Sabbats and Seasonal Festivals

The Dark Season of Samhain – Celtic New year

Ancient Origins of Samhain

Mythology and Folklore
Heathen Harvest
Celebrations
Cassandra and I attend our community celebrations, we travel to North Cornwall to organize the All Hallows Gathering in Boscastle. The event is occurs outside the wonderful Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (and this is the ONLY SEASONAL EVENT we are associated with In Boscastle) on the weekend leading up to or on Samhain.
Early in the evening at Samhain we begin our personal celebration in the village of St Buryan when local residents escort their children around the village for ‘Trick or Treating’ and they visit a real Wise Woman’s cottage. We also visit the St Buryan Inn for a celebratory drink before the preparations for our private group celebration at midnight. It is indeed an active time in the spiritual and physical worlds as the Celtic year ends but it is extremely rewarding.
I will conclude this post by wishing you all a joyous Samhain and a prosperous and successful new Celtic year.

The Sublime and Sinister Sides of Yuletide Customs

Although the traditions and rituals of Christmas have evolved through the centuries, many of them have remarkably ancient origins linked to the midwinter festivals of Yule and Saturnalia and the hope of renewed life as the days lengthen with the promise of spring.
Folklore Thursday

The Fearsome Legend of Krampus

Ancient Origins
Symbolism of Yuletide

Folklore Customs of Twelfth Night and the Epiphany

The one thing guaranteed to elicit the strongest opinions this first week of January is the debate over which day to take down your Christmas tree and decorations. Is it Saturday 5 January, or Sunday 6 January? And what happens if you leave them up for longer? Are you really struck down with bad luck for the rest of the year as the superstition goes?
One thing’s for sure – everyone does it differently, and everyone has their own ideas.
The following link will tell you more about this
Telegraph
Folklore of the Twelfth Night
Hypnogoria
The Old Winter Witches of Epiphany

The Ancient Art of Wassails

Tales of the Cocktail 

The Origin of Mumming

Why Christmas
Read more about the Chepstow Wassail tradition and enjoy your Wassails wherever you are!

Candlemas and Imbolc

The mistletoe hung at Yuletide has now lost its fresh green leaves and berries, but the brown dried remnants still hold the energy of the wonderful season of Yule. It is still working, bringing good fortune to the home until the season returns again. We have now approached the time of Imbolc and Candlemas.

About Candlemas

Build Faith

Spiritual Meaning and Celebration of Imbolc

Guide to Spiritual Living

Origins of Valentines Day

The following links will explain the historical origins of Valentines Day and the Pagan festival.
History.com 
Witchology

Spring Equinox

Springtime arrives and with it the season of fertility represented by eggs, rabbits and flowers in bloom. The better weather encourages people to spring clean their homes, clearing out things that are no longer needed as we bid farewell to the long winter. New life, hopes and projects await us and the sun has returned.

Spiritual Symbolism of Spring Equinox
Spiritual Sun.com
Celebration of Spring Equinox and Easter
No Beliefs.com
How Pagans celebrate the Spring Sabbat
Beliefnet.com

Autumn Equinox

This season and the falling autumn leaves reminds us of the wonderful release when letting go of things that no longer serve us, thoughts, negative relationships etc.

Belief.net

Autumn Equinox Celebration

Thoughtco

 

Advertisements

30. A New Life

I missed my husband when he commuted to London but resisted the urge to contact him as it would give credence to my mother in law’s assumption.

Newquay Beach. Image - Cornwalls

Newquay Beach. Image – Cornwalls

My son cultivated new friendships and enjoyed a summer at the beaches and learnt to surf during the warm summer days.

I had not discovered anyone in the village who shared similar interests and spirituality.  I missed the friends I had in Kent.  My husband had turned my dream into reality by moving to Cornwall and it took a period of six weeks before I grew accustomed to his commuting. I arranged to return to Kent for a visit at Yule.

I received a birthday card from my mother in law. She signed the card with her name instead of ‘Mum’.  It seemed she was to distancing herself from me, even though we had never been close. She attempted to put us off our move to Cornwall voicing her concerns about radon gas, but we had researched this matter and found that the dangers of it are in properties that are sealed with no ventilation.

I performed a solitary full moon ritual in August 2008. I was still uncertain about the reason I had moved to Cornwall, but felt the  ‘calling’  most of my life.  I loved Pendle cottage, but it soon became apparent that this particular area did not have a spiritual community. I asked the Gods to reveal the reason I had the ‘calling’ to Cornwall.

Newquay Town. Image - Daily Mail

Newquay Town. Image – Daily Mail

Newquay was 7 miles away and the atmosphere of the town was rather like Southend.  It is an ideal place for nightlife as many ‘stag’ and ‘hen’ parties frequent the town. When I ventured into town the energy was intense and my visits were short.

Image - Zoopla

Image – Zoopla

My son formed a band with his friends, they wrote songs together and practised regularly in the garage.  One evening as I glanced out of the window I noticed the boys run out of the garage. Apparently they observed an object move which frightened them.

183-l-l-j

On one occasion my son studied his college work in his bedroom and as he raised his head he saw a man at the top of the stairs watching him intently. I heard a loud ‘thud’ when my son was startled by this. He described him with a dark beard and long hair wearing a cloak and he also watched him disappear. I sensed the spirit was involved in the building of the cottage and was its guardian.

Image - Sykes Cottages

Image – Sykes Cottages

During my domestic chores in the ‘galley’ kitchen, I often felt a presence which moved from the dining room into the kitchen. I spoke about this to the previous owner, who had also experienced it during her time there. The kitchen was an extension on the back of the cottage built in the 1980s and the dining room door was once the back entrance. At night I heard the murmur of voices and laughter as if I had a room in a crowded inn. There were no public houses in the area and the village was quiet at night. When my husband was home, he drank a small glass of whisky and felt strangely intoxicated. He later felt unwell and we wondered if it had anything to do with the energies of the inn (or kiddlywink) that affected him. Wikipedia explains the meaning of Kiddlywink: 

Kiddlywink (sometimes spelt kiddleywink) is an old name for a Cornish beer shop or beer house, which became popular after the 1830 beer act. They were licensed to sell beer or cider by the Customs and Excise rather than by a Magistrate’s Licence which was required by traditional Taverns and Inns. They were reputed to be the haunts of smugglers and often had an unmarked bottle of spirits under the counter.) 

I received an invitation from the priestess of the Bodmin moot to attend an open full moon ritual with her coven on a lunar eclipse. It was held at a coven member’s home, a beautiful Georgian farmhouse with large sash windows. The spacious kitchen contained a large aga and wonderful stone floor. The house was also used for moot gatherings. We began the ritual in the lounge and the priestess requested I invoked the elementals of the south. Her way of working was similar to the Alexandrian method., the words for The Charge of the Goddess were identical and the words for blessing the libations were evocative. Two of the female coven members seemed a little reserved and one treated me as though I were a beginner, but I enjoyed working alongside the priestess. The eclipsed moon appeared from behind the clouds just after the ritual and we assembled in the garden to admire her.

Truro College. Image - What Uni

Truro College. Image – What Uni

By September 2008 my son began his term at college. He felt alone at times as many of the students there knew one another at school, but there were other students from other areas. Apparently he experienced some hostility from young Cornish men who referred to him as a “gangster”  from the London area. 

Lemon Street Truro. Image - rightmove

Lemon Street Truro. Image – rightmove

I applied for work in Beauty Therapy and was employed by a salon in Truro.  My qualifications were compatible with the salon’s requirements and surprisingly I was also qualified to deal with the brand of products they stocked. The owner was pleased with my holistic treatments particularly Reflexology. I discovered on my first day that the journey to work was a problem. Although it was only 12 miles away from my place of residence, it took an hour due to horrendous traffic going into town and the all day car parking fee was expensive. The French owner who interviewed me introduced me to another therapist.  He informed us both that his wife, who was joint owner of the salon, was away on compassionate leave. The first day was  extremely busy and as we had no receptionist we were given a quick explanation on how to use the reception computer system. Payments from clients, sales of products, all client records and appointments were dealt with by computer. Fortunately the manager dealt with reception duties that day. I also had no experience of the latest equipment provided in the salon and there was no time to practice before clients arrived. When I arrived on the second day the owner informed me that he was unwell and advised by his G.P. to return home. This meant that my colleague and I were running the salon. The other therapist began working at the salon the previous week which meant we were both inexperienced. The owner’s wife appeared later that day just after my unsuccessful attempt at an eyebrow wax on a client using the latest equipment.  I had no experience of small wax rollers and had no time to practice. The owner’s wife was a large formidable looking South African woman. She took the client back into the treatment room and repeated the treatment for her. After the client left the owners wife spoke aggressively to me. I explained the situation and she reluctantly produced a pot of warm wax and spatulas to use, but insisted I practiced with the rollers. I was relieved that she did not stay long and my colleague informed me that previous therapists did not stay long due to the owner’s aggressive attitude. They had also left the running of the whole salon to two inexperienced therapists. I heard about another colleague who was also a Reiki practitioner and holistic therapist. I looked forward to meeting her and was relieved to hear that an experienced therapist would be with us the following day. I returned home utterly exhausted and told my husband all that had happened. He thought it an appalling way to run a business and totally unfair on their employees. 

On the third day I met the holistic therapist and we had interesting conversations about various therapies and Reiki. She kept a variety of crystals in her treatment room for use on clients and had worked in the salon for 4 years. She knew the salon procedure well and even though this day was a huge improvement on the last two, I heard about the owner’s wife and why this therapist had decided to leave. She told me of a time when she was unwell and desperately needed to return home and the owner’s wife blocked the doorway to stop her. After hearing this and other incidents, I decided I could not continue at the salon.  I was also informed that I would be expected to travel to London for the latest training courses on the latest beauty equipment and finance this myself. I could not afford to do so on such a low wage. 

Neck of Corn. Image - Jungle Botanica

Neck of Corn. Image – Jungle Botanica

We received an invitation from the traditional witch and partner to attend an Autumn Equinox celebration in Penzance.  The revived celebration was known as Guldize and it was the first one. We joined the procession in Chapel Street holding lit torches and followed the band. The traditional witch walked at the front holding a large ‘neck’ of corn and her partner was the photographer. We arrived at one of the old town pubs full of colourful antique artefacts from ships. We congregated upstairs in the function room where members of the community had brought a variety of vegetables for auction. An older man who had few teeth and long hair was rather comical and made suggestive comments about the phallic shaped vegetables as they were auctioned. Three elderly ladies from the Cornwall Society  were giggling like schoolgirls. He raised a huge radish and I immediately bid for it which created laughter from the onlookers. My son performed on his keyboard and other musicians played folk music.  I enquired about the wise woman and discovered she was away that weekend.

The traditional witch and partner invited us back to their home after the event and her partner showed me photographs she had recently processed of the wise woman. She explained that the wise woman felt a little subdued that day and not in the mood to pose for photographs, but agreed after a little persuasion. The wise woman looked into the camera lens and I could see in her eyes that she was unhappy. This was a different side to her from the outgoing personality I experienced at Conferences and it intrigued me. The traditional witch’s partner told me a cloud of smoke appeared from nowhere and the wise woman was not at all surprised as there were many unusual occurrences in her cottage. The conversation ended there and I did not feel it appropriate to ask too many questions. I continued to observe the blue eyes of the wise woman that conveyed so much that was locked away. It would be a challenge to get beyond the barrier and courage would be needed when one discovered what was really there…….

17. Further Training

I heard that my parents visited my daughter to see their great-grandchild and warned her against witchcraft practices as they are detested by God.  Its seemed they assumed I encouraged my children to follow this path when in fact I suggested they learn about all belief systems and decide for themselves.

Members of our Morris team soon discovered we were part of our tutor’s coven due to the words spoken on greeting one another. The closer relationship with our tutors and taking on officers’ roles within the team altered our relationship with other members. My son spent a considerable amount of time with the Morris team and learnt their risqué songs at nine years of age. The songs amused him although he did not fully understand their content. We discovered he performed them at school after reading his tutor’s comment on his school report concerning him entertaining the class with ‘colourful songs’!

102-photo-l-l-j

Our son appeared confident and outspoken as a dancer and drummer with the Morris team. He associated mainly with adults and the team were popular in the Pagan and Morris world due to their good reputation for performance. Some of the Morris men thought our son precocious and undisciplined, but he was raised to be confident so that he was not victimized or abused which would damage his childhood. I was however a firm parent when needed as my husband was besotted with his son and would not refuse him anything or allow him to hear constructive criticism.

We were requested to perform at the Halloween festival and on this occasion I met a beautiful female singer. It was the first time I had seen her and was impressed by her music. I purchased one of her albums and noticed her telephone number displayed on a small sticker at the back.  I sent a phone text giving feedback and was surprised that she replied immediately and arranged to visit me. After that we formed a close friendship.

cat

Her sound was unique but not to everyone’s taste as my husband asked me not to play her music in his presence. She developed her unique style during trance meditation and I was astounded at the powerful voice which emanated from a small woman. Before the ‘new age scene’ she was a vocalist with rock bands and recorded a song for the opening scene of a popular movie. The young man she cohabited with was unsupportive as he disliked her new sound.  I enjoyed spending time with her and hearing her unusual views on certain aspects of life.  It was good to have another singer around as I missed my daughter’s voice after she left home. My husband described my friend as haughty and I understood why she could appear so but she was also a loving and caring friend.

Our coven met to discuss various books we were instructed to read and provide feedback on the books that resonated with us. The book that stood out for me was about the life of George Pickingill the Cunning Man. This choice surprised my Priestess.

Image - Insight Books

Image – Insight Books

The accounts of ‘shape shifting’ and reading the villager’s stories about a drove of white hares in the graveyard on the nights Pickingills’ coven met fascinated me.

Image - Hermetic

Image – Hermetic

My husband preferred Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton and our Priestess and Priest spoke highly of this book. I enjoyed that one also but Pickingill story left a lasting impression.

There seemed to be a little jealousy surfacing in the coven as my husband thought the other male member was favoured over him. the other member had known our tutors for many years and the Priest commented during his initiation they had waited seven years for that moment. Before our rituals we first prepared the temple assisted by the Priest. It meant frequent journeys up and down four flights of stairs from the basement kitchen to the temple in an attic room.  After placing the cakes and wine on the altar I was not permitted to leave the tray outside the temple as it would be needed again to transport the libations into the garden. The tray had to be put away in the kitchen. The altar accoutrements were laid out in specific positions as each one corresponded with an elemental direction. The male members lit the candles and burnt incense in the temple and when all was prepared, I then changed into my robe in the room below. During the preparation, our Priestess bathed and dressed in her robes to appear before us. She entered the temple with her hair still wet and examined each of us from head to foot as we stood in line. Her expression conveyed pride in her coven. The rituals were slightly more serious compared to the Gardnarian celebrations we had experienced.

Magical Ring. Image - Polyvore

Magical Ring. Image – Polyvore

On one occasion we stood in line awaiting our Priestess and the Priest entered the temple requesting I remove a ring from my right index finger. I wore many rings and had been so busy with preparation I forgot to remove it when changing. During our next coven meeting, the Priest spoke about coven members who try to elevate themselves to second degree before they are ready. Our Priestess was not present for this part of the meeting and it seemed he was alluding to the ring I had worn in the temple as if the action were contrived. I knew that it would take more than the mere wearing of a ring to attain a second degree, but I did not challenge him on this matter. The Priest also spoke about elementals being asked to enter the sacred space and never summoned. Our former Priestess had passion in her voice during invocation which could be heard as ‘summoning’ and I had followed her example. The words written for invocation of elementals are “I SUMMON, stir and call ye forth” which could be confusing for new initiates.

Birth Chart. Image - Shan-grila

Birth Chart. Image – Shan-grila

We were asked to research our birth charts and take note of their details and meanings. Our Priestess and Priest were curious to know the aspects we agreed or disagreed with. They had other examples of birth charts stored on their computer and my husband noticed a list of charts belonging to their acquaintances. This knowledge would be useful when interacting with them. When I studied my own chart I thought the interpretation of my personality was not totally accurate. It foretold that I would give total devotion and loyalty to people or projects that aroused passion within me. This would have been a ‘plus’ when my chart was examined with a view to joining a coven. The effect of  a cult religion in my formative years as I witnessed the severing of emotional ties and contact with family and close associates this meant that I could sever ties if necessary. This aspect is not mentioned in my chart.

Image - Deviant Art

Image – Deviant Art

We were instructed to work with each of the four elements over a period of six weeks. We used meditation for this and at the end of each six week period we created a ritual for that particular element.

Ishtar and Ereshkigal. Image - Plantibee

Ishtar and Ereshkigal. Image – Plantibee

Our Priestess and Priest informed us they had volunteered our coven to perform for the open Autumn Equinox ritual in London. The performance was about Ishtar and Ereshkigal. The character chosen for me was Ishtar the Queen of the Heavens. We sat at our Priestess’ dining room table and listened to the script. Ishtar descended to the Underworld to meet her sister Ereshkigal, (our Priestess had chosen this character for herself). The Gatekeeper (played by our other male member) opened each gate for Ishtar, but as she passed through each gateway he removed some of her of jewels and clothes symbolising her power. Our Priestess suggested the Gatekeeper was forceful to create the intensity of a ‘rape’. When Ishtar was stripped of all her power, she was then at the mercy of Ereshkigal who hung her sister on a hook to rot. Dumuzi  (the character chosen for my husband) descended to the Underworld to save Ishtar and Ereshkigal found him attractive. She offered Dumuzi anything he wanted, so he asked for a drink of water from the hanging water skin (Ishtar’s rotting body). The waters of life were then sprinkled upon her and Ishtar was brought back to life. Ereshkigal allowed Ishtar to leave but Dumuzi had to stay with her, therefore he sacrificed himself for Ishtar’s freedom. I later discovered that the actual story is different from this version. Our Priest narrated the script and rock music would be played, so we would act out the play with few speaking parts. 

Image - Roleplay Gateway

Image – Roleplay Gateway

We were required to wear full white face masks and black cloaks for the introduction of setting up the sacred space. The character of Ishtar required three face masks and two costumes changes. I created one of the costumes, a white cotton dress with Velcro sewn into the seams to be torn off my body and a light blue cloak decorated with silver stars. I purchased a flesh colour body suit from a dance retailer and a mask that would be painted to look like a corpse.  I needed a copious amount of jewellery to be removed as I passed through the gates. I expressed my concerns about this performance to my husband and he thought the starring role would be good for my development. The role our Priestess had chosen as Ereshkigal amused him as he thought it right for her.

My husband often played the ‘naughty boy’ within the coven, but the more he misbehaved the harder he had to work. Learning the words for setting up the sacred space was difficult for him as Alexandrian ritual uses many words. When he attempted to recite an invocation, perspiration would drip from his face. He handled other aspects of life well and seemed to take matters in his stride; so it was unusual to see him react this way. He thought our Priestess enjoyed wielding power over him because of the high rank he obtained within his occupation. At one of our full moon rituals we were not assigned specific roles, but our Priestess suggested my husband took on all roles for setting up the space, or he could delegate some of it to other members if he required assistance. He refused to give her the satisfaction of him asking for assistance and learnt all roles himself. He accomplished this task well and I knew how difficult that was for him. By setting this task however, our Priestess and Priest showed him how an incentive could help him overcome this difficulty.

I continued to teach dances in the role of Foreman for the women’s Morris team. It was not an easy task as there were strong personalities, but I also understood that our tutors needed to delegate some of their responsibility and pressures.