From Ghosts to Witchcraft Events: Best Places in Sheffield for the Paranormal and Occult Enthusiasts
Are you looking to get more in touch with your inner self, the forces of metaphysics around us, or just to have some fun? Sheffield is home to much more that its vibrant academic community, its renowned food and drink festivals, or its vast variety of clubs and bars that make up a vibrant nightlife scene. If you are into trying out something different, Sheffield is also famous for its deep links to the paranormal and the occult. From witchcraft temples to haunted roads, this city and its surrounding area can satisfy your curiosity beyond your wildest imagination.
Sheffield and the Origins of the Occult
First thing’s first: Sheffield is a magical city – both in the metaphorical sense and literally. Patricia and Arnold Crowther, both influential Wiccans and instrumental in the promotion of Wicca, a 20th century Pagan duotheistic movement that has deep connections to witchcraft and ceremonial magic, although its de-centralised character makes it slightly hard to pin down. The pair also had met key figures in the occult tradition, such as the infamous Aleister Crowley, as well as Gerald Gardner, widely recognised as the “Father” of the Wiccan movement – and who also officiated their private wedding. The Crowthers married in 1960 and spent their lives in Sheffield, where they were both active in promoting Wicca, founded the Sheffield Coven and also saw Arnold’s autobiography, titled Hand in Glove, be turned into a radio series by BBC Radio and broadcast in Sheffield, Leeds and Bristol.
In the 2011 UK Population census, 11,766 people identified as Wiccan and 56,620 as Pagan. Although both were surpassed by almost 177,000 bold individuals who identified as “Jedi Knights”, there must be quite a few thousand who actively practice Wicca across Britain. Patricia still lives in Sheffield, but she is a very private person, we’ve been told. If you are looking to investigate Sheffield’s roots with the occult a bit further, there are places you can visit, including the Sheffield Goddess Temple on London Road. As per their dedicated Facebook page, they regularly run events, from arts and crafts workshops to rituals and religious experiences. If you’d like a little less committed first encounter, you can visit the Airy Fairy Cafe & Gift Shop (the Temple is located above it), where you can peer through anything and everything magic-related, from books and meditation CDs to crystals and tarot cards; or just pop in for a relaxing tea and a slice of home-made, organic, vegetarian cake.
Fortune-Telling and Astrology
If you are not keen on witchcraft but are interested in people predicting your future by reading your palm or laying a few tarot cards in front of you, then Sheffield again does not disappoint. Without naming names, the city is home to many psychics and mediums, all keen to help you find peace of mind through reading the signs, be it cards, your hand or your zodiac sign. Our local psychics are very modern and some also offer readings through Skype or will travel to your house for a tarot card reading party.
Despite obvious lack of scientific proof, all these methods were once held in high regard by the general public as foolproof ways to predict your future or communicate with the afterlife – and they still captivate us, as pop culture proves. From entertainment to mainstream media, cultural references to astrology are numerous, as it has inspired music like Edwin Carr’s 1974 symphony orchestra piece, The Twelve Signs: An Astrological Entertainment, commissioned by the Wellington-based New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, games like Squaresoft’s Final Fantasy Tactics where Zodiac Stones and Zodiac Braves feature heavily in the plot, or in other extreme circumstances in iGaming, like casino sites Betway’s astrology-themed Lucky Zodiac five-reel online slot. In fact, the latter casino game focuses on the world-renowned Chinese zodiac system, which focuses on the year a person was born rather than the month, as is customary in Western astrology. There are even acclaimed books like Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries, set in the 1860s New Zealand gold rush, which also received the 2013 Man Booker prize.
Ghost Sightings and Hunts
If this option does not seem exciting enough for you, let’s try ghosts – luckily, Sheffield is also home to one of the UK’s most haunted roads, the Stockbridge Bypass, located roughly 30 minutes away from Sheffield by car and connecting the Woodhead Pass to the M1 motorway at Junction 35a, is also known as the “Killer Road”. Many locals and travelers have reported that they have experienced strange sightings there, beginning with construction workers back in 1987, before the bypass opened to the public in 1988. Paranormal sightings usually include figures dancing around in quaint clothes and chains rattling. The culprit for all this is believed to be the spectre of a local monk who was buried here after a falling out with the Church.
Groups regularly set up ghost huntings and Ouija board séances at other Sheffield landmarks that are rumoured to be ghost-friendly, like the old Sheffield Fire and Police Museum or the Wortley Top Forge. Mosborough Hall has also gained a reputation as one of Britain’s most haunted hotels, with spectres like the White Lady and a big black dog allegedly roaming its halls now and then. If you are more into DIY ghost hunting, then perhaps hang around a Sheffield social housing spot long enough. Poltergeists here seem to have a particular affection for social housing projects: it was reported by InsideHousing in 2013 that the Sheffield Council received 47 individual reports about supernatural and spectre sightings from 2003 to 2013 – that translates to 64% of all social housing ghost sightings in the UK within those 10 years. Quite the record!
Whatever your connection with the supernatural, there is no denying that there is plenty to see and plenty to do in Sheffield – if you can only set your skepticism aside for the day!