Tuesday, 16 May 2017

We're All Gonna Die: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint

7.45pm Thursday 27 July 2017
£4 / £2 concessions (
Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

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Viva La Muerte! Santa Muerte, Folk Saint and Holy Personification of Death, Healer and Protector.

The leading expert on the fastest growing new religious movement in the Americas, Dr. Andrew Chesnut will explain how Mexican folk saint, Santa Muerte (Saint Death), has gone from only a few thousand devotees in 2001 to some 12 million today.

Andrew is Professor of Religious Studies and holds the Bishop Walter F. Sullivan Chair in Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. He authored the first and only academic book in English on the Bony Lady, Devoted to Death: Santa Muerte, the Skeleton Saint (OUP, 2012). 

7.45pm Thursday 27 July 2017
£4 / £2 concessions (
Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

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Monday, 15 May 2017

Abbé Boullan: Paris’ Satanic Priest

7.45pm Thursday 29 June 2017
£4 / £2 concessions (
Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
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This evening Madeleine Ledespencer will present the notorious heretical priest and accused satanist, Abbé Joseph-Antoine Boullan (1824- 1893), who came to be known as a bogeyman of the 19th century Paris magicians who misrepresented his occult Catholicism.

In his lifetime, Boullan went from a rising star within the church of Rome to a defrocked priest running his own ministry of mystical Catholicism in which women were consecrated bishops and preparations were made for a coming new age of Luciferian feminine power. He was hugely famed in his day, and served as an inspiration for artists and occultists as varied as JK Huysmans, Michael Bertiaux, and Maria de Naglowaska.

Tonight we will look at the life, work, and impact of this most fascinating figure and his spiritual partner, the mysterious Julie Thibault.

7.45pm Thursday 29 June 2017
£4 / £2 concessions (
Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East
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Sunday, 14 May 2017

Glamour and Mystery: 100 Years of the Cottingley Fairies

£8 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Tuesday 18 July 2017 7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
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London Fortean Society, in partnership with Conway Hall, present a night marking the centenary of the Cottingley Fairies case.

In July 1917 Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, 16 and 9 years old, took a photograph. It showed Frances in their garden with four fairies dancing in front of her. In 1920 Arthur Conan Doyle wrote about them in the Strand Magazine:

The recognition of their existence will jolt the material twentieth century mind out of its heavy ruts in the mud, and will make it admit that there is a glamour and mystery to life.

The Cottingley Fairy photographs were not revealed as a hoax until Elsie and Frances confessed in 1983. But they still claimed that they did find fairies at the bottom of the garden.

Michael Terwey of the National Science and Media Museum in Bradford discusses how the photographs were taken and how they fitted in to the Spiritualist culture of the time and Professor Diane Purkis asks why Sherlock Holmes author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, along with many others, so wanted to believe in fairies? Further panelists to be confirmed.

After each talk we shall discuss what Cottingley and fairies meant to people in 1917 and what they mean now in 2017.

Michael Terwey - The Cottingley Fairies: a photographic hoax
In July 1917, in a small village on the fringes of the industrial city of Bradford, two young women perpetrated one of the most successful photographic hoaxes in history. Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths convinced first their families, then many of the general public, that they had successfully photographed the fairies and gnomes that that claimed inhabited the woods at the back of their garden. It was only in the 1980s, nearly seventy years later, that they admitted their deception, and to this day there are many that believe that at least one of the photographs is “real”.

The National Science and Media Museum in Bradford holds important collections relating to the hoax, including copies of the photographs and the cameras used. In this talk Michael will explore the photographic technologies and techniques that are at the heart of the story and describe how they were used to such convincing effect, as well as looking more widely at the context of spirit and supernatural photography in the early twentieth century.

Michael Terwey is Head of Collections and Exhibitions at the National Science and Media Museum.

Professor Diane Purkis - Why did Conan Doyle want to believe?
Professor Purkis will be demonstrating that, odd though it may seem to us, for
the Victorians as for early modern Britain's of Shakespeare's generation, the existence of fairies with comforting and satisfying proof of the existence of a world of spirits.

Fairies could also represent the angry, restless, and hungry dead, and Diane will be suggesting that Conan Doyle's interest in spiritualism meant that he was especially anxious and guilty about the dead of the First World War, an anxiety that he shared with most of the literate society of his era.

Diane will be comparing the Cottingley pictures to Abel Gance’s 1919 film J’Accuse; she will also be referring to TS Eliot's poem The Waste Land which came out the year the Cottingley pictures were printed in the Strand magazine.

Diane Purkiss is Fellow and Tutor of English at Keble College, Oxford. She specialises in Renaissance and women's literature, witchcraft and the English Civil War.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Gef the Talking Mongoose

£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Tuesday 6 June 2017 7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn

Directions
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On the eve of his 165th birthday (“I was born June 7th 1852, near Delhi, India…”), the London Fortean Society present for your delectation the strange story of Gef the Talking Mongoose.

In the early 1930s and for several years thereafter, an isolated farm in the rural south west of the Isle of Man became the focus of international media attention. Psychic investigators, spiritualists, psychoanalysts and reporters were all drawn to the lonely farm of Doarlish Cashen, whose inhabitants, the Irving family, steadfastly maintained that they were being ‘haunted’ by a super-intelligent weasel or mongoose by the name of Gef.

This mysterious entity was allegedly able to speak English and other languages, sing popular songs and hymns of the period, and would engage the family in nightly conversations about religion, the supernatural, and the afterlife.

Numerous people claimed to have heard the strange, high-pitched voice of Gef; a few even claimed to have seen him. Despite the absence of definitive proof, the case still remains an enigmatic one today.

Throughout the remainder of their lives, the Irvings - James, Margaret and daughter Voirrey - all insisted that the story had not been a hoax, and was true in all respects.

Christopher Josiffe, author of the definitive and official biography of Gef, will be giving an overview of this case, unique in the annals of paranormal research. He will also be examining some lesser-known aspects of the story - the parents, James and Margaret, not native to the Isle of Man, claimed to have previously enjoyed a more prosperous life in the city of Liverpool prior to their ill-fated ‘Good Life’ move to Man just after WW1. Is this true? And why were they forced to relocate?

In addition to Chris’s presentation and readings from his Gef! the Strange Tale of an Extra-Special Talking Mongoose book, writer and musician Chris Hill will be reading extracts from James Irving’s unpublished letters and diaries, giving an unparalleled insight into the family’s daily life with their extraordinary house-guest.

Copies of Chris's biography of Gef, published by Strange Attractor Press, will be available on the night.

£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Tuesday 6 June 2017 7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn

Directions
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Friday, 12 May 2017

Fortean London: Camlet Moat and the Crouch End Spriggan

7.45pm Thursday 25 May 2017
£4 / £2 concessions (
Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

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Our short talks on fortean London returns with speakers discussing the ghosts and legends of Camlet Moat and the Crouch End Spriggan.

Camlet Moat: Ghosts, Legends and Witchcraft

Camlet Moat Enfield (Wikicommons)
Nobody knows much about Camlet Moat in Trent Park, Enfield. Little wonder then that it should have become the focus of legends, ghost stories and modern-day witchcraft. My talk will take us on a journey from fact to fiction and folklore.

Jason Hollis is the author of Haunted Enfield (History Press 2013) and is currently writing a follow-up book concerning ghosts and haunted places within the London Borough of Barnet.

The Crouch End Spriggan

A trip down an abandoned rail line brings us face to face with a strange creature emerging from the brickwork of an old station arch. Its story is one of Lovecraftian synchronicity, urban legends, permaculture, and cough syrup hallucinations.

Gyrus is a writer based in south London. Creator of the journals Towards 2012 and Dreamflesh, and author of North, an epic cosmological history. He runs the website Dreamflesh.


The 'Spriggan' on the Parkland Walk by fiomaha.
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

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Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Green Children of Woolpit

£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Tuesday 16 May 2017 (Please note the new date!)
7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn

Directions
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Image by John Clark
One summer in the 12th century harvesters in the fields of the Suffolk village of Woolpit were amazed when two children suddenly appeared, as if out of the ground.

Their skin was green, and they spoke an unintelligible language. Later, when they had learnt enough English to communicate, they said they came from a land called St Martin’s Land, where the sun never shone.

The ‘Green Children of Woolpit’ have inspired short stories, novels, plays, poems, pop songs, a teaching resource in drama on the theme of ‘Community cohesion and the prevention of violent extremism’, and an opera. They have been identified as fairy-folk, as extraterrestrials, as strays from a family of Flemish weavers, or as descendants of humans once abducted by aliens, returned to earth via a matter transmitter.

John Clark, formerly curator of the medieval collections at the Museum of London, returns to the original texts to disentangle the ‘facts’ of what has been described as ‘a classic of forteana’, and to consider the pros and cons of some of the many ‘explanations’. He does not promise a solution!

£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Tuesday 16 May 2017 (Please note the new date!)
7.30pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn

Directions
Facebook event page