Farewell to our NJ Friends
The last day of archiving for our fantastic students here in the archive at the Museum of Witchcraft & Magic. We are very sorry to see them go as they were alot of fun as well as very diligent workers: over 881 documents were transcribed and catalogued – congratulations especially to Rebecca Korovin who finished her box completely! Woo!
Some interesting discoveries today too:
Julie found some great stuff that will help us interpret this lovely Staffordshire figure of lady reading tea-leaves:
“At one time the common Badge and trade sign of a wise woman of Diviner was the wearing of a Red Cloak or working at the fairs and Race courses from a Red [coloured] Red Tent. This old China figure set shows the wise woman in her Red Cloak giving a reading from the young girls hand.”
Note the lovely red jacket here:
Jeff strikes again
Jeff found some great stuff (again) this time he identified a horse tooth charm in the collection:
“The tooth of a dead horse is
an st powerful charm against gum boils. Rub th Massage the gums with the tooth and the trouble soon fades away.”
This perhaps relates to Object No. 2219:
Jeff also found a reference to a ‘jaw bone’ charm:
“Henry Allen, well known Southdown shepherd, working in the Washington area of Sussex, in the 1880’s always carried this jaw bone of a ferret as a charm to help him find any of his sheep that had become host on strayed.”
It is almost certain that Object 2225 (above) is the very same charm! We suspect that this item is one of several charms that Cecil purchased from the estate of Edward Lovett in the 1940s.
Trouble in Morvah – rust in peace
Rebecca L. found out that burning holly brings bad luck, and that once upon a time there was a ‘fuss’ in some alms houses in Morvah, Cornwall:
“To draw blood to break a spell
Fuss in Morvah Alms houses
A. Satihes B. With Rusty nail to draw blood
The vicar of Parish had to intervene
Rusty nail preserved”
Wonder where this nail has gone?
Cure for cancer
Rachel found out alot about violet leaves:
In Germany violets are used to decorate the cradle and bridal bed. In England they guarded the living from emanations of the cemetery and were carried at funerals. In Yorkshire bringing less than a handful into the house will cause all the chicks and ducklings to die, but including the leaf counteracts the ill luck since the leaves are more potent.
The old Herbalists recom-mended dried petals for quinsy, epilepsy, jaundice, and complaints of the hives. The green leaves make a good poultice on swellings. Violet root was eaten for pleasant dreams, and a decoction was used as a foot bath; bound to the temples it induced sleep. The Greeks wore wreaths of violets to induce sleep, cure headache, assuage anger, and to comfort the heart. They are still used for acute inflammation and as a cure for Cancer. in 1902 Lady Margaret Marsham of Maidstone cured from cancer of the throat by infusion of violet leaves, published the recipe. The relief was almost immediate. In a week the external hard swelling had gone, and in a fortnight the cancer on the tonsil had disappeared.
Violet leaves contain certain glucosidal principles, not yet fully investigated, but of distinct antiseptic properties.”
“I wonder what old granny phelps of boscasatle would have made of this lot”
Anna added to our knowledge about the Museum’s one time possession of the body of Ursula Kempe, whilst Nick unearthed a Cecil rant about nudity and witchcraft (one of many):
“Well one thing is for sure, this is how god made us – at times like this I cannot help wondering why god did not give us pockets. I also wonder what he would think if he took a peep at us Right now. Come to think of it God and having and all that stuff is a big of a puzzle. What’s that you say. Oh, keep moving. Ok. then.
Back to the good old days for one last look at the solo witch. There she stands in her circle, bare breasted and with all the spirit world weirdos doing their stuff in a nice sort of way.
Well my lady, I wonder if you ever stopped to think of just what you have started.
Any way, not to fuss me dear. We in the south west are following in your footsteps.
We will keep the Circle working
Here spread out before you are the things that a modern up country witch uses. A far eny from the simple things fashioned from nature and used by the witches of Deven and Cornwall. But dear dear dont you fret, let us face it we are a bit behind the times down this part of the country.
Now let us see, oh yes, the black altar cloth with its crossed yellow triangles. Then there is the nice white figure of “OUR LADY” as they call her. Oh dear, no nothing to do with Mary you know who. Look at all the daggers she has. What on earth does she use them all for? and what a lot of perfumes, and with six candles she should be able to see what she is about. Good gracious a whip with seven thongs and another up there in the corner. Why that is a bull whip! No wonder she needs four chalices for a drink. Oh it all must be very exciting. On the wall the witches neck dangles, one the upside down cross and skull, one a goats head pentacle and the other the witches star sign thing. and look at those big leather bells to keep your cloak closed around you. With their goats head buckles. I wonder what old granny phelps of boscasatle would have made of this lot.”
Bones, death and the Reformation
Rachel W. found some funny stuff about George of Falmouth, and particularly liked his views on death:
“Witches set up and maintain House Shrines[.] Some acquire a skull as a Spirit House and into it they conjure a friendly spirit. Well this skull has a female spirit in it as a tenant and so why not make her Pretty and give her a hat. Fit for a day out at a garden party. If you have have spirit around the House then you are sure of a happy Home. Down Falmouth way there is a house with a skull in it called George[.] Each night the Owner sets up a glass of Beer and a tobacco filled pipe for George Before going upstairs to Bed. Now that is what I would call a Real Christian gentleman.
[opposite side, next section]
Banish your fear of the dead and of Death.
It is only the living who can kill and deprive you of life.
Set out upon the Cornish Witches Black Cloth and white cross the symbol of St. Piran are fashioned Human Bones.
The Holy Catholic Church knows full well the spiritual value and strength to be gained from the preservation of Mortal Relics taken from the Saints. More the pity that the Protestant Christian Church of King Henry VIII destroyed and swept away those treasured symbols of our Early Christian Fathers.”
And that is IT. Our intrepid archivists are winging their way back to dismal America, crying into their sodas as they do so. But gladden your souls! They all hope to return to the motherland one day and help us shift some boxes. We expect some of our group will be back delivering learned lectures on witchcraft, archiving, history and all that, and we wish them all the very best for the future. Thanks to Prof. Tarter for enabling this visit to happen once again. See you again next year!
P.S. Tom the Museum Dog and head archivist was sad to see them go, especially Rachel Weedon who he said was ‘not bad for a human’.