~Be Thou Far from Me Oh Thou Profane Thing!~ Ashes to ashes; dust to dust. Be gone thou foul thing, for needs must! A Curséd thing, on whom the spittle of many lies, now dead and dried; be gone! The Work is done! You are as nothing; nothing of nothing, you are no more. Never again to darken my […]
Our guise team Boekka had a wonderful time at our yearly visit to Chepstow meeting with the Mari Lwyds and friends. This year the temperature was a little warmer.
We arrived on Friday and spent the evening in the atmospheric bar of the historic Greenman Backpackers Hostel. A warm welcome awaits and the staff makes a concerted effort to ensure their customers are comfortable. http://greenmanbackpackers.co.uk/chepstow-accommodation
Mike who runs the hostel is also a member of Widders Morris and organizer of the Wassail event. It is an extremely busy weekend for him.
The event began earlier this year with the Maris meeting outside the Greenman Backpackers Hostel. They performed the usual banter and song to gain entry to the hostel and then participated in some traditional singing which echoed through the ancient basement of the building.
My ‘Oss Morvaugh made her debut at this event and received a lot of attention and admiration. Phil Larcher rider of the Mari Lwyd complimented me on her decoration which meant a lot as he has a strong connection with the spirit of the Mari and his Mari’s decoration has a primitive style.
The procession through the town was downhill, but while carrying an ‘Oss, a slow and steady pace is needed to walk through ancient wet and cobbled streets.
After the procession we gathered for the Wassail by the castle. We had time to prepare our larger ‘Oss Penkevyll ridden by an extremely fit and muscular Welsh rider. His family were delighted to witness this and as he was so tall Penkevyll had a view way above the crowd.
We enjoyed the performances from Widders Morris and Styx of Stroud. Morvaugh danced to the music and I had a wonderful ‘work out’!
During the Wassail at Chepstow castle, we kept Penkevyll on higher ground as the grass was extremely muddy due to the copious amount of rain days before the event.
After the Wassail we made our way to the Chepstow Castle Inn where a Beauty Pageant had been arranged for the Maris. Penkevyll could not join us as she was far too tall to enter the building.
Morvaugh received a huge cheer from the audience when she appeared and many journalists required information about her and how she fits in with Cornish tradition. Owning an ‘Oss or a ‘beast’ has become quite fashionable in recent years as many new ones are appearing. Penkevyll however was one of the first to appear in West Cornwall after Penglaz in Penzance.
There were 21 Maris and ‘Osses in attendance this year, 10 more than last year. Even though the Beauty Pageant was organized and each Mari or ‘Oss received a rosette they were all so beautiful that it would be difficult to pick out one winner. All of them were winners that day as each has a unique beauty due to the significant amount of hard work that has gone into their creation.
Early in the evening it was time for the meeting of the Welsh and English on the Old Wye Bridge. A projector screen was erected this year so that those who could not get onto the bridge were able to watch the ceremony. We decided not to take the ‘Osses to the bridge this year as we wished to enjoy this part of the day without distraction. My apprentice teaser had done fabulously assisting with Penkevyll and Morvaugh during the day so we had all earned the reward and freedom to enjoy the atmosphere.
Scarlet definitely has the wild mischievous energy needed for being a teaser.
Our good friend Jason Semmens held our Cornish flag and did an impressive job of displaying it with the Welsh and English flags.
After the meeting on the bridge we arrived at the Chepstow Museum for the Maris to once again sing the traditional Pwmco and gain entry. The handler of Mari Pontypwyl offered my apprentice teaser the opportunity to guide her Mari into the Museum. I followed them to direct her. Earlier in the day she also had the opportunity to ride one of David Pitts smaller ‘Osses so it was an event full of new and delightful experiences for her.
The chepstow Wassail event is a long and active day, but we enjoyed every minute. Team Boekka worked well together and I give thanks to Cassandra, Scarlet, our rider and John Isaac (who captured some fantastic images) for all their hard work.
Cheers to you all this Wassail season!
We first met Karyl when she travelled from the U.S. with a group of friends to venture out on a Walk with Wisewomen two years ago.
This time she returned with her partner and requested we Handfast them both. January has had frequent stormy weather, gale force winds and heavy hail showers due to the icy temperatures.
Karyl requested that we conduct the ceremony in Cassandra’s wise woman cottage. This is only the 2nd occasion this has occurred as many years ago a couple from Denmark unexpectedly called on Cassandra requesting a ceremony. She asked them to return in an hour so that she could have time for preparation.
This time the ceremony was booked in advance. John Isaac our wonderful friend and photographer captured beautiful images of the occasion. The cottage is small so it was fortunate that the couple had only the presence of two good friends to support them.
Cassandra and I were invited to hold a Yuletide workshop at MWM at Revolver in Newquay. Michelle has a unique shop that provides clothes, jewellery and other interesting items which are rustic but with a classic presentation.
It was the first time we had agreed to do a winter workshop as we usually arrange them for Spring and Summer. On arrival we were greeted by our marvellous host Michelle with a glass of champagne from a HUGE bottle along with mince pies, ginger cake and pieces of orange covered in dark chocolate.
Cassandra began the workshop with a talk on Old Christmas and how Yuletide symbolism of long ago connects with modern-day celebrations.
The talk went on for about 30 minutes so that we allowed time for questions from her audience.
We brought with us a box of wooden decorative stars, reflective baubles, ribbons, holly, ivy, mistletoe, rowan twigs, pine cones and coloured twine, so that the group could construct their own seasonal charms.
I explained the process to them and the type of focus required for construction. We then left them to concentrate on their creations.
The charms were all beautifully made and it was obvious that much thought and intent had gone into the construction. When they were complete, I set up an altar and demonstrated the blessing of a charm with the elements. I then guided each person through the process with their personal charm. It was an emotional process for some and a profound experience for all, especially when the group joined together to charge their charms with energy.
They left us late that evening, delighted with the experience and their personal charms which they carried home to display with their seasonal decorations.
Cassandra assisted our host Michelle in constructing a rowan cross.
A special thank you to Michelle for hosting the workshop. We both had a wonderful time and met a group of lovely people. A huge thank you to John Isaac for his help.
Yuletide blessings to you all with a happy 2018 ahead!
“Thank you so much for coming to Newquay , it was an amazing experience and we all had a wonderful evening ! Michelle.”
“It was lovely to meet the both of you last night and I enjoyed it. Will see you again soon, many blessings M”. (This lady travelled from Exeter!)
“I feel a bit bad for being a bit antisocial whilst making the charms. I wanted to see if I could block out the surroundings and focus on what I was doing even in a room full of people. I also didn’t want to waste the beautiful natural things you gathered so wanted to do it properly. It was definitely a good learning curve for me! G”
Another excellent post ☺
If I were a member of the audience at the Dark Gathering I would be in a bit of a dilemma when it comes to deciding where to be at dusk. Join the Torchlight Procession and escort the Mari Lwyds to the Museum – or wait at the Museum and witness the mighty Penkevyll call up the Maris with tribal drumming? I personally don’t get a choice because as organiser I have to stay at Base Camp so to speak! This has proved to be somewhat problematic in the past not knowing what was happening from one end of Boscastle to another – however we’ve solved that problem now by using walkie-talkies. These were carried by a small team of locals who took on the role of marshalling for the Gathering. They all did a simply splendid job and I thank you all and hope you will be available to…
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A fabulous post by Cassandra about the daytime activities of the All Hallows Gathering. 🙂
I think it is fair to say that 2017 has been my most demanding year yet as organiser of the Dark Gathering. Speaking now from the other side of the event I can safely say that this year has also been ultimately the most satisfying for all sorts of reasons. There’s nothing like striving in the face of adversity and despite that, succeeding to give you a real buzz! However, this most definitely could not have happened without the goodwill and co-operation of many good-hearted folks who seemed to go out of their way to help when unexpected problems occurred. Peter, one of the Museum’s managers, said that it was a real pleasure to work with people on the Dark Gathering because there were no egos inferring with the work in hand. Certainly it was refreshing for me to work with folk who worked well using their own initiative and…
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The All Hallows Dark Gathering 2017 event in Boscastle was significant for me. I have trained and performed as a Teazer alongside Cassandra Latham Jones since 2009 and it was at Chepstow in January this year she handed over her snapper along with the position of Teazer.
At this event I guided the ‘Oss and stood alongside her while the Wassail ceremonies took place. The meeting on the bridge is a little more energetic as Penkevyll takes her place with the Maris to meet the English at the centre of the bridge.
The St Pirans festival in March invites Penkevyll and Teazer to take part in their procession at Redruth. The procession is uphill where extra exertion is required when Teazing while interacting with the crowd and keeping an eye on Penkevyll’s antics.
The All Hallows Dark Gathering in Boscastle is now a popular event. During the afternoon I build the energy while dancing to the music of Morris dancers and connecting with spirits of place entering the space from the land and sea at the wondrous harbour of Boscastle.
This year I also rode my ‘Oss Morvaugh during the afternoon accompanied by John and Sue Exton’s new ‘Oss Seren. Dancing with Morvaugh is the ideal warm up for the Teazing of Penkevyll. Mole the Squire of Wreckers Morris invited Morvaugh to dance with his Morris band while the team performed a dance about the sea. We worked well together and the audience enjoyed it immensely.
It was then time to take Morvaugh back to our room and change into my Teazer kit. I prepared Penkevyll with the assistance of Cassandra and our rider. The procession led by the Maris made its way through Boscastle and when I heard the throbbing drums it was time to appear with Penkevyll.
Our space was restricted this year due to the fire display equipment for Mr Fox. Penkevyll danced and interacted with the audience until we observed the flaming torches of the procession.
We welcomed the Maris before guiding Penkevyll into the Museum.
During this performance I was observed by my new apprentice Teazer. She is in her 30s and has a good connection with Penkevyll. She also connects well with the Cornish energies and has an enquiring mind with welcome experience in the performing arts. I look forward to her progression.
This year I sang the Cornish Pwmco alone while Susan Exton sang the Welsh version. I had no time to drink water after the energetic Teazing and hoped that it would not affect my singing. Susan and I thought the performance was better than expected, especially as she had little notice due to Vivien’s sudden illness.
The Mari’s stayed within the entrance hall of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic while blessing the property, as the corridors and stairs are difficult for the taller ‘Osses to negotiate. After the refreshments of beer and cake, I guided Penkevyll outside to watch the fabulous performance of Mr Fox. There is something primitive about their performance and it complimented the event.
After Sarah Emery’s beautiful song, it was time for Cassandra, Michelle and I to invoke the spirits of place with our bullroarers. Will Fox from Beltane Morris delivered a wonderful speech about the meaning of Samhain followed by a blessing.
All participants worked hard, the cooperation and friendship of all concerned imbued positive energies into the All Hallows event of 2017. A fabulous start to the new Celtic year.