Sabbats and Seasonal Festivals

The Dark Season of Samhain – Celtic New year

Ancient Origins of Samhain

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

The Sublime and Sinister Sides of Yuletide Customs

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

The Fearsome Legend of Krampus

Ancient Origins
Symbolism of Yuletide

Folklore Customs of Twelfth Night and the Epiphany

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

The Ancient Art of Wassails

Tales of the Cocktail 

The Origin of Mumming

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

Candlemas and Imbolc

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

About Candlemas

Build Faith

Spiritual Meaning and Celebration of Imbolc

Guide to Spiritual Living

Origins of Valentines Day

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

Spiritual Meaning of 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

 

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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.

Chepstow Wassail 2019

Our Guise team Boekka had a wonderful time at our 6th Chepstow Wassail this year.
On arrival at the room of Castle Inn I was delighted to be greeted by an old style four poster bed!

Most of us arrived on Friday and visited the Mythos Meze Greek restaurant before spending the rest of the evening at the fabulous Greenman Backpackers bar where they have a wonderful selection of gin. We sampled a few of them!

It was wonderful to see Linsey, Hannah, Sam and Lizzie the members of Beorma Morris who were once members of Wytchwood Morris who performed at the All Hallows Dark Gathering up until 2016. We have missed them.
Black Pig Morris
The gin was extremely popular!

Linsey brought us a gift of Amaretto marmalade and a home-baked cake as a thank you for inviting them to the Wassail.

 

We awoke to drizzling rain Saturday morning, but fortunately the rain had ceased by midday. At 1pm a meeting of the Maris was scheduled at the ancient and atmospheric Moot Hall in the Greenman Backpackers Hostel.

 

 

 

 

With 35 Maris and Beasts in the hall we ventured outside to get some air….

 

 

We also met a Mari/Beast with a difference…..

 

On our way back to the Castle, Morvargh stopped to see some little curious admirers…

 

 

The Wassail ceremony at the Orchard was wonderful. I encouraged our team to practice the Wassail song and they sang it well! There was a large crowd with a fabulous atmosphere.

 

We then joined the wonderful Morris dancers to watch their performance!

 

 

 

 

 

 

We made our way to the Drill Hall for the Mari Pageant. Waiting backstage next to the green room was quite a task with 35 Maris.

 

When we eventually appeared on the stage, Tim the Compere had his work cut out…..

 

After our appearance on stage we had a further wait backstage for the group photo. This provided a chance to have a good chat and a ‘catch up’ with the wonderful Phil and Viv Larcher.

The group photo on stage was rather a ‘squeeze’…..

From there it was time for Welsh and Cornish to gather at the Wye bridge to meet the English side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we met the English, the flags were exchanged and each Morris team performed a dance.
As Boekka are now performing Teazer dances again, Mike Lewis requested that we also performed a dance. I am pleased to say that it went well, Sam from Beorma complimented us on the performance and this was a valued compliment from such a good dancer.

 

 

…and there you have it…..an action packed day. Unfortunately there was an incident at the Chepstow Museum so we were not able to use it this year. I will end this post with a video of a performance of ‘Poor Owd ‘Oss’ with Linsey and Sam joining in with the ‘coconut shell’ percussion. A perfect end to an exhausting but wonderful day.

See the fabulous images of this event captured by th.e wonderful John Isaac here

 

The Chepstow Wassail – Countryfile Magazine

Yuletide celebrations are now over and today it was a wonderful surprise to see this article in the January 2019 edition of Countryfile Magazine where my Sea ‘Oss Morvargh is mentioned. It was her first outing to Chepstow which was tremendously exciting for a little foal……

 

 

 

 

Cassandra was also pictured in an article about the Chepstow Wassail in Landscape magazine.

We look forward to this Wassail every year as it is such a wonderful event. See you all soon………

Handfasting Celebrants November 2018

Cassandra and I have been 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 anniversary. We met them at the All Hallows Dark Gathering in Boscastle and discovered that in some aspects of our lives there was a connection.

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 and where they can get refreshments. She also arranged with the village residents a ‘park and ride’ scheme so that all were able to park their cars and disabled folk would find it easier to make their way to Boscastle. Cassandra has huge support from the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, the Chamber of Commerce and other members of their local community.
When we entered 2018 I sensed 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 centre of the space while they dance around them and I was delighted they chose me. It brought back fond memories of the previous time this happened outside the King Arthurs Arms in Tintagel 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 and it is also one Beltane Border Morris particularly like.
I had no time to practice it with them, but they performed it once and invited me to join them the 2nd time. As soon as the dance began, the 15 years apart from Vixen seemed to disappear and I performed every move as precisely as I had all those years ago.
Here is video footage of their dance and them inviting me to join them at the repeat performance.

The members of Vixen were amazed 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 with them in Boscastle outside the Museum was 17 years ago on the 12th June 2001 for the 50th anniversary of the Witchcraft Repeal.

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

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