Monday, 20 October 2014

Pagan Eye: Pumpkins On Sale For Halloween


I saw this display of pumpkins on sale at Middle Farm, in Sussex, where I stopped off to buy a bottle of mead when I was visiting a friend at the seaside on Saturday. I felt I had to photograph them.

My Pagan Eye posts show photos that I find interesting - seasonal images, pagan sites, events, or just pretty pictures. If you want to send me a photo for a Pagan Eye post, please email it to badwitch1234@gmail.com Let me know what the photo shows and whether you want your name mentioned or not. For copyright reasons, the photo must be one you have taken yourself.

Previous Related Posts
http://www.middlefarm.com/
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2013/08/pagan-eye-blackberries-city-harvest.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2014/08/pagan-eye-tempting-fruit.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2014/06/review-deliciously-conscious-cookbook.html

Looking for Work While the Sun's Zooming In...

When you are a freelance worker, it is either feast or famine. Don’t get me wrong – I love the flexibility and variety of freelance work, but when a few weeks go by and I haven’t earned any money I begin to start looking for other jobs to do.

For several years now I’ve been a freelance writer, copy-editor and proofreader. Summer is the busiest time as that’s when publishing companies need cover for staff holidays. Autumn is often quiet – and this year is no exception.

So, when someone sent me a link to a new job site I had a good browse. The site’s name particularly appealed to me – City Calling. It reminded me of a favourite song from my youth – London Calling by The Clash. Of course, we don’t quite live in the post-apocalyptic world of the punk anthem, in which the ice age is coming or war declared, but then City Calling is more about how to find a suitable job than advice on “zombies of death”.

I’m not really looking for a full-time, permanent role - just some temporary work or a part-time job that I could fit around my writing. City Calling gave me a few good ideas. I was quite tempted by a dog sitting agency advertising for animal lovers to walk people’s pooches while they are away from home. Christmas temporary work in a bookshop seemed appealing too.

But then I saw an advert that made me, in the words of that punk song, quit holding out and draw another breath - it seems a tourist attraction in London is currently recruiting for zombies...

Links and previous related posts
http://www.citycalling.com/
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2009/02/spells-to-find-new-job.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2011/06/should-i-stay-or-should-i-go.html

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Radio Adaptation of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen

A friend has just alerted me to the fact that Alan Garner's The Weirdstone of Brisingamen has been dramatised on BBC Radio Four and is currently available to hear online.

I have a very strange relationship with The Weirdstone of Brisingamen - a book that ties together legends and folklore of Alderley Edge, in Cheshire, with a story about two teenagers who find a mysterious and possibly magical artifact. However, this isn't a fluffy tale with a happy ending - it is about death and loss and living in troubled times.

The reason I feel a personal connection to the story is that when my dad was dying in hospital, and mum and I were taking it in turns to sit a death vigil, I grabbed that book from the top of my to-read pile when I was about to do the night shift at his bedside.

I read it through the night and saw the sun come up as I was finishing it. My dad died a little later in the morning. He had not regained consciousness at any time I was there and his death was just a ceasing of breath.

The Weirdstone of Brisingamen was so totally the wrong book to be reading in those circumstances - but I had nothing else to read in my bag (it was pre-Kindle days). Yet in some ways it was absolutely the right book to be reading - about coming to terms with harsh realities and accepting what must come.

Throughout October, I am writing posts about various aspects of death on my blog. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen's themes fit in with that. Although it is written as a book for young adults it can be read and appreciated by adults and I am sure the radio dramatisation will too.

The Weirdstone of Brisingamenis still in print and can be ordered in paperback, hardback and nowadays for the Kindle.

Links and previous related posts:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b016vxyz
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2014/10/death-cal-cooper-on-ghost-therapy.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2014/10/death-extract-from-heart-of-hereafter.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2014/10/tarot-death-meaning-and-symbolism-at.html

Friday, 17 October 2014

Samhain Pagan Events in and Near London


Halloween might be a couple of weeks away yet, but I thought along with my usual list pagan events in and near London for the week ahead I would include a few Samhain events for the following week too, as these things can book up fast.

Now to 11 January 2015. Witches and Wicked Bodies exhibition at the British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Free event. For more details visit: https://www.britishmuseum.org/

Now - 2 November; The London Month of the Dead. A series of tours, talks a private views to inform, entertain and provoke on the subject of death and London cemeteries. It has been curated by a Curious Invitation and Antique Beat. For more details and to book tickets, visit: http://www.londonmonthofthedead.com/

Saturday 18 October; London Dreamtime at Garden Museum - Six Story Saturdays. Venue: Garden Museum Lambeth, Lambeth Palace Rd, London SE1 7LB. Price: Free. Time: 11am-noon. For more details visit http://londondreamtime.com/calendar/ or http://www.gardenmuseum.org.uk/

Saturday 18 October; Skeletons in the Closet - a guided tour of the City's forgotten burial grounds and a private view of the Museum of London's bone archive with Jelena Bekvalac and Robert Stephenson. Part of The London Month of the Dead curated by a Curious Invitation and Antique Beat. Time: 11am to 1pm. Tickets are £12, For more details and to book tickets, visit: http://www.londonmonthofthedead.com/

Sunday 19 October; Pagan Future Fests Samhain Celebration 2014. Pagan festival with live music, readings, stalls selling pagan supplies, talks, workshops, drum session and open and closing rituals. Venue: The Bedford Pub/Theatre, 77 Bedford Hill, Balham, London SW12 9HD (Near Balham Station). Time: Noon - 10pm. Tickets: £15 all day (12 - 10pm), £9 evening only (5 - 10pm). For more details and to book tickets: http://www.paganfuturefests.org.uk/

Sunday 19 October; A Day in the Life of Death. Talk by Rupert and Claire Callender and Richard Putt. Part of The London Month of the Dead curated by a Curious Invitation and Antique Beat. Venue: Brompton Cemetery Chapel, Fulham Road, London. Time: 1pm to 3pm. Tickets are £12, For more details and to book tickets, visit: http://www.londonmonthofthedead.com/

Sunday 19 October; Apocalypse Now and Then - coping with catastrophe in the capital. A salon in the cemetery with Matt Brown and Matthew Hogan. Part of The London Month of the Dead curated by a Curious Invitation and Antique Beat. Venue: Brompton Cemetery Chapel, Fulham Road, London. Time: 4pm to 6pm. Tickets are £12, For more details and to book tickets, visit: http://www.londonmonthofthedead.com/

Sunday 19 October; Visions of the Holy Grail. Talk by Simon Wilson. Venue: 50 Gloucester Place, London W1U 8EA. Starts at 6pm. Tickets: £7 (£5 concessions, £4 TS members). For full details: http://www.theosophicalsociety.org.uk

Monday 20 October; Tarot Meditation: The Fool, with Marysia Kolodziej. Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 7.15pm for 7.30pm start. Tickets £10. Advance booking required. Call 0207 419 8507. For further details: info@treadwells-london.com http://www.treadwells-london.com/

Monday 20 October; Pagan Pathfinders Halloween / Samhain celebration in Finchley, London N3. Time: 7.30pm. Contact Pagan Pathfinders for more details and to reserve a place: https://www.facebook.com/events/740248846045843

Monday 20 October; The Toltec Secret. Talk by Sergio Magana "Ocelocoyotl" organised by Alternatives. Venue: St James's Church Piccadilly, 197 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9LL. Time: 7pm - 8.30pm. Tickets £12/£8. For more details and to book tickets: http://www.alternatives.org.uk/

Tuesday 21 October– 2 November; IMAGE 2014, Travelling with Unfamiliar Spirits - two-week celebration of esoteric art with series of events at The Cob Gallery, 205 Royal College St, London NW1 0SG. The I:MAGE Opening Night is on October 21 from 6pm - 9pm and is free, but you must This event is free but you must RSVP Livia as spaces are limited – livia @fulgur.co.uk. To see the full list of events taking place over the two weeks, visit:http://fulgur.co.uk/events/

Wednesday 22 October; The Colours of Western Esotericism - An Evening Workshop with Jesse Bransford as part of the I:Mage Esoteric Art Exhibition. Venue: Cob Gallery, 205 Royal College Street, London, NW1 0SG United Kingdom. Time: 7.30pm - 9.30pm. Tickets £20. http://fulgur.co.uk/event/colour-western-esotericism/

Thursday 23 October; Meetup to introduce Wicca and the Order of the Horse and the Moon to prospective new members. Venue: The Avalon, 14-16 Balham Hill, London. Time: 7.30pm. Private meet-up for prospective new members. For more details, call 07462 422125 or 07848 448669 or visit http://www.meetup.com/Wicca-Initiatory-Pathway-Samhain-Beltane-Cycle

Thursday 23 October; The Veil of Dreams Jesse Bransford and Max Razdow on Pilgrimage as part of the I:Mage Esoteric Art Exhibition. Venue: Cob Gallery, 205 Royal College Street, London, NW1 0SG United Kingdom. Time: 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm. Tickets £7. http://fulgur.co.uk/event/veil-dreams-jesse-bransford-max-razdow-pilgrimage/

Thursday 23 October; Crossbones Vigil to honour The Goose and the outcast dead of Cross Bones Graveyard with Halloween observances, including a reading of names of the dead. Bring a flower, a ribbon, a totem or memento to tie to the shrine. Gather from 6.45pm for a 7pm start in Redcross Way outside the Memorial Gates, SE1 1TA, opposite the Boot and Flogger pub, just north of the junction with Union Street. Nearest tubes Borough or London Bridge. The event is free, but donations are welcome. For more details, visit http://www.crossbones.org.uk/

Thursday 23 October; Ten days in the life of Dura-Europos: gods, cults and temples on the Seleucid, Parthian and Roman Euphrates. BP Lecture Theatre , British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Time: 4pm-5pm. Free, booking essential. For more details visit: https://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/events_calendar.aspx

Friday 24 October; The Wisdom of Near-Death Experiences. Talk by Penny Sartori. Venue: The College of Psychic Studies, 16 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2EB. Time: 7pm-8.30pm. Cost: £10/£12 Advance booking advised. For details call: 020 7589 3292 or visit https://www.collegeofpsychicstudies.co.uk/

Friday 24 October; Songs for Samhain. Gig with folk musician Hannah Sanders. Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 7.15pm for 7.30pm start. Tickets £10. Advance booking required. Call 0207 419 8507. For further details: info@treadwells-london.com http://www.treadwells-london.com/

Friday 24 October; Passage through the Spheres between Death and Rebirth as Preparation for the New Earthly Life. Talk by Sylvia Francke, author of The Tree of Life and the Holy Grail, at Rudolf Steiner House, 35 Park Road, London NW1 6XT. Entry £3.50 (£1 concessions), no need to book, just turn up. Time: 7.30pm – 9pm. http://www.rsh.anth.org.uk/

24, 25 and 26 October; Mind Body Soul Experience London. Venue: Olympia Central, London. Opening Times: Friday 11am - 6pm, Saturday 10am – 6pm, Sunday 10am – 5pm. Online admission costs: Adults £10, Concessions £8. On the door: Adults: £12, Concessions £10. Full information and tickets: www.mbsevents.co.uk

Saturday 25 October; I:MAGE - A Special One Day Conference on Esoteric Art. Venue: The Warburg Institute, Warburg Institute, Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AB. Time: 10am - 10pm. http://fulgur.co.uk/event/image-at-the-warburg/

Saturday 25 October; The Way of All Flesh - Rat Taxidermy in the Cemetery with Margot Magpie. Venue: The Dissenters' Chapel, Kensal Green Cemetery, London. Part of The London Month of the Dead curated by a Curious Invitation and Antique Beat. Time: 2.30pm. Tickets are £60. For more details and to book tickets, visit: http://www.londonmonthofthedead.com/

Saturday 25 October; Herbs for Winter Health Workshop run by Master Herbalist Jacqui Apostolides with Cobwebs at Cauldrons. Venue: Romford Shopping Hall. Cost is £50, deposit of £5. Time 10am start. http://www.cobwebsandcauldrons.co.uk/

Saturday 25 October; Hallowe'en: Lore and Magic workshop with Suzanne Corbie. Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 10.45am arrival for 11am start. Finishes 5.30pm. Tickets £45 (£25 deposit, balance on the day). Call 0207 419 8507. For further details: info@treadwells-london.com http://www.treadwells-london.com/

Saturday 25 October; High Seat Rite With Katie Gerrard. The High Seat Rite is an early Norse practice of Shamanic Trance Prophecy. Venue: Wheatsheaf Hall, Wheatsheaf Lane, London, SW8 2UP. Time: 7pm-10pm. To reserve a place email HighSeatRitesLondon@gmail.com. Tickets are £8 and are limited. Details: https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=762509093791348&id=145516445490619

Sunday, 26 October; PFL Samhain family gathering - an informal get together for pagan families at the Horniman Museum Hallowe'en Fair. Venue: Horniman Museum and Gardens, 100 London Rd, London SE23 3PQ. Meet around 11am by the bandstand (in the gardens) to enjoy family-friendly chat and activities. PFL website: http://london.paganfed.org/ Details of the Horniman Halloween Fair here: http://www.horniman.ac.uk/visit/events/horniman-halloween-fair

Sunday, 26 October; The World Without Us. A salon in the cemetery with Dr John Troyer and James Norris. Venue: The Dissenters' Chapel, Kensal Green Cemetery, London. Part of The London Month of the Dead curated by a Curious Invitation and Antique Beat. Time: 1pm - 3pm. Tickets are £12. For more details and to book tickets, visit: http://www.londonmonthofthedead.com/

Monday 27 October; What will Death be Like? Talk by Dr Brooke Magnanti. Venue: Ian Gulland Lecture Theatre in the Whitehead Building, Goldsmiths, University of London, New Cross, London SE14 6NW. Talks start at 6.10pm. (Note: this is not the normal venue or day) Free event. For more details, contact Duncan Colvin on d.colvin@gold.ac.uk or visit http://www.gold.ac.uk/apru/speakers/

Tuesday 28; Thursday 30 and Friday 31st October; Halloween Ghost Walk with John Constable - ghost stories, folklore and tales of the unexpected with performances from his own work inspired by a real-life encounter with a 'Winchester Goose' at Cross Bones graveyard. Meet: 6.45pm. Depart: 7pm sharp! Meet: Tabard Street Piazza, off Borough High Street, London SE1 1JA (Borough tube) Advance tickets: £10 plus £1 booking fee. £12 on day subject to availablility. Places limited. Advance booking recommended. please click: https://www.wegottickets.com/southwarkmysteries
then select your preferred date.

Thursday 30 October; PFL Samhain Open Ritual facilitated by Sorita d’Este and the Covenant of Hekate. Venue: Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, Holborn London. Time: 7.30pm for 8pm start. Ritual ends around 9pm followed by feasting until 10pm. Entrance: £6/£5 PF members. Please bring seasonal food and drinks to share at feast after ritual. For more details, visit http://london.paganfed.org/

Thursday 30 October; Fortean London Halloween: Ghost, Witches and Demons. Evening of talks: Roger Clarke, Queen Victoria and the Child Medium; Jessie Childs, Beware the Foul Fiend: An Elizabethan Exorcism in Hackney; Deborah Hyde, The Witch of Eye; Scott Wood, Ghosts and Demons of the City. Venue: The London Fortean Society. Venue: The Vaults Bar, Dirty Dicks, 202 Bishopsgate, City of London EC2M 4NR. Time: 7.30pm - 10.30pm. Entry: £3/£2 concessions. For more details, visit http://forteanlondon.blogspot.co.uk/

Friday 31 October; Wheel of the Year Festival - Resting Meditation at Chalice Well World Peace Garden, in Glastonbury. Gather at the Well Head at noon for celebration and meditation until 12.30pm, followed by a chance to chat around the fire on the lower lawn. Free admission to the gardens from 10am to noon. In the evening there will be an All Hallow’s Eve / Samhain event suitable for families, starting after 4.30pm and ending at around. The cost of that is £7.50 adults, £4.50 children. For more details and to book, visit the website http://www.chalicewell.org.uk/

Friday 31 October, Gallery talk: Witches and Wicked bodies. Room 90, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Time: 1.15pm-2pm. Free, drop in. For more details visit: https://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/events_calendar.aspx

Friday 31 October; Paranormal Photography. Talk by Harry Oldfield at The College of Psychic Studies, 16 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2EB. Time: 7pm-9pm. Cost: £14/£16 Advance booking advised. For details call: 020 7589 3292 or visit https://www.collegeofpsychicstudies.co.uk/

Friday 31 October, Tamesa River of Souls: Halloween / Samhain Ritual. Thames-side outdoor ritual in London. Annual event organised by Mani Navasothy and friends as part of Pagan Frontiers of London and Tamesa London Circle since 2006. Meet (usually) by the Millennium Bridge in Central London and get down to the river if the tide is low for the ceremony. For more details, visit http://www.paganfrontiers.com/Events_-_Socials/events_-_socials.html#Tamesa-riverOfSouls-Halloween2014 or http://www.tamesa.info/html/river_of_souls.html

Saturday 1 November; The Day of the Dead in Mexico: past and present. Gallery Talk. Venue: Room 27, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Time: 1.15pm-2pm. Free event, just drop in. For more details visit: https://www.britishmuseum.org/

Saturday 1 November; Free and Open Gorsedd of Caer Abiri Samhain Ritual at Avebury Sun Circle, in Avebury, Wiltshire. Open druidic style ceremony to mark Samhain, the end and beginning of times. Meet at the Red Lion Pub, Avebury, at noon for rite at 1.30pm, ending at around 3pm. Contributions of song, poetry, mead and cakes are welcome. There will be music and entertainment in the Red Lion pub in the evening. The overflow car park will be available for tent camping on Friday 31 October and Saturday 1 November.

Saturday 1 November; Embodied Spirits and Fetishes- An evening talk from David Graeber as part of the I:Mage Esoteric Art Exhibition. Venue: Cob Gallery, 205 Royal College Street, London, NW1 0SG United Kingdom. Time: 7pm - 8.15pm. Tickets: £7. http://fulgur.co.uk/event/embodied-spirits-fetishes-david-graber/

Saturday 1 November; Hendon Heathens Moot, Venue: Greyhound Pub, Church End, Hendon, London, NW4 4JT. Time: 6pm. Hendon Heathens meets at this pub the first Saturday of every month.

Sunday November 2; Kali Puuja. A one day workshop to explore the wisdom of the Vedas at Caer Corhain Shamamic Development Centre of the Isle of Sheppey, 1 Southleas farm cottages, Lower Road, Minster, Sheppey ME12 3SW. For more details and information on how to book, contact Bruce at auberzone@yahoo.com or phone on 07928 149659 or visit;http://www.touchtheearthuk.com/

Sunday November 2; Anderida Gorsedd Samhain open ritual at the Long Man of Wilmington, Sussex. Meet near the car park between 1.30pm and 2pm for a walk up to the chalk hill figure at 2pm. Afterwards back to the Giants Rest pub in Wilmington for a social drink together.

Sunday November 2; Echoes Ever After. A salon in the cemetery with Mark Pilkington and Dr. Christopher Belshaw. Venue: The Dissenters' Chapel, Kensal Green Cemetery, London. Part of The London Month of the Dead curated by a Curious Invitation and Antique Beat. Time: 4pm - 6pm. Tickets are £12. For more details and to book tickets, visit: http://www.londonmonthofthedead.com/

Sunday November 2; Samhain Rite with The Cotswold Order of Druids at the Rollright Stones, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire. Time: 4pm. Free event but donations welcome to cover site hire. http://www.rollrightstones.co.uk/

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Image from Travelling with Unfamiliar Spirits


Honouring the Ancestors is the name of this beautiful photo. It is one of the pictures on show at I:MAGE - Travelling with Unfamiliar Spirits, a two-week celebration of esoteric art with series of events at The Cob Gallery, in London, from 21 October to 2 November.

The photo is by Sara Hannant, author of Mummers, Maypoles and Milkmaids: A Journey Through the English Ritual Year, and she took it at Chalice Well, Glastonbury, at Samhain 2007.

If you would like to see more of Sara's work on chance and enchantment and find out more about it, you can view several pictures on the Fulgur Esoterica website in artist stories: http://fulgur.co.uk/image/the-artists-blog/

You can visit the exhibition from Tuesday 21 October to 2 November at The Cob Gallery, 205 Royal College St, London NW1 0SG. The I:MAGE opening night event is on October 21 from 6pm - 9pm and is free, but you must RSVP event organiser Livia as spaces are limited – livia @fulgur.co.uk. To see the full list of events taking place over the two weeks, visit:http://fulgur.co.uk/events/

Previous related posts
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2014/09/events-fulgur-esoterica-conference-and.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2013/05/news-bbc-highlights-english-ritual-year.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2011/10/review-mummers-maypoles-and-milkmaids.html

Death: Cal Cooper on Ghost Therapy


I frequently talked to my mother in the days and months after she died. Sometimes I still do. I could feel her presence in her favourite armchair and wouldn’t let other people sit there. Even now, I only let the cat sleep on that chair, which remains where it was when she was alive, by the window my mum liked to look out of and watch the world go by.

If I close my eyes and try to tune in to the realm of the spirits, I can sometimes hear her voice offering advice or just making a wry comment as she often would in life. Do you think that makes me weird? I used to think so, but after listening to Cal Cooper talk about ghost therapy at Goldsmith’s Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit on Tuesday evening I realised I am far from alone. However, apparently few people readily admit they have been chatting with dead relatives because they are also worried others will think them weird.

Cal Cooper is doing a PhD at the University of Northampton, lectures on parapsychology and is the author of the book Telephone Calls from the Dead.His talk was about post-death experiences in the bereaved – meaning people seeing, hearing or otherwise sensing a loved one after they had died – and how these experiences can help them get over their grief.

A study by WD Rees in 1971 showed it was extremely common for people to sense the presence of a dead spouse or relative – perhaps seeing them and having conversations with them or just feeling they were close or dreaming about them. What’s more, 85% of those people found the experience helpful. Very few were scared – despite ghosts normally being considered pretty scary things.

Later research showed that most apparitions of that kind occurred 24 hours before or after the death, with the peak time being at the moment of death. It can happen for months or even years afterwards though. It is a common practice for the window in the room of a dying person to be left open so that the spirit can leave and many nurses have reported seeing a mist passing out of a dead person.

Although most of those kinds of experiences are unexpected, other contact with dead loved ones is sought out – such as going to seances. Cal asked whether seances are a bad thing if those going to them feel that they help them. Obviously there is a problem if a medium charges large amounts of money from someone who can ill afford it, but if the seance is free and those who attend feel helped, what is the problem?

Most people who go to mediums are generally positive about the experience and it can be considered a form of counselling. It can strengthen a belief in the afterlife and give a sense of peace and comfort. Cal believes that any counsellor who has a bereaved person as a client could help them by listening to any spiritual stories they tell – such as seeing the ghost of a loved one – and “putting themselves in their shoes”.

Most of the stories the bereaved relate about connectivity with the dead are helpful. The main positive thing that seems to come from them is a sense of hope – and, like Pandora’s Box, hope is a very important thing to retain when you feel you have lost everything.

I thought the topic of ghost therapy and contact with the dead being helpful for the bereaved was particularly relevant at Samhain – or Halloween – when many pagans like to honour dead ancestors and sometimes try to contact them through seances or other rites or ceremonies. As Cal observed, ghosts need not be scary and can give hope at times of darkness.

In the weeks around Halloween I am looking at death by blogging about all things from burial sites and ghost stories to examining our attitudes to death. Here are some links and previous related posts:

Telephone Calls from the Dead
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2014/10/seriously-spooked-assaps-ghost.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2014/10/house-of-dead-darnley-mausoleum.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2014/10/events-study-of-near-death-experiences.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2014/10/tarot-death-meaning-and-symbolism-at.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2011/03/we-are-all-made-of-stars.html
http://www.bmj.com/content/4/5778/37

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Exploring Harry Potter's Kings Cross Station


On my way to the Gothic exhibition at the British Library - which I blogged about earlier today - I arrived at Kings Cross station and decided to have a look at platform 9 of Harry Potter fame. Yes, I know platform 9 ¾ doesn’t really exist – except that it sort of does.

Close to platform 9 there is actually a sign for the fictional embarking point for the Hogwarts Express and also a trolley laden with luggage embedded in the wall underneath it. If you fancy it, you can queue up to have yourself photographed holding the trolley and wearing the school for witches and wizards’ scarf.

There was a really long queue when I was there and I felt a little to old to go for it myself anyway, but I took a picture of someone throwing themselves into the role and a member of staff from the nearby Harry Potter Shop.

According to Harry Potter's London the Film Location Walkit was really platforms 4 and 5 that were used for filming the Kings Cross station sequence in the movie, which you can of course also have a look at. If you fancy going on more of an exploration of Harry Potter’s London, the Film Location Walkcontains three self-guided walks offering tours of Central London’s film locations with maps.

And while I’m on the subject of Harry Potter, my hubby recently bought me a lovely present of a new travel pass holder in the form of a Hogwarts train ticket – which you can see photographed above right. He bought it for me at Forbidden Planet and it makes a fine Travelcard holder for any witch or wizard in my opinion.


Links and previous related posts
Harry Potter Boxed Set: The Complete Collection (Children's Paperback)
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2009/08/three-broomsticks.html
http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2009/05/harry-potter-and-sussex-downs.html
Harry Potters London the Film Location Walk: Includes Three Self-Guided Walks with Maps
https://forbiddenplanet.com/109172-harry-potter-travel-pass-holder-hogwarts-express-9-34/


Event: Terror and Wonder - The Gothic Imagination


I do love a good Gothic novel - and I've got a bit of a thing for spooky castles and crumbling ruins. And I do rather like wearing black. OK, yes, I might be a bit of a Goth from time to time. Which means the new exhibition at the British Library called Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination was right up my street and I made a point of visiting it shortly after it opened at the start of this month.

As much I thought I'd enjoy what is described as the UK’s biggest ever Gothic exhibition, it surpassed my expectations. It is huge, with rooms covering a lot more than just literature - and seeing as it is on at the British Library I did think it would be mostly about books.

In fact, the description on the British Library website shows just how much Gothic ground it covers: "Two hundred rare objects trace 250 years of the Gothic tradition, exploring our enduring fascination with the mysterious, the terrifying and the macabre. From Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick and Alexander McQueen, via posters, books, film and even a vampire-slaying kit, experience the dark shadow the Gothic imagination has cast across film, art, music, fashion, architecture and our daily lives."

It does begin with a book though - Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto,which signalled the start of Gothic literature in the 18th century. The genre is typified by plots of love and death, often set in castles or abbeys and involving some ancient family curse or terrible secret. It also shows a fascination with the medieval past, wild landscapes and the supernatural. Modern-day horror has its roots in Gothic's dark romances.

The exhibition does of course include a lot of beautiful and rare books and documents, including handwritten drafts of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and posters, books and video clips from modern horrors such as Clive Barker’s Hellraiser. I was also fascinated to see on display one of Harry Price's Blue Books - the set of instructions the ghost hunter gave to each of the 48 investigators during the study of Borley Rectory in 1937.

Oh and if you want to see John Dee's dark mirror this autumn, you won't find it in its normal place at the British Museum as that is also part of Terror and Wonder. The famous obsidian disc was once owned by Horace Walpole.

I would recommend allowing at least an hour and a half to enjoy the exhibition. You need to buy a ticket in advance with timed entry and I would suggest getting one for the morning or early afternoon to have enough time to go round. Tickets cost £10 for adults, but are free for under-18s and friends of the library. I got in for half price because I have an Art Pass.

The BBC, in conjunction with the British Library, is running a season of programmes celebrating all things Gothic, starting on October 20. You can find out more about what's on telly here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1DHZFB726CfZ29KDh4sDvnC/about-the-season

And here is a little tip for another Gothic-type thing to do after you've been to the British Library - pop up the road to St Pancras Old Church and see the Hardy Tree.

You can find out more and book tickets to Terror and Wonder here: http://www.bl.uk/whatson/exhibitions/gothic/index.html