. These objects are similar in theme to the artworks next to which they have been placed.  Ian’s art taps into similar ideas to those in the Museum’s collection.

Piece 1: Back of the Mona Lisa’s Head (photographed below)

Piece 2: the Skating Minister (photographed below)

Piece 3: Bottlerack (left hand side in the photo below of the whole window display)

Some of the objects and themes explored in the window:

Aspect of Ian’s art Object on display
Mirrors Witch ball
Teeth 

Human teeth charms with text by Edward Lovett:

 

Shoes Fisherman’s footprint captured in sand and fenced in to make magic with
Feathers Goose wings used for sweeping magic (sweeping out things you want to be rid of with one wing, sweeping in things you want to attract with the other wing) 
Shells Snail shell love charms
The Feminine Divine Reproduction statue of the Black Madonna
Lizard with feather on back (creature of earth, water and air) Crocodile suspended in air
Wax ex voto image of a boy Miniature representations of children from the Richel Collection of magical objects
Male/Female

Picture of Baphomet from the Richel Collection

Carved phallus

Hermaphrodite vessels/vessels with aspects of the male and female used for working with spirits of nature made from terracotta

Bottles

Glass spirit house 

 

It is a little difficult to take good photos of the window display (due to reflections/lack of photography skills by the current writer!) but here are some photos to give you an idea of what it looks like.  A guidebook is also available from the Museum’s online shop: 

http://museumofwitchcraftandmagic.co.uk/shop/acclimatise-the-phantom/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

 

 

Amazingly, after I had finished the window display, I stumbled upon this photo of the same window from many years ago.  How apt that some of the same/similar objects are floating in nearly the same places twenty years later!  The carved phallus, the witch ball…this has a nice, cyclical feeling about it.  

 

 

 

Author: judith
Posted: May 16, 2018, 12:02 pm
Folklore Tapes – “an open-ended research project exploring the vernacular arcana of Great Britain and beyond” – are collaborating with The Museum of Witchcraft & Magic on a brand new …

Folklore Tapes – “an open-ended research project exploring the vernacular arcana of Great Britain and beyond” – are collaborating with The Museum of Witchcraft & Magic on a brand new touring exhibition and performance piece which will debut at the Exeter Phoenix on Friday 18th of May.

The Art of Magic is a project that encompasses a series of studies exploring the nature and lore of magic, and is based on the unique collection housed at the museum.  Central to the project are “Object-Less Cards”:  A unique collection of index cards from the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic that have been orphaned from the object which they describe. These cards have been sent to artists around the British Isles to invoke a creative interpretation in any medium. The resulting selection of re-scored and restored artefacts will form part of the touring exhibition, which you can see at the Phoenix from 10.30 til 5pm on the 18th; Folklore Tapes will also do a bespoke performance from 7.30.

You are encouraged to buy your tickets to the performance in advance:  http://www.exeterphoenix.org.uk/events/the-art-of-magic/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

Some more info from the website:

THE ART OF MAGIC

The Art of Magic is a new collaborative project devised by Folklore Tapes and The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, encompassing a series of projects exploring the nature and lore of magic through responding to the museums collection.

This new arts council funded project was born out of two residencies and is based around a series of object-less index cards found within the archive of The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, Boscastle. The original objects for the cards were collected over several decades, by the founder of the museum Cecil Williamson, an enigmatic conjurer and prolific magician and occultist. These esoteric cards describe artefacts now absent from the Museum’s collection (for reasons unknown), offering a fascinating ethnological insight into western occultism and the extant operations of rural folk magicians, cunning-folk and wayside witches living and working largely in the South-West of England during the twentieth-century.

In early 2018 thirty-five contemporary artists across the UK were sent an objectless card and invited to interpret the text however they wished. This collection of new artefacts spans the medium of film, performance, photography, painting, sculpture, writing and music. This new exhibition will travel and form part of an immersive installation-performance weaving all the artefacts into a unique live experience, conducted by four principle performers working with music, projections and spoken word

Folklore Tapes are a broad collective of artists dedicated to exploring the hidden vernacular of the nations folklore and heritage. For six years FT has explored over forty projects, seamlessly weaving experimental sound work, film, installation and writing. Over the years they have gained an international reputation through limited edition releases across the mediums of vinyl, tape and book, which are distributed worldwide and are housed within several collections and archives. FT has undertaken sell out shows at libraries, museums and festivals and been covered in magazines such as The Wire and Record Collector and had extensive radio play on BBC 3’s Late Junction. FT has commissioned over cross-disciplinary 30 artists and established strong links with museums, archives and universities.

The Museum of Witchcraft and magic is located in Boscastle, Cornwall and houses the most extensive public collection of artefacts relating to magic, witchcraft and the occult in the world.

Some of the artists involved in re-scoring and rescoring the object-less cards:

Jeremy Deller | Hannah Leighton-Boyce | Alison Cooper | Andy Votel | Amy Cutler | Bridget Hayden | Mary Stark | Christopher Barker | Tom Stevenson | Nick Jorden | Lucy Harvey | Sam McLoughlin | Arianne Churchman | Desdemonna McCannon | Steve Patterson | Lara Cetinich | David Chatton Barker | Carl Turney | Matt Davies | Jez Winship | Barum Ware | Hannah Thurman |

Author: judith
Posted: May 14, 2018, 3:32 pm
Several years ago, the Museum team collected together a selection of spells and charms.  They hand-wrote some and typed up others.  They were then pinned in the lower gallery on …

Several years ago, the Museum team collected together a selection of spells and charms.  They hand-wrote some and typed up others.  They were then pinned in the lower gallery on one of the beams.  They stayed there for many years and were recently removed during refurbishments of that area (they were getting a little tatty and dusty so it was best that they were removed). 

The original spells and charms have been preserved in the Museum archive and they have also now been printed in a little booklet which is for sale in the Museum shop for £2.  It is a great way to preserve this part of the Museum’s history and ensure that it reaches as wide an audience as possible.  

The fifteen page booklet is full colour with twenty one spells for healing, love and protection (amongst other things).  There are also four examples collected by Cecil Williamson, the founder of the Museum including one to protect yourself from ghosts and another on the art of “passing on” magic.

The booklet can also be purchased from the Museum’s online shop:

Spells and Charms Booklet

Many thanks to Jeff Goodwin for the photographs on the cover and back cover.  

 

Author: judith
Posted: May 10, 2018, 12:12 pm
The Museum has appeared on a couple of blogs recently as a recommended place to visit. We received this email about a family blog: We are a minimalist travelling family …

The Museum has appeared on a couple of blogs recently as a recommended place to visit.

We received this email about a family blog:

We are a minimalist travelling family and we are running a blog offering tips and guides for wandering the world with simplicity. We visited your place last spring during our Cornwall road trip. We enjoyed it so much that we told about it in our last post about Cornwall.

http://photography.dgsage.com/sageonearth-wisdom-cornwall/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

It took us some time to write this post, but we really wanted to tell about Cornwall, and especially about your Museum because we had a great time discovering your witchcraft and magic secrets!

And we are also listed as a spellbinding day out for children on this blog:

Spellbinding Days Out For Mini Witches And Wizards

Thanks to everyone for promoting the Museum and recommending it to their readers.  Let’s hope it all contributes to another record breaking season at the Museum!

 

Author: judith
Posted: May 7, 2018, 10:41 am
Every year, the Museum changes its exhibition space to explore an aspect of witchcraft and magic in more detail.  As the exhibition space is limited and the topics we explore …

Every year, the Museum changes its exhibition space to explore an aspect of witchcraft and magic in more detail.  As the exhibition space is limited and the topics we explore so large, we also hold a conference to augment and enhance the exhibition.  On Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th of May, the Museum will be holding its third annual exhibition conference.  The theme is Ritual Magic to link up with our 2018 exhibition “Dew of Heaven: Objects of Ritual Magic” (running until October 31st 2018 for more details see: http://museumofwitchcraftandmagic.co.uk/exhibitions/dew-of-heaven-objects-of-ritual-magic/)?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

The conference is FULLY BOOKED so please do not attempt to purchase tickets.  There is also a lengthy reserve list.  Please do not contact the Museum about attending (sorry, it just won’t happen but we will try to share the conference with you in other ways in future such as via a podcast and book of essays).  There are also regular (monthly) free curator talks on the exhibition: https://www.facebook.com/events/1451485898331354/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

If you have a ticket and are unable to attend please do let us know so someone else can come in your place.

For people who do have tickets, here is some information about this event:

The event is held at the Wellington Hotel in the upstairs room.

Stallholders and speakers can arrive from 9am.

Ticket holders can arrive from 9.30am.

We aren’t sending physical tickets, there will be a list of names on the door (if you paid by paypal, this is your receipt/confirmation that you have tickets.)

Please be in your seats in the main room at 10.10am for a 10.15am start.

There will be breaks for tea and coffee and lunch but these are not included in the ticket price.

There will be a chance to ask questions.

There will be stalls for conference attendees to browse during the breaks and lunch.

There is an evening event which is included in the ticket price.  You also receive a complimentary drink in the evening.  The evening event will run from 7.30pm to 9pm.

The Museum will be open on Saturday and Sunday and Museum entry is free for Conference attendees.

The majority of the event will be recorded by the Folklore Podcast.

There will be a booklet provided (free of charge) with a plan for the weekend and also notes on each speaker.

Here is a plan for the weekend: 

Time
Saturday
Sunday
10am
Arrive, Coffee etc.
 Arrive, Coffee etc.
10.15
Introduction by MWM staff
Introduction by MWM staff
10.30
Carolyn Hartz
Joyce Froome
11.00
Al Cummins
Tim Landry
11.30
Break
Break
12.00
Dan Harms
Mogg Morgan
12.30
John Callow
Elaine Bailey
13.00
Break for Lunch
Break For Lunch
13.30
Break for Lunch
Break For Lunch
14.00
Judith Noble
Georgia Van Raalte
14.30
Peter Grey
Peter Mark Adams
15.00
Questions
Questions
15.30
Close
Close: END OF CONFERENCE
19.30 – 21.00
Jesse Hathaway Diaz
 

For more details on each speaker see: http://museumofwitchcraftandmagic.co.uk/event/dew-of-heaven-ritual-magic-conference-may-12th-13th-2018/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss

If you have any questions or concerns, please email Judith at the Museum (museumwitchcraft@aol.com).

 

 

 

 

Author: judith
Posted: May 6, 2018, 2:56 pm
Unfortunately, the event tonight (Otherworld film) has had to be cancelled.  We hope to re-schedule at some future date.  Apologies for any disappointment caused.  People with tickets will have their …

Unfortunately, the event tonight (Otherworld film) has had to be cancelled.  We hope to re-schedule at some future date.  Apologies for any disappointment caused.  People with tickets will have their money refunded.  

Author: judith
Posted: May 5, 2018, 8:01 am
Many thanks to Jo Ellender for this wonderful write up.  Jo is a Friend of the Museum, she attended the workshop and has helpfully been volunteering at the Museum since …

Many thanks to Jo Ellender for this wonderful write up.  Jo is a Friend of the Museum, she attended the workshop and has helpfully been volunteering at the Museum since January.  

Sigils, Talismans and Magical Signs

This wonderful workshop on Saturday 28th April was led by the entertainingly erudite Julian Vayne, allowing those present to examine a wide variety of magical signs and symbols and reflect on how we could create and incorporate them into our lives.  We started the day with introductions, where we all felt welcome, included and a valued part of the proceedings, and this continued for the rest of the day.

Julian then gave an outline of the various types of magical signs, from the historical and familiar apotropaic (or witch) marks, through culturally diverse concepts such as yantras to the modern magical signs of Facebook memes and emoticons, illustrated with pictures and practical demonstrations where appropriate, although fortunately Julian decided that invoking the fire pentagram in the library might be a bad idea! He then invited us to draw and share our sets of personal magical symbols, perhaps humming as we did so to distract the conscious mind and allow our sub conscious one to speak to us.

After a short break outside in the glorious sunshine, with brief cleansing ritual, we re-entered the library, seeking guidance from the spirit of the library to show us each books that would offer insight as a form of bibliomancy. As we pored over the books many  found deep wisdom and meaning in our selected texts and were able to share some of that before breaking for lunch.

Next we joined together in brief ritual before once again merging with the spirit of place, this time that of the museum itself, whilst exploring the exhibits  and allowing ourselves to be guided to new and different  objects and texts to the ones we might normally be inclined to hone in on, and find those that had personal resonance. 

Julian then invited us to journey into our sub consciousness, with the aid of his drumming, to seek out our hidden wisdom, before we were tasked with creating personal sigils using this newly gained insight. We were asked to form a circle and place our sigils on the floor in the centre so we could see what had been produced, and then Julian led us in a deeply magical charging of our sigils with drumming, singing, chanting and much all round energy raising, after which we had a chance to go out into the sunshine one final time to show the elements our wondrous sigils!

The day concluded with reflections, joy and the invitation to give feedback. Thank you Julian for a day that, whilst being easy to understand even for any novices amongst us, was illuminating and inspiring and certainly exceeded my expectations. Julian is an excellent teacher, combining humility, patience and joyful humour very successfully and I look forward to the Tarot workshop in September. Thanks also everyone who attended, shared of themselves and joined in to help create such a caring and supportive circle. Final thanks to the museum team for promoting and supporting this fabulous day out!   

 

Images above show some of the feedback Julian received on the day – just brilliant!

 

 

Author: Collections Researcher (PH)
Posted: May 3, 2018, 2:07 pm
  On January 6th, the Museum (with a lot of help from its friends) celebrates Old Christmas.  Last year, we also had a wassail.  Alex Langstone helped to organise the …

 

On January 6th, the Museum (with a lot of help from its friends) celebrates Old Christmas.  Last year, we also had a wassail.  Alex Langstone helped to organise the event (thanks Alex!) and brought an apple tree for the wassail.  We planted this in Joan’s Garden in front of the Museum back in January.  Since then it has been battered by storms, covered in snow and drenched in rain! Remarkably it has survived (and thrived – perhaps due to the blessings it received at Old Christmas) and is now set to bloom.  We hope it will provide us with some apples for our 2019 celebration.

We are also the proud guardians of the Boscastle Wassail cup to be used annually at this celebration.  It has been beautifully created by Paul Atlas-Saunders.  We will take good care of it and hope it will be used at this event for many years to come.

Here is a little baby enjoying the cup outside the Museum (apologies for funny colour, we had camera problems and she wouldn’t pose like this again!)

A bit about Old Christmas…

When by Act of Parliament the Calendar changed from the Old Julian to the New Gregorian in 1752, Cornish men and women were rather annoyed that eleven precious days went missing overnight!  Ever independent of mind, they decided this and kept the date of Old Christmas alive on January 6th each year.  At the Museum, we celebrate ‘Old Christmas’ with the Cornish winter traditions of guize processions, the ‘Chalking the Mock’ ceremony, and dancing including Boscastle’s very own dance: ‘Boscastle Breakdown’ performed on top of a barrel as is tradition! 

This annual event is free to attend, more details will be announced nearer the time.  Here are the posters/leaflets for Old Christmas 2018 to give you an idea of what to expect.

You can also read about it on these great blog posts by Gemma Gary:

Boscastle Old Christmas & Wassail

Chalking the Mock – Old Christmas in Boscastle

 

 

 

Author: Collections Researcher (PH)
Posted: May 2, 2018, 12:01 pm