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The event will be held on Zoom and is free to attend

Discover origins of superstitions and popular magic at special online event

People can explore how a belief in magic still impacts our daily lives at a special online event.

Participants will able to explore the unlikely origins of the common routines and habits we still believe bring us luck today, and how the superstitions we still have today stem from links between religion and magic.

The event will show how people have held complex spiritual beliefs throughout history, and why certain traditions still exist even though society is now more secular.

During the free event, held via Zoom and part of the Being Human Festival of the humanities, University of Exeter PhD researchers Crystal Hollis and Anna Milon will discuss their research – which involves analysis of medieval churches and pagan sacred sites. They will explain the symbolism behind common popular magic traditions and uncover the unexpected ways in which they still persevere.

Many people have significant objects or charms, like jewellery or specific items of clothing, and participants are encouraged to bring their own magical items for the second part of the programme, where people can share their own stories.

Anna said: “We are looking forward to taking people on a journey into the history of superstition and rituals. People in the past had a need for the same sort of comforting routines and habits we use now, although of course their beliefs were different to ours today.

“We tend to think of magic as something risqué, or something situated firmly in the realm of fancy. But perhaps people of the past who followed these superstitions saw magic as something very different. Perhaps, magic is a lot closer to our daily rituals and routines than we thought? At our event we will be inviting people to think about why they have certain habits, and how they feel they help them. People can contribute with their own stories, or just listen.”

Anna and Crystal will also discuss similarities between modern pagan and Christian rituals, and how modern paganism can be seen in fantasy fiction and film and TV programmes.

Crystal said: “Lots of us have our own rituals we do for luck and they permeate our daily lives. Today these rituals are often not associated at all with any religion, or pagan beliefs. In this event we will show their historical origins, and how today’s rites often exist on the fringes of other faiths and beliefs, often combining elements from different religions. What does unite them is a belief in magic.”

Register for the event at

Date: 15 October 2020

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