Sites Tour through the West Country of England, and Northern Ireland and Eire, on a journey of discovery encompassing many historical sites and museums including many forts, tombs, cemeteries and stone circles, dating back to Neolithic times of 5,000 years ago.
I was asked to provide a small article and a few photos of one particular place of interest for this newsletter and decided to focus on the Museum of Witchcraft in England. The Museum of Witchcraft is located by the magical harbour in Boscastle, on the North coast of Cornwall Between Tintagel and Bude.
The Museum of Witchcraft is a privately owned museum which has been in existence since 1951 when it first opened on The Isle of Man. It has been in Boscastle, Cornwall since 1961 and displays a large collection of witchcraft related artifacts dating from prehistory to today. It also has a large library with around 5,000 books which is used by researchers from the UK and around the world.
The Museum is home to an amazing collection of letters, photographs and various other documents mainly from the mid twentieth century. Amongst the collection are letters from many of the influential characters involved in witchcraft and the occult. The museum acquires books by donations from authors and publishers, donations from the public, and legacies. Access to the library may be granted to students by appointment, and I was lucky enough to gain access through personal reference, and being in the right place at the right time.
I took photographs of the Library collection upstairs at the Museum in which there are housed many first edition copies of rare and valuable books and documents.
Amongst the most exciting of the Museum’s treasures is the Richel Collection, one of the world’s best collections of ritual/sex magic artifacts that the Museum inherited in March 2000, when Bob Richel died, leaving the Museum of Witchcraft a fascinating legacy.
Bob was a humble man, with a passion for the occult and ritual magic. He lived on his own in a modest flat in Amsterdam and had inherited a collection of occult artifacts and drawings from his father-in-law Mr Eldermans. Eldermans had been a Magister of the Ars Amatoria, a group using sex magic. There are artifacts in the collection relating to that group, as well as Aleister Crowley’s occult group Argenteum Astrum (Silver Star) or AA It is believed that both Richel and Eldermans were also members of another group known as MM based in the Hague and Leiden.
I was fortunate enough to take photographs of some of Crowley’s artifacts in the Museum and they are included in this newsletter. Of note is Crowley’s elegant silver chalice, his wand, and an engraved copper talisman – the seal of God – (used for inducing visions and invoking spirits) based on one used by the Elizabethan magician John Dee, as well as an AA Robe embroidered with elaborate, Egyptian-influenced symbols.
Following our visit to the Museum, and the village of Tintagel and a momentous climb to the ruins of Tintagel Castle, we moved on to Glastonbury (Avalon) for 3 days and our ascent of Glastonbury Tor.
Our guide for the climb to Glastonbury Tor was Professor Ronald Hutton, historian at Bristol University and author of numerous books on the history of witchcraft and paganism, who recounted the history and legends surrounding the Tor. On reaching the top it is truly majestic and one can imagine how centuries ago the Tor was given its name “The Isle of Avalon” as the flat lands surrounding it were once covered in water, and it sat surrounded by mist, an island of majestic beauty and magic.
I mention Glastonbury because my home there for three days was the magical Covenstead - witchcraft and pagan themed B&B on Magdalene St in Glastonbury, Somerset. The Covenstead is itself a living Museum of the world’s witchcraft practices, with many occult-themed oddities on display, including an entire copy of the aforementioned Richel Collection lining its three-storied staircase.
I really hit it off with Adele the owner of the Covenstead, herself a practising witch and owner of a shop in Glastonbury called “Arcanacadabra”, and her personal knowledge and connection with the Museum of Witchcraft enabled me to learn more about the history and heritage of the Museum.
There were many such connections on this magical pilgrimage, strengthening my belief in the synchronicity and connectedness of all things magical.