Wednesday, 9 September 2009

A Witch Falls in Love with Husserl and Papaya Leaves

After a short summer break rather more akin to a long dark wintery teatime of the soul, the Ecology, Cosmos and Consciousness lecture series is back to savour the histories, mysteries and myth stories of our small universe, both inner and outer. Exploring the mossy interface between mind and Nature in a way that only a practicing witch, ex-academic and director of London’s funkiest occult bookshop can, Dr Christina Oakley Harrington will be waxing lyrically, and lunarly, at the October Gallery on Tuesday, 29th September. Please join us for wine, wit and some wanging on in true salon style.

October Gallery, 24 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3AL

(Tel: 44 (0)20 7831 1618). – email: rentals AT

RSVP so that we can anticipate numbers – Please book in advance by credit card to guarantee a place or pay on the door.

Entry £7 /£5 Concessions, Arrive 6pm for a 6:30pm Start - Wine available

A Witch Falls in Love with Husserl and Papaya Leaves: Pagan Gods under a Full Moon (Mind the Compost Heap)

This is a night of tales, reminiscences and reflections on three intersecting cultures in Britain today, and a few of the most challenging ideas run through them: the ecology movement, the consciousness / entheogen subculture, and the community of European Wicca. These three communities share some values: the sacredness of Nature as a living, sentient being; the value of alternative perspectives; and an appreciation of experience of the material word in its sensuous glory. The differences are less obvious, but run deep, and tonight's speaker considers these. There are so many imponderables, it can be overwhelming. Questions seem to outnumber answers, and the over-confident hardly inspire certainty in those who value nuanced insight.

How can today's European witches, reciting Shelley in BBC accents in the elegant Sussex downs, claim anything in common with Balinese medicine men? How can taking drugs make you believe you can heal others? Can you speak of The Feminine Principle and not, actually, objectify women? What difference does ritual really make (or is it just self-indulgent). What difference does recycling make, when people are dying of loneliness? Awkward questions with no easy answers show us the rough edges of these various paradigms. If anyone can see us out of this morass, she suggests, it is people like David Abram, author of The Spell of the Sensuous, and the indications in Husserl's philosophy. And some good food and drumming. Maybe. Tonight's talk is a lecture, a stream of consciousness, a standup routine, a one-woman show.

Christina Oakley Harrington is a Wiccan priestess who has been intimately involved with modern paganism for over half her life. She was raised in West Africa and in a closed society which largely excluded Westerners in Southeast Asia. She has lived in the West since her teens. Her mother lives in the deep countryside, does organic gardening, was a pioneer in healing with vitamins and alternative health in the 1960s, and can forage for natural food. Christina herself lives in London, drinks too much coffee, struggles to identify recycling categories. She has, however, been known to recite Shelley to the blowing winds on the Sussex downs. She has a PhD in medieval history, is a former university lecturer, and is the founding director of the legendary Treadwell's Bookshop in Covent Garden.

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