Magic & Witchcraft in Ancient Greece & Rome – Prof. Marguerite Johnson – 7 Lecture Course

In this special seven-part series, Marguerite Johnson takes us on a magical mystery tour of magic and witchcraft in ancient Greece and Rome, with a sprinkling of Egyptian occult practices. Each lecture introduces a particular type of magic; is extensively illustrated with archaeological evidence; features excerpts from ancient writing; and includes a fascinating reading list for those interested in pursuing the topics in more detail. 

The Tools of the Ancient Magical Practitioner: Aug 27th – Lecture VI

While we may think that magical wands, effigies or poppets, spell books and animal parts are the stuff of our imagination when it comes to witchcraft, all such things were used to work magic in the ancient world. From the magisterial wands from Mycenaean Greece to the exotic ingredients required for spells (including hair and other items from an intended victim, to bats, toads, feathers and eggs), the practitioner of magic possessed a cornucopia of tools. In this talk we consider some of these necessary items in the magician’s tool kit and think about the ways in which they were used.  

For a peak preview of some of the topics we’ll be looking at, read Kiran A. Williams’ ‘The Wand Chooses the Wizard: Distinctions of Greco-Roman Staffs, Rods, and Wands in Ritual and Myth’, The Macksey Journal, 2021 


Marguerite Johnson is a classical scholar who works on ancient Mediterranean cultural studies, particularly gender, sexuality, and the body. She also researches ancient magic, particularly the portrayal of witches, in Greek and Latin literature. When she’s not thinking about the ancient world, Marguerite researches and writes on the 20th-century Australian witch, Rosaleen Norton, with whom she has held a fascination since childhood, as well as modern aspects of sexuality and gender. Marguerite was, until 2022, Professor of Classics and Ancient History at The University of Newcastle, Australia. She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities.

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

Aug 27th 2023 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

£6 - £10 & By Donation

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