The Cunning Men and Wise Women of Old

A relevant article featuring George Pickingill a fascinating cunning man.

Today the popular image of witchcraft in the mass media and in books and magazines is largely defined by ‘Wicca’, a form of neo-pagan witchcraft created by a retired English civil servant called Gerald Brosseau Gardner (1884–1964) in the 1940s. It is now established worldwide as a post-modern, ‘nature religion’ with a spiritual emphasis on Goddess worship. Modern witchcraft, however, did not begin with Gardner and it has a hidden history before Wicca. This history has connections with the famous occultist Aleister Crowley and also with Australia.
From the 1800s onwards there were several revivals of witchcraft in Britain based on historical precedents. These forms of pre-Wiccan witchcraft are variously known today as traditional witchcraft or ‘Traditional Craft’, the ‘Old Craft’ or ‘Elder Craft’, the ‘Sabbatic Craft’, ‘The Nameless Arte’, and ‘The Crooked Path’. There is also plenty of evidence from historical sources, folklore accounts, court cases and, later, newspaper reports in Britain, of the activities of ‘cunning folk’ and other practitioners of folk magic. In popular terminology and belief they were variously known as ‘white witches’, ‘wizards’, ‘sorcerers’, conjurors’, ‘pellars’, ‘planet readers’ (astrologers), and ‘hedge doctors’ (herbalists). These magical practitioners operated widely in both the rural and urban areas of the British Isles and they were consulted by all levels of society from farm labourers to the owners of large country estates.
These cunning folk or ‘white witches’ offered a wide range of services to their clients. They were popularly believed to possess the Sight (the ability to foresee the future and events at a distance, now called ‘remote viewing’ by parapsychologists), exorcise ghosts and banish spirits and poltergeists, cast spells to attract love and money, locate lost or stolen property and missing people using divination or by consulting spirits, and heal the sick using the ‘laying on of hands’ or herbal remedies. Most importantly, as far as their clients were concerned, they could counter the malefic spells cast by so-called ‘grey’ or ‘black’ witches. In some cases the cunning man or wise-woman acted for the general population and the authorities as unofficial witch-finders. However, all types of witches were believed to be able to cure and curse, hex and heal.
Although there are obvious similarities with some of the modern magical practices carried out by Wiccans, most of the methods and techniques used by the old-time witches bear little resemblance to those used by the neo-pagan witches who appear today in the press or on television. Often the cunning folk practiced dual faith observance and the charms, amulets, prayers and incantations they used invoked Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the Trinity and the company of saints. Psalms were used for magical purposes as spells and they still are in some modern traditional witchcraft circles. With the coming of the new religion of Christianity and the suppression of ancient paganism, objects such as the cross, saints’ medallions and even holy water were widely used by folk magicians because they were believed to possess ‘virtue’ or magical energy and had inherent healing power.
Read more here New Dawn Magazine
Advertisements

Springtime and Sea Conjuring

We are now seeing the signs of Spring and during our journey to Sennen Cove I noticed the vibrant yellow flowers on the gorse and the white blackthorn flowers now in bloom along the hedgerows. The sun shone today, however the breeze still carries winter’s chill. Sennen cove car park was full and many people were on the beach either surfing, walking their pets or playing games with their children.
I had work to do for a client and on a beach as large as Sennen, it is easy to find an area where one can spend time alone. As I walked to my chosen area, a ‘seaweed besom’ welcomed me, so I grasped the handle and took it to the sea.
I connected with the sea spirits and awaited their response.

It was then time to work.

The circle is drawn for an ‘area of focus’ as the sea spirits along with the other elements naturally surround one with their protective energies.

 

I mix a special recipe for libations to the spirits.

There is constant communication with the sea spirits during this process.

The seaweed ‘besom’ works well on the sand.

It sweeps away anything no longer required and is then cleansed within the sea.

 

Just beside the working space lay a small mound of sea lettuce that I used as a garnish on my dinner.

A productive afternoon. On my return home I received feedback from my client:
“Dear Laetitia
I felt transported during the hour. Still feel released and greatly revived. No going back now. Oddly, I feel free of karma. I hadn’t realised that was something that I wanted.
Thank you so much. A”
With thanks to wonderful Cassandra for her continued support and the photographs.

Celebrants for Handfasting March 2019

Cassandra and I were Celebrants for a Handfasting three days after the Spring Equinox. This occasion was particularly unusual, as the couple had discussed having a ceremony for some time and then the bride decided to arrange the ceremony as a surprise for the groom. This meant the preparations were not as straightforward as the ceremonies we were accustomed to.
The venue chosen was the ATV Centre in Blackwater near Truro. There is an area of woodland next to the race track where we were able to perform the ceremony. We arrived to set up the space during early evening while there was light and soon after that darkness fell.

 

To conduct a Handfasting ceremony in woodland on a dark evening can be quite a challenge, although lights were hung within the trees and one of the guests offered to turn on his car headlights.
The ceremony however went well and our excellent professional photographer John Isaac managed to capture some wonderful images in somewhat challenging circumstances.
We wish the lovely couple every happiness for the future.

 

.

 

 

 

 

Feedback:
“Hi guys it was amazing and a huge huge thank you for a wonderful evening and for recommending john he is such a great guy. All of my friends commented on what an amazing ceremony it was. Thank you so much for being so understanding and being so professional and carrying on with the ceremony despite the difficulties. As for the honey moon drink……
Thank you so much for an amazing event. ” D.E.

Cunning Folk Magic Workshop at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic

This workshop is now FULL!

Cassandra and I are delighted to have been invited by Simon Costin to do a workshop on the 7th September 2019 at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic.

The workshop will be from 11am to 5pm and the schedule for the day will be:

What is Cunning Craft and how it differs from other Pagan paths.
Dispelling Myths of the Old Ways
The attitude needed for its development
Working with a clientèle
(Lunch break)
Discussion on Folk Magic Spellwork:
Wort Cunning (working with plants and herbs)
‘Pinning the Devil’
Doggeral
Contact items
Raising Energy
Wart charming
Witch Bottles/Jars
You will then receive guidance to create a personal witch bottle spell.
The fee is £30 per person, we ask a £10 deposit to confirm your place (contact us for details of how to do this).
Bring to the workshop a bottle or jar with a secure seal.

St Pirans Day 2019

It was a wild windy day when Boekka ventured out to celebrate St Pirans Day in Redruth. Boekka has attended this event for the past 7 years.  I was unable to attend this year due to work commitments which meant my two apprentice Teazers and new rider had to perform alone. I work hard training them just as Cassandra did with me and we would not lightly hand the position over to just anyone, so I had the utmost confidence in their abilities.  I received excellent feedback on how fabulous they were and members of the public described Boekka and Whippletree as the happiest group at the event. I am proud of them all!
See the wonderful photographs below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read about the history of St Pirans Day

Sabbats and Seasonal Festivals

The Dark Season of Samhain – Celtic New year

Ancient Origins of Samhain

Mythology and Folklore
Heathen Harvest
Celebrations
Cassandra and I attend our community celebrations, we travel to North Cornwall to organize the All Hallows Gathering in Boscastle. The event is occurs outside the wonderful Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (and this is the ONLY SEASONAL EVENT we are associated with In Boscastle) on the weekend leading up to or on Samhain.
Early in the evening at Samhain we begin our personal celebration in the village of St Buryan when local residents escort their children around the village for ‘Trick or Treating’ and they visit a real Wise Woman’s cottage. We also visit the St Buryan Inn for a celebratory drink before the preparations for our private group celebration at midnight. It is indeed an active time in the spiritual and physical worlds as the Celtic year ends but it is extremely rewarding.
I will conclude this post by wishing you all a joyous Samhain and a prosperous and successful new Celtic year.

The Sublime and Sinister Sides of Yuletide Customs

Although the traditions and rituals of Christmas have evolved through the centuries, many of them have remarkably ancient origins linked to the midwinter festivals of Yule and Saturnalia and the hope of renewed life as the days lengthen with the promise of spring.
Folklore Thursday

The Fearsome Legend of Krampus

Ancient Origins
Symbolism of Yuletide

Folklore Customs of Twelfth Night and the Epiphany

The one thing guaranteed to elicit the strongest opinions this first week of January is the debate over which day to take down your Christmas tree and decorations. Is it Saturday 5 January, or Sunday 6 January? And what happens if you leave them up for longer? Are you really struck down with bad luck for the rest of the year as the superstition goes?
One thing’s for sure – everyone does it differently, and everyone has their own ideas.
The following link will tell you more about this
Telegraph
Folklore of the Twelfth Night
Hypnogoria
The Old Winter Witches of Epiphany

The Ancient Art of Wassails

Tales of the Cocktail 

The Origin of Mumming

Why Christmas
Read more about the Chepstow Wassail tradition and enjoy your Wassails wherever you are!

Candlemas and Imbolc

The mistletoe hung at Yuletide has now lost its fresh green leaves and berries, but the brown dried remnants still hold the energy of the wonderful season of Yule. It is still working, bringing good fortune to the home until the season returns again. We have now approached the time of Imbolc and Candlemas.

About Candlemas

Build Faith

Spiritual Meaning and Celebration of Imbolc

Guide to Spiritual Living

Origins of Valentines Day

The following links will explain the historical origins of Valentines Day and the Pagan festival.
History.com 
Witchology

Spring Equinox

Springtime arrives and with it the season of fertility represented by eggs, rabbits and flowers in bloom. The better weather encourages people to spring clean their homes, clearing out things that are no longer needed as we bid farewell to the long winter. New life, hopes and projects await us and the sun has returned.

Spiritual Symbolism of Spring Equinox
Spiritual Sun.com
Celebration of Spring Equinox and Easter
No Beliefs.com
How Pagans celebrate the Spring Sabbat
Beliefnet.com

Autumn Equinox

This season and the falling autumn leaves reminds us of the wonderful release when letting go of things that no longer serve us, thoughts, negative relationships etc.

Belief.net

Autumn Equinox Celebration

Thoughtco

 

The Narcissistic Witch

Unfortunately this trait seems to be a growing problem, Cassandra and I have had clients consult us who are targeted by such people. I have included a link to the following article which is accurate in its explanation and warns of personality traits to look out for when seeking friends or groups within the Pagan community. 
Kelden – Patheos.com