The latter half of summer had been rather busy for Cornwall and even though this was welcomed to help the economy, it also included some aggressive and thoughtless behaviour from many visitors. I can almost hear the land and sea breathing a ‘sigh of relief’ as summer turns to autumn and life returns to a more peaceful and slower pace.
Cassandra and I have been occupied with distant work for clients, however during August and in September we were able to see clients in person for socially distant readings, workshops and courses.
Autumn Equinox was overcast weather-wise, but it was dry which enabled Cassandra to venture out onto the land where she harvested local blackberries, apples and autumn leaves. Meanwhile I swept the hearth and prepared the fireplace, in preparation for our evening celebration.
We had time to bake a wonderful apple and blackberry crumble containing seasonal spices of cinnamon and cloves, before keeping an appointment with one of our clients.
We were given a wonderful opportunity by the new owners of Caer Bran Hillfort to bless their land. The following article has information about the site:
During the Iron Age a variety of different types of settlement were constructed and occupied in south western England. At the top of the settlement hierarchy were hillforts built in prominent locations. In addition to these a group of smaller sites, known as defended settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops, others in less prominent positions. They are generally smaller than the hillforts, sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha. The enclosing defences were of earthen construction. Univallate sites have a single bank and ditch, multivallate sites more than one. At some sites these earthen ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber fence or palisade. Where excavated, evidence of stone- or timber-built houses has been found within the enclosures, which, in contrast to the hillfort sites, would have been occupied by small communities, perhaps no more than a single family group. Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element of the settlement pattern, particularly in the upland areas of south western England, and are integral to any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during this period. Despite subsequent mining activities and the bisection of the fort by a later track, the Iron Age defended settlement, 330m south east of Caer Bran Farm survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, strategic importance, agricultural practices, social organisation, domestic arrangements and overall landscape context.
The monument includes an Iron Age defended settlement, situated at the summit of the prominent hill Caer Bran. The settlement survives as a roughly-circular enclosure defined by two concentric lines of defence, the inner formed by a rampart and ditch and the outer by an inner ditch, rampart, outer ditch and counterscarp bank. The defences survive differentially; the inner rampart and ditch are much slighter in construction than the outer defences, the rampart of which is up to 4.6m high. The outer defences survive best to the north. Within the interior are the low rubble walls of at least two stone hut circles. The best preserved is centrally located and measures approximately 16m in diameter. This hut circle and the fort have been bisected by a later track, and much of the interior has an irregular appearance caused by numerous pits and spoil heaps associated with mineral prospecting and extraction from the medieval period onwards. Other archaeological remains in the immediate vicinity are the subject of separate schedulings.
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
Our blessing ritual was simple, however it also had potency as we experienced positive reactions from the elements to our invocations.
The owners were keen to show us around the site particularly the quarry, where tangible energies of elementals and guardians were present. We were surrounded by wonderful autumnal colours and as we stood at the highest point of the site, even though the evening mist began to descend, we could see for miles all the wondrous landscape of West Penwith.
We returned to Cassandra’s cottage and enjoyed a well-earned rest by the hearth, discussing our experiences of the site while indulging in Cornish mead and warm home-made crumble.
We sat by a blazing fire enjoying a small, meaningful equinox celebration, toasting the ‘powers that be’ and hoping that the changing season will bring a positive outcome to the problematic situation we face. We also hope that communities will work together, caring for one another and our environment. This was a perfect end to an energetic equinox!
It has certainly been a challenging year for all and the situation concerning Covid 19 has affected many events and community work. Cassandra and I decided to postpone our workshops held throughout the summer until later this year and fortunately our understanding clients were able to alter their schedules too.
Workshops at present need to be carried out while maintaining a social distance. At the moment we host them at our Village Hall as Cassandra’s cottage is far too small for this requirement.
Although the village hall does not have the same ambiance as the cottage, the local residents have done an impressive job of giving the rooms a thorough cleanse. There are certain guidelines that need to be adhered to of cleaning the areas before and after use.
Our September workshop was our first one this year and we were fortunate to have only two clients to try out these changes and test the new way of working. The kitchen within the hall is not in use, so we were unable to offer the refreshments we would usually provide while at the cottage.
Cassandra began the afternoon session by discussing all aspects of the Cunning Craft and working as a Wisewoman. At times her ‘train of thought can meander into other areas and I am able to bring this to her attention and steer the discussion back to the original subject. We were asked by the village hall committee to keep the doors and windows open to ventilate the area. During the afternoon we were visited by four Red Admiral butterflies which was a pleasant distraction!
Our clients had a different views on various aspects of the Old Craft as one is in the process of training within a magical group and the other is a healing practitioner with a keen interest in the land and folklore which produced fascinating discussion. We had a short break to enjoy the sunshine outside and then set up the table for our practical work.
My work includes the construction of charms, therefore creating a Witch Bottle spell would utilise the same Correspondences when researching the correct ingredients to place within the bottles.
We have seen a variety of bottles and jars personally chosen by clients for each workshop and on this occasion our ladies had chosen huge receptacles! They gave a lot of individual thought concerning the ingredients by studying the Correspondence table provided. When they were satisfied with their choices and had gathered all they required, the construction work began.
We guided them through the first stage of their bottle/jar spell and after the workshop they take them home and complete them by adding their personal DNA to it before filling the bottle/jar with liquid. When our afternoon session had come to an end it took us quite a while to clean any surfaces we had used before leaving the premises.
After a two hour dinner break our clients visited the cottage conservatory to bless their jars and then we transported our two ladies to a ‘place of power’ and gave them guidance in energizing their spells. We experienced a stunning sunset that evening and immediately after our energy raising, a murder of crows flew overhead. We sat quietly for a while enjoying the feeling of the energy raised and the stillness of the air around us as the sun descended on the horizon.
We returned to the cottage and spent time in Cassandra’s conservatory where we were able to maintain social distance and enjoyed a glass of Cornish mead with saffron cake, while discussing the day and answering any questions they had.
It was a successful workshop, even though there were some aspects of it that were quite different to the workshops we are accustomed to. We look forward to our next one!
“‘A very informative workshop. Cassandra and Laetitia shared their working knowledge and were very welcoming. A good format to the day.” N.G.
“I attended the course Folklore and found it a really interesting. The new measures in place for covid do not take anything away from the experience and all was done really well. It was a wonderful day full of interesting experiences and I felt I learned a lot. I left in the evening feeling inspired to try new ideas at home.” S.L.
A client booked a Wisewoman Walk with Cassandra and I. It is one aspect of our work where we were able to see someone in person but still maintain a social distance. This current situation with Covid 19, the lockdown and social distancing has changed all of our lives, particularly within our work.
We made some alterations, as we usually invite clients to Cassandra’s cottage and discuss their preferences for sites in the area. If not, we surprise them with our choices. As the cottage is so small, it is impossible to maintain the correct distance, so we met our client at the car park of the Merry Maidens stone circle. We were blessed with sunny weather that turned out to be warmer than the forecast predicted.
These monuments are fascinating, particularly when they have an entrance leading deep into the ground. There is also a strong feeling of being observed from the darkness beneath…
We observed two buzzards hunting for prey and these were visible from each site that we visited.
We passed the Merry Maidens stone circle to visit The Pipers standing stones. In order to avoid the hazardous bend in the road while walking, Cassandra led us through the fields.
We emerged from the fields further down the road where Cassandra brought our attention to hawthorn and blackthorn bushes side by side in the hedgerow. The differences between the two are more obvious when adjacent to one another.
We were unable to open a gate leading to the field where the Piper’s stones stood but this did not deter Cassandra who proved that even now, at 70 years old, she can still climb it.
The standing stones have a regal presence about them, a tall and proud presence upon the land.
The second stone leans to one side and we discussed how deep the base of it would need to be within the earth to stop it from toppling. Cassandra stated there would need to be at least a third of its length there in order to keep it secure.
After this, we returned over the stile to make our way back to the Merry Maidens.
The Merry Maidens stone circle is a wondrous creation, surrounded by our local landscape and easy to find being situated close to the road.
Each stone within the circle has a unique energy (in my experience of working with them). The grass surrounding the area was rather parched due to the hot weather and lack of rainfall.
On our way back to St Buryan, we stopped at Boskenna Stone Cross. It is one of our larger stone crosses that stands proudly at the edge of a three-way crossroads near the village.
We visited Alsia Well from here, walking through a field of vibrant yellow buttercups. So many flowers this year had noticeably vivid colours and the following photograph does not do them justice!
The vegetation is seriously overgrown at Alsia Holy Well. , what with the lockdown and the area leading to the well being so small, social distancing is quite difficult. It was obvious there had been no visitors to the site for some time and we took it in turns to spend a little time visiting the well. Our client stated it was the most calm, peaceful energy she had experienced at a site.
From there we returned to our wonderful village of St Buryan. Cassandra explained the history of the Market Stone Cross that stands outside the gates of the village church.
There are some impressive stone monuments within the graveyard, we spent some time studying those as moody black clouds crept across the blue sky, but fortunately it did not rain.
This is where our first ‘social distance’ Wisewoman Walk came to a close, as we could not return to the cottage for a beverage and a chat as we usually would. It was a wonderful experience to venture out on the land again and work with a client in person after nearly 3 months of lockdown. It is a different way of working now but still as enjoyable! Stay healthy and safe wherever you are and we will see you soon!
Feedback: “A fabulous wise women walk on a humid day in June. Cassandra and Laetitia are very knowledgable and work very well together in what they do. A wise women walk incorporates visits to local historic sites and knowledge of the hedgerows. Highly recommended.” N.G.
Spring Equinox 2020 marks the tenth anniversary since Cassandra Latham Jones handed her business of Village Wisewoman to me.
I had previously worked as a qualified holistic therapist and was therefore accustomed to dealing with clients, however with this alternative way of working, clients would be dealt with in a different way. The consultations providing guidance can be similar to counselling (in which I now possess a Diploma) as clients contact us concerning various dilemmas in their lives and we discuss appropriate methods or courses of action that may help them.
Cassandra has a unique way of working and has built a good reputation which means that she is a hard act to follow. I had been a Cornwall resident for only ten months when I began and local residents did not know me well, however I had adequate experience to provide the services required. Over the years I have settled into the 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 developed 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, wisewomen walks and workshops. Notifying a client concerning the list of items we require when 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 lessens the burden of book-keeping.
I understand why the ‘code of ethics’ is necessary and it is wise not to cast spells for clients who desire to influence others against their will. These spells can have huge repercussions and there have been occasions when I witnessed the consequences when others have cast spells for selfish desires without forethought.
Learning the process of creating charms has been enjoyable and is reminiscent of past occasions when I used cross-stitch and crochet during my childhood and adolescence. I have the skills required for intricate needlework and the corresponding ingredients for each charm still holds a fascination as each one is unique to the client. For example, when I construct two fertility charms neither would be identical in appearance or their contents.
Another aspect where needlework skills come to the fore is in creating clothes for hearth dolls which inspired me to create more clothing for other dolls with an uncanny likeness and purposes. After observing this activity, Cassandra commented that my work with dolls is one of my outstanding talents.
I have witnessed many Tarot readings and I now know Cassandra’s Tarot cards well, therefore I have the ability to provide readings from them 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 fabulous 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 a sacred space although the words I now use have changed, with a deeper connection to the ancient land around us. We prefer that they couple are in a relationship at least a year before taking this important step, some have been legally married a considerable length of time and others have their spiritual ceremony with us and attend a registry office before or after our ceremony if they require the legal contract.
I would love to experience more of these 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 and persuasion to move 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 has passed 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 successful as many are intrigued by the work we do and enjoy spending time with us to experience this.
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 learnt more information during our ‘Walks with Wisewomen’ 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 advertise and network to reach more people who need assistance and that the business has grown considerably compared to the period of time when she worked alone.
So there you have it…..ten years of organizing and working within the business of Village Wisewoman. It is so important to have an occupation one enjoys that does not lose its fascination or become mundane!
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 this 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 as I continue assisting our community!
It has been a long winter with more than average rainfall along with flooding and storms within Cornwall and most of the U.K. We usually arrange our first workshops in the Spring, however we would not decline a request from Jason and Arkie, two lovely young men who travelled all the way from Chicago, so we agreed to provide an extra Folk/Cunning Craft workshop for them.
They had attended a previous workshop and accompanied us on a Wisewoman walk to Zennor Hill. Their inquiring minds enthusiastically soak up new information and their cheerful boundless energy is good for the soul, making it a pleasure to spend time with them.
They each brought along a stylish skull-shaped witch bottle to use for their spells and ventured out with Cassandra to harvest relevant foliage from the local hedgerows. I set out the other corresponding ingredients within the cottage ready for their return.
We had plenty of cakes and goodies left over from Cassandra’s 70th birthday party, so Jason and Arkie were more than happy to reduce the amount for us!
During the evening we guided them in blessing their witch bottle spells at the hearth and they enjoyed the chant that I use for this process.
Cassandra and I transported them to a special place for magically energizing their spells.
It was a dark evening with a clear night sky and as we stood within the graveyard, the cold wind strengthened and howled loudly as we chanted to raise the energy. We were unable to light the candle contained in the lantern, so we worked together in complete darkness which Jason and Arkie found wonderfully exciting.
We later returned to the cottage for libations and warmed ourselves by the hearth fire while discussing their individual experiences and impressions throughout the workshop while answering their questions. Cassandra and I thoroughly enjoyed our time with Jason and Arkie and we look forward to their next visit. It was so refreshing to be surrounded by happy, positive energies at a time where there is so much fear and uncertainty. The season of Spring is urgently needed and we look forward to it’s arrival.
We had an incredible time with you both!! Jason
You’re both amazing witches and awesome people! Thanks so much for fitting a workshop in for us! Arkie
Cassandra and I hosted our last workshop for 2019 this weekend, the subject being Folk/Cunning Craft. One of our group has now attended all our workshops during the last few years and traveled all the way from his home in Scotland to join us. The other two members of the group experienced their first workshop on this occasion.
One of the group was new to the Craft which Cassandra found rather refreshing as she attended with an open enquiring mind and had many questions.
After two hours of discussion and identifying the type of jar/bottle spell each member needed to do, Cassandra took them out on a hedgerow walk to harvest the relevant plants, while I prepared other corresponding items for their return.
I also wrote out a list of correspondences that were available for them so that they could choose the items which resonated for them in their spells.
The group were given instructions on how to finish their jars/bottle spells at home, the liquids to use and how to seal them.
After they left for their dinner break, I prepared the hearth for blessing them in the evening.
After their spells were blessed we took them to a special place for charging them with the assistance of Granny Boswell on a wet, misty evening. We trimmed back the overgrown hedge so that we could see her headstone clearly.
Cassandra brought Cornish cake and ale for Granny, we had specific signs that evening of her acknowledgement. There were also three tall gravestones behind us that in the darkness had the appearance of three tall figures wearing black, shrouded by the mist. We were also in the phase of a powerful waning moon.
The moment we finished raising energy, the rain ceased and we conversed with Granny Boswell who responded with visible signs.
We then returned to the cottage for libations and Clutterbuck presented us with a live mouse! He had caught it Friday during our introduction evening, but after releasing it he could not find it. We heard some disruption in the kitchen Saturday evening when he caught it again and brought it to the hearth. (his donation to the libations!)
We enjoyed this workshop immensely, a wonderful end to the summer season.
“Had the most amazing weekend, mind blowing and loads to think about and read, thank you both x” A.T.
Cassandra and I decided to host a Folk Magic workshop at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magicafter Simon Costin suggested we try it. Cassandra’s book Village Witch is stocked within the Museum retail outlet, a workshop provides the readers with more information on the subject where they can also interact and ask questions in person.
It was a glorious warm sunny day when we arrived. Simon had other commitments that day, however Fergus was around if we needed his assistance. It was also good to see Judith Noble who was overseeing the Artists Residency event that day.
We had a group of 18 attendees, all with either their own individual spiritual paths or not actively practicing but with a curiosity about Folk Magic.
Cassandra knows her Craft well, she has total connection with her audience and notes down a few ‘key words’ to outline subjects she wishes to cover. This makes the talk more spontaneous and much more interesting for listeners.
Cassandra is ‘down to earth’ which has moments of amusement keeping the audience entertained and also lifting the mood when discussing more serious aspects of the Craft.
After two hours of talking and discussion, we had a break for lunch, enjoying the warm sunshine and the sea air.
The group arrived back at the Museum after lunch and Cassandra guided them on a hedgerow walk near Minster Woods so they could harvest some greenery for their witch bottles. I stayed in the library updating our business accounts and searching for the video that Cassandra wished to play to the group.
On their return, the subject of spell casting and energy raising was also discussed. The following video was an example of how working women used chants while engaging in repetitive work that helped with the timing of movements and creating a bond between all workers. One member of our group made an interesting comment about the singing, as it would become apparent if one person grew weary which would mean they needed a break or a change of tempo.
After this I asked the group to move their chairs and form a large circle so that we could place all items for the witch bottles into the centre of the space. All group members could then help themselves to what they needed. Before they began, I suggested they held their jar or bottle between their hands for a few minutes to connect with the spirits and ancestors before their work began.
While filling their witch bottles there were many conversations occurring and sharing of greenery. We explained that their bottle would not be complete at the workshop, they would need to take it home, add a bodily fluid of their choice and seal the jar or bottle by placing a real wax candle on the lid so that the wax drips down over the seal. It can also be done by binding with twine, or a modern method of sticky tape (although we do not recommend the use of plastic.)
A few group members visited the Museum retail outlet and purchased Cassandra’s book Village Witch. When they returned they requested she signed them.
When the workshop was over and everything was back in place, I took another opportunity to sit on the fabulous Gothic chair in the library that once belonged to ‘Old Horny’ the goat God who now stands in the Museum.
Thank you to the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic for inviting us to host the workshop and to all who attended for being such a wonderful supportive group. I’m sure we will be seeing you all again.
“Had an absolute fantastic time at Cassandra and Laetitia Latham Jones’ Workshop at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic today. Learned so much, had a lot of laughs and discussions – it was total ‘amazeballs’! They truly are amazing and inspirational. Thank you both for such an awesome day of magick! Blessed be. xx” E.G.
“It was a fun, interesting and informative day. Cassandra is as entertaining as she is knowledgeable. Thank you both” C.M.
Wonderfully informative with humour and what a fabulous turn out! Cant wait to attend another one” M.E.
“We attended this first workshop and it was amazing, great people and great vibes, thank you everyone see you again!” M.H.
“Wonderful inspiring day with you all. Thank you Cassandra and Laetitia.” K.H.
“What a Wonderful day with beautiful people. Can’t wait to go back to bosscastle to go walking in minster woods. Thank you Cass, Tia for a day of knowledge and learning. Xx” P.O.
“We had a wonderful day lovely people and a great feel here yesterday x”
“I really loved it and look forward to the next one. Xxx💜xxX” G.W.
“I loved every moment of and loved the walk to collect wild flowers.” S.H.
“Can’t wait for the next one! Thank you Cassandra and Laetitia. Many new things heard and learnt. It felt very special. I’m only beginning to feel my way around ” spirit” but excited for the journey. Hope to see you all again soon.” C.D.
Cornwall has had some lovely warm summer days of late and two wonderful lively young men from Chicago had planned to visit and asked Cassandra and I if we would consider hosting an extra workshop for them. We were previously acquainted with them when they accompanied us on a Wise Woman Walk to Zennor Hill in 2018.
We advertised an extra workshop and received bookings from two ladies who also joined us that day.
Jason and Arkie are eager students, they love the world of herbs and potions and they have also opened their own retail outlet selling occult items in Chicago. They were staying in Boscastle and enthusiastically related their visit to the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, particularly the artifacts there that caught their attention and sparked their interest.
Both ladies are residents in Cornwall and the group connected and worked well with one another.
All of the group members love the Cornish landscape and Cassandra’s discussion on the spirit elementals of the land fascinated them. After receiving knowledge on the subject and having their questions answered, it was time to take the group out to a local woodland to meet and connect with the elemental spirits.
They were given a meditation exercise to heighten their awareness before they were instructed to explore their surroundings.
Each member of the group relates an experience different from the others as each person is unique and has their own interpretation of the things they have observed.
When we met in the evening, I guided the group through a process of creating a protective space before we began trying different methods of communication. I explained psychometry, hauntings, spirit mediumship and we all related spiritual experiences we have had during and after loved ones had passed away.
The group members received excellent results with their psychometry, they surprised themselves with the accuracy of their impressions on certain items totally unknown to them.
The group also attempted scrying with a black mirror and spent some time experimenting with a Ouija communication board. Not everyone is comfortable about using these boards which is not surprising when they have a bad reputation from certain horror occult movies. On this particular evening all group members tried this method.
Each person finds a method of communication they feel particularly connected to or what works for them.
During the final part of the evening we shared libations of Cornish mead and Saffron cake while discussing the weekend. It was indeed a pleasure to spend time with such a wonderful group of people. I’m sure our paths will cross again!
“Hi Laetitia and Cassandra!
What a whirlwind the last few days have been! Such a pleasure to see you both again. Thank you so much for the time, effort, and energy you put into the Spirit Connections workshop. Arkie and I learned so much from it. We’ve already started talking about locations in Chicago we can go to practice our stone meditation and we plan on working more on our psychometry skills this week! We’ve made it a personal goal to attend each of your workshops so we can’t wait to see what else you have in store!” J.F.
“Firstly i would like to thank Laetitia and Cassandra for creating this wonderful workshop which allowed us to gain an insight and deeper understanding of what it is to work with the spirit world. Within the welcoming atmosphere of the wise woman’s cottage, it was great to discuss and learn from each other our different spiritual paths and our own experiences of the spirit world. We all gained a lot of knowledge from Cassandra and Laetitia about types of energies and how there are many ways to connect with them. Our walk to a special site with Cassandra allowed a peaceful time in which we were taught how to focus deeply within asetting in order to be more aware of our connection to the things around us. During the evening we were given opportunities to try out ways in which to connect to the spirits. My favorite practice we used was Psychometry, even though it was my first time doing this i found it particularly fascinating. Thank you Laetitia and Cassandra for a fantastic experience i will definitely be joining you again for another workshop.” C.N
“It was so good to meet you all last weekend, I think we were lucky to get such a nice group, even though we are all pretty different! I enjoyed the whole experience and particularly how important it is to have that space where we can speak openly about our beliefs, experiences and personal practice, Its so rare to be able to do this for someone who is not involved in the ‘community’. I loved that we could ask you both anything and get a sensible answer! I loved the ‘down-to-earth’ energy of it all, but that’s a big part of why i chose to come to you in the first place I suppose.
To give some more precise feedback, I would say that the visit to the grove was good – particularly as there was helpful (practical) advice from Cassandra on best practice for working in this realm. The evening work with the Psychometry was also good and lovely that there was no feeling of judgement or competition – its quite nerve wracking to try this sort of exercise for the first time so the last thing you need is added performance anxiety! I (like many others I’m sure) have a lot ofresistance to the idea of Ouija board work – just from the all the years of bad stories etc etc, made this exercise too difficult to get in to. Overall it was really helpful to get a taste of the different practices along with the wisdom that actually these are things that also require work and practice – like any other skill. When I think back over my years with horses and the times I’ve had the strongest connections and done the best work – its always been those times when i was really immersed, working at it every day and seeking and experimenting and being truly dedicated, I’ve no doubt that the work of witchery is the same…. I would love to be able to attend another of your courses (particularly charm/amulet -making, i think you do one?) It’s so hard to find teachers you can feel like you can trust in this sort of stuff, people with both deep and long experience who are at the same time warm, approachable and fun- i feel lucky to have had the chance to meet you both! With warmest wishes and gratitude. H.B.”
Cassandra and I conducted a workshop for a lovely couple Karyl and Paul. They are already known to us as we Handfasted them nearly two years ago when they were still living in the U.S. On this occasion, they traveled from Devon (as they have now relocated to the to U.K.), to spend the weekend with us.
Karyl wanted to know how magic could be utilised to help with the dire political situation which is cause of great concern to the population.
After spending most of the afternoon engaged in intense discussion on the darker side of the Craft, it was time to lighten the mood with some creative magical work.
They were delighted with their Spirit House that they created together.
In the evening we visited a powerful ancient place well known for its legends and spirit presences as the sun set and darkness approached.
We have been ‘piskie led’ on this route before so Cassandra put down markers to ensure we took the correct pathways in the darkness. These photographs are not clear, however you may be able to make out the rocks and figures, but they convey how dark it was by the time we arrived.
On the way back we paused at the crossroads for necessary magical work. We then returned to the cottage to partake of warming and scrumptious libations by the hearth. A wonderful weekend.
“Dear Laetitia and Cassandra,
I cannot fully express how valuable the workshop was for Paul and I. We keep remembering pieces and remarking to each other about how wonderful our experience was. Thank you so, so much. We look forward to more….including Sept 7.
Cassandra and Laetitia are masters in their Craft. The Dark Arts Workshop was riveting and valuable. Their teaching styles compliment each other and one gets the feeling that there is a deep well of wisdom and experience for each pearl that is expressed. My husband and I will be their students again, definitely.” Karyl and Paul.
It was on 26th June 2009, that I first ventured onto the streets of Penzance for my Teazer performance under the tuition of Cassandra Latham Jones. I had previous experience of Morris dancing and performed at various folk festivals, however I mistakenly assumed the role of Teazer could be something similar.
It all began with a telephone phone call during November 2008 from an acquaintance who asked if I would be interested in training for the role of a Teazer. She briefly explained what it would entail and I agreed to try, as it would also provide an opportunity to join a community event after recently moving to Cornwall. I had visited the home of this particular acquaintance and their partner on a few occasions during the time they were creating one of the new Penglaz ‘Osses as the original ‘Oss had retired. They were extremely excited about this project and I witnessed the gradual development of the new Penglaz’s creation. It was the first time I had seen a horse’s skull and heard about the folk tradition in which these skulls were utilised. Cassandra contacted me soon after hearing of my interest and invited me to attend the 2008 Montol festival near the winter solstice, so I could observe her first performance with the new Penglaz.
The acquaintance who introduced us was also a photographer for the event and suggested I wore a mask and dark clothing in the procession that evening, as the majority of people wore in ‘mock formal’ attire.
On arrival I joined the back of the procession at St Johns Hall with my former husband and son. When it began, I made my way to the front to observe Cassandra’s performance. Penglaz the ‘Oss did not appear during the first procession so I concentrated on Cassandra’s movements as she marched at the front of the band in time to the music, while waving to people who lined the streets. On our arrival at the hill fort we stood around a large fire beacon to warm ourselves and then visited a pub with the photographer, her partner and another friend of theirs.
The crowd seemed to increase in numbers for the second procession and once again I followed them at the back with my husband and son, then gradually moved to the front.
Cassandra and Penglaz appeared out of an adjacent entrance to a restaurant in Chapel street and were welcomed by the enthusiastic cheers from the crowd. The energy was wild and exciting.
When I previously performed at festivals with my former Morris team, I was one of many performers, but on this occasion it was a little disconcerting that Penglaz and the Teazer were the main characters and focus of the event. There would be greater pressure on this performance and I voiced my concerns to the photographer who assured me it would all have a positive outcome.
During my interview with Cassandra on the 26th January 2009, I was informed of a second Penglaz and an ongoing disagreement between the other rider and Cassandra, but she assured me I would not be involved in this matter. Cassandra and I met regularly for practices at a yard owned by an engineer known to the photographer. My son and husband both rode Penglaz and each of them had a unique interpretation resulting in varied personalities of the ‘Oss during each performance.
My former husband gave Penglaz a cheeky character, while my son being only seventeen years of age at this time was unpredictable, mischievous and Cassandra says he was and still is the fastest ‘Oss rider she ever had!
Although I was an experienced dancer, I needed to develop a connection with a completely different type of energy to perform this role. Cassandra sent me explanations and descriptions of the Bucca elemental (of the sea and storms) spirit that works through the ‘Oss and Teazer.
I modeled my Teazer kit on the one Cassandra wore, as the Teazer ‘cross dresses’ to represent the ‘male and female’ aspect and ‘topsy turvy’ Cornish energy. Cassandra attended a ‘guild meeting’ and presented its members with video footage of our practices, announcing I would be her apprentice Teazer and apparently it had the guild members’ approval.
My first appearance was on Friday 26th June 2009 on Mazey Eve. My former husband volunteered to ride Cassandra’s Penglaz (the one and only time) and we were understandably a little nervous on our first appearance particularly within a community we were unfamiliar with. (On reflection I am sure many were wondering who we were and why we had been placed into a ‘lead role’ within their community festival!) Just before the performance I was instructed to wait for Cassandra outside a local inn while she attempted to locate someone. A local man approached me asking why I was there and when I explained, he stated that I would never be as good as Cassandra and continued to tell me how long he had known her and revealed rather personal details about her life! What an encouraging start to the evening!
We prepared ourselves and Penglaz in a room at the Barbican and Cassandra stood at the open top window waving at the gathering crowd who were cheering and looking up at her. We made our entrance from the large black doors to lively music provided by the Golowan Band and cheers from the crowd. Mazey Eve is a wild celebration and extremely crowded, so keeping near Penglaz and making one’s way through the crowd is quite a task! I watched Cassandra closely and on many occasions our movements were identical which boded well for future development.
Cassandra imbued a confidence and connection with the ‘Oss during her seventeen years of Teazing and it was something that would also develop within me after years of experience. One’s reflexes need to be quick due to the unpredictable behaviour of the ‘Oss and the crowd.
The Teazer’s role is to attempt to control the crowd as well as keep an eye on Penglaz, making space for her to move around and protecting her from over-enthusiastic intoxicated revellers, who step into her path, or attempt to get too close as this could result in injury. There were specific signals Cassandra used to direct Penglaz, to laugh, dance and also stand still if needed. The stomping and snapping move of the ‘Oss is one that takes practice as the timing of snapping the jaw and stepping need coordination. My son Rhys accomplished this move quickly and with a spectacular result.
After my first performance as Teazer, I received some positive feedback, plus a few criticisms from one, who thought I should teaze the ‘Oss in exactly the same way as Cassandra. At first I could not understand what he meant, however after years of experience I understood, as he advised me to watch Cassandra’s feet. Mine now move in the same way as the energy has ‘grounded’ within the performance. Another person did not agree with two Teazers being on the street instead of one, but Cassandra explained it was the best method for training. Whatever their viewpoints, I knew that I had done a good first performance for someone with no previous knowledge or experience of ‘Oss Teazing. My role with Cassandra and Penglaz in Penzance continued for two years and then we left the festival over further political issues. (See Original Penglaz Reinstated). I was relieved to be out of this situation within the Golowan festival, as it allowed us freedom to perform in our own way. After leaving we re-named our ‘Oss Penkevyll and our Guise team Boekka.
Boekka has had three changes of colours, image, performers and riders throughout the years, however what remained constant was that Cassandra and I remained united as Teazers. I performed alongside her for eight years and then, after 25 years of Teazing, she handed on the role of head Teazer to me.
My Teazer role has developed over the years and the strongest connection and change occurred at the All Hallows Gathering in 2016 after my release from a situation that was, on reflection, draining the energies. The Teazer role needs total focus and I discovered dividing my energy between Morris dancing and Teazing did not work well.
I now have two apprentice Teazers as well as new ‘Oss riders. All are doing extremely well and Boekka is going from strength to strength. This year is our 9th year of performance (as our team first formed while our ‘Oss was still Penglaz during 2010). I also own and ride an ‘Obby ‘Oss by the name of Morvargh (Cornish for Sea Horse).
I have learnt some valuable lessons in the last ten years and am not the same person who moved to Cornwall eleven years ago, but I have some fond memories of those early days.
Cassandra also asked me to mention that I am the ONLY Teazer she has taught and I am proud of this fact.
It has certainly been an eventful but rewarding journey!