Ten Years Performing as Teazer

It was on 26th June 2009, that I first ventured onto the streets of Penzance for my Teazer 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. They briefly explained what it would entail and I agreed to try, 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 while they were in the process of creating a new Penglaz ‘Oss after the original ‘Oss retired. They were extremely excited about this project and I witnessed the gradual development of the new Penglaz creation. It was the first time I had seen a horse’s skull and heard about the folk tradition in which 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 at the event and suggested I wore a mask and dark clothing, as the majority of people wore ‘mock formal’ attire.

On our arrival at the event I joined the back of the procession at St Johns Hall with my former husband and son. I then 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 and waving to people who lined the streets. At the hill fort we stood around a large fire beacon to warm ourselves and visited a pub with the photographer, their partner and one of their friends.

The crowd seemed to increase in number 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 entrance adjacent to a restaurant in Chapel Street and were welcomed by enthusiastic cheers from the crowd. The energy was wild and exciting.

When I had previously performed at festivals with my former Morris team, I was one of many performers, but on this occasion it was a little disconcerting to see that Penglaz and her Teazer were the main characters and focus of the event. This meant there would be greater pressure on the performance and I voiced my concerns to the photographer who assured me that it would all have a positive outcome.

During my interview with Cassandra on the 26th January 2009, I was informed of a second new Penglaz and an ongoing disagreement between the other ‘Oss 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 which gave the ‘Oss varied personality traits within each performance.

My former husband gave Penglaz a cheeky character, while my son being only seventeen years of age, 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 sea and storms) spirit that works through the ‘Oss and Teazer.

I modelled 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 that 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 by Cassandra to wait 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, 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 exactly 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 her 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 Cassandra and I were dismissed from the festival over further political issues. (See Original Penglaz Reinstated). I was rather relieved to be out of this 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 were united as Teazers. I performed alongside her for eight years and then, after twenty five years of Teazing, Cassandra handed on the role of head Teazer to me.

My Teazer role has developed over the years and the strongest connection and change within it 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 ‘Oss 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, however I have some fond memories of those early days.

Cassandra has 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

Sound Healing Journey at the Merry Maidens

I had heard of ‘Gong Bath’ events that utilise sound vibration, but had not attended one until yesterday.

Our lovely friend Angie Latham along with her husband Dougie and fellow sound therapist Anthony, invited us to a Sound Healing Journey within the Merry Maidens stone circle. As we travelled along the lane, we could see the stone circle in the distance and sunlight reflecting off the impressive large gongs that stood in the centre.

We were well prepared with blankets, pillows, coats and drums to join in with the rhythm session. Angie welcomed Cassandra and I with a warm embrace as we had not seen one another for a while, due to the unpredictability of life.

Other group members arrived and we admired the wonderful instruments on display.

I felt drawn to the quartz crystal bowls and looked forward to hearing them. Angie explained how their vibration connects to the higher spiritual energy centres of the body. As a healer and someone who has also hosted psychic development circles, I know this method would be of benefit to people who are involved in these pursuits.

Angie’s Beautiful Gong creates a wonderful calming vibration.

Anthony explained how the gong pictured on the right is tuned to the Mercury vibration connected to the throat energy centre. As a therapist I am aware that this would be ideal for communication problems and physical throat conditions. The lower gong on the left is 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 physical heart ailments.

Here is Anthony.

Angie seemed much happier and content now she has found her ‘soul purpose’. It is obvious that she enjoys this work that benefits her and all who attend her events.

Angie asked Cassandra to speak to the group about the history of the Merry Maidens circle so they could connect with its energy and their surroundings. When the group had settled, we were instructed to lie down and relax.

Cassandra was well prepared.

As we relaxed, the deep earthy sound of the 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, but soon settled down to the deep vibration. We laid there for over an hour and even though the ground was hard, there were times I felt as though my body did not touch the earth, particularly when sounds from the quartz crystal bowls rang out. As well as sounds from gongs and bowls, rattles and chimes were also used.

I have meditation CDs at home for daily practice and I recognized many sounds that day which activated the Reiki energy that I work with.

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

When it was over, we invited Angie, Dougie and Anthony to join us for a well deserved drink at our local Inn to toast Anthony’s birthday. We also updated one another on our lives and the latest news, which was long overdue.

I am so pleased I attended this event and highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to experience it. Thank you so much Angie, Dougie and Anthony for a wonderful evening.
For more information go to Sacred Earth Sound Therapy 

Celebrants for Handfasting March 2019

Cassandra and I were Celebrants for a Handfasting three days after the Spring Equinox. This occasion was particularly unusual, as the couple had discussed having a ceremony for some time and then the bride decided to arrange the ceremony as a surprise for the groom. This meant the preparations were not as straightforward as the ceremonies we were accustomed to.

The venue chosen was the ATV Centre in Blackwater near Truro. There is an area of woodland next to the race track where we were able to perform the ceremony. We arrived to set up the space during early evening while there was light and soon after that darkness fell.

To conduct a Handfasting ceremony in woodland on a dark evening can be quite a challenge, although lights were hung within the trees and one of the guests offered to turn on his car headlights.

The ceremony however went well and our excellent professional photographer John Isaac managed to capture some wonderful images in somewhat challenging circumstances.

We wish the lovely couple every happiness for the future.

Feedback:

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

Thank you so much for an amazing event. ” D.E.

St Pirans Day 2019

It was a wild windy day when Boekka ventured out to celebrate St Pirans Day in Redruth as Boekka has attended this event for the past 7 years.  Due to work commitments I was unable to attend, which meant my two apprentice Teazers and a new rider had to perform alone. I work hard training them, just as Cassandra had with me. Any Teazer ‘worth their salt’ would not lightly hand the role over to just anyone. They need to have self discipline and respect for this role, which meant I had the utmost confidence in my trainee Teazer’s abilities.  I received excellent feedback on how well they performed and members of the public described Boekka combined with Whippletree as the happiest group at the event. I am so proud of them all!

There are some wonderful photographs below.

Read about the history of St Pirans Day

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 artefacts, 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 from someone not easily approachable, however in dire circumstances one would summon the courage to seek help. This was the voice of  should you upset them.

I stood in the doorway listening carefully as I observed the cottage, the hearth and the real cats ‘stuffed’ by a taxidermist. There was an energy surrounding these animals as though their spirits were nearby. If you observe Joan long enough you can almost see her move as her fixed gaze remains on the crystal ball in front of her. I stood there contemplating 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 to attract sufficient 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 retail outlet. 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 she was a smoker which was reminiscent of the 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, the inspiration for Joan’s cottage at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. I have been taught by the Wise Woman whose voice I first heard on theoriginal 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 have heard that many miss the original recording, so we thought it would evoke wonderful memories for them. It certainly does for me! Enjoy!

I recently received this message from someone:

“Hi, sorry for the random message but I wanted to reach out to say thank you to you and Cassandra. I’ve been going to Boscastle for years and was a friend of Graham, and even donated a sea object back to the museum back in 2004. It was part of the original collection on the Isle of Man which was later sold. Anyway, I wanted to say thank you because I recently bought Joan’s Spells CD from the museum shop expecting to hear the original recording by Cassandra, and was really disappointed when it wasn’t. Then I found the video of original soundtrack you made on YouTube it brought back so many magical memories, as well as the voice fitting the installation, which for me the new one doesn’t. Thank you for keeping the magic alive. Blessings to you both x” V.B.

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

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 various events and work. Today we were asked to conduct a Handfasting at Boscawen-un stone circle. The couple decided to take this step to mark the 20th anniversary of their marriage. We met them at the All Hallows Dark Gathering in Boscastle and discovered that in some aspects of our lives there was a deeper connection.

The weather was dry and cloudy with a slight chill in the air of the imminent winter weather. It 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 who witness 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 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

An Auspicious All Hallows Dark Gathering for 2018

This year I took on extra responsibility in organizing the All Hallows Dark Gathering as Cassandra needed help when the managers of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic informed us they were leaving. We worked closely with Simon Costin the 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 goes the ‘extra mile’ in caring for the community ensuring they know where to find accommodation and refreshments and also arranged with village residents a ‘park and ride’ scheme so disabled folk would find it easier to get 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 2018 began, I sensed there would be significant changes in our lives and this has proved to be so.

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

Image-Chris Hicks

The first dance performed by Wolfshead is known as ‘Four Seasons’. A person is often chosen to stand in the centre of the space while the men dance around them and I was delighted to be chosen by Melanie, Vixen’s Squire. It brought back fond memories of the last time this occurred outside the King Arthurs Arms Tintagel in 2001.

Later that afternoon, Melanie invited me to join them in performing my favourite dance Gemini. It’s a dance I have always remembered and one that Beltane Border Morris love to watch.

I had no time to practice with them, so they performed it once and invited me to join them a second time. As soon as the dance began, the fifteen years I had been apart from Vixen seemed to disappear and every move was performed as precisely then, as it had all those years ago.

Here is video footage of their dance and at the end, you hear them inviting me to join them for a repeat performance.

The members of Vixen were amazed I remembered it and were pleased with our performance together. It was wonderful to receive a hug from each of them too when the dance was over.

The last time I performed with Vixen in Boscastle outside the Museum was seventeen years ago on the twelfth of June 2001 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Fraudulent Mediums Act and Witchcraft Repeal.

Participating in the dance gave me a wonderful and positive memory of my final Morris dance at the All Hallows Gathering. It is the most satisfying Morris dance I have ever performed at this event and I cannot thank them enough for that moment.

The Dark Gathering goes from strength to strength and has a protective energy that surrounds 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 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 provide Tarot readings and Spiritual Counselling

Jackie provides readings and healing

Katie provides readings

We have worked at this venue on a few occasions 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 mediumship. The spirit connection may not always be with the spirit loved one they expect to hear from. A reader will relate the information received and cannot select a particular spirit with which to communicate.

If there is a prediction concerning future events that appears in a reading, it could take months or years 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 provides Rune Readings

Readers are there to offer guidance and help to their clients. They are ‘spiritual counsellors’ who have also experienced life’s ups and downs and by connecting with their intuitive/spiritual energy and 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 to benefit the client. As we know even with human relationships there can be misunderstandings and wrong interpretations when conversing face to face, in written communication or online. 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 that 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.

Harvest Home St Buryan 2018

Yesterday evening we attended the Harvest Home auction in our wonderful pub the St Buryan Inn. We arrived early to dine there, Cassandra reserved a table along with Vanda our Rector. While having our meal we were able to update one another on recent work as Vanda takes great interest in the varied spiritual events that occur in all areas of Cornwall.

It was not long before we were joined by other friends and local residents within the village before the auction began.

Local produce filled the table and it was wonderful to see three pumpkins as they have been absent for the past two years.

Our local resident Pauline bakes wonderful Cornish pasties, she provides a few smaller ones, but the giant pasty is awaited at the end of each auction as it is understandably purchased at a high price.

The pub was full of locals and there was a happy friendly atmosphere within our community.

I also purchased my first pumpkin from the auction as Cassandra usually does so each year if any are available.

Barry our wonderful caller does well each year and Penzance Food Bank will receive £354 from this superb event.

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