One night Mark Cocker followed the roiling, deafening flock of rooks and jackdaws which regularly passed over his Norfolk home on their way to roost in the Yare valley. From the moment he watched the multitudes blossom as a mysterious dark flower above the night woods, these gloriously commonplace birds were unsheathed entirely from their ordinariness. They became for Cocker a fixation and a way of life. In his book “Crow Country” – widely considered the best of the recent boom of nature writers – Cocker goes in search of them, journeying from the cavernous, deadened heartland of South England to the hills of Dumfriesshire, experiencing spectacular failures alongside magical successes and epiphanies. Step by step he uncovers the complexities of the birds’ inner lives, the unforeseen richness hidden in the raucous crow song he calls ‘our landscape made audible’. Crow Country is a prose poem in a long tradition of English pastoral writing. It is also a reminder that ‘Crow Country’ is not ‘ours’: it is a landscape which we cohabit with thousands of other species, and these richly complex fellowships cannot be valued too highly. Viktor Wynd is especially delighted that Mark Cocker has so generously consented to speak as for many years, obsessed by Crow Country, he has been trying to persuade Mark Cocker to leave Norfolk and come to London and give a talk. (photo Wynd with pet corvid Perdita .
Taken from her acclaimed book Calling the Spirits: A History of Seances, Lisa Morton explores our fascination with talking to the dead in this illustrated presentation. Beginning with how the common perception of the seance differs from the reality, Lisa will also explore the history of this extraordinary practice, all the way from Odysseus seeking otherworldly advice and King Saul defying his own ban on witchcraft, to the horrifying Roman witch Erichtho and the medieval necromancers, to the Victorian obsession with Spiritualism and seances. Lisa wraps up this overview with a few words about contemporary psychics, the most recent seance movies, and the current craze for paranormal investigating.
Along the way we’ll meet Edward Kelley, the medium who helped Dr. John Dee converse with angels; the Fox sisters, teenagers surrounded by ‘spirit rappings’; Daniel Dunglas Home, the ‘greatest medium of all time’; Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, whose unlikely friendship was forged, then riven, by the afterlife; and Helen Duncan, the medium whose trial in 1944 for witchcraft proved more popular to the public than news about the war. The talk also considers Ouija boards, the Society for Psychical Research, and skepticism vs. belief.
Speaker: Lisa Morton is a screenwriter, author of non-fiction books, and prose writer whose work was described by the American Library Association’s Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror as “consistently dark, unsettling, and frightening.” She is a six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award®, the author of four novels and over 150 short stories, and a world-class Halloween expert. Her recent releases include Weird Women: Classic Supernatural Fiction from Groundbreaking Female Writers 1852-1923 (co-edited with Leslie S. Klinger) and Calling the Spirits: A History of Seances. Lisa lives in Los Angeles and online at www.lisamorton.com.
Simon Costin, the museum’s director, will talk on the history of The Museum of Witchcraft & Magic, and look at some of the museum’s collection. The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, formerly known as the Museum of Witchcraft, is a museum dedicated to European witchcraft and magic located in the village of Boscastle in Cornwall, south-west England. It houses exhibits devoted to folk magic, ceremonial magic, Freemasonry, and Wicca, with its collection of such objects having been described as the largest in the world.
The museum was founded by the English folk magician Cecil Williamson in 1951 to display his own personal collection of artefacts. Initially known as the Folklore Centre of Superstition and Witchcraft, it was located in the town of Castletown on the Isle of Man. Williamson was assisted at the museum by the prominent Wiccan Gerald Gardner, who remained there as “resident witch”. After their friendship deteriorated, Gardner purchased it from Williamson in 1954, renaming it the Museum of Magic and Witchcraft. Gardner’s Castletown museum remained open until the 1970s, when Gardner’s heir Monique Wilson sold its contents to the Ripley’s company.
In 1954, Williamson opened his own rival back in England, known as the Museum of Witchcraft. Its first location was at Windsor, Berkshire, and the next at Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire; in both cases it faced violent opposition and Williamson felt it necessary to move, establishing the museum in Boscastle in 1960. In 1996 Williamson sold the museum to Graham King, who incorporated the Richel collection of magical regalia from the Netherlands in 2000. The museum was damaged and part of its collection lost during the Boscastle flood of 2004. In 2013 ownership was transferred to Simon Costin and his Museum of British Folklore.
In this lecture Peter Godfrey-Smith brings his parallel careers as a philosopher of science and a scuba diver together to tell a bold new story of how nature became aware of itself. Mammals and birds are widely seen as the smartest creatures on earth. But one other branch of the tree of life has also sprouted higher intelligence: the cephalopods, consisting of the squid, the cuttlefish, and above all the octopus. New research shows that these marvelous creatures display remarkable gifts, with each of their tentacles even capable of thinking for itself. What does it mean that higher intelligence on earth has evolved not once but twice? And that the mind of the octopus is nonetheless so different from our own? Combining science and philosophy with first hand accounts of his cephalopod encounters, Godfrey-Smith shows how primitive organisms bobbing in the ocean began sending signals to each other and how these early forms of communication gave rise to the advanced nervous systems that permit cephalopods to change colours and human beings to speak. By tracing the problem of consciousness back to its roots and comparing the human brain to its most alien and perhaps most remarkable animal relative this lecture sheds new light on one of our most abiding mysteries.
Speaker: Peter Godfrey-Smith is a professor in the School of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Sydney.
Let Viktor Wynd share a nightcap with you, tuck you into bed and tell you Fairy Tales to send you into a deep sleep of strange dreams. Be warned these are not the Ladybird or Disney verisons and may not be suitable for the tenderist ears.
Ireland has some of the richest, most marvellous and most wonderful fairy tales – Viktor Wynd will tell you some more of his favourites, replete with supernatural beings and strange happenings.
Viktor Wynd, proprietor of London’s eponymous (nay infamous) Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & UnNatural History has spent the last twenty five years telling stories to audiences across the globe. Fascinated by traditional fairy tales his repetoire includes tales from The Brothers Grimm, The Arabian Nights, Scandinavia, Russia, Italy, France, Irieland, Africa, Papua New Guinea & North America – so far.
Two Part Course
Part One – Sunday 14th November 7pm-9pm
Part Two – Sunday 21st November 7pm-9pm
Ticket is both parts
We need Chaos Magick more than ever since the explosion of magickal thinking that has followed the lockdowns. People are getting into magick without a critical perspective, resulting in the current rash of deranged conspiracy theories. Chaos Magick provides multiple perspectives, a beacon of magickal sanity in a world gone mad.
Join this course and learn about belief as a technique, about the use of extraordinary states of consciousness (gnosis) and discuss theories old and new as to what makes magic work.
But mainly come along to learn what things we need in order to do magick, and then to do some!
This mini-course, two two-hour sessions, will include banishing, formulating magickal intentions, gnosis, evocation and invocation. Sigils are covered in the separate, complementary course Sigil Magick.
Dave Lee is a magician, breathwork coach and writer. He has spent over four decades exploring consciousness and changing realities, using techniques that include meditation, magick, psychedelics and energy work. He is a leading light in the Chaos Magic organization the Illuminates Of Thanateros and a Master of Rune-Lore in the Rune-Gild.
Join The Apothecary’s Daughter on this Vernal Equinox as she touches on the organs of elimination whilst discussing the merits of classic cleansing herbs, from dandelion to milk thistle, that encourage a lightness of being within the body and soul.
An equinox signifies an equal length of time between night and day, and is the ideal time to assess the equilibrium in one’s life: what needs to be eliminated and sacrificed to make way for the planting of new seeds.
This annual rite of spring extends beyond popular notions of detox, and is about living in tune with the seasons, recognising the wonder of weeds, and preparing rituals for self-care and nourishment.
Maria Vlotides began The Apothecary’s Daughter after completing a degree in Herbal Medicine at the University of Westminster in 2007. Having initially read PPE at Oxford University during the dark ages, she found herself hanging out with increasing regularity at the University’s Botanical Garden, fascinated by plant beds and the magic held within leaves and buds. She had a clinical practice until 2016 and has since continued to focus on teaching and writing. Her book Pharmapoetica in collaboration with poet and author Chris McCabe was nominated for the Ted Hughes Award in 2013. Visit www.the-apothecarys-daughter.com
In March 2020 Viktor Wynd’s book The UnNatural History Museum was published by Prestel, after a brief spur of delight the world moved onto other things. This is the lecture that would have happened accross the country in 2020 & will be illustrated from Mr.Wynd’s home not only with photos but also with extraordinary objects
Viktor Wynd, master of the contemporary Wunderkabinett, is back with a collection of artifacts and curiosities that are more bizarre and wonderful than ever.
For over a decade, from a tiny storefront in east London, the artist Viktor Wynd has been reinventing the cabinet of curiosities for the 21st century. The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & UnNatural History is now one of the city’s most tantalizing tourist destinations. Wynd first introduced his worldview in the book Viktor Wynd’s Cabinet of Wonders, which John Waters called »an insanely delightful how-to guide . . . told with lunatic humor and absolute joy.« In this new volume, he takes readers on a tour inside his mildly-twisted mind, delving deeper into his philosophy of collecting, and describing personal connections to the objects he treasures. Written in his trademark charismatic style, which blends whimsical stories with odd facts and obscure references, this book is filled with lavish and theatrical photographs and drawings. Loosely organized into thematic chapters, it ponders the beauty of skulls and masks; explores beasts, freaks, monsters, fairies, and mermaids; covers magical plants, hallucinogens, erotica, and dandies; and dips into the world of the occult. This might not be a book for everyone. However, it is a book everyone interested in cabinets of curiosities should have on their shelf.
Every year, as darkness falls upon woodlands, the nightingale heralds the arrival of Spring. For thousands of years, its sweet song has inspired musicians, writers and artists around the world, from Germany, France and Italy to Greece, Ukraine and Korea.
Passionate conservationist, renowned musician and folk expert Sam Lee tells the story of the nightingale. This talk reveals in beautiful detail the bird’s song, habitat, characteristics and migration patterns, as well as the environmental issues that threaten its livelihood.
This evening Ronald Hutton poses and answers the question of how and when the modern Western world came to have its most common image of what a goddess should be, as a divinity representing the natural world and the night sky in combination, often appearing in three forms, as maiden, mother and crone. He looks at the ancient sources for these concepts, and then at the way in which the image of the goddess in this form came to take over poetry and novels, and then visions of the prehistoric past of humanity. He goes on to consider the manner in which it became mixed up in feminist politics in the later twentieth century, with precisely opposite results among American and British radicals. Finally it asks what options, opportunities and personal choices this concept of the divine feminine provides for us.