For the podcast’s Hallowe’en special episode, I spoke to host of ‘Not Just the Tudors’ Prof. Suzannah Lipscomb about magic and politics in Tudor England. Our conversation ranged widely over alchemy, astrology, treason and figures as diverse as Ann Boleyn, John Dee and Giordano Bruno. You can listen to the podcast here.
Month: October 2022
My article ‘Glimpsing Sacred Nature in European Paganism: The Baltic Experience’ has just been published in the October/November 2022 issue of Cunning Folk zine. The article explores the concept of ‘nature worship’ and whether it can be applied to Europe’s pre-Christian religions, using the example of Baltic pagans (who were among Europe’s last ancestral pagans) to consider broader themes of animism, sacred animals, sacred trees and the nature of religious belief itself.
My book Pagans in the Early Modern Baltic, which has previously received an award from the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies, is one of seven books shortlisted for this years’s Katharine Briggs Folklore Award. The Katharine Briggs Award is awarded annually by the Folklore Society to the best book on folklore published in Britain and Ireland. I have been shortlisted twice before this award, in 2018 for Peterborough Folklore and in 2019 for Suffolk Fairylore.
The winner of the 2022 Katharine Briggs Award will be announced at the Katharine Briggs Lecture on 8 November.
This evening I spoke online at the University of York’s Centre for Medieval Studies, as part of the Ideology, Society and Medieval Religion (ISMR) seminar series. My theme was ‘The Last Pagans? Paganism in the Medieval Baltic’. As well as exploring who the Baltic pagans were, why a major pagan polity (Lithuania) survived into the late Middle Ages and what Baltic pagans may have believed, the talk also addressed the unequal treatment of Baltic religion in the historiography of the Baltic Crusades, in contrast to the treatment now afforded to Islam in scholarship on the Levantine Crusades. I argued that the designation of religions as ‘pagan’ still leads some scholars to deem them unworthy of study, resulting in the neglect of one of Europe’s most important religions – which held together the vast and extraordinary polity of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania until 1387.
I am grateful to Dr Tim Wingard for inviting me to contribute to these seminars, and for facilitating the interesting discussion that followed the talk.