Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Owls swoop into the Harbour

At the Pagan Federation Cornwall, Devon and the Isles of Scilly Conference in March we all admired the metal owls made by Rory te Tigo, sculptor, artist and instrument maker (and all round lovely person!) from St. Just in Cornwall.  The owls were a hit with us all, Joyce even bought two of them at the PF do! To find out more about Rory and his work see:

Judith and Peter spent a while chatting with Rory while we were there the result of which is the creation of two fabulous large owls to hover in Hannah's office window.  As Rory said as part of our discussions, "Owls are magical animals but also have popular associations with magic thanks to Harry Potter".  

Smaller versions of the owls are available to buy from the shop and online shop.

The next step in this master plan?  To have a spotlight put above them so that they can seen at night...

Here they are (they are hard to photograph in the space but we did our best!)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Poster of the Week Two...

These posters were designed for the Museum by students at the University of Wolverhampton.  We're going to showcase them all online (and in the Museum) and then ask people to vote for their favourite (it will be a tough decision!)

This poster was designed by Mary Philips.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Mystery herbs appear outside the Museum

For several years, the Museum has had a herb garden in front called "Joan's Garden".  We regularly add new plants, water, weed and dead head it to keep it looking good.  A couple of weeks ago some new herbs appeared in the planter outside.  Peter assumed Judith had planted them, Judith assumed Peter had planted them but it turns out none of the Museum staff had planted them!  They were a rather sickly looking Basil plant and an emaciated Parsley plant.  They are now both thriving.  Strange, kind things like this seem to be part and parcel of working at a Witchcraft Museum! Thanks to the mystery person who added to our herb garden.

Above: the mystery mint in the foreground next to the lemonbalm we planted.

Graham King ends his walk!

Graham King, owner and Director of the Museum for many years has finished his walk from Land's End to Joan O'Groats.  Well done Graham!

On a slightly older section of Graham's blog there is an interesting bit on witchcraft on Scotland...

Above: Simon Costin (Museum Director) with Graham (on the right).

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Straw Art Course on September 10th - book now!

A chance to develop straw art skills with Gillian Nott.  Find out about different techniques and traditions and make some wonderful pieces of art!  If you've never done this before come and learn the basics of this ancient seasonal craft.  If you've attended one of the courses before now is the chance to develop your skills further.  All materials provided (just bring a towel and a pair of sharp scissors on the day).

Possible projects this time include:
A mell doll (with apple) photographed below.

And a Welsh Fan (photographed below).

This is the second year that the Museum has hosted Straw Art Days, they are very popular, informal and fun.  

Saturday September 10th, upstairs room at the National Trust Visitor's Centre, Boscastle (next door to the Museum)
Places are limited to ten people maximum.
Open to all, prior booking essential (pay on the day).
Tickets £20 per person.
To book: email Judith at the Museum or phone 01840 250111.

If you're going to come, you can tell people about it and post photos on our Facebook event page:

Black Pullet "iron on" badges

Arguably, one of the most interesting displays in the Museum is the collection of talismans which were created by Mrs A Dodsworth based on the 18th century book or grimoire "The Black Pullet".  They have been in the Museum since the 1960s and are now displayed near herbs and healing on the way to the wise woman's cottage (see photo below).

Thoughts have been whirling for a while for a way to enable visitors to "take home" or "make their own" version of these talismans.  It had to be something on textiles to stay true to the objects and there was talk of a cross stitch kit and we also briefly considered a tea towel.

Now, we have a shop stock item which incorporates the ideas and motifs of the Black Pullet - iron on (or sew on) fabric badges.  We commissioned two designs, photographed below are the original talismans and the copies (available to buy from the shop and online shop for £2).  

The black design is said to "give discernment for the good or bad intentions of any person" while the yellow design is said to "endow the possessor with every virtue and talent as well as a desire to do good".  

Article about the Museum on Wiccan Rede website

Many thanks to Morgana for the great write up!

The Museum has a lot of Wiccan items, Gerald Gardner was involved in the Museum in the early days as its "resident witch".  Here he is photographed outside the Witch's Mill (the Museum's name when it was on the Isle of Man).

Above: this painting is in our Modern Witchcraft gallery.  It shows Gerald Gardner.  It was painted by Lisa Berkshire.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Serious weirdness combined with a touch of self-parody: NEW MUSEUM T-SHIRTS!

New t-shirts have arrived and they look great!

They are £10 each with sizes from S to XXL.  We recommend that you order yours now as they are a limited run and are already selling faster than a dalmation/collie cross on acid!

Joyce waxes lyrical about the new design:

Serious weirdness is combined with a touch of self-parody in this t-shirt based on a leaflet produced by the Museum in the 1960s.

The black t-shirt features a black and white design of a skeleton wearing a cloak and a witch's hat (with a ghostly cat perched on the brim), and holding a broomstick in one hand and a goat-headed staff in the other. Behind the skeleton is a globe, and the caption reads, "The World of Witchcraft & The Magic Makers".

A very unusual, exclusive design, with fine detail giving an eerie, spectral effect. The t-shirt also has the Museum's twig wand logo in white on the back.

Based on a lino-print from the 1960s...

... these t-shirts were weird before being weird was cool!

Monday, June 06, 2016

Guided walk from the Museum July 6th

Folklorist Steve Patterson will lead a walk to the magical places of Boscastle including the Harbour, the Valency Valley, Willapark, the Stitches and more...Experience Boscastle in a unique way and spot things you've never seen before!  Steve is a very charismatic guide and talks about folklore with enthusiasm and knowledge.  It will be a walk to remember.  Pay on the day £7 (including a visit to the Museum).  Meet outside the Museum at 2pm.

Poster of the Week

Dr. Louise Fenton, Senior Lecturer in Visual Communication at the University of Wolverhampton has been visiting the Museum for many years, she is a Friend of the Museum and has spent a lot of time researching the poppets in the Museum's collection.  Her research will be published next year by Troy Books.

She recently visited the Museum and dropped off some wonderful posters that her students had created for the Museum.  We thought they were amazing but we can't decide which we like the most.  They are all going to go on display in the Museum (on the stairs near Joan's cottage) so visitors can see them.  We are going to put one a week on the blog from now on and then ask people to tell us their favourite in a few weeks time.  We were thinking that the winning poster design could be made into a poster for sale in the Museum shop.

Here is poster number one by Ricky Bruce...

New advert in Pagan Dawn

Nice to see our new advert in the Beltane edition of Pagan Dawn, thanks as always to the Pagan Federation for their support of the Museum.

Halloween Day of Talks more detail on the speakers

Mogg Morgan (Astro Egypt) author of "The Ritual Year in Ancient Egypt" published by Mandrake of Oxford, UK.
          Halloween and ancient astro-archaeology
Based mainly on Egyptian sources. Was Halloween celebrated in the most ancient of all religions, that of the stars?

"The first day of this month then is special and set aside to a god that may be obscure but no less interesting for that. This is the time of Nehebkau. Like many Egyptian gods, it can sometimes be difficult to decide whether he be god or demon. It’a as well to remind ourselves that all Egyptian gods, like the elements, can have their unpleasant side. Nehebkau is a serpent divinity with an alarming resemblance to that most chaotic of entities, Apophis. "

Tickets are selling well, remember pre-booking and payment for this is essential!  We also have a Facebook event site so you can tell people you are coming/recommend it to your FB friends.

£25 per person
Ways to pay
By paypal.  Our paypal account is: please put the reference "Halloween" when paying.
By card: phone the Museum on 01840250111 and complete the transaction using a credit or debit card
By cash: pop into the Museum and pay at the counter
By cheque: send a cheque made payable to Museum of Witchcraft to our address: the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, the Harbour, Boscastle, PL35 0HD

Any issues, email the Museum:

Persecution Memorial

In 2015, the Persecution display was refurbished and extended.  It now includes a timeline overview of "Witchcraft, Magic and the Law" from the ancient world to the present day (almost - 2008!), a display on the power of print and significant texts on witchcraft, a look at the Pendle Case in detail and an exploration of trials (including the weighing chair).

The focal point of the display is the mannequin, the faceless, nameless victim of persecution.  It is a woman (although many cases involved men) but represents all those who were victimised and silenced (she is wearing a scold's bridle).

For a long time, the Museum has displayed a list of those who died.  Not a comprehensive list (so many names and cases are unknown) but a significant number of names, places and dates associated with persecution.  We wanted to retain this (and it is still on display) but we also wanted to extend it to include more detail of some cases when that detail is known.

We wanted this to feel like a memorial, we imagined this mannequin representing these people when they were incarcerated, writing graffiti on their cell wall about their case.  The figure would no longer be nameless but the visitor could use them to project different stories onto.  What led them to being chained in this way?  These accounts give us some idea.  We wanted the display to feel personal, to include women and men, to span as wide a period as possible and to include information from accusations and confessions.

At our recent May Event, attendees were asked if they would write a memorial based on research done by the Museum team.  Many people took us up on this offer and contributed their time, energy and love to making this memorial.  The handwritten texts convey the individuality of each person accused and also the individuality and perspective of the person who wrote it.  It is a symbolic link between witchcraft in the past and the present.

We think it is visually striking, interesting and thought provoking and we value it all the more for having the help of people who care about the Museum and feel passionately about the treatment of those accused of witchcraft in the past.

Above: the list of those who died is still on display.

Here are some of the cases which appear in the display, they had to be shortened for space (books have been written on some of these cases so we make no claims to have written comprehensive histories in a couple of sentences!)  For a full look, best to visit the Museum!

 Petronilla de Meath 
Dame Alice Kyteler was accused of murdering her husbands using sorcery and poison but escaped execution.  Her servant, Petronilla, was accused of being an accomplice; she was tortured and confessed to witchcraft.
Flogged and burnt at the stake, Kilkenny, 1324.

Dummy the Witch
Accused of bewitching a young girl and thrown into a stream by a drunken mob.
Died of pneumonia, Sible Hebingham, 1863.
Two of the mob were charged with his murder.

Alice, Agnes and John Samuel
“The Witches of Warboys”
Accused of causing children and servants to have fits and to having caused the death of Lady Cromwell by uttering the words: “Madam, why do you use me thus? I never did you any harm as yet.”
Hanged, Cambridgeshire, 1593.

Mary Baguely
Accused by a schoolmaster’s wife of bewitching him to death.  She was accused of crushing his heart in pieces, causing him to sweat and cough up blood.  Before he died, he said she had squeezed the life out of him.
Hanged, Chester, 1675.

Michael and Alice Trevysard and their son Peter.
Accused of using witchcraft to cause accidents, including making ships catch fire and sink.
Dartmouth, 1602.
Alice and Michael hanged.
Peter escaped arrest, and was married (to Joan Colman) in St Clement's Church in Dartmouth in 1615.

Gwen Ellis
Accused of making a charm (written backwards) to bewitch a local magistrate and causing death by witchcraft.
Hanged, Denbigh, 1594.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Joan's cottage CD can now be bought online

Last year, the soundtrack to Joan's cottage was changed.  The previous one had been playing for around ten years and when Gemma Gary and Jane Cox (of Troy Books) and Steve Patterson (folklorist and author of Cecil Williamson's book of Witchcraft) suggested a new recording we were happy to see what they produced.  The new soundtrack is first rate and played for most of last season incorporating many West Country charms as well words of wisdom and advice from Joan.

You can now buy the soundtrack (complete with original music) from the Museum's online shop for £10. It comes with lots of information and runs for around half an hour.  Our thanks to everyone involved in this project.

New visitors comments on board outside the Museum

The sun has been shining so much recently that the visitor comments were starting to fade so we put some new ones up outside.  Here is a selection...