Toil and Trouble: Towards a Responsible Witchcraft

Join Dr Alice Tarbuck and Dr Claire Askew for a six-week, interactive course that aims to unpack some of the purposes, trials, pitfalls and joys of navigating witchcraft in 2019.

Toil and Trouble: Towards a Responsible Witchcraft

About Toil and Trouble: Towards a Responsible Witchcraft

Toil and trouble: Towards a Responsible Witchcraft

Astrology memes, emoji spells, and witch kits on sale in Sephora: a new wave of witchcraft is here, and its made the figure of the witch more mainstream than ever before. But what does it mean to be a witch - a notoriously tricksy and shifting label - in these dark and often powerless times? What magic does the 21st century witch have at their disposal? And what are the uses of that magic?

Join Dr Alice Tarbuck and Dr Claire Askew for a six-week, interactive course that aims to unpack some of the purposes, trials, pitfalls and joys of navigating witchcraft in 2019. Learn about the real, historical women accused of heresy and witchcraft during the European Witchcraft Hysteria; look at the contribution of the witch in folklore and popular culture to our modern understanding of magic and personal power. Perhaps most importantly, join us to discuss and consider the ways in which we can create and engage with a more responsible witchcraft: one which welcomes students, practitioners and participants of all genders, social backgrounds, and abilities.

The course runs from 6.30pm-8.30pm in the Lifecare Centre, Edinburgh (map below.)

Each week will have both a theoretical/historical element, and a practical element, and the course will culminate in a joint ritual. The weeks run as below:

Monday 11th November: Week One: Introductions, What is witchcraft for?

Monday 18th November: Week Two: a history of European witchcraft; witches stories
Practical element: exploring witchcraft through creative writing.

Monday 25th November: Week Three: definitions of witchcraft; charms and intention setting.
Practical element: creating a charm to take home and keep.

Monday 2nd December: Week Four: Aleister Crowley and post-Crowley witchcraft; spells
Practical element: writing and performing spells - what makes a spell effective?

Monday 9th December: Week Five: Witches, popular culture and consumerism.
Practical element: creating symbols and sigils for ritual use.

Monday 16th December Week Six: Coming full circle: commemorating witches and celebrating craft.
Practical element: a ritual perfomed in the open air, and next steps.

Cost: £125 per person.
The cost of the course can be paid in full, or as a 50% non-refundable deposit, and a 50% balance to allow a spread of the cost. Please choose from the options below.

About the tutors:
Dr Alice Tarbuck is the author of Grid (Sad Press, 2018), and an academic working at the University of Dundee and the Centre for Poetic Innovation. Her work on witchcraft has been featured in 404 Inks Nasty Women, The Dangerous Women Project, Edinburgh Universitys Uncanny Bodies project, and the Fiction and Feeling project. She has been invited to speak on witchcraft as feminist practice by Scottish PEN and is currently planning a longer work on witchcraft and contemporary practice. Additionally, she has taught workshops for the National Library of Scotland, the Scottish Poetry Library and further afield. When she was born, a white wizard came to her house to bless her, and this, she suspects, is where the trouble started.

Dr Claire Askew is the author of This changes things (Bloodaxe, 2016) and All The Hidden Truths (Hodder & Stoughton, 2018). Her writing on historical women accused of heresy and witchcraft have been published by The Dangerous Women Project, The Scottish Review of Books and Amelias Magazine, among others. In 2017 she was awarded the Jessie Kesson Fellowship to work on a manuscript of poems about these real-life witches and their stories. Claire is the likely-descendant of Anne Askew, the poet and scholar whose writings and activities led to her execution by burning at the stake in 1546. In addition to her PhD, Claire holds a PDA in Adult Teaching and has taught at Edinburgh College, the University of Edinburgh, Arcadia University and in a variety of community settings.

Toil and trouble: towards a responsible witchcraft is an intersectional, accessible course that is open to anyone. People of all genders over the age of 16 are welcome to join us. We operate a safe space policy.

The Lifecare centre is located at 2 Cheyne St, Edinburgh EH4 1JB and is fully accessible, with accessible toilets. If you have specific accessibility questions, please do get in touch.

Two assisted/scholarship places are available for those on a low income. Please email to enquire:

While we take every opportunity to ensure the details for Toil and Trouble: Towards a Responsible Witchcraft are accurate, we always advise that you contact the event organiser before setting out for the event to avoid disapointment.

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