Monday, September 29, 2014

Museum of Witchcraft to be on Antiques Road Trip Tuesday 30th September at 4.30pm!

Don't miss it - see Joyce from the Museum on BBC1 tomorrow at 4.30pm.  After it has shown we will post the iplayer address in case you missed it.

Leaflets available to view online

Our new "I like" leaflets are proving very popular with visitors to the Museum.  People pick a subject that interests them and the leaflets guide them to objects in the Museum's collection that fit with that theme.  There isn't much information on each leaflet as the visitor can find the object and the text that goes with it in the Museum.  These leaflets can now be viewed online as well.

There are four leaflets:
I like nature
I like art
I like a good story
I like unusual things

Cecil Williamson book by Steve Patterson now available to buy from Museum Shop

We are really pleased to announce that you can now buy Cecil Williamson's Book of Witchcraft: A Grimoire of the Museum of Witchcraft by Steve Patterson from the Museum Shop in Boscastle but also from our online shop for £27.

This is the first book to do justice to the remarkable role played by Cecil Williamson, founder of the Museum of Witchcraft, in preserving our magical traditions. It consists of the text of his magical notebook, together with detailed notes and a biography of Cecil by Steve Patterson (whose long relationship with the Museum and profound understanding of British magic make him the ideal editor).

In his Introduction, Steve writes, “Cecil Williamson’s ‘Witchcraft’ Manuscript falls roughly into two halves; the first two sections being a collection of folklore, witchcraft, spells and charms. The final two sections are quite different, seeking to link the magic of Ancient Egypt with the witch traditions…. One could well imagine the first part as being his record of the traditions imparted to him by his informants over the museum counter, whilst the latter part was the result of his musings and observations whilst wandering around the British Museum.”

It is published by Troy Books to their usual high standard of book production, and illustrated with a wealth of black and white photographs of Cecil and the Museum in its various stages of development.

Thanks to everyone who voted for us for the Cornwall Today Awards

Thank-you so much to the people who took the time to vote for us as 'Best Museum' in the Cornwall Today Awards.  We really appreciated your support.  Sadly, we didn't win this time but there is always next year!  The winners were the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth.  We had an interesting evening and received a certificate for being highly commended which is now hanging with pride in the Museum entrance.

Interesting article on witchcraft, misogyny and a British Museum exhibition

You can read an online article about witchcraft and misogyny which also looks at the British Museum exhibition 'Witches and Wicked Bodies' (previously on display in Scotland) here:

We have the exhibition catalogue from the Scottish exhibition in the Museum Library and it is well worth a read if you don't manage to get to the exhibition.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

October Course Every Thursday in October

Please could people booked onto the October course (every Thursday in October 2-4pm) please contact the Museum:
01840 250111

AAH & University of Wolverhampton poppet research project in full swing

Earlier this month, Dr Louise Fenton from the University of Wolverhampton began researching the origins of some of the poppets held in the Museum collection. Some of you may have heard Louise talk last year at the Wellington when she uncovered her findings on three of the poppets she looked at previously. The research is funded by the Association of Art Historians to foster collaborations between Museums and Universities and they were keen to support this particular project. Louise will be making several visits over the next year and hopefully will uncover more of the secrets held in the cabinets of curses!

Louise has already uncovered some fascinating information regarding the people, places and motives for cursing using some of the poppets in the museum collection.  This project will deepen public understanding of twentieth century folk magic, provide vital provenance for our collections, and inspire more projects and collaborative work with universities and researchers in the future.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

New Window Display

We have a new display in celebration of autumn and the harvest.  It features a wide variety of corn art created by Gillian Nott.  The pieces are truly beautiful and look fantastic on Marti Dean's stag's head.  This 'kern babby' has this poem near it.

Corn Dolly Poem (by Minnie Lambeth)
 "Tis but a thing of straw" They say,
Yet even straw can sturdy be
Plaited into doll like me.
And in the days of long ago
To help the seeds once more grow
I was an offering to the gods.
A very simple way indeed
Of asking them to intercede
That barn and granary o'erflow
At harvest time, with fruit and corn
To fill again Amalthea's horn.

If you are in the area, come and have a look!  

Friday, September 19, 2014

Video filmed in Museum Library now available to watch

A couple of weeks ago Steve Patterson was interviewed in the Museum library about his book on Cecil Williamson (the founder of the Museum of Witchcraft).  The video is now available to watch. Thanks to Troy Books for providing us with this.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Unique visit to Dartmoor

Last Saturday Joyce and Kerriann met up with a group of Swiss witches at the beautiful setting of the Nine Maidens stone circle at Belstone on Dartmoor. Leading the group were Wicca and Biba and their gorgeous German Shepherd Cheyenne of the Swiss Witchcraft Museum Hexenmuseum Schweiz.

It was the perfect location to talk about how traditional magic explores our relationship with the natural world, as we handed round examples of the wealth of magical objects derived from Nature – including a swallow’s feather, an ammonite, and a lovely hazelnut charm from the Museum.

It was fascinating to learn more about Swiss magical traditions, which cast new light on some of our objects. In Switzerland ammonites were associated with snakes, and were thought to give the power to speak the language of animals. A Swiss folktale tells how a girl was given three hazelnuts that granted her three wishes. And apparently if a church minister looked at his congregation through the cross-shaped hole on the end of his church key, he would be able to see which of them were witches!

Wicca has recently written an excellent book about amulets and talismans, and kindly donated a copy to the museum library (see photo above). Remarkably, it includes a section on the strange animal muzzle amulets that have been puzzling us ever since one was donated to the Museum in 2012. Now, thanks to Wicca, we know that it was worn as protection against impotence caused by witchcraft!  Photo of the amulet below.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Radio programme to listen out for this Friday

The Museum of Witchcraft shop now stocks Levannah Morgan's book A Witch's Mirror the Art of Making Magic.  Levannah will be doing a radio interview about the book on an internet radio station this Friday at 6pm.  You can listen to the interview using this link 

and buy the book from us

Friday, September 12, 2014

Winter opening

This year, the Museum will not be closing completely for the winter.  We will be open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10.30am to 4pm (last entry at 3.30pm) in November and December.  We will also be open every day of the Christmas period except for the major holidays (see below for exact dates)

Open 10.30-4pm December 20th-23rd
Closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day
Open December 27th-30th
Closed New Year's Eve and New Year's Day
Open 2nd-4th

We will then be completely closed from January 5th until the Easter school holiday (around March 23rd) when we will re-open for the 2015 summer season and be open every day until October 31st.

This new opening is a trial and we hope that it will be supported by visitors to Boscastle, local businesses, Friends of the Museum and by local people who may not get the chance to visit the Museum themselves during the busy summer months.  Our Museum shop and online shop will also be open for business if you are looking for unusual Christmas presents.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Lots of new shop stock now available on online shop

Over the summer months we've tried out some new lines in the Museum shop.  Some have proven very popular with our visitors and have now been added to our online shop.  Have a look - we have new jewellery, books, keyrings and assorted witchy wares!

Monday, September 08, 2014

Museum of Witchcraft takes part in Boscastle Food Festival

This year we will be taking part in the very popular Food Festival here in Boscastle.  We'll be offering people who visit the Food Festival £1 off their entry to the Museum and we will also have a stall in the Museum shop with food stuffs for people to try and buy.  

The products are all made in Cornwall and sold by local company, Luscious Lucy Cornwall.  Holly forages for ingredients herself and creates beautiful products to traditional recipes.  She is going to bring a range of syrups, jams and other assorted loveliness - one particular highlight will be warm spiced drinks made with elderberry.  Pop in, buy and support the Food Festival on Saturday October 4 and Sunday October 5th.

Coincidentally, this is also the weekend of our last candlelit evening of the year so if you come along and enjoy the Food Festival during Saturday then you can visit the Museum in the evening between 8pm and midnight at the discounted rate.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Museum open late this Saturday

Don't forget - the Museum is open for a candlelit evening on Saturday September 6th (tomorrow).  Come along at any time between 8pm and 11.30pm to enjoy the Museum at night (we close at midnight)  There is no need to book - just come along, pay your admission and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Invite to London Book Launch from the author

The Cecil Williamson Book of Witchcraft - a Grimoire of the Museum of Witchcraft by Steve Patterson (Troy Books 2014) 

Steve said, "This book contains not only a treatise of the modusoperandi of the old craft drawn from the man's own eye witness account but also much of Cecil Williamson's previously unpublished material including his own enigmatic spell book!  The book launch will be held at the Atlantis bookshop in London, 6.30pm Friday 5th September - come along!"

Monday, September 01, 2014

September Book Review

James Sharpe
Instruments of Darkness: Witchcraft in Early Modern England
(University of Pennsylvania Press)

This book explores witchcraft in early modern England.  It starts with an overview of historical scholarship on witchcraft so far exploring the early histories of witchcraft by Montague Summers, Jules Michelet and Margaret Murray before exploring the Freudian and feminist explanations of witch persecution.  He is critical of the terms 'witchcraze' and 'witch hunt', preferring the less strong term the “period of witch persecution in Europe”  This is in line with his thinking on the numbers of people executed at this time which he believes to have been closer 50,000 than the 9,000,000 million figure put forward by some.

Sharpe explores the origins of early modern ideas on witchcraft by considering the influences of the Classical World, St Augustine and St Thomas Aquinas.  He charts in detail the key texts which structured early modern thinking on witchcraft and explores theological and legal arguments for witch hunting as well as the attitudes of the multitude.

Chapter 4 was particularly illuminating focusing on Patterns of Persecution.  Sharpe creates a statistical picture of the early modern period using available court records.  From the available evidence, he is able to state that the period 1570-1590 included half of all accusations for the entire early modern period with the other peak period being the 1650s, that victims of witchcraft were more likely to be female (54.2% of cases involved a female victim), that earlier accusations often related to the damage of livestock while later accusations involved children as victims.  There were also cases of people who were accused of bewitching beer, milk or cream but these only appear in trial records because the witch was also accused of more serious crimes.  

Sharpe focuses on the English notion on maleficium and suggests that some of the wilder accusations (i.e., Sabbats and sex with the Devil) were the exception rather than the rule in English witchcraft trials.  His book ends with explorations of the changing religious context and the role of science in the eighteenth century which, he argues, created more scepticism about witchcraft.