London Alchemy
secrets and wisdom of the ancients
Spell Books, Scryers and the Philosopher's Stone
A salon in the cemetery with Owen Davies & George Hoyle
Saturday 4th June from 3:00 to 5:00 pm

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 unrecognized and unappreciated.

Tickets £12 including a Hendrick's Gin Cocktail. Please click here to buy.

Owen Davies
is Reader in Social History at the University of Hertfordshire. His main field of research is on the history of modern and contemporary witchcraft and magic. He wrote the only book on the history of grimoires. His other books include The Haunted: A Social History of Ghosts; Murder, Magic, Madness: The Victorian Trials of Dove and the Wizard; and Cunning-folk: Popular Magic in English History.

George Hoyle is a musician, songwriter and folklorist. He runs the South East London Folklore Society, an organisation devoted to magic, folklore and forteana. Under SELFS, George has organised or co-organised events such as the 2009 Straycation walking festival, the London Lore with Bishopsgate Institute, the Magic, Mystery and Hidden History conference and the infamous night of the Horseman’s Word in Camberwell.

courtoy mausoleum