Hear tales of alchemical magic and its secrets as folklorist George Hoyle and historian Owen Davies distill the essence of the grimoire, the philosoper’s stone and the elixir of eternal life into a potent narrative of sorcery in theory and practice.
From Ancient Egypt to Buffy The Vampire Slayer, grimoires – books that contain a mix of spells, conjurations, natural secrets and ancient wisdom – have exerted a huge influence on religion and science. Their origins date back to the dawn of writing and their subsequent history is entwined with that of the religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam and the development of science and the cultural influence of print. Professor Owen Davies wrote the first ever history of these spell books and in his talk he illuminates the many fascinating forms these recondite books have taken and exactly what these books held.
Crystal balls, fire, shadows, water, mirrors and candle wax have all been used by scryers in their search to uncover the secrets of the future. Their technique relies upon acquiring information via extrasensory means through the unconscious mind, a mechanism described in psychology as automatism. In his talk, folklorist George Hoyle examines the vast catalogue of divination methods from the initiation ceremonies of the Ancient Egyptians to the water technique used by Nostradamus, and the crystal ball and wax tablets used by alchemist John Dee and his scryer, Edward Kelley.
Hoyle's talk will culminate in a description of the search for the ultimate secret, the quest for the philosopher’s stone, an elixir of life sometimes said to be a common substance, found everywhere but unrecognised and unappreciated.
Under 16s must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
Brompton Cemetery Chapel, West Brompton
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