Friday, September 25, 2015

New window display installed for Samhain

Continuing our window displays to represent the festivals of the year for Samhain we have decorated the stag's antlers with talismans and amulets and the window also contains amulets from the Museum's collection.  Here are the texts as displayed in the window and some photos of the window display.

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:

Halloween or Samhain
31st October
Samhain is the most important of the cross quarter days celebrated by witches. It marks the beginning of winter, and is the eve of the Celtic New Year. On this night the Veil between the Worlds of life and death is at its most thin and the ancestors return to feast and celebrate with their living kin.

Of all the old pagan festivals, it is the most popular; children dress up as ghosts and witches and spooky fun is enjoyed by all. The origin of Trick or Treat may be to do with the Lord of Misrule, as boundaries dissolve mischievous spirits play havoc on mortals.

The Christian Church calls it All Hallows Eve or All Souls Eve. In the Midlands, Soul Cakes were baked and parties of “ Soulers” would go from house to house begging for these cakes in memory of the dead.

Celebrate Samhain by honouring the return of the Dark, for within it are the seeds of rebirth.  Send love and blessings to those of your family and friends who are dead, tonight they are near.

The window display features a display of amulets and charms.  Displayed with some information about them.

Amulets, Charms, Talismans
“An amulet protects us from what?...From witches, hobgoblins and little folk, from evil spirits that dwell in dark woods, at crossroads or in water, and in particular, from the evil eye.  Who or what does it protect?  The vulnerable or precious, such as hunters, babies, cows, houses and tractors.  Who protects us?  God, Allah, ancestors, benign spirits of the natural world.  With what?  With a complexity of materials and objects that range from such things as misshapen stones, cloves, rattling nutshells and moles’ paws, to blue glass beads and mirrors that express ideas of reflection and confronting an eye with an eye.”

October 31st is a liminal time, a time when the veil between the worlds is thin.  For many, this makes it a time to practise magic, a time when one may see more or gain more knowledge than would usually be available.  October 31st is a time when spirits are abroad: scary for some but entrancing to others.  To mark this special day, we have decorated our window display with magical objects: amulets, charms and talismans.  The stag itself is a protective symbol with horned amulets appearing around the world.  Stag’s antlers also adorn the outside of many houses perhaps because of the belief that a sharp point can pierce evil preventing it from entering the home or because they are symbols of regeneration and fertility.   You can find more about these types of objects inside the Museum in our protection magic display.

What are amulets, charms and talismans?
“An amulet is a device, the purpose of which is to protect, but by magical and not physical means—a lump of meteorite worn against gunfire is an amulet, a bullet proof vest is not.”
“A charm is believed to bring good luck, health and happiness.  In so doing, it might also be expected to protect from bad luck, sickness and misery, but protection is not its primary function. ”
“A talisman is something thought to be imbued with some magical property.  It can both protect, and radiate power, and is often used in a ritual.”
“There is always some overlap in the meaning of the three words and they are often used indiscriminately.”
Extracts taken from Amulets by Sheila Paine (2004).

Black and White Pentagrams
Above the stag hang two pentagrams carved by Rory te Tigo.  The white one is a Spiderleg Pentagram and the black one is a Dura Mater Pentagram.  The pentagram has long been believed to be a potent protection against evil.  The white and the black also seem emblematic of this time of year as summer light fades into winter’s dark.
Rory’s comments on these objects:
“Whilst the Five Arms of the Spiderleg have the shape of the rune Sowelu (the life force) the arms of the Dura Mater Pentagram pierce each other...At the same time like in the Spiderleg Pentagram this creates a protective sphere around a person or place.”
“I made this Dura Mater Pentagram for the Museum of Witchcraft as a "Dark Sister" to the Spiderleg Pentagram as all "White" things have a "Black" counterpart that is necessary for the balance of all things.   You may notice that the moon at the top of the Dura Mater Pentagram is twisted by 90 degrees to the plain of the circle of the Pentagram.  This is to express that whilst all things are "under the moon" i.e. within the realm of the mother goddess the plain of the negative energy of the Dura Mater Pentagram is offset by 90 degrees to the positive energy of the Spiderleg Pentagram.”

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