Spring Equinox 2020 marks the tenth anniversary since Cassandra Latham Jones handed her business of Village Wise Woman to me.
I previously qualified and worked as a holistic therapist and therefore was accustomed to dealing with clients, however this alternative way of working, meant clients would be dealt with in a different way. It is similar to counseling (which I now possess a Diploma for) as clients will contact you concerning various dilemmas in their lives and we discuss the appropriate methods to help them.
Cassandra has a unique way of working and had built a good reputation over the years, so she was a hard act to follow. I had been a Cornwall resident for only ten months at this time and the local residents did not know me well, however I had adequate experience to provide the services required. Over the years I have settled into our village community by frequenting our local Inn, some of the church services and village events, as well as performing at local festivals in West Penwith.
In a short period of time I created an organized correspondence system when dealing with clients. I have a selection of email folders for inquiries, readings, distant readings, spells, charms, handfastings, rites of passage, feedback, property cleansings, wart charming, wise women walks and workshops. Notifying a client concerning the list of items we require for working with them now comes naturally to me and I converse with the confidence that comes with experience. Cassandra taught me to do my own accounts, which is quite an easy task with a small business. I admire her for managing this considering she has ‘discalculia’, however it was less of a problem for me as I am good with numbers and nowadays modern technology makes work and keeping accounts easier.
I understand why we have a ‘code of ethics’ and that it is better not to cast spells for clients to influence others against their will. These can have huge repercussions and there are occasions when I have witnessed this after others had cast spells for selfish desires or without sufficient contemplation concerning their requests.
Learning the process of creating charms has been enjoyable and is reminiscent of times I used cross-stitch and crochet during my childhood and adolescence. I also have skills required for intricate needlework and the corresponding ingredients for each charm still holds a fascination for me as each one is unique to the client. For example, if I constructed two fertility charms neither would not be identical in appearance or their contents.
Another aspect where needlework skills came to the fore was in creating clothes for our hearth dolls which inspired me to create more for other dolls with specific images and purposes. After observing this activity, Cassandra informed me that my work with dolls is one of my greatest talents.
I have witnessed many Tarot readings and I now know Cassandra’s cards so well that I have the ability to provide readings myself if she were unable to do so. The psychic impressions and messages I receive during a consultation compliment her readings and never fail to add to the advice given. Our distant readings for clients unable to visit have proven to be extremely accurate and given guidance and help to many all over the world.
The Handfastings we provide are always wonderful occasions, we have taken on the role of Celebrants at wondrous sacred sites and other unusual venues. My past ceremonial training comes to the fore when setting up the sacred space although the words I now use are different and have a deeper connection with the ancient land around us. We prefer a couple to have a relationship of at least a year before taking this important step, some of our couples have been legally married a considerable length of time and others have their spiritual ceremony with us and attend a registry office if they require the legal contract.
I would love to experience more ceremonies on the beach or by the sea which in my opinion adds to the romance of the occasion.
Our property cleansings are quite an adventure, from modern houses to period properties, cottages, hotels and public houses. The history and varied lives that people once led can leave residual energies that seep into the foundations of buildings and affect them in startling ways. The spirits of deceased owners can form an attachment with their former properties which they have difficulty in releasing. Some spirits are harmless and the present occupiers are quite comfortable with their presence, however there are others that can cause problems and require guidance in moving on.
I have experienced on many occasions the remarkable difference of energy and atmosphere within a property after the cleansing during our return visits.
Spell casting is an exciting aspect of our work, particularly when a specific time is set for a client to work along with the practitioner. There have been occasions when the required result has occurred within 24 hours and also instances where a period of time needed to pass before reaching a successful outcome. Throughout this past year I have worked with one particular client casting many spells for an ongoing legal case and each spell produced a successful outcome for each stage of the process.
Our workshops have been very successful as many are intrigued by the work we do and enjoy spending time with us to experience this for a day.
We have met some wonderful individuals and had many fascinating discussions. It is also heartening to hear feedback on how the experience has changed their lives in a positive way.
I have also learnt more information during our ‘Walks with Wise Women’ as Cassandra repeats the folklore and stories of various sites on each occasion. She is delighted with the way our work has become ‘second nature’ to me. It is not an easy path and I have been severely tested throughout the years. Cassandra is also pleased with the way I advertised and networked to reach more people who need assistance and that the business has grown considerably compared to the time when she worked alone.
So there you have it…..ten years of organizing and working within the business of Village Wise Woman. It is so important to have an occupation one enjoys that will never become mundane or boring!
I thank Cassandra for her patience and tuition over the last eleven years. Her methods are often unorthodox and there were times I did not understand them or how it would benefit me until I put her tuition into action. This scene from the movie Karate Kid is a good example of what I am referring to:
I look forward to the next ten years of becoming older and wiser to continue assisting our community!
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.
Sunday was a day of fierce winds and rain, but fortunately the August Bank Holiday Monday brought calmer and drier weather for our Wise Woman walk.
Two energetic and enthusiastic young men had journeyed from Chicago U.S. to spend a week in Cornwall. They had visited Glastonbury before continuing their journey here. They spent some time in Boscastle and Tintagel and were fascinated by the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic and St Nectan’s Waterfall at Rocky Valley Tintagel.
Jason had previously purchased Cassandra’s book and stated he was ‘beyond excited’ to meet her and experience one of our walks.
We usually invite our clients to Cassandra’s cottage and discuss the locations they wish to visit. Jason had a particular interest in the Logan Stone, so Cassandra decided that Zennor Hill would be the site to visit. Its an energetic climb to the top of Zennor Hill but Jason and Arkie were in their 20s, full of energy and therefore prepared for a challenge.
As we walked towards the hill Cassandra asked them if they would like to visit Zennor Quoit first. The vegetation on the moorland had grown considerably and in some areas it was chest height for the vertically challenged. We had given Jason and Arkie prior warning about the possibility of being ‘Piskie led’ and the path to the Quoit was particularly complicated with copious amounts of gorse and it was no surprise that on this occasion it occurred. Jason and Arkie were both delighted to have experienced this.
We eventually discovered the right path to Zennor Quoit, Jason and Arkie were intrigued by the formation of the stones and how one can climb inside to enter the heart of it for meditation and ritual purposes.
Here is information about the site:
The remains of this hillside Neolithic chambered portal tomb are quite difficult to find, but can be reached via a footpath from the B3306. The capstone which is over 5 metres long and weighs over 10 tons has collapsed and all traces of the mound which would have covered the tomb has disappeared although much surrounding cairn material was recorded by William Borlase the vicar of Zennor in 1769. It is Borlase we have to thank for the continuing existence of Zennor Quoit as he once paid off a local farmer the sum of 5 shillings to stop him dismantling the tomb to build a cow shed. It is unclear whether it was the farmers attempt at remodeling or the ‘excavation’ of the tomb with explosives in the 19th century that caused the capstone to fall. At various times cremated bones, a whetstone, flints and Neolithic pottery have been found within the chamber, while the 5 small upright stones just beyond the tomb are thought to be part of the aborted cowshed.
The site may look to be in a sad state of disrepair, especially on a wet, windy day, but this could be said to add to its beauty and melancholy, and it is still well worth a visit. Like many other sites legend says it was built by a giant, hence its other name of Giants Quoit and also that the stones are unmovable, or if they are moved they will return to the hillside on their own. Nearby, the church at Zennor contains a 15th century bench-end carved into the shape of a mermaid that is claimed to have visited the village and fallen in love with the churchwarden’s son. The two of them are then said to have returned to the sea, where the unfortunate lad can still be heard singing beneath the waves. stone-circles.org
Cassandra and I sat with Jason and Arkie by the stones and she related the history of the site. We also discussed the variety of Fae folk and their roles within Cornish folklore. The young men were well prepared with notepads and wrote down all the information.
After a while, we continued our walk to Zennor Hill. Jason and Arkie were fascinated by the house nearby where some say Alastair Crowley had worked magically there. Zennor HiIl is a powerful site so it would indeed be an ideal place to work in that way.
At the top of Zennor Hill we reached the Logan Stone. Cassandra instructed Jason on where to place his feet and the correct way to move the stone.
Here is some information on the site:
This extraordinary set of stone outcrops holds many unusual features, from rock basins to zoomorphic forms – deep fissures, runnels, voids, chamber-like enclosures and holed stones, that it would be difficult not to believe that it would have held an important place in pre-historic cosmologies. Some rock formations are uncannily like the quoits that occupy the flat land between zennor hill, carn zennor and sperris croft.
Tilley observes in an archaeology of supernatural places. ‘slabs that have toppled from the top of the rock stacks… rest horizontally or vertically against their sides, creating slanting roofed chambers large enough to enter and walk through.’ the proximity of Zennor and Sperris quoits raises the possibility that these dramatic rock formations were deliberately mimicked by the builders of these early monuments.
Tllley again ‘The tors were not only their source of inspiration, but they were constructed in the form of tors. In elevating large stones, these people were emulating the work of a super-ancestral past. Furthermore, the stones from which they were built were taken from the tors. The dolmens, in effect, were the tors dismantled and put back together again to resemble their original form. Once constructed, they could themselves be tors, something emphasized by the landscape setting of some of them on hills that lacked tors.’ Megalithic Sites
After their exploration of the site, we visited Zennor village so that they could see the church and explained the legend of the Zennor Mermaid.
The following information is about the church:
The church of St Senara in the small Cornish village of Zennor is one of the historic delights of the St Ives area. The present church dates to the 12th century, but it is thought to stand on the site of a cell founded by the 6th century saint, Senara, whose name has been altered over the centuries to become ‘Zennor’.
Senara may have been a Breton princess named Asenora, a devout Christian, who was married to a king named Goello. When Senara became pregnant the king’s mother falsely accused here of infidelity, and the king cast into the sea. According to the tale, she was put in a barrel, which was then nailed shut and allowed to drift on the waves. The barrel drifted to Ireland, and she was rescued by an angel. after her son, Budoc, had grown, they both set out to convert the natives to Christianity.
Alternative versions of the story say that she was washed up at Zennor, where she founded a church, before continuing on to Ireland, or that she came ashore in Ireland, and only later visited Cornwall and founded a church here. In either event, her husband heard of her good work and invited her to return to Brittany as his queen, and named her son as his heir. Alternatively, the church may have been founded by Irish or Breton missionaries and simply dedicated to Senara. The churchyard follows the oval outline of an Iron Age enclosure, which itself is built atop earlier Stone Age and Bronze Age field boundaries. Britain Express
We also visited the Tinners Arms for a well deserved drink.
It was a pleasure to spend the afternoon with Jason and Arkie, their energy, enthusiasm and hunger for knowledge of the Old Ways is heartening to see in younger folk. We are pleased they enjoyed their time in Cornwall and we are sure that it wont be the last we see of them.
Today Cassandra and I had the pleasure of escorting a lovely couple and their two dogs on a Wise Woman Walk. They had been Handfasted and are going to have their legal ceremony while they are in Cornwall.
We began by visiting Alsia Well:
This delightful spring is situated on Lower Alsia Farm near St Buryan. It is at the lower end of a field, in a hedge, a short distance south-west of a public right of way from Alsia to Bosfranken – the old church path to St Buryan. The well is enclosed behind metal railings and consists of a small stone-lined recess in the hedge with a granite capstone, and a copious supply of clear, cool water. Adjacent is a slate slab with the words ‘Alsia Well’ carved on it. Although by no means impressive, this is a charming little well, especially when seen in Spring or early Summer when surrounded by wild flowers. A cross is supposed to have once stood nearby and the water is reputed to have cured rickets, particularly in children. It has also been used as a divining well by girls, the number of bubbles rising from a pebble or pin when dropped in signifying the number of years before a lover would be found.
Mayze the dog sensed the spirit energy at the well. The air was still and the site had a peaceful ambience.
Shaun was interested in historical places and archaeology so we thought he would also enjoy visiting Carn Euny:
Among the best-preserved ancient villages in South West England, Carn Euny was occupied from the Iron Age until late Roman times. It includes the foundations of stone houses from the 2nd to 4th centuries AD, with walls up to a metre high in places. At the heart of the village is its most intriguing feature – a stone-walled underground passage known as a fogou. This mysterious type of Iron Age monument is found only in the far west of Cornwall. The earliest houses on the site were Iron Age ‘round houses’, probably built of timber and turf sometime between 500 and 400 BC. These were replaced with stone houses probably between about 50 BC and AD 100. The last phase of settlement, between the 2nd and 4th centuries AD, saw several earlier buildings replaced with larger, stone ‘courtyard’ houses. The visible ruins above ground mark the remains of these later houses. Old field boundaries nearby show that the inhabitants farmed some 40 acres of land around the village. They grew oats, barley and rye and kept animals such as sheep or goats and probably cattle. The villagers are likely to have been traders, perhaps dealing in local tin. The village appears to have been abandoned in about AD 400, although we do not know why.
Shaun and Dawn were fascinated by the fogou.
They also marveled at the phosphorescent moss on the stone walls.
We gave them time to explore the site alone before moving on.
Our final visit was to Boscawenun Stone Circle as Shaun wished to visit a place that has ley lines:
The stone circle at Boscawen-ûn is considered to be one of Cornwall’s most popular prehistoric ceremonial centres as well as one of extreme aesthetic beauty. It lies beneath the southern slopes of Creeg Tol, enclosed by a later raised circular bank which, built-in the 19th century to replace an earlier boundary that went straight through the circle, is an early example of archaeological conservation. The circle appears to have been carefully positioned within the landscape in such a way as to relate with key prehistoric landmarks, both natural and contemporary. The circle is slightly oval in shape and consists of nineteen large upright stones, all of granite except for one of quartz. Just off-centre within the circle lies a tall stone said to resemble an axe cutting into the earth with two axe carvings of low relief on its north-east face. These carvings are the only known examples of stone axe carvings in Britain and the closest parallel for them lies in the Neolithic ritual sites of Brittany which suggests that the central stone at Boscawen-ûn predated the circle and was erected as a monument for axe-related ritual; possibly in conjunction with woodland clearance. The stone leans towards the north-east sector of the circle where an arrangement of stones may represent an earlier, possibly contemporary cairn or cist. That this feature also pre-dates the circle is apparent in the spacing of the circle uprights at this point. When the circle itself was erected, the quartz stone was placed on the south-west side of the circle in alignment with the central stone and the cairn-like structure to the north-east. It is thought by some that the central stone with its axe carvings represents the phallic masculine whilst the quartz stone represents the feminine powers of the ring. The south-west position of the quartz stone also marks the direction of the full moon during mid-summer.
Beside the stone circle stands a magnificent Elder tree. Cassandra advises people to use a chant whenever they take anything from it.
Give me of thy wood
And I will give thee of mine
When I too become a tree.”
It was an enjoyable afternoon and hope that the newlywed couple have a wonderful future together.
Feedback: Thankyou very much for a fantastic afternoon spent with you both the dogs enjoyed their walk too. It is difficult to pick a favourite site but I think Alsia well was really special and Mayze found it interesting too!
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.
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 occur less here. The cost of living is rising everywhere, but in tourist areas, prices rise during the holiday season and tourists pay these prices for the short time they are here, however residents pay these higher prices throughout the holiday season. Work opportunities increase during the summer, but lessen in the winter and the cold weather also means an increase in utility bills too.
Taking a vacation in Cornwall is easier than surviving here. During a vacation you have free time 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. This is what I have discovered through experience.
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 and it has been a fascinating and testing journey. Working with the land and sea and its powerful unpredictable energies has been a challenge. The tests can be severe and obstacles are placed 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 she has been tough with me throughout this time and admires my tenacity. There are others who desired to learn from her but were unable to withstand the tests and tasks given.
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 provide together work well, the moment just before a reading when Cassandra holds the 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 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 now familiar with her cards, so I purchased an identical Tarot pack and have the ability to provide readings from them.
Property cleansing needs a huge amount of work, particularly when they are 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.
Curse breaking is 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 that I have also learnt.
Wart charming was a service that at first I was skeptical of, 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 this process with our clients.
I have constructed many charms over the years and had a high success rate with them, fertility charms in particular. It delights me to think I have assisted in creating new life and brought happiness to others.
I still provide Holistic Services and have taughtReiki courses too which benefit clients greatly, particularly as Reiki practice is more about the spiritual and emotional development of the person rather than a complementary therapy. I have 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 past trauma affects 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 the folklore associated with them by listening to Cassandra repeating the information on each visit. We also discover more about our clients as we 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 inquiries 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 being 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 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 people 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.
Cassandra Latham Jones falls into this category and has assisted me in so many ways.
I have integrated myself socially by attending festivals and utilising my talents as a musician and dancer. I have also 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 a catalyst of creativity too as Cassandra and I, along with my son Rhys formed our Guise team Boekka with Penkevyll the Lands End ‘Oss. Our team has now performed for 8 years and we have also introducedMorvargh my 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 entitled The All Hallows Gathering!
Now that I have lived in Cornwall 10 years, I am no longer a ‘newbie’. The local and Pagan community has witnessed how difficult it has been for me and the obstacles placed in my path. I am certain 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…….
Our 2017 spring and summer Working On the Wild Side Workshops began with a workshop for twelve Swiss Pagans. As we were unable to fit them into Cassandra’s tiny cottage, we used the small room at the St Buryan village hall.
Wicca, a lovely woman who runs the Swiss Museum of Witchcraft, arranged for her group to meet with us and translated the relevant information. Cassandra gave a talk on her life and work as a Wise Woman and I spoke about sea spirits, mermaid legends, elemental work and uses for seaweed, sand and other materials found on beaches. I also explained the magical properties of various sea shells, sea beans and mermaids purses.
Cassandra was asked to construct a few protection charms that the group could purchase at the workshop.
After allowing time for questions from the group, we provided various materials for them to construct personal charms. The unique designs they created and the type of materials they chose, gave us insight of their individual personalities.
After blessing these charms we visited Boscawen-un Stone Circle to charge them with meditation and energy raising dance to the beat of a drum.
We visited Sennen Beach and watched the deep red sphere in the sky as the sun descended over the sea. The group members live inland and sadly do not get a chance to experience the wonderful energies from the sea in Switzerland.
Cassandra built a fire and we sat around it discussing the local folklore.
We sang chants by the shore to invoke the sea spirits and raise energy for casting spells with sea shells. When this was done we returned to the fire for Cornish blackberry mead and saffron cake.
A wonderful workshop with a group of fabulous people and despite the difference in language the sister and brotherhood of the Craft deeply connected us all.