This exhibition investigates the cultural history of magic, from the spiritual practices of medieval societies to the continued invocation of the supernatural in contemporary life. It features 180 objects, ranging from charms (including a unicorn’s horn) to fortune-telling objects and voodoo dolls, while specially commissioned contemporary artworks will underline the questions these objects raise about the viewer’s own beliefs.
The show begins by exploring the importance of the supernatural in the medieval worldview and proceeds through sections which explore the importance through the centuries of magical intervention in the search for love and in the protection of one’s home against threats. It concludes with dramatic accounts of witch trials, from the terrible punishments meted out upon women suspected of witchcraft in the 17th century, to the farcical case of the Scottish medium Helen Duncan: the last person to be prosecuted for witchcraft in Britain, in 1944. Find out more about ‘Spellbound’ from the Ashmolean’s website.
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