Images from the postgraduate conference in 2017


Janet Carrol



Grace Cassar

Could Abd al-Rahman III have employed astronomical knowledge as a political management tool across the Islamic world?

This research explores how the self-proclaimed Umayyad khalifa Abd al-Rahman III could have employed astronomical knowledge as a political management tool with which to assert and claim his supremacy across the Islamic world. Via the combined methodologies provided by the disciplines of archaeoastronomy and medieval astrology, this investigation provides an integrated interpretation of both these fields' quantitative and qualitative results so as to better explore the caliph's worldview. This paper proposes how Abd al-Rahman III's self-proclamation and construction programme of the city-fortress of al-Zahra (a stroke) functioned as an orchestrated religio-political manifesto aimed at eclipsing his contending rivals.

Ilaria Cristofario

A Journey to the Late Bronze Age Minoan Underworld: The Reflection of Sunlight on the Sea as an Axis Mundi

Around the times of sunrise and sunset, the sun's reflection on a large body of water, such as a sea, appears as an elongated gold band, also called a 'glitter path'. For the first time, this research explores this intangible manifestation of light from an archaeological perspective, focusing on the Late Bronze Age culture present on the Greek island of Crete. The observations gathered during the phenomenological fieldwork revealed that the elongated sunlight reflection has the qualities of an axis mundi, echoing the liminal convergence of opposing realities. By comparing Late Minoan III funerary iconography with the fieldwork results, this study developed an interpretation of Minoan eschatological beliefs establishing analogies between the cultural and the natural world. It concluded that the vision of the glitter path across the chthonic sea might have been regarded, in the Late Bronze Age, as the luminous roadway toward afterlife regeneration.

Margot Diederen

A review of the experiences of Dutch astrologers with an academic education: why have they chosen to pursue an astrological career?

It is my experience that within my social environment an intellectual outlook is taken for granted, implying that astrology is written off as being inherently contradictory to critical rational thinking. In a small study I compared my experiences as an astrologer with a degree in History with 12 astrologers with a similar background. Personal difficulties, isolation and feelings of 'otherness' were reported, but also, in line with their academic training, a critical reflection on the presuppositions underlying intellectual opinion was expressed. Within the context of a relevant theoretical debate this approach touches on some broader cultural and academic issues as well.

Sue Farebrother

A Comparison of the Exoteric and Esoteric in Astrology and the Tarot

The fields of astrology and tarot will be explored in terms of their use past and present as mantic arts, both exoterically as fortune-telling, and as esoteric disciplines. It is suggested that their exoteric role in popular predictive forecasting is all that most members of the public know about either tarot or astrology. The focus of this talk will be on the esoteric. There are two versions of the tarot's history: a scholarly version which holds that it did not become an occult doctrine until the late eighteenth century, having been invented for amusement in the Italian Renaissance; and an occult version which maintains a much longer history, but cannot provide proof. Suggestions will be made in which astrology and tarot may possibly be combined in the future as a cross-disciplinary esoteric system.

Andre Henriques

Seidr Cosmologies - Oracular practices and personal cosmologies of contemporary Norse-inspired Pagans

Seidr is a set of shamanistic practices from pre-Christian Northern Europe, recorded in Icelandic medieval texts, and practiced today by some contemporary Pagans that are part of a Northern European Pagan movement (usually called Heathenry or Asatru). Old Norse sources show seidr included prophecy and some kinds of interaction between different worlds of the Old Norse cosmology, including communication with ancestors and other spirits. This research aims to expand the understanding of contemporary seidr in Britain, Scandinavia, and the Netherlands, comparing practices and experiences of different oracular seidr practitioners, and if they contributed to different personal worldviews or cosmologies.

Hanne Skagen

The 'sacred' within 'secular' conditions

This study explored the 'holy' in contemporary Norway, the word 'holy' or 'sacred' are traditionally used within the context of the Norwegian protestant church, which was the state church until 2012. From then on these two institutions separated and the Norwegian church are now on equal footing with other religions and spiritualities. In light of these social changes eighteen informants were asked to describe associations and experiences with the 'sacred' for investigating what it reflects within the considered 'secular' condition.

Sanaa Taha

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University of Wales Trinity Saint David
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Tel: 01570 422351

London Campus

University of Wales Trinity Saint David
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11 Cranmer Road
London, SW9 6EJ
Tel: 0207 566 7600

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