Our Morris tutors invited us to their Halloween party along with other members of the team. They lived in a beautiful Victorian town house.
The kitchen/diner was in the basement and had wonderful slate flooring and an open fire. Large antique candelabras stood near the oak table and I noticed that the melted wax from the candles had formed intricate shapes while the flickering candlelight gave the room a wonderful ambience. The charming décor of their home emphasized their impeccable taste. This event enabled us to become better acquainted with other members of the Morris team. The hosts were vegetarian, therefore the buffet did not include meat. During the evening I discovered they had Pagan beliefs as they spoke little about their lives during practices. One member of the Morris team was more forthcoming about herself and her involvement within the Pagan scene. She frequently ‘name dropped’ regarding the renowned Pagans she knew personally. Later that evening a large iron cauldron was brought into the kitchen and members of the team were actively involved in ‘apple bobbing’. This is accomplished by retrieval of an apple from the water using only your mouth and towels provided for all participants. Our Morris team were at this time, the only ones who wore black. Each team attempted to wear different colours for identification purposes. We learnt more about the tradition of Morris dancing.
“It is a result of more than 500 years of the evolution of a dance. Yes, morris dancing was well known in England before the Spanish Armada, the Gunpowder Plot and even the Wars of the Roses. It is probable the term morris developed from the French word morisque (meaning a dance, the dance), which became morisch in Flemish, and then the English moryssh, moris and finally morris. Flanders in the fifteenth century was an innovative cultural centre, and strongly influenced European culture in general. The earliest confirmation of a performance of morris dancing in England dates from London on 19 May 1448, when Moryssh daunsers were paid 7s (35p) for their services. By Elizabethan times it was already considered to be an ancient dance, and references appear to it in a number of early plays. Many called for a dance or jig to be performed by the leading actor. One of the most popular actors of the time was Will Kemp and, for a wager during Lent in 1599/1600 (when the roads would be exceedingly bad!), he danced from London to Norwich The Nine Daies Wonder (although he started on the first Monday in Lent, and arrived at Easter). Large numbers of spectators turned out to cheer him on and check his progress. Throughout its history in England, morris dancing has been through many manifestations. Five hundred years ago it was a dance for one or two; today it is for four or more. Accounts of morris dancing can be found throughout England, making it a nationwide phenomenon. ” The Morris Ring
Out tutors told us that in history it was documented that men would dance and play music on the streets for extra money due to employers paying a minimal wage. They disguised themselves by blacking their faces with soot and turning their coats inside out. Morris men today keep the tradition of blacking their faces and wearing tatters to represent the torn lining of the coats.
We attended our first Pagan Federation Conference in November 1999 at the Fairfield Halls, Croydon. We met the couple we befriended in Cornwall earlier that year as they were selling their crafts which I thought were more appropriate for a Pagan event than a re-enactment. Speakers provided talks in various rooms and there were more stalls selling occult merchandise and books. The people that attended were dressed in ritual costume and their images reminded me of characters from fairytales and magical movies. My son happily explored the venue and I felt he was able to do so in a safe, relaxed environment.
My husband and I eventually left the Egyptian group. One of the reasons for this decision was that the Priestess arranged for our group to attend a summer solstice event at Stonehenge, but cancelled at short notice. This upset my husband as he took time out of work to attend. We were also let down with other group arrangements and therefore decided it was time to move on.
I attended psychic development circles for two years and during my research discovered a book entitled the Scole Experiment by Grant and Jane Solomon. It related the experiences of four spiritualists who researched life after death using scientific experimentation with physical phenomena. Their results and documented evidence are fascinating. My husband and I attended the final Scole seminar in Norfolk at the village hall adjacent to the period cottage where the experiments took place.
A room in the cellar was an ideal place to achieve total darkness.
I met the group members who gave talks about their experiences. There were photographic slides and recordings of spirit voices. It was at this seminar we met three people who hosted their own psychic development circle about ten miles from our place of residence. Contact numbers were exchanged and we agreed to meet again.
The couple we befriended within the Egyptian group visited and informed us they had also left the group. I discussed the Scole Experiment with them and showed them a small instruction book on how to set up experiments. They were interested in my plans to begin a physical phenomena circle and eager to participate. We had a spare room since my daughter left home, so I followed the instructions carefully and set up the room. Total darkness was required and windows had to be sealed. Nothing electrical could be used within the room as the currents would supposedly interfere with creation of phenomena. A battery operated compact disc player was used for music and I placed quartz crystals on the table to act as energy conductors. The handbook also suggested placing a large glass dome at the centre of the table to collect energy. Objects upon the table required luminous tape and wristbands so that any movements could be seen. A reader of the Spiritual Scientist magazine had seen my advertisement for members and asked if he could attend the circle. He had experimented with infra-red photography and electronic voice phenomena since the 1970s. When we arranged to meet he brought along his photographic portfolio of visits to haunted places and psychic circles where spirit mediums produced ectoplasm while in trance. The ectoplasm to me, looked similar to a long strip of folded paper that came out of the medium’s mouth and another photograph of ectoplasm had the appearance of latex gloves tucked into the ears. One of the mediums in the photographs eventually became a renowned medium that hosted his own television show.
We attempted photographic experiments and laid out unexposed Polaroid prints on a table within the darkened room. After the psychic session we inserted them back into the camera (practice was needed for this) before turning on the lights. We then developed the photos using the camera with the lens covered so as not to record any images. There were strange effects on the photographs considering they had not been exposed to light in any way.
There were further requests from other readers of the Spiritual Scientist magazine to attend the circle. The type of music played that caused the strongest reaction was from the wartime period with artists such as Glenn Miller and ‘Swing Bands’. While meditating in the darkness, I opened my eyes and observed dark silhouettes surrounded by a blue haze of light. When music played there were small flashes of light from different areas of the room and on one occasion I observed an orange glow between myself and the adjacent person who also witnessed it. A white waxy substance coated the crystals that stood on the table. The physical circle continued for two years and although we achieved some fascinating results, some members of the group could no longer commit to attending weekly. Total commitment was required from members in order to achieve results. After the circle closed, the man who studied the electronic voice phenomena and infa red photography remained in contact.
Our tutors from the Morris team surprised us with an unexpected visit on a Sunday afternoon while out on their motorcycle. We conversed on many subjects and discovered they were initiates in the Alexandrian path of Wicca. This particular path appealed to me as it involved with Egyptian deities. Their occupations were closely associated with ours and they thought it amusing that the Morris team had four male members connected to law enforcement.
During my Aromatherapy and Reflexology courses, I met a young woman nearing the end of her Beauty Therapy course. She discussed her interest in Paganism with her colleagues and her tutors suggested she spoke to me. After our introduction we were frequently in contact.
At the end of each day I would leave the college exhausted from the course work. As I entered the car park I was aware of the moon shining down on me with her motherly presence. She would accompany me on my journey home most evenings and I developed a relationship with her as ‘mother moon’ due to her peaceful and comforting presence.