Researchers return in quest to find folk magic
A RESEARCH project that has uncovered “magic” rituals from Tasmania’s colonial past has attracted interest from one of England’s leading heritage organisations.
The Tasmanian Magic Project has received a grant from the UK-based Vernacular Architecture Group, which supports the study of historic buildings. The grant of $3500 will help the project embark on a second season of research, having completed its first field study in the Southern Midlands in March.
Project leader and historian Ian Evans said the research unearthed numerous magic marks etched into old houses and other buildings during the 19th century.
Among the findings were a large number of deliberately made burn marks in horse stables, believed to have been made to protect the buildings from fire and other threats.
While such markings have been uncovered in English buildings, Dr Evans said he did not believe scholars of folk magic had looked in stables before.
“We are leading England in this particular area of re- search,” he said. Other markings found in the search of 30 Midlands properties include haxafoils, or “daisy wheels”, which are circular patterns commonly used as an evilaverting symbol.
The Tasmanian Magic Project is researching the use of magic among settlers during the 19th century, which appears to have been used as protection from absconded convicts, bushrangers, Aborigines.
Though the folk magic rituals were never documented, as they were largely carried out in secret, Dr Evans said that the burn marks in stables were numerous.
“I’m heading towards thinking those stables were managed by professional men whose life was spent caring for horses,” he said. and
Researcher Ian Evans