I visited a marketplace in Kent with various stalls selling a mix of new and vintage items. I was drawn to a stall displaying hanging crystals glistening in the sunlight accompanied by beautiful music. I studied the crystals gently turning and swinging in the breeze on this warm summer day and felt something stir deep within. I enquired about the music and discovered it was from an album called “Daintree Dreamtime” by Ken Davis. I purchased the album and when I hear it, it is a reminder me of my initial ‘awakening’.
The ‘new age’ occult scene had not fully emerged and I was unsure where to find any information on witchcraft. I even searched the Yellow Pages directory under W for witchcraft which on reflection I find rather amusing.
My mother in law invited us to her yearly birthday barbecue that summer. She had purchased a five acre woodland from friends of ours and thought it the perfect venue.
A large gateway gave access to the land and a row of tall trees stood proudly at the borders. The soft bark and leaves were crunching beneath my feet and as I walked further down the path the area widened out to an expanse of tall trees standing close together. I inhaled the wonderful aroma of wild garlic and listened to the small stream. It was indeed a magical place, but as it was fifty miles away from home, we did not visit the woodland as often as we would have liked.
My mother in law invited her friends to the barbecue and as they were unable to attend, their daughter and her family attended in their place. When we were introduced I noticed the woman wore a pentacle and I smelt the strong aroma of patchouli oil on her. I had worn a pentacle that day purchased at my first Psychic Fayre in Tunbridge Wells.
This was not the first time I had met someone who called themselves a witch. Ten years previously I was introduced to a married couple who claimed they were witches. My friends were interested in them and wanted to know more, but I hastily departed concerned about the warnings given from past religious teachings.
It delighted me to discover the woman at the barbecue was a witch who had knowledge of Paganism. I had so many questions to ask and our discussion began, but I noticed my mother in law’s discomfort as this was her birthday party and she had Christian beliefs. Her occupation was nurse tutor and she had attained a high position within the medical profession. My mother in law disagreed with most complementary therapies and stated that anything known an “ology” was there to deceive people and exploit them financially. She disapproved of my past occupation as a photographic model as in her opinion women should use their brains to get on in life rather than their bodies. I explained to her how my first husband was obsessed with photographic models and I attempted to be the type of person he admired. She was judgemental but as time passed I discovered that she also had a hidden past and not as perfect as she tried to appear.
The witch from the barbecue lived only three miles from me and invited me to her home. She was a sturdily built woman with short dark hair, spectacles and wore long crushed velvet attire. She lived in a two bedroom flat that accommodated her partner and their four children. As I entered her flat, I smelt wonderful incense and from her music system the voice of a woman sang to the solitary beat of a drum. I studied her altar tools laid out on a small tiled hearth and she explained their uses. I had imagined something more elaborate but was fascinated by their simplicity. The witch lent me a copy of the Pagan Dawn magazine which advertised local events and contacts plus interesting articles on various paths of Paganism. She followed the path of a hedge witchery and offered me books to read one with the title “Hedge Witch” by Rae Beth and “Witchcraft for Beginners” by Teresa Moorey.
It was late afternoon when I left her home with my arms full of literature. I subscribed to the magazine immediately and purchased a large folder to begin writing my journal. I copied out the Sabbat rituals from Teresa Moorey’s book and have referred to aspects of those rituals throughout my journey combining them with later rituals. My spiritual path has evolved considerably over the years, however some aspects remain constant.
The witch invited me to a local moot and the people there were welcoming, friendly and relaxed. I met a young woman who was raised within the same religion as myself and found it helpful to converse with someone with a similar childhood. She suggested I visit a Scottish man residing in London as he would give me more information on Pagan development and events.
My husband and I travelled to London on his motorcycle. I did not g often ride as a pillion passenger, but it was an easier way to travel through London as this man lived in an apartment near the Thames River. He was an amiable relaxed man, stockily built with long fair hair and spoke with a broad Scottish accent. As he stirred our mugs of tea he told us he was vegan, but kept milk in his fridge for guests. It was the first time I had met a vegan and I wondered how he could maintain a healthy diet without dairy products. As time passed I met other vegans and acquired more knowledge on the subject. He spoke about his view of paganism in a matter of fact way, but warned us that we would meet many “space cadets” during our journey and how right he was!! As we conversed I observed a large red velvet curtain separating an area of the room. Behind it was the temple for his Coven and even though I was curious to see it, I did not think it appropriate to ask. He suggested we attended some of the London events particularly the Beltane and Halloween gatherings at the Conway Halls. He advised us to continue attending local moots, but also to take our time as the right path would eventually appear. My husband agreed with this advice, but I hungered for knowledge and experience! My patience was tested at this time, even though I had already waited far too long to find this way of life. I had sufficient information in the books I borrowed to begin my personal study of the Craft. It was eleven years until I returned to Cornwall for another vacation. The furthest West we travelled during this time was for our honeymoon in Torquay Devon and visits to my husband’s cousins near Bath.
My husband suggested that when we visited Cornwall we would try a different area for a vacation rather than familiar places. He suggested north Cornwall and assured me I would love it. He described it as rugged, natural and not as commercialized. We were unable to afford accommodation due to the negative equity trap with mortgages in the early nineties, so we borrowed a caravan from two considerate friends.
We arrived at Trevethy campsite situated on the cliffs and the wind was intense, so erecting the awning was quite a challenge! My children explored the site on their bicycles.
Tintagel is breathtaking and has a fascinating history. We heard of a storyteller at Camelot Hotel and took the children to see her. My son had a fascination for dragons and adored the story about the local Post Office that had a curved roof due to a dragon sitting upon it. There were other spooky stories she told that have stayed in my son’s memory throughout his life.
Tintagel awakened deep feelings within me, especially when standing upon the cliffs looking out to sea. I could spend hours there watching, listening and sensing the energies. I discovered wonderful shops in the small town that sold magical books, occult jewellery, statues of Deities and more enchanting music. I was unable to purchase anything at this time, but as time passed and our financial situation improved, I then indulged!
The quaint Post Office, King Arthur’s Halls, Merlin’s Cave (which was once a Museum as well as a crystal and jewellery shop) were wonderful. King Arthur’s castle ruins are stunning and steeped in ancient history.
Whether or not the legends are true, it is certainly a place that activates the imagination! With the small amount of money I had, I purchased an album that day entitled “The Sorcerer” by Phil Thornton.
I enjoyed the throbbing tribal beat which is ideal for raising energy. I could also hear within the music an occasional buzzing sound that I later discovered was a bull roarer. Much further into my journey I discovered why this sound resonated. I played this music back at the campsite when my daughter and I sat in the family car, but unfortunately had to keep the volume low so as not to disturb the other campers.
My husband’s colleague suggested we visit Boscastle and the Witchcraft Museum during our vacation as he thought it would interest us. The car journey to Boscastle is as mysterious and magical as the village itself. We travelled along narrow lanes and at one point we were high upon the hills where you can see Boscastle in the valley below. We followed the narrow road that took us deeper into the valley and we descended into yet another mysterious world!
I was unsure what to expect when we visited the Museum, but I loved the location. We explored the harbour at first and went out to the furthest point. We sat upon the rocks to listen to the sea for a while.
On entering the Museum, I was surprised by the presentation. Even though I had little experience in witchcraft, I expected it to be different as it had a clinical atmosphere with bright fluorescent lighting. One particular display stood out from the rest and stayed in my memory was the life-size model of an attractive young woman laid upon her back across an altar.
Being new to the Craft, I did not understand the symbolism of a woman lying in this position. A display such as this seen by someone without the correct knowledge could be a little disturbed!
The photographs and artwork in the Museum contained frequent nudity. I observed a painting of a naked female lying on the floor at a hearth with a green horned spirit hovering above her. Another illustration was of a man who was half goat from the waist down. The facial features, hair and beard resembled my husband which amused my children! A large horned goat god sat upon an antique chair in the corner of the room. Its eyes were bright and shiny giving life to the animal. As I looked into them I felt as though it attempted to tell me something as it is indeed a powerful figure.
It shocked me to read about ‘witch hunts’ and the hideous tortures that mostly women, suffered when accused of witchcraft. They were merely unique people in their community, some possessed gifts of natural healing and others were singled out from jealousy they aroused within others. Attractive women were blamed by men with a lack of self-control claiming bewitchment. This information gave me more doubts about Christianity who warn that witchcraft is evil when they themselves were guilty of such horrendous treatment towards other humans.
I conversed with the Museum owner and enquired about local magical rituals and practices. He spoke about his group venturing out onto the moors during the dark moon phase where it was impossible to see their hands in front of their faces in the darkness. He was understandably careful as to the information he disclosed as many people visited the Museum with questions. I wished I lived locally to become involved with the Museum and its activities, but that time had not yet arrived.