The Roles We Play by the Green Serpent.

A thought provoking article, tells it as it is!

“Some things become apparent when gathered with true elders of the Craft, especially when talking about the community as a whole.

So many of the same questions come up, many of the same complaints, and if you only hover on the surface it sounds like conversations in other aspects of society and culture, what you hear is “What the hell is wrong with kids these days?”

But it goes far deeper, and it isn’t limited to kids, not by a long shot.

I listen and I hear and I am learning to understand the questions and what they truly mean and I think I am coming closer to some startling and devastating answers.

The questions that I hear are the same no matter who I talk to.

Why is everyone always at each other’s throats?

Why doesn’t the public take us seriously?

Why are events just glorified craft shows?

Why don’t people support events that are truly spiritual ones (with no vendors)?

Why are all of the events indoors?

Why don’t the elders police behavior especially during rituals?

Why aren’t we teaching the young in an open way instead of pushing them to books and youtube to gain their knowledge?

Why does every pagan event look like a cross between burning man and a renaissance festival?

Why does so little actual working take place at these gatherings?

The answers to this multitude of questions and even more like them are actually all the same few answers.

The Masquerade

The Pagan community has a contingent of people who are role-playing in religion instead of actually being practitioners.

These are the folks that are all about playing dress up, pulling out their cloaks, their giant pentacles, their glue on puck horns and their Gandalf sticks and parading around pretending to be Queen Ambrosia the Fae and hoping that no one asks them to bless the altar. Typically they are known by a nickname. Not a magical name because those are kept very private and guarded because there is extreme power in names, but a nickname and man, I have heard some doozies over the years. I was once introduced to a guy who called himself Odinstaff… Really.

These folks while mostly nice and generally harmless make us and our faith look like a carnival. To quote Eric Draven from The Crow. “A whole jolly club, with jolly pirate nicknames!”

I think that people into the whole pagan thing as an elaborate live action role-playing adventure should be allowed to do their thing but I think in order to move forward we need to stop catering to them.

Nothing to See Here

A certain percentage of practitioners don’t actually have any practical or useful knowledge and their egos are too big to admit that out loud. They can’t bring themselves to go back and actually learn the basics and so when asked to lead or share, they instantly find a dozen excuses such as the intensity or personal nature of their rites, or that they were sworn to some kind of code that doesn’t allow them to divulge their Way.

These folks because of their secret, feel truly powerless. For the most part I believe that they actually want to be a part of the Path. They want to learn or to know but they got in over their heads when they were young and they can’t bring themselves to admit that they know very little. These people are usually very kind and would do anything for someone else but they are not extending themselves the same courtesy. Especially when there are genuine teachers available if you are willing to actually dig through the chaff to find one.

The saddest part about these folks is that they themselves would make fantastic teachers, healers and possibly leaders but they are frozen by fear that they don’t know what they are doing.

The Great and Terrible

Then there are those who put themselves in a place of power. They were not chosen to lead, they do not have the experience, the personality or the empathy to be a true, healthy leader but they exploited an opportunity or created one and got lucky and suddenly they were at the head of the table and then their egos took over.

All it takes is a rudimentary understanding of psychology and some basic observational skills to see that these folks hold their places by bullying, threats, passive aggression, blaming the other guy and a heaping dose of  “Oh poor me…” martyrdom.

Nothing that they do is for the benefit of the community. They will claim to teach only to bring on students to be used as ego boosters and lackeys who are too innocent and hopeful to realize that the knowledge they stand to inherit is all Hollywood façade and shadow puppetry.

Their way is THE way and all other paths have terrible weaknesses. They are self-taught at best and at worst, making it all up as it goes along and nothing they do religiously is ever done for anything except for effect.

These people are one of the great dangers to our faith because they are dug in, entrenched and can only be uprooted by a community of elders and warriors willing to stop playing patty cake and getting serious.

The Silent Minority

This is the group that breaks my heart.

It took me a while to pin them down because I suspected that they existed for a long time but I really didn’t want to believe it because of what it would mean. But over the last year as I have been talking to more and more people, I have gotten several of them to speak up and what I learned stunned me to my marrow.

Many members of the community don’t believe.

They do not believe in a Goddess, in any permutation, nor a God, Horned or otherwise. They do not see Nature as a matronly spirit, they do not look to the universe, to Hecate, or to Bast or anyone else across the dozens of pantheons represented in the Craft.

They are scared, they want to be a part of a community that accepts them and the way they look or the way that they act. One that will care for them, defend them, hold them when they are hurting and will listen to their woes but they carry no belief in their hearts or souls whatsoever.

They want to. Some of them need it. Some of them are so desperate for it that they are harming themselves hoping to find clarity and they are looking to their elders for guidance and praying that someone will show them a path that makes sense and feels complete.

And what do they see? The folks listed above.

They don’t see the Goddess. They see her followers badmouthing and backstabbing each other.

They see events that could easily be mistaken for flea markets. They see giant pentagrams and guys who have joined the community because “Witch girls are freaky and easy.”

They see out of control egos and manic people screaming “Look how damaged I am! It’s my birth sign’s fault! Feel sorry for me!”

Missing is the pageantry that they imagined. The breathtaking beauty that their imaginings promised them. The powerful experiences that would lead them closer to a Mother and perhaps even give her a name that would resonated in their breasts.

They come hoping for a transformational and uplifting experience and found a poorly scripted reality show that has gone on for about twenty seasons too long.

I think it is time to cancel that show.

I think it is time for the elders to step up, speak out and begin to change things.

Because if we don’t, we will find ourselves in one of the categories above.”

Green Serpent – liftingserpents.wordpress.com 

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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.

Yule, a time for present-giving and indulgent eating and drinking, was a pre-Christian celebration enjoyed by the people of northern Europe.

Today’s Yule log represents the fires lit on these dark days. Oak was the wood of choice, as it was believed to be the most likely to draw the sun back to the earth.

The mistletoe (Viscum album), the white-berried, sickle-leaved evergreen which grows on the oak and other trees such as tall limes and poplars, and on apple trees as a semi-parasite, was believed to guard the tree from evil – including witchcraft. It also has strong links to fertility, which is undoubtedly why couples still kiss beneath it at Christmas time. Cutting mistletoe with a golden sickle on the sixth night of the moon will, it is believed, preserve the plant’s magic. It was even hung in cow sheds to ensure the continued health of livestock.

Tradition still dictates that with each kiss a man should remove one berry and put it in his pocket or buttonhole. On production of the berry he can then claim more kisses on demand. In the past, mistletoe was often dried and kept from one year to the next for good luck in every season. However it has long been believed that a girl or boy will stay unmarried for the year if they are not kissed under the mistletoe at Christmastime.

There are other rituals that are also thought to be worth performing or observing to bring love and luck, health and happiness for twelve months:

  • When a man kisses his would-be love he must pluck a berry and present it to her. Only if she accepts it will her love be true.

  • Keep the mistletoe all year and burn it before the new sprigs are put up. A good sign is a steady flame. For a married couple, or a bride to be, a spluttering one means a bad-tempered husband.

  • After being kissed a girl should pick a mistletoe leaf and a berry. In the privacy of her room she must swallow the berry and prick on to the leaf the initials of the man she loves then stow the leaf as near to her heart as possible

Christmas evergreens

The holly, ivy and mistletoe are the quintessential Christmas evergreens, and it is believed that all must be handled correctly to avoid ill fortune.

They must certainly be removed by 6 January, which is Twelfth Night or the feast of the Epiphany. For their Christmas celebrations, early Christians adapted the traditions of the bawdy Roman midwinter festival of Saturnalia, bringing in evergreens to decorate their homes and churches. Christmas Eve is the most propitious day for cutting greenery; if you use it before this date quarrels are, it is said, sure to ensue.

By old country lore, while the prickly holly (Ilex sp) represents the male, the ivy is undoubtedly feminine. The Greeks called it cissos after a dancing girl who danced herself to death at the feet of Dionysus and was transformed into the plant by the god, so moved was he by her art. Unlike holly, ivy (Hedera sp) is not always welcomed indoors but kept for decorating doorways and porches, ‘just in case’. While mistletoe could be brought into the home, it was banned from churches for decoration because of its pagan associations and is still discouraged today.

The Well-Lit Tree

Until it was introduced from Germany by Prince Albert, the Christmas tree was virtually unknown in Britain, though the tradition of bringing evergreens indoors at this season goes back to ancient pagan festivals. One possible origin for the custom of decorating trees for Yule relates to legends that certain trees burst into bloom on Christmas Day. One was the miraculous Glastonbury thorn, believed to have sprung from the staff of Joseph of Arimathea who, on his mission to Britain, planted it in the ground on Christmas Eve.

Such flowering trees were especially revered in Germany. In 1430 one writer recorded that:

‘Not far from Nuremburg there stood a wonderful tree. Every year, in the coldest season, on the night of Christ’s birth this tree put forth blossoms and apples as thick as a man’s thumb. This in the midst of deep snow and in the teeth of cold winds.’

Trees were cut and used in plays performed at Christmas, telling the whole Christian story from Adam and Eve to the Resurrection. In this context the Christmas tree represented both the Tree of Knowledge and Christ’s Cross.

Lights on the Christmas tree illuminate the dark days of winter as well as the advent of the ‘Light of the world’. Legend has it that it was Martin Luther who first decorated a tree with candles.

Folklore Thursday

The Fearsome Legend of Krampus

In ancient times, a dark, hairy, horned beast was said to show up at the door to beat children, and carry them off in his sharp claws. The Krampus could be heard in the night by the sound of his echoing cloven hooves and his rattling iron chains. The strangest part was that he was in league with Santa Claus.

The Christmas Terror

The unnerving beast was no demon, however. He was the mythical Krampus, companion to Saint Nicholas (known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Kris Kringle, etc.) While Saint Nicholas now has the reputation of loving all children and visiting them at Christmastime, judging their character and giving gifts to the ‘nice’ ones and lumps of coal to the ‘naughty’ ones, Krampus plays the dangerous sidekick.

It is believed that the long-horned, shaggy, goat-like monster with a long, angry face and lolling, forked tongue would visit the home of misbehaving children to punish them. It was believed he would give beatings, and kidnap the kids, bringing them down to his underworld lair to live for a year.

On Krampus Night, or Krampusnacht, the eve of December 5, German children took care to not attract the attention of the intimidating beast, in hopes that St. Nicholas would bring presents on Nikolaustag, December 6.

According to National Geographic, Krampus is believed to be the son of Hel in Norse mythology (Hel, daughter of Loki and overseer of the land of the dead). His name is derived from the German word  krampen, meaning claw. He shares traits with other figures in Greek mythology, such as satyrs and fauns, and has been portrayed in a salacious manner in late 19 th century greeting cards, lusting after buxom women.

Feared and Loved

The myth of Krampus can be found in the Alpine regions, Austria, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic, and the legend has gained long legs, reaching across Europe and around the world. Families traditionally exchanged colorful greeting cards, called Krampuskarten, since the 1800s featuring the sometimes silly, sometimes sinister Krampus.

In the early 20 th century Krampus was prohibited by the Austrian Fascist government, but the tradition was revived with the fall of the government after World War II. Traditional annual parades are still held in which young men dress as the Krampus, and race through the streets snarling and shaking chains at onlookers.

Many cities and towns, in keeping with old tradition, run a popular Krampuslauf, a sizeable gathering of revelers (largely fortified by alcoholic schnapps) dressed in Krampus costume to chase people through the streets. More than 1200 Austrians gather in Schladming, Styria each year to dress up as Krampus, swatting passers-by with sticks and loudly ringing cowbells. Birch sticks are painted gold and displayed to remind of his arrival.

These days on Krampusnacht, Krampus will commonly accompany St. Nicholas to homes and businesses where St. Nicholas will give out gifts, and Krampus will hand out coal and birch stick bundles.

Santa’s Companions

In addition to Krampus, Santa traditionally enjoyed a host of different companions depending on region and culture, reflecting local history and beliefs. These mythical figures have many common traits, and generally play the role of punisher or abductor, in contrast to the benevolent and generous saint. They often carried a rod, stick, or broom, were usually dressed in black rags, and were shaggy, with unruly hair.

Related image

Elves, kobolds, or pre-Christian house-spirits of English and Scandinavian tradition were believed to be gift maker or bringer, but didn’t share the same elevated status as Saint Nick and his companion.

In Germany, Knecht Ruprecht ( Farmhand Rupert , Servant Rupert) was an old man with a long beard dressed in straw or covered in fur. He accompanied St. Nicholas and carried a bag of ashes, and one might hear his coming due to the ringing of tiny bells sewn into his clothing. Knecht Ruprecht expected children to be able to recite Christian catechism or say their prayers, whereupon he would give them fruit or gingerbread. If they hadn’t learned their lessons, it was said he’d leave them a stick or a lump of coal in their shoes at best, and at worst he’d place the children in a sack, and either eat them or throw them in a river. Ruprecht became a common name for the devil in German.

In Palatinate, Germany, as well as Pennsylvania in the United States, and in the east coast of Canada the companion is named Belsnickel. A scary figure, much like Knecht Ruprect, this partner visits at Christmas and hands out gifts or punishments. In some regions, this figure is dressed as a female, and called the Christmas Woman. She is thoroughly disguised in female clothing, with cloth wrapped around the head and face, and carries sweets and cakes, as well as a long switch which acts like a swatting stick, or a charmed wand.

Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) is an old mythical figure of Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg who has become a controversial figure in modern times. Traditionally a blackamoor (African male figure usually symbolizing a servant), he was characterized as a Moor from Spain, and a helper to St. Nicholas who was to amuse children and give candy.  Actors portraying Zwarte Piet would wear ‘blackface’—dark makeup, curly black wigs and red lipstick—a practice which is now seen as a racist stereotype. Appearances of Zwarte Piet are now protested in the Netherlands.

Ancient Origins

Image – John Isaac

Symbolism of Yuletide

Winter solstice, which takes place in late December, can be a profound way to tune into the magic and beauty of the season. For people throughout the ages—from the ancient Egyptians and Celts to the Hopi—midwinter has been a significant time of ritual, reflection, and renewal. Creating a meaningful celebration of winter solstice, either in place of or in addition to other holiday activities, can help us cultivate a deeper connection to nature and family and all the things that matter most to us. Winter can become a time of feeding the spirit and nurturing the soul, not just emptying our bank account and fraying our nerves.  Throughout history, celebrating the solstice has been a way to renew our connection with each other through acts of goodwill, special rituals, and heightened awareness. This longest night of the year, followed by a renewal of the sun, demonstrates the cyclical order of the cosmos. In this way, celebrating the solstice can be a beautiful remembrance that our lives are part of a larger order, always changing, always renewing.

On the solstice, visit a place outdoors that’s special to you—a trail you can walk or a field you can lie down in, a hillside or mountain perch that provides the perfect view, or even the roof of your apartment building or a quiet place on the edge of your garden. Consider watching the sun rise or set from your little patch of the world. Write a poem. Make a list of loving wishes for friends, family, coworkers—even people you don’t know that well. Build a shrine of nature’s found objects. Light a candle. Reflect on your aspirations for the coming months. .Sharing food, an important part of any celebration, is particularly meaningful during the solstice, as it represents faith in the return of the sun and the harvest.

,So however you celebrate midwinter, knowing that you are sharing its traditions with the folk who lived long ago will make it extra special. May it bring you joy, contentment and all that you deserve. Yuletide Greetings to you all.

The Ancient Tradition of Wassailing

Wassailing is a tradition that brings celebration and social warmth to the dark cold days of winter. I have attended many Wassails in Kent, Cornwall and Chepstow, Wales with our Guise Team Boekka .

The following article has information on the festival’s historical origins.

“Wassail, wassail, all over the town

Our toast it is white and our ale it is brown

Our bowl it is made of the white maple tree

With the wassailing bowl we’ll drink to thee”

— Gloucestershire Wassail Carol

When you read the lyrics aloud to this drinking song (or hear the tune), you can almost feel that cup of hot alcohol in your hand as you drunkenly sway to and fro, singing at the top of your lungs around the Christmas tree.

The drink, wassail, conjures images of caroling revelers dressed in boughs of holly and fir with wooden crocks full of good cheer in a Bacchus-type parade through city streets. It’s nostalgia wrapped in a warm blanket of cider, mulled wine, nutmeg and floating orange slices. A celebratory holiday gathering around a highly decorative punch bowl. But, wassail has a muddled heritage. Is it warm booze? An action verb? A hearty salutation? A song? Yes. It’s all of these things, and it includes a storied family tree rooted in tradition and branching out in nearly every direction for over a millennium.

I salute thee…Waes hael!

First, let’s rewind to a castle in 5th-century Britain, where Rowena — the beautiful daughter of a Saxon leader — seduces an incredibly inebriated King Vortigern with a goblet of spiced wine, giving the first recorded toast in history to his good health by crying out, “Waes hael!” Taken by her beauty, he immediately beds then weds the girl after ordering her to drink of the same cup and exclaiming, “Drinc hael!” — “drink, and good health!” This moment in British history becomes the foundation on which one thousand years of wassail tradition spring forth and is said to be the first documented “toast” in history. Seems legit, right?

Whether we are to believe a drunken king wearing wine goggles is charmed into bed, then marriage by a potion-bearing, Saxon babe — thus inadvertently setting the course of the Western world’s drinking culture — is neither here nor there. The point is, it’s a great story. One of many attributed to the history and lore which seem to surround wassail. No one really knows what was in that goblet. Was it spiced wine? Mead? Ale? It doesn’t matter. Wassail was not a drink that night. It was simply a salutation — a toast among drinking buddies celebrating the good health of their friend, the king. Whatever the case, the salute stuck. The word as we know it today, “wassail,” first appears in the 8th century poem “Beowulf”. In the poem, it is again not a drink, but a salute to its warriors.

“Forlorn he looks on the lodge of his son,

wine-hall waste and wind-swept chambers

reft of revel. The rider sleepeth,

the hero, far-hidden; no harp resounds,

in courts no wassail, as once was heard.”

Get wassailed

“I’ve always liked the fact that wassail produced a verb — wassailing, which suggests roots in social activity — something arising out of the dark, northern days of the holiday season. I’ve heard people talk about going cocktailing, but that doesn’t have the same ring.”

-Wayne Curtis, author of And a Bottle of Rum: A History of the New World in Ten Cocktails

Long after Vortigern and Rowena’s intoxicating meeting, wassail continued to dominate English drinking culture in one form or another. The act of “wassailing” dates back to pre-Christian times when farmers living in England’s southeastern apple-growing region would gather in the mid-winter chill in the orchards collectively shouting while pouring cider onto their trees to ward off evil spirits. By wassailing their crops in the winter, it was said to ensure a healthy crop in the spring.

As Christianity began to spread, this ritual evolved further into singing and drinking to the health of next season’s crops on Twelfth Night; the last night of the traditional Christmas season. It seemed only appropriate to attach the celebration of Christ’s birth and his visit from three wise men with the hope for a good yield in the orchards in the coming year. It also assured them not being burned as heretics under the ever-watchful eye of the Church.

In some regions of medieval Britain, wassail involved a large gathering of tenants at the manor house where the master, channeling Rowena, would hold up a bowl of steaming spiced wine or ale and shout, “Wassail!” with the crowd replying, “Drink hail!” before devolving into Christmas revelry. Yet in other regions, wassailing took on a slightly sinister tone with drunken crowds gathering outside feudal lords’ homes while bowls of ale flowed, singing loudly and not dispersing until they received Christmas treats. Hence the line in We Wish You a Merry Christmas, “Now give us a figgy pudding. We won’t go until we get some.” You can imagine the fear of the manors’ inhabitants watching a fire, backlit crowd of drunken idiots demanding food growing larger and louder by the minute. That’s enough to make anyone relent to mob rule.

In the 14th century, someone decided to morph the old story of King Vortigern and Rowena, their boozy salute, and the passing of the loving cup yet again. This time, the act of door-to-door drinking took a cue from the simple act of saluting and celebrating to a healthy, happy new year. Crowds of carolers would visit neighbors rather than their masters with a large wassailing bowl filled with a spiced punch of mulled wine or ale, nutmeg and sugar. People would then dip toasted bread into the mixture to soak up the flavor and share in the merriment. This band of intoxicated carousers unwittingly created our modern word to “toast” by simply floating a few croutons in a bowl of ale. But it was from here, the act of wassailing and its drink would forever merge, forming one of cocktail’s most enduring partnerships.

Wassail, wassail!

By the Renaissance, wassailing had a firm foothold in England’s Christmas traditions. The drunken band of rabble-rousers banging on doors begging for figgy pudding was now simply spreading good cheer door-to-door in the village while singing Christmas carols with a punch bowl of sweetened, spiced ale. But it was during the 17th century the liquid inside the bowl finally started to take center stage in the merry ritual of Christmas and its now 500-year love affair with apples. The rich punch-like mixture called “Lambswool” was considered the wassail drink of choice for the Christmas punch bowl of the day. It contained warm ale or mulled wine, sugar, nutmeg, eggs, toasts, and “crabs” — steaming, roasted crab apples dropped still-hot into the warm punch, bursting upon impact and making a hissing sound as the mixture frothed and bubbled. The crabs gave the punch a tart sweetness while adding a bit of drama. It is from Lambswool that what we know as the traditional Christmas wassail drink was birthed.

From Wassail to Nog to Toddy

What started as most likely mead or spiced wine sweetened with honey has gone through many transformations throughout the centuries. Wassail evolved from a hot punch-like beverage of mulled wine spiced with nutmeg and raisins to keep the winter chill at bay for loitering merrymakers to its modern Christmas cousin, the cider concoction containing wine, bobbed apples, and sliced oranges and in some households, to an even richer, cream-based punch containing sherry, crusts of bread or sweet cakes, and even eggs.

As the punch matured, mixtures of madeira, sherry, or brandy began to appear alongside the traditional ale or cider, becoming a modern, more complex split based punch. When settlers began arriving in America, “wassailing” had become nothing more than a celebratory gathering at home with friends during Christmas with a cider-based punch spiked with rum. An ocean now separated the old and new. Wassail’s American transformation continued as generations grew further from their English roots, streamlining the creamy Lambswool-based punches into egg nog or the cider-rum mixtures into a wassail-for-one with the whiskey-forward hot toddy. It is these drinks we now most associate with our modern holiday traditions as the punch bowl of yore gathers dust on the shelf in the China cabinet.

The carousing traditions of wassail may have gotten lost in its own convoluted history, but the drink that emerged from the lore continues to play a small role in the nostalgia that is Christmas in the Western world. Many still gather around the punch bowl, sometimes singing carols, often happily sipping a cider-based, spiced concoction which today may or may not contain alcohol. Even the vessel has modernized, with wassail being kept warm for party-goers’ convenience in the crock pot; always at the ready for ladling into a punch cup.

Wassail is indeed both a noun and a verb. Mostly it is a salutatory celebration of a long year as you gather with those you cherish and raise a glass of good cheer to toast to a healthy, happy new year and enduring friendships. For wassail is, first and foremost, a salute.

So, we say to you, readers, whatever you believe, “Wassail! Drink hail!”

Tales of the Cocktail

Mumming

Mumming is also an ancient pagan custom that was an excuse for people to have a party at Christmas! It means ‘making diversion in disguise’. The tradition was that men and women would swap clothes, put on masks and go visiting their neighbors, singing, dancing or putting on a play with a silly plot. The leader or narrator of the mummers was dressed as Father Christmas.

The custom of Mumming might go back to Roman times, when people used to dress up for parties at New Year. It is thought that, in the UK, it was first done on St. Thomas’s day or the shortest day of the year.

Different types of entertainments were done in different parts of the UK, particularly in England. In parts of Durham, Yorkshire and Devon a special sword dance was performed. There were also different names for mumming around the UK too. In Scotland it was known as ‘Gusards’ or ‘Guising’; in Somerset, ‘Mumping’; in Warwickshire or ‘Thomasing’; and ‘Corning’ in Kent.

In Medieval times, it had turned into an excuse for people to go begging round the houses and committing crimes. It became so bad that Henry VIII, made a law saying that anyone that caught mumming wearing a mask would be put in prison for three months!

One poem that people said when mumming was:

Christmas is coming, the beef is getting fat,
Please drop a penny in the old man’s hat.

Over the years, this was changed into a very similar poem that is said by some carol singers today:

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat,
Please put a penny in the old man’s hat.

The early settlers from the UK took the custom of Mumming to Canada. It is known as Murmuring in Canada, but is banned in most places because people used it as an excuse for begging.

There’s also a famous Mummer’s Day parade New Year’s Day in Philadelphia, in the USA, which lasts over six hours!

Mumming is still done in parts of the UK, USA and Canada.

Why Christmas

Read more about the Chepstow Wassail tradition and have joyous Wassails wherever you are!

Handfasting Celebrants November 2018

Cassandra and I have been so busy of late with events and also work. Today we were asked to conduct a Handfasting at Boscawen-un stone circle. The couple decided to take this step on their 20th wedding anniversary. We became acquainted when they attended the All Hallows Dark Gathering in Boscastle and discovered that some aspects of our lives had synchronicity.

The weather was dry and cloudy with a slight chill of the forthcoming winter weather. Today was All Souls Day and the presence of the ancestors could be felt within the stillness of the air.

 

As Cassandra spoke of the ancestors and spirit loved ones witnessing the Handfasting rite, a murmuration of starlings flew over the circle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A special thank you to our lovely neighbours Jackie and Lottie for assisting us and capturing some wonderful images of Kim and Tony’s special day. We then joined the couple for a celebratory drink and a meal in our local St Buryan Inn.

Feedback:

“We simply cannot thank Laetitia and Cassandra enough for The Handfasting Ceremony they performed for us. We can honestly say that it was the most romantic, magical and memorable moment in our lives. Anyone who is considering “Tying The Knot”, look no further than Laetitia and Cassandra. From advice to reassurance, nothing is too much trouble. Thank you so much for everything that you have done for us. Wonderful, warm knowledgeable  Wise Women xxx” Kim and Tony

Reiki Master Course October 2018

After returning from an action packed weekend at the All Hallows Gathering in Boscastle, I taught a two-day Reiki Master course.

It is indeed a privilege to teach a Master-Teacher course, sending out new teachers and practitioners into the world. They will then assist, treat and also teach others spiritual development, positivity and healing to those who desperately need it.

 

The two lovely ladies I taught on this course were enthusiastic, accomplished therapists who have already helped their clients utilizing other methods.

Usui the founder of Reiki intended the system mainly for personal spiritual development and enlightenment. Much discipline is needed for the daily meditations and energy exercises.

In Western countries Reiki has been used as a method of treating others and even though have the ability to do this, it is important to remember to use it for one’s own personal development in order to be an effective therapist.

Teaching students how to perform Western attunements is not an easy task as the methods are complex and need constant practice to get them right.

The Eastern attunements are much simpler and will not involve the conscious mind as much when you are familiar with them, so they will increase in power. It is advisable as a Teacher to know both methods and the students are able to experience them and compare both methods.

The new information on a Reiki Master course is fascinating, the use of the new symbols, Kotodama chants, Crystal Grids and the powerful Antakharana symbols are just some of the tools that are available.

 The self empowerments and new meditations on the course prove how powerful Reiki and intent can be.

Preparing the students to teach their own courses is vital as they will interact with a wide variety of people, some will be fast learners, others may need more time. Some will be spiritually experienced and others may not.

I am so fortunate to have found the Reiki Evolution system as Taggart has made so many resources available to his Teachers and also the ongoing support is excellent. I am delighted to be able to pass this on to my students.

My cat Clutterbuck was thoroughly spoilt over the two day course with a copious amount of affection. He certainly enjoys the ‘perks’ from our work!

After an intense but satisfying two days, my students happily received their certificates and their new journey awaits. I wish Michelle and Karen every success for the future.

Review:

“This year is a very special year and October – a special month! Samhain and All Hallows Dark Gathering at Boscastle – and a great opportunity to see Cassandra and Laetitia for our annual photo!  After previously completing Reiki 2nd degree with Laetitia, I felt energy changes that I wasn’t expecting and that were also most welcome. I was very much looking forward to booking in with Laetitia for Reiki Master Teacher course – and many months after – indeed I did! I traveled a long way – spiritually and physically to be there. It was a wonderful magical coincidence that Michelle was training with me – this helped my development. The setting is wonderful –  a wise women’s cottage in the village with Cassandra present and of course Clutterbuck the cat. Laetitia is a wonderful teacher and went through everything thoroughly. I loved learning the attunements. I feel confident and happy and am looking forward to this – no doubt challenging, journey. I’m very glad I connected with her and it was especially wonderful because of Samhain. I recommend that you work with Laeitita not only with Reiki – but the work that both her and Cassandra do in the form of readings and workshops. Always an important marking in my spiritual development.” Karen

A Special All Hallows Dark Gathering 2018

This year I took on extra responsibility in organizing the All Hallows Dark Gathering to assist Cassandra Latham Jones after the managers of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic informed us they were leaving. We then worked closely with Simon Costin the Museum owner informing and updating him on all arrangements.

Many people enjoy this event each year, but have no idea how much work goes into the organizing of it. As well as caring for the performers, Cassandra also goes the ‘extra mile’ in caring for the community, for example: where they will find accommodation, where they can get refreshments and became involved with the village residents concerning a park and ride scheme so that all could find spaces to park their cars and disabled folk would find it easier to make their way to Boscastle. Cassandra has huge support by the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, the Chamber of Commerce and other members of their local community.

When we entered 2018 I had a feeling there would be significant changes to our lives and this has proved to be so.

At the Dark Gathering this year our special guest was Wolfshead and Vixen Morris. It has been 15 years since I danced with this team and I was looking forward to seeing them once again.

Image-Chris Hicks

Their first dance performed by Wolfshead is known as ‘Four Seasons’. A person is often chosen to stand in the middle while they dance around them and I was delighted they chose me, as it brought back fond memories of the previous time this happened outside the King Arthurs Arms in Tintagel back in 2001.

Later that afternoon, I was asked by the Squire of Vixen to join them in my favourite dance Gemini. It’s a dance I have not forgotten and I know that it is one Beltane Border Morris particularly like.

I had no time to practice it with them, but as soon as the dance began, the 15 years I had been away seemed to disappear and every move was performed as precisely as it had all those years ago.

Here is footage of their dance and the invitation for me to join them at the end of the footage to perform the same dance.

The members of Vixen were amazed that I remembered it so well and were so pleased with the performance, I received a hug from each of them when the dance was over.

The last time I performed in Boscastle with them outside the Museum was 17 years previously on the 12th June 2001.

Taking part in this has given me a wonderful and positive new memory as it is now the best and most satisfying Morris dance I have ever performed at the All Hallows Gathering with a fabulous team. I cannot thank them enough for this moment.

The Gathering goes from strength to strength and has a protective energy about it. Long may it continue.

 

 

Evening of Psychic Communication October 2018

Yesterday Cassandra and I joined five psychic readers and healers at Sennen Cafe, Bar and Bistro. Debbie and Aleisha were fabulous hosts ensuring that their readers were comfortable and had water at the table in stylish glass bottles.

We arrived at the venue by 3.30pm to prepare our area before the clients arrived at 4pm.

 

Cassandra Latham Jones and I offering Tarot readings and Spiritual Counselling

Jackie offering readings and healing

Katie offering readings

We have worked at this venue on a few occasions now and each event has been extremely busy. Five hours providing fifteen minute ‘taster’ readings is intense. We had a thirty minute break for refreshments after working for two and a half hours and then continued readings until 9.30pm. It was also good to see Lorna selling some of her stock from The Healing Star in Penzance.

There are certain things that clients need to understand when receiving readings particularly with medium-ship. The spirit connection may not always be with the spirit loved one they expect to hear from. A reader will relate the information they receive and cannot select a particular spirit to communicate.

If there is a prediction concerning future events that appears in a reading, it could take months or years for this to develop depending on the circumstances surrounding it. At times a client may expect a ‘quick result’ and if it doesn’t happen for them within the next week, they will conclude that the reader is wrong. Some may also be unhappy if a reader does not tell them what they wish to hear particularly if it involves a matter which needs correction in some way.

Michelle doing Rune Readings

Readers are there to offer guidance and help to their clients. They are ‘spiritual counselors’ who have also experienced life’s ups and downs and by connecting with their intuitive/spiritual energy along with their personal experience are able to offer guidance and advice. Readers do not tell clients what to do, they provide what one could call a ‘weather forecast’ and it is up to the client whether they wish to ‘take their boat out’.

Connection with spirit is not always easy, certain signs or symbolism received in this way may, at times, take a while for the reader to interpret it correctly so that it benefits the client. As we know even with human relationship there can be misunderstandings and wrong interpretations even when in conversation face to face, written communication or on-line. Considering this aspect, think about the complexity of connecting with energies in a different dimension such as the ‘world of spirit’.

If you are considering consulting a reader in the future it would be advisable to keep this in mind.

At this event we were able to help many unique and wonderful people who approached us. The work is intense but also very rewarding. Thank you again to all at the Sennen Cafe, Bar and Bistro for their hospitality and another successful evening.