Talks & Walks in London

29/10/2021 – MUSEUM LATE – Illustrated talks on witchcraft & folklore, witch bottle making workshop, live music — ‘NightIn: Magical Home Protection’ 

Screenshot 2021-10-25 at 16.30.00

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

28/10/2021 – PANEL DISCUSSION for the Museum of the Home – ‘Home Truths: Keeping a Magical Home’ 

Screenshot 2021-10-25 at 15.58.07

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/

14/10/2021 – GUIDED WALK for the Museum of London – ‘Bones & Books: Tracing Buried Secrets in a Dark City’

andres-gomez-_SKF8COXC4w-unsplash
Credit: Photo by Andrés Gómez on Unsplash
What is fact and what is fiction in the evolving mythology of the City of London? Buried bodies and buried rivers are the very bones and circulatory system of this ancient city we call home.
The heritage of Fleet Street and Paternoster book publishers weaves its magic alongside tales of its venerable churches and burial grounds.
From the visions of Emanuel Swedenborg and William Blake to Daniel Defoe and the first published ghost story, from Shakespeare’s theatres to the merry war of Grub Street’s journalists, follow Dr Romany Reagan through this fantastical dark city, to uncover these sedimented layers of time in place, where literary fancy blurs lines with very real ghosts below..

HAUNTED BLOOMSBURY—AUDIO WALK TRACING SPIRITUALISM, GHOST STORIES & THE LONDON OCCULT

Whether it was considered an intellectual pursuit, a genuine religious order, a feminist flag, or just a grand excuse for a gin-soaked party, Spiritualism was a crucible where many of the conflicting and newly forming ideas of the late Victorian era brewed and clashed. At one point it was the domain of the intellectual elite, who held literary salons discussing Swedenborg and Blake. At the other extreme it was reverse colonialism gone mad, with female liberation, drunkenness—and worst of all Americanness—running rampant through England.

The Victorians had long been fascinated by a wide range of phenomena that might loosely be termed the ‘occult’; and earlier manifestations of interest in spirituality had made their mark during the first half of the 19th century. Tracing Spiritualism’s lines of origin, we’re driven through these occult pathways into the heart of Bloomsbury. Button your greatcoat and steel your nerves as your tour guide Dr Romany Reagan leads you on an audio journey through the Bloomsbury backstreets into a landscape of gothic intrigues and Victorian ghost stories.

I’ll be giving a virtual talk Sun 27 Sept 10pm BST for the #RuralGothic conference. There will be lots of amazing speakers over the course of two days! All for a tenner!

My talk closes out the conference:
‘Hail the Highgate Vampire! Goth kids, cemeteries, and the search for the secular sublime’
☠️⚰️🧛🏻‍♂️🕯
Through repetition and shared community lineage rituals become codified in society. The lines between acceptable and unacceptable ritual tend to follow the law of established shared-heritage practices going unquestioned, winning validity over recently invented rites. From media-hungry occultists battling it out with mock satanists in Highgate Cemetery in the 1970s to 21st-century wiccan white witches in Abney Park cemetery today, older sites of ritual continue to draw new practices. Our Victorian garden cemeteries offer the pull of an historical site with the aesthetics to match. From their crumbling chapels to their Egyptian follies, new rites fit into the old ways. This talk will take you on a journey through alternative meanings of space as practitioners search for the secular sublime.

Haunted Bloomsbury Walking Tour image

Haunted Bloomsbury: An ‘Experience’ Walking Tour of Spiritualism, Ghost Stories & Gin

Whether it was considered an intellectual pursuit, a genuine religious order, a feminist flag, or just a grand excuse for a gin-soaked party, Spiritualism was a crucible where many of the conflicting and newly forming ideas of the late Victorian era brewed and clashed. At one point it was the domain of the intellectual elite, who held literary salons discussing Swedenborg and Blake. At the other extreme it was reverse colonialism gone mad, with female liberation, drunkenness—and worst of all Americanness—running rampant through England.

The Victorians had long been fascinated by a wide range of phenomena that might loosely be termed the ‘occult’; and earlier manifestations of interest in spirituality had made their mark during the first half of the 19th century. Tracing Spiritualism’s lines of origin, we’re driven through these occult pathways into the heart of Bloomsbury. Join your tour guide Dr Romany Reagan for an evening stalk of gothic intrigues and Victorian ghosts, ending with a well-deserved gin at a local hostelry to settle your nerves.

Previous Talks & Walks:

If There’s Death, Let There Be Dancing: Discussing Cemetery Use
Tuesday 18 August 2020 7pm – YouTube

An online lecture and Q&A Session exploring the Victorian garden cemetery today as a place for mortality mediation and shared community space

Whilst ‘dark tourism’ and ‘thanatourism’ have sometimes been used interchangeably, thanatourism can be defined as a more specific long-standing practice motivated by a specific desire for an encounter with death. The long history of thanatourism is motivated more by thoughts of memento mori than a contemporary thrill-seeking dark tourism activity. Encounters with death themes represented in the Romantic Movement were precursors and inspiration for the development of Victorian garden cemeteries. The mortality mediation offered by these cemeteries has a long-standing association with a desire for encounters with death.

Many Victorian garden cemeteries have opened their gates as community spaces, extending the purview of cemetery community space beyond that as strictly sites of mourning. Contemporary changing attitudes towards death and dying—and our cultural desire for secular mortality mediation—means mixed use of cemeteries as community space are likely to become more commonplace. As these spaces embrace a variety of perspectives and voices within their walls, the perception of cemeteries is transforming from morbid and solemn, to celebratory and inclusive. These cemeteries endeavour to become places of community connection and joy.

In this talk, Dr Romany Reagan will offer perspectives on what cemeteries have meant to their communities throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—and today—as spaces of mortality mediation. Building upon research from cemetery historians, mixed-use case studies, dark tourism, and her own research within Abney Park cemetery, Reagan will explore the diverse secular thanatouristic practices within cemeteries today—and the the future of navigating these practices within community contexts.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019
An evening lecture with mulled wine exploring the origins of Christmas from Saturnalia to Santa Claus—by way of Krampus & the Christmas Cat

Everyone has an idea of the Perfect Christmas. How this looks will vary from person to person, or family to family – it could be as simple as a holiday without arguing or as grand as a ski getaway – but if I say to you now “envision the Perfect Christmas” most of you might conjure images of a fir tree decked with baubles, outdoor Christmas markets, mulled wine, shopping in the snow, children leaving treats for Santa and his reindeer, curling up in pyjamas watching Christmas films on TV – and nothing could be more Christmasy than a film about someone finding the Meaning of Christmas.

But what is the Meaning of Christmas? What is the Perfect Christmas? If I asked your grandparents, they might not share your vision. And if I asked your grandparents’ grandparents, they would probably be scandalised by your Perfect Christmas! However, a few generations further back still, they would probably wonder where your Lord of Misrule had gone and why you hadn’t planned any pranks on your neighbours. And if we go back long enough into your family tree, they wouldn’t celebrate anything you’d recognised as a Christmas celebration at all.

No Christian winter festival existed until the fourth century, at which point Christmas gradually began to take over from existing festivals like Saturnalia and January Kalends in the Roman Empire and eventual from Yule in Scandinavia. This is where my tale begins. From the medieval period, through the Reformation and Protestant adaptation, we will take a deep dive into the evolution of Christmas. By tracing the Protestant beginnings of early Father Christmas and Old Man Winter representations as a reaction against celebrating the Catholic saint St Nicholas in Protestant England, we’ll explore how these early Protestant Christmas Men – with many European winter figures of folklore in between – paved the way for a holiday based on a literary and cinematic heritage, manifesting in the fully secular and globalised Santa Claus figure we recognise today.

Witch Bottles & Worn Shoes

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

An evening lecture exploring the ancient practice of home-protection folklore with an exhibition of the hidden boot & other historical items

The secrets waiting within the walls of our domestic spaces are often not unearthed until renovation works bring these mysterious items into the light of a new day – and often a new century. During the extensive renovation works preparing the Geffrye: Museum of the Home for its grand reopening next year, one such secret was uncovered. In November 2018, builders discovered an old worn boot that was hidden in a walled up chimney void from when the museum was an almshouse. What was the boot doing there? Since a chimney void is hardly a likely place to accidentally lose a boot, who put it there? What purpose did it serve? Can we truly step into the mindset of the people who interred these objects – or will they remain a mystery?

The answers to these questions come from an ancient heritage of home-protection folklore practices throughout the British Isles reaching back through time – but also practiced far more recently than you might think.

For this evening lecture, we invite you to join Dr Romany Reagan in the restored eighteenth-century Geffrye Almshouse. The evening will begin with a chance to view the hidden boot and the almshouse, alongside an exhibition of other historical items used in home-protection folklore, and enjoy a glass of wine before heading upstairs to learn the curious history of the secrets within our walls.

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

%d bloggers like this: