Morris dancers march on UK Parliament

LONDON – Furious Morris dancers are planning a march on Parliament this month in order to protest about a proposed Bank Holiday switch by the British government. Currently, the May bank holiday is the focus of a number of celebrations: political, seasonal and social. May 1st is Beltane, celebrated in a number of ways by Britain’s Pagans and others – it is the scene of festivities around the country – but it also coincides with International Workers’ Day. However, there is now a proposal to scrap this ‘early’ May holiday and replace it with one on the following Friday, to mark the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII in Europe. Victory in Europe (VE) Day marks the formal acceptance by the Allies of Nazi Germany’s unconditional surrender in the Second World War.

The great hunt for Witch bottles project

LONDON – The United Kingdom Arts and Humanities Research Council is currently funding a project based on witch bottles, in an effort to understand more about this type of practice. It’s being helmed by Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), “an experienced and innovative archaeology and built heritage practice” and MOLA’s finds specialist Nigel Jeffries is in charge, along with Owen Davies, and Ceri Houlbrook from the University of Hertfordshire – both experts in the history of witchcraft and magic. Witch bottles still turn up in older houses across Britain, dating from earlier times: they are typically filled with pins, coils of wool, tangled threads, nails, needles and, sometimes, human urine. They are supposed to attract negative spells, which become tangled in all the mess in the bottle and can’t get free – a bit like a dark dream-catcher. You can make a specific witch bottle for a person: put their name in it, fill the bottle with pins, wool, and ideally something intimate from the intended target.