History and Folklore

We Wish You a Scary Christmas

Once upon a time, before Christmas became sanitised, Americanised and candy-coated by Santa Claus and Coca Cola, in Europe Yuletide was more ominous, weird, and occasionally downright scary than jolly. Few are better qualified to explore the dark side of the holiday season than the Folk Horror Revival group. ‘Folk’ has recently become the hottest buzzword in horror circles, ‘folk horror’ the term to describe that elusive area where rural folklore and arcane tradition intertwine with the ghostly and ghastly on page and screen. In early December of this year the Folk Horror Revival group held a symposium on all things spooky and seasonal they entitled Winter Ghosts 2019. Continue reading

The End of the World – Medieval Style

The Book of Revelation – the final book of the Bible – describes the coming end of the world. Written in the 1st Century AD, the author appeared to expect the Apocalypse to occur in their lifetime. Happily, they were disappointed, but Christians have remained fascinated by the subject ever since, with doomsayers keeping it alive by reinterpreting Revelation to refer to their own age, or creating their own version of the imminent End Times. During eras like the Middle Ages, when few people could read, such warnings needed to be communicated visually. Continue reading

The Lost Library of the Queens Sorcerer

John_DeeIStudents of the occult and devotees of the darker fringes of history will be delighted to hear that the Royal College of Physicians, in Regent’s Park London, are planning an exhibition dedicated to John Dee. A pioneering scholar – learned in mathematics, philosophy and navigation – Dee was one of the most fascinating and brilliant figures at the 16th century court of the English queen Elizabeth I, universally admired for his learning. Continue reading