Sabbats and Seasonal Festivals

The Dark Season of Samhain – Celtic New year

Ancient Origins of Samhain

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

The Sublime and Sinister Sides of Yuletide Customs

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

The Fearsome Legend of Krampus

Ancient Origins
Symbolism of Yuletide

Folklore Customs of Twelfth Night and the Epiphany

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

The Ancient Art of Wassails

Tales of the Cocktail 

The Origin of Mumming

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

Candlemas and Imbolc

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

About Candlemas

Build Faith

Spiritual Meaning and Celebration of Imbolc

Guide to Spiritual Living

Origins of Valentines Day

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

Spiritual Meaning of Autumn Equinox

This season and the falling autumn leaves reminds us of the wonderful release when letting go of things that no longer serve us, thoughts, negative relationships etc.

Belief.net

Autumn Equinox Celebration

Thoughtco

 

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Chepstow Wassail 2019

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

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

 

The Chepstow Wassail – Countryfile Magazine

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

Winter Effigies -The Deviant History of the Snowman

In modern movies snowmen are portrayed as something magical, loved by children and they also capture the imagination.
I remember feeling these magical energies when Cassandra Latham Jones and I built a large snowman during the heavy snowfall of January 2010 in the grounds of the mill house in Crean, St Buryan.
The history of the snowman however is quite different as you will see in the following article:

 

 

 

 

 

Atlas Obscura.

Harvest Home in St Buryan 2018

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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.

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!