Modern Druidry – Professor Ronald Hutton – Zoom Lecture

a recording of this lecture will be available to ticket holders for two weeks after the event

Since 1990, Druidry has emerged as one of the main components of contemporary spirituality, especially but not exclusively as part of the contemporary Pagan revival. This process is, however, but the latest aspect of a long series of interactions between the ancient figure of the Druid and modern culture, particularly in Britain. This talk is designed to consider those interactions, and the representations since 1700 of Druids as patriotic heroes, sages and scholars, exemplars of ecological self-awareness and mystics, and (alternatively) as bloodthirsty and bigoted priests who epitomised ignorance and oppression. It will show how Druid societies emerged in modern Britain, and spread across the Western world, and how eventually Druidry came to take its place as an important contemporary religious tradition, and why.

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.

The Historical King Arthur – Professor Ronald Hutton – Zoom Lecture

a recording of this lecture will be available to ticket holders for two weeks after the event

Arthur is probably the best-known legendary hero in Western tradition, to judge from the wide dispersal of the stories about him in modern culture, and especially their manifestations on the cinema and television screen and in novels. This draws in turn on his medieval popularity, which resulted in somebody who was originally a Welsh national figure becoming a subject for writers all over Western Europe. Was there, however, a genuine leader behind the later legend? This evening’s presentation looks at the evidence for one in historical texts and archaeological finds, and also at the way in which a general disposition among experts to believe in a historical Arthur in the years around 1970 turned into a general tendency not to believe in him during those around 2000. It will show that despite this, the issue is not closed down yet.

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.

The Festival of Lammas – Professor Ronald Hutton – Zoom Lecture

a recording of this lecture will be available to ticket holders for two weeks after the event

The major British and Irish festival that brought in the opening of the autumn season, with the grain harvest, was known in Ireland as Lughnasadh, in Wales as Gwyl Aust, and in England as Lammas, the Loaf-mass. The talk this evening looks at its history, in those three nations and in Scotland, and at its wider context, as a possible ancient pan-Celtic festival. It considers the feast’s associations with deities, and its customs in different places, and at the way in which it has developed and altered over time. It then goes on to look at the customs surrounding the grain harvest itself, with its ceremonies of reaping the fields and of the cutting of the last sheaf, and at the celebrations that followed the conclusion of it.

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.

The Hero Finn – Professor Ronald Hutton – Zoom Lecture

a recording of this lecture will be available to ticket holders for two weeks after the event

Fionn mac Cumhail (Finn mac Cool in English) is one of the great traditional heroes, the Irish and Scottish Gaelic equivalent to King Arthur. With his picked band of warriors, the Fianna, he defended Ireland against all foes, and as such they continue to feature as role models and inspirations for nationalist politics to this very day, giving their name to current political parties. They have also supplied world legend with some of its best stories and motifs, including the catching of the Salmon of Wisdom, the doomed love of Diarmid and Grainne and the return of Oisin from the Undying Lands. Even more than most heroic epics, the Finn cycle abounds with magic and enchantment, and encounters with other worlds. This talk is designed to ask when it originated, how it developed, and whether there was a real man behind it.

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

The talk will be followed by:

The Rise of Finn MacCoull- performed by Daniel Allison

Daniel Allison, storyteller and author of Finn & The Fianna, tells the story of how Finn tasted the Salmon of Wisdom and claimed his place as leader of the Fianna. Come along to hear one of the greatest Celtic tales brought to life by a master storyteller.

Brief Bio:

Daniel Allison is a USA Today bestselling author, oral storyteller and podcaster from Scotland. He is the author of Scottish Myths & Legends, Finn & The Fianna and The Shattering Sea. Daniel’s podcast House of Legends features tales told by himself and leading storytellers from around the world, while his Roundhouse Storytelling School provides a unique online training platform for emerging storytellers.

Daniel’s live performances are an intoxicating blend of Celtic legends and indigenous tribal tales. Darkness and beauty, heartbreak and wonder; these are stories with golden feathers and sharp teeth. Daniel has performed throughout the world, from the jungles of Peru to Thai villages, Hebridean hilltops and festivals in Singapore and Dubai, and is currently based in Thailand

Summer Festivals – Professor Ronald Hutton – Zoom Lecture

a recording of this lecture will be available to ticket holders for two weeks after the event

The traditional festivals which mark the coming and the height of the summer season in Britain – especially Beltane, the May Games and Midsummer – have left an especially deep impact on British memory and folk custom. This evening’s presentation maps out their history, and that of the rituals associated with them, including the Beltane fires, the may-pole, the Morris dance, the Robin Hood games, and the Midsummer bonfires, It also poses and answers the questions of what the coming of summer and of a solstice actually meant to pre-modern British people, and which was the sexiest of all old British festivals.

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.

Merlin – Professor Ronald Hutton – Zoom Lecture

a recording of this lecture will be available to ticket holders for two weeks after the event

King’s Arthur’s great counsellor and magician, Merlin, is the most famous of all wizards in traditional European literature. From medieval romances and histories through Pre-Raphaelite paintings to the modern television and cinema screen, he is a towering figure, at once omnipotent and vulnerable, triumphant and tragic. To medieval writers, he epitomised the allure and the danger of magic, while to modern counterparts he is alternately a Druid, a Christian holy man, or a figure straddling the pagan and Christian worlds. Those who have studied his origins know him as a tantalisingly complex character, founded at once in native Welsh legend and in Anglo-Norman historical romance. His ultimate starting-point, however, seems solidly historic: or does it? You are invited this evening to explore the original sources of his legend, and see if we can understand where it began and how it developed.

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.

The God Lugh and the Morrigan – Professor Ronald Hutton – Zoom Lecture

a recording of this lecture will be available to ticket holders for two weeks after the event

Lugh, the Many-Skilled, is the best-known of Irish male deities, and apparently the most popular. Handsome, charismatic, charming, and adept at all that he does, he has been called virtually the ideal designer god. In modern times he is often thought to have originally been identified with the sun. Scholars have linked him with the names of gods and places across Europe to turn him into the Irish version of a single ancient pan-Celtic deity, Lugus. Equally famous today is a sensationally feisty and charismatic Irish goddess, the Morrigan, who is regarded (and often feared) in modern memory as a deity of battle, darkness and terror. She also, however, operated in the medieval stories as a goddess of love, bestowing sovereignty and victory on gods and heroes with whom she mates. The purpose of this talk is to discover what the actual evidence is of both, and to see whether a closer relationship can be made with either in the process.

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.

The Goddess Brigid – Professor Ronald Hutton Zoom Lecture

a recording of this lecture will be available to ticket holders for two weeks after the event

Brigid (or Bridget, or Bride) is the most popular Irish goddess in the modern world. This is partly because of her bountiful and gentle nature, as a patroness of handicrafts (especially smithwork), poetry and healing, and partly because she is also revered as a major Christian saint, the patroness of Ireland, with a rich heritage of stories attached to her. She thus acts a a connecting point between the religions. The general supposition is that the goddess had an equal importance in pre-Christian times, and evolved into the saint. If that is so, however, why are the pagan and Christian figures so different, and why are there so few actual references to the goddess in medieval texts? This talk is designed to look at the evidence for both goddess and saint, and the possible relationships between them.

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.

Freemasonary and Paganism – Professor Ronald Hutton Zoom Lecture

a recording of this lecture will be available to ticket holders for two weeks after the event

Freemasonry is the most important Western tradition of a network of closed initiatory societies, with ceremonies, special signs or names and a secret membership. It is also the oldest. Many have noted that it has exerted a great influence on closed initiatory groups in general in the modern Western world, including those in the world of occultism, and of some of the most important branches of Paganism. This talk is intended to discuss the origins of Freemasonry, and the development of its ritual, and its relationship with the occult and with Paganism throughout its history.

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.

The Wicked Stepmother in Early America with Prof. Leslie Lindenauer by zoom

– a recording will be available to ticket holders who miss the event for two weeks

‘I Could Not Call Her Mother’: The Wicked Stepmother in Early America

This is the story of the stepmother. It is a story that intersects with women’s history and the history of motherhood. Intersects, but skews; reflects, but like the mirror in Snow White (particularly the trippy one in Walt Disney’s 1939 version) warps the reflection even as it brings it into sharper focus. She is always there, the stepmother. The “substitute mother.” The other mother. Her stories infused popular culture for centuries before this American story begins, and continue to do so today. She plays a substantial role in our collective imagination, whether we are a part of a step family or not. This Zoom lecture explores the role of the evil stepmother in early American popular culture (with a glance into later pulp fiction and film noir!). With her origins in fairytales and folklore, the evil stepmother was often portrayed as jealous, grasping, and greedy. She was vain, selfish, and cold. Above all else, she hated children (a quality she shared with early popular representations of the witch). What made this image so pervasive in early America that it infused a wide range of popular genres, from poetry and novels to news stories and prescriptive literature?

Leslie Lindenauer is a Professor in the Department of History and Non-Western Cultures at Western Connecticut State University, where she teaches courses in early American history, gender studies, public history, and American Studies. Her book I Could Not Call Her Mother: The Stepmother in American Popular Culture, 1750-1960 was published by Lexington Books in 2014. Before her career in academe, Leslie worked for a couple of decades as an educator and administrator at a number of history museums in the Northeast.