Tenth Year as a Cunning/Folk Practitioner- 2019

The 26th of January 2019 marks 10 years since I apprehensively walked along the small gravel pathway leading to Cassandra Latham Jones’ cottage. I had an appointment for an interview concerning an apprenticeship to train as a Teazer for Penglaz the ‘Obby ‘Oss in Penzance. I did not realize at this time that Cassandra was also seeking someone to continue her community work as Wise Woman of St Buryan the subject arose during our conversation.
The past 10 years have been challenging in many ways and Cassandra warned me that this would be so. During the first part of my spiritual journey I was searching for something that resonated spiritually and this resulted in leaving previous magical groups when I discovered that they were not providing the connection I sought.
Image John Isaac
I needed to be robust emotionally in order to take on this work and there was no better person to test and teach me than Cassandra. She warned me that she was a hard ‘taskmaster’ and this indeed proved to be so.
I was raised within a strict religion (which shows all the signs of a ‘Cult Organization’) and was separated socially from my local community, therefore I had little knowledge of how it developed and worked together. Even after leaving this religion and moving to other areas, I had minimal interaction within the new communities.
It is vital for a Wise Woman to know her own community as one will be more approachable to residents who may need assistance when the need arises. The residents of St Buryan village have been welcoming and I have learnt a huge amount from living here in the last 9 years. Communities are a ‘tribe’ or large ‘family’ who may have disagreements however their deep connection and maturity enables them to resolve any disputes.
Image John Isaac – Graphics Chris White
Another form of community work is through festivals and performances. Cassandra has been pleased with the ideas and inspiration I had, particularly with the birth of the All Hallows Gathering that resulted from us meeting the wonderful Mari Lwyd community at the Chepstow Wassail in 2014.
The role of apprentice to someone renowned and respected within the Pagan community is something that many Pagans fantasize and dream of. There are those who would give anything to have this position, so it was no surprise that this path in life brought, jealousy, competitiveness and feelings of entitlement from others. It seemed our acquaintances were happy about the situation at first and maybe they assumed that as Cassandra and I were so different externally, it would not last long as they assumed I would not have the ability to withstand the training. A few years later when the working relationship showed signs of success the negative feelings surfaced from some around us, particularly those who contrived to gain the apprentice role by befriending Cassandra. Some stated that I was an ‘incomer’ and too new to the community to be chosen, while others thought they had more of an advantage because they were ‘Cornish’ and Pagan. (I have never tried to claim ‘Cornish descent’ in this lifetime, I am proud of my birthplace in a historical part of Kent and do not create a false image to replace it.) Whatever their reasons for objecting they did not show any faith in Cassandra’s choice as Wise Woman and projected their negativity with the intention of adding more obstacles to our path. I now understand why ‘wise women’ of old worked solitary and did not socialize. Fortunately I have found a few genuine and supportive friends during this journey and my focus is now upon them.
The quote by Rudyard Kipling comes to mind:
“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too!
Cassandra has taught me many valuable lessons as well as providing a home for me when unfortunate circumstances could have left me ‘homeless’. In return for her kindness and tuition, I was able to help Cassandra by setting up our performance team Boekka when her role as Teazer in Penzance was no longer required. I created new costumes and an image for Penkevyll our ‘Oss as well as choreographing dances for our performance team. I set up a new websites for Village Wise Woman (when former friends took her previous site offline) and I set up another website for Boekka (when a former member removed our site from the internet). I set up my own website, a blog for Cassandra Grumpy Old Witchcraft, and accounts for Cassandra’s Book Village Witch. I maintain performance and business-promoting accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Witchvox and Instagram. I also arrange Wise Woman workshops and these have been successful.
In the past Cassandra would rely on others to help her with work on her cottage and I have been able to assist her with many tasks. This gave her a wonderful feeling of achievement that we had not needed outside help but managed to accomplish these tasks between us. I have also assisted her health-wise with a gentle fitness regime and suggestions on supplements and diet. I taught her Morris dancing too which she successfully performed for 7 years and enjoyed it, but now she has chosen to take life at an easier pace.
At first when dealing with clients, I often asked Cassandra’s advice on her way of communicating. After 10 years of dealing with a vast variety of people, I am confident to deal with these alone. My spells and charms have a high percentage of success and I have assisted many within the community which brings a deep sense of satisfaction that you have successfully helped others. This work is varied and unpredictable and each day brings a different challenge.
Being a Wise Woman is not an occupation one can ‘retire’ from as Cassandra has discovered. She still sees clients and provides readings and consultations for them, but the business aspect is my responsibility. It is difficult to make a business successful, it takes a huge amount of work, promotion and advertising for a number of years before one can profit from it. Fortunately I enjoy the promotion and advertising which has produced wonderful results.
Image John Isaac
The discipline concerning power of the mind was another important lesson as this skill is needed in everything one does, particularly in magical work. The land and sea are full of power and harnessing its energies for one’s needs or desires is not easy.
Creativity, curiosity and persistence can reap rewards from the Universe using the correct acquired knowledge. Awareness and desire is also needed along with the will, knowledge and wisdom. To connect with the four powers: to Know, to Will, to Dare and to keep Silent needs the ultimate discipline.
Working with the Cunning Way and Folk Magic over the last 10 years has certainly been an adventure.
It has been eighteen years since I was introduced to the book about George Pickingill – ‘The Pickingill Papers ‘ during my Alexandrian training, I felt a connection with the life of this intriguing ‘Cunning Man’ and eight years later the reason became apparent.
I enjoy ceremonial ritual and it has its uses, but the methods of Cunning/Folk magic (for myself) give a stronger direct connection to the spiritual essence of land and sea as the absence of ritualistic structure lessens distraction giving the focus more intensity. The strongest connection for me since working here has been with the spirits of the sea and all associated with it.
The following article explains the Cunning Craft and Folk Practitioners:
Cunning folk – Traditionally the cunning man or cunning woman was a person who healed, worked magic, created herbal remedies, provided charms, anti-witch measures, spells, and fortune-telling services, they were paid a fee for their work. Cunning (knowledgeable) or (wise), originated from an Old English term kenning, this referred to professional or semi-professional practitioners of magic. Some acquired their gifts through heredity, their magic was a mixed bag of folk medicine and occultism. Folk magic was passed along in oral tradition, and embellished along the way, they employed practical remedies for specific problems. It was believed they could work with supernatural powers in order to increase the effectiveness of their work. In most (Cassandra would say and has taught that it would be ‘some’ rather than ‘most) instances someone could set themselves up as cunning folk, with no particular background or training, although some did come from a background of magical practitioners. 
Up until the mid-nineteenth century there were several thousand cunning folk working in England, and although there was a higher ratio of men, the women were successful in their role. Many of the cunning folk working in Britain kept their ordinary line of work, while earning money as a professional cunning man or woman to boost their income. Most cunning men and woman were solitary practitioners and employed a variety of magical implements.
Some kept animal familiars and supernatural entities, known as familiar spirits, they were considered to be benevolent and helpful.  It was believed the familiar spirit took the cunning person on a visionary journey to a place called Elfhame, (elf- home). In this trip the cunning folk’s soul would go with the familiar on a journey into a hill, to a great subterranean fairy hall, while there they would encounter fairies led by the king and queen, and take part in a feast. (Cassandra has taught that nowadays this could be translated into communing with the ‘spirit world’ within the local environment)
As most local clients were poor, fees for magical services were small. Their fees were much higher when a member of the aristocracy sought them out, and this was often to do with matters associated with love, money and bewitchment. The cunning men and cunning women who worked for the aristocracy, were much better off financially than those who only treated villagers. Some cunning folk received annuities, and others took a percentage of all stolen goods found through divination. (Cassandra has taught that yes, there would be a percentage of goods, but she would not say they were ‘stolen’.)
They were particularly popular for their charms, which they recited during their spell casting and divination work. They also created specific and very expensive charms for the aristocrats,  writing down magical words in order to conjure, love, money, fertility and prosperity. The charms were sometimes written on parchment or paper, sewn into a bag, and either placed in the clients home, or carried about by them. By employing a variety of divination tools the cunning person was able to tell a person’s fortune and divine the name of their future love. They were often consulted to cast spells or charms to ensure a spouse’s fidelity and to find lost items. Some cunning folk claimed to have the ability to locate lost treasure, the cunning man or woman was called upon to overcome through magical means, the demon, spirit or fairy that was guarding it.
The cunning folk were especially adept in creating charms that would repel or break the spells of other witches blamed for bewitchment. They were the only healers to offer a package of anti-witch measures and were especially effective curing malevolent sorcery. They were also called upon to protect, heal and locate lost animals, and to care for crops. The cunning folk used a wide variety of methods to heal their clients, using various herbs, plants, the laying on of hands, and conducting elaborate ceremonies. They practiced folk magic, known as low magic, and ceremonial magic known as high magic, their role was to attend to the physical and spiritual needs of their client.
Cunning folk flourished up until the late 17th century, this was a time when belief in magic was high, they took the role of unofficial police and were believed to be a deterrent to crime, and when crimes were committed a cunning man or cunning woman was consulted to divine the guilty party. From the 18th century onwards their place in society continued, and carried on into modern times, especially in rural areas. Many cunning folk operated in a very competitive market, and would often travel great distances to visit their clients, their profile was very important to them. They used crystal balls and scrying bowls in their work, also astrology and numerology. A Grimoire was a most coveted item and those who owned one added to their profile. (Cassandra has discovered that there is no documentation of any Grimoire sent to a Cunning/Folk Practitioner within Cornwall). Although they were predominantly solitary practitioners, there were some families who approached it as a magical business.
British Cunning folk were referred to as wizards, wise men, wise women, conjurers, pellars,( see the historian Jason Semmens’ paper – On The Origin of Pellar) charmers and white witch, and in the Late Medieval and Early Modern periods Britain was a place where folk magic was very popular. In France, the terms devins-guerisseurs and leveurs de sorts were used to describe cunning folk. In the Netherlands they were referred to as toverdokters or duivelbanners, in Germany Hexenmeisters, and in Denmark kloge folk. In Spain they were curanderos and in Portugal they were known as saludadores. Cunning folk and their use of white magic for healing and as a protection against black magic, was widespread in Germany. The primary role of the Italian cunning folk was healing,with the use of herbs and spiritual healing, their spiritual healing was believed to come from an inner power, known as la forza (power), la virtu (virtue) or il Segno (the sign), they were also consulted to remove curses.
Because of the usefulness of cunning folk, they were able to practice their magic as an open secret, and quietly conducted their business in such a way they avoided anti-magic and anti-witchcraft laws. They met with little interference from authorities, who chose to ignore them unless there was a specific complaint. The cunning folk were often denounced during religious gatherings, but because of their popularity and usefulness, were never pursued. During the time of the Inquisition, cunning folk became vulnerable targets, but in spite of this there was a huge amount of public support for them, because they were so important to those who required their services.
The disparity between witches and the cunning folk, was that witches were seen to do harm, and cunning folk were seen to be useful and provide a valid service. Cunning folk were active from the Medieval period through to the early twentieth century, when it is believed the declining belief in malevolent witchcraft, did away with the need for anti-witchcraft measures, which was a primary service offered by the cunning folk.
Witches Lore

 

I began a ‘countdown’ to the new year from the 1st December to 1st January on our All Hallows Dark Gathering Facebook group. Each day I posted a photograph of a performer with a little information about them conveying our appreciation for their contribution to the event. On the 2nd January, I was pleasantly surprised to discover Cassandra had written the following post :
“Before we get any further into the year I want to put a shout out about Laetitia Latham Jones. In case there is anyone who doesn’t realise this, she was the one who had the original idea of the Welsh Mari Lwyds meeting the Cornish Oss, Penkevyll at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. We now have this amazing annual Dark Gathering following that initial inspired idea. Tia has not only supported me in my role as Event Organiser over the years but has continued to create brilliant ideas which we have incorporated. We have her to thank for researching and discovering the wonderful Ancestor Chant, and now just recently she has applied her time and energies into the personal bios/reviews of a few recognizable characters from the Dark Gathering. Also let us not forget her wonderful performances as Penkevyll’s Teazer – the Art of which she is now teaching to her two apprentices. I would like to publicly thank her for her dedication and hard work behind the scenes to help maintain the Dark Gathering. May it go from strength to strength! 👏👏👏😃” 
Image John Isaac
The last ten years have been rather like a ‘roller-coaster’ and challenging with drastic life changes, but I had the tenacity to continue which has rewarded me with some wonderful experiences within my work and performance life as well as meeting some fabulous individuals. I am intrigued to know what the next ten years will bring….
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Heart Sea Urchins

PZAbout a week ago I heard that many sea urchins also known as ‘sea potatoes’ had washed ashore on Wherrytown beach in Penzance. Today I harvested 10 of them.

I researched the following information:
Heart urchins (also called spatangoid urchins, or sea potatoes) get their name from their heart-shaped test. These are urchins in the order Spatangoida.

Description

Heart urchins are relatively small animals that are usually not more than a few inches in diameter. They look a little like a cross between an urchin and a sand dollar. The oral surface (the bottom) of these animals is flat, while the aboral surface (the top) is convex, rather than dome-shaped like a “normal” urchin.
Like other urchins, heart urchins have spines covering their tests. These spines may be a variety of colours, including brown, yellowish-brown, green and red. The spins are used for movement, including helping the urchin burrow into the sand. These urchins are also known as irregular urchins because they have an oval-shaped test, thus they are not round like the “regular” urchins, such as the green sea urchin.
Heart urchins have tube feet that extend from petal-shaped grooves in their test called ambulacral grooves. The tube feet are used for respiration (breathing). They also have pedecellariae. The mouth (peristome) is located on the bottom of the urchin, toward the front edge. Their anus (periproct) is located on the opposite end of their body.

Heart Urchin Relatives:

Heart urchins are animals in the Class Echinoidea, which means they are related to sea urchins and sand dollars. They are also echinoderms, which means they belong to the same phylum as sea stars (starfish) and sea cucumbers.

Feeding:

Heart urchins feed by using their tube feet to gather organic particles in the sediment and in the water around them. The particles are then transported to the mouth.

Habitat and Distribution:

Heart urchins may be found in various habitats, from shallow tide pools and sandy bottoms to the deep-sea. They are often found in groups.
Heart urchins burrow in the sand, with their front end pointing downward. They may burrow as much as 6-8 inches deep. So that the heart urchin continues to receive oxygen, their tube feed can continuously move the sand above them, creating a shaft of water. Heart urchins live primarily in shallow waters less than 160 feet deep, although they may be found in waters of up to 1,500 feet deep. Since these are burrowing animals, heart urchins are not often seen life, but their tests may wash ashore.

Reproduction:

There are male and female heart urchins. They reproduce sexually through external fertilization. During this process, males and females release sperm and eggs into the water. After an egg is fertilized, a planktonic larvae forms, which eventually settles to the ocean bottom and develops into the heart urchin shape.

Conservation and Human Uses:

Threats to heart urchins can include pollution and trampling by beach visitors.
Heart Sea Urchins -Jennifer Kennedy

Magical Uses and Symbolism

Sea urchin shell is called a “test”
See urchins, which are echinoderms, are a sun symbol because of their many spikes. The Celts called sea urchins “serpent’s egg”; a symbol of life-force and the primordial seed.
Sea Urchin — Teaches discernment and the art of underlying circumstances. Slow and methodical, it shows how to manoeuvre with tenacity and patience. Nothing is impossible when Urchin is guiding you. Care of your feet, physical movement and grounding properties hallmark Urchin’s meaning. Pay attention to the colour of the Sea Urchin for this will aid in understanding.
*SHEPHERD’S CROWN, SEA URCHIN: The fossilized shepherd’s crown, or sea urchin, is heart-shaped, with a five-pointed pattern on the top. It may have also been known as the glane-stone of the Druid’s. It was used to avert the evil eye and bad luck.

Working On The Wild Side Workshop July 2018

Sea Magic Workshop 2

The weather in Cornwall has been fabulous, we have had constant tropical temperatures and sunshine for over a month now.
This weekend we welcomed a group of four people to our workshop. Two have attended workshops before, one had consulted us in the past for a reading and the other we met for the first time.
During out introduction evening, it is intriguing to listen to each person relate their life story and spiritual journey. This leads on to discussions of many spiritual subjects and at times these conversations can divert onto others. When this happens we gently guide it back to the original theme while at the same time we obtain helpful information about our group members.
It was too warm to light a fire in the hearth, so we lit additional candles on the threshold of the fireplace.
On Saturday I prepared the hearth and for this particular workshop I have the pleasurable task of searching through my sea shell collection in two large glass containers for various types of shells, pebbles etc. for discussion.
I was observed by Clutterbuck who reacts to the sound of clattering shells and knows that work is afoot when the hearth is prepared.
Cassandra took the group ‘back to basics’ on this occasion due to discussions from the previous evening and she explained the ‘four powers of the witch’.
The group were also given an exercise for focusing the mind. This exercise provides insight about each member of the group while observing the way they work and their reactions to it.

 

 

After this exercise they were each given a Tarot card to study and the opportunity to relate to the group what they see within the card rather than the meanings they may have read in Tarot books. This exercised their powers of observation and once again gave insight as to their development.
The group members were eager for the Sea Sorcery part of the workshop. We discussed the history of sea witchery, how they utilise the elements in their work as well as the hidden and unpredictable powers of sea spirits.


The group were fascinated by the discussion on shore life and the vast variety of sea shells, their uses around the home, worn by people as adornments and in charms and spells. I passed some of the shells around so each person can feel their energy and the ones that may resonate with them.

I introduced the concept of ‘mermaid’s purses’  ( cases for dogfish eggs) and how they are useful containers for ‘sigil’ spells.
We also discussed the vast subject of pearls. their production and their magical uses.
The group members were then inspired to begin their own shell collection.
On Saturday evening when the group returned to us they were shown by Cassandra how to construct Sigils. These were used by the group for their personal sea spells. They were given a choice between using a flat oyster shell or mermaids purses. We blessed their spells at the hearth and as the sun began its descent we visited Sennen Cove to work by the sea on a beautiful summer evening. Cassandra built a small fire and one of the group collected some sea water.

 

While Cassandra tended the fire I took the group out to the sea to connect with the sea spirits before our spell work.

Although they are hard work, the workshops are a pleasure to do and deeply satisfying. We hope that our group members have taken away useful information that will become a part of their spiritual journey along with some wonderful memories of the weekend.

Feedback:

“One of the best workshops I ever had; thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.” G.B.
“I’ve lived by the sea my whole life and always known it’s power, however this workshop showed me how to connect and give thanks to the spirits of the sea and the meanings of the objects from it to create charms and how these charms were used past & present. Laetitia and Cassandra are incredibly knowledgeable and giving, as were the other group members. It was an amazing workshop, we were blessed with great weather and a new moon. Thank you for an incredible weekend” C.R.
I attended the workshop on Sea Magic and have to say it was amazing. Living inland I never get the chance to do any sea work and have never understood how to use shells, tides. This was all explained by the workshop in the afternoon when Cassandra and Laetitia demonstrated how to make sigils and use them in spells. We were then given insight on the lore of the sea and how to use items found on the beach when spell working. This is my second year attending their workshops and I love them. N.W

The Mystical Enchantment of Pearls

Some believe pearls to be the tears of the gods. Others thought them dewdrops filled with moonlight that fell into the ocean and were swallowed by oysters. Many people think of wild oysters ingesting a grain of sand as the foreign body which stimulates nacre production – this is a myth. Living in the sea, oysters are constantly ingesting and expelling sand and irritants.
ibtimesOnly when something becomes lodged – like a piece of shell, bone, coral or parasite does the oyster start nacre production
Nacre is made of crystals of calcium carbonate aligned with each other so that light passing along the axis of one, is reflected and refracted by the other to produce a rainbow of light and colour.
A pearl is a natural gem created by a living organism. When a foreign object is introduced into a mussel or oyster the animal coats the irritant with a substance called nacre, the same material with which it makes it’s shell. Layers of nacre build up to make a pearl.

Gemstone BuzzCultured Pearls

Most wild, natural pearl producing oyster beds have vanished due to over-fishing, oil drilling and pollution. Today, the world’s most beautiful pearls are cultured.
Cultured pearls share the same properties as wild pearls. The difference is that a technician opens the shell and inserts the irritant which stimulates nacre production.

Pearl Colours

Pearls come in a variety of colours. Natural colours are mainly down to to the breed of mollusc. Other influences include diet, water temperature and pollutants. No-one can predict or control what colour pearls will be produced in any hatchery.
Black Pearls are rarely jet black but blue, green, silver, grey, aubergine, copper, peacock and more. Green is the predominant colour. Naturally coloured black pearls come from the pearl farms of French Polynesia (Tahitian pearls) as well as Indonesia and the Philipines.

Harvesting Pearls

Harvesting pearls is a time-consuming business. Of the millions of oysters and mussels seeded each year, only a proportion (maybe just 50%) will survive to bear pearls. Of these, many will not produce pearls of a marketable quality.
Each pearl must be sorted by size, shape, colour, lustre and blemish.
Then they need to be drilled and matched for stringing – a skilled and laborious task. To find 50 perfectly matched high-quality pearls for a 16 inch necklace a pearl processor may have to sort 10,000 pearls.

The Pearl Market

Pearl types can generally be divided into two major categories: those produced in fresh water and those grown in salt water. Freshwater pearls are commonly grown inside the Hyriopsis cumingii mollusc, also known as the “triangle mussel” in rivers, lakes or ponds. The history of freshwater pearl cultivation can be traced back to the 13th century when the earliest blister pearls were cultured in China. However, it wasn’t until the mid 1990s that the Chinese started producing higher quality pearls. Most of the freshwater pearls seen today are cultured in China although a very small percentage of them are also grown in Japan and the US. The most common pearl-growth period for freshwater pearls is three to five years, although some may take up to seven years to grow.
EbayFreshwater cultured pearls, unlike saltwater cultured pearls,  do not normally contain bead nuclei and therefore most of them are made of entirely solid nacre. This distinction makes freshwater pearls more durable than saltwater pearls. In addition, freshwater pearls rarely come in perfect round shapes. In fact, only about 2% of all freshwater pearls are round or near-round. Most of them are in irregular shapes, known as baroque or semi-baroque shapes. This interesting feature makes freshwater pearl jewellery very exciting and fun to wear.
Freshwater pearls also come in a wide variety of natural colours. They include white, cream, orange, pink, and lavender. Freshwater pearls are also known to display strong orient. Orient is an iridescent rainbow effect caused by light diffraction just beneath the pearl surface.
It’s important to note, however, freshwater pearls with lower quality are often dyed in intensive colours. Colours such as black and chocolate-brown shades in freshwater pearls are not natural and are the result of colour treatment.
With the advancement of the cultivation techniques over the last decade, Chinese pearl farmers have been able to produce large, round freshwater pearls with mirror-like lustre that can rival the finest Akoya, South Sea and Tahitian pearls. Yet, these top quality gems make up less than 1% of total production.
EtsyAkoya pearls are the traditional pearls that people usually think of. Typically, they are perfectly round, white and highly lustrous. They were the first round cultured pearls marketed to the world by Mikimoto at the beginning of the twentieth century.
Akoya pearls, named after the mollusc species in which they grow, are saltwater cultured pearls. Its scientific name is Pinctada fucata martensii. While famously indigenous to the Japanese waters, the akoyas also grow in China, Southeast Asia and the Persian Gulf.Most Akoya pearls are round or near-round, ranging from 6 to 8mm in diameter on average. Although most people picture Akoya pearls as a white strand, they do come in a variety of natural colours. Their body colours include white, cream, and pink, often accompanied with a rose or ivory overtone.The most distinctive feature that makes Akoya pearls stand out from the other pearl types is its high lustre. A top quality Akoya pearl typically exhibits a lustrous surface with a mirror-like reflection. Nacre quality is one of the important factors that determine a pearl’s lustre.
Due to the cooler water temperature, the layers of aragonite platelets in Japanese Akoya pearls are normally formed tighter than those formed in warm-water pearls. As a result, top quality Japanese Akoya pearls often display a very high lustre.It is important to bear in mind, however, that the health of the mollusc and its environment, is also crucial to produce a pearl with beautiful lustre and shine. Any change in the weather, nutrient level in the water and pollutions will inevitably affect pearl cultivation.With their beautiful shine and timeless elegance, Akoya pearls continue to be a long-term favourite among brides and designers. From a well-matched strand to a pair of earrings, Akoya pearls are the perfect accessories for weddings, or any occasions to achieve a classic and elegant look.
Tahitian pearls, renowned for their exotic look, have changed our traditional image of pearls since they were first introduced to the market in the mid-1970. They grow in the black-lipped mollusc called Pinctada margaritifera cumingii, and are native to French Polynesia.
Tahitian pearls are often known as the “black pearls” but this name is misleading. Tahitian pearls are not entirely black. In fact, they offer the widest range of natural colours ever seen in the market. They come in shades of grey, black, or brown and they can have blue to green, purple, yellowish-green or pink overtones. In the pearl industry, the term “pistachio”, “aubergine”, or “peacock” is often used to vividly describe the Tahitian pearl colour. While around 40% of Tahitian cultured pearls are spherical, many are circled or baroque shaped. Most Tahitian pearls measure between 9 and 14mm but the average size is around 9.5mm.Treasured for their rarity and their intriguing beauty, fine quality Tahitian pearls display excellent lustre. Sometimes, the lustre can be so high that it almost reaches a metallic sheen. This unique feature, together with their fascinating colours, makes Tahitian pearls very valuable and exciting to wear.
Etsy2A natural black pearl is more expensive and mysterious than its classic off-white cousins. And for good reason: Although manufacturers can dye pearls black, it takes extremely rare conditions to form pearls that have that dark, eerily iridescent glow.
Black pearls that are not cultured that is, ones that are not grown under tightly controlled conditions by pearl farmers begin forming much like any other pearl. When an irritant, such as a grain of sand, gets stuck inside the oyster’s body, the animal tries to ease its discomfort by coating the speck in calcium carbonate, which hardens to form a pearl. The pearl is made up of the same luminous, iridescent substance that the oyster lines the inside of its shell with.
Black pearls are formed when that piece of sand gets stuck in the body of a very specific type of oyster, the Tahitian black-lipped Pinctada margaritifera. The interior shell, called the nacre, of most oysters is usually a glossy white or silver but the Tahitian black-lipped oyster features a thick band of black. If the pearl forms near that band, it will suck up that coloring.
BonanzaTahitian black-lipped pearls can be darker if they develop closer to the lips, and can also be a silvery gray color if they get wedged in a lighter portion of the oyster. If an oyster that typically produces white pearls has an unusual black coloring in its nacre, it too can create a blackish pearl. This, however, is rare; it occurs in only one in 10,000 pearls.
Tahitian Pearls BizSouth Sea pearls, among all other pearl types, are the largest and most valuable cultured pearls in the market. They grow in Pinctada maxima, the saltwater mollusc that is indigenous to the warm waters of northern Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Burma.
Compared to the molluscs that produce Akoya and Tahitian pearls, P. maxima is significantly larger and can grow up to 12 inches in diameter. There are two different types of P. maxima, the silver-lipped and the gold lipped. The silver-lipped type is abundant off the coast of North Western Australia, mainly yielding white to silver South Sea pearls. The gold-lipped type produces mostly yellow to golden coloured pearls, and is found in the Philippines and Indonesia.
In general, South Sea pearls measure between 8 to 20mm in diameter, with an average size being 13mm. Unlike Akoya and Tahitian pearls, South Sea pearls have a satiny lustre that is softer. Due to the warm waters and longer growth period, they also have exceptionally thick nacre, resulting in a unique lustrous glow.Interestingly, South Sea pearls are not all white or golden. In fact, they exhibit a wide range of colours including cream, silver, yellow, and golden. In addition, they display various overtones including pink, green and blue.Known for their extraordinary beauty and large sizes, South Sea pearls are considered by many the most luxurious of all pearls.
All of the different pearl types described above are produced by bivalves, the type of molluscs that has two shells joined by a hinge. Univalve molluscs such as Conches and Melo Melo snails have one shell and no hinge. Although the pearls they produce don’t display the pearly lustre of true pearls, both conch and Melo melo pearls are extremely rare and valuable. Natural pearls are found in these univalves when they’re harvested for food.
Conch PearlsConch pearls are found at the Caribbean Sea and a small adjacent area of the Atlantic Ocean. They are usually small and rarely round. Their colours range from pink, brown, yellow to white. Pink conch pearls with flame structure usually command an extraordinarily high price.
Pearl GuideMelo melo pearls (or melo pearls) are produced by the same name sea-snail that is indigenous to the waters of Southern Asia. The shape of its shell is like a scroll. Melo pearls are often spherical and they can be very large. The size of 20 to 30mm in diameter is not uncommon among these rare gems. The shades of Melo pearls include light tan and brown with the most prized colour being orange.
Pearl Lang

Magical Uses

As spiritual tokens, pearls are said to assist in calming and centering, as well as nurture your faith, loyalty, integrity and purity. They are also strong symbols of femininity, helping women connect with their “inner goddesses” and obtain the ultimate “feminine energy.” Perhaps most importantly, it is said that pearls have specific frequencies of energy vibrations which can re-balance deficiencies in the human body when they are worn, just like gemstones. Different gemstones are used for healing different parts of the body to create balance and provide relief, as pearls do.
In the realm of physical healing, pearls have been used throughout history to help treat the digestive tract, muscular systems and skin. Pearl powder is held to be one of the top tonic herbs for beauty. In fact, Asian royalty have used it for centuries to prevent the development of melanin, which causes dark skin pigmentation due to age and sun exposure. Pearl powder stimulates something called SOD activity, which utilizes powerful SOD antioxidants to help fade colored blemishes, reduce wrinkling and scarring, and even eliminate the occasional pimple. It’s for these reasons and more that the Chinese have relied on the healing properties of the pearl for centuries in treating everything from simple eye ailments to serious heart problems, bleeding, fever and indigestion. To this day, the Chinese still use pearl powder as a skin whitener and a cosmetic, as do many other people around the world. In fact, the pearl is widely considered to be effective in controlling the skin conditions rosacea and acne.
The fame of the pearl as an incredible wellness tool has even spread to hardcore health addicts.  “Pearl powder will not only put you en route to flawless skin on the outside, but it will also build precious mineral reserves on the inside. Rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, silica and amino acids, pearl powder can help maintain strong bones and teeth and even help prevent osteoporosis.  Pearl powder can zen you out. Known as a powerful Shen (spirit) stabilizer, it supports mood stability with its soothing and calming nature. Its spirit-building capabilities can help to relieve the uneasiness, nervousness, anxiety and tension associated with occasional stress, leaving you cool, calm and collected.” It’s no wonder that the pearl has gotten a name for itself as “the matrix of life itself” because of these amazing natural properties, elegance and beauty, and body rhythm-balancing abilities. If you’re looking to follow the more health-oriented rather than the metaphysical route, you don’t have to grab your heirloom pearls. You can get high-quality pearl powder as a dietary supplement and add it to your daily intake. However, if you want to use your pearls akin to the usage of crystals and stones, you will need to decide which kind you’d like.
Ocean Shells NZ
Mother of Pearl, receiving its name from the fact that it is the lining of the shell where pearls can grow, has both traditional and New Age metaphysical and healing lore. In mystical tradition, it’s been used to heighten intuition, psychic sensitivity, and imagination. It is held to attract prosperity, protect from negative influence, and transmute negative energy. It is also very protective and a particularly potent stone of protection for children, just like its namesake suggests. Additionally, a traditional lore use of Mother of Pearl is to purify environments. In the metaphysical tradition, Mother of Pearl is used to access primordial and racial memories. Crystal healing and folklore say that Mother of Pearl is helpful for high blood pressure, dizziness, improving vision, cataracts, and wound healing.
Freshwater & Saltwater Pearls:
Although all pearls have this property, these pearls in particular are credited with a very strong absorbing nature; if a happy person wears these pearls, the pearls will be imbued with happiness. The opposite is also the case, however, in which negative emotions may soak into the pearls. This is why if you feel excessively negative while wearing a pearl, it might have that kind of energy and need to be cleansed.
If used properly, lessen stress and its resulting maladies: hypertension, headaches, and exhaustion. It also may help to prevent heart attacks and strokes, assist in digestion and reduce the chance of developing ulcers. There are all kinds of ways to use pearls alongside your powerful gemstones, so you can pair their energy together.
Pink Pearls:
Unsurprisingly, pink pearls work especially well with the Heart. Wear them close to your heart, as part of your Heart meditation, and in conjunction with other Heart crystals for incredible results.

Abalone pearls are also known as abalone shells, and are beautiful colors that encourage feelings of love, beauty, gentleness, caring, comfort, peacefulness, delight and solace. It is comforting to hold it, and many rub the it as you would a worry stone. People are instantly soothed by its beautiful colors. It’s also very soothing for the body. Abalone shells are used for patterns of liver heat with such symptoms as headache, dizziness, spasms of the limbs, and various conditions of the eyes. Abalone strengthens the structure of the body and the functions of the Heart Chakra. They are also useful for athletes to help build and protect muscle tissue, strengthening the heart, and helping with digestion. Nicknamed the “sea ears,” the Abalone’s flattened, oval shape with iridescent interior was used by the Native Northwest American Indians as a natural vessel for cleansing, offerings and prayers. Use it accordingly.
Gaia
Element – Water
According to a legend, Pearls are formed from dew which is itself tears of the goddess of Love. Another legend says: once the god of subterranean empire has ordered to his citizens to bring him all known stones of different colors. He crushed them one-by-one, mixed them all together as he said: “Let’s combine the beauty of all the stones together, to make a new stone – pure and invincible “. And so the diamond was born, – pure, as a dew, a stone of indestructible hardness, which contained all colors hidden in the sun rays. “It is the greatest stone of this Word, – said god – but for my queen I’ll create the greatest stone of the sea!” – and so he has created pearls. Pearl brings happiness, wisdom, wealth, promotes prosperity, saves from misfortune, protects youth, beauty and health, recuperates and heals a lot of diseases. It is a stone of Moon.
Talismans & amulets
Pearl is a talisman of arts, inspiration and spiritual perfection. It is also a feminine talisman.
Healing properties
It was believed that Pearl boosts sexual energy, strengthens visual acuity and heals ears diseases. It is beneficial for heart, lungs (against tuberculosis, asthma, chronic bronchitis), kidneys, urinary system and liver. Pearl possesses sedative and also laxative effect, neutralizes poison, lowers acidity, Pearl also raises sensuality. Pearl was believed to be the main ingredient of “immortality elixir”.
Magical properties
Pearl grants to its wearer extraordinary foresight, protects him from risky commercial transactions and from evil eye. Pearl’s magical properties depend on its color: White Pearl brings freedom, Brown – wisdom, Yellow – wealth, Green – happiness.
Black Pearl– Animals: Black pearls are not suitable for use with animals.
Children: It will help children heal from grief and is also useful for children who have had their first bad experience with the world.
Finance & Prosperity: Black pearls are abundance, luck and prosperity charms.
Health & Healing: It will help to control mood swings both during and after menopause. It helps clear infections of the chest and lungs.
Home: It will help bring abundance into your home.
Protection: It is protective against accidents for business owners.
Psychic: It is good for women wishing to astral travel, channel wisdom or scry by candlelight.
The Stone Of Ritual: Use black pearls to channel the Crone’s wisdom.
Work: It will help your business to prosper.
Jewels Empire

 

 

 

 

10 Years in Cornwall

On the 12th June 2018 it was the 10th anniversary of my move to Cornwall. The life I envisaged here and the one I now have are extremely different.

The Guardian

Living near the sea, the elements of the rain, wind and storms intensify. Cornwall may not be as cold as other parts of the UK (although the last winter was a harsh one) and frosts happen less here. The cost of living is rising everywhere, but in tourist areas, prices rise during the holiday season and even though tourists pay these prices for the short time they are here, residents pay higher prices throughout the holiday season. Work opportunities increase during the summer, but lessen in the winter. The cold weather also means an increase in household bills too.

Taking a vacation in Cornwall is easier than surviving here. During a vacation you can take time out to visit beaches and places of interest, but when one is trying to survive and so busy with work, pleasure visits to beaches or sites rarely occur even though one lives in close proximity to them.

On a positive note I have enjoyed my work as a Wise Woman throughout the last 9 years. I have learnt so much from Cassandra Latham Jones, it has been a fascinating and testing journey. Working with the land and sea here and its powerful unpredictable energies has been a challenge. The tests can be severe and obstacles are put in one’s path. It takes strength of character and determination to overcome these and continue………the spirits constantly present challenges as if to say……..”how much do you want this???” Cassandra admits that she has been tough with me throughout this time and admires my tenacity.  I have witnessed others who have wanted to learn from her who were unable to withstand the tests and tasks given.

Image -Mandy Raywood

My experience and training in ceremonial magic while in Kent has been useful when conducting Rites of Passage. Cassandra is happy to leave the – as she calls it – ‘arm waving’ to me when setting up the space for ceremonies.

The consultations we do together work well, the moment just before a reading when Cassandra holds a client’s hands to connect with their energies, I tune in to any spirit presences that may be around them. While Cassandra shuffles the Tarot cards I provide the client with a description of the spirit presence and also any messages they wish to pass on. Cassandra then lays out the Tarot spread and there have been many occasions where the same messages have appeared within the cards giving double confirmation for the client. I have witnessed many readings by Cassandra over the years and am familiar with her cards. I purchased an identical Tarot pack and I am able to provide readings using them.

Property cleansing needs a huge amount of work, particularly if they have been inhabited by a variety of residents over time,(more-so with period properties). The energies from traumatic events are contained within the foundations of these buildings which can have a profound effect on any future residents. In hotels and public houses/inns the energies can intensify and can affect the smooth running of businesses. We have had many successful outcomes from this work.

Image – John Isaac

Curse breakings are another area of intense work. Many clients consult us concerning this matter and Cassandra has a unique and powerful method for dealing with these energies.

Wart charming was a service that at first I was sceptical of as it was difficult to understand how this could possibly work. Even now I could not explain exactly how it works but have witnessed the success of the process with our clients.

I have constructed many charms over the years and have had a high success rate with them, fertility charms in particular. It delights me to think that I have assisted in creating new life and brought much happiness to others.

I still provide Holistic Services and have taught Reiki courses here too which benefit clients greatly, particularly because the Reiki practice is more about the spiritual and emotional development of the person rather than a complementary therapy.  I have also helped a wide range of clients from the terminally ill to pet owners who now are able to calm their stressed animals.

My counseling services have also come to the fore as often clients are affected by childhood abuse and do not realize how much this can affect their everyday lives as adults even though these events happened long ago.

Walks with Wise Women is an enjoyable aspect of our work as it enables us to visit and enjoy the sites with our clients. I have learnt about the folklore associated with them by listening to Cassandra repeating the information on each visit. We also discover more about our clients as we are able to converse with them while walking to and from the sites.

Our Working on the Wild Side workshops have been successful during the last few years. I suggested them to Cassandra who was a little reticent, but due to many enquiries about them, she agreed to try. The workshops have gone from strength to strength with a new subject introduced each year. We have met some fabulous people who have experienced some extraordinary occurrences during them. The preparation and the workshops themselves are hard work but also energizing and satisfying on a deeper level.

I have learnt many things since being here and the main lesson is that life is indeed unpredictable. One can plan the future to a certain extent but circumstances that create a sudden change can have an incredible impact on one’s life with positive or negative results.

I have also learnt that being successful in work and within a community brings rivalries, competitiveness and jealousies from some, who will then project the dissatisfaction with themselves and their lives onto another. When a person experiences this level of pettiness it is vital to remember that these people, by their treatment of you are validating that you are exceptionally good at what you do. If you were not successful or talented, negative ones would not bother with you.

When a person moves into a new community, they are on ‘foreign territory’ and therefore vulnerable to predators and bullies. Genuine good-hearted people in the community will do what they can to assist especially if they were once in the same position themselves.

Image – John Isaac

Cassandra Latham Jones falls into this category and has assisted me in so many ways.

I have also integrated myself socially by attending festivals and utilising my talents as a musician and dancer. By doing this I have met some kind, thoughtful and talented individuals.

The residents of St Buryan village have been particularly welcoming and now consider me part of their community.

My time here has been creative too as Cassandra and I along with my son Rhys formed our Guise team Boekka with Penkevyll the Lands End ‘Oss. Our team has performed for 8 years now and we have introduced Morvargh my new Sea ‘Oss as a recent addition. To top it all, my idea of Cassandra, myself and Penkevyll the ‘Oss meeting Phil, Vivien and their Mari Lwyd at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic on Samhain in 2014, has developed into a fantastic event  The All Hallows Gathering!

I have lived in Cornwall 10 years now and am no longer a ‘newbie’. The local and Pagan community has witnessed how difficult it has been and the obstacles that were placed in my path. I am certain that some individuals could not have withstood or endured a fraction of what they have directed my way, but that is par for the course.  The positives far outweigh the negatives and I am still here…….

 

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.

John Isaac

Cassandra and I had an early Beltane celebration with our group visiting Sancreed Holy Well which was 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 during 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.

John Isaac

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

John Isaac

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

John Isaac

Our group returned to Cassandra’s cottage for feasting and warmth from the fire 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 flowers had heightened energy as they were on the verge of bursting open Sensing this deepens our connection with this fertile season.

 

 

 

 

 

After spending some time exploring the woodland, we arrived at the Cove. The incoming tide brought with it the wonderful aroma from the sea. Cassandra  rested a while and I made my way over the huge boulders to 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 experienced Teazers work with, especially within this particular community as the knowledge and performance is passed down to each generation to continue 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!

 

 

 

Mermaid of Zennor

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 https://laetitialathamjones.com/2016/08/02/cornish-mermaid-legends/

I have seen the mermaid carving upon the side of the chair within St Senara’s church in Zennor.

Image- Cornwall Guide

The time-battered chair is tucked away in the side aisle and holds the scars from more than 500 years of constant use.

Image – Commons Wikipedia

The curious carving of the mermaid has many interpretations from its medieval worshippers. 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 dependant on the sea.

Image – William Fricker

Haunted Britain

Recently I visited The Healing Star in Penzance where they had displayed a cast of the Mermaid of Zennor carving by Rory Te Tigo. He had left it there hoping that they would sell it for him. Each time I entered the shop I was entranced by it, especially as I had found little memorabilia of this particular mermaid. When I eventually decided to purchase her, I visited the shop to discover that Rory had collected the mermaid as he intended to display her at an event.  I contacted him and he kindly offered to make another for me and requested I gave him a period of three weeks to do so.

Tinners Arms Zennor by Zennor Images

Mermaid of Zennor Carving in the Tinners Arms by ViewRanger

Rory had the marvellous 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 how he created her, as you can see by the photographs he works with precision and achieves wonderful results. Her powerful presence graces our home and brings with her the blessings of the sea.

Image – John Isaac

 

Image – John Isaac

To see more of Rory Te Tigo’s work visit hi website http://www.rorytetigo.co.uk/