My husband and I discussed a Hand-fasting in Cornwall. We were married 11 years previously in a registry office with no spiritual ceremony. My husband’s friends were atheists and my parents would not attend a church other than their own. As my husband and I now shared a spiritual path, a Hand-fasting seemed more appropriate. Our Morris tutors kindly agreed to be our celebrants, so we forged ahead with planning.
My husband seemed reluctant to network with the Pagan community in Cornwall. On our next visit to the Witchcraft Museum, I conversed with the owner, but my husband did not participate in the conversation and went ahead to look around the Museum. Just before we left, I thanked the owner for his time and my husband left without acknowledging him. This caused some embarrassment as the owner watched him as he walked out. When I spoke to my husband about his action he stated that he would not always speak to create an ‘air of mystery’ about himself. I did not consider this a wise move from one who plans to live in the area.
After our vacation, I visited a local spiritualist church for the first time. The church was situated in the adjacent street to the one my parents attended.
Opposite the spiritualist church was a small memorial garden with a tall statue of an angel in the centre.
I remembered passing this church during childhood late on a Thursday evening when travelling home from our church. As the spiritualist church members leaving my mother described them as evil. I frequently dreamt of the church and the dark memorial gardens opposite, hence the reason I chose to attend.
I was determined to experience the reality rather than believe in hearsay and was pleasantly surprised to find the members warm and welcoming on an evening when the moon was full. I discovered they hosted workshops and psychic development circles. A mature motherly woman explained that it did not matter what religion we were as spirit and the afterlife connected us all. To be recognized in society as a church they included Christian practices. I attended one of their workshops and was encouraged to try giving a psychic message to another member. I held ribbons that a member unknown to me had touched and the messages I sensed were correct. A young female member of the church observed my work and invited me to her new development circle. I accepted the invitation and continued my development there. I was taught previously in my parents religion that life after death did not exist, therefore I wanted to research this myself.
The Gardnarian Priestess from our Morris team approached the tutors about joining their coven. She attained her second degree within the Gardnarian path of Wicca, but would need to begin again within the Alexandrian path. It seemed she hoped to keep her position and still be a part of their coven. Gardnarian and Alexandrian paths have some similarities as Gerald Gardner and Alex Sanders received their training within the same coven. I approached our tutors at the Whitby folk festival regarding their coven, but they wanted to settle the other priestess into the group before taking on more members. The female tutor did not approve of my attendance at the spiritualist church and my Reiki courses as these were not Pagan pursuits.
During the evenings, I sat at the threshold of our home to watch the summer activities. I observed the dark footpath leading to the woodland and the trees swaying in the breeze creating sounds of whispering voices. I was fascinated by the small bats swooping and circling the trees, at times they were solitary and then returned within a group.
A small black cat belonging to our neighbour would sit beside me each night and was occasionally playful. The night air calmed the senses and I slept well at night. I drank water that was left out under the moon’s rays to energize me during the day.
A few problems arose within the Morris team caused by hostile ex members who were in contact with our younger members. We were new to the team at this time so were not involved. We missed two practices which was unusual for us as we were reliable members. The tutors contacted us hoping we would stay with them as they were pleased with our progress and thought we had much in common.
The Gardnarian Priestess had not committed to our tutor’s coven and she attended our Autumn Equinox ritual. It took place at the small woodland belonging to my in-laws. I set up the altar upon a small table and explained to the priestess the ritual we had thought of and we combined our ideas. As she invoked the elemental spirits, she outstretched her arms and her posture changed as her back hunched and she spoke with a gravelly whispering voice. My college friend and I were fascinated by this transformation. We enjoyed a wonderful ritual on a beautiful, sunny autumn day. I discovered the priestess had at one time worked magically with the Scottish man we visited in London. She assisted as priestess in his coven but unfortunately their parting was not an amicable one. As we enjoyed our ritual together we discussed meeting again.
The Gardnarian Priestess later suggested we form a working group. She decided not to join our tutor’s coven and they seemed supportive of her forming a group with us. There were five members, my college friend, my husband, another male Morris member, the Priestess and I. Her younger boyfriend was also a member of the Morris team and was not Pagan but had a strong affinity with trees and woodland. He accompanied her to our group meetings as a helper.
The group members attended a Halloween event in London and the Morris team were required to perform there. The Priestess introduced me to renowned Pagans that she considered friends. This impressed me as I had read about these people in Pagan publications. The couple we met during the eclipse had set up their stall and I introduced our priestess to them and told them about our new group. They recommended their coven priest if we needed one to assist.
At this event an attractive belly dancer performed on the stage. Our Morris tutor informed us she was their high priestess who had initiated them. My priestess had mentioned that one of the requirements for a third degree initiation was that female initiates would copulate with their priest and male initiates with their priestess. I was uncomfortable with this information, but was a long way off from a third degree initiation. Curiosity got the better of me and I asked our Morris tutor if he received his third degree initiation from the belly dancer by giving himself to her. He explained that the Great Rite was only for married couples and seemed shocked by the question and hastily retreated. I later discovered it was not obligatory to perform the Great Rite which can be undertaken by token symbolism.
It was at this event I purchased my first amber necklace to wear within the magical circle. Amber is ideal for dispersing negative energies.
My priestess informed me that after a second degree initiation a necklace of amber and jet is worn. A magical ring is also required on the index finger of the initiates right hand. The Halloween event was a success and Pagans were now familiar with me and I had informative conversations with them.