Caravanning Celebrities meet Wise Women of West Cornwall

In May this year we were invited by Channel 5 to take part in their programme Celebrities go Caravanning. We hoped the selected celebrities would have an open mind and respect the work we do.

Squeezed into Cassandra’s tiny cottage was a camera crew of four with all their equipment and two celebrities, Colin Baker and Sherrie Hewson. There was limited room for manoeuvre! My familiar Clutterbuck is accustomed to the media visiting Cassandra’s cottage and no longer makes a hasty retreat via the cat flap. He was the star of the show on this occasion!

A huge thank you to Chris Neno for the photographs above.

Channel 5’s camera crew portrayed the subject well and showed respect for Cassandra’s property. It was a pleasure to work with them and along with Colin Baker and Sherrie Hewson who were fascinating people to converse with. The chants and incantations we used are for media purposes and not included in our personal work.

I recorded the following footage of this programme from our television:

The Titanic’s Cornish Connection

I have always felt a strong connection to the history of the Titanic and was unaware of its significant connection with Cornwall. This was until I visited the Titanic Exhibition at the Falmouth National Maritime Museum on 29th July this year.

The Christmas card was sent to Lulu Drew, the widow of James Drew, originally from Constantine. Lulu and James had emigrated to America in 1896 and in 1912 they returned to Cornwall to visit family. For their return journey to America they travelled on Titanic, and their cabin was next to that of Emily Richards of Newlyn. Remarkably descendants of Emily Richards have also lent items to the Museum for the exhibition.
Sadly James lost his life in the disaster on 15 April 1912. The Christmas card reads: “At this time of year our thoughts are with Lulu Drew who lost her husband James when the Titanic sank. From Aunt Bessie xx”

Ernie Warmington has also lent the Museum a memorial postcard that was sent from Portscatho to Mylor. Memorial postcards were printed after the disaster to help raise funds for the survivors.
Ernie Warmington says: “I’ve visited the Museum to see the Titanic exhibition and the Cornish connections on display have made a real impact. I knew I had these objects and that they would be of great local interest, I just didn’t know where to lay them.

Here are some of the Cornish passengers of the Titanic:

.Mrs William Rowe Hocking was born as Eliza in Tresco in the Scilly Isles off Cornwall, England on 12 April 1858. She first appears on the 1861 census living at Bay on Tresco but the family later settled on the British mainland and appear on the 1871 census at an unspecified address in Penzance, Cornwall. She was married in Penzance in 1880 to William Rowe Hocking (b. 1854), a confectioner’s foreman, and the freshly married couple appear on the 1881 census living at 27 Leskinnick Terrace, Madron, Penzance. Her daughters and two grandsons were rescued in lifeboat 4. Her son George was lost.

Mr Edwy Arthur West was born in Perranzabuloe, Cornwall, England on 20 November 1875. Edwy first appears on the 1881 census when he and his family are residing at Point in Feock, Cornwall. When the family appear on the 1891 census they are residents of Kenwyn, Truro and Edwy, then aged 15, is still attending school. Edwy had struck out by himself by the time of the 1901 census and he was recorded as boarding at 76-86 Rings Road, Portsmouth and he was described as an unmarried house furnishers assistant. Arthur had served as a chorister for many of his young years in Truro Cathedral and to mark his passing a memorial to him was placed within the Cathedral by his wife and daughters who, after the tragedy, returned to live in Cornwall.

Ada Mary West was born 1879, Truro, Cornwall. Ada and her family appear on the 1881 census living at Prospect Place in Truro. Ada West died in St Vincent’s Nursing Home in Plympton, Devon on 20 April 1953 aged 74. One keepsake that remained in her possession for the remainder of her life was the flask that her husband had passed to her the last time she ever saw him.

Mrs William John Wilkes was born as Ellen Needs in Tresco in the Scilly Isles off Cornwall, England on 13 June 1864. She first appears on the 1871 census living with her family at an unspecified address in Penzance, Cornwall. Also travelling with her, albeit in second class, were her sister Eliza Hocking and her son George and two daughters Ellen and Emily with the latter’s two sons. Ellen was rescued on lifeboat 16. Her sister, nieces and great-nephews were rescued in lifeboat 4.

Master Sibley George Richards was born in Newlyn, Cornwall, England on 17 June 1911. He was the second son of James Sibley Richards (1887-1939), a general labourer, and Emily Hocking (1887-1972). His parents were both Cornish and had married in 1908. By 1912 he had one sibling, his elder brother William Rowe (b. 1909). On the night of the sinking Sibley and his brother were asleep in their cabin with their mother when their grandmother came to alert them of the danger. The family escaped in lifeboat 4 but his uncle was among the lost. Arriving in New York, he was met by his father who had travelled from Akron.

Master William Rowe Richards was born at 6 St Mary’ s Street, Penzance, Cornwall, England on 1 April 1909. He was the eldest son of James Sibley Richards (1887-1939), a general labourer, and Emily Hocking (1887-1972). His parents were both Cornish and had married in 1908. He was named after his maternal grandfather. On the night of the sinking William and his brother were asleep in their cabin with their mother when their grandmother came to alert them of the danger. The family escaped in lifeboat 4 but his uncle was among the lost.

Mrs Sidney Richards (Emily Hocking) was born in Penzance, Cornwall, England on 22 April 1887. She first appears on the 1891 census living at 39 Adelaide Street, Penzance. Her father is believed to have settled in South where he died and her mother remarried, becoming Mrs William Guy. The family appear on the 1901 census at 34 Mount Street, Penzance. Emily was married in 1908 to James Sibley Richards (b. 9 October 1887), a general labourer from Newlyn, Cornwall. The couple appeared on the 1911 census living at 6 St Mary’s Place, Penzance, a boarding house ran by her mother. The couple would have two sons whilst in England: William Rowe (b. 1909) and Sibley George (b. 1911) and later lived at ‘The Meadow’, Newlyn. Their boat was only a short distance away from the Titanic went it went down. The people in the boat pulled seven men out of the water. The Richards and Hockings hoped that George Hocking had been rescued by another ship, but he was lost. After leaving the Carpathia, the Richards stayed at Blake’s Star Hotel at 57 Clarkson’s Street in New York City and she was reunited with her husband Sibley Richards who had travelled from Akron.

Frank Thomas Andrew 1 was born as Thomas Francis Gribble in Perranarworthal, Falmouth, Cornwall, England in the closing months of 1885. Frank grew up on his father’s 25 acre farm, Gilly Tresamble, in Perranarworthal and appears there on both the 1891 and 1901 census records. Frank was married on 4 July 1908 at the register office in Helston, Cornwall. His bride was Rhoda Tripp (b. 11 December 1887). Rhoda hailed from Redruth, Cornwall and was the daughter of Henry Tripp, a farmer, and his wife Emily. Frank and Rhoda settled in Illogan, Cornwall and lived at Forest Gate, Four Lanes in that village, appearing there on the 1911 census. At that time they had one daughter, Lucy (b. 30 November 1908). Frank worked as a tin miner. Frank Andrew died in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

Robert Hichens 1 was born in St Peter’s Square, Newlyn, Cornwall on 16 September 1882. He was the son of a fisherman, Philip Hichens and Rebecca Hichens (née Wood) who was originally of Whitby, North Yorkshire. By 1906 he was shown on his marriage certificate to be a “master mariner”. He had married Florence Mortimore at the parish church of Manaton, Devon on 23 October in that year. On the night of 14 April 1912 Robert Hichens was at the ship’s wheel (having relieved Q.M. Oliver at 10 p.m.) when the warning came from the lookout that an iceberg had been spotted ahead of the ship. When the order came to hard a’starboard he immediately swung the wheel as far as it would go. At about 12.23 he was relieved by QM Perkis at around which time one of the officers shouted ‘That will do with the wheel, get the boats out.’ Later, Second Officer Lightoller told Lookout Fred Fleet to get into Lifeboat 6 on the port side and put Robert Hichens in charge of that boat. The lifeboat (capacity 65) left the ship at about 12.55 with only 28 persons on board with the order that they were to make for the lights that could be seen in the distance.

Robert’s conduct on the lifeboat would later come under intense scrutiny. After being rescued and landing in New York, Senator William Smith had subpoenaed 29 crew members for the US Inquiry and the remaining crew were to return to England on April 20 aboard the steamer Lapland. Robert hadn’t received any notification, and so he was aboard Lapland when it left New York at 10 a.m. Shortly after departing the ship received a wireless to stop and await a boarding party. When the boarding party arrived 5 more crew were taken ashore, among them was Robert.

Mr Richard George Hocking, 22, was born 26 July, 1889 at 39 Adelaide Street, Penzance Cornwall, the youngest son of Mr William Hocking (Confectioner and Baker) and Mrs Eliza Hocking (née Neads). After the death of his father in South Africa the family moved to 6 St Mary’s Street, Penzance.

George perished in the disaster, his body, if recovered, was never identified. His mother had asked him to enter her lifeboat but he replied, ‘No, these men are good to stand back for you, and I must stay back and let their wives and mothers go’. A brass plaque in memory of George Hocking and his friend Harry Cotterill was placed in St John’s School, St Michaels’s Street, Penzance shortly after the tragedy.

Miss Ellen “Nellie” Hocking was born in Penzance, Cornwall, England on 5 November 1891. She was the daughter of William Rowe Hocking (b. 1854), a baker and confectioner, and Eliza Needs (b. 1858). Her father hailed from Cornwall whilst her mother was born in Tresco on the Isles of Scilly and they were married in 1880. When Nellie appears on the 1901 census she is 34 Mount Street, Penzance. Her mother was on her second marriage by this time–the ultimate whereabouts of her father being unknown–to a Mr William Guy. Mr Guy died in 1907 and the family later show up on the 1911 census living at 6 St Mary’s Place, Penzance where her mother ran a boarding house. She remarked at one time to Nora Keane that as night had fallen the previous night she had heard a cock crowing (a sign in Cornish folklore of impending disaster). Nellie was told that she had imagined it but she was adamant.  Nellie, her mother, sister and nephews were rescued in lifeboat 4. Her brother George was lost.

Mr Joseph Charles Fillbrook was born in Truro, Cornwall, England in early 1894. He was the son of William Fillbrook (b. 1868), a mason, and Catherine Vincent (b. 1866). His father was native to Truro whilst his mother was Canadian-born. Joseph first appears on the 1901 census living at the home of his maternal grandparents Edward and Mary Jane Fillbrook at 10 Victoria Square, Kenwyn, Cornwall and again on the 1911 census with his now widowed grandmother at Williams Row, Calenick Street, Kenwyn; he was described as a house painter by the time of the latter record and had been apprenticed as such since leaving school. His parents and siblings are listed on the 1901 census living at 8 Lemon Row and on the 1911 census at 16 Charles Street, Truro. Joseph Charles Fillbrook was lost in the sinking and his body, if recovered, was never identified.

Mr Joseph Charles Nicholls was born in Nancledra, Cornwall, England on 24 July 1892. He was the son of Richard Henry Nicholls (b. 1867) and Agnes Friggens (b. 1861), both Cornwall natives who had married in 1886 and he had two known siblings: Mary Ethel (b. 1886), Richard Henry (b. 1890). His father was a stonemason who worked at the quarry at Trenowith Downs.
The family appeared on the 1891 census living at an unspecified address in Nancledra, Cornwall. When Joseph’s father Richard Nicholls died is not certain but his mother was listed as widow on the 1901 census when she and her children were living at Corbis Bay, Uny Lelant, Cornwall. Joseph was lost in the sinking. On 23 April 1912 his body was recovered from the sea by the MacKay Bennett.

Mrs Robert Davies was born as Agnes Friggens 1,2 in Ludgvan, Cornwall, England on 23 November 1861. She was the daughter of Grace Friggens (b. circa 1841 in Gulvall, Cornwall) who was unmarried at the time of her birth (3). Grace seemingly married a few years later to a man named Thomas Victor and had at least one more child before emigrating to the USA, leaving Agnes behind.Agnes was apparently raised by Henry White (b. 1820) and Dinah  (4) (b. 1819), the latter née Rowe, natives of Ludgvan who already had a large family. Agnes first appears on the 1871 census living with them at an address in Lennor, Penzance. By the time of the 1881 census, Dinah (now a widow) and Agnes are the only ones present at their home on New Mill, Madron, Penzance and both are described as charwomen. Agnes survived the sinking, probably in lifeboat 14, the events immediately before and after the sinking were recounted by her to a Calumet newspaper on arrival in Michigan.

Read more about the history

Here are some of the images captured on my visit to the Museum.

There were also costumes on display from the popular Titanic movie:

Even though the creation of a romantic story was the main focus of this movie it still highlighted the tragic loss of many lives along with the intensity of that night. A time in history that will always be remembered.  It is also a reminder of how helpless humans can be when dealing with the power and energy of the sea.

Beltane 2018

Its been a struggle for the season of Spring to fully emerge after an extremely cold winter. Lately we have had plenty of sunshine and temperature has risen but there is still a cool sensation from the breeze. The blackthorn blossom arrived late and the gorse flowers are also now in bloom.

Cassandra and I had an early Beltane celebration with our group at Sancreed Holy Well  illuminated by the bright moon just approaching its full phase. This day was also the 20th anniversary of my self dedication to the Gods after 2 years of study and practice at the beginning of my spiritual journey.

Cassandra built a small fire in a clearing close by the well and we indulged in a celebration of fertility,  acknowledging and accepting the power of our gender as nature’s gift from the Gods. The rite was enhanced by the moon’s rays shining down upon us.

We also jumped the fire sensing its cleansing and invigorating energy.

Each of us in turn visited the Holy Well and as I emerged from it the moon faced me shining her light into the deep entrance of the well. It was a sublime moment and yet again a bright moon accompanied me as it has on many significant occasions throughout my spiritual journey.

Our group returned to Cassandra’s cottage for feasting at the hearth.

Cassandra and I spent the afternoon of Beltane walking through St Loy woodland to see the bluebells. I deviated from the usual pathways exploring hidden areas amongst the trees. The closed buds on the trees and plants had heightened energy of bursting forth. Sensing this energy deepens our connection with this season of fertility.

After exploring the woodland, we arrived at the Cove. The incoming tide brought with it the wonderful aroma of the sea. Cassandra  rested a while and I climbed the huge boulders to sit by the sea for a time of contemplation.

On May Day ‘Team Boekka’ visited Padstow and had a fabulous time. Cassandra first took me to this event in 2009 when I began training as Teazer for Penglaz to show me an example of the energies Teazers work with, especially within this particular community. The knowledge and performance is passed down to each generation ensuring the continuity of the tradition. It was essential for my apprentice Teazers and our new Oss rider to also observe this.

It was an eventful Beltane and May Day. I leave you now with a popular song of the season sung by the wonderful Will Fox from the ultra talented Beltane Morris. May you all have a joyous Springtime!

Devon and Cornwall PF Conference 20th Anniversary

After a seven year absence from the Devon and Cornwall Pagan Conference, Cassandra and I attended the event this year.

A 20th anniversary is a commendable achievement and as Cassandra was one of the organizers for the first 12 years, we thought it an auspicious occasion to attend and celebrate with the rest of the team.

We were delighted to receive such a warm enthusiastic welcome from the majority of attendees on our arrival Friday evening. It was obvious that many had missed Cassandra’s vibrant entertaining personality.

We had another surprise meeting with John and Kitty who had travelled from Scotland to attend the Conference. It had been 6 years since we last met.

Levannah was delighted to see Cassandra and they spent part of the evening updating one another on events and sharing a little nostalgia of previous Conferences.

On Saturday morning during the Opening Ritual, Levannah made the surprising announcement that the event would no longer be connected with the Pagan Federation and would continue independently.

The following text is taken from literature handed out at the Conference:

Welcome to Pagan Phoenix Southwest

Pagan Phoenix SW·Wednesday, 7 March 2018

We have organised the conference event for the last twenty years in this region for Pagans with the Devon and Cornwall Pagan Federation. In 2019 there will be some changes to the way the conference is organised. The conference team has decided that it is time to make the conference independent of the Pagan Federation. This will enable it to grow and develop, and continue to be an annual event in Cornwall at Penstowe, for all Pagans and magical folk of all paths, at which we can gather together to celebrate, learn and enjoy.
Pagan Phoenix SW is an independent, locally run non-profit company which has been set up by your organising team to run the conference. This is all it will do; other activities undertaken by the PF will continue to be their responsibility. We will bring you the very best Pagan and magical speakers, artists and musicians.
You should not notice many changes; only good ones. The conference will be run on a not-for-profit basis and the team who organise it will be volunteers and will not be paid. Pagan Phoenix SW will retain enough funds to run the conference. There is currently a charity raffle at the conference but in addition to this, in future, any surplus funds will be donated to charity and if you attend the conference you will be invited to vote as to which charities we should support.
There will be a concessionary ticket rate and we will continue to offer two for one tickets for people with disabilities who require a carer in order to attend. Conference attendees are very welcome to make suggestions for speakers, and performers. We will welcome stall-holders and local crafts persons just as we do now. Accommodation will continue to be organised through our good friends at Penstowe. You are welcome to contact us via the facebook page.
We have already started work on the 2019 conference. The programme will be publicised and tickets will go on sale, as usual, at Samhain.
We would like to extend a very warm welcome to you to the next conference which will be held here at Penstowe on Saturday 9th March 2019. Please put the date in your diary now; we are looking forward to seeing you again next year.
Blessings to one and all from Pagan Phoenix SW!

It surprised us to hear of this change along with other developments that had occurred, but we understood the reasons for their decision. All who attended seemed supportive of it as they had enjoyed this event throughout the last 20 years and were happy about its continuity.

Levannah spoke of the early years and it was delightful to hear Cassandra included in these memories. All of the organizers were asked to stand and were applauded by the audience for their hard work.

During the day, the talks by Julian Vayne, Marian Green, Ronald Hutton, Susanne Rance and Penny Billington (in place of Rae Beth due to ill-health) are unique and fascinating speakers. Each one is charismatic and confident with their personal subject. They also have excellent rapport with the audience which is wonderful to observe.

Julian Vayne never fails to entertain and has the remarkable talent of drawing you into his ‘world of the wyrd’ with his fascinating view on the Craft .

Marian Green is a ‘mine of information’ and her delivery is relaxed due to numerous years of experience and a deep connection with her subject. The same can be said of Penny Billington.

Ronald Hutton’s story of his early days within the Craft held one’s attention, especially when relating how the Craft was not taken seriously in the past. He attained his position as a Professor before he began to speak on these matters hoping his position as an academic would alter perceptions. He injects some humour into his stories too and this helps when dealing with deep, serious content.

During the lunch break Cassandra and I were approached by others, requiring an update on our lives and work. We were never alone that day as there were so many to speak to at this well attended event.

Susanne Rance discussed the meaning of Runes and their connections with certain areas of the body. There are powerful sounds that resonate with various runes when sung or chanted. The audience participated by singing each note and the vibrations were distinctly felt around the venue.

Levannah also gave tribute to our dear friend Lorraine Hall who sadly passed away the previous year. She worked along with Cassandra during the early years of the Conferences and I will always remember the wonderful welcome I received from her on arrival at the 2006 Devon and Cornwall Conference after we purchased our new home in Cornwall. Immediately after her greeting she introduced me to Cassandra.

The speakers along with Damh the Bard formed a panel who were given questions from members of the audience. A memorable answer came from Damh when he appealed to the Pagan community to put aside ‘sh!tty egos’ and make a concerted effort to get on with one another instead of creating divisions. He also spoke of his first meeting with Cassandra in the early days of discovering his Pagan path. Each question asked was answered in turn by each speaker of the panel. Their individual views, interpretations and stories were inspiring to hear.

During this, the winner of the Deities competition at the 2006 Conference appeared on stage wearing his Cernunnos costume that caused much hilarity when he won that year. I had also entered this competition as Sekhmet among many other entrants.

The closing ritual was the story of a Shaman drumming by a small fire in woodland. His spirit energy connected with various animals, a Phoenix, buzzard, fox, stoat, badger and the woodland spirit.

The narrator explained the symbolism and the gift of insight the Shaman would receive from each one. The animal masks were well made and the costume of the golden Phoenix was beautiful.

No event would be the same without an appearance from our wonderful Cornish Piper Merv Davey to lead the spiral dance. We had the opportunity to converse with him and his wife during the lunch break and he expressed an interest in performing at our All Hallows event.

We visited the London Inn for an evening meal after a ten minute walk from the venue. The night air was refreshing as a full Conference event can become extremely warm. As we studied the menu near the bar a young woman approached me and expressed her appreciation and enjoyment of our Wisewomen in West Cornwall Facebook page. It was good to receive feedback on various posts as well as our updates on work and events.

We arrived back at Penstowe Manor in time for Damh the Bard’s performance. We sang, danced and had a wonderful time with good friends. Fiona was recovering from a recent fall but still worked hard at the Conference. The evening provided an opportunity for her to relax and enjoy wonderful music.

Cassandra and I were pleased we decided to attend this special event and had a fabulous time. We wish the Devon and Cornwall Conference a successful future as they forge ahead as Pagan Phoenix South West.

Chepstow Wassail 2018 with Mari Lwyds

Our guise team Boekka had a wonderful time at our yearly visit to Chepstow meeting the fabulous Mari Lwyds and friends once again. This year the temperature was a little warmer without the frost of 2017.

We arrived on Friday and spent the evening in the atmospheric bar of the historic: Greenman Backpackers Hostel. A warm welcome awaits and the staff made a concerted effort to ensure their customers were comfortable and content.

Mike who owns the hostel is also a member of the energetic Widders Morris and organizer of the Wassail event. This is an extremely busy weekend for him.

The programme for the day began earlier this year as the Maris met outside the Greenman Backpackers Hostel before processing to the castle. They performed their usual banter and song to gain entry to the hostel and participated in traditional song as their voices echoed with the marvelous acoustics in the basement of the ancient building.

My ‘Oss Morvargh’s debut was at this event, receiving a copious amount of attention and admiration. Our good friend Phil Larcher, rider of the Mari Lwyd complimented me on Morvargh’s decoration which is praise indeed from one who has a strong connection with the spirit of the Mari, her primitive energy and history.

The procession through the town was downhill, but with the weight of an ‘Oss, a slow and steady pace is needed for the riders when walking through the wet cobbled streets.

After the procession we gathered for the Wassail by the ancient castle. We had a little time for preparation to bring out the Lands End ‘Oss Penkevyll. Her rider this year was an extremely fit and muscular Welshman and his family were delighted to see this. He was a tall  man, so Penkevyll had the best view of the event above the crowd.

John Isaac

We enjoyed performances by Widders Morris and Styx of Stroud. Morvargh danced to the music and I had a wonderful ‘work out’!

John Isaac

During the Wassail at Chepstow castle, Penkevyll remained on higher ground as the ground was extremely muddy due to a copious amount of rain in the days leading up to the event.

John Isaac

John Isaac

After the Wassail we made our way to the Chepstow Castle Inn where a Beauty Pageant had been arranged for the Maris. Penkevyll could not join us for this as she was too tall to enter the building.

Morvargh received a huge cheer from the audience on appearing and many journalists required information about her and how the ‘Oss connects with Cornish tradition. We informed them that owning an ‘Oss or a ‘beast’ has become a trend in recent years as many new ones have appeared in Cornwall. Penkevyll however was one of the first in West Cornwall after Penglaz in Penzance.

There were 21 Maris and ‘Osses in attendance this year, 10 more than last year. Even though the Beauty Pageant was arranged and each Mari or ‘Oss received a rosette they are so uniquely beautiful it would be too difficult to choose a winner. All of them were winners that day and a credit to their owners with the obvious hard work that had gone into their creation.

It was time for the meeting of the Welsh and English on the Old Wye Bridge by early evening. A projector screen was erected this year so that those who could not join us on the bridge were able to watch the ceremony. Boekka decided not to take our ‘Osses to the bridge as we took time out to enjoy this part without distraction. My apprentice Teazer had done a fabulous job assisting with Penkevyll and Morvargh during the day so we had earned the freedom to enjoy the atmosphere.

Scarlet certainly has the wild mischievous energy required for being a Teazer.

Our good friend Jason Semmens held our Cornish flag and did an impressive job of displaying it beside the Welsh and English flags.

After the bridge ceremony we arrived at Chepstow Museum for the Maris to once again sing their traditional Pwmco and gain entry. The handler of Mari Pontypwyl offered my apprentice Teazer the opportunity to guide her Mari into the Museum and I followed on as a guide. Earlier in the day Scarlet also had the opportunity to ride one of David Pitts smaller ‘Osses so it was an event full of new and delightful experiences for her.

The Chepstow Wassail event is a long and active day, but we enjoyed every minute. Team Boekka worked well together and I would like to thank Cassandra, Scarlet, our rider and John Isaac (who captured some fantastic images) for all their hard work.

Cheers to you all this Wassail season!

A Winter Handfasting 2018

We first met Karyl when she travelled here from the U.S. with a group of friends and arranged to join us for a Walk with Wisewomen two years ago.

On this occasion, she returned with her new partner Paul and requested a Handfasting. January has had frequent stormy weather, gale force winds and heavy hail showers accompanied by icy temperatures, so Karyl requested we conduct the ceremony within Cassandra’s cottage.

This is the 2nd occasion when a Handfasting has occurred within the cottage, the first happened many years ago when a couple from Denmark unexpectedly called upon Cassandra requesting an immediate ceremony, giving her about an hour to prepare.

Karyl had booked in advance, so our wonderful friend and photographer John Isaac captured fabulous images of the occasion. Karyl and Paul were accompanied by two good friends to witness the ceremony and offer support. It was a small and intimate ceremony before the larger legal wedding they had planned for May Day.

Images by John Isaac

A New Year Begins…

The: All Hallows Dark Gathering 2017 event in Boscastle was significant for me. I have trained and performed as a Teazer alongside Cassandra Latham Jones since 2009 and it was at Chepstow in January this year she passed her ‘snapper’ to me along with the position of main Teazer.

At this event I guided Penkevyll and stood alongside her while the Wassail ceremonies took place.  The meeting on the bridge is a little more energetic as Penkevyll accompanies the Maris to meet the approaching English from the opposite side at the centre of the bridge.

St Pirans festival in March invites Penkevyll and: Boekka to take part in their procession at Redruth.  The procession is uphill and extra energy is required here while Teazing and interacting with the crowd along with keeping an eye on Penkevyll’s antics.

The All Hallows Dark Gathering in Boscastle is now a popular event. During the afternoon I build energy by moving to the tribal music played for the Morris dancers (I find Beltane’s music extremely powerful) and connect with spirits of place on land and sea at the wondrous harbour of Boscastle.

This year I also rode my Sea ‘Oss Morvargh during the afternoon accompanied by John and Sue Exton with their new Mari Seren. Dancing with Morvargh is also an ideal warm up for the Teazing of Penkevyll. Mole, the Squire of Wreckers Morris invited Morvargh to dance alongside his Morris band while they performed a dance about the sea. We worked well together and the audience enjoyed it immensely.

It was then time to return Morvargh to her stable and change into my Teazer kit. I prepared Penkevyll with the assistance of Cassandra and our rider. The procession led by the Maris made its way through Boscastle and the wonderful sound of throbbing drums signalled the appearance of Penkevyll.

Our space was rather restricted this year as Mr Fox had their fire display equipment in the space. Penkevyll danced and interacted with the crowd until we observed the flaming torches of the procession.

We welcomed the Maris before guiding Penkevyll into the Museum for the Pwmco ceremony.

During this performance I was observed by my new apprentice Teazer. Gem is in her 30s and has a good connection with Penkevyll. She also understands the Cornish energies and has an enquiring mind with welcome experience in the performing arts. I look forward to her progression.

This year I sang the Cornish Pwmco alone while Susan Exton sang the Welsh version. I had no time to drink water after the energetic Teazing and this affected my singing as my throat was rather dry.  Susan and I thought the Pwmco went better than expected, particularly as she had little notice of this with Vivien’s sudden illness.

The Mari’s stayed within the entrance hall of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic while blessing the property, as the corridors and stairs are difficult for taller ‘Osses to negotiate. After the refreshments of beer and cake, I guided Penkevyll outside to watch the fabulous performance of Mr Fox. There is a deep primitive energy about them which suited our event.

After Sarah Emery’s beautiful song, it was time for Cassandra, Michelle and I to invoke the spirits of place with our bullroarers. Will Fox from Beltane Morris delivered a wonderful speech about the meaning of Samhain followed by a blessing.

All participants worked hard, the cooperation and friendship of all concerned imbued positive energies into the All Hallows event of 2017. A fabulous start to the new Celtic year.

Morvargh visits Boscastle

Yesterday was a fabulous day for us when we took Morvargh the Sea ‘Oss to Boscastle and introduced her to Peter, Joyce and Louise Fenton at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic.

The village was full of tourists who were interested in Morvargh and what she represents.

We also spent time enjoying the sublime atmosphere of the harbour.

A wonderful afternoon.

Morvargh’s First House Blessing

During the first week of July 2017 a close friend of ours moved to Cornwall. They are a special family, the lovely Michelle, her husband Dave, son Corvan and also their beautiful raven Odin. We entered the Aviary to meet him and words cannot express the way one feels when in close proximity to such a wonderful creature.

Michelle and Dave were delighted to meet Morvargh my Sea ‘Oss when she gave her powerful, protective energy while blessing their home.

The Mari Lwyds in the Welsh tradition bring good fortune to households:

“The Mari Lwyd (the Grey Mare) is a pre-Christian tradition said to bring good luck. People made a horse figure from a horse’s skull, with decorative ears and eyes attached. They adorned it with colourful reins, bells, and ribbons and wrapped it with a white sheet that is carried around on a pole. The Mari Lwyd and its party would go door-to-door, singing and challenging the families inside to a battle of rhyming insults in Welsh. At the end of the battle of wits (known as pwnco) the group would be invited into the house for refreshments.”

Read more here: Mari Lwyd Tradition

“The Mari Lwyd (grey mare) is a centuries-old Welsh winter tradition involving a decorated, shrouded horse skull which is carried from house to house, or pub, by performers seeking entry for food/drink by entertaining with songs, rhymes or riddles. The tradition is said to bring good luck.” Western Telegraph

“At last the Maris gained entrance to the Museum and they blessed it in their usual ways ending with the traditional libations of soul cakes and beer.” Grumpy Old Witchcraft

Read more here: Grumpy Old Witchcraft

It was a pleasure to do this for our wonderful friends who have offered an abundance of unconditional love and support.

Welcome to Cornwall Michelle, Dave, Corvan and Odin!

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