Thursday, 15 June 2017

Museum of Witchcraft

I'd been meaning to visit The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic ever since I knew I was moving down this way, even more so since getting my car three months ago. It's only an hour away from me, so as I'm going home for summer this weekend I knew I'd better go soon.

I really wasn't sure what to expect from the museum, but I really enjoyed it! I've been practicing witchcraft for over 15 years and was really pleased with how varied the museum is. It didn't focus on any specific religion, in fact some of the displays even showed more crude rituals performed by everyday people, and even Christian forms of magic and the sheer hypocrisy of them persecuting witches for centuries when they're blessing magic water.

The first part of the museum focused on the stereotypes of the witch figure and how she's portrayed in media, before going into the persecution, torture and murder that so many fell victim to in the 17th and 18th centuries. Although it was mostly women who were targeted, it made an important point that men were also accused and punished. I liked that it also listed all of the known people to have been killed for practicing witchcraft in the UK. Worldwide the total figure is 50,000 which is a vast amount when you consider how much smaller the population was. Knowing figures and seeing the listed names really reminds you of the human element, that this happened to actual people and isn't just morbid legend.

The mannequin is wearing punishment devices of the time period. I found the head brace the most interesting, the woman would be locked into it and there was a piece of metal that would go into her mouth to hold her tongue down so she couldn't talk. It was used to punish both witches and "nagging wives" alike.

Voodoo dolls from around the world

Some traditional remedies, which included snakeskin and ground human bones which was apparently considered good for epilepsy. I found the two headed piglet wet specimen on the far right interesting, it was either stillborn or died shortly after birth and was preserved as pigs are considered good luck, so a two headed pig had to be extra lucky. Pigs are one of my favourite animals, but I never realised they were a good luck symbol. Suddenly piggy banks make so much sense!

A "wise woman" with all of her magic tools, which are mostly items found around the home to avoid suspicion.

This section got a little bit Wicker Man in places
Divination and scrying. 
There were sections and displays for literally everything, every time I thought I was coming to end of the museum I'd turn the corner and there was another room to look at. I was really impressed with the whole thing, it wasn't too basic or niche for people with long term interest, but also wasn't too advanced to be beyond the interest of someone with no former knowledge. I definitely recommend giving it a visit if you're ever in Cornwall!

I didn't know anything about Boscastle other than it was where the museum was situated, but it's absolutely breathtaking. After I was done at the museum I climbed the cliff and sat at the top to eat my lunch with the sea breeze in my hair and both of these views on either side of me.

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