The Unnatural History of Cornwall – curated by Dr. Amy Hale brings stories of the weird and wonderful from Cornwall to a wider audience, with an emphasis on Cornish voices from the past and the present.
Although much has been written about the historic folk-magic practitioners known as cunning-folk in recent years, in-depth accounts of individual conjurors are few owing to a paucity of documentary materials. Some cunning-folk, however, are better attested in the historical record, allowing for a more detailed reconstruction of their practices and the social contexts of the complaints their clients brought before them. More archival material for Thomasine Blight (1793-1856), the Cornish cunning-woman, otherwise known as “Tammy Blee,” survives than for any other folk-magic practitioner in nineteenth-century Cornwall. Treating her as an exemplar of the cunning-person’s trade, this talk sets out to explore Blight’s milieu as a provincial conjuror in early Victorian Britain.
Speaker: Jason Semmens, M.A., is the Director of the Museum of Military Medicine and an independent scholar with particular research interests around the history of vernacular beliefs in the preternatural in the South West of England from the sixteenth to twentieth centuries.
Curator: Dr. Amy Hale is an Atlanta-based anthropologist and folklorist writing about esoteric history, art, culture, women and Cornwall in various combinations. Her biography of Ithell Colquhoun, Genius of the Fern Loved Gully, is available from Strange Attractor Press, and she is also the editor of the forthcoming collection Essays on Women in Western Esotericism: Beyond Seeresses and Sea Priestesses from Palgrave Macmillan. Other writings can be found at her Medium site https://medium.com/@amyhale93 and her website www.amyhale.me.