Tenth Anniversary as an Old Craft Initiate.

The full moon of 28th March 2021, marked 10 years since my initiation into the Old Craft by Cassandra Latham Jones.

Image – John Isaac

For me, tuition in the Old Ways was more intensive than it is for members within a group as I have lived with my teacher and we were rarely apart, so I received constant tuition and discussion. The last ten years may have brought challenges and hard lessons, however they included a multitude of wonderful moments that made it all worthwhile.

To mark this special anniversary Cassandra decided it was time for me to receive my final initiation, an equivalent to a third degree within the Wiccan path.

On February’s full moon, I visited Men an Tol, where once again, I was overlooked by a bright full Moon. I performed a ritual of passing significant items through the holed stone a designated number of times to energise them while Cassandra observed nearby. I then paused and stood in the moon’s rays, feeling her energy while expressing my devotion.

From that moment on, Cassandra instructed me to record my dreams and sent me on four Quests to locations of my choice.

Lamorna Cove
Barnoon Cemetery St Ives
Carn Euny
Carn Euny
Crean Valley Woodland

I collected an item from each location and on the final Quest, I realized each one related to the elements, water, air, earth and fire. Cassandra stated that the directions were also significant.

The requirement of a ‘fast’ for a period of time was undertaken abstaining from stimulants, plus an added habitual action that I would find challenging.

During the weekend of my initiation, Cassandra instructed me to create a magical item related to all the locations I visited. There is a specific ritual connected to the creation of it that I followed during a designated planetary hour. I combined a blend of corresponding oils and herbs, placing them in a muslin bath pouch for my ritual bath. I cleansed and blessed all items that would be utilised for the ceremony.

Image – Cornish Bird Blog

On the evening of the initiation, we left home at 8pm to visit Boscawen-un stone circle where the first part of my initiation rite would take place, just as it had ten years ago. The difference on this occasion was the invisibility of the Moon shrouded in dark clouds on a dry evening, accompanied by a stiff breeze. This did not surprise me as Cassandra informed me it would be a ‘darker’ ceremony, therefore the absence of moonlight had great significance. I attempted to wear a hat that evening but the breeze repeatedly removed it, therefore I accepted that it was not required.

Cassandra and I used our bull roarers to call the spirits of place, she then instructed me to repeat a statement at each stone until I completed the circle. Cassandra stood by the Elder tree to observe and I slowly made my way around the circle laying my hands upon each stone, repeating the words, then moving on in the darkness, making my way over the tussocks and uneven ground. When I completed the circle, I turned to walk towards the King stone at the centre and in the darkness it seemed to transform into a tall hooded figure. I approached it and as I did so it reverted back to its original form and I rested my forehead against it, connecting with the energies of the site. After a while, I laid against the incline of the King stone feeling the breeze that rushed over my body and pressed me against the granite.

On our return to the cottage, Cassandra prepared the hearth and surrounding area, while I had my ritual bath in candlelight. I reclined in the water and contemplated on the impressions I received at the stone circle and the step I was about to take.

I put on my robe and awaited Cassandra’s call.

The initiation ritual was a wonderful experience and the initiatory words had such potency. Although my familiar Clutterbuck had entered the spirit world only 5 weeks before this,

Image – John Isaac

I felt his presence as he never failed to join us for celebrations in the physical world. I knew he would not miss this occasion.

When the initiation ritual was over, Cassandra hugged me and stated that her job was done. We celebrated with good old Cornish mead. Never before had she taught anyone as intensively over this period of time.

We have both worked well together over the years and will continue to do so.

I would like to express my gratitude to Cassandra for being such a caring, understanding and patient tutor. She has taught me invaluable skills and assisted me in developing a deep connection not only with Cornwall but also with the place and community of my birth.

Whatever the future holds and wherever life takes me, her teachings will remain and are a strong aspect of who I am.

Feedback from Cassandra Latham Jones: “Congratulations Laetitia! A worthy, hard working and fully fledged Wisewoman. You have remarkable psychic abilities – that definitely is your forte”.

Autumnal Activities at Equinox 2020

The latter half of summer had been rather busy for Cornwall and although this was welcome to help the economy, it included aggressive and thoughtless behaviour from many visitors. The land and sea no doubt breathed a ‘sigh of relief’ as summer turns to autumn and life returns to a more peaceful and slower pace.

Cassandra and I were occupied with distant work for clients, however August and September enabled us to see clients in person for socially distant readings, workshops and courses.

Autumn Equinox was overcast weather-wise, but 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.

Details

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. 

Legal

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.

Historic England

Our blessing ritual was simple, but nevertheless potent 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 on the highest point of the site and 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 hoped the changing season would bring a positive outcome to the problematic situation we are all experiencing. We hope communities will work together, caring for one another and our environment. A perfect end to an energetic equinox!

The Old Ways – Craft of the Cunning Folk Workshop September 2020

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…….. 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!

Feedback:

“‘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.

Wisewoman Walk After Lockdown June 2020

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.

Our first visit was Tregiffian Burial Chamber

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, standing tall and proud upon the landscape.

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.

We then escorted our client around the grounds of St Buryan 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 knowledgeable 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.

Tenth Anniversary as Village Wisewoman

Spring Equinox 2020 marks the tenth anniversary since Cassandra Latham Jones handed over 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 are dealt with in a different way.

The consultations providing guidance can be similar to counselling (in which I now have a Diploma) as clients contact us with various dilemmas in their lives. We discuss appropriate methods or courses of action that could help them.

Cassandra has a unique way of working and has built a good reputation which means she is a tough ‘act to follow’. I was a Cornwall resident for only ten months when I embarked on these new pursuits and local residents did not know me well, but 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. I have also performed 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 of the list of items required when working with them is much easier now and I converse with the confidence that comes with experience.

Cassandra taught me to do my own business accounts, which is quite an easy task with a small business. I admire her for managing this despite her having ‘dyscalculia’. It was less of a problem for me as I am good with numbers and nowadays modern technology lessens the burden of mathematics.

I understand why a ‘code of ethics’ is necessary and it is not good practice to cast spells for clients to influence others against their will. These spells can have huge repercussions and I have witnessed the consequences for others who cast spells for selfish desires without forethought.

Learning the process of creating charms has been enjoyable and is reminiscent of past activities when I have used cross-stitch and crochet skills during childhood and adolescence. I have skills 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,  when I construct two fertility charms neither is 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 uncanny likenesses 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 know Cassandra’s Tarot cards so well, I am able 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 who are unable to see us in person have proven to be extremely accurate and given guidance and help to many all over the world.

The Handfastings we provide are wonderful occasions. We have taken on the role of Celebrants at wondrous sacred sites and more unusual venues. My past ceremonial training comes to the fore when setting up a sacred space although the words I use have changed, providing a deeper connection to the ancient land around us.

We prefer a couple to be in a relationship at least a year before taking this important step, some had been legally married a considerable length of time. Others had their spiritual ceremony with us, but attend a registry office before or after the ceremony if they require a legal contract.

I would love to experience more of these ceremonies on beaches 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 people once led can leave residual energies that seep into the foundations of buildings which can affect them in startling ways. The spirits of deceased owners can form an attachment with their former properties that 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 to move them on.

I have experienced on many occasions the remarkable difference of energy and atmosphere within a property after 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 organisation and work 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!

The Old Ways – Craft of the Cunning Folk Workshop March 2020

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.

Feedback:

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

The Old Ways -Folk/Cunning Workshop, Boscastle 2019

Cassandra and I hosted a Folk Magic workshop at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic as Simon Costin had suggested it.  Cassandra’s book Village Witch is stocked within the Museum retail outlet, therefore a workshop provided  readers with more information on the subject. They could interact and ask Cassandra any questions in person.

It was a glorious warm sunny day when we arrived. Simon had other commitments that day but Fergus was around if we needed assistance. It was good to catch up with Judith Noble who was overseeing the Artists Residency event that day.

We had 18 attendees, each were either on their own individual spiritual path or not actively practicing but curious about the Folk/Cunning Craft.

Cassandra has years of experience in her Craft and good rapport with her audience. She works from an outline of subjects so the talk is more spontaneous and interesting for her listeners.

Cassandra is ‘down to earth’ with humorous moments that keep the audience entertained. It also helps to lift the atmosphere when discussing more serious aspects of the Craft.

After two hours of discussion, we had a lunch break, enjoying the warm sunshine and sea air.

The group returned to the Museum after lunch and Cassandra guided them on a hedgerow walk near Minster Woodland to harvest wild greenery for their witch bottles. I remained in the library updating our business accounts and searching for the video Cassandra planned to show the group in the afternoon session.

On their return, the subject of spell casting and energy raising was discussed. The following video is an example of how working women used chants, while engaging in repetitive work. This helped with accurate timing of movements and also creates a bond between all workers. One member of our group made an interesting comment about the singing, as it would become apparent if a worker grew weary, meaning that they could either take a break or slow down.

The group then moved their chairs to form a large circle and we placed all ingredients for witch bottles into the centre of the space. They could help themselves to the ingredients that they required. I suggested that they began by holding their jar or bottle for a few minutes while connecting with the spirits and ancestors for assistance.

There were many conversations and also sharing of greenery as they all filled their receptacles. We explained that they would need to take them home to add a personal bodily fluid of their choice. When that is done they seal the jar or bottle by placing a real wax candle on the lid so the wax drips down over the seal. It can also be done by binding with twine before sealing with wax, or a modern method of adhesive tape (although we do not recommend the use of plastic.)

A few members of the group visited the Museum retail outlet and purchased Cassandra’s book Village Witch. They asked her to sign them.

When the workshop was complete and everything was returned to its place, I took another opportunity to sit upon the fabulous Gothic chair in the library. It once belonged to ‘Old Horny’ the goat God who now stands tall within the Museum.

We would like to thank the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic for inviting us to host this workshop and all who attended it for being such a wonderful supportive group. I’m sure we will be seeing you again.

Feedback:

“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 Boscastle to go walking in minster woods. Thank you Cass and Laetitia 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.

Ten Years Performing as Teazer

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. They 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 while they were in the process of creating a new Penglaz ‘Oss after the original ‘Oss retired. They were extremely excited about this project and I witnessed the gradual development of the new Penglaz 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 that I could observe her first performance with the new Penglaz.

The acquaintance who introduced us was also a photographer at the event and suggested I wore a mask and dark clothing, as the majority of people wore ‘mock formal’ attire.

On our arrival at the event I joined the back of the procession at St Johns Hall with my former husband and son. I then 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 and waving to people who lined the streets. At the hill fort we stood around a large fire beacon to warm ourselves and visited a pub with the photographer, their partner and one of their friends.

The crowd seemed to increase in number for the second procession and once again I followed at the back with my husband and son, then gradually moved to the front.

Cassandra and Penglaz appeared out of an entrance adjacent to a restaurant in Chapel Street and were welcomed by enthusiastic cheers from the crowd. The energy was wild and exciting.

When I had previously performed at festivals with my former Morris team, I was one of many performers, but on this occasion it was a little disconcerting to see that Penglaz and her Teazer were the main characters and focus of the event. This meant there would be greater pressure on the performance and I voiced my concerns to the photographer who assured me that it would all have a positive outcome.

During my interview with Cassandra on the 26th January 2009, I was informed of a second new Penglaz and an ongoing disagreement between the other ‘Oss 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 which gave the ‘Oss varied personality traits within each performance.

My former husband gave Penglaz a cheeky character, while my son being only seventeen years of age, 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 sea and storms) spirit that works through the ‘Oss and Teazer.

I modelled 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 that 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 by Cassandra to wait 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, 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 her 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 Cassandra and I were dismissed from the festival over further political issues. (See Original Penglaz Reinstated). I was rather 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 were united as Teazers. I performed alongside her for eight years and then, after twenty five years of Teazing, Cassandra handed on the role of head Teazer to me.

My Teazer role has developed over the years and the strongest connection and change within it 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, however I have some fond memories of those early days.

Cassandra has 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!

Read more about Boekka

Sound Healing Journey at the Merry Maidens

I had heard of ‘Gong Bath’ events that utilise sound vibration, but had not attended one until yesterday.

Our lovely friend Angie Latham along with her husband Dougie and fellow sound therapist Anthony, invited us to a Sound Healing Journey within the Merry Maidens stone circle. As we travelled along the lane, we could see the stone circle in the distance and sunlight reflecting off the impressive large gongs that stood in the centre.

We were well prepared with blankets, pillows, coats and drums to join in with the rhythm session. Angie welcomed Cassandra and I with a warm embrace as we had not seen one another for a while, due to the unpredictability of life.

Other group members arrived and we admired the wonderful instruments on display.

I felt drawn to the quartz crystal bowls and looked forward to hearing them. Angie explained how their vibration connects to the higher spiritual energy centres of the body. As a healer and someone who has also hosted psychic development circles, I know this method would be of benefit to people who are involved in these pursuits.

Angie’s Beautiful Gong creates a wonderful calming vibration.

Anthony explained how the gong pictured on the right is tuned to the Mercury vibration connected to the throat energy centre. As a therapist I am aware that this would be ideal for communication problems and physical throat conditions. The lower gong on the left is attuned to the vibration of Venus and connected to the energy centre of the heart. This would help with many aspects of emotional problems and physical heart ailments.

Here is Anthony.

Angie seemed much happier and content now she has found her ‘soul purpose’. It is obvious that she enjoys this work that benefits her and all who attend her events.

Angie asked Cassandra to speak to the group about the history of the Merry Maidens circle so they could connect with its energy and their surroundings. When the group had settled, we were instructed to lie down and relax.

Cassandra was well prepared.

As we relaxed, the deep earthy sound of the gong resonated around us. I was aware of someone walking their dog through the site and the animal was disturbed at first by the sounds and barked for a while, but soon settled down to the deep vibration. We laid there for over an hour and even though the ground was hard, there were times I felt as though my body did not touch the earth, particularly when sounds from the quartz crystal bowls rang out. As well as sounds from gongs and bowls, rattles and chimes were also used.

I have meditation CDs at home for daily practice and I recognized many sounds that day which activated the Reiki energy that I work with.

When the drum beats began, our bodies slowly came out of the relaxation and we rose to join in with the drums. All around us group members were smiling and enjoying their individual experience. We created a good rhythm, some listened and others drummed and danced while the sun slowly descended on a beautiful day.

When it was over, we invited Angie, Dougie and Anthony to join us for a well deserved drink at our local Inn to toast Anthony’s birthday. We also updated one another on our lives and the latest news, which was long overdue.

I am so pleased I attended this event and highly recommend it to anyone who wishes to experience it. Thank you so much Angie, Dougie and Anthony for a wonderful evening.
For more information go to Sacred Earth Sound Therapy 

The Cunning Men and Wise Women in History

A relevant article featuring George Pickingill a fascinating cunning man.

Today the popular image of witchcraft in the mass media and in books and magazines is largely defined by ‘Wicca’, a form of neo-pagan witchcraft created by a retired English civil servant called Gerald Brosseau Gardner (1884–1964) in the 1940s. It is now established worldwide as a post-modern, ‘nature religion’ with a spiritual emphasis on Goddess worship. Modern witchcraft, however, did not begin with Gardner and it has a hidden history before Wicca. This history has connections with the famous occultist Aleister Crowley and also with Australia.

From the 1800s onwards there were several revivals of witchcraft in Britain based on historical precedents. These forms of pre-Wiccan witchcraft are variously known today as traditional witchcraft or ‘Traditional Craft’, the ‘Old Craft’ or ‘Elder Craft’, the ‘Sabbatic Craft’, ‘The Nameless Arte’, and ‘The Crooked Path’. There is also plenty of evidence from historical sources, folklore accounts, court cases and, later, newspaper reports in Britain, of the activities of ‘cunning folk’ and other practitioners of folk magic. In popular terminology and belief they were variously known as ‘white witches’, ‘wizards’, ‘sorcerers’, conjurors’, ‘pellars’, ‘planet readers’ (astrologers), and ‘hedge doctors’ (herbalists). These magical practitioners operated widely in both the rural and urban areas of the British Isles and they were consulted by all levels of society from farm labourers to the owners of large country estates.

These cunning folk or ‘white witches’ offered a wide range of services to their clients. They were popularly believed to possess the Sight (the ability to foresee the future and events at a distance, now called ‘remote viewing’ by parapsychologists), exorcise ghosts and banish spirits and poltergeists, cast spells to attract love and money, locate lost or stolen property and missing people using divination or by consulting spirits, and heal the sick using the ‘laying on of hands’ or herbal remedies. Most importantly, as far as their clients were concerned, they could counter the malefic spells cast by so-called ‘grey’ or ‘black’ witches. In some cases the cunning man or wise-woman acted for the general population and the authorities as unofficial witch-finders. However, all types of witches were believed to be able to cure and curse, hex and heal.

Although there are obvious similarities with some of the modern magical practices carried out by Wiccans, most of the methods and techniques used by the old-time witches bear little resemblance to those used by the neo-pagan witches who appear today in the press or on television. Often the cunning folk practiced dual faith observance and the charms, amulets, prayers and incantations they used invoked Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the Trinity and the company of saints. Psalms were used for magical purposes as spells and they still are in some modern traditional witchcraft circles. With the coming of the new religion of Christianity and the suppression of ancient paganism, objects such as the cross, saints’ medallions and even holy water were widely used by folk magicians because they were believed to possess ‘virtue’ or magical energy and had inherent healing power.

Read more here New Dawn Magazine

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