Folklorist shares the untold story of Australian fortune teller, Mary Barrell

AUSTRALIA – An academic has recently pieced together the story of Mary Barrell, which is among the earliest documented cases of Witchcraft and fortune telling in the country. Historian and folklorist Dr David Waldron made the discovery when conducting research in Victorian-era newspapers. He found letters to the editor spanning over three decades. “I first became aware of Mary Barrell when looking for writing on fortune tellers, phrenologists and mystics in 19th century Ballarat.” Waldron told The Wild Hunt. “Castelmaine, Ballarat and Bendigo were all described as a mecca for spiritualism and attracted the attention of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who engaged in correspondence with Ballarat Spiritualist leader James Curtis.”
The Methodist and the Spiritualist
According to a recent article by the Ballarat Courier, the letters published in newspapers complaining about Barrell and her fortune telling were at least in part caused by and demonstrative of ongoing friction between two notable and influential Ballarat pioneers who had very different sensibilities: Wesleyan Methodist and town council member James Oddie and Freemason and Spiritualist James Curtis.

Trendy magic: witchcraft tops pop culture charts … again.

TWH – As autumn approaches, it is not surprising that the number of mainstream articles referring to Witches and Witchcraft are increasing. Many of the recently published articles are touting that Witchcraft is “trending,” to use a social media term, or in old-school language, Witchcraft popularity is on the rise or “all the rage.” And in textspeak: WitchcraftFTW. #witches
For the bulk of the American public, the brief and unexamined suggestion that the nation’s Witch population is significantly increasing might be enough of a “sound bite” to tantalize and, in some cases, even scare. However, for those people who have long identified as Witches or the like, the flippant mention of Witchcraft in a seasonal article is not enough to satisfy.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Spiritualist temple under threat

CAMDEN TOWN — An historic Spiritualist temple is under threat from developers. The building, whose foundation stone was laid by Sherlock Holmes’ author and noted Spiritualist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, has become the subject of a debate spurred by a new proposal by development group UrbanLab. The company reportedly seeks to demolish the 90-year-old temple and replace it with nine flats and a gallery. The building is currently owned by the Spiritualists’ National Union, which owns 350 spiritualist churches across the country. The Rochester Square temple is particularly historic.

Working with the Dead in Pennsylvania

Ghosts have become popular in the last decade or so. Paranormal investigation, or “ghost hunting,” shows chronicle the adventures of people armed with an assortment of sensory equipment, most of which is easily available online in case you want to start your own investigative team. Or you can apply for admission to one of the many teams already in existence. For those who want to dabble in exploring hauntings, but not jump into the life of a researcher, there are scores of haunted sites and ghost tours you can pay to visit. What has stirred up this interest in ghosts?

Centerville Drops Anti-Fortune-Telling Ordinance

It looks like a 1985 ordinance banning fortune-telling, spiritualism, and other psychic services in Centerville, Georgia,  has been dropped after Courtney Bibb, the owner of Energy Among Us, filed a lawsuit against the city. “A small victory for a Centerville store is making a big impact on how the owner views her community. “People just stopping by and saying how proud they are that I’m standing by in what I believe in; It’s astronomical, I can’t explain it. I’m very very gracious and very thankful for all the support I’ve gotten.” –Courtney Bibb/Store Owner Energy Among Us has been providing services ranging from yoga classes to tarot card readings since January of this year.