Friday, 4 December 2009

Witchcraft Collection: New Acquisitions

Fourth Quarter 2009

Amulet. Described as a goodluck amulet. Inscribed with unidentified symbols. Metal. 20th century.

Amulet. Christian ‘Schutz-Amulette’. Provenance: Trier, Germany. Metal. 1933.

Carnival Mask. Carved wood in the form of a ‘witch’. Provenance: Tirol. Wood. 20th century.

Poison Bottle. Marked with skull and crossbones. Glass. 20th century.

Ritual Object. Described as a ‘Voodoo Skull’. Decorated animal skull said to have been used by a female shaman. Bone, skin, hair. Acquired from Mannheim, Germany. Of unknown date.

Tarot Cards. Albano-Waite deck. Card. Published by Moewig, no date, circa 1999.

Voodoo Doll and Coffin. Product name ‘Love Never Dies’. Card and fabric. Contemporary.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Renaissance Occult - Conference Update

Prof. Sarah Annes Brown has posted a summary of my talk 'Dealing with the Devil: The Faustian Pact in Magical Culture':

Leo Ruickbie gave a very engaging account of the Faustian pact in magical culture, moving from the responses of Faust’s near contemporaries, to an account of an eighteenth-century man apparently saved at the last moment when on the brink of selling his soul to the devil, and concluding with some unexpectedly up to date examples. We heard of people attempting to sell their souls on eBay, and also of the curious case of S. Jason Black who claims to have reaped substantial benefits after making a pact with princes of Hell. (Afterwards Marina Warner drew a wholly convincing parallel between such magical pacts and Catholic indulgences – both equally the targets of Protestant disapproval.)

Monday, 23 November 2009

Dealing with the Devil

This paper given at Reinventing the Renaissance Occult, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, 14 November 2009, explored the development of the Faustian Pact, looking at how the Renaissance magician Faustus came to be condemned as having made a pact with the Devil, and how this condemnation itself came to be a pattern for magical practice.

Pacts with the Devil have been a mainstay of Christian legend, used to reveal the saintliness of some and revile the Satanism of others – a two-edged weapon in the war of words fought between sanctioned ‘truth’ and outlawed knowledge. And it is a sword that has landed firmly on the neck of one sixteenth century magician in particular.


Saturday, 21 November 2009

Reinventing the Renaissance Occult

The aim of the day was to explore the different ways in which modern culture has returned to Renaissance esotericism. Some have been drawn to the intriguing remoteness of such teachings from our own more scientific and sceptical age. Others, by contrast, have sought to discover unexpected points of contact between the mysteries of the occult and more modern mysteries, such as quantum science. The lure of the occult today may partly be explained by a growing dissatisfaction with Enlightenment rationalism and its perceived failure to address fundamental human concerns.

Reinventing the Renaissance Occult in Modern and Postmodern Culture, Saturday 14 November 2009, Helmore 201, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge

Jennifer Mckimm, ‘“Sounding Alchyme:” The Politics and Aesthetics of Milton’s Alchemical Verse in Paradise Lost’ [Cancelled]

Diana Barsham, ‘"That Miracles are Ceased": Reginald Scot and the Rediscovery of Witchcraft’ [Cancelled]

Ewan Fernie, ‘The Possessed’.

Gyorgy E. Szonyi, ‘Three "New Age" Interpretations of the Book of Enoch'.

Urszula Szulakowska, 'Art and the Esoteric Tradition in Australia'.

Sophia Wellbeloved, 'The Conquest of Time in the Writings of GI Gurdjieff'.

Leo Ruickbie, 'Dealing with the Devil: The Faustian Pact in Magical Culture'.

Monika Smialkowska, 'Magicians and Scientists: David Calcutt's Prospero's Island and Elizabeth Nunez' Prospero's Daughter'.

Patricia MacCormack, 'Occultism and Continental Philosophy: From Solomon through Spare to Serres'.

Mark Goodall, 'L'Occhio Selvaggio: Towards an Occult Film Studies'.

Rowlie Wymer, 'Science, Religion and Magic in James Blish's "After Such Knowledge" Sequence'.

Marina Warner, reading from Phantasmagoria.

Listing from

Monday, 2 November 2009

Spells for Halloween

Many people celebrate Halloween by honouring the dead, strengthening family ties, and using scrying mirrors, spells and magic to find future happiness and love.

Some of my Hallowe'en research has turned up at something called in an article entitled 'Spells for Halloween: Celebrate Halloween with White Magic Scrying, Spells and MagicRead'. You can read it here:

You can also find out the answer to the gripping question 'Do Mormons Celebrate Halloween?' - The answer is 'mostly'.

Or read the original here:

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Witchcraft: in the shadows no more

An old review, but a good one, written before I got my PhD, hence the use of 'Mr':

Witchcraft: Out of the Shadows

Leo Ruickbie


Mr Ruickbie has written a tight overview of the history and current trends (including some interesting statistical analysis) in Witchcraft. Unlike some books on the subject, there is no political or religious motivation to this book. It is factual and unjudgemental on the subject, neither being the craft's cheerleader nor taking the "its all evil" line. Because of this lack of an agenda, the book is much more complete than many books of its kind. His flowing style allows the reader to get to grips with the varied history of Witchcraft without being overwhelmed by minutiae. Not only is the book a fascinating read, it is a pleasant one as well. Needless to say, Ruickbie has included an extensive bibliography for those wishing to read further on the subject. I highly recomend this book to anyone with the slightest interest in the "Craft".

Rating: 5/5

Sunday, 18 October 2009

On the Shelf Review – Ruickbie’s Faustus: The Life and Times of a Renaissance Magician

I don’t know what I pay you guys for, because nobody mentioned to me that the most thorough treatment of the Renaissance magus Faust, Leo Ruickbie’s Faustus, had just appeared. Nevertheless, you’re all forgiven, and I’ll review it for you.

Writing a biography of Jorg Faust is an extremely daunting task. [...] This is the task that Leo Ruickbie sets out to do, and his solution is novel.

[...] enjoy the first full biography of Faustus as a window into the life of a fascinating, and likely very misunderstood, individual.

Thanks to Dan Harms for this review. You can read the full review at his webiste.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Has Michael Jackson's Ghost Returned from the Grave

Has Michael Jackson come back fom the dead? Speculation reaches fever pitch as reports of sightings come in from all over the world. Are we witnessing genuine paranormal phenomena or mass hysteria?

Does Jackson’s Ghost Haunt Neverland?
During filming inside Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch for Larry King Live on CNN, the cameraman caught a shadowy figure moving across a long hallway. Many watching CNN's ‘Exclusive: Inside Neverland’ were convinced that they had seen the ghost of Michael Jackson haunting his former home. Video clips were soon circulating on YouTube and across the internet.

Jackson Speaks from Beyond the Grave
Psychic Christian von Lähr appeared on the late night radio talkshow Coast to Coast AM, claiming to be able to channel the spirit of Michael Jackson. Speaking to presenter Ian Punnet, von Lähr said that Jackson was able to talk through him and went on to reveal details of a family trust fund – a story that was only broken by CNN two days later. It should be pointed out that it is in no way unusual for someone with substantial assests to make out trust funds to provide for family members, hence the apparent revelation is an entirely logical conjecture that requires no supernatural explanation. Von Lähr also added to the debate about possible foul play in Jackson’s death by claiming to deliver the following from Jackson himself: ‘The oxygen tank was half empty. Did it run out? There’s something wrong with the air... it wasn’t... I wasn’t gone eight... eight or eighteen? I’m not sure when I passed. There’s something wrong with that.’

Friday, 16 October 2009

New Witch for Wookey Hole

An eerie human shaped figure in the rock scares nervous visitors to the Wookey Hole Caves in Somerset. According to the local legend she was a witch turned to stone by a Glastonbury monk. Today she has some flesh and blood competition. Film goers will remember the chilling underground scenes from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, some of which were filmed at Wookey Hole. But it is not Harry Potter who has returned to haunt the caves, but a former estate agent from Shepton Mallet.