Thursday, 1 November 2018

Mermaids: Fish, Flesh or Fowl?

7.15pm Thursday 7 February 2019
This event is completely sold out. We hope we can host it again soon!
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page



We all know what a mermaid looks like: a woman with a fish’s tail. But tracing her family tree from ancient myth and image, through medieval symbol and Renaissance legend, romantic folktale and suggestive art, we find a shape-shifter whose cousins are birds, monkeys, seals and serpents, as well as fish; whose greatest significance may be simply her gender, showing in her mirror a reflection of how men, through history, have seen women.

Sophia Kingshill is the author of Mermaids (Little Toller, 2015), a cultural history of sirens, selkies and other sea women. She is co-author of The Fabled Coast (Random House, 2012) and The Lore of Scotland (Random House, 2009), with the late Jennifer Westwood. Her YA fantasy novel Between the Raven and the Dove was published by Accent Press in 2017, and she is currently working on the sequel. She lives in London and is a member of the Folklore Society.

7.15pm Thursday 7 February 2019
This event is completely sold out. We hope we can host it again soon!
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page

Methods from Madness: Magic, Ghosts and Experimental Psychology

Dr Matt Tompkins mixes storytelling and magical scientific demonstrations to explore how scientists, past and present, have approached the study of illusion. 

7.45pm Thursday 31 January 2019
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East






On Sunday November 18th 1877, at 3pm in the afternoon, Wilhelm Wundt, sometimes identified as the “Founder of Experimental Psychology”, joined hands with a group of academics and bore witness to a series of “miracles” in the presence of a visiting American spirit medium. Wundt was unconvinced by what he saw – but a number of his esteemed colleagues, including world-renowned physicist Johann Zöllner, believed that the events they had witnessed called for a complete revision of the fundamental laws of physics – a revision that could accommodate immortal fourth-dimensional spirit people. 


The resulting debate was not itself immortalised in any mainstream psychology textbooks, but, arguably, it played a fundamental role in the subsequent emergence of Experimental Psychology as a formal scientific discipline. Magician and experimental psychologist Dr Matt Tompkins mixes storytelling and magical scientific demonstrations to explore how scientists, past and present, have approached the study of illusion. 

7.45pm Thursday 31 January 2019
£4 / £2 concessions (Advance tickets)
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Strange December Book Fair: UFOs, Ghosts, Zombies and Much More

Christmas should be stranger. Join London Fortean Society for an afternoon of talks on ghosts, UFO art, voodoo, the world's first amphibious baby and much more. There will be book sales, stalls pizza and beer to mark the darkening days before Yule.

Saturday 1 December 2018
12pm-6pm
£15 / £10 concessions (advance tickets)
Black Magic Friday! All tickets £10 this weekend
Backyard Bar and Kitchen, 231 Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 0EL
Train & Tube: Bethnal Green
Tube: Whitechapel / Train: Cambridge Heath




Speakers include:

Cathi Unsworth - Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?
Sophia Kingshill - The Mermaid’s Tale
David Clarke - In the Eye of the Beholder: UFO Artwork
Susan Owens - The Appearance of Ghosts
John Cussans - Bond's Black Ops: Graham Greene, Papa Doc and Loa OS 22
Thomas Morris - Diagnosis: Unexplained

Stall to be confirmed

Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?
Cathi Unsworth is the author of six pop-cultural crime novels based on real-life unsolved or controversial cases. Her latest, 'That Old Black Magic' (Serpent's Tail), interweaves the true stories of the Hagley Woods mystery of 1943 and the trial of Helen Duncan, the last woman to be prosecuted for witchcraft in the UK, in 1944.


Real life characters mingle with the imagined in a secret history of spiritualists, stage magicians and spooks of all persuasions under the blackout of Britain's bleakest hours. 

Sophia Kingshill - The Mermaid’s Tale
‘The Mermaid’s Tale’ examines the complex family tree of the mermaid, from ancient images to modern media. Mythology, symbolism, romance and lechery, with a touch of fraud and a taste of salt.

Sophia Kingshill is the author of Mermaids (Little Toller, 2015), a cultural history of sirens, selkies and other sea women. She is co-author of The Fabled Coast (Random House, 2012) and The Lore of Scotland (Random House, 2009), with the late Jennifer Westwood. Her YA fantasy novel Between the Raven and the Dove was published by Accent Press in 2017, and she is currently working on the sequel. She lives in London, and is a member of the Folklore Society.

Dr David Clarke - In the Eye of the Beholder: UFO Artwork

Dr David Clarke from Sheffield Hallam University's Centre for Contemporary Legend will talk about his book UFO Drawings at The National Archives. He will look at the myriad ways in which people have depicted strange phenomena in the sky, from the earliest times to the drawings, paintings and other artwork that was submitted to the former Ministry of Defence UFO desk that closed in 2009.

Dr. Susan Owens - The Appearance of Ghosts: shrouds, sheets or see-through? 


The idea that the dead can return to haunt the living is deeply rooted in the British imagination, and ghosts are central to countless plays and paintings, stories and ballads, photographs and films. But why has the appearance and behaviour of ghosts in art and literature altered over time? When did they stop wearing shrouds and put on white sheets or become see-through? And what do these changes reveal about them – and us?

Dr. Susan Owens, former Curator of Paintings at the Victoria and Albert Museum, is the author of The Ghost: A Cultural History.


Bond's Black Ops - Graham Green, Papa Doc and Loa OS 22

John Cussans, author of 'Undead Uprising: Haiti, Horror and the Zombie Complex' examines the story of Papa Doc, François Duvalier: President of Haiti from 1957 to 1971, emulated the Vodou loa of the dead Baron Samedi, a tale first promoted by Graham Greene that finds an uncanny precedent in Ian Flemming's 1954 novel Live and Let Die.


Thomas Morris - Diagnosis: Unexplained

Early medical journals contain numerous cases which appear inexplicable to modern science. One Victorian patient apparently had an entire family of slugs living in her stomach; another started to emit urine from her eyes, ears and even her navel. Thomas Morris examines some of the strangest tales ever reported in the medical literature, from exploding teeth to the world's first amphibious baby.


Christopher Josiffe - Black Books: the Curious Career of Rollo Ahmed
A friend to Aleister Crowley, Tom Driberg and Dennis Wheatley (who consulted him on supposedly authentic details for several of his 'black magic' novels), author, lecturer and magician Rollo Ahmed was one of very few Black people on the mid-20th century literary and occult scenes. An eloquent writer and by all accounts a charming and magnetic personality, there is still mystery surrounding his background and even his real name. Christopher Josiffe will attempt to shed some light on this elusive character.'


Saturday 1 December 2018
12pm-6pm
Black Magic Friday! All tickets £10 this weekend
£15 / £10 concessions (advance tickets)
Backyard Bar and Kitchen, 231 Cambridge Heath Rd, London E2 0EL
Train & Tube: Bethnal Green
Tube: Whitechapel / Train: Cambridge Heath

Concealed and Revealed: Magic in the post-medieval home?

7.45pm Thursday 29 November 2018
£4 / £2 concessions
This event has sold out! Thank you to everyone who  has booked, we shall attempt to rebook Ceri as early as possible for this fascinating talk. 
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East


Post-medieval houses yield many mysterious finds. Old shoes up chimneybreasts; garments secreted away in roofs; mummified cats bricked up in walls. It is probable that these objects were deliberately concealed during the 18th and 19th centuries. though researchers do not know the beliefs or motivations behind this. 

Dr Ceri Houlbrook, Researcher in Folklore and History at the University of Hertfordshire, explores the many educated guesses have been made, and how such objects are viewed and treated today, once the concealed is revealed

7.45pm Thursday 29 November 2018
£4 / £2 concessions 
This event has sold out! Thank you to everyone who  has booked, we shall attempt to rebook Ceri as early as possible for this fascinating talk. 
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

Unexplained Podcast presents: The Hexham Heads

Summer 1971, in the small north-eastern Market Town of Hexham in England. Two young boys are digging about in the garden when they discover a pair of strange heads, formed of an unknown substance.

7.15pm Wednesday 14 November 2018
£5 plus booking fee
This event has sold out! Thank you to everyone who  has booked, we shall attempt to rebook Richard as early as possible for this fascinating talk. 
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page


After bringing the heads into their home, a series of peculiar events ensues: The heads seem to move themselves around the room and strange creatures are witnessed stalking the homes of anybody that houses the bizarre artefacts.

Despite a number of prominent academics having attempted to identify their provenance, none could provide a definitive answer. Were they, as some believed, of a pagan, Celtic origin; ancient idols worshipped by an obsessive Cult of the Head? Or were they merely remnants of crudely made dolls, gifted to a young daughter by her doting father?

Join Richard MacLean Smith, creator of the ‘world’s spookiest podcast’ Unexplained as he takes you on an atmospheric journey through this extraordinary tale. And dare to ask the question, does it matter if something is real or not, if we believe it enough to be so? 

Richard’s book Unexplained will be available on the night.

7.15pm Wednesday 14 November 2018
£5 plus booking fee 
This event has sold out! Thank you to everyone who  has booked, we shall attempt to rebook Richard as early as possible for this fascinating talk. 
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page

Where the Light Gets In: The Occult Roots of Computing

Cyberpunk has unexpectedly occult roots; virtual and augmented reality enable the supernatural and the mythic within science fiction; and personal computing is built on 1960s psychedelic utopianism. 


THE GLITCHED RAINBOW HEAD OF PHILIP K DICK by TORLEY on flickr


Tuesday 6 November 2018
8pm (doors 7.45pm)
£5 / £2 concessions 
This event has sold out! Thank you to everyone who  has booked.
The Miller, 96 Snowsfields, London Bridge, London SE1 3SS
Tube & Rail: London Bridge
Tube: Borough
Event Facebook page

Al Robertson will talk about how the weird pervades modern technology, as a jumping-off point for a discussion about how myth, magic and unreason might force themselves into the futures we’re all building.


Al says "I’m a writer, poet and occasional musician. I’ve published two novels with Gollancz. My first book, Crashing Heaven is about an accountant of the future, a psychotic virtual ventriloquist’s dummy and the sentient corporations who are persecuting them both. It was followed by a stand-alone sequel, Waking Hell, in which the past attacks and only a dead estate agent can save us."

Tuesday 6 November 2018
8pm (doors 7.45pm)
£5 / £2 concessions 
This event has sold out! Thank you to everyone who  has booked.
The Miller, 96 Snowsfields, London Bridge, London SE1 3SS
Tube & Rail: London Bridge
Tube: Borough
Event Facebook page

Monday, 17 September 2018

Twenty-first Century Ghosts

I immediately knew it was someone in spirit form, because I could see my favourite poster of Michael Jackson right through her body.”

7.15pm Tuesday 30 October 2018
£7 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page

Halloween 2018 and the world is still haunted. Join the London Fortean Society for two talks on contemporary ghost story collecting from haunted homes to Senate House and beyond.


Caron Lipman – Living with Ghosts

How does it feel to live in a ‘haunted home’? How do you negotiate living in a home which might be ‘co-habited’ by the strangest form of stranger?

Geographer Dr Caron Lipman decided to find out through a series of interviews with inhabitants of ‘haunted homes’ in England and Wales – all of whom had experienced some form of ‘uncanny’ event

Caron will offer some examples and insights from her case studies, describing how such experiences are interpreted, how far the experience of uncanny events challenges existing beliefs (or non-beliefs) in ghosts, and what these events reveal about the domestic interior.

Sarah Sparkes – The GHost in the story

I immediately knew it was someone in spirit form, because I could see my favourite poster of Michael Jackson right through her body.”

Artist, curator and ghost enthusiast Sarah Sparkes talks about some of the fascinating, contemporary ghost stories she has collected and archived at London’s Senate House, Liverpool and Taiwan.

Sarah Sparkes leads the visual arts and creative research project GHost. She was recently awarded Arts Council funding for her project to archive Liverpool ghost stories. Her artwork The GHost Formula, 2016, commissioned by FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) recently toured to NTMoFA (National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts) as part of the exhibition No Such Thing As Gravity curated by Rob la Frenais. Sparkes has lectured widely on ghosts, GHost and the ghost hunter Harry Price.

The Ghost Tide exhibition, which she co-curated with Monika Bobinska is at Thames-side Studios Gallery in Woolwich from October 20 – November 3.


7.15pm Tuesday 30 October 2018
£7 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page

The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe Live

7.15pm Saturday 20 October 2018
£20 / £15 concessions plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page


Join the presenters of The Skeptics Guide to the Universe podcast for their one-off London show. Steven Novella, along with 'Skeptical Rogues' Bob Novella, Jay Novella and Evan Bernstein explain the tenets of skeptical thinking and debunk some of the biggest scientific myths, fallacies and conspiracy theories (anti-vaccines, homeopathy, UFO sightings, and many more.) 

They'll help us try to make sense of what seems like an increasingly crazy world using powerful tools like science and philosophy. 

In what promises to be a fascinating and entertaining evening, come and hear tips and tricks on how to see through the fake news and media manipulation in our increasingly confusing world.

Copies of THE SKEPTICS’ GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE book will be on sale at the event, which will followed by a signing.

'A fantastic compendium of skeptical thinking and the perfect primer for anyone who wants to separate fact from fiction.' 
Richard Wiseman, author 59 Seconds

'A terrific book for anyone who wants a better understanding about the world around them and an essential guide to navigating modern life. THE SKEPTICS' GUIDE TO THE UNIVERSE will help readers recognize pitfalls in reasoning, combat bad arguments and avoid superstitious thinking.' — Simon Singh, author of The Code Book and Fermat's Last Theorem

'Thorough, informative, and enlightening... If this book does not become required reading for us all, we may well see modern civilization unravel before our eyes.' 
Neil deGrasse Tyson, author of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry

7.15pm Saturday 20 October 2018
£20 / £15 concessions plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Margaret Murray and Modern Witchcraft: good, bad, and speculative histories

7.45pm Thursday 25 October 2018
This event has sold out! Thank you to everyone who  has booked, we shall attempt to rebook Helen as early as possible for this fascinating talk.  
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East


Margaret Murray isn't angry, she's just disappointed.
For the last 20 years or more, modern Witches have been involved in a project of historical revisionism. They’ve rejected the claims made by Margaret Murray, and borrowed by Gerald Gardner, that modern Witchcraft is a direct continuation from an archaic pan-European fertility cult. Instead, they follow the arguments of historians that Murray’s work was heavily flawed; for some her work provides a valuable foundation myth, while others prefer to reject it altogether in search of more realist histories.

However, Murray’s arguments are also intricately woven into histories and practices of modern Witchcraft, and continue to be interpreted as histories of Witchcraft are rewritten and shaped over time.

Anthropologist Dr Helen Cornish of Goldsmiths College shows how responses to Murray’s work since the turn of the millennium help us consider what counts as history (good, bad, speculative or otherwise) as well contemporary Witchcraft.

7.45pm Thursday 25 October 2018
This event has sold out! Thank you to everyone who  has booked, we shall attempt to rebook Helen as early as possible for this fascinating talk. 
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street.
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

Seeking the Almas and Other Unknown Animals

Shortly after, something passed by the door, blocking out the light momentarily. Whatever it was, it stood on two legs and was large enough put the 7-foot door in the shade.

Tuesday 2 October 2018 
8pm (doors 7.45pm)
£5 / £2 concessions 
Advance tickets are now off sale - please pay on the door! Thank you!
The Miller, 96 Snowsfields, London Bridge, London SE1 3SS
Tube & Rail: London Bridge
Tube: Borough
Event Facebook page

Richard Freeman is the Zoological Director of the Centre for Fortean Zoology. A working cryptozoologist he has hunted creatures such as the Tasmanian wolf, the yeti, the giant anaconda, the orang-pendek, the Mongolian death worm and the almasty. 

In this talk he will introducing the study of mystery animals and speaking about his latest expedition, tracking the almasty: relic hominins in the mountains of Tajikistan.

The 7-foot door of the room was open an inch or two and starlight from the clear night was pouring in. At around 2.30 in the morning Adam and I heard a deep, guttural vocalisation; the nearest phonetically that I can write this is ‘bub-ub-bub-bub.’

“Did you hear that?” I whispered.

Adam nodded solemnly. Shortly after, something passed by the door, blocking out the light momentarily. Whatever it was, it stood on two legs and was large enough put the 7-foot door in the shade. It seemed to be walking along the veranda.

“Did you see that?” I asked

“Something is on the veranda,” said Adam.

Richard Freeman writing on his previous almasty expedition

Tuesday 2 October 2018 
8pm (doors 7.45pm)
£5 / £2 concessions
Advance tickets are now off sale - please pay on the door! Thank you!
The Miller, 96 Snowsfields, London Bridge, London SE1 3SS
Tube & Rail: London Bridge
Tube: Borough
Event Facebook page

Jack Parsons & Friends: Rockets, Magick, SF & Sex

7.45pm Thursday 27 September 2018
£4 / £2 concessions
Tickets are off sale for this event now but we still have some spaces. Come and pay on the door!
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East


Jack Parsons Dials Up a Moon Child Vision by Marc-Anthony Macon
Jack Parsons was an innovative, pioneering and daring rocket engineer before the Second World War. He also led the Pasadena, California lodge of the Ordo Templi Orientis, the occult movement headed by Aleister Crowley. At his home lived rocket scientists, occultists and science fiction writers – and, for a time, L Ron Hubbard, who took part in sex-magick rituals before he created Dianetics and Scientology. 

Writer on unusual religions and London Fortean Society co-organiser Dr 
David V Barrett explores the fascinating life and death of the charismatic maverick Jack Parsons – who also championed free love decades before the term polyamory was coined.

7.45pm Thursday 27 September 2018
£4 / £2 concessions
Tickets are off sale for this event now but we still have some spaces. Come and pay on the door!
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Fortean London: London Bridge Ghosts and Lore

Celebrate the ghosts and urban legends of the London Bridge, Borough and Bermondsey area as the London Fortean Society arrives for a series of talks at The Miller pub. 


The Wheatsheaf on flickr by Dun.Can


Tuesday 4 September 2018
8pm (doors 7.45pm)
£5 / £2 concessions (advance tickets)
The Miller, 96 Snowsfields, London Bridge, London SE1 3SS
Tube & Rail: London Bridge
Tube: Borough
Event Facebook page

Travis Elborough - London Bridge in America: The Tall Story of a Transatlantic Crossing 
In 1968 the world’s largest antique went to America. But how do you transport a 130-year-old bridge 3,000 miles? And why did Robert P. McCulloch, a multimillionaire oil baron and chainsaw-manufacturing king, buy it? Why did he ship it to a waterless patch of the Arizonan desert? Did he even get the right bridge? 

Join author Travis Elborough for the story of the man who bought London Bridge. 


Ghosts of South London. 
Poltergeists, shapeshifters, phantom Robin Reliants: South London has all the paranormal boxes ticked. George Hoyle, musician, story-teller and host of the South East London Folklore Society will tell the tales hidden in plain site.

The London Bridge Spike and other Urban Legends
Why is there a wonky concrete spike at the south end of London Bridge? Is it a sundial? A memorial to the heads spiked on previous incarnations of the bridge? Or does it mean something else entirely? London Fortean Society host and author Scott Wood discusses this and other south London urban legends.

Tuesday 4 September 2018
8pm (doors 7.45pm)
£5 / £2 concessions (advance tickets)
The Miller, 96 Snowsfields, London Bridge, London SE1 3SS
Tube & Rail: London Bridge
Tube: Borough
Event Facebook page

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Elliott O'Donnell: Strange Cults and Secret Societies of Modern London

O'Donnell
7.45pm Thursday 30 August 2018
This event has completely sold out! We're really sorry if you did not get a ticket and we shall attempt to run this popular talk again. 

The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

In 1934 Elliott O'Donnell, the world-famed prince of ghost hunters published Strange Cults and Secret Societies of Modern London. It tells strange stories behind many covert organisations including the Thirteen society, the Black Brothers, Chinese secret societies and black magic, the Mafia, the Tree cults, the Suicide Society, the Cult of Cruelty, The Goats and Sophienism. 

Fr Alan Walker revisits O’Donnell’s classic book in the light of modern thinking about religious cults, moral panics and enthusiasm for the esoteric. Is his work fiction masquerading as fact, or should it be read more critically as a picture of contemporary fears and social experiments?

7.45pm Thursday 30 August 2018
This event has completely sold out! We're really sorry if you did not get a ticket and we shall attempt to run this popular talk again. 

The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

Marvelous Mushrooms, Toxic Toadstools and Fortean Fungi

7.45pm Thursday 26 July 2018
£4 / £2 concessions
We've taken the tickets off sale so we can print the guest list but we also have tickets on the door. We hope to see you later. 
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East



The world of fungi is a world of the weird and wonderful. From microscopic organisms to the largest living thing ever, the fungal kingdom has it all. Folklore beyond belief – bizarre tales of the devil, poisonings, witchcraft, enchantment and Santa Claus – is only matched by reality. 

Author, frequent contributor to Fortean Times and founder of the our older cousin Edinburgh Fortean Society, Gordon Rutter reveals some of the ways in which the world of the fortean has been enriched by fungi.

7.45pm Thursday 26 July 2018
£4 / £2 concessions 


We've taken the tickets off sale so we can print the guest list but we also have tickets on the door. We hope to see you later. 
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?

7.15pm Thursday 19 July 2018
£5 plus booking fee (
Advance tickets)Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page


Awesome portrait of Cathi Unsworh by Etienne Gilfillan
Cathi Unsworth is the author of six pop-cultural crime novels based on real-life unsolved or controversial cases. Her latest, 'That Old Black Magic' (Serpent’s Tail), interweaves the true stories of the Hagley Woods mystery of 1943 and the trial of Helen Duncan, the last woman to be prosecuted for witchcraft in the UK, in 1944.

Real life characters mingle with the imagined in a secret history of spiritualists, stage magicians and spooks of all persuasions under the blackout of Britain’s bleakest hours.

7.15pm Thursday 19 July 2018
£5 plus booking fee (
Advance tickets)Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page

Super-Recognisers: Spotting Faces in a Crowd

7.45pm Thursday 28 June 2018
We're really sorry, this event has been cancelled. We shall endevour to host this talk again later this year. Sorry again. 
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East


Crowd Of Faces by Dawn Hudson (Public Domain)
The use of police super-recognisers in London has vastly increased suspect identification rates from CCTV in recent years. They perform exceptionally highly at familiar and unfamiliar face recognition, simultaneous face matching and spotting target faces in videos of large crowds. Non-police super-recognisers are also superior to most people at long-term face recognition, even when faces are heavily disguised. 

Psychologist Dr Josh P Davis of the University of Greenwich explores his research on these very rare individuals and his work with the police and courts

7.45pm Thursday 28 June 2018
£4 / £2 We're really sorry, this event has been cancelled. We shall endevour to host this talk again later this year. Sorry again.
The Bell, 50 Middlesex Street, London E1 7EX.
Train and Tube: Liverpool Street. 
Tube: Aldgate, Aldgate East

Magick and Power in the Age of Trump

7.15pm Tuesday 26 June 2018
£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page

Did positive thinking and mental science help put Donald Trump in the White House? And are there any other hidden powers of the mind and thought at work in today's world politics?

In Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump, historian and cultural critic Gary Lachman takes a close look at the various magical and esoteric ideas that are impacting political events across the globe.

From New Thought and Chaos Magick to the far-right esotericism of Julius Evola and the Traditionalists, Lachman follows a trail of mystic clues that involve, among others, Norman Vincent Peale, domineering gurus and demagogues, Ayn Rand, Pepe the Frog, Rene Schwaller de Lubicz, synarchy, the Alt-Right, meme magic, and Vladimir Putin and his postmodern Rasputin.

Come take a drop down the rabbit hole of occult politics in the twenty-first century and find out the post-truths and alternative facts surrounding the 45th President of the United States with one of the leading writers on esotericism and its influence on modern culture.

7.15pm Tuesday 26 June 2018
£5 plus booking fee (Advance tickets)
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page

Thursday, 28 June 2018

The Haunted City: Modern Monsters and Urban Myths

Join the London Fortean Society in London’s dark heart for a day of modern monsters and urban myth including Spring-heeled Jack, Cthulhu, Slender Man, subterranean London folklore, the Crying Boy and more.

Our cityscapes are full of strange wonders, terrors and tales. Come hear of them.

Saturday 30 June 2018

10am - 5pm
£20 / £16 concessions (Advance tickets)
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
Facebook event page

10am Scott Wood - Hidden Insult

A"rude, irreverent piece of revenge folklore"


10.30am Gail Nina Anderson -The Vampire Rabbit of Newcastle 

It "squats menacingly, complete with lurid claws and fangs."


11-11.10 Break


11.10-11.40 Tina Rath - The Hackney Bear 

A " “giant great growling hairy thing”.


11.40-12.10 Antony Clayton – Subterranean London

The "capital’s ancient ‘secret’ passages and tunnels and sightings of ghosts underground."


12.10-12.15 Break


12.15-1pm Justin Woodman - Pulp Fiction to Pop-Nihilism: H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu and the Making of a Modern Monstrous Myth.

"Cthulhu and Lovecraft’s expanded ‘Cthulhu mythos’ are considered to be an authentic esoteric reality by some".


1pm-2pm Lunch


2-2.45pm Dr David Clarke – Tears for Fears: The Curse of the Crying Boy

A "series of hyperbolic stories reporting the existence of a jinx attached to this hideously tasteless, yet popular print."


3pm - 3.45pm Mike Dash – Spring-heeled Jack

A "a demonic bogey who breathed fire at his victims, tore at their clothes with iron claws". 


4pm-5pm Andrea Kitta – Slender Man 

A "monster that has stepped out from the digital world and out in to the physical."


(Phil Hine is unwell.)




Mike Dash – Spring-heeled Jack


Ever since his earliest appearances in 1837, Spring-heeled Jack – a demonic bogey who breathed fire at his victims, tore at their clothes with iron claws, and leaped over hedgerows and houses to evade pursuit – has been one of the strangest and most unsettling mystery attackers in the Fortean and folkloric canon.

Mike Dash has been researching the case since 1983, and presents an overview of the evidence that sets Jack in his contemporary contexts, explores his antecedents, and asks whether he is really as unique a figure as he seems to be. 

Dr Mike Dash is an historian and long-time member of Fortean Times’s legendary Gang of Fort. Educated at Cambridge and King’s College London, he is the author of seven books, including Borderlands, an overview of strange phenomena reviewed by New Scientist as “exhaustive, erudite and superb.” He now runs a company devoted to improving critical thinking in schools and universities. 

Andrea Kitta – Slender Man


The Slender Man is a contemporary monster that has stepped out from the digital world and out in to the physical. Dr Andrea Kitta discusses the beginnings of Slenderman on the Something Awful forum and other venues for creepypasta, there is a shared aesthetic and, at times, a shared experience that taps into something deeper than mere play. Just as Slender Man himself is complicated, so is belief in Slender Man.

Slender Man is not a simple entity that can be looked at as belonging to a single folk group. He is, possibly, an acknowledgement of the unacknowledged common experience of being watched. The reason why he “feels real” to so many people is because he helps to give a voice to a real experience that is difficult to understand otherwise. Like legends, which are not literally true but rather “typify life in modern society” (Smith 1999), Slender Man also is a part of the experience of life in the modern world.

Andrea Kitta is a folklorist with a specialty in medicine, belief, and the supernatural. She is also interested in Internet folklore, narrative, and contemporary (urban) legend. Her current research includes: vaccines, pandemic illness, contagion and contamination, stigmatized diseases, disability, health information on the Internet and Slender Man. She is co-editor for the journal Contemporary Legend, a scholarly journal published annually by the International Society for Contemporary Legend Research.


Antony Clayton – Subterranean London


Antony Clayton, author of Subterranean City, Beneath the Streets of London and Secret Tunnels of England: Folklore & Fact, will examine aspects of the folklore of underground London. The talk will concentrate principally on some of the stories of the capital’s ancient ‘secret’ passages and tunnels and sightings of ghosts underground.


Dr David Clarke – Tears for Fears: The Curse of the Crying Boy


The Crying Boy (TCB) is a mass produced sentimental print and an example of ‘folk art’ that was popular from the 1970s in working glass families in the UK. It exists in many forms. In 1985 a British tabloid newspaper The Sun published a series of hyperbolic stories reporting the existence of a jinx attached to this hideously tasteless, yet popular print. The source of the stories was attributed fire fighters who had noted the frequent occurrence of the print at domestic property fires in one English community. The intervention of journalists added a supernatural element to the story and created a proto-legend. This talk examines how TCB acquired a narrative and was transformed as it migrated from print to online media.

David Clarke teaches Media Law, regulation and ethics on the undergraduate and postgraduate journalism courses at Sheffield Hallam. As Principal Research Fellow he leads on integrating teaching and research in the Journalism Subject Group.

His publications and wide experience as a broadcaster and consultant/curator for The National Archives UFO project has brought international recognition to the University as a centre of expertise in the study of contemporary legends.



Justin Woodman: Pulp Fiction to Pop-Nihilism: H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu and the Making of a Modern Monstrous Myth.


Monsters continue to haunt the landscape and imagination of ‘rational’ metropolitan modernity, often in new and unexpected forms which reflect uniquely modern fears and anxieties. Cthulhu – the monstrously betentacled denizen of the deep and H.P. Lovecraft’s best-known literary creation – is one such entity: despite their well-documented origin in the weird fiction of the 1920s, both Cthulhu and Lovecraft’s expanded ‘Cthulhu mythos’ are considered to be an authentic esoteric reality by some – a supposition which has exerted a significant influence upon some of the conspiratorial, cryptozoological, and paranormal beliefs which populate contemporary digital and media worlds.

This talk explores the evolution of Cthulhu from Lovecraft’s own secular expression of modern existential dread, through to its current status as nihilistic occultural and pop-cultural myth, examining its resonance in relation to the angst, unease and alienation often seen to characterise existence in a rapidly-changing and increasingly uncertain world.

Phil Hine: Something Queer in the Cellar: Lovecraft and Urban Horror

Phil Hine will be looking at how Lovecraftian horror relates specifically  to anxieties and concerns in urban centres in relation to British/Imperial colonial fantasies, and the history of fear of migration in urban centres. 

Both sections intersect around the reasons why Lovecraft and Lovecraft's monsters have become so resonant in the context of Trump, Brexit, and the rise of the alt right.

Phil Hine is an independent researcher and occult practitioner, he has been writing and lecturing on esoteric themes and practices for over thirty years.

Justin Woodman is a lecturer in anthropology at Goldsmiths College (The University of London), where he teaches courses on the anthropology of the paranormal, and has written on the intersection between Lovecraft’s fiction and contemporary occultures.

Gail-Nina Anderson - The Vampire Rabbit of Newcastle upon Tyne

Amongst its fair share of public statuary and sculpted architectural detail, Newcastle counts a unique representation – the Vampire Rabbit. In a quiet corner behind the Cathedral, above the door of a 1901 office building it squats menacingly, complete with lurid claws and fangs. This talk explores the tall tales that have sprung up around our beloved (and still inexplicable) beast and their relation to folklore traditions involving rabbits and hares.

Gail-Nina Anderson is a cultural historian, lecturer and journalist based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Attracted to anything Gothic, she has written about and lectured on ghost stories, fairies, witches, vampires and horror films. An occasional contributor to the Fortean Times, she has spoken at several of their Unconventions, as well as lecturing and writing for the Folklore Society and being an active member of the Dracula Society.

Tina Rath – The Hackney Bear Hunt 

“We were near the football pitches at about five o’clock in the evening when we
saw it,” said Darren Willoughby, aged 12, “It was very close to us, standing on its hind legs and about seven feet tall.”

On 27 December1981 four boys from Lower Clapton took their dogs out for a walk across Hackney Marshes. Past Millfields Road, near the football pitches, the boys encountered “a giant great growling hairy thing”. They met a bear in Hackney.

Tina Rath hunts the story of the Hackney Bear, the police hunt for it and how is returned in 2012 and why a Brit Pop bands may have been involved. Tina gained her doctorate from London University with a thesis on The Vampire in Popular Fiction and her MA with a dissertation on The Vampire in the Theatre.

Scott Wood – The Legend of the Hidden Insult

Did you hear about the insult hidden in the jacket of a prince or inside the car of a queen? Or the insult placed on the front of a City office block or outside Harrods at Christmas? The Hidden Insult is a rude, irreverent piece of revenge folklore.

Scott Wood, author of London Urban Legends: The Corpse on the Tube and host of the London Fortean Society, discusses this fun and sometimes filthy urban legend.

Saturday 30 June 2018

10am - 5pm
£20 / £16 concessions (Advance tickets)
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London WC1R 4RL
Tube: Holborn
Directions
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