The Story of Wicca: An illustrated talk

Modern Pagan Witchcraft, better known as Wicca, emerged publicly in England during the 1950s. Partly the timing was a result of Europe moving forward from the trauma of World War II, and partly owing to the repeal of the Witchcraft Act of 1735, which was replaced with the Fraudulent Mediums Act of 1951, but its story began much earlier, during the fin de siècle at the end of the 19th century.

The talk examines the influence of characters such as Charles Godfrey Leland, Sir James Frazer, and Margaret Murray, and reviews the roles played by Cecil Williamson and Gerald Gardner as Wicca made its wat from the shadows to public consciousness.

Speaker Bio

Julia Phillips is Hon Senior Research Associate at the University of Bristol. She received her PhD for her research examining how witches and witchcraft were featured in newspapers in Victorian Britain. Her primary research interests are the study of witchcraft in the nineteenth century and the development of modern pagan witchcraft in the twentieth century.

Recent publications:

Phillips, Julia. 2021. ‘Madeline Montalban: Magus of the Morning Star.’ In Essays on Women in Western Esotericism: Beyond Seeresses and Sea Priestesses, edited by Amy Hale, 229-254. Cham: Springer International Publishing.

Phillips, Julia. ‘The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic: Toward a New History of British Wicca.’ Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft, vol. 16 no. 2, 2021, p. 173-200. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/mrw.2021.0028.

Houlbrook, Ceri and Phillips, Julia. ‘For All of Your Protection Needs: Tracing the “witch-bottle” from the Early Modern Period to TikTok.’ Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft (2023, volume 18.1).

Curated and Hosted by

Marguerite Johnson is a cultural historian of the ancient Mediterranean, specialising in sexuality and gender, particularly in the poetry of Sappho, Catullus, and Ovid, as well as magical traditions in Greece, Rome, and the Near East. She also researches Classical Reception Studies, with a regular focus on Australia. In addition to ancient world studies, Marguerite is interested in sexual histories in modernity as well as magic in the west more broadly, especially the practices and art of Australian witch, Rosaleen Norton. She is Honorary Professor of Classics and Ancient History at The University of Queensland, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

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

3rd Oct 2024 8:00 pm - 9:30 pm

£6 - £10 & By Donation

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