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 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