Fantastic conference on Halloween
We had an amazing day of talks, discussion and entertainment as the Museum hosted a conference to coincide with and augment our current exhibition Glitter and Gravedust: Halloween past and present. It was great to see so many new faces (and lots of lovely familiar ones too!) Thanks so much to everyone for presenting papers and helping to make this conference one to remember.
The day started at 10am with a talk by Judith Noble on Samhain rituals within a Devon coven and how they have changed and evolved over the last twenty years or so. We were really grateful to Judith for sharing her personal experiences and for reflecting so insightfully on her magical practice.
Photographed above: Judith Noble with pumpkin and Peter (manager of the Museum glaring in the background!)
Next came Tommy Kuusela (photographed below) who had travelled from Sweden to present his paper on a divination ritual called a Year Walk. His talk provoked a lot of interest (and questions at the end!)
The next paper was presented by Bekki Shining Bearheart (photographed below) who spoke about her experiences with the ancestors. Bekki currently resides in Ithaca, New York, where she teaches and practices shamanism, herbalism, and astrology, maintains a large medicinal herb garden, and makes shamanic art and music. Her courses in shamanic practice include Fundamentals of Shamanism; Circle of the Ancestors; Drumming in the Temple; Bear Medicine and Magic; Opening the Shamanic Voice; Rooted in the Heart, Seeded in the Soul; To The Waters and the Wild; Singing Wolf, Listening Deer; and the series Elementals in Shamanic Practice, in addition to a year-long apprenticeship program for aspiring shamanic healers.
After a break (and the chance to peruse the stalls: there were lots of lovely of items on sale), the conference reconvened to listen to Mogg Morgan (of Mandrake Press, Oxford, photographed below) and his research into the Ritual Year in Ancient Egypt. His talk considered the links between Ancient Egyptian worship of Osiris in the month of October and modern Halloween/Samhain. It was an astonishing talk which really stimulated the audience and provoked a lot of debate.
Before lunch, we heard from Dorothy Abrams the author of Identity and the Quartered Circle: Studies in Applied Wicca (2013) and Cawing Crows and Baying Hounds (a novella 2013). She had journeyed from America to deliver her paper on “Our ancestor ritual at Samhain”. She shared her personal experiences and the importance of the photograph in the photo to her practice. Not only did Dorothy talk but she got us all singing too!
The keynote speaker was Professor Ronald Hutton of Bristol University. His talk was entitled “Halloween: a History”. He spoke with eloquence and enthusiasm on the research he has conducted into the ritual year over the past twenty or so years from his pioneering and influential book Stations of the Sun to his current perspectives on folklore, Samhain and all things Halloweeny. We were delighted to welcome Ronald at the conference, the photographs below show Simon Costin, the Director of the Museum with Professor Hutton.
After questions, the conference attendees visited the Museum, had a few drinks and some food and then reconvened at 8pm for an evening of music, poetry and prose courtesy of Circle of Spears Productions. After that there was much (too much) drinking and merry making as we celebrated a great day and another great year at the Museum.
Our next conference is the weekend of May 6th-7th. Tickets available now – hope you can make it!