News – Museum of Witchcraft and Magic
A parcel arrived in the post a few weeks ago containing this rather fabulous jigsaw puzzle. It was sent to us by the designer/maker Adam Higton. Thanks so much for the donation! The jigsaw has been catalogued as a Museum object as it is part of our ever evolving collection of “Images of Witchcraft.”
Judith Hewitt, co-manager of the Museum, was interviewed recently by London Calling magazine. The article is now available to view online:
As the wheel of the year turns and Beltane approaches, we have changed our seasonal witch display. Here are some texts and photos about our current window display (which you can see in the main window when you visit the Museum).
The Wheel of the Year
The Ancient Festivals
The year can be divided into eight major festivals which mark the passage of the Sun through the year and relate directly to the agricultural cycle. This is significant to many people (including witches) The current festival is:
Beltane Eve of April 30th to May 1st.
The ancient festival of Beltane is celebrated on the evening of April 30th through May 1st.
In former times villagers would dance around the May Pole and bedeck their homes with greenery gathered overnight, May or hawthorn is popular to gather today.
The celebration of Beltane recognises that the warmer weather is with us, and Spring gives way to Summer. The countryside is blossoming, Morris dancers are back and fertility is in the air!
Traditionally the Horned God also known as Jack-in-the-green unites with the maiden Goddess at Beltane resulting in the re-birth of the Sun Child at the Winter Solstice.
The Festival of Beltane is celebrated across Europe and the Celtic countries.
Stag’s Head by Artist Marti Dean
Of the animals connected with witchcraft and magic, the stag is closely associated with the Horned God of Witchcraft. With roots set in the pagan histories and traditions of Europe, the symbolism of the stag has been represented in a variety of ways, from the Neolithic painting of the antlered ‘Sorcerer’ within the cave Trois-Frères in France, to the Gundestrup Cauldron, a piece of Iron Age silverwork depicting the Celtic antlered god Cernunnos.
For some modern witches, the stag–god Cernunnos is recognised as the horned god of nature and magic, and thus is celebrated in the rituals, art, and magic of modern witchcraft. This anthropomorphic sculpture of a green stag with branch-like antlers symbolises the magic of the regenerative force in nature. The objects hung on the antlers will be changed throughout the coming year.
For Beltane, the stag has been used as a Maypole and is decorated with ribbons. Dancing around the Maypole is said to symbolise the union of the Horned God and the Goddess (the ribbons intertwine and represent their union).
Dancing round the Maypole occurs in many communities at this time of year. It seems to have originally been a fertility ritual.
The phallic symbol (the pole) is danced around by the young people of the village. Some traditions say that the ribbons should be red (to symbolise the female) and white (to symbolise the male). The two are twined during the dance as male and female join together.
God and Goddess figures 
Pair of plaster figures – Moon Goddess in silver dress with garland of grapes and crescent moon on head and a naked bearded God with antlered black animal head as head-dress were handmade and donated to the Museum by White Witch.
The Horned God, the masculine is represented by the pole in the Maypole dance. The Goddess is represented by the ribbons and (typically) female dancers. Beltane (May Eve) is the time of their union.
The Horned God and the Goddess mean many different things to different people but a brief attempt at summarising their symbolism has been attempted below:
The Horned God represents the masculine, the hunt, the killing of food and the winter months.
The Goddess represents the divine feminine, creation, birth, food gathering, agricultural plenty and the summer months.
The Museum received a couple of lovely donations recently including a copy of this poem in a limited edition book with beautiful illustrations.
Many thanks to Hedgespoken Press for sending us this book for the library:
And thanks also to Rima Staines for donating these prints to the Museum.
We particularly like the one of Baba Yaga.
More details about this artist can be found below:
The Museum was visited this weekend by Wicca Meier-Spring of the Hexenmuseum in Switzerland.
She brought with her a party of around fifteen people. They arrived on Sunday afternoon and went for a guided walk of Boscastle with Steve Patterson. Here are the group outside the Museum with Steve:
Then they returned to the Museum for a detailed look at the collection (and to make some purchases from the shop!).
On Monday, they spent the day with Levannah Morgan, author of “A Witch’s Mirror”. The group spent the day in the Museum library doing a workshop with Levannah on magic and mirrors. Here they are in the library:
It was really lovely to have them here and to hear their enthusiasm for the Museum and all things witchy! We hope to see them again next year.
We were very grateful to receive a donation of an witch shop sign from Sheffield. It is now catalogued and on display in the Museum.
The following is taken from the donor’s website (http://www.wessexarch.co.uk/blogs/news/2017/03/13/sheffield-witch-flies-new-home?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss)
One of the more unusual artefacts that Wessex North inherited from ARCUS was a large wooden sign from a building on Corporation Street in Sheffield, removed during the demolition phase of sites along the ring road. Affectionately known as ‘The Witch’ the sign comprises a silhouette of a witch on a broomstick with the word MAGIC underneath. Discussions on local forums suggest that the sign was erected as part of a Halloween promotion advertising mattresses at ‘magic prices’. Since it was not directly relevant to the building it came from, Sheffield Museum didn’t want to add it to their social history collection. After some quick research, I found a museum in Cornwall called ‘The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic’ and I thought they might be interested in having the sign. It turns out they are! So after a long stay in the basement in the Sheffield office, she is finally flying down south to her new home in Boscastle.
By Jess Tibber, Finds and Archives Officer. Thanks to Jess for arranging this donation to the Museum.
You can see where she was originally displayed on the top of this building below:
Periodically, we change the visitor comments outside the Museum. This is to keep them updated with the views of recent visitors but they also get faded by the sun quite quickly in the Harbour. Here is a selection of current visitor comments on display.
Nice comment about the Museum, unusual pheasant comment!?
From October 20th 2017-February 28th 2018, the British Library will be holding a major exhibition on magic based around the Harry Potter franchise. This will include magical books and objects. The British Library have approached the Museum about loaning several items to take part in this major exhibition which will be in London for several months before travelling worldwide.
Last week, the British Library sent their photographers to take photos of the Museum’s objects for their exhibition book. The Museum is always happy when anyone is interested in witchcraft and magic and we are really pleased for our objects to reach new audiences and enchant young and old alike and we are excited to see how our objects fit into the exhibition when it opens later this year!
We have a new exhibition and a lot of events at the Museum this year. To help people keep track of the events, we have created an “events booklet” for 2017 with all the dates you need to know in it. Some events (such as workshops) are arranged at slightly shorter notice and so they won’t appear in the booklet but will be on our website events page and also our facebook and twitter pages. Events booklets are freely available in the Museum. If you would like one posting to you, please email Judith at the Museum (firstname.lastname@example.org). Thanks to the Friends of the Museum for paying for these leaflets.
Below: the booklet contains a calendar overview of events and also more detail on each.
We also have some posters that have been created to advertise our candlelit evenings (the first of which is coming up on Saturday April 15th), guided walks around Boscastle by Steve Patterson (these start in July) and our exhibition for this year: Poppets, pins and power. If you would copies of these posters to display near you then please email your name, postal address and which posters and how many posters you would like to receive.
We would really appreciate people’s help in promoting these events and making them a success – thanks in advance for your support!
Over winter, we had quite a lot of book donations to the library. These all needed sorting to check for duplicates, then cataloguing, then covering, then having a label made for them and then arranging in our library. Yesterday was a momentous day for us as we finally finished tidying the library! All the books are catalogued, covered, labelled and put away! Thanks to everyone who donated books to us (they are going to a good home!) and also to the volunteers (members of the Friends of the Museum organisation) who helped make this happen – Skylark, Rebecca and Steve.
Here are some photos of Peter and Steve tidying the library. If you want to use the library (it is available to all by prior appointment), please contact the Museum and give us at least 24 hours notice before your planned visit.
Below: the pile of books to be sorted through at the start of the day.
Below: volunteer and Friend of the Museum Steve putting away some books.
Below: the pile of unsorted books shrinks.
Below: Museum manager Peter.
And at the end of the day – a lovely tidy library with even more books in it!