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Cunning Folk: Life in the Era of Practical Magic/Virtual Author Event with Tabitha Stanmore

May 25 @ 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm

CT United States

Join us for a virtual conversation with Tabitha Stanmore to celebrate the release of her new book, Cunning Folk: Life in the Era of Practical Magic (May 28). It’s a spritely and deeply researched history of magical problem-solving in a distant, unsettled, and strangely familiar time.

Imagine: it’s 1600, and you’ve lost your keys. You’ve scoured your house. They’re nowhere to be found. What do you do? In medieval and early modern Europe, the first port of call might very well have been cunning folk: practitioners of “service magic.” Neither feared (like witches), nor venerated (like saints), cunning folk were essential to everyday life, a ubiquitous presence in a time when the supernatural was surprisingly mundane. For people young and old, male and female, highborn and low, practical magic was a cherished resource with which to navigate life’s many challenges, from recovering stolen linens to seizing the throne, and everything in between.

In historian Tabitha Stanmore’s charming account, we meet lovelorn widows and degenerate nobles, selfless healers and renegade monks seeking answers. We listen in on Queen Elizabeth I’s astrology readings and track treasure hunters trying to unearth buried gold without upsetting the fairies that guard it. Much like us, premodern people lived in bewildering times, buffeted by forces beyond their control. Their anxieties are instantly recognizable, and as Tabitha reveals, their faith in magic has much to teach us about how we accommodate ourselves to the irrational in our allegedly enlightened lives today.

Charming in every sense of the word, Cunning Folk is an immersive reconstruction of a bygone world, and a thought-provoking commentary on the beauty and bafflement of being human. People of the past faced life’s challenges and uncertainties just like we do, contending with forces beyond our control. They looked to cunning folk to be the brokers between humanity and the supernatural, making space for faith in the things we can’t explain.

Tabitha Stanmore, PhD, is a specialist in medieval and early modern magic. She is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Exeter, UK, the first university to offer a master’s degree in occult history. She has been interviewed on BBC Radio and TV. Her monograph, Love Spells and Lost Treasure, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2022. Cunning Folk is her first book for general readers.

Please register; Zoom links will be sent out before the event.


May 25
2:00 pm - 3:00 pm
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