Working with Spirits of the Land and Ancient Sites.
The Merry Maidens shrouded in mist.
Cornwall is a deeply spiritual place steeped in ancient history, retaining its unique Celtic energy and Cornish language. The land has produced an abundance of folklore and we feel the presence of the ‘hidden folk’ – Piskies and Knockers that inhabit the mines and deep underground places.
Cornwall is full of enigmatic stone circles, holy wells, potent waters and powerful earth energy currents. When visiting here one can learn about the beliefs of the ancestors, spirituality, myths, legends and history within the ‘Wisdom of the Ages’. West Penwith at the ‘toe’ of Britain is surrounded by the ocean and mighty coastal cliffs and it can be described as a ‘land out of time’. While some sites are associated with witches and fairies, they are also described by William Bottrell as Celtic monuments that may have been used as calendars to mark the solstices. He described holed stones as ‘crick’ stones containing healing properties and holy wells that are used for divination and healing.
Each person connects with these sites in their own way, by meditation, ceremonies, and dowsing, also by treading the secluded country paths leading to secret holy wells, lone standing stones, hidden stone circles, caves and cromlechs. They are all connected with evocative, appealing legends and folklore that enchant many who visit.
Image – Joan’s Cottage at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic by Patheos.
There are hundreds of stories referring to witches and witchcraft. William Bottrell told the story of ‘Old Betty Trenoweth’ the witch of Buryan church-town and quotes a curse used by her toward a rival. There are also more common stories describing the benign activities of conjurors. Another story in Bottrell’s collection concerns west country folk who consulted a male conjuror to have protection ‘renewed’ and he details incidents involving Tammy Blee the famous ‘white witch’ of Helston.
More information can be found by reading the well researched discoveries of renowned Historian Jason Semmens: Art Cornwall
Working with Spirits of the Sea
Since moving to Cornwall I discovered the ocean played a significant role in my life. Working with sea energies has produced remarkable results in my work and these were enhanced by researching the connections of the moon, tides, shore life and plants. I also researched the fascinating history of ancestral Wisewomen who worked in unison with sea spirits and am intrigued by the myths and local legends of merfolk and sea monsters.
The following description is from “In The Chime Hours”:
It has been told by word of mouth that if a person was suffering from dark energies or illnesses and they wished to be free of this there was no better solution than to immerse themselves beneath the waves of the sea. The best time for this was at sunrise, just as the sun began to appear on the horizon and then to stay immersed in the waters until nine waves had passed over them.
This also applied to other waters, whether it be from a holy well, a spring or a stream with nine being a significant number. Many have gathered together at certain times and dates to draw upon the healing powers of the landscape according to ancient folklore of Britain.
The Sea Witches of Cornwall, Scotland and Sussex would present the superstitious sailors with a triune knotted rope “selling them the wind” the untying of the first knot would release a good breeze, the untying of the second would release a wind that was high and a fierce gale would be released by the untying of the third knot. Ancient Mariners had learnt this ability from sea witches to “whistle for the wind”. This would rely on direct action of the seafarers to do a strong invocation to the “Prince of the Powers of Air” to work on their behalf.
Spiritual invocation with the sea was considered by sailors as highly treacherous and was used as a last resort at a time when there was no wind to fill their sails. It was believed that any seafarers who whistled for the wind without good reason would invoke “ill winds” causing terrible storms that would damage or even destroy their vessels.
One of the sailor’s most treasured possessions would be a triangular fish bone in the shape of “Thor’s Hammer”, considered a charm for safe journeys and protecting against storms etc. so that he would never be in a position where he needed to “whistle the wind”. Another was the “caul” the piece of membrane covering the face of a newborn which was sold to seafarers to prevent death by drowning.
Sea Witches and sailors would invoke the wind and sea spirits, Saints and even the Devil. It was said that a Sea Witch Trotternish invoked such a fierce gale she drowned her victim by capsizing his boat.
Fishermen bring new nets, or repair their old ones on the shore at the time of the rising tides; they would drink whisky as a libation to ensure good luck on their excursions.
A form of divination that can be used is to place a bowl of sea water in the sand. If the reflection of the rising sun is glistening and rippling in the water, then the magical work is still in process of completion. If the reflection is steady, then the work has been completed.
Using water for scrying has developed with Magicians and Witches through the centuries. This can be done with a receptacle filled with water which can be used anywhere, or sitting by a lake or by a rock pool on the beach. Being out amongst the elements will add more energy to your work as well as being in such a wonderful place.”
I frequent Lamorna, Sennen and Penberth Coves in West Penwith, while Fowey, Mevagissey and Polperro hold special childhood memories. Tintagel, St Nectan’s Glen and Boscastle are steeped in ancient history and are a prominent feature in the beginning of my spiritual journey. The spectacular views from the cliffs of Tintagel and Boscastle are a site to behold. Nothing compares to the wonderful taste of sea salt on your lips, the feel of sea water on your feet and the cool sea breeze blowing through your hair. Taking time to listening to the voice of the sea as the waves ebb and flow, reaching a crescendo as they crash against the rocks. The haunting cries of seagulls and the scent of the shore is nourishment for the body, mind and soul that activates healing on a deeper level.
Sea Witchery display in the: Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, Boscastle.
I highly recommend visiting the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic to observe the fascinating artefacts associated with various pathways of the Craft in the enchanting location of Boscastle. Read more about the history of: Sea Witches.