Podcast #26: Doreen Valiente & Martha Maxwell

Episode 26 brings you spooky Dead Lady tales all the way from NYC! First, Claire Carroll introduces us to England’s Doreen Valiente, known as the mother of modern witchcraft. In the UK and beyond, she was key in the spread of modern day Wicca, now a world-wide religion. Doreen also had more than a few secrets under her cape.
Then, it’s time for a live lady taxidermist talking about a Dead Lady taxidermist! Divya Anantharaman of Gotham Taxidermy brings us the story of American naturalist and taxidermy pioneer Martha Maxwell.

The talks were recorded live at two separate editions of NYC DLS, which is hosted and curated by Molly O’Laughlin Kemper, with support from Nicolas Kemper and Christopher Neil and Lori Schwarz, general manager of the KGB Bar’s Red Room, where the event is held. Join the NYC newsletter to stay updated on the next ones!

Dead Ladies Show co-founder Katy Derbyshire joins podcast producer & presenter Susan Stone to chat about these spooky wonderful dames and more.

 

 

Also available on Soundcloud, Spotify, Apple PodcastsRadioPublic, Pocket Casts, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and Acast. You can find the transcript of this episode here.

Show notes:

Now for some pictures!

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Image: © Doreen Valiente Foundation

Here’s Doreen with some of the tools of her trade.

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Image: © Doreen Valiente Foundation

And here are some of her ceremonial artifacts shown as they would be on an altar.

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Image: © Doreen Valiente Foundation

Ritual books owned by Doreen Valiente, including Gerald Gardner’s Book of Shadows at the back

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The Blue Plaque marking the last home Doreen lived in. It’s the only historic plaque on a public housing building in the UK.

…onto the taxidermy portion of our show…

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Image: © Molly O’Laughlin

Presenter Divya Anantharaman artfully combines Rihanna lyrics with taxidermy to illustrate Martha Maxwell’s burning desire for knowledge.

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Lion of Gripsholm. Copyright: Kungl. Hovstaterna/The Royal Court, Sweden

Taxidermy hasn’t always been done skillfully. The Lion of Gripsholm is an infamous example of what happens when someone who has never seen the animal alive is tasked with recreating it from its skin alone.

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Image: © Museum of Natural History, Berlin

And, get a load of these ocelots! Can you *spot* the difference? Again, one was prepared by someone with little to no knowledge of the actual animal. 

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Martha Maxwell sensibly attired in her hunting outfit.

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Maxwell’s display at the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition was the first of its kind.

Our theme music is “Little Lily Swing” by Tri-Tachyon.

Thanks for listening! We’ll be back with a new episode in November. And here’s a link to our Patreon page, in case you’d like to help fund our work.

 

Dead Ladies Show NYC #4

What better way to celebrate GALentine’s Day than by celebrating some fascinating, deceased dames!?

The fourth edition of the DEAD LADIES SHOW in NYC draws nigh: it will take place on Wednesday, 13 February, as usual from 7:00-9:00pm at the KGB Bar (85 East 4th Street).

Free admission; please buy a drink or two to ensure the future of DLS NYC at KGB.

Ida M Tarbell

IDA M. TARBELL, a pioneering investigative journalist, biographer, magazine editor, and lecturer, rose to fame in the early 20th century through her meticulous reporting and fearless pursuit of the truth. She took on John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company – at the time the largest oil refinery in the world – and exposed it as an illegal monopoly, leading to its dissolution. Throughout her lifetime, she authored twenty books, lectured in forty-eight states, and served on two Presidential committees. Perplexingly, this groundbreaking woman was also an outspoken anti-suffragette.

Martha Graham

MARTHA GRAHAM is arguably the single most important figure in American modern dance. Born in 1894, she pioneered a movement style, based on the principle of contraction and release, that is regarded as the first codified modern dance technique. She choreographed a total of 181 dances, collaborating with the likes of composer Aaron Copland and sculptor Isamu Noguchi, addressing social, political, and psychological themes, and consistently portraying powerful women, both mythical and historical. The first dancer to perform at the White House and travel as a cultural ambassador, her influence is evident in cultural icons as wide-ranging as Merce Cunningham and Madonna.

Doreen Valiente

Long before Instagram hyped witchcraft as aesthetic and feminist, DOREEN VALIENTE (1922-99) paved the way. Lauded as the Mother of Modern Witchcraft, she invigorated the Wiccan ‘revival’ in 1950s England and worked to make the defining texts of the religion more sacred and beautiful. Many key spells of Gardnerian Wicca benefit from her serious revisions. She joined and created several covens and became a witch historian in order to better understand and dispell misconceptions about Wicca. Doreen was a complicated and often contradictory woman whose struggles underpin much of the problems facing Wicca today.

Last but not least, a quick word about your presenters:

JENNIE YOUNG CARR is a merchandise planner (aka Excel geek) and amateur history buff.

NINA STOLLER-LINDSEY is an arts-focused writer and content strategist. She’s written about high art, popular culture, and everything in between for Quartz, The Atlantic, Forbes, New York Magazine, Time Out New York, Thrillist, Refinery29, and Mic. A former modern dancer-choreographer, she’s interested in bringing the arts to more diverse audiences and currently runs social media for TodayTix, a global ticketing platform connecting people to live performances around the world.
CLAIRE CARROLL is a writer and marketer from the Hudson Valley. As practicing herbalist and magical realist, she cares deeply about the texts and myths that underpin faith.