It has certainly been a challenging year for all and the situation concerning Covid 19 has affected many events and community work. Cassandra and I decided to postpone our workshops held throughout the summer until later this year and fortunately our understanding clients were able to alter their schedules too.
Workshops at present need to be carried out while maintaining a social distance. At the moment we host them at our Village Hall as Cassandra’s cottage is far too small for this requirement.
Although the village hall does not have the same ambiance as the cottage, the local residents have done an impressive job of giving the rooms a thorough cleanse. There are certain guidelines that need to be adhered to of cleaning the areas before and after use.
Our September workshop was our first one this year and we were fortunate to have only two clients to try out these changes and test the new way of working. The kitchen within the hall is not in use, so we were unable to offer the refreshments we would usually provide while at the cottage.
Cassandra began the afternoon session by discussing all aspects of the Cunning Craft and working as a Wisewoman. At times her ‘train of thought can meander into other areas and I am able to bring this to her attention and steer the discussion back to the original subject. We were asked by the village hall committee to keep the doors and windows open to ventilate the area. During the afternoon we were visited by four Red Admiral butterflies which was a pleasant distraction!
Our clients had a different views on various aspects of the Old Craft as one is in the process of training within a magical group and the other is a healing practitioner with a keen interest in the land and folklore which produced fascinating discussion. We had a short break to enjoy the sunshine outside and then set up the table for our practical work.
My work includes the construction of charms, therefore creating a Witch Bottle spell would utilise the same Correspondences when researching the correct ingredients to place within the bottles.
We have seen a variety of bottles and jars personally chosen by clients for each workshop and on this occasion our ladies had chosen huge receptacles! They gave a lot of individual thought concerning the ingredients by studying the Correspondence table provided. When they were satisfied with their choices and had gathered all they required, the construction work began.
We guided them through the first stage of their bottle/jar spell and after the workshop they take them home and complete them by adding their personal DNA to it before filling the bottle/jar with liquid. When our afternoon session had come to an end it took us quite a while to clean any surfaces we had used before leaving the premises.
After a two hour dinner break our clients visited the cottage conservatory to bless their jars and then we transported our two ladies to a ‘place of power’ and gave them guidance in energizing their spells. We experienced a stunning sunset that evening and immediately after our energy raising, a murder of crows flew overhead. We sat quietly for a while enjoying the feeling of the energy raised and the stillness of the air around us as the sun descended on the horizon.
We returned to the cottage and spent time in Cassandra’s conservatory where we were able to maintain social distance and enjoyed a glass of Cornish mead with saffron cake, while discussing the day and answering any questions they had.
It was a successful workshop, even though there were some aspects of it that were quite different to the workshops we are accustomed to. We look forward to our next one!
“‘A very informative workshop. Cassandra and Laetitia shared their working knowledge and were very welcoming. A good format to the day.” N.G.
“I attended the course Folklore and found it a really interesting. The new measures in place for covid do not take anything away from the experience and all was done really well. It was a wonderful day full of interesting experiences and I felt I learned a lot. I left in the evening feeling inspired to try new ideas at home.” S.L.
The summertime has been extremely busy and before we know it Autumn is upon us. Many of the tourists had traveled home and we enjoyed a peaceful wise woman walk with an interesting group who were visiting from America. One of them, Eric had joined us on one of our walks five years ago and it was wonderful to see him again.
Our first visit was to Men an Tol. Rain was not forecast today, but when we arrived at the site, we were bathed in a short cleansing shower.
Each person is unique in their beliefs, their interpretation of the sites and the reasons they attend our walks. It fascinates me to observe and listen to their reactions, especially if they have not visited these places before.
We also took them to Men Scryfaa nearby standing stone in a field opposite the Men an Tol. Cassandra discussed the carvings on the stone and the group gave their impressions of what they could represent.
Carn Galvacould also be seen from where we were and even at a distance its magnificent presence could be felt.
We also visited Madron Well and Baptistry. The hedgerows and trees were vibrant and full of life and our group enjoyed the abundance of blackthorn that surrounded them.
Cassandra spoke about the ‘clouties’ hanging from the trees, why they are put there and that this is acceptable providing the materials are biodegradable.
Madron Baptistry activates the imagination with its ancient energy. Unfortunately there was no water in the baptistry well on this occasion which can happen if the flow is obstructed or when there has been limited rainfall.
The sun appeared from behind the clouds and shone down on us as we sat in the baptistry.
It was an enjoyable afternoon with a wonderful group of people. I’m sure our paths will meet again.
I have felt a close connection with Zennor from the first occasion Cassandra took me to visit Zennor Hill in 2009. We were there for the specific reason of my spiritual connection with the land. Whilst exploring the hill I was drawn energetically to the village of Zennor that was visible below the hill.
I then learnt about the legend of the Mermaid of Zennor and have already written about on this site. See Mermaid of Zennor
It was a delight to see the mermaid carving upon the side of the pew within St Senara’s church in Zennor.
The worn pew is tucked away in a side-aisle and shows the scars of over 500 years constant use.
The curious carving of the mermaid has many interpretations from its medieval worshipers. Mermaids were a symbol of Aphrodite Goddess of love and the sea who held a love apple in one hand and a comb in the other. the quince (love apple) was later changed to a mirror which is a symbol of heartlessness and vanity. Medieval Christians viewed her as a symbol of the ‘sins of the flesh’. She was used to illustrate the two natures of Christ in the seafaring community as she was half fish and half human symbolizing that the Christ could be both divine and human. This resonated with the inhabitants of the region as their lives were intertwined with and dependent on the sea.
Recently I visited The Healing Star in Penzance where they displayed a plaster cast of the Mermaid of Zennor by Rory Te Tigo. He left it in the shop hoping they could sell it for him. Each time I visited I was entranced by it, especially as there is little memorabilia of this particular mermaid. When I eventually decided to purchase it, Rory had collected the mermaid as he planned to display her at an event. I contacted him and he kindly offered to make another for me over a period of three weeks.
Rory had the marvelous idea of producing a casting of the mermaid carving displayed in the Tinner’s Arms at Zennor and creates replicas of it using this method.
I am now the proud owner of a Mermaid of Zennor which is about the same size as the one in the church. Rory described in great detail how he created her, as you can see by John Isaac’s wonderful photographs Rory works with precision and achieves wonderful results. Her powerful presence graces our home and brings with her the blessings of the sea.
To see more of Rory Te Tigo’s work visit his website
The folklore of a wicked witch and her familiar is well-known and often told. During the season changes and longer nights it is common to see a black cloaked figure with a cat or toad at their side. This is an archetype of magical practitioners wielding their power over animals and nature, but a far cry from the original beliefs.
Magical spirit creatures have featured within and resonated throughout history in creational myths, religions and tribal traditions. In recent times magical animals and familiars were re-imagined as dangerous or evil companions. Historically they were viewed as guardian angels rather than demons.
I moved to St Buryan in 2010 and Cassandra introduced me to some of the local residents that frequent the St Buryan Inn. She often referred to the pub as “her office” conversing with members of the community who may require her services. The other residents who do not frequent the Inn attend events and occasional church services conducted by our lovely Reverend Canon Vanda Perret. Cassandra and I often visit the Rectory for tea and a mutual update on local matters with Vanda and Bob.
The following video footage is an example of evenings we spend in the St Buryan Inn, listening to the St Buryan Male Voice Choir or the Cape Cornwall Singers. Cassandra remembers many of the adults when they were small children and now they have children and grandchildren of their own. It is heart-warming to see the residents enjoying themselves.
I am in the following video (wearing a white shirt) participating in the singing. Cassandra usually sings along too but on this occasion she stood on a chair operating the video camera.
The following information about the village is fascinating and there is also a tale of Betty Trenoweth. an old traditional story of the BURYAN-TOWN WITCH……
Betty Trenoweth of Buryan Church-town in Cornwall was a positive witch.
One day Betty went to the address promote and was on the see of retail a pig when her neighbour, Tom Trenoweth, stepped in and bought the pig before she can in the vicinity of the bargain. Betty was far from lighthearted about this.
Tom presently had troubles with his pig. From the very most basic day the pig ate and ate her new owner out of pen and home but, curiously, became thinner and thinner.
The pig wouldn’t stretch out home and wandered far afield, drifting apart prepared hedges and life-threatening other popular crops and zone.
Tom was low so in time deep the and no-one else option was to switch the animal at Penzance promote. On the way the sow most basic refused to embrace a distribute and as a result turn your back on. Tom followed the plump pig prepared gorse, brambles and bogs.
Towards the end the pig was jammed, but she was however full of energy. Her drained owner confident her very firm to his wrist and off they set another time.
At as soon as a hare – someone unconditionally that it was Betty Trenoweth in that vessel – started in front part of them with a cry of, “Chee-ah!” The sow ran following the hare at full rush, spent Tom miserable her as far as Tregonebris suspension bridge, under which the pig became hunger strike run aground.
She can neither be hard-pressed, pulled, prompted, nor coaxed out. Tom sat state all without help and thin until ‘day-down’ when – by a supernatural accident – out of order came Betty Trenoweth in at all form.
Expressing her top secret at Tom’s free challenge, she unfilled to serve him a two-penny loiter and to buy the pig for short the peculiar expense.
A yearning purpose ensued and Tom, weak of the whole concern, in the end gave in and told the living thing she can put up with the sow.
“Chee-ah!” she calm under the lanky suspension bridge and at as soon as the sow, acquiescent as a dog, crept out and followed her home at her heels.
The well-brought-up of this check in is to embrace twofold before go on a journey a Cornish witch – “Chee-ah!”
The Cornish Riddle Of The Trevethy Quoit Grate
“The village of St Buryan is situated approximately five miles (8 km) from Penzance along the B3283 towards Lands End. Three further minor roads also meet at St Buryan, two link the village with the B3345 towards Lamorna and the third rejoins the A30 at Crows-an-Wra.
St Buryan parish encompasses the villages of St. Buryan, Lamorna, and Crows-an-wra and shares boundaries with the parishes of Sancreed and St Just to the north, Sennen and St Levan (with which it has close ties) to the west, with Paul to the east and by the sea in the south. An electoral parish also exists stretching from Land’s End to the North Cornish Coast but avoiding St Just. The population of this ward at the 2011 census was 4,589.
Named after the Irish Saint Buriana, the parish is situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty and is a popular tourist destination. It has been a designated conservation area since 1990 and is near many sites of special scientific interest in the surrounding area.
The parish is dotted with evidence of Neolithic activity, from stone circles and Celtic crosses to burial chambers and ancient holy wells. The village of St Buryan itself is also a site of special historic interest, and contains many listed buildings including the famous grade I listed Church. The bells of St Buryan Church, which have recently undergone extensive renovation, are the heaviest full circle peal of six anywhere in the world. The parish also has a strong cultural heritage.
Many painters of the Newlyn School including Samuel John “Lamorna” Birch were based at Lamorna in the south of the parish. St Buryan Village Hall was also the former location of Pipers Folk Club, created in the late 1960s by celebrated Cornish singer Brenda Wootton. Today St Buryan is a prominent local centre housing many important amenities.
The area surrounding St Buryan was in use by humans in Neolithic times, as is evident from their surviving monuments. A mile (1.6 km) to the north of St Buryan lies Boscawen-Un, a neolithic stone circle containing 19 stones around a leaning central pillar. The circle is also associated with two nearby standing stones or menhirs. Although somewhat overgrown, the site can be reached by travelling along the A30 west of Drift and is only a few hundred metres south of the road. A more accessible stone circle, The Merry Maidens, lies 2 miles (3 km) to the south of the village in a field along the B3315 toward Land’s End. This much larger circle comprises nineteen granite megaliths some as much as 1.4 metres (4 ft 7 in) tall, is approximately 24 metres (79 ft) in diameter and is thought to be complete. Stones are regularly spaced around the circle with a gap or entrance at its eastern edge. The Merry Maidens are also called Dawn’s Men, which is likely to be a corruption of the Cornish Dans Maen, or Stone Dance. The local myth about the creation of the stones suggests that nineteen maidens were turned into stone as punishment for dancing on a Sunday. The pipers’ two megaliths some distance north-east of the circle are said to be the petrified remains of the musicians who played for the dancers. This legend was likely initiated by the early Christian Church to prevent old pagan habits continuing at the site.
Like Stonehenge and other stone monuments built during this period the original purpose of such stone circles is unknown, although there is strong evidence that they may have been ceremonial or religious sites. Many other lone standing stones from the neolithic period can be seen around the parish, at sites including Pridden, Trelew, Chyangwens and Trevorgans. In addition to menhirs there are 12 stone crosses within the parish, including two fine examples in St Buryan itself, one in the churchyard, and the other in the centre of the village. These take the form of a standing stone, sometimes carved into a Celtic cross but more often left roughly circular with a carved figure on the face. It is thought that many of these are pagan in origin, dating from the Neolithic and later periods, but were adapted by the early Christian church to remove evidence of the previous religion. These crosses are often remote and mark/protect ancient crossing points. Other examples in the parish can be found at Crows-an-Wra, Trevorgans and Vellansaga.
After a period of decline during the twentieth century, which saw a reduction in the village’s population, culminating in the loss of a blacksmiths, the local dairy, the village butchers and a café in the early nineties, St Buryan has been enjoying a renaissance, fuelled in part by an influx of new families. The local school has been expanded to include a hall and a fourth classroom and a new community centre has recently been built nearby.
In common with other settlements in the district such as Newlyn and Penzance, the post-war period saw the building of a council estate to the west of the village on land formerly part of Parcancady farm. The development was meant to provide affordable housing at a time of short supply in the post-war years. The estate subsequently expanded westward in the nineteen eighties and nineties. In the last census return, St Buryan parish was reported as containing contains 533 dwellings housing 1,215 people, 1,030 of which were living in the village itself.
A church has stood on the current site since ca. 930 AD, built by King Athelstan in thanks for his successful conquest of Cornwall on the site of the oratory of Saint Buriana (probably founded in the 6th century). The Charter from Athelstan endowed the building of collegiate buildings and the establishment of one of the earliest monasteries in Cornwall, and was subsequently enlarged and rededicated to the saint in 1238 by Bishop William Briwere. The collegiate establishment consisted of a dean and three prebendaries. Owing to the nature of the original Charter from King Athelstan, the parish of St Buryan was long regarded as a Royal Peculiar thus falling directly under the jurisdiction of the British monarch as a separate diocese, rather than the Church. This led to several hundred years of arguments between The Crown and the Bishop of Exeter over control of the parish, which came to a head in 1327 when blood was shed in the churchyard, and in 1328 St Buryan was excommunicated by the Bishop. St Buryan was not reinstated until 1336. Only two of the King’s appointed Deans appear to have actually lived in the diocese of St Buryan for more than a few months, and the combination of these factors led to the subsequent ruinous state of the church in 1473. The church was subsequently rebuilt and enlarged, the tower was added in 1501 and further expansion took place in the late 15th and 16th centuries when the bulk of the present church building were added. Further restoration of the interior took place in 1814, and the present Lady Chapel was erected in 1956. The church is currently classified as a Grade I listed building. The Deanery was annexed in 1663 to the Bishopric of Exeter after the English Civil War, however, it was again severed during the episcopacy of Bishop Harris , who thus became the first truly independent dean. The current diocese holds jurisdiction over the parishes of St Buryan, St Levan, and Sennen. St Buryan church is famous for having the heaviest peal of six bells in the world, and a recent campaign to restore the church’s bells, which had fallen into disuse, has enabled all six to be rung properly for the first time in decades. The church has four 15th century misericords, two either side of the chancel, each of which shows a plain shield.
Like much of the rest of Cornwall, St Buryan has many strong cultural traditions. The first Cornish Gorsedd (Gorseth Kernow) in over one thousand years was held in the parish in the stone circle at Boscawen-Un on 21 September 1928. The procession, guided by the bards of the Welsh Gorsedd and with speeches mostly in Cornish was aimed at promoting Cornish culture and literature. The modern Gorsedd has subsequently been held nine times in the parish including on the fiftieth anniversary, both at Boscawen-Un and at The Merry Maidens stone circle. There is also a regular Eisteddfod held in the village.
St Buryan is the home of a wise woman, Cassandra Latham. In 1996 Cassandra Latham (now Cassandra Latham -Jones) was appointed as the first-ever Pagan contact for hospital patients. Within one year she was having so many requests for her services that she became a self-employed “witch” and was no longer financially supported by the government.
The feast of St Buriana is celebrated on the Sunday nearest to 13 May (although the saint’s official day is 1 May) consisting of fancy dress and competitions for the children of the village and usually other entertainments later in the evening. In the summer there are also several other festivals, including the agricultural preservation rally in which vintage tractor, farm equipment, rare breed animals and threshing demonstrations are shown as well as some vintage cars and traction engines. This is currently being hosted at Trevorgans Farm and is traditionally held on the last Saturday of July.
St Buryan is twinned with Calan in Morbihan, Brittany.“
Legend has it that many, many years ago a richly dressed and beautiful lady occasionally attended the church at Zennor. Nobody knew who she was or where she came from, but her unusual beauty and lovely voice made her the subject of much discussion.
With such beauty, the lady had no shortage of want-to-be suitors in the village. One of these local men was Mathew Trewella, a handsome young fellow with the best singing voice in the village. He took it upon himself to discover who this beautiful stranger was.
After a service one Sunday, the lady had smiled at Mathew Trewella so he had decided to follow her as she made her way off and towards the cliffs.
He never returned to Zennor.
Years passed and Mathew Trewella’s unexplained disappearance faded into the past. Then one Sunday morning a ship cast anchor off Pendower Cove near Zennor. The vessel’s captain was sitting on deck when he heard a beautiful voice hailing him from the sea. Looking over the side of the ship he saw a beautiful mermaid, with her long, blonde hair flowing all around her.
She asked him if he would be so kind as to raise his anchor as it was resting upon the doorway of her house. She explained was anxious to get back to her husband, Mathew, and her children. For it turns out that the beautiful stranger from the church was in fact one of the daughters of Llyr, king of the ocean, a mermaid by the name of Morveren.
Warey of stories of Mermaids the captain weighed anchor and headed for deeper water fearing the mermaid would bring the ship bad luck. He did, however, return later to tell the townsfolk of the fate of Mathew. It was to commemorate the strange events and as a warning to other young men of the dangers of merry maids that the mermaid was carved into the church pew.
In years gone by Padstow was an important port as it was a natural safe haven on an otherwise rocky coast. However, over the years the river mouth has become so choked up with drifting sand as to be more or less useless to anything but small craft. In the past it had been deep enough for even the largest of vessels under the care of a ‘merry maid’ (mermaid).
Hundreds of years ago, there lived somewhere near the Lizard Point a man called Lutey or Luty, who farmed a few acres of ground near the seashore, and followed fishing and smuggling as well, when it suited the time. One summer’s evening, seeing from the cliff, where he had just finished his day’s work of cutting turf, that the tide was far out, he sauntered down over the sands, near his dwelling, in search of any wreck which might have been cast ashore by the flood; at the same time he was cursing the bad luck, and murmuring because a god-send worth securing hadn’t been sent to the Lizard cliffs for a long while.
Finding nothing on the sands worth picking up, Lutey turned to go home, when he heard a plaintive sound, like the wailing of a woman or the crying of a child, which seemed to come from seaward; going in the direction of the cry, he came near some rocks which were covered by the sea at high water, but now, about half ebb and being spring tides, the waves were a furlong or more distant from them. Passing round to the seaward side of these rocks, he saw what appeared to him a fairer woman than he had ever beheld before. As yet, he perceived little more than her head and shoulders, because all the lower part of her figure was hidden by the ore-weed (sea-weed; query, is ore a corruption of mor, sea?) which grew out from the rocks, and spread around the fair one in the pullan (pool) of sea-water that yet remained in a hollow at the foot of the rocks. Her golden-coloured hair, falling over her shoulders and floating on the water, shone like the sunbeams on the sea. The little he saw of her skin showed that it was smooth and clear as a polished shell. As the comely creature, still making a mournful wail, looked intently on the distant and ebbing sea, Lutey remained some minutes, admiring her unperceived. He longed to assuage her grief, but, not knowing how to comfort her, and afraid of frightening her into fits by coming too suddenly on her, he coughed and ahem’d to call her attention before he approached any nearer.
There are several stories of mermaids from around the Cornish coast including Seaton, between Downderry and Looe Here, where now only exists a sandy beach, was once a thriving fishing town. One day a local man insulted the mermaid and she cursed the town to be swallowed by the sands.
Mermaids Rock, near Lamorna in the west of Cornwall is home to a mermaid who sits upon a rock and appears as a warning of storms. Her singing is also heard before a shipwreck. They do say that she sat upon the rock combing her hair and singing in order to lure local fishermen to their deaths.
“To you will I give as much of gold
As for more than your life will endure;
And of pearls and precious stones handfuls;
And all shall be so pure.”
Duke Magnus, Duke Magnus, plight thee to me,
I pray you still so freely;
Say me not may, but yes, yes!
“I am a King’s son so good
How can I let you gain me?
You dwell not on land, but in the flood,
Which would not with me agree.”—Duke Magnus and the Mermaid.
There are legends and mermaid sightings in places other than Cornwall, read more here