Dr Romany Reagan

Wednesday, February 6 2019 at 7:30PM

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60 Old Woolwich Road, Greenwich, London SE10 9NY

Dr Romany Reagan

What's the talk about?

Although rituals to commune with the dead have been part of the human experience reaching back through cultures and time immemorial, what has had the strongest foothold in our Western cultural imagination today is that of the Victorian séance. From its roots in the romantic era gothic imagination to fascinations with the boundaries of science, Victorian fringe exploration into the esoteric manifested itself by way of a variety of literary masterpieces and occult societies – the most famous of which was founded by the ‘Wickedest Man in the World’, Aleister Crowley. Out of this kaleidoscopic swirl of occult beliefs and investigations, penny dreadfuls and parlour tricks, the Victorian séance is the most archetypal symbol of this era of the transmundane. The iconic image of hands held around candles and draped tables encompasses participants from the sorrow-filled hopeful widow to gin-soaked giggling party guests. In this evening lecture, Dr Romany Reagan will take us on an exploration of the beginnings of occultism and the gothic imagination in Victorian culture. From William Blake’s otherworldly visions up into Arthur Machen’s doors of perception exploring secret patterns in our everyday lives, this talk will offer perspectives on the cultural trends and psychology behind the Victorian séance up to today’s Ouija board – and why, over 170 years later, we still love to flirt with the question: do you believe?

Romany Reagan received her doctorate from Royal Holloway, University of London in performing heritage, with a focus on community engagement. Her practice-based research project ‘Abney Rambles’ is a series of four audio walks written for Abney Park cemetery. Her continued work with Abney Park aims to engage the local community of Stoke Newington, the wider community of Hackney, and all visitors to the cemetery, with the space and to offer different perspectives on what a cemetery can represent within its local community. Reagan’s walk ‘Crossing Paths/Different Worlds in Abney Park Cemetery’ was published in Ways to Wander (Triarchy Press, 2015) Twitter: @msromany