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Law is Magic: Freemen of the Land and the Magna Carta in a Beauty Salon

  • 06/06/2023
  • 18:00-19:30
  • Online talk

Law is Magic: Freemen of the Land and the Magna Carta in a Beauty Salon

A Folklore Society online talk

by Joel Conn

Tuesday 6 June 2023, 18:00-19:30 BST

Magic can transform a bundle of handkerchiefs into a bunch of flowers, or divide a person in half. Law can transform your home into someone else’s home, or divide a family in half. Both use intricate processes, convened meetings, special words, and a smattering of Latin.

These apparent similarities between magical and legal practice should not surprise us if we accept the theories of sociologists that, as magic was centralised by developing states, it was replaced by law as a central ordering force in society.

Further, the same theories will expect magic to be deployed at times of contact with the law. Many find an involvement with the structures of law to be a time of “danger and uncertainty” in their lives, and that is exactly when Malinowski assures us that “extensive magical ritual to secure safety and good results” may be conducted.

I will draw together these two ideas and examine the use of magical techniques and themes (along with other folkloric motifs) deployed by certain groups of lay people when they are confronted with legal authority, in particular the Freeman of the Land and their pseudo-legal correspondence and notices (which developed particularly after the Credit Crunch of 2008), and those seeking to subvert the pandemic lockdown, such as by pinning sections of the Magna Carta to the door of their still-opened businesses.

Joel Conn is a litigation solicitor in Glasgow, with a strong interest in contemporary legend. He has previously delivered papers on subjects ranging from the occupational lore of lawyers to traffic cones on statues.

Tickets £6.00 (£4.00 for Folklore Society members with Promo Code: log in to the Members Only area to get the Promo Code) from Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/law-is-magic-freemen-of-the-land-and-the-magna-carta-in-a-beauty-salon-tickets-638178648517

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