A Special All Hallows Dark Gathering 2018

This year I took on extra responsibility in organizing the All Hallows Dark Gathering to assist Cassandra Latham Jones after the managers of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic informed us they were leaving. We then worked closely with Simon Costin the Museum owner informing and updating him on all arrangements.
Many people enjoy this event each year, but have no idea how much work goes into the organizing of it. As well as caring for the performers, Cassandra also goes the ‘extra mile’ in caring for the community, for example: where they will find accommodation and where they can get refreshments. She also arranged with the village residents a ‘park and ride’ scheme so that all were able to park their cars and disabled folk would find it easier to make their way to Boscastle. Cassandra has huge support from the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, the Chamber of Commerce and other members of their local community.
When we entered 2018 I sensed there would be significant changes to our lives and this has proved to be so.
At the Dark Gathering this year our special guest was Wolfshead and Vixen Morris. It has been 15 years since I danced with this team and I was looking forward to seeing them once again.

Image-Chris Hicks

Their first dance performed by Wolfshead is known as ‘Four Seasons’. A person is often chosen to stand in the centre of the space while they dance around them and I was delighted they chose me. It brought back fond memories of the previous time this happened outside the King Arthurs Arms in Tintagel in 2001.

Later that afternoon, I was asked by the Squire of Vixen to join them in my favourite dance Gemini. It’s a dance I have not forgotten and I know and it is also one Beltane Border Morris particularly like.
I had no time to practice it with them, but they performed it once and invited me to join them the 2nd time. As soon as the dance began, the 15 years apart from Vixen seemed to disappear and I performed every move as precisely as I had all those years ago.
Here is video footage of their dance and them inviting me to join them at the repeat performance.

The members of Vixen were amazed I remembered it so well and were so pleased with the performance, I received a hug from each of them when the dance was over.

The last time I performed with them in Boscastle outside the Museum was 17 years ago on the 12th June 2001 for the 50th anniversary of the Witchcraft Repeal.

Taking part in this has given me a wonderful and positive new memory of Morris dancing at the All Hallows Gathering as it is the best and most satisfying Morris dance I have ever performed there. I cannot thank them enough for this moment.

The Dark Gathering goes from strength to strength and has a protective energy about it. Long may it continue.

 

 

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A New Year Begins…

The All Hallows Dark Gathering 2017 event in Boscastle was significant for me. I have trained and performed as a Teazer alongside Cassandra Latham Jones since 2009 and it was at Chepstow in January this year she handed over her snapper along with the position of main Teazer.
At this event I guide Penkevyll and stood alongside her while the Wassail ceremonies took place.  The meeting on the bridge is a little more energetic as Penkevyll stand on the Welsh side with the Maris to meet the approaching from the opposite side to meet us at the centre of the bridge.
The St Pirans festival in March invites Penkevyll and Boekka to take part in their procession at Redruth.  The procession is uphill where extra exertion is required when Teazing, interacting with the crowd and keeping an eye on Penkevyll’s antics.
The All Hallows Dark Gathering in Boscastle is now a popular event. During the afternoon I build energy by moving to the music played for Morris dancers and connect with spirits of place from land and sea at the wondrous harbour of Boscastle.

 

This year I also rode my ‘Oss Morvargh during the afternoon accompanied by John and Sue Exton with their new Mari Seren. Dancing with Morvargh is the ideal warm up for the Teazing of Penkevyll. Mole the Squire of Wreckers Morris invited Morvargh to dance with his Morris band while the team performed a dance about the sea. We worked well together and the audience enjoyed it immensely.
It was then time to take Morvargh back to our room and change into my Teazer kit. I prepared Penkevyll with the assistance of Cassandra and our rider. The procession led by the Maris made its way through Boscastle and the sound of throbbing drums meant it was time to appear with Penkevyll.

 

 

Our space was rather restricted this year due to the fire display equipment for Mr Fox. Penkevyll danced and interacted with the audience until we observed the flaming torches of the procession.

We welcomed the Maris before guiding Penkevyll into the Museum for the Pwmco ceremony.
During this performance I was observed by my new apprentice Teazer. Scarlet is in her 30s and has a good connection with Penkevyll. She also connects well with the Cornish energies and has an enquiring mind with welcome experience in the performing arts. I look forward to her progression.
This year I sang the Cornish Pwmco alone while Susan Exton sang the Welsh version. I had no time to drink water after the energetic Teazing and hoped it would not affect my singing.  Susan and I thought the performance was better than expected, especially as she had little notice due to Vivien’s sudden illness.

The Mari’s stayed within the entrance hall of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic when blessing the property, as the corridors and stairs are difficult for the taller ‘Osses to negotiate. After the refreshments of beer and cake, I guided Penkevyll outside to watch the fabulous performance of Mr Fox. There is a primitive energy about their performance which complimented the event.

After Sarah Emery’s beautiful song, it was time for Cassandra, Michelle and I to invoke the spirits of place with our bullroarers. Will Fox from Beltane Morris delivered a wonderful speech about the meaning of Samhain followed by a blessing.

 

All participants worked hard, the cooperation and friendship of all concerned imbued positive energies into the All Hallows event of 2017. A fabulous start to the new Celtic year.