Ten Years Performing as Teazer

It was on 26th June 2009, that I first ventured into the streets of Penzance for my Teazing performance under the tuition of Cassandra Latham Jones. I had previous experience of Morris dancing and performed at various folk festivals, however I mistakenly assumed the role of Teazer could be something similar.
It all began with a telephone phone call during November 2008 from an acquaintance who asked if I would be interested in training for the role of a Teazer. She briefly explained what it would entail and I agreed to try it as it would also provide an opportunity to join a community event after recently moving to Cornwall. I had visited the home of this particular acquaintance and their partner on a few occasions during the time they were creating one of the new Penglaz ‘Osses because the original ‘Oss had retired. They were extremely excited about this project and I witnessed the gradual development of the new Penglaz’s creation. It was the first time I had seen a horse’s skull and heard all about the folk traditions and how these skulls were utilised. Cassandra contacted me soon after hearing of my interest and invited me to attend the 2008 Montol festival near the winter solstice, so that I could observe her first performance with the new Penglaz.

The acquaintance who introduced us was also a photographer for the event and she suggested I wore a mask and dark clothing in the procession, as the majority of people wore in ‘mock formal’ attire.
On arrival I joined the back of the procession at St Johns Hall with my husband and son. When it began, I made my way to the front to observe Cassandra’s performance. Penglaz the ‘Oss did not appear during the first procession so I concentrated on Cassandra’s movements as she marched at the front of the band in time to the music while waving to people lining the streets. On our arrival at the hill fort we stood around a large fire beacon to warm ourselves and then we visited a pub with the photographer, her partner and another friend of theirs.

The crowd seemed to increase in numbers for the second procession and once again I followed at the back with my husband and son, then gradually moved to the front.
Cassandra and Penglaz appeared out of an adjacent entrance to a restaurant in Chapel street and were welcomed by the enthusiastic cheers from the crowd. The energy was wild and exciting.
When I previously performed at festivals with my former Morris team, I was one of many performers, but on this occasion it was a little disconcerting that Penglaz and the Teazer were the main characters and focus of the event. There would be greater pressure on this performance and I voiced my concerns to the photographer who assured me it would all have a positive outcome.
During my interview with Cassandra on the 26th January 2009, I was informed of a second Penglaz and an ongoing disagreement between the other rider and Cassandra, but she assured me I would not be involved in this matter. Cassandra and I met regularly for practices at a yard owned by an engineer known to the photographer. My son and husband both rode Penglaz and each of them had a unique interpretation resulting in varied personalities of the ‘Oss during each performance.
My former husband gave Penglaz a cheeky character, while my son being only seventeen years of age at this time was unpredictable, mischievous and Cassandra says he was and still is the fastest ‘Oss rider she ever had!
Although I was an experienced dancer, I needed to develop a connection with a completely different type of energy to perform this role. Cassandra sent me explanations  and descriptions of the Bucca elemental (of the sea and storms) spirit that works through the ‘Oss and Teazer.
I modeled my Teazer kit on the one Cassandra wore, as the Teazer ‘cross dresses’ to represent the ‘male and female’ aspect and ‘topsy turvy’ Cornish energy. Cassandra attended a ‘guild meeting’ and presented its members with video footage of our practices, announcing I would be her apprentice Teazer and apparently it had the guild members’ approval.
My first appearance was on Friday 26th June 2009 on Mazey Eve. My former husband volunteered to ride Cassandra’s Penglaz (the one and only time) and we were understandably a little nervous on our first appearance particularly within a community we were unfamiliar with. (On reflection I am sure many were wondering who we were and why we had been placed into a ‘lead role’ within their community festival!) Just before the performance I was instructed to wait for Cassandra outside a local inn while she attempted to locate someone. A local man approached me asking why I was there and when I explained, he stated that I would never be as good as Cassandra and continued to tell me how long he had known her and revealed rather personal details about her life! What an encouraging start to the evening!
We prepared ourselves and Penglaz in a room at the Barbican and Cassandra stood at the open top window waving at the gathering crowd who were cheering and looking up at her. We made our entrance from the large black doors to lively music provided by the Golowan Band and cheers from the crowd. Mazey Eve is a wild celebration and extremely crowded, so keeping near Penglaz and making one’s way through the crowd is quite a task!  I watched Cassandra closely and on many occasions our movements were identical which boded well for future development.
Cassandra imbued a confidence and connection with the ‘Oss during her seventeen years of Teazing and it was something that would also develop within me after years of experience. One’s reflexes need to be quick due to the unpredictable behaviour of the ‘Oss and the crowd.

The Teazer’s role is to attempt to control the crowd as well as keep an eye on Penglaz, making space for her to move around and protecting her from over-enthusiastic intoxicated revellers who step into her path or attempt to get too close as this could result in injury. There were specific signals Cassandra used to direct Penglaz, to laugh, dance and also stand still if needed. The stomping and snapping move of the ‘Oss is one that takes practice as the timing of snapping the jaw and stepping need coordination. My son Rhys accomplished this move quickly and with a spectacular result.

After my first performance as Teazer, I received some positive feedback, plus a few criticisms from one, who thought I should teaze the ‘Oss in the same way as Cassandra. At first I could not understand what he meant, however after years of experience I understood, as he advised me to watch Cassandra’s feet. Mine now move in the same way as the energy has ‘grounded’ within the performance.  Another person did not agree with two Teazers being on the street instead of one, but Cassandra explained it was the best method for training. Whatever their viewpoints, I knew that I had done a good first performance for someone with no previous knowledge or experience of ‘Oss Teazing.  My role with Cassandra and Penglaz in Penzance continued for two years and then we left the festival as there were further political issues. (See Original Penglaz Reinstated). I was rather relieved to be out of the situation within the Golowan festival, as it allowed us freedom to perform in our own way.  After leaving we re-named our ‘Oss Penkevyll and our Guise team Boekka.
Boekka has had three changes of colours, image, performers and riders throughout the years, however what remained constant was that Cassandra and I remained united as Teazers. I performed alongside her for eight years and then, after 25 years of Teazing, she handed on the role of head Teazer to me.
My Teazer role has developed over the years and the strongest connection and change occurred at the All Hallows Gathering in 2016 after my release from a situation that was, on reflection, draining the energies. The Teazer role needs total focus and I discovered dividing my energy between Morris dancing and Teazing did not work well.
I now have two apprentice Teazers as well as new riders. All are doing extremely well and Boekka is going from strength to strength. This year is our 9th year of performance (as our team first formed while our ‘Oss was still Penglaz during 2010). I also own and ride an ‘Obby ‘Oss by the name of Morvargh (Cornish for Sea Horse).

I have learnt some valuable lessons in the last ten years and am not the same person who moved to Cornwall eleven years ago, but I have some fond memories of those early days.
Cassandra also asked me to mention that I am the ONLY Teazer she has taught and I am proud of this fact.
It has certainly been an eventful but rewarding journey!
Read more about Boekka here

 

 

Sound Healing Journey at the Merry Maidens

I had heard about events such as ‘Gong Baths’ and other healing therapies utilizing sounds vibrations, but had not tried it until yesterday.
Our lovely friend Angie Latham along with her husband Dougie and fellow sound therapist Anthony invited us to a Sound Healing Journey event within the Merry Maidens stone circle. As we traveled along the lane, we could see the stone circle in the distance and the sunlight reflecting off the impressive large gongs which stood in the centre.
We were well prepared with blankets, pillows, coats and were invited to bring our drums to join in with rhythms. Angie welcomed Cassandra and I with a warm embrace as we had not seen one another for a while due to life’s unexpected occurrences.

Other people arrived and we were all admiring the wonderful instruments on display.
I was drawn to the quartz crystal bowls and looked forward to hearing them, Angie explained that their vibration connects to the higher spiritual energy centres of the body. As a healer and someone who has hosted psychic development circles, I know that this could benefit people who are involved in psychic development and spiritual practices.
Angie’s Beautiful Gong which creates a wonderful calming vibration.
Anthony explained how the gong on the right was tuned to the Mercury vibration connected to the throat energy centre. As a therapist myself I know that this would be ideal for communication problems and physical throat conditions. The lower gong on the left was attuned to the vibration of Venus and connected to the energy centre of the heart. This would help with many aspects of emotional problems and also physical heart ailments.
Here is Anthony.
Angie seemed much happier and more content now that she has found her soul purpose. It is obvious she enjoys this work which is of benefit to her and also the people who attend.

Angie asked Cassandra to provide some information to the group about the history of the Merry Maidens circle. When everyone had settled, we were instructed to lie down and relax.
Cassandra was well prepared.
As we relaxed, the deep earthy sound of the deep gong resonated around us. I was aware of someone walking their dog through the site and the animal was disturbed at first by the sounds and barked for a while. He soon settled down to the earthy deep vibration. We were lying there for over an hour and even though the ground was hard, there were times I felt as though my body was not touching the earth at all, particularly when the sounds from the quartz crystal bowls began. As well as the gongs and bowls, other instruments were also used such as rattles and chimes.
I have meditation CDs at home for daily practice and I recognized many sounds that day and this also activated the Reiki energy I work with.

When the drum beats began, our bodies slowly came out of the relaxation and we rose up to join in with our drums. All the people around us were smiling and enjoying their individual experience. We created a good rhythm between us, some were listening and others drummed and danced while the sun slowly descended on a beautiful day.

When it was all over, we invited Angie, Dougie and Anthony to join us for a well deserved drink at our local pub to toast Anthony’s birthday and have a proper ‘catch up’.
I am so pleased I attended this event and I recommend it to anyone who has not yet experienced it. Thank you so much Angie, Dougie and Anthony.
For more information go to Sacred Earth Sound Therapy 

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

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.

 

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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.

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

Symbolism of 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

Beltane and May Day

How to Celebrate Beltane

May Day History and Celebrations

Summer Solstice

Ancient Traditions of Summer Solstice

Lammas

Celebrating Lammas

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

Wise Woman’s Spells and Charms – Memories

I have fond memories of my first visit to the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in 1996. I had not visited a venue related to the Occult before and was a little apprehensive but excited at the same time.
Museum of Witchcraft 1998
The Museum altered dramatically when Graham King took over as the new owner. On my next visit in 1998, the energy and display within was in complete contrast to what was there before. As I walked around the Museum reading the information about the artifacts, I was enchanted by the haunting repetition of the chants soundtrack.

As I neared Joan’s cottage, it evoked the same feeling as if one was approaching a real Wise Woman’s abode. The sound of the voice from within increased in volume as I turned the corner at the end of the corridor. It had a deep disconcerting tone…… a voice that came from someone not easily approachable but in dire circumstances one would need the courage to seek help. This was the voice of a person who knew their Craft well, one that you would not wish to upset for fear of the repercussions that would befall you.
I stood in the doorway listening carefully as I observed the cottage, the hearth, the real cats that were obviously ‘stuffed’ by a taxidermist, but there was an energy surrounding them as if their spirits were not far away. If you observe Joan long enough you can almost see her move while her fixed gaze remains on the crystal ball in front of her. As I stood there I contemplated what it would be like to live in a cottage like this and how an elderly woman would survive the winter months, whether she would manage enough work in order to live comfortably.
Before I left the Museum I inquired about the soundtrack and purchased one of the first cassette tapes from the shop. I listened to this tape frequently on returning home and thought about the woman who recorded the spells and charms. I had not met Cassandra at this time and her voice sounded older than her actual age, (the sign of a good actress) I could also tell that she was a smoker which evoked an image of Granny Boswell puffing on her pipe!
Little did I know what life had in store for me over the following 21 years!

So here I am, living in Cassandra’s cottage which was the inspiration for Joan’s cottage at the Museum of Witchcraft, I have been taught by the Wise Woman whose voice I first heard on the recording for the past ten years…… the ‘powers that be’ have taken me on an amazing unexpected and testing journey.
Last evening Cassandra and I produced the following video footage of her working by the hearth, while listening to the original soundtrack for Joan’s cottage at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. We thought it would evoke wonderful memories for all who miss it, just as it does for me when I hear it. Enjoy!

To read Cassandra’s explanation of the Museum soundtrack for Joan’s Cottage go to her article Needs Must When The Devil Drives.

Cunning/Folk Practitioner Apprenticeship from 2009

The 26th of January 2019 marks 10 years since I apprehensively walked along the small gravel pathway leading to Cassandra Latham Jones’ cottage. I had an appointment for an interview concerning an apprenticeship as a Teazer for Penglaz the ‘Obby ‘Oss in Penzance. I did not realize at this time that Cassandra was also seeking someone to continue her community work as Wisewoman of St Buryan, however this subject arose during our conversation. I volunteered to become a Wisewoman apprentice also, as the Old Craft had been ‘calling’ throughout my spiritual journey.
The past 10 years have indeed been challenging in many ways and Cassandra warned me that this would be so. During the first part of my spiritual journey I searched for something within various spiritual practices that did not resonate spiritually and resulted in my departure from previous magical groups when I discovered they did not provide the connection I sought.
Image John Isaac
It is essential to be robust emotionally when taking on this work and there was no better person to test and teach me than Cassandra. She warned that she would be a hard ‘taskmaster’ and this indeed proved to be so.
I was born and raised within a strict religion (which has many signs of a ‘Cult Organization’) that separated me socially from my local community, therefore I had little knowledge of how community life developed and worked. Even after I left the religion (which was not long after leaving school) and moved to other locations, I had minimal interaction within new communities.
It is vital for a Wisewoman to know her own community, as she would be more approachable to residents who may need assistance. The residents of St Buryan village have been welcoming and I have learnt a huge amount from living here throughout the last 9 years. Communities are a ‘tribe’ or large ‘family’ who may often have disagreements, but their deep connection and maturity enables them to resolve any disputes.
Image John Isaac – Graphics Chris White
Another form of our community work is through festivals and performances. Cassandra is pleased with the ideas I have had and my inspiration, particularly with the birth of the All Hallows Gathering that resulted from an arranged meeting with some of the wonderful Mari Lwyd community at the Chepstow Wassail in 2014.
The role of apprentice to someone renowned and respected within the Pagan community is something many Pagans fantasize and dream of. There are those who would give anything to have this position, so it was no surprise my path brought jealousy, competitiveness and feelings of entitlement from others. It seemed our acquaintances were happy about the situation at first and maybe they assumed that as Cassandra and I were so different externally, the relationship would be short-lived. They may have hoped I would not have the ability to withstand the training and a few years on, when our working relationship showed signs of success, the negative feelings surfaced from some around us, particularly those who contrived to gain the apprentice role by befriending Cassandra. Some stated I was an ‘incomer’ and too new to the community to be chosen for positions as Teazer and Wisewoman, while others thought they had more of an advantage because they were ‘Cornish’ and Pagan. (I have never tried to claim ‘Cornish descent’ in this lifetime, I am proud of my birthplace in a historical part of Kent and do not create a false image to replace it.) Whatever their reasons for objecting they showed no faith in Cassandra’s choice and projected their negativity with the intention of adding more obstacles to our path. I now understand why ‘wisewomen’ of old worked solitary and did not socialize. Fortunately I have found a few genuine and supportive friends during this journey and my focus is now upon them.
The quote by Rudyard Kipling comes to mind:
“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too!
Cassandra has taught me many valuable lessons as well as providing a home for me when unfortunate circumstances could have left me ‘homeless’. In return for her kindness and tuition, I was able to assist Cassandra by creating our performance team Boekka when her role as Teazer in Penzance was no longer required. I designed new costumes and an image for Penkevyll our ‘Oss as well as choreographing dances for our performance team. I created new websites for Village Wise Woman (when former friends took her previous site offline) and another website for Boekka (when a former member removed our site from the internet). I created my own website, a blog for Cassandra Grumpy Old Witchcraft, and accounts for Cassandra’s Book Village Witch. I now maintain performance and business-promoting accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Witchvox and Instagram. I also arrange Wisewoman workshops and these have been successful.
In the past Cassandra would rely on others to help her with work on her cottage and I have been able to assist her with many tasks. This gave her a wonderful feeling of achievement that we had not needed outside help but managed to accomplish these tasks between us. I have also assisted her health-wise with a gentle fitness regime and suggestions on supplements and diet. I taught her Morris dancing too which she successfully performed for 7 years and enjoyed it, but now she has chosen to take life at an easier pace.
At first when dealing with clients, I often asked Cassandra’s advice on her way of communicating. After 10 years of dealing with a vast variety of clients, I am now confident to deal with these alone. My spells and charms have a high percentage of success and I have assisted many within the community which brings a deep sense of satisfaction that you have successfully helped others. This work is varied and unpredictable and each day brings a different challenge.
Being a Wisewoman is not an occupation one can ‘retire’ from as Cassandra has discovered. She still sees clients and provides readings and consultations for them, but the business aspect is my responsibility. It is difficult to make a business successful, it takes a huge amount of work, promotion and advertising for a number of years before one can profit from it. Fortunately I enjoy the promotion and advertising which has produced wonderful results.
Image John Isaac
The discipline concerning power of the mind was another important lesson as this skill is needed in everything one does, particularly in magical work. The land and sea are full of power and harnessing its energies for one’s needs or desires is not easy.
Creativity, curiosity and persistence can reap rewards from the Universe using the correct acquired knowledge. Awareness and desire is also needed along with the will, knowledge and wisdom. To connect with the four powers: to Know, to Will, to Dare and to keep Silent needs the ultimate discipline.
Working with the Cunning Way and Folk Magic over the last 10 years has certainly been an adventure.
It has been eighteen years since I was introduced to the book about George Pickingill – ‘The Pickingill Papers ‘ during my Alexandrian training, I felt a connection with the life of this intriguing ‘Cunning Man’ and eight years later the reason became apparent.
I enjoy ceremonial ritual and it has its uses, but the methods of Cunning/Folk magic (for myself) give a stronger direct connection to the spiritual essence of land and sea as the absence of ritualistic structure lessens distraction giving focus more intensity. The strongest connection for me since working here has been with the spirits of the sea and all associated with it.
The following article explains the Cunning Craft and Folk Practitioners:
Cunning folk – Traditionally the cunning man or cunning woman was a person who healed, worked magic, created herbal remedies, provided charms, anti-witch measures, spells, and fortune-telling services, they were paid a fee for their work. Cunning (knowledgeable) or (wise), originated from an Old English term kenning, this referred to professional or semi-professional practitioners of magic. Some acquired their gifts through heredity, their magic was a mixed bag of folk medicine and occultism. Folk magic was passed along in oral tradition, and embellished along the way, they employed practical remedies for specific problems. It was believed they could work with supernatural powers in order to increase the effectiveness of their work. In most (Cassandra would say and has taught that it would be ‘some’ rather than ‘most) instances someone could set themselves up as cunning folk, with no particular background or training, although some did come from a background of magical practitioners. 
Up until the mid-nineteenth century there were several thousand cunning folk working in England, and although there was a higher ratio of men, the women were successful in their role. Many of the cunning folk working in Britain kept their ordinary line of work, while earning money as a professional cunning man or woman to boost their income. Most cunning men and woman were solitary practitioners and employed a variety of magical implements.
Some kept animal familiars and supernatural entities, known as familiar spirits, they were considered to be benevolent and helpful.  It was believed the familiar spirit took the cunning person on a visionary journey to a place called Elfhame, (elf- home). In this trip the cunning folk’s soul would go with the familiar on a journey into a hill, to a great subterranean fairy hall, while there they would encounter fairies led by the king and queen, and take part in a feast. (Cassandra has taught that nowadays this could be translated into communing with the ‘spirit world’ within the local environment)
As most local clients were poor, fees for magical services were small. Their fees were much higher when a member of the aristocracy sought them out, and this was often to do with matters associated with love, money and bewitchment. The cunning men and cunning women who worked for the aristocracy, were much better off financially than those who only treated villagers. Some cunning folk received annuities, and others took a percentage of all stolen goods found through divination. (Cassandra has taught that yes, there would be a percentage of goods, but she would not say they were ‘stolen’.)
They were particularly popular for their charms, which they recited during their spell casting and divination work. They also created specific and very expensive charms for the aristocrats,  writing down magical words in order to conjure, love, money, fertility and prosperity. The charms were sometimes written on parchment or paper, sewn into a bag, and either placed in the clients home, or carried about by them. By employing a variety of divination tools the cunning person was able to tell a person’s fortune and divine the name of their future love. They were often consulted to cast spells or charms to ensure a spouse’s fidelity and to find lost items. Some cunning folk claimed to have the ability to locate lost treasure, the cunning man or woman was called upon to overcome through magical means, the demon, spirit or fairy that was guarding it.
The cunning folk were especially adept in creating charms that would repel or break the spells of other witches blamed for bewitchment. They were the only healers to offer a package of anti-witch measures and were especially effective curing malevolent sorcery. They were also called upon to protect, heal and locate lost animals, and to care for crops. The cunning folk used a wide variety of methods to heal their clients, using various herbs, plants, the laying on of hands, and conducting elaborate ceremonies. They practiced folk magic, known as low magic, and ceremonial magic known as high magic, their role was to attend to the physical and spiritual needs of their client.
Cunning folk flourished up until the late 17th century, this was a time when belief in magic was high, they took the role of unofficial police and were believed to be a deterrent to crime, and when crimes were committed a cunning man or cunning woman was consulted to divine the guilty party. From the 18th century onwards their place in society continued, and carried on into modern times, especially in rural areas. Many cunning folk operated in a very competitive market, and would often travel great distances to visit their clients, their profile was very important to them. They used crystal balls and scrying bowls in their work, also astrology and numerology. A Grimoire was a most coveted item and those who owned one added to their profile. (Cassandra has discovered that there is no documentation of any Grimoire sent to a Cunning/Folk Practitioner within Cornwall). Although they were predominantly solitary practitioners, there were some families who approached it as a magical business.
British Cunning folk were referred to as wizards, wise men, wise women, conjurers, pellars,( see the historian Jason Semmens’ paper – On The Origin of Pellar) charmers and white witch, and in the Late Medieval and Early Modern periods Britain was a place where folk magic was very popular. In France, the terms devins-guerisseurs and leveurs de sorts were used to describe cunning folk. In the Netherlands they were referred to as toverdokters or duivelbanners, in Germany Hexenmeisters, and in Denmark kloge folk. In Spain they were curanderos and in Portugal they were known as saludadores. Cunning folk and their use of white magic for healing and as a protection against black magic, was widespread in Germany. The primary role of the Italian cunning folk was healing,with the use of herbs and spiritual healing, their spiritual healing was believed to come from an inner power, known as la forza (power), la virtu (virtue) or il Segno (the sign), they were also consulted to remove curses.
Because of the usefulness of cunning folk, they were able to practice their magic as an open secret, and quietly conducted their business in such a way they avoided anti-magic and anti-witchcraft laws. They met with little interference from authorities, who chose to ignore them unless there was a specific complaint. The cunning folk were often denounced during religious gatherings, but because of their popularity and usefulness, were never pursued. During the time of the Inquisition, cunning folk became vulnerable targets, but in spite of this there was a huge amount of public support for them, because they were so important to those who required their services.
The disparity between witches and the cunning folk, was that witches were seen to do harm, and cunning folk were seen to be useful and provide a valid service. Cunning folk were active from the Medieval period through to the early twentieth century, when it is believed the declining belief in malevolent witchcraft, did away with the need for anti-witchcraft measures, which was a primary service offered by the cunning folk.
Witches Lore

 

I began a ‘countdown’ to the new year from the 1st December to 1st January on our All Hallows Dark Gathering Facebook group. Each day I posted a photograph of a performer with a little information about them conveying our appreciation for their contribution to the event. On the 2nd January, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Cassandra had written the following post :
“Before we get any further into the year I want to put a shout out about Laetitia Latham Jones. In case there is anyone who doesn’t realise this, she was the one who had the original idea of the Welsh Mari Lwyds meeting the Cornish Oss, Penkevyll at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. We now have this amazing annual Dark Gathering following that initial inspired idea. Tia has not only supported me in my role as Event Organiser over the years but has continued to create brilliant ideas which we have incorporated. We have her to thank for researching and discovering the wonderful Ancestor Chant, and now just recently she has applied her time and energies into the personal bios/reviews of a few recognizable characters from the Dark Gathering. Also let us not forget her wonderful performances as Penkevyll’s Teazer – the Art of which she is now teaching to her two apprentices. I would like to publicly thank her for her dedication and hard work behind the scenes to help maintain the Dark Gathering. May it go from strength to strength! ” 
Image John Isaac
The last ten years has been what I would describe as a ‘roller-coaster’ and extremely challenging with drastic life changes, but I had the tenacity to continue. This has rewarded me with some wonderful experiences within my work and performance life as and I have met some fabulous individuals. I am intrigued to know what the next ten years will bring….