This year I took on extra responsibility in organizing the All Hallows Dark Gathering as Cassandra needed help when the managers of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic informed us they were leaving. We worked closely with Simon Costin the 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 and also arranged with village residents a ‘park and ride’ scheme so disabled folk would find it easier to get 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 in our lives and this has proved to be so.
At the Dark Gathering this year our special guest side was Wolfshead and Vixen Morris. It has been 15 years since I danced with them and I was excited to see them once again.
The first dance performed by Wolfshead is known as ‘Four Seasons’. A person is often chosen to stand in the centre of the space while the men dance around them and I was delighted to be chosen by Melanie, Vixen’s Squire. It brought back fond memories of the last time this occurred outside the King Arthurs Arms Tintagel in 2001.
Later that afternoon, Melanie invited me to join them in performing my favourite dance Gemini. It’s a dance I have always remembered and one that Beltane Border Morris love to watch.
I had no time to practice with them, so they performed it once and invited me to join them a second time. As soon as the dance began, the fifteen years I had been apart from Vixen seemed to disappear and every move was performed as precisely then, as it had all those years ago.
Here is video footage of their dance and at the end, you hear them inviting me to join them for a repeat performance.
The members of Vixen were amazed I remembered it and were pleased with our performance together. It was wonderful to receive a hug from each of them too when the dance was over.
The last time I performed with Vixen in Boscastle outside the Museum was seventeen years ago on the twelfth of June 2001 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Witchcraft Repeal.
Participating in the dance gave me a wonderful and positive memory of my final Morris dance at the All Hallows Gathering. It is the most satisfying Morris dance I have ever performed at this event and I cannot thank them enough for that moment.
The Dark Gathering goes from strength to strength and has a protective energy that surrounds 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.
Our final workshop for 2018 was the Dark Arts. This one was introduced this year and proved to be popular as both of these workshops were fully booked. In all our workshops the women usually outnumber the men, but on this occasion it was quite the opposite.
Our Friday introduction evening was unique, in the past we had one or two group members who did not partake of alcohol for their own personal reasons. On this occasion the group were all staying at local accommodation so all of the group partook of alcoholic beverages. This lead to an extremely interesting evening of discussions and debate on the subject of the Dark Arts, Christian beliefs and ethics. I was impressed how each individual point of view was listened to by others even though they were not necessarily in agreement.
During Saturday afternoon, Cassandra spoke about the subjects of Curse Breaking, Curses, Spirit Possession, Image Magic, Dark Deities, Haunting, Psychic Vampirism and Psychic/Magical Protection. Cassandra knows her Craft well particularly when it comes to Curse Breaking and Curses. She is indeed an adept and gifted person to learn from.
It is important that people receive the correct information on these subjects particularly if they have reason to utilise these methods. Movies, books and some Occult Practitioners can be trapped in the world of fantasy which can mislead many and provide incorrect information. At least there are practitioners like Cassandra that one can approach who deals with reality and provides insight to others on their level of understanding. There are a multitude of aspects to this subject and it would be easy to spend a whole weekend if not longer discussing them as the hours passed quickly.
We then spoke of mischievous spirits and the need for ‘spirit house’ constructions. Spirits have a fascination for intricate objects which can be a distraction from ‘mischief making’.
At our last Dark Arts workshop group members attempted to construct a framework for their spirit house by using wire, but trying to use wire cutters and dealing with the sharp edges could be hazardous. On this occasion we provided them with a small ready-made framework and various threads,ribbons, beads, stones etc so that they could begin constructing a small spirit house.
I guided the group through their personal constructions, offering suggestions if they had difficulties and checking they had everything required.
Due to the intricacy of the spirit houses group members could only begin their designs in the time available, so they would need to continue their work on them at home.
During the evening we prepared a group spell for crossroads magic. We then visited a haunted location: Carn Kenidjack. You can read the folklore legend of it here.
On our previous visit to the site during our June Dark Arts workshop, it was dusk and we could still see the various paths to it despite the thick mist that appeared on our arrival. This time it was extremely dark and cloudy, plus we were in the dark of the moon phase, as you can see by the following photograph.
It was a cool breezy evening, we stood for a while looking out over the moor and the distant lights upon the horizon over the sea. Each member of the group sensed various spirit presences that accompanied us.
On leaving the Carn, we were seriously ‘Piskie led’ and taken along various paths within the darkness by Cassandra only for them to lead us further away from our destination. We then followed the tracks made by vehicles until we reached a farmhouse gate and discovered we were on the opposite road to where we needed to be and then walked at least 2 miles to return to the North Road. Our group members were in good spirits, joking about the situation as we walked.
The crossroads were also extremely dark (above photo), the group were still eager and full of the energy to complete the spell we prepared earlier. Conjuring a spell at a crossroads especially when the road is busy with traffic, adds to the intensity of the work.
We returned to the cottage for libations while discussing the group’s impressions and thoughts on the Carn and spell work.
It was a most enjoyable workshop with deep minded experienced group members that I hope we will meet again in the future.
“Going on the dark arts course was very interesting. Laetitia and Cassandra have great knowledge. We made a spirit house and learnt how spirits enjoy puzzles. The walk in the evening was amazing and my favourite activity as I love nature. I felt really connected. Overall a fantastic weekend of good people and I left with a better understanding.” P.O.
“I really enjoyed our couple of days and got a lot out of it. It was great to spend time with you and Cassandra and also to meet others and hear their different perspectives on the craft. In particular, I loved our night-time walk and crossroads spell, working on our spirit houses and learning about the different levels of psychic protection – several of which I have used before. I’ll also keep an eye out for the next series of workshops which I’d like to attend. Look forward to seeing you again soon” A.C.
“This was a great workshop I met some awesome people. Cassandra and Laetitia were amazing hosts. I learnt a lot from the discussion during the first half of the afternoon. Later I learnt how to make a spirit house and how they work. The evening was awesome, we were taken to a breath taking location. On the way back we were ‘piskie led’ and thought it funny. Thanks again ladies you are amazing!” N.W.
“Perhaps it is an understatement to say how wonderful it was to be in the company of Cassandra and Laetitia again on the Friday evening of the workshop; getting to know them again, getting to know new travellers on the path and rekindling acquaintances with some old faces. In the relaxed yet haunted atmosphere of their cottage, we heard each other’s story and began to build the group egregore that would carry us through a weekend of intensive learning and experience.
The Saturday afternoon began with a conversation that centred on the nine levels of psychic self-defence with practical examples provided both from history and from the current practice of the cunning folk. Such material is learned in the hope that one never has to put such knowledge into practice. And yet, as a practitioner, I am glad to have such techniques as part of my “tool kit” of the trade.
This was followed by a demonstration on how to build a spirit house. Like most folk, house spirits get bored, and when they get bored they can get up to mischief. A spirit house provides them with a safe space where they can work out their mischief in a controlled environment. In return they provide safety and protection for the house’s other occupants (human and non-human). Metal frames and other materials were provided and despite my complete lack of crafting ability I was able to come up with the rudiments of a spirit house – a work in progress that will continue to evolve for some time yet!
Dusk gradually made its presence felt. And it was in the gloaming that we began preparations for a crossroads banishing ritual. We gathered our intent and poured it into the materials of the spell in the sacred hearth space before heading out into the night.
We walked into the night, deep into the Penwith moors and began climbing a hill to a dark rocky outcrop of granite boulders. “What can you feel”? “What can you see”? were the questions that ran through the experience? In the darkness of the black moon, I stretched forth my senses and saw flashing lights, here and there; so brief that one could almost doubt their willow-the-wisp existence. I saw moving shapes and running forms; some humanoid in appearance, some not so distinct. And when I touched the granite of the Carn, I felt a power, ancient, wild and free; and I knew that this was his land.
The walk down the hill was less determinative, more meandering, more uncertain; a delicious “being lost” and “abandonment” as we lost our way, being (mis)lead by the mischief of the Piskie Man and ending up miles from the cross roads where we were to complete our rite.
Yet find it we did, and in that most in between of places we raised our energy and called our power and shattered the vessel of our desire; its energies racing forth into the dark night to do our will.
And back by the sacred hearth we learned of the local lore of Carn Kenidjack; of the Man-in-Black who chases the night wanderer until he or she reaches a certain stile, of the Piskie Man who misleads and of the witch who guards a well that is sometimes present and sometimes absent. And it is in this ‘between the worlds’ of space and time; this experience of “the hedge”, the crossroads, that magic is alive and powerful.
And then it was time to say farewell to our two friends and guides. A farewell – yes- but a farewell with a promise to return to this most magical of hearths and its two wise guardians who will always have a place in my journey. T.N”
Sunday was a day of fierce winds and rain, but fortunately the August Bank Holiday Monday brought calmer and drier weather for our Wisewoman walk.
Two energetic and enthusiastic young men, Jason and Arkie had journeyed from Chicago U.S. to spend a week in Cornwall and visited Glastonbury before continuing their journey here. They spent some time in Boscastle and Tintagel, fascinated by the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic and St Nectan’s Waterfall at Rocky Valley Tintagel.
Jason had previously purchased Cassandra’s book and expressed he was ‘beyond excited’ to meet her and experience one of our walks.
We invite our clients to Cassandra’s cottage and discuss the locations they wish to visit. Jason had a particular interest in the Logan Stone, so Cassandra decided Zennor Hill would be the site to visit. It requires a copious amount of energy to reach the top however Jason and Arkie were in their 20s, full of energy and prepared for a challenge.
As we walked towards the hill Cassandra asked them if they would like to visit Zennor Quoit before climbing the hill. The vegetation on the moor had grown considerably and in some areas it was chest height for the vertically challenged. We had given Jason and Arkie prior warning about the possibility of being ‘Piskie led’ and the path to the Quoit was particularly complicated on this occasion with copious amounts of gorse, therefore it was no surprise that on this occasion it occurred. Jason and Arkie were delighted to have experienced this.
We eventually discovered the correct path to Zennor Quoit, Jason and Arkie were intrigued by the formation of the stones and how one can climb inside the Quoit and sit within the heart of it for meditation and ritual purposes.
Here is information about the site:
The remains of this hillside Neolithic chambered portal tomb are quite difficult to find, but can be reached via a footpath from the B3306. The capstone which is over 5 metres long and weighs over 10 tons has collapsed and all traces of the mound which would have covered the tomb has disappeared although much surrounding cairn material was recorded by William Borlase the vicar of Zennor in 1769. It is Borlase we have to thank for the continuing existence of Zennor Quoit as he once paid off a local farmer the sum of 5 shillings to stop him dismantling the tomb to build a cow shed. It is unclear whether it was the farmers attempt at remodeling or the ‘excavation’ of the tomb with explosives in the 19th century that caused the capstone to fall. At various times cremated bones, a whetstone, flints and Neolithic pottery have been found within the chamber, while the 5 small upright stones just beyond the tomb are thought to be part of the aborted cowshed.
The site may look to be in a sad state of disrepair, especially on a wet, windy day, but this could be said to add to its beauty and melancholy, and it is still well worth a visit. Like many other sites legend says it was built by a giant, hence its other name of Giants Quoit and also that the stones are unmovable, or if they are moved they will return to the hillside on their own. Nearby, the church at Zennor contains a 15th century bench-end carved into the shape of a mermaid that is claimed to have visited the village and fallen in love with the churchwarden’s son. The two of them are then said to have returned to the sea, where the unfortunate lad can still be heard singing beneath the waves. stone-circles.org
Cassandra and I sat with Jason and Arkie by the stones and she related the history of the site. We discussed the variety of Fae folk and their roles within Cornish folklore and they were well prepared with notepads to write down all the information.
After a while, we continued our walk to Zennor Hill. Jason and Arkie were fascinated by the house nearby where some say Alastair Crowley had performed rites. Zennor HiIl is a powerful site, therefore it would indeed be an ideal place to work in that way.
At the top of Zennor Hill we reached the Logan Stone. Cassandra instructed Jason where to place his feet and the correct way to move the stone.
Here is some information on the site:
This extraordinary set of stone outcrops holds many unusual features, from rock basins to zoomorphic forms – deep fissures, runnels, voids, chamber-like enclosures and holed stones, that it would be difficult not to believe that it would have held an important place in pre-historic cosmologies. Some rock formations are uncannily like the quoits that occupy the flat land between zennor hill, carn zennor and sperris croft.
Tilley observes in an archaeology of supernatural places. ‘slabs that have toppled from the top of the rock stacks… rest horizontally or vertically against their sides, creating slanting roofed chambers large enough to enter and walk through.’ the proximity of Zennor and Sperris quoits raises the possibility that these dramatic rock formations were deliberately mimicked by the builders of these early monuments.
Tllley again ‘The tors were not only their source of inspiration, but they were constructed in the form of tors. In elevating large stones, these people were emulating the work of a super-ancestral past. Furthermore, the stones from which they were built were taken from the tors. The dolmens, in effect, were the tors dismantled and put back together again to resemble their original form. Once constructed, they could themselves be tors, something emphasized by the landscape setting of some of them on hills that lacked tors.’ Megalithic Sites
After their exploration of the site, we visited Zennor village so that they could see the church and explained the legend of the Zennor Mermaid.
The following information is about the church:
The church of St Senara in the small Cornish village of Zennor is one of the historic delights of the St Ives area. The present church dates to the 12th century, but it is thought to stand on the site of a cell founded by the 6th century saint, Senara, whose name has been altered over the centuries to become ‘Zennor’.
Senara may have been a Breton princess named Asenora, a devout Christian, who was married to a king named Goello. When Senara became pregnant the king’s mother falsely accused here of infidelity, and the king cast into the sea. According to the tale, she was put in a barrel, which was then nailed shut and allowed to drift on the waves. The barrel drifted to Ireland, and she was rescued by an angel. after her son, Budoc, had grown, they both set out to convert the natives to Christianity.
Alternative versions of the story say that she was washed up at Zennor, where she founded a church, before continuing on to Ireland, or that she came ashore in Ireland, and only later visited Cornwall and founded a church here. In either event, her husband heard of her good work and invited her to return to Brittany as his queen, and named her son as his heir. Alternatively, the church may have been founded by Irish or Breton missionaries and simply dedicated to Senara. The churchyard follows the oval outline of an Iron Age enclosure, which itself is built atop earlier Stone Age and Bronze Age field boundaries. Britain Express
We also visited the Tinners Arms for a well deserved beverage.
It was indeed a pleasure to spend the afternoon with Jason and Arkie, their energy, enthusiasm and hunger for knowledge of the Old Ways is heartening to see in younger folk. We are delighted they enjoyed their time in Cornwall and are sure that it wont be the last we see of them.
Today Cassandra and I had the pleasure of escorting a lovely couple and their two dogs on a Wise Woman Walk. They had been Handfasted and are going to have their legal ceremony while they are in Cornwall.
We began by visiting Alsia Well:
This delightful spring is situated on Lower Alsia Farm near St Buryan. It is at the lower end of a field, in a hedge, a short distance south-west of a public right of way from Alsia to Bosfranken – the old church path to St Buryan. The well is enclosed behind metal railings and consists of a small stone-lined recess in the hedge with a granite capstone, and a copious supply of clear, cool water. Adjacent is a slate slab with the words ‘Alsia Well’ carved on it. Although by no means impressive, this is a charming little well, especially when seen in Spring or early Summer when surrounded by wild flowers. A cross is supposed to have once stood nearby and the water is reputed to have cured rickets, particularly in children. It has also been used as a divining well by girls, the number of bubbles rising from a pebble or pin when dropped in signifying the number of years before a lover would be found.
Mayze the dog sensed the spirit energy at the well. The air was still and the site had a peaceful ambience.
Shaun was interested in historical places and archaeology so we thought he would also enjoy visiting Carn Euny:
Among the best-preserved ancient villages in South West England, Carn Euny was occupied from the Iron Age until late Roman times. It includes the foundations of stone houses from the 2nd to 4th centuries AD, with walls up to a metre high in places. At the heart of the village is its most intriguing feature – a stone-walled underground passage known as a fogou. This mysterious type of Iron Age monument is found only in the far west of Cornwall. The earliest houses on the site were Iron Age ‘round houses’, probably built of timber and turf sometime between 500 and 400 BC. These were replaced with stone houses probably between about 50 BC and AD 100. The last phase of settlement, between the 2nd and 4th centuries AD, saw several earlier buildings replaced with larger, stone ‘courtyard’ houses. The visible ruins above ground mark the remains of these later houses. Old field boundaries nearby show that the inhabitants farmed some 40 acres of land around the village. They grew oats, barley and rye and kept animals such as sheep or goats and probably cattle. The villagers are likely to have been traders, perhaps dealing in local tin. The village appears to have been abandoned in about AD 400, although we do not know why.
Shaun and Dawn were fascinated by the fogou.
They also marveled at the phosphorescent moss on the stone walls.
We gave them time to explore the site alone before moving on.
Our final visit was to Boscawenun Stone Circle as Shaun wished to visit a place that has ley lines:
The stone circle at Boscawen-ûn is considered to be one of Cornwall’s most popular prehistoric ceremonial centres as well as one of extreme aesthetic beauty. It lies beneath the southern slopes of Creeg Tol, enclosed by a later raised circular bank which, built-in the 19th century to replace an earlier boundary that went straight through the circle, is an early example of archaeological conservation. The circle appears to have been carefully positioned within the landscape in such a way as to relate with key prehistoric landmarks, both natural and contemporary. The circle is slightly oval in shape and consists of nineteen large upright stones, all of granite except for one of quartz. Just off-centre within the circle lies a tall stone said to resemble an axe cutting into the earth with two axe carvings of low relief on its north-east face. These carvings are the only known examples of stone axe carvings in Britain and the closest parallel for them lies in the Neolithic ritual sites of Brittany which suggests that the central stone at Boscawen-ûn predated the circle and was erected as a monument for axe-related ritual; possibly in conjunction with woodland clearance. The stone leans towards the north-east sector of the circle where an arrangement of stones may represent an earlier, possibly contemporary cairn or cist. That this feature also pre-dates the circle is apparent in the spacing of the circle uprights at this point. When the circle itself was erected, the quartz stone was placed on the south-west side of the circle in alignment with the central stone and the cairn-like structure to the north-east. It is thought by some that the central stone with its axe carvings represents the phallic masculine whilst the quartz stone represents the feminine powers of the ring. The south-west position of the quartz stone also marks the direction of the full moon during mid-summer.
Beside the stone circle stands a magnificent Elder tree. Cassandra advises people to use a chant whenever they take anything from it.
Give me of thy wood
And I will give thee of mine
When I too become a tree.”
It was an enjoyable afternoon and hope that the newlywed couple have a wonderful future together.
Feedback: Thankyou very much for a fantastic afternoon spent with you both the dogs enjoyed their walk too. It is difficult to pick a favourite site but I think Alsia well was really special and Mayze found it interesting too!
In May this year we were invited by Channel 5 to take part in their programme Celebrities go Caravanning. We hoped the selected celebrities would have an open mind and respect the work we do.
Squeezed into Cassandra’s tiny cottage was a camera crew of four with all their equipment and two of the celebrities, Colin Baker and Sherrie Hewson. There was limited room for man-oeuvre! My familiar Clutterbuck has become accustomed to many photographers visiting the cottage and no longer makes a hasty retreat via the cat flap. He was indeed the star of the show on this occasion!
A huge thank you to Chris Neno for the photographs above.
Channel 5’s camera crew portrayed the subject well and showed utmost respect for Cassandra’s property. It was a pleasure to work with them and also Colin Baker and Sherrie Hewson who were fabulous people to converse with. The chants and incantations we used are for public situations and not for our personal working.
I recorded the following footage of this programme from our television:
The 12th June 2018 was the 10th anniversary since my move to Cornwall. The life I envisaged here and the one I now have are completely different.
Living near the sea, the elements of the rain, wind and storms can intensify. Cornwall may not be as cold as other parts of the UK (although the last winter was a harsh one) and frosts occur less here. The cost of living is rising everywhere, but in tourist areas, prices rise during the holiday season and tourists pay these higher prices for the short time they are here, however residents have to pay these throughout the holiday season. Work opportunities increase during the summer, but lessen in the winter and the cold weather also means an increase in utility bills too.
Taking a vacation in Cornwall is easier than surviving here. During a vacation you have free time to visit beaches and places of interest, but when one is trying to survive, pleasure visits to beaches or sites rarely occur even though one lives in close proximity to them.
On a positive note I have enjoyed my work as Wisewoman throughout the last 9 years. I have learnt so much from Cassandra Latham Jones and it has been a fascinating and testing journey. Working with the land and sea and its powerful unpredictable energies has certainly been challenging as tests can be severe and obstacles are constantly placed in one’s path. It takes strength of character and determination to overcome these and continue………as though the spirits are saying ……..”how much do you want this???” Cassandra also admits she has been tough with me throughout this time and admires my tenacity. She also informed me there were others who in the past who desired to learn from her but were unable to withstand the tests and tasks given.
My experience and training in ceremonial magic while in Kent has been useful when conducting Rites of Passage. Cassandra is happy to leave what she calls ‘arm waving’ to me when setting up the space for ceremonies.
The consultations we provide together work well, the moment just before a reading when Cassandra holds the client’s hands to connect with their energies, I tune in to any spirit presences that may be around them. While Cassandra shuffles the Tarot cards I provide the client with a description of any spirit presences and messages they may wish to pass on. Cassandra then lays out the Tarot spread and there have been many occasions where the same messages have appeared within the cards giving double confirmation for the client. I have witnessed many readings by Cassandra over the years and am now familiar with her cards, so I now own an identical Tarot pack and have the ability to provide readings from them.
Property cleansing needs a huge amount of work, particularly when they are inhabited by a variety of residents over time,(more-so with period properties). The energies from traumatic events are contained within the foundations of these buildings which can have a profound effect on any future residents. In hotels and public houses/inns the energies can intensify and affect the smooth running of businesses. We have had many successful outcomes from this work.
Curse breaking is another area of intense work. Many clients consult us about this problem and Cassandra has a unique and powerful method for dealing with these energies that she has passed on to me.
Wart charming was a service that at first I was rather sceptical of, it was difficult to understand how it could possibly work. Even now I could not explain it but have witnessed the success of this process with our clients.
I have constructed many charms over the years and had a high success rate with them, fertility charms in particular. It delights me to think I have assisted in creating new life and brought happiness to others.
I still provide Holistic Services and have taughtReiki courses too which benefit clients greatly, particularly as Reiki practice is more about spiritual and emotional development of the person rather than a complementary therapy. I have helped a wide range of clients from the terminally ill to pet owners who now are able to calm their stressed animals.
My Crisis and Trauma counselling services have also come to the fore as often clients are affected by religious cults and childhood abuse. They do not realize how past trauma can affect their everyday lives as adults, even though it happened long ago.
Walks with Wisewomen is an enjoyable aspect of our work as it enables us to visit and enjoy the sites with our clients. I have, over time learnt the folklore associated with them by listening to Cassandra repeating the information on each visit. We also find out more about our clients as we converse with them while walking to and from the sites.
Our ‘Old Ways’ workshops have been successful during the last few years. I suggested hosting them and Cassandra was at first a little reticent, but as we had many inquiries about them, she agreed to try. The workshops have gone from strength to strength covering five subjects. We have met some fabulous people who experienced some extraordinary occurrences while they were with us. The preparation and workshops themselves are hard work but also energizing and satisfying on a deeper level.
I have learnt so much since being here and my main lesson is that life is indeed unpredictable. One can plan for the future to a certain extent but unforeseen circumstances can create sudden changes that can have incredible impact on one’s life bringing positive or negative outcomes.
I have also learnt that being successful in work and within a community brings rivalries, competitiveness and jealousies from some, who will then project dissatisfaction with themselves and their lives onto another. When a person experiences this level of pettiness it is vital to remember that these people, by their treatment of you, are validating that you are exceptionally good at what you do. If you were not successful or talented, negative people would not bother with you. When a person moves into a new community, they are on ‘foreign territory’ and therefore vulnerable to predators and bullies. However there are also genuine good-hearted people in a community who will do what they can to assist, especially if they were once in the same position themselves.
Cassandra Latham Jones falls into this category and has assisted me in so many ways.
I have integrated socially by attending festivals and utilising my talents as musician and dancer. I have also met some kind, thoughtful and talented individuals. The residents of St Buryan village have been particularly welcoming and now consider me part of their community.
My time here has been a catalyst of creativity as Cassandra and I, along with my son Rhys formed our Guise team Boekka which features Penkevyll the Lands End ‘Oss. Our team has performed for 8 years and we have introducedMorvargh my Sea ‘Oss as a recent addition. To top it all, my idea of Cassandra, myself and Penkevyll the ‘Oss, meeting Phil and Vivien Larcher along with their Mari Lwyd at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic on Samhain 2014, has now evolved into a fantastic event entitled The All Hallows Gathering!
Now that I have lived in Cornwall 10 years, I am no longer a ‘newbie’. The local community has witnessed how difficult it has been for me and the obstacles placed in my path. I am sure that certain individuals could not have withstood or endured a fraction of what they have directed my way, but that is par for the course. The positives far outweigh the negatives and I am still here…….
Our first workshop for 2018 was better than anticipated weatherwise, as the forecast predicted rain but it did not amount to much at all. Friday had a few showers but by late afternoon the sun appeared…as if by magic!
2018 began with Workshop 1- Working on the Land
Our students arrived Friday evening excited about the weekend ahead, One had enjoyed last year’s workshops and returned to experience them once again.
We sat by a roaring fire at the hearth with a relaxing drink and the evening consisted of varied fascinating topics of conversation, spiritual journeys, how the Old Ways of the Craft compare to the fashionable ‘movements’ and groups we see nowadays, Pagan literature, authors, Covens, traditions etc.
Saturday afternoon we discussed Charms, their construction and the specific ingredients used according to the reason for their creation. We studied correspondence tables, planetary squares, hours and glyphs.
The diagrams can seem quite daunting on introduction, just as logarithm tables were while at school, but when one has the correct understanding and their method of use, the apprehension disappears.
After receiving the relevant information, it was time for the students to put into practice what they had learnt. Cassandra then handed this part of the teaching to me and I guide them through creation of their personal charm.
There are various methods of construction, some enjoy using needle and thread to create a charm bag and others prefer to use other materials, for example, a decorative object that has the capacity to contain the ingredients within it. Each student has their own interpretation of how their charm should be and it intrigues me to see the result.
The students returned to us Saturday evening and I guided them through a small charm blessing ritual at the hearth. We then engaged in further discussions while awaiting the setting of the sun before venturing outside to magically charge the charms. On this occasion we visited the Merry Maidens stone circle.
It was a beautiful evening with a gentle breeze. Our students took time to visit each stone within the circle and enjoyed the ambiance of this ancient sacred space.
We then returned to the cottage for libations of Cornish Mead and Saffron Cake.
Our students seemed delighted with their weekend experience, which we hope has enriched their lives and given them wonderful memories to look back on throughout their spiritual journey.
“Workshop1 Working On The Land 2018 was a fantastic weekend workshop that focused on learning your basics in witchcraft or wise-craft. The correspondence materials provided were simple and easy to understand and also left one with an interest to research more into certain topics after the workshop had ended. Laetitia and Cassandra were both truly welcoming and understanding ladies, and we all had many laughs with the discussions we had – witchcraft or otherwise! The charm-making session was wonderful – I loved how simple charms can be to make, but their correspondences can be as complex or a simple as you like! I also loved the energy of the stone circle we went to, to charge our charms – the atmosphere was calming yet alive and magical at the same time! I’d like to personally thank Laetitia and Cassandra Latham-Jones for all the wonderful work that they have done for their community and for the pagan community. Thank you also for allowing me to share and experience that knowledge that you have chosen to share with others via workshops, allowing a new generation as well as older ones to enjoy the pleasures and magic of a Village Wisewoman. Brightest Blessings. Thank you. E.S. xxx”
Our guise team Boekka had a wonderful time at our yearly visit to Chepstow meeting the fabulous Mari Lwyds and friends once again. This year the temperature was a little warmer without the frost of 2017.
We arrived on Friday and spent the evening in the atmospheric bar of the historic Greenman Backpackers Hostel. A warm welcome awaits and the staff made a concerted effort to ensure their customers were comfortable and content.
Mike who owns the hostel is also a member of the energetic Widders Morris and organizer of the Wassail event. This is an extremely busy weekend for him.
The programme for the day began earlier this year as the Maris met outside the Greenman Backpackers Hostel before processing to the castle. They performed their usual banter and song to gain entry to the hostel and participated in traditional song as their voices echoed with the marvelous acoustics in the basement of the ancient building.
My ‘Oss Morvargh’s debut was at this event, receiving a copious amount of attention and admiration. Our good friend Phil Larcher, rider of the Mari Lwyd complimented me on Morvargh’s decoration which is praise indeed from one who has a strong connection with the spirit of the Mari, her primitive energy and history.
The procession through the town was downhill, but with the weight of an ‘Oss, a slow and steady pace is needed for the riders when walking through the wet cobbled streets.
After the procession we gathered for the Wassail by the ancient castle. We had a little time for preparation to bring out the Lands End ‘Oss Penkevyll. Her rider this year was an extremely fit and muscular Welshman and his family were delighted to see this. He was a tall man, so Penkevyll had the best view of the event above the crowd.
We enjoyed performances by Widders Morris and Styx of Stroud. Morvargh danced to the music and I had a wonderful ‘work out’!
During the Wassail at Chepstow castle, Penkevyll remained on higher ground as the ground was extremely muddy due to a copious amount of rain in the days leading up to the event.
After the Wassail we made our way to the Chepstow Castle Inn where a Beauty Pageant had been arranged for the Maris. Penkevyll could not join us for this as she was too tall to enter the building.
Morvargh received a huge cheer from the audience on appearing and many journalists required information about her and how the ‘Oss connects with Cornish tradition. We informed them that owning an ‘Oss or a ‘beast’ has become a trend in recent years as many new ones have appeared in Cornwall. Penkevyll however was one of the first in West Cornwall after Penglaz in Penzance.
There were 21 Maris and ‘Osses in attendance this year, 10 more than last year. Even though the Beauty Pageant was arranged and each Mari or ‘Oss received a rosette they are so uniquely beautiful it would be too difficult to choose a winner. All of them were winners that day and a credit to their owners with the obvious hard work that had gone into their creation.
It was time for the meeting of the Welsh and English on the Old Wye Bridge by early evening. A projector screen was erected this year so that those who could not join us on the bridge were able to watch the ceremony. Boekka decided not to take our ‘Osses to the bridge as we took time out to enjoy this part without distraction. My apprentice Teazer had done a fabulous job assisting with Penkevyll and Morvargh during the day so we had earned the freedom to enjoy the atmosphere.
Scarlet certainly has the wild mischievous energy required for being a Teazer.
Our good friend Jason Semmens held our Cornish flag and did an impressive job of displaying it beside the Welsh and English flags.
After the bridge ceremony we arrived at Chepstow Museum for the Maris to once again sing their traditional Pwmco and gain entry. The handler of Mari Pontypwyl offered my apprentice Teazer the opportunity to guide her Mari into the Museum and I followed on as a guide. Earlier in the day Scarlet also had the opportunity to ride one of David Pitts smaller ‘Osses so it was an event full of new and delightful experiences for her.
The Chepstow Wassail event is a long and active day, but we enjoyed every minute. Team Boekka worked well together and I would like to thank Cassandra, Scarlet, our rider and John Isaac (who captured some fantastic images) for all their hard work.
We first met Karyl when she travelled here from the U.S. with a group of friends and arranged to join us for a Walk with Wisewomen two years ago.
On this occasion, she returned with her new partner Paul and requested a Handfasting. January has had frequent stormy weather, gale force winds and heavy hail showers accompanied by icy temperatures, so Karyl requested we conduct the ceremony within Cassandra’s cottage.
This is the 2nd occasion when a Handfasting has occurred within the cottage, the first happened many years ago when a couple from Denmark unexpectedly called upon Cassandra requesting an immediate ceremony, giving her about an hour to prepare.
Karyl had booked in advance, so our wonderful friend and photographer John Isaac captured fabulous images of the occasion. Karyl and Paul were accompanied by two good friends to witness the ceremony and offer support. It was a small and intimate ceremony before the larger legal wedding they had planned for May Day.