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The Ickeny Collection is a teaching collection of artefacts relating to magical practice and mythology. It has been developing since the early 2000s and we now wish to share the items in the collection more widely.
The collection covers the breadth of magical practice and explores the importance of mythology, with a particular focus on the East Anglian region and an emphasis on the alchemy of craft. It is curated by Chris Wood.
If you would like to investigate magical, ritual and mythologically symbolic artefacts further, then visits to the museums listed on the resources page are to be recommended.
The name, 'Ickeny', is a Norfolk dialect word for anything awkward or troublesome, particularly horses, and is thought to derive from the name used by the people of this part of the world 2000 years ago, the Iceni. It seems an appropriate link to the place for a collection dealing with magic and mythology - topics often seen as difficult in modern culture - and the image in our logo is inspired by those on the coins of the Iceni.
What is Magic?
Magic is explained in many ways. Magic is many things. The power of an effective spell is similar to that of a prayer answered. The agency is different, but the effect and objective process is comparable.
Magic has been defined in many ways. It is the making of change in accordance with will. It is the performance of an act with the intent to cause change – whether or not there is any physical connection between the act and the effect. It is causative influence beyond scientific explanation, or non-causative causation. It is meaningful coincidence or synchronicity, or things working out in accordance with a pattern not obvious to the mundane eye.
The will that patterns the change can be yours, or that of one or other deity, or of the Universe. The magician, shaman or priest may pray to, call upon, supplicate, appease or otherwise persuade – or sometimes command – a spiritual entity or subtle natural forces to perform some act or behave in a certain way. He or she may pull on the threads of the Web of Wyrd, journey to the Ancestors or the Otherworld to act out a mythopoetic reality, present suitable archetypal symbols to the subconscious mind, or set up the appropriate patterns in the memeplex we call reality to effect change.
The change can be in the outer world, or within yourself. The intent and outcome can be good or bad – magic is not black or white, but the magician’s motivations may be! And the outcome can be different to that expected – good intentions can pave roads to wrong destinations.
Magic has always been part of human life. Similar patterns of folk magic exist regardless of formal religion or belief system – whether Pagan, Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, or materialist agnostic. Religion itself uses magic, although it employs different terminology. All too often the magician is a saintly follower of the religion if they are a priest engaged in orthodox practices, but a ‘witch’ or ‘evil sorcerer’ if a lay practitioner, outside holy orders or using unorthodox practices.
Hidden Charms 3
The third Hidden Charms conferencetakes place on Saturday 21st November 2020 in Chester. It covers apotropaic marks, concealed objects and other methods of magical building protection. (And the Ickeny Collection's Chris Wood will have a poster presentation about X marks.)
Val Thomas' new book is now available for pre-order from Troy Books. Of Chalk and Flint: A Way of Norfolk Magic is a celebration of the county of Norfolk and its Nameless Tradition of magic and witchcraft. The spiritual energy which informs and powers this magic wells up from the land itself and from the Chalk and Flint which have shaped the landscape, its flora, its fauna, its culture and its history. This book therefore weaves a rich tapestry of herbs and creatures, of gods, dragons, Fair Ones and merfolk, of spells, rituals and seasonal devotions. It retells some of the old stories which shape the work of the Tradition and honours the ancestors who inspire it. Yet it is a book for the present moment, and shows how working closely with the land can be an integral and vibrant part of modern life. While the book is focused on Norfolk, the principles of the magic explored here are applicable anywhere in in the world. Thus, this book provides a valuable resource, both for those with an interest in Norfolk, and also for anyone seeking insights into natural magic, witchcraft and working with the power of the land.