We're all witches now: with our black turtlenecks, our blood-brown lipstick, our crescent moons and evil eyes, our combat boots and girl gangs and moon cycle apps. We've been shimmering like mood rings for a while now. [more inside]
Edward Lovett was a bank employee and amateur folklorist fascinated with charms and amulets and the superstitions they represented. He rambled early 20th century London collecting charms from soldiers, sailors, street vendors and others. Today the charms are preserved in the Wellcome Collection, Pitt Rivers Museum, and Horniman Museum. [more inside]
Ehrich Weisz may not have had much formal education, but he grew up to be Harry Houdini, self-educated stunt performer, escape artist, and owner of "one of the largest libraries in the world on psychic phenomena, Spiritualism, magic, witchcraft, demonology, evil spirits, etc., some of the material going back as far as 1489." Houdini bequeathed much of his collection to the Library of Congress, which received 3,988 volumes from his collection in 1927, including a number of magic books inscribed or annotated by well-known magicians. Archive.org has more of the Harry Houdini Collection online. He also put a great deal of research into his tricks, as seen in his letter to Dr. W. J. McConnell, a physiologist at the U.S. Bureau of Mines, written up after Houdini's watery grave stunt in 1926.
A critique of Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough by Colin Dickey. "For all its erudition and analysis, The Golden Bough has for more than a century helped cement the idea that magic is inappropriate, wrongheaded thought. Yet what separates magic from religion or science is not its methodology—Frazer himself notes that it 'is therefore a truism, almost a tautology, to say that all magic is necessarily false and barren; for were it ever to become true and fruitful, it would no longer be magic but science'—it’s that ordinary people can do it, transforming their lives with the ambitious power of everyday thought." Via Lapham's Quarterly's Magic Shows issue.
Apotropaios contains much fascinating information about the (here, mainly British and Irish) folk magic practice of concealing objects in buildings for ritual protection purposes. Yes, mummified Ceiling Cat is averting your evil. One aspect of the practice, the deliberate concealment of garments, has provided us with insight into ordinary costume of bygone days.
"An Oklahoma high school suspended a 15-year-old student [Brandi Blackbear] after accusing her of casting a magic spell that caused a teacher to become sick.
"An Oklahoma high school suspended a 15-year-old student [Brandi Blackbear] after accusing her of casting a magic spell that caused a teacher to become sick. Blackbear was summoned to the office of assistant principal Charlie Bushyhead last December after a teacher fell ill, and was questioned about her interest in Wicca."