The Haven-Finding Art: An Intellectual Adventure of Celestial Navigation

Five centuries ago, Spanish navigator Martin Cortés wrote, “What can be a better or more charitable deed, then to bring them into the way that wander: what can be more difficult than to guide a ship engulfed, where only water and heaven may be seen.” The human skill of wayfinding by the sun, moon, and stars enabled Polynesian people to settle islands throughout the Pacific Ocean. Ferdinand Magellan circumnavigated the globe by celestial means. The Apollo astronauts who used celestial wayfinding to travel to the moon and back. This illustrated presentation explores one of humankind’s greatest achievements—wayfinding by the sky—through early astronomical works in the Historical Medical Library of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and focuses on the techniques and tools that get us to our destinations.


Robert D. Hicks, PhD, formerly directed the Mütter Museum and Historical Medical Library at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, USA. He has worked with museum-based education and exhibits for four decades, primarily as a consultant to historic sites and museums. His disorganized background includes a first career in law enforcement, service as a naval officer, university degrees in anthropology and archaeology and a doctorate in maritime history from the University of Exeter. In the era before mobile phones, once lost at night on a sprawling university campus where he was a new student, Robert used celestial navigation to find his classroom building and return to his dormitory.

Curated & Hosted by

Amy Hale is an Atlanta based writer, curator and critic, ethnographer and folklorist speaking and writing about esoteric history, art, culture, women and Cornwall. She is the author of Ithell Colquhoun: Genius of the Fern Loved Gully (Strange Attractor 2020) and is currently working on several Colquhoun related manuscripts. She is also the editor of Essays on Women in Western Esotericism: Beyond Seeresses and Sea Priestesses (Palgrave 2022). She has contributed gallery texts and essays for a number of institutions including Tate, Camden Arts Centre, Art UK, Arusha Galleries, Heavenly Records and she is a curator and host for the Last Tuesday Society lecture series.

don’t worry if you miss it – we will send you a recording valid for two weeks the next day

Apr 29th 8:00 pm - 09:30 pm

£6 - £10 & By Donation

Thank you for your support