Our lives changed remarkably after our Handfasting. The rooms of our home that were previously decorated with Laura Ashley wallpaper had a dramatic change due to my experimentation with purple paint on our pale pink walls using a bath sponge.
Not everyone approved particularly my in laws. Our social life before this consisted of attending and hosting dinner parties for friends of my husband. He had known them since childhood and one of them had married his sister. My husband seemed comfortable with them and had sought their advice or approval on his life decisions. They were most upset when he decided on a family planning medical procedure without first discussing it with them. They began to exclude us from their dinner parties when my husband acquired a ‘ready made family’ as their circle of friends had no children at this time. They disapproved of my husband’s involvement in ‘strange’ activities such as Morris dancing and Paganism.
In the past we attended various clubs and parties that could be viewed as ‘different’. I met my husband at a naturist club I frequented as photographic modelling assignments were there. My husband chose to do something different and apart from his usual group of friends, which was the reason he had discovered this place. Even though he became part of the Pagan life, I sensed he was not completely comfortable. I suspected he agreed to our Handfasting ceremony to please me. He had been supportive and encouraged my development over the years and I would not have achieved the things I had without that.
My pen friend sent a letter to me expressing how much she enjoyed the Handfasting ceremony and the Morris dancing in Boscastle. Unfortunately she did not thank us for the two nights in our caravan which gave more fuel to my husband’s assumption that Pagans took advantage.
About a month after our Handfasting we arranged to visit our tutors to discuss joining their coven. I knew my former Priestess had feared this, but I knew they were good tutors and their group would be well structured. After an in-depth discussion, they agreed to take us as members. My husband agreed to joining as my new Priestess would not accept me into the group without him. Much preparation was needed leading up to our initiation and the previous members had shown no interest in returning to the group.
We followed instructions to exorcise our athames and this process took two weeks. Our robes also required hoods and we purchased four red cords, each one had to be nine feet in length.
During one of our Morris events I discovered the other male Morris member had decided to join the coven. We were delighted. I had missed working magically with him and he handled the past situation with our former Priestess well.
I learnt to distance myself from other members’ problems within the Morris team which at times was not easy. I concentrated on the performance and team work. I took on the position of Squire, arranging order of performance with Squires of other Morris teams at events. I also became Foreperson teaching the dances to our female team.
The Morris team performed at the Lammas festival in Eastbourne. We attended their seasonal ritual which was also the full moon. It was a fabulous weekend and the first time they had a public ritual on Eastbourne beach. Passers by paused to observe the proceedings, some were genuinely interested and others thought it amusing, but whatever the opinion it made an impression.
After this event we visited Cornwall for three days to meet our friends at the Battle of Camlann re-enactment. It was another wonderful opportunity to sit by the sea listening to the voices within the waves and connecting with the elements. Breathing the clean air while listening to the cry of the gulls is fabulous and at that moment there was nowhere else I would rather be. We also visited the Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle and the owner looked at the photographs of our Handfasting. I observed how carefully he handled the album and when he turned the pages he did so with the utmost care due to his experience in handling precious Museum artefacts. I had heard of the Devon and Cornwall Pagan Federation seminars at Camelot Hotel in Tintagel each year. My former Priestess attended one and thought them small compared to our London events. She enjoyed the intimate atmosphere there and although I hoped to attend we could not afford a vacation and an extra journey to Cornwall again in March. Our new Priestess and Priest took their vacation in Cornwall as they had no time to explore during our previous visit. Other members of our Morris team also returned to Tintagel and Boscastle as they enjoyed their visit with us.
We discovered that Crackington Haven beach has an abundance of phallic shaped stones. We collected some of them for my friends and our group to place on their altars.
I was a little unsure about the requirement of being ‘sky-clad’ for our nearing initiation. Even though I had been a photographic model and attended a naturist club, this situation would be totally different. I had worked ‘sky clad’ during solitary magical work which felt comfortable and natural.
My husband and I were initiated on the same evening and placed in separate rooms before we were individually guided to the temple. When sky-clad, blindfolded with hands and arms bound it gives one vulnerability. I sat upon a chair awaiting them to guide me and an energy that felt like long spindly fingers crept up my body from feet to head. I heard the pacing and chanting in the temple above me as the energy was raised. My Priestess gently guided me to the temple as I slowly climbed two flights of stairs. Before I entered I felt the sharp pressure of the sword on my chest. The initiation ceremony was beautiful and when my bonds were released I felt a strong sense of rebirth as though I was seeing everything for the first time. My husband was initiated after me and I noticed he had moved his arms out of the cords and attempted to wind them around his arms as he held them in the original position. The Priestess would have noticed this and his reaction would provide her with insight. I have not divulged all details of the ceremony as all initiations are different and secret.
My husband and I travelled 22 miles each week to visit our Priestess’ home and copy by hand from their Book of Shadows. We sat at the kitchen table and copied two or three of the ninety-nine pages. On one occasion I attended alone while my husband was at work and on his return he copied those pages from my notes. On our next visit we began copying from the same page and our Priestess remarked that my husband did not finish on that particular page last time he attended. He explained he copied the pages from my notes and was instructed that any copying should be only from their book. I understood this as if I made a mistake it would be copied by him, but my husband was not pleased about that. Our training in the coven progressed, but I sensed our other male member still felt some guilt about leaving our former Priestess. My husband also attempted to take ‘short cuts’ during his training which did not bode well.
My daughter and I were in contact again and she had given birth to a son, but was separated from her boyfriend. I was now a grandparent in my thirties and it took some time for me to become accustomed to that.
My Priestess invited me to one of her advanced Yoga classes. When I visited her home was quiet with no music or television, only the ticking and chiming of their antique clocks. The decor in the town house was Victorian and it was almost as though I had gone back in time. My husband was uncomfortable with silence as our priestess did not instigate any conversation and he would talk constantly about himself to break the silence. Our Priestess commented on his inability to handle silence. On occasions when I was alone with them I was happy to sit there without conversing and it reminded me of psychiatrists who sat quietly so that clients would then have to speak. Our Priestess had a degree in psychology so she would have been aware of this. I found this fascinating!