Tuesday, March 27, 2018

My Field Trip to the Pitt Rivers Museum

I have revisited the Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford after a gap of 20 years. Naturally it doesn't look to have changed much in that time, but has been the cause of my realisation that I have changed considerably. When I first visited, of course I was already a witch really: I just hadn't realised it. Now I am tending to see the collection rather differently, and what most strikes me is the small corner devoted to the paraphernalia of magic. The talismans and what have you in the section are obviously explicitly for magical use. But the collection (intentionally or not) gives the impression that the use of magic has ceased in the modern era. As a modern magician what also struck me about the rest of the collection was that virtually everything could be used for magic at a push - masks and various items of clothing, for example. As I say this means a marked change in my own mindset since I first visited the museum as a student.
The other thing which strikes me is the fact that much of the collection is either of offensive or defensive use, indicating that these are the true motivations of so much human behaviour.
The item which most struck me was a monkey's skull used by headhunters' children in Borneo as a play way of preparing for real head hunting in later life. I want one!


  1. I am not surprised to read that the monkey skull was "taken from a Dyak child who was playing with it". I bet it was that poor kid's only "toy". You should take it from the museum - tit for tat!

    1. It would just get mixed up in all the other skulls I have!


All comments are moderated before publication