‘Women’s Weeds’ Research Journal — Week 6 Fun Fact: Well-behaved women seldom make history

Lead image ‘Well-Behaved Women’ by Barry D Bulsara
(Instagram: @barrydbulsara)
Available to buy: https://www.edinburghart.com/product/well-behaved-women/

Ah, the archive… That reliquary of truth and unbiased historical fact.

This week’s ‘fun fact’ is one of those research moments when another researcher points out a solution to your problem that actually should have been obvious from the beginning: if you’re looking for hidden histories, do not look at ‘official’ records, such as those kept by licensing guilds or at published works, nope. Look at court documents. Fines, punishments, incarcerations—executions. That is where you are going to find the true stories of what historical people—who were not White Christian Men (WCM)—were actually up to.

Continue reading ‘Women’s Weeds’ Research Journal — Week 6 Fun Fact: Well-behaved women seldom make history

Live Talk in London, Sat 1st October 2022 – Witches, Faeries & Ghosts: Our Dreamscapes of Legend & Lore

Saturday October 1st, 6pm at the Museum of the Home, 136 Kingsland Road, London E2 8EA

Tickets £7 and includes wine!

TICKETS AVAILABLE HERE

Where do we go when we dream?

Throughout history, using legend and lore, we have sought to understand this night-time adventure. Witches have been condemned as the conjurers of nightmare sleep paralysis and faeries blamed for time loss or sleep-walking; we convince ourselves that ghostly spirits visit us at night with messages of hope or portents of danger.

The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli, 1781 

In this illustrated lecture, Dr Romany Reagan will explore the creatures and meanings that fill our dreamscapes, from mediaeval British horrors to 19th-century curiosities and theories—and how these nocturnal happenings can play out in our waking lives.

Dr. Romany Reagan is an Arts Council England-funded research fellow with Museum of the Home, studying the hidden histories of women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, from mediaeval cunning women and herbal witchcraft to 19th-century feminist botany. Her research has explored the layers of heritage within Abney Park cemetery and an occult literary heritage of London’s Stoke Newington area, as well as ‘earth mystery’, psychogeography and folklore, legends and lore from the British Isles.

This event is part of the Museum of the Home’s Festival of Sleep, running from June through September 2022.

‘Women’s Weeds’ Research Journal — Week 5 Fun Fact: The rise of the female saint led to the hunt for the witch

This week’s ‘fun fact’ has to do with one of my favourite research subjects—witches. Research into the history of women in medicine will inevitably lead us back to the witch hunts. (And yes, there will be ongoing research into this particular flavour of persecution still to come… )

There were many factors that contributed to the witch panics that cycled in waves over a 300-year period from the 15th to the 18th century. I discussed several of these—such as climate change and severe economic depression—in a post I wrote two years ago: ‘Ice & Fire: How a Folk Demonology in the ‘Little Ice Age’ Led to the Witch Hunts of the 16th & 17th Centuries’

But this week I learned of a new factor I’ve had yet to come across in my research: the resurgence of the ‘goddess’ in the guise of the ‘saint’.

Continue reading ‘Women’s Weeds’ Research Journal — Week 5 Fun Fact: The rise of the female saint led to the hunt for the witch

‘Women’s Weeds’ Research Journal – Week 4 Fun Fact: ‘Modesty’ is a code word for shame

Ok, so perhaps there isn’t much ‘fun’ in this week’s Fun Fact! This week, I’ve been marvelling at the notion of ‘modesty’. This concept has presented a huge stumbling block in medical care for women throughout history; but ‘modesty’ is just a polite word for shame. I’m currently reading about modesty from the mediaeval and early modern perspective, however the tendrils of this insidious concept can be felt in society today.

The thing about modesty, is it appears to be something imposed upon women by others. Yes, women perhaps do end up taking upon themselves the shame they are told they should have (if you tell someone something long enough, they will start to believe it themselves) but the idea that a woman would rather suffer in silence—and perhaps die—than present her gynaecological problems to a physician is the horrible result of this.

Continue reading ‘Women’s Weeds’ Research Journal – Week 4 Fun Fact: ‘Modesty’ is a code word for shame

‘Women’s Weeds’ Research Journal – Week 2 Fun fact: The rise & fall of the mediaeval female gynaecologist

LFemale healer, Trotula, holding urine flask, 14th C Credit: Wellcome Library, London.
Pen and wash drawing showing a standing female healer, perhaps of Trotula, clothed in red and green with a white headdress,
holding up a urine flask to which she points with her right hand.
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons

One thing I found fascinating this week, is in ancient Rome and Greece, up until the 2nd century, medical texts were written directly to midwives. It was expected that women would be taking care of women’s issues, but also that they would be literate (read Greek, Latin, and/or Arabic) and had knowledge of the full anatomy. They were respected medical practitioners. It was only after waves of plague hit north Africa and the Mediterranean during the 5th and 6th centuries that governments and organised education fell apart, entering in an age of chaos, which these various societies never quite recovered from for the next 600 years.

Continue reading ‘Women’s Weeds’ Research Journal – Week 2 Fun fact: The rise & fall of the mediaeval female gynaecologist

Our Wedding Is Featured in Rock n Roll Bride Magazine! ‘Faded Arcadia Wedding with Historic Inspiration’

Romany found Andy under a tree on Hampstead Heath at an ‘Alternative Picnic’ and a year and a half later they were engaged. Their wedding concept was inspired by rich fabrics, autumnal colours and the history of their venue, The Charterhouse in London.

Read full article and see gallery of photos on Rock n Roll Bride magazine

Museum Late 29/10/2021 at the Museum of the Home in London — ‘NightIn: Magical Home Protection’

We’re holding our first-ever #museumlate at @MuseumoftheHome! 🌙 For #Halloween 🎃🎃🎃 we’re hosting an evening of #witchbottle making workshop by @rebeccambeattie, talks on #witchcraft (by Christina, founder of @treadwells) & #Folklore (by me!), cheese toasties + vegan deli trucks, bespoke #HedgeWitch herbaceous cocktail bar 🍸spooky tunes DJ set by @andyravensable 🦇🦇🦇 & live music by ‘broken folk’ band @lunatraktors 🍂🕸

☠️✨ Come play with us!!! ✨☠️

https://www.museumofthehome.org.uk/whats-on/events/night-in-magical-home-protection/

This event marks the beginning of our Winter Festival as we all prepare our homes for the coming winter. As well as experiencing our galleries after hours, this Night In has a workshop, talks and music for all things magical.

  • Visit our home protections charms workshop with Dr Rebecca Beattie
  • Attend talks on witchcraft and folklore with Dr Christina Oakley Harrington and Dr Romany Reagan
  • Try our bespoke ‘hedge witch’ cocktail bar
  • Enjoy delicious food with cheese toasties from Grate & Grill and vegan/gluten free salads and fritters from Dorothy’s Deli 
  • Dance to a DJ set by DJ AndyRavenSable and a live musical performance by ‘broken folk’ band the Lunatraktors
Continue reading Museum Late 29/10/2021 at the Museum of the Home in London — ‘NightIn: Magical Home Protection’

Panel Discussion 28/10/21 at the Museum of the Home in London — ‘Home Truths: Keeping a Magical Home’

I’m chairing a panel discussion this Thursday 28/10 7pm with Sim Gray of #ZeroFoolsTarot @zero_foolstarot; Raqia Nur #witchcraft historian @raqianur; Alex David, practicing witch @burningbayleaves; Brooke Palmieri #CampBooks @camp.books for the @MuseumoftheHome #HomeTruths ‘Keeping a Magical Home’ — and there will be mulled wine! 🍷

October is a time to prepare the home for the coming winter, to lay down stores and tend to our inner life and Halloween marks the beginning of these preparations.

Join us as we discover how contemporary magical practitioners prepare their homes for Winter. 

Enjoy a glass of mulled wine as we learn from the lived experiences of several contemporary practitioners who offer unique perspectives on their private rituals for safety, warmth, and protection in their magical homes. 

https://www.museumofthehome.org.uk/whats-on/events/home-truths-keeping-a-magical-home/

‘Terra Incognita’: Tracing Literary Occult Pathways in North London

By Romany Reagan

North London has quite a gothic pedigree. From Bram Stoker’s Lucy Westenra stalking Hampstead Heath to Stephen King’s terrifying Crouch End ‘Towen’, an otherworldly atmosphere lingers here. The region has captured the imagination of writers through the ages, casting the area as both friend and foe.

William Blake felt uneasy in North London. Shortly before his death, in a letter to painter and friend John Linnell, Blake said: “When I was young, Hampstead, Highgate, Hornsey, Muswell Hill, and even Islington, and all places North of London, always laid me up the day after and sometimes two or three days.”[1] It is rather strange that he kept going back, if these persistent physical ailments always followed the journey. Perhaps there was something about the otherworldliness of North London that drew Blake almost as a siren call.

Read the full article on FolkloreThursday.

 

Photo credit: Romany Reagan

Tattooed Ladies: Between Myth & Truth, from Burma to Barbie, the Feminist Evolution of ‘Monster Beauty’

By Romany Reagan

Everyone knows: tattoos are for convicts, prostitutes, and drunken sailors. Any woman who dares get one is destined to live fast and die young. Harlots of the saucest degree. Her only job prospects are the circus sideshow or a biker’s Old Lady.

Or so we think…

Tattooed women have meant many things over the past several hundred years that have nothing to do these stereotypes: an emblem of the aristocracy, an unlikely international impulse towards sisterhood, and a mark of feminism. 

But before I dive into what the tattoo is, let’s explore what it is not. Debunking myths is, to me, one of the most thrilling aspects of historical research.  So here we go…

Continue reading Tattooed Ladies: Between Myth & Truth, from Burma to Barbie, the Feminist Evolution of ‘Monster Beauty’

Folklore, legends, myths, and lost histories from the British Isles – collected by Dr Romany Reagan

%d bloggers like this: