The upstairs gallery: before and after – Part One: The Horned God
Over winter, we undertook a major refurbishment of the top gallery of the Museum. This area hadn’t been altered for many years but the displays had grown and changed a lot (particularly the Horned God/Satanism section) and we wanted to re-display this area to bring the whole thing together. Over the next few blog posts we will share some photos of the different sections before and after their refurbishment – first off, the Horned God section. This section has changed a lot since the Museum opened in Boscastle in 1960. Here it is an early display from the time of the Museum’s founder Cecil Williamson.
Here is the Horned God display as it was displayed until earlier this year. As you’re looking at these relatively recent images of the Horned God, you’ll notice the branches and leaves and also the ivy around the roof (installed by Graham King when he ran the Museum). This was the inspiration for the modern display – taking this idea of witchcraft in the natural world and creating a dark forest.
The old Horned God display had a large section on the Green Man next to it (as photographed below). There are many connections between the objects in this gallery and the wild woods, the new display incorporates all the aspects of the top gallery into one display connecting the objects together while maintaining discrete sections.
The Horned God after (with an old painting of a Sabbat which hadn’t been on the display in the Museum for a few years but can be seen behind the figure in the black and white photo above)…
Close up of the Horned God before below:
Close up of the Horned God after below:
Photograph above taken by Paul Ferbrache, Friend of the Museum, at a recent candlelit evening at the Museum.
The current Horned God cabinet.
On top: two images of Cernunnos and an antlered mask.
Top shelf: Baphomet, Old Nick and another Horned statue.
Bottom shelf: Horned God images and images of Pan.
Display on the Horned God, Baphomet and the Green Man before…
The same space now…(as photographed by Paul Ferbrache at a recent candlelit evening)
The texts in this area have mainly been re-written to include people’s thoughts and feelings about the objects and to include diverse opinions and ideas. One of the key labels in the Horned God section reads:
The Horned God
The writer remembers seeing the Horned God figure (standing behind you) in the Museum,
“It took my breath away. I realised at that moment that all of the horror films and stories had got it completely wrong! This was not evil. This was primal. It spoke to a part of me that was suppressed by our modern everyday culture. This was the image that told me I was free, not separate from Nature but just another animal, held within His realm. In that image was the God that spoke directly to my human animal soul, not a as a judgemental all-powerful overlord, or even a human God of love, but as a leveller, bringing into alignment all of our so-called human dominance, and placing us once more with our four legged brothers and sisters, with tree people, the stone people, the winged people of the air. As I stood looking at him, I felt those years of separation fall away, and I rediscovered my true place on this planet.”
Written by Damh the Bard, From The Museum of Witchcraft: A Magical History edited by Kerriann Godwin
In part two, we will consider the changes to the Goddess display.