Friday, November 27, 2015

From the Museum store part four

These items (a mannequin in costume and three black and silver cut out witches) were given to us after the Museum helped with a display in Lancashire Museums.  They are being kept in store.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

From the Museum store part three

These items are in the Museum store.  They date from the early days of the Museum.

This colourful picture has holes where it eyes should be.  We've been told that it used to have glowing red eyes.  This look was achieved with red plastic and a light bulb.  You can clearly see this painting in the photo below which shows an old Museum display.

We are told that this cross formed part of an old Museum display on Ritual Magic as did the paintings below.

Maybe someday we'll have a temporary exhibition on Ritual Magic which would get these items on display and give us a chance to consider the subject in greater detail.

Visited by Young Farmers

The Museum was visited last night by a group of Cornish young farmers from nearby Camelford.  They enjoyed their visit and seemed particularly interested in the Wheel of the Year and our display of corn dollies (some of them had made these at one time - keeping the old traditions alive!)  It was great to have them here and we hope they'll come again!
Group visits are available by appointment at any time of year and guided tours can be arranged on request.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Objects from the Museum store part two

Graham King* told us that these boards were originally part of the Isle of Man displays and that he believed they were created by Cecil Williamson's* daughters.  When we looked on the back, we saw that they had an address in Windsor on them.  The Museum of Witchcraft was located in Windsor at one time.

*Cecil founded the Museum and Graham ran it until recently.

Photography volunteers get started

The Museum welcomed three enthusiastic volunteers this morning (who are all members of our Friends of the Museum organisation).  They have offered their time to help photograph objects in the Museum's collection so we can have a complete visual catalogue on our online database.

There will be more volunteers here tomorrow and over the next three months.  We will post some examples of their photos as they come in.

A very professional set up in the library.

They were so busy photographing they don't notice me taking this snap hence the startled looks!

Mad about Macbeth

Yesterday, the Museum was visited by a group of enthusiastic Year 8 students from Shebbear College in Devon.  They had been studying Macbeth in their English lessons and were brought on a visit to the Museum by their teacher Mr Wolverson.  We opened the Museum specially for the group and provided them with tasks to do.

The visit started in the library where the students were asked to describe what witches are like and how they behave in the play Macbeth.

The main theme of the visit was: Were Shakespeare's witches real?  And students were asked to think about what the witches do in Macbeth and whether or not the objects in the Museum's collection suggest that this is what witches actually do.

The students were given a variety of statements and they had to decide if they were true or false.  Some examples of the statements they were given:

In Macbeth, the witches use human body parts in their spells.  Human body parts are used in witchcraft. 

In Macbeth, the witches control the weather.  Witches really do things to try and change the weather. 

In Macbeth, the witches predict the future.  Witches really do try to see into the future.

In Macbeth, the witches interfere with kings and powerful people.  Witches are mostly concerned with kings and power.

 In Macbeth, the witches do spells that sound like poems.  Witches always speak their spells and they sound like poems.

In Macbeth, the witches make use a cauldron to make their magic.  Witches mainly use cauldrons to make their magic.

Can you guess which sections of the Museum they used as evidence to prove or disprove these statements?  You can see from the top photograph below how they used the divination display as evidence.

One of the statements the students had to consider was: In the play Macbeth, the witches seem to encourage Macbeth to do evil things.  Witches use their power to hurt people.  Is this true or false?  In the photo above you can see the students considering our cursing section and discussing it in light of the representation of witches in Macbeth.

Another statement the students considered was: In the play Macbeth, there are three witches.  Do witches always work in threes?  In the photo above, you can see the students looking in our Images of Witchcraft gallery at the section with the Macbeth plaque which explores the idea of witches as the Three Fates/the Unholy Trinity.  The students voted at the end on whether or not Shakespeare knew what he was talking about when it came to witchcraft.  Are the witches in Macbeth anything like real witches?  The students had mixed views and made some really interesting points.

The visit ended with the students considering some mystery objects and discussing the nature and uses of magic.  The students all seemed to enjoy themselves and were certainly intrigued by the Museum.  Their teacher said "We will be back!"  

The students do their best "witch crone" impressions outside the Museum!

School groups are very welcome at the Museum and visit tasks can be tailored to suit your groups needs.  Please contact Judith Hewitt at the Museum for more details.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Objects from the Museum store

As part of our refurbishment this year, the Museum team have been tidying up and rearranging the Museum storeroom.  We've unearthed some interesting items and we'll post a few photos of them over the next few days.  It is unlikely that these objects will find a permanent home in the Museum displays due to space constraints but they are being kept safely in store and who knows, they be on display again some time in the future.

If you have any information about these objects or remember how they were displayed in the Museum in the past, please do let us know!

First items to show you, some paintings.

The black and white photo shows how this painting was displayed when Cecil Williamson ran the Museum (he ran it from 1951 until 1996).

If you look carefully, you can see the painting above to the left of this photo of an old Museum display.

Museum appears in Celtic Family Magazine

The Museum was approached a few months ago for a piece in Celtic Family Magazine which is published in America.  We received a copy of the Fall edition of the magazine and were pleased to find that they have devoted six pages to the Museum.  This image shows the front cover with "The Witches of Cornwall" article advertised on the left.

Thanks to Maegan Langer who approached the Museum about this article.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The origins of Santa Claus

Interesting article...

Old Museum painting to be redisplayed?

This large painting has been in the Museum store for a while.  We've tried it out in the top gallery during the refurb and it may feature there when the whole area is redisplayed in 2016.

This photo shows how the painting used to be displayed in the Museum (it is on the wall at the back).

Thursday, November 19, 2015

New homes for old and loved objects

Yesterday was a busy day at the Museum.  While the builders cracked on upstairs clearing the top gallery, Judith and Peter worked on the existing displays.  The new upstairs display will involve some moving of objects to fit in with its overall theme and this means that not all the objects previously on display will be in future so we have had to find them new homes.  This hasn't been easy as the Museum is pretty full but here is what has been done.

Some of the Snowshill items (such as the Wondrous Candle) have been placed in working tools, some will have to be in store for this year.

The display of Aleister Crowley objects has been moved downstairs and is still in its own case.  It is its own self contained section.

Items from the Satanism display have been moved into the Images of Witchcraft gallery to create a new section: Witch's Brews and Hell's Fires which explores the links between witches and alcohol/bottles and images of the Devil and fire/ash.

The Austin Spare scrying crystal has been moved into the Divination Cabinet with information about him affixed to the wall to the right of the picture.

The Ritual Magic display has moved downstairs where the Golden Down items in particular add a lovely splash of colour.

Norway's monument to persecuted victims

This online article looks at the persecution of witches in Norway in the 1600s.  The people there have erected a monument which reflects on this period of their country's past.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Donation of object

We had a recent donation to the Museum which we thought would be interesting to our readers!

Wax cottage purchased in 2014 in Fatima Portugal [Object No. 2991]

This wax cottage was sold alongside wax body parts on stalls around the Christian shrine at Fatima, Portugal.  These are intended to be used as ex voto offerings given in gratitude to a saint for answered prayers or they are prayed over and placed in a shrine until the prayer is answered.  (Ex voto is from the Latin phrase, ex voto suscepto - 'from the vow made').  In this case one might pray that your house remains safe and sound, or that its occupants are protected.  Using a physical object as a focus to effect change in a likeness is an form of sympathetic magic.

Here it is on display in Christian Magic.

Read more about this item on our object catalogue: