Popular Occulture Write-Up

tirgearr smashwords sale

The sale goes on all month!

HBW 6 At Sixes and Sevens

It was great to get to Glasgow and see Jay! And of course to attend the Popular Occulture in Britain, 1875-1967 workshop, which touched upon many of my interests and current projects. See the full schedule with bios of the presenters here. This is just some quick notes on things that I want to remember: if you want me to expand, just ask.

“Eco-Feminism and the Neo-Pagan Movement”
Dennis Denisoff (University of Tulsa)

This gave me so much to seek out. Well aware of Moina Mathers, but new to me William Sharpe‘s pseudonym Fiona McLeod and Vernon Lee/Violet Paget. I really need to investigate Lee’s essays.

“Lucifer the Liberator: Satanism as a Feminist Strategy in Sylvia Townsend Warner’s Lolly Willowes (1926)”
Per Faxneld (Södertörn University)

Lolly Willowes shows up in the latest Hard-Boiled Witch (out next Friday!) because I read the book for the first time last summer and knew I needed to do more with her. Faxneld made a convincing argument for Warner’s renovation of Satan as an asexual figure and satanism for Lolly as the language of resistance and a kind of queer liberation (not doing justice to the presentation: I hope it’s published soon).

“Occultists’ Engagement with the First World War: Theosophy, Thought Power, and War Tactics”
Owen Davies (University of Hertfordshire)

Naturally Davies would be of interest to me: if you’ve not picked up his comprehensive book on Grimoires, you need to do so. This was a dense and detailed talk and I can’t possibly do it justice, but the distance between assumptions and actual evidence of people use and attitudes toward the supernatural during the war are very different from what one might expect.

“Aleister Crowley and Political Propaganda”
Henrik Bogdan (University of Gothenburg)

Not being a big fan of Crowley (though I swiped and anagramised his name for HBW5 too), I had no idea about his war time shenanigans in the US working for a German propaganda magazine. He thought he was using them (especially their literary mag) to get his occult theories out there but it required him being a collaborationist or as the post-war assessment of his activities had it, ‘a small time traitor.’

“Deceitful Media and Deceitful Mediums”
Simone Natale (Loughborough University)

If you’ve read White Rabbit you know how this topic interests me. Fascinating to see how controversy got manipulated both by the exposers and the exposees, from the famed Italian medium Eusapia Palladino to the debunker Hugo Münsterberg, who even wrote on films as manipulative. As your electronic PA if they believe in ghosts (“Siri, do you believe…’)

“From ‘Word Magic’ to Basic English: Language Reform and Magical Thinking in the Interwar Period”
Leigh Wilson (University of Westminster)

I’m still mulling this one over but it was fascinating. I’ve avoided Finnegans Wake in the way I used to avoid Beowulf, yet I’m beginning to wonder if that too has been a mistake:

For if the lingo gasped between kicksheets, however basically English, were to be preached from the mouths of wickerchurchwardens and metaphysicians in the row and advokaatoes, allvoyous, demivoyelles, languoaths, lesbiels, dentelles, gutterhowls and furtz, where would their practice be…

 

Visit to the Alchemical and Occult Collections at the University of Glasgow Special Collections: worth the price of admission (okay, it was free but –) so here’s the book porn you’ve been waiting for:

 

 

The Occult & Popular Social Movements

Today I’ll be in Glasgow to attend a day-long workshop on a topic of interest for several things I’m working on at present including the serial. You can see the full program here. It’s been coordinated by Popular Occulture in Britain, 1875-1947. I expect I will write about it afterward, as usual.

If you need entertainment in the mean time, check out my latest History Witch column.

Charms Conference #FolkloreThursday

Sneaking into the last few hours of #FolkloreThursday and finally sharing a bit about the Charms Conference I went to last month at Harvard. It was great: even better, there’s a proposed proceedings volume in the works so you may be able to share some of the exciting things I heard and saw that weekend. It doesn’t include a CD alas, so you won’t hear me singing a medieval charm* but I will write about the process involved. More pix going on the ‘book.

*Given the enthusiastic response, I am working on recording some medieval charms in a variety of ways. More to come —

Out Now: Tarot in Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Mythlore36.2My essay “The Unlikely Milliner & The Magician of Threadneedle-Street” has been published in Mythlore: A Journal of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams, and Mythopoeic Literature. Click the 1st link to read a free PDF; click the 2nd to find information on ordering the issue (you can get it through your library, too).

There’s a whole special section on tarot edited by Emily Auger (whom tarot folk likely know well), as well as pieces on Tolkien, Lovecraft, Le Guin and Sayers.

Here’s the abstract for the essay which may intrigue your interest:

Susanna Clarke uses the tarot in her novel Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell much as she uses history: twisting it to open up spaces for magic and playfulness. She offers modifications on the traditional Tarot de Marseille that accurately predict the narrative events, yet deftly obscures the outcomes by leading the readers (and the characters) to jump to the wrong conclusions.

With another conference paper proposed on the novel, I guess I’m going to have to admit to maybe writing a book about this book…

My Schedule @Worldcon75

header-1200x200WorldCon in Helsinki is coming up shockingly soon. Hope to see you there. I’m unlikely to have much time to post while I’m there, but I’m sure to be tweeting. I hope to meet up with a lot of friends I’ve not seen in a while (relatives, too!). My schedule is conveniently grouped for single day attendance (though I’m arriving Wednesday night):

Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 09.29.15Screen Shot 2017-08-01 at 09.29.46

For the academic track I will be talking once again about Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (yes, when I get obsessed, I stay obsessed to adapt John Irving’s words). The title of my presentation is ‘Lollard Magician: Jonathan Strange & the Reform of English Magic’ so you can get a sense of where it’s going (assuming you know who Wycliffe is).

But I better get back to finishing it —

Charcoal Burners, Black Sails & Magic

Uskglass Charcoal Burner

Admittedly I’ve not left the house since I got here, but don’t let my indolence fool you! I am ready to rise to the opportunity and sure enough, I will be. Thanks to Cailleach’s Herbarium mentioning it on Facebook, I got on the waitlist and now have ticket in hand to attend ‘The Supernatural in Early Modern Scotland’ this Friday. A workshop at The Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, it looks to be a fascinating day (see the whole list of speakers here).

So many interests colliding in useful ways! It’s great to have the feeling you’re in the right place at the right time.

And speaking of collisions: the above illustration is of course the lovely Charles Vess. It’s for the last story in Susanna Clarke’s collection The Ladies of Grace Adieu. In my usual way I had hoarded the last few stories last summer, thinking when I read them there would be no more of her writing to read as she has nothing else out at present (yes, that’s how my brain works). I didn’t know the interest I would develop in charcoal burners in the meantime! So it was the first thing I read when I got back here. A delightful tale with saints (including Brigit), Uskglass and of course the titular charcoal burner.

Total collision count: dissertation subjects, two forthcoming conference papers, and the new all-consuming medieval project, Rauf Coilyear. I’m teaching Rauf in the upper division medieval class this fall. I love it when a plan comes together.

Meanwhile I am playing dolls with Miss C and catching up on Black Sails with my sweetie. Life is good.

In New York City

I can’t vouch for the lord‘s whereabouts but this afternoon I head down to the city for the Occult Humanities conference at NYU, which includes a visit to the lovely Katja so that’s a definite plus. I’m sure I will have stories and photos to share upon my return, though be warned that things continue just as hectic hereabouts while I constantly change hats as I move from project to project.

I never managed to make it down to the city last semester other than heading to the airport. Making plans to get back down again soon, maybe with the lovely QoE Stephanie Johnson to see the cards exhibit at the Cloisters and a few other things (there are always things to see).