Handfasting Celebrants November 2018

Cassandra and I have been so busy of late with events and also work. Today we were asked to conduct a Handfasting at Boscawen-un stone circle. The couple decided to take this step on their 20th wedding anniversary. We became acquainted when they attended the All Hallows Dark Gathering in Boscastle and discovered that some aspects of our lives had synchronicity.

The weather was dry and cloudy with a slight chill of the forthcoming winter weather. Today was All Souls Day and the presence of the ancestors could be felt within the stillness of the air.

 

As Cassandra spoke of the ancestors and spirit loved ones witnessing the Handfasting rite, a murmuration of starlings flew over the circle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A special thank you to our lovely neighbours Jackie and Lottie for assisting us and capturing some wonderful images of Kim and Tony’s special day. We then joined the couple for a celebratory drink and a meal in our local St Buryan Inn.

Feedback:

“We simply cannot thank Laetitia and Cassandra enough for The Handfasting Ceremony they performed for us. We can honestly say that it was the most romantic, magical and memorable moment in our lives. Anyone who is considering “Tying The Knot”, look no further than Laetitia and Cassandra. From advice to reassurance, nothing is too much trouble. Thank you so much for everything that you have done for us. Wonderful, warm knowledgeable  Wise Women xxx” Kim and Tony

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31. Other Realms

The kittens were mischievous and demanded a lot of attention.  Their constant suckling concerned me as it bruised the abdomen of the black and white kitten. The veterinary surgeon assured me it did not cause harm and the habit eventually ceased when they began to explore the outside world.

I frequently travelled to Tintagel visiting the artist and his fiancée. We received an invitation to their Handfasting at Samhain. The event began with a personal ceremony attended by a few close friends and family at St Nectan’s waterfall. A second ceremony for all to attend was held at King Arthur’s Halls during the afternoon. 

King Arthurs Halls Tintagel. Image - Cornwalls

King Arthurs Halls Tintagel. Image – Cornwalls

This is a fabulous building and cool in temperature, so many guests wore coats during the ceremony. Guests from the faerie festivals wore pointed ears and fantasy costumes. The bride’s family were conservative in their attire and I wondered what impressions they received regarding the other wedding guests. I had befriended one of the ‘fairie’ women previously who introduced me to the world of the ‘fey folk’ by inviting me to a faerie ball during the summer at The Acorn Theatre in Penzance. 

discover-cornwall

As we climbed the narrow winding staircase inside the hall faerie’s wings became tangled as they passed one another and required assistance to free them. 

After the hand-fasting ceremonies were over, the wedding party assembled at Tintagel social hall for refreshments. 

Image - Wikipedia

Image – Wikipedia

It was a small building with little room for all the wedding guests to assemble, however it was a dry sunny day and many stood outside admiring the landscape.

Image - Geograph

Image – Geograph

The evening celebrations were held at Boscastle village hall which was a larger venue. A renowned band performed and the groom who was a rock guitarist brought along his instrument to join them, My son met his first serious girlfriend at this event who lived in Norfolk. It was a fabulous day and there were many friends who contributed their talents towards the wedding in some way.

The day after the Handfasting I was to perform another seasonal closing ritual at St Nectan’s waterfall. My friend with the ‘Merlin’ image had volunteered to assist me and we arranged to meet  at Camelot Castle hotel. When we arrived he informed me the ‘powerful’ witches who attended the Handfasting refused to attend the closing ritual as the circle was apparently not closed down correctly after the Handfasting ceremony. They believed this oversight had allowed negative energies to enter the space. Hearing this from people who were allegedly strong and powerful witches surprised me. My Merlin friend was reticent about assisting me, but I refused to allow their opinions to change our plans. 

Image - Tripadvisor

Image – Tripadvisor

As we set up the space at the waterfall I sensed his anxiety so I performed a cleansing to settle the space which put him at ease. About 40 visitors attended and I had prepared a written ritual. I lit the candles so that we could read the words and they were in deep glass containers but were constantly distinguished by the breeze. I then decided not to use the written ritual and we worked instinctually. Each visitor lit a candle of remembrance and called out the names of loved ones who had passed into the spirit world. We meditated on the meaning of the season and connecting with our ancestors. The ritual was successful and again the owner received positive feedback. My Merlin friend was pleased he participated and I was blessed to have those opportunities to work in such a beautiful place.  

Living in St Columb could be lonely at times. An elderly man who lived nearby noticed my magical charms in the porch and windows of the cottage. He stood on the opposite pavement laughing for a while before he continued his walk each morning. I could not understand why nothing seemed to be happening after our efforts to get to Cornwall. I consulted the powers that be about my bewilderment but I nowrealize that in Cornwall the word “dreckly” is significant…..as everything moves at a slower pace. However in November of 2008 there was a shift……..

Wellington Hotel Boscastle. Image - Haunted Rooms

Wellington Hotel Boscastle. Image – Haunted Rooms

I attended my first Friends of the Witchcraft Museum A.G.M in November 2008. I yearned to attend these for years and living locally made this possible. The venue was the Wellington Hotel in Boscastle in the upstairs function room. My son and I arrived a little late and sat upon a large settee at the back of the room. Professor Hutton provided a talk on the cause of witch hunts and past executions. The majority of these were due to petty arguments, scapegoating and jealousies within a community. It highlighted how frequently members of communities could turn against others. My son enjoyed the talk as it contained some humour and lightheartedness that was necessary for a particularly sombre subject.

During the lunch break my son and I visited the Museum. The entrance was locked and we stood outside looking through the windows. The owner arrived and invited us in to look around. He left us alone in the Museum as he had work to do and requested that we check the door was closed on leaving. It was wonderful to be trusted in that way and surreal spending time alone in the Museum as the energy there was quite different.

In late November I received an unexpected telephone call from the partner of the traditional witch. She asked if it would interest me to train as a Teazer for their Penzance ‘Obby ‘Oss. I knew of the ‘Oss as I observed the stages of its creation during my visits to their cottage. Apparently the original Teazer had performed for seventeen years and as she was close to retirement age an eventual replacement would be required. The traditional witch’s partner thought me ideal for the role as I was Pagan, had been a Morris dancer with a reputable team and had a high level of fitness. I would be required to dance with the ‘Oss in the streets of their local town and as I had missed Morris dancing, it sounded a similar pursuit. When I agreed to try she explained that she would let the wise woman and she would contact me. I paused and thought about what I had heard, then asked her if it was THE wise woman who would train me. When she confirmed it was, I thought she may not wish to train me as I may have upset her on the dance floor at the Conference the previous year. The traditional witch’s partner assured me the wise woman was not upset but I was unconvinced.

After the phone call I sat quietly digesting the conversation. I had hoped to get to know the wise woman for some time and attempted contact by emails but did not receive an answer. I assumed it would be difficult to find her and she also seemed the type of person who could be unapproachable. Maybe the powers that be had brought her to me instead. The next challenge would be how to handle her phone call…………

16. Coven Work

Our lives changed remarkably after the Handfasting. The  rooms of our home were previously decorated with Laura Ashley wallpaper and had a dramatic change during my experimentation with purple paint on pale pink walls using a bath sponge. 

Not everyone approved of yhe change, particularly my in-laws. Our social life involved attending and hosting dinner parties for friends of my husband. He had known them since childhood and one of them had married his sister. He seemed comfortable with them and had sought their advice and approval on his life decisions. They were most upset when he underwent a family medical procedure without consulting them. They began to exclude us from their dinner parties as my husband had acquired a ‘ready made family’ and his circle of friends had no children at this time. They also disapproved of my husband’s involvement in ‘strange’ activities such as Morris dancing and Paganism.

Image - Eureka Parties

Image – Eureka Parties

In the past we attended various clubs and parties that could be viewed as ‘different’. I met my husband at a naturist club that I frequented for photographic modelling assignments there. My husband decided to do something apart from his usual group of friends, which was the reason he attended this venue. Even though he had become part of the Pagan scene, I sensed he was not completely comfortable. I suspected that he also agreed to our Handfasting ceremony to please me. He had been supportive and encouraged my educational development over the years and I would not have achieved my qualifications without that.

My pen friend sent a letter expressing her enjoyment of the Handfasting ceremony and the Morris dancing in Boscastle. Unfortunately she did not thank us for the two nights in our caravan which gave more confirmation to my husband’s opinion that Pagans took advantage.

About a month after our Handfasting we arranged to visit our tutors to discuss joining their coven. I knew my former Priestess had feared this, but I knew they were good teachers and their group would be well structured. After an in-depth discussion, they agreed to take us as members. My husband agreed to join as my new Priestess would not accept me into the group without him. Much preparation was needed leading up to our initiation but their previous members had shown no interest in returning to the group.

Image - Warband

Image – Warband

We followed instructions to exorcise our athames and this process took two weeks. Our robes required hoods and we purchased four red cords, each one had to be nine feet in length.

During one of our Morris events I discovered the other male Morris member had also decided to join the coven. We were delighted. I had missed working magically with him and he handled the past situation with our former Priestess tactfully and considerately. 

I learnt to distance myself from other members’ problems within the Morris team which at times was not easy. I concentrated on the performance and team work. I took on the position of Squire, arranging order of performance with Squires of other Morris teams at events. I also became Foreperson teaching the dances to our female team. 

Eastbourne Beach. Image - The Beach Guide

Eastbourne Beach. Image – The Beach Guide

We performed at the Lammas festival in Eastbourne and attended their seasonal ritual which was also at the full moon phase. It was a fabulous weekend and the first time they held a public ritual on Eastbourne beach. Passers by paused to observe the proceedings, some were genuinely interested and others thought it amusing, but whatever the opinion it made an impression.

Tintagel Cliffs. Image - Beautiful England

Tintagel Cliffs. Image – Beautiful England

After this event we visited Cornwall for three days to meet our friends at the Battle of Camlann re-enactment. It was another wonderful opportunity to sit by the sea listening to the voices within the waves and connecting with the elements.  Breathing the clean air while listening to the cry of the gulls is fabulous and at that moment there was nowhere else I would rather be. We also visited the Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle and the owner studied our photographs of the Handfasting.  I observed how carefully he handled the album and turned the pages with the utmost care as he had plenty of experience in carefully handling precious Museum artefacts. I had heard of the Devon and Cornwall Pagan Federation seminars at Camelot Hotel in Tintagel each year. My former Priestess attended one and described them as small and more intimate compared to our London events. She enjoyed the atmosphere there and although I wished to attend we could not afford our vacation and an extra journey to Cornwall in March. Our new Priestess and Priest had their vacation in Cornwall as there was no time to explore during our previous visit. Other members of our Morris team also returned to Tintagel and Boscastle after their visit with us.

Crackington Haven Beach. Image - Love To Escape

Crackington Haven Beach. Image – Love To Escape

We discovered that Crackington Haven beach has an abundance of phallic shaped and hagstones. We collected some for friends and our group to place on their altars.

I was a little unsure about the requirement of being ‘sky-clad’ for our nearing initiation. Even though I had been a photographic model and attended a naturist club, this situation would be totally different. I had worked ‘sky clad’ during solitary magical work which felt comfortable and natural. 

My husband and I were initiated on the same evening and placed in separate rooms before we were individually guided to the temple. When sky-clad, blindfolded with hands and arms bound it gives one vulnerability. I sat upon a chair awaiting them and an energy that felt like long spindly fingers slowly crept up my body from feet to head. I heard pacing and chanting in the temple above me as the energy was raised. My Priestess gently guided me to the temple as I slowly climbed two flights of stairs. Before I entered I felt the sharp pressure of the sword on my chest. The initiation ceremony was beautiful and when my bonds were released I felt a strong sense of rebirth as though I was seeing everything for the first time. My husband was initiated after me and I noticed his arms had been out of the cords and wound around his arms as he held them in the original position. The Priestess would have observed this and his reaction would provide her with insight. I have not divulged all details of the ceremony as all initiations are unique and secret.

Book of Shadows. Image - Bralms Book Works

Book of Shadows. Image – Bralms Book Works

My husband and I travelled 22 miles each week to visit our Priestess’ home and copy by hand the words from their Book of Shadows. We sat at the kitchen table and copied two or three of the ninety-nine pages at a time.  On one occasion I attended alone while my husband was at work and on his return he copied those pages from my notes. On our next visit we began writing from the same page and our Priestess remarked that my husband had not reached that particular page last time he attended. He explained he copied the pages from my notes and was instructed that any copying should be only from their book. I understood this as if I had made a mistake it would be copied by him, but my husband was upset by that. Our training in the coven progressed, but I sensed our other male member still felt some guilt about leaving our former Priestess. My husband also attempted to take ‘short cuts’ during his training which did not bode well.

My daughter and I were in contact again and she had given birth to a son, but was separated from her boyfriend. I was now a grandparent in my thirties and it took some time to become accustomed to that.

My Priestess invited me to one of her advanced Yoga classes. When I visited her home was quiet with no music or television, only the ticking and chiming of their antique clocks. The decor in the town house was Victorian and it was almost as though I had gone back in time. My husband was uncomfortable with silence as our priestess did not instigate any conversation and he would talk constantly about himself to break the silence. Our Priestess commented on his inability to handle silence. On occasions when I was alone with them I was happy to sit there without conversing and it reminded me of psychiatrists who would sit quietly so that clients would  speak. Our Priestess had a degree in psychology so she would have been aware of this. I found this fascinating!