I met Naomi when she contacted me about witch month back in August. She’s got some awesome stories on her blog, you all need to go read them. I need to set up a day to go and read through her stuff, it’s really awesome. She came up with an awesome idea for Witch month, a virtual tour of witch museums….
Thank you Naomi for being a part of this series and for the awesome article.
Her links are below.
Eeek! I am so excited to be writing for Mari’s blog. Talk about crammed full of amazing stories and articles on all the mystical and mythological themes on the planet. (If I’m exaggerating, I swear, it’s not by much.)
So right now it’s all about Witches. There are already so many fabulous articles and stories on here that it was difficult to know what to write about. After many many hours of reading up about witches and witchcraft, I have found the below Witch Museums:
Salem Witch Museum – Salem, Massachusetts, USA
Picture from http://www.salemwitchmuseum.com
Salem is probably the most well-known witchy place on the planet. In 1692 more than 150 people were arrested and imprisoned in Salem, accused of witchcraft. Over three days 14 people were hanged for crimes of Witchcraft, with more people dying in prison or through other methods. Fortunately the executions were halted pretty quickly and the majority of people accused and convicted were pardoned and released.
The Salem Witch Museum takes you back to 1692 with realistic sets and figures to show you what the trails would have been like and how they came to be. They also have an exhibit that looks at society’s idea of what it means to be a witch. This shows media images and common perceptions of witches throughout history alongside images of some of the people accused of witchcraft during the trials.
They also have a store at the museum where you can pick yourself up a souvenir of your visit. They have a lot of Museum branded stuff but there isn’t a lot of witch related paraphernalia because they like to sit very firmly on the side of this being a purely historical educational place, not somewhere to buy fortune telling cards and candles for spells. They do sell baubles for catching witches, but that is about it outside of the usual tourist T-shirts and pens and historical books etc.
For more information on Salem Witch Museum, go to http://www.salemwitchmuseum.com
Museum of Witchcraft – Boscastle, Cornwall, England
Picture from http://www.museumofwitchcraft.com
In The Harbour of Boscastle in Cornwall, England is the Museum of Witchcraft. It holds the largest collection of Wiccan and witchcraft artifacts in the world, despite the museum changing location and being sold numerous times. It also currently holds the Richell collection of witchcraft artifacts which has been on loan from Switzerland since 2000.
I have actually been to this museum. My father took my family to see it when we were on holiday in Cornwall. I was only a girl then so I would love to go and visit it again. The website does warn that some of the exhibits can be controversial and I do remember seeing a picture of a topless woman in a cottage window. Apparently she was praying on men who could not control their lust. If they entered her cottage to act on the desires of their loins, she would kill them and use their body parts in her magic spells.
The museum shop holds a fabulously wide range of products from souvenir postcards, posters and t-shirts, to amulets, spell bottles, Keppens (Cunning Wand), hand forged blades to make your own magical knife, protection charms and Doofah Dolls (a doll to do your tasks for you).
For more information on the Museum of Witchcraft in England, go to http://www.museumofwitchcraft.com
Das Hexenmuseum Schweiz (The Witchcraft Museum of Switzerland)
Picture from http://www.hexenmuseum.ch/
I love Google. Chrome very kindly translated the website for Das Hexenmuseum so that I can actually tell you a little bit about what is there. I, for one, really want to visit this museum. One of their collections is currently in the museum in England but even so, there are 6 different exhibit rooms with plenty to interest you. The staff regularly travel to research witchcraft etc to provide the most accurate information and as I write this, the museum is closed while they explore the south of England.
The museum exhibits are written in German but if you pre-book your visit, you can book yourself onto an English speaking tour. Tours are available for 2015, just in case you fancied checking this out as a holiday destination next year. (Tempting!) I would also recommend planning your trip to coincide with a full moon. They open the museum up for a few hours at night during the full moon. Dates are shown on the website.
The unique thing about this museum is they give seminars and workshops on topics such as semi-precious stones and their magic, the magical power of incense, and Rough Nights: Haunting Ghosts and Restless Souls. The site is very clear to point out that they do not hold séances and there are no Ouija boards, just theory and facts about ghosts and how you can help them or get them to leave. The tutor for all classes, unless specified, is Wicca Meier-Spring. You can find a short bio on the site about her too.
One of the things that first sold me on a visit to this museum was the herb garden. They grow their own herbs, explaining their healing powers etc, and also give home to various types of frogs, toads and newts. There is a coffee/tea room attached to this garden so you can relax and take in your surroundings.
Unlike the other two sites, you cannot order from their shop online. However, they have some of the most beautiful jewellery I have seen so far from researching these museums with some fantastic notebook/spellbooks, figurines and many other witch and Wicca goodies.
For more information on The Witchcraft Museum of Switzerland, go to http://www.hexenmuseum.ch/
Strandagaldur – The Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft.
I take back my comment about loving Google. Chrome didn’t get on so well with translating this site. They have an ‘English Version’ of their site but most of the writing is still in Icelandic so it’s not easy to navigate. From what I can tell, this is a fairly new Museum which began in 1996. Their website doesn’t give much away and their articles section is still in its infancy and mostly only has very brief overviews of what they want to use the space for. Having said that, the catagories alone are enough to spark my interest and give insight into the kinds of things you can find there. They have information on The History of Icelandic Sorcery, the people involved (both documented and folklore) actual case of witchcraft in Iceland and details of those which resulted in execution. They also have sections on Icelandic Grimoires, Magical Staves, Runes, Magical Stones and Magical Plants. I was amused to notice that there was a comment regarding the accusations of witchcraft in relation to magical plants and stones, which notes that today, the activities of those accused could be put down to magic, superstition or dogma, but in actuality, also have a link to the world of modern medicine.
The museum is in the process of translating Icelandic texts into English books to sell to English speaking visitors which is fascinating as they state on the site that very very little information on their folklore and history surrounding sorcery and witchcraft exists in the English language. You can order online and they even have a skype account so you can speak to someone if you have any trouble ordering or want to chase up a delivery. The fact that there is less information on this museum than the others actually makes me want to visit it more because it adds to the mystery.
For more information on the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft, visit http://www.galdrasyning.is/ If you know someone who reads/speaks Icelandic then they might be able to help you with this site better than Chrome was able to help me.
I hope this has inspired you to visit one or all of these fab museums. There are also many other places in the world with Witch exhibitions you could go to. For example, the Witch Tour in Prague, Pendle Hill in England, and the Witch Mill in Holland. Get out there and start exploring this fantastic mix of History and Mythology.