The latter half of summer had been rather busy for Cornwall and even though this was welcomed to help the economy, unfortunately 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 also been occupied with mainly distant work for clients, however during August and September we were able to see clients in person for socially distant readings, workshops and courses.
Autumn Equinox was overcast weather-wise, but also dry and Cassandra ventured out onto the land and harvested local blackberries, apples and autumn leaves, while I swept the hearth in preparation for our evening celebration.
We also had time to bake a wonderful apple and blackberry crumble containing seasonal spices of cinnamon and cloves, before keeping an appointment with a client.
Cassandra and I were given the wonderful opportunity by the new owners of Caer Bran Hillfort to bless the land. Here is some 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.
We kept the blessing ritual quite simple but it also had real potency as we experienced positive reactions from the elements to our words.
The owners were keen to show us around the site particularly the quarry, where the tangible energies of elementals and guardians were present. We were surrounded by wonderful autumnal colours and as we stood at the highest point, even though the evening mist began to descend, we could see for miles, 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 and enjoyed a small, meaningful equinox celebration, toasting the ‘powers that be’ and hoping the changing season will also bring a positive outcome to the problematic situation we face, by encouraging communities to work together, caring for one another and also our environment. 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 particularly associated with community work. Cassandra and I decided to postpone our workshops that are usually held throughout the summer to later in the 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 are hosting 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 ambianceas the cottage, the local residents have done an impressive job of giving the hall a thorough cleanse. There are certain guidelines that need to be adhered to of cleaning the areas used before and after use.
Our September workshop is our first this year and we were fortunate to have only two clients as it was easier to try out these changes with fewer people to see test the new method of working. The kitchen in the hall is not in use, so we were unable to offer the refreshments we usually provide 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 resulting in four Red Admiral butterflies joining us during the session which was another pleasant distraction!
Our clients had a different views on various aspects of the Old Craft as one is in the process of receiving training in a Coven and the other is a healing practitioner and has a keen interest in the land and folklore which generated some fascinating discussions. We had a short break to enjoy the sunshine outside and then set up the table for our practical work.
The work I do includes the construction of charms, therefore creating a Witch Bottle spell would use the same method of Correspondences when researching the correct ingredients to place in the bottles.
We have seen a variety of bottles and jars personally chosen by clients on each workshop and on this occasion our ladies had chosen the largest receptacles we have seen so far! They gave a lot of individual thought as to the ingredients they were drawn to by studying the Correspondence table. When they were satisfied and had gathered all they required, their construction work began.
We guide them through the first stage of their bottle/jar spell and after the workshop they take it home and complete it 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 a while to clean any surfaces that we had used before leaving.
After a two hour dinner break our clients visited the cottage conservatory to bless their jars and then transported them to a ‘place of power’ to guide them in energizing their spell jars. We experienced a lovely sunset that evening and immediately after energy raising, a murder of crows flew overhead. We sat quietly for a while enjoying the feeling of 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 with two other people. We all enjoyed a glass of Cornish mead and saffron cake while discussing the day and answering any questions they had.
It was a successful day and enjoyed by all, even though there were some aspects of it that differed 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.
One of our clients booked a Wisewoman Walk with Cassandra and I. It is one aspect of our work where we could see someone in person but still maintain social distance. This current situation we have with Covid 19, the lockdown and social distancing has changed all our lives, particularly with our occupations.
We had to make some alterations to our walks, as we usually invite our clients to Cassandra’s cottage first and discuss whether or not they have any preferences for visiting sites in the area. If not, we choose them ourselves. As the cottage is so small, we would be unable to maintain the correct distance, so we arranged to meet our client at the car park of the Merry Maidens. We were also blessed with sunny weather which turned out to be much warmer than the forecast predicted.
These monuments are fascinating, particularly when they have an entrance leading deep into the ground. There is a strong sense of being observed from the darkness beneath…
We also observed two buzzards hunting for prey and they were still visible from each site 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 and appeared further down the road where Cassandra brought our attention to a hawthorn bush and a blackthorn side by side. The differences between the two are more obvious when they are adjacent to one another.
We were unable to open a gate to the field that lead to the Piper’s stones but this did not deter Cassandra who proved that even now, at 70 years old, she can still climb over it.
The standing stones have a regal presence about them, with a tall and proud presence on the landscape.
The second stone leans to one side and we discussed how deep the base would need to be within the ground to stop it from toppling. Cassandra thought it would need to be at least a third of its length in order to keep it secure.
After this, it was back over the stile to make our way back to the Merry Maidens.
The Merry Maidens stone circle is a beautiful creation, surrounded by our local landscape and easy to find being situated close to the road.
Each stone within the circle has a different energy (in my experience of working with them). The grass surrounding the area is 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 went on to Alsia Well from here, walking through a field of vibrant yellow buttercups. So many flowers this year have 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 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 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 the moody black clouds crept across the blue sky, but fortunately it did not rain.
This is where our first ‘social distance’ Wisewoman Walk ended as we could not return to the cottage for a drink and a chat as we usually would. It was a wonderful experience to get out on the land again and work with a client in person after nearly 3 months of lockdown. It is certainly 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 qualified and worked as a holistic therapist and therefore was accustomed to dealing with clients, however this alternative way of working, meant clients would be dealt with in a different way. It is similar to counselling (in which I now possess a Diploma) as clients will contact us concerning various dilemmas in their lives and we provide a consultation to discuss the appropriate methods to help them.
Cassandra has a unique way of working and had built a good reputation and she is a hard act to follow. I had been a Cornwall resident for only ten months at this time 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 our 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 makes the work and book- keeping easier.
I understand why a ‘code of ethics’ is necessary and that it is wise not to cast spells for clients who wish to influence others against their will. These types of spells can have huge repercussions and there are occasions when I have witnessed this outcome when others have cast spells for selfish desires or without sufficient contemplation of their requests.
Learning the process of creating charms has been enjoyable and is reminiscent of times 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 for me as each one is unique to the client. For example, if I constructed 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 our hearth dolls which inspired me to create more for other dolls with specific images and purposes. After observing this activity, Cassandra stated that my work with dolls is one of my greatest 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 always wonderful 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 the sacred space although the words I now use are different and have a deeper connection with the ancient land around us. We prefer a couple to be in a relationship at least a year before taking this important step, some of our couples 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 also 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 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 will never lose its fascination or become boring!
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 her 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 traveled all the way from Chicago, so we agreed to provide an extra Folk/Cunning Craft workshop for them.
They had attended a previous workshop with us and also accompanied us on a Wise Woman 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 then 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 or impressions throughout the workshop and 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 were Celebrants for a Handfasting three days after the Spring Equinox. This occasion was particularly unusual, as the couple had discussed having a ceremony for some time and then the bride decided to arrange the ceremony as a surprise for the groom. This meant the preparations were not as straightforward as the ceremonies we were accustomed to.
The venue chosen was the ATV Centre in Blackwater near Truro. There is an area of woodland next to the race track where we were able to perform the ceremony. We arrived to set up the space during early evening while there was light and soon after that darkness fell.
To conduct a Handfasting ceremony in woodland on a dark evening can be quite a challenge, although lights were hung within the trees and one of the guests offered to turn on his car headlights.
The ceremony however went well and our excellent professional photographer John Isaac managed to capture some wonderful images in somewhat challenging circumstances.
We wish the lovely couple every happiness for the future.
“Hi guys it was amazing and a huge huge thank you for a wonderful evening and for recommending john he is such a great guy. All of my friends commented on what an amazing ceremony it was. Thank you so much for being so understanding and being so professional and carrying on with the ceremony despite the difficulties. As for the honey moon drink……
This year I took on extra responsibility in organizing the All Hallows Dark Gathering assisting Cassandra Latham Jones when the managers of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic informed us they were leaving. We 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 goes the ‘extra mile’ in caring for the community ensuring they know where to find accommodation and refreshments. She also arranged with village residents a ‘park and ride’ scheme so that 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 2018 began, 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 excited to see them once again.
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 to be chosen. 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 invited by the Squire of Vixen to join them in my favourite dance Gemini. It’s a dance I have not forgotten and it is also one that 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 pleased with the performance. It was wonderful to receive 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.
Participating in this gave me a wonderful and positive new memory of my final Morris dance at the All Hallows Gathering and it is the best and most satisfying Morris dance I have ever performed at this event. I cannot thank them enough for this moment.
The Dark Gathering goes from strength to strength and has a protective energy surrounding it. Long may it continue.
Yesterday evening we attended the Harvest Home auction in our wonderful pub the St Buryan Inn. We arrived early to dine there, Cassandra reserved a table along with Vanda our Rector. While having our meal we were able to update one another on recent work as Vanda takes great interest in the varied spiritual events that occur in all areas of Cornwall.
It was not long before we were joined by other friends and local residents within the village before the auction began.
Local produce filled the table and it was wonderful to see three pumpkins as they have been absent for the past two years.
Our local resident Pauline bakes wonderful Cornish pasties, she provides a few smaller ones, but the giant pasty is awaited at the end of each auction as it is understandably purchased at a high price.
The pub was full of locals and there was a happy friendly atmosphere within our community.
I also purchased my first pumpkin from the auction as Cassandra usually does so each year if any are available.
Barry our wonderful caller does well each year and Penzance Food Bank will receive £354 from this superb event.