To tabloid newspapers, at least, one of the most striking features of modern Pagan witchcraft, or Wicca, has been the way in which many of its members have worked ceremonies in the nude. This mode of operation is certainly unusual for a religion; but how unusual is it, exactly? Ronald Hutton sets out to answer that question, and in doing so opens a door onto a world in which ritual nudity has been, since ancient times, a constant feature of two phenomena which stand outside the norms of world religion: magic and initiation rites. Why this has been so, and how it has been carried on, are two of the preoccupations of his talk; and with them a further question, of the implications of this historical background to religion in the modern world.

Speaker: Professor Ronald Hutton is a Professor of History at the University of Bristol. He is a leading authority on history of the British Isles in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, on ancient and medieval paganism and magic, and on the global context of witchcraft beliefs.