In Search of the Uncanny: Inspirited Landscapes and Modern Witchcraft

Cornish, Helen. 2020. In Search of the Uncanny: Inspirited Landscapes and Modern Witchcraft. Material Religion, 16(4), pp. 410-431. ISSN 1743-2200 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

The uncanny is commonly identified as an emotional encounter, where the known somehow slips out of place; it is embodied and sensory, but understood primarily as feelings. Home is safe and familiar, history is considered rational and chronological, and the supernatural is both untrue and to be feared. Yet all these are challenged by modern witches with their view of an inspirited world. Practitioner-visitors to the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Cornwall report a wealth of eerie experiences. Situated at the foot of Boscastle harbor, nestled down a steep and winding route, its place in the landscape encourages ready connections to esoteric experiences. This sense is reinforced by a network of sacred sites weaving outwards from the museum, and the well-used occult and folk magic items held in the displays: tangible and material sites of the uncanny. For these visitors, such encounters in the museum hold particular significance. Here, a dynamic landscape, inhabited by genius loci (spirit of place) combines with an inspirited material culture contained inside the museum. In an animated cosmology, the uncanny is encountered through emotional, sensory, and embodied materialities.

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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Material Religion on 2 September 2020, available online:


uncanny, inspirited landscape, modern witchcraft and Wicca, Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, Cornwall

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September 2020Published
2 September 2020Published Online
8 July 2020Accepted

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Date Deposited:

03 Sep 2020 14:55

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2022 02:26

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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