Episode 29: Anthropology, and the history of British witchcraft

Our newest episode in the ‘Controversies and Contraband’ series talks about the history of British witchcraft, or more precisely British witches’ understanding of their contemporary history. While not seemingly controversial on the surface, western societal interpretations of the ‘witch’ are deeply rooted in taboo, where modern-day witches can sometimes be viewed as ‘irrational’, embarrassing, or even child-like.

Anthropologist, Dr Helen Cornish of Goldsmiths, University of London tries to rectify this reasoning by breaking down the complexities of what it means to be a ‘witch’ in modern British society, and that terms like ‘pagan’, ‘druid’, ‘witchcraft’ and ‘wicca’ come with their own definitions and layered fascinations.

Whether you’re a practitioner, or have a genuine curiosity for the less advertised of western religions, this deep dive into British witches’ understanding of their history will leave you wanting to learn more about them!

Show notes:

The Last Tuesday Society Encounters with the uncanny – 20 September 2021. Tickets here: 


The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic: 



Further reading: 

  • ‘Encountering Otherworlds around the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic’ Shared Sacred Landscape online exhibition, The Khidr Dialogues, Leaps of Faith, Religious Encounters & Shared Sacred Landscapes (2021) https://www.sharedsacred.com/helen-cornish.html 
  • ‘In Search of the Uncanny: Inspirited Landscapes and Modern Witchcraft.’ Material Religion 16 (4): 410-431 (2020) 
  • ‘The Other Sides of the Moon: Assembling Histories of Witchcraft’. Magic and Witchery in the Modern West: Celebrating the Twentieth Anniversary of ‘The Triumph of the Moon’. S Feraro & E Doyle White, Eds. London, Palgrave (2019) 
  • ‘Magic Charms and Amulets’ Horniman Museum gallery talk (2014) online access: https://www.horniman.ac.uk/story/magic-charms-and-amulets/ 

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