Monday, July 06, 2015

Library Day

On Saturday we opened our Library to visitors.  A selection of books were on display:  ranging from Culpeper's Complete Herbal (1793 edition), Glanvil's Saducismus Triumphatus, John Dee's Actions With Spirits and the intriguing The Horseman's Word (published by Caduceus Books).  The selection of books were arranged thematically to help people browse some of the main themes of the Museum.

It was a great chance for day visitors to drop in to see the range of works available for use in the library (usually we ask for 24hr notice for library use).  It was well attended and we will continue to have Library Open Days on the first Saturday of every month, 2pm til 4pm.  Why not come down and have a look?

English Magical Traditions and Witchcraft
Nicholas Culpeper, The Complete Herbal 1653
An important English herbal collecting centuries of herb-lore, referencing both English folklore and classical works.  Includes the medicinal and magical properties of plants.
Joseph Glanvil, Sadducismus Triumphatus 1681
After a period of intense witch hunting, the English elite were fed up with witchcraft and the supernatural.  According to Glanvil, giving up belief in the active presence of witches and the devil would lead to ‘atheism’.  This study includes insights into the lives of cunning men and women, and includes one of the earliest accounts of a ‘witch bottle’ being used to counter witchcraft.
The book of Oberon:  A sourcebook of Elizabethan Magic
A new translation of the Lenkiewicz MS, now in the Folger Library, blending theurgic and English folk magic. 

Ritual Magic
JOHN DEE, ACTIONS WITH SPIRITS, manuscript 1581-1583 (republished)
John Dee (1527-1608/9) was a famous scientist, mathematician and occultist.  He was briefly imprisoned in 1555, accused of using enchantments against the Queen’s life (Mary I).  He regained popularity under Elizabeth I in 1558, but his magical research peaked in 1582 when he met Edward Kelly.  Kelly began to act as his medium helping him to contact spirits.  This was part of his wider ‘scientific’ interest, the desire to read ‘the Book of Nature’ in order to find ‘true wisdom’.  The use of rituals, especially to contact daimones and angels, were recorded in ancient and medieval texts.
The Horseman’s Word 2009
The Society of the Horseman’s Word was a secret society that operated in Scotland c. 1700-1900. Its members were drawn from those who worked with horses and involved the teaching of magical rituals that enabled the individual to control both horses and people. It also acted as a form of trade union, aiming to gain better rights for its members.
The Toadmen are an English and Welsh equivalent, being another society that could tame animals.  They carried with them a bone of a toad or frog – the getting of which was an initiation into the craft.
Although there were many other ritual magicians, few have had as much influence as Crowley.  He was a member of the Golden Dawn, and later the Ordo Templi Orientis or O.T.O., both of which were part of Freemasonry.  Crowley was particularly drawn to ‘sex magic’ – harnessing the power of love-making or orgasm.  Crowley bemoaned the ‘tyranny of the Sunday school’, and believed that mankind was entering into the Aeon of Horus, a new era in which humans would take increasing control of their destiny.  He believed that all human beings have their own True Will, the following of which would bring one into harmony with the Cosmic Will (Thelema) – this is distilled into the Thelemite ethical code:  “Do what thou wilt”.

Murray and Gardner
Margaret Murray, The Witch Cult in Western Europe & The God of The Witches, 1921 and 1933
Two important works which articulated a century deeply held feelings (expressed in a more esoteric form by Crowley, and by countless Romantic artists) about the nature of religion, culture and history.  Murray convinced many lay readers that there was in ancient and medieval Europe a Goddess religion, expressed in the form of witchcraft.  This cult was persecuted and almost extinguished in the early modern period (during the witch-hunts).  She also suggested that witches had a masculine deity, The Horned God, and that witches worked in covens of 13 members.  She suggested that witches did all the things the Church and state had accused them of, such as ritual sexual intercourse, human and animal sacrifice.
Gerald B. Gardner (scire), High Magic’s Aid & The Meaning of Witchcraft, 1949 And 1954
Gardner’s novel High Magic’s Aid shows his interest in Crowleyian ritual magic and witchcraft (he was a member of Crowley’s O.T.O.).  Increasingly, Gardner devoted more time to studying English witches;  The Meaning of Witchcraft is his journalistic account of a coven of traditional witches working in the New Forest.
Gardner worked as the resident witch in the 1950s at the Witches’ Mill in Castletown, Isle of Man, together with Cecil Williamson who founded this Museum in 1960. 

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