The Chepstow Wassail is an event we regularly attend and is a wonderful start to each year. Read more about the Chepstow Wassail here. However, unforeseen circumstances led to an cancellation of the 2020 Wassail and since then all our social activities have been seriously affected with the arrival of a pandemic.
Cassandra and I discovered that one of our neighbours in the village of St Buryan owns five apple trees situated within her wild and magical garden.
As we were in ‘lockdown’ and not permitted to travel we offered to perform a ceremony for her fabulous trees. Amongst them are rare and ancient species known as ‘Cornish Mother’ and also ‘Blackmore Pippin’.
The weather was fortunately dry and mild, the sun also appeared providing beautiful blue skies. Our neighbour’s garden is reminiscent of a favourite childhood story, The Secret Garden, as it has an ‘otherwordly’ feel to it.
I had made some wonderful mulled cider for the occasion, so I poured some into a small flask and created ‘holed’ toast for the trees. I printed out the Wassail ceremony which Cassandra read out before feeding the trees with cider. As there were so many of them we emptied our flask and did not partake of it ourselves until returning home, which was well worth the wait.
We are intrigued to see how the apple trees fare this year and hope our neighbour receives an abundance of apples this autumn. Our neighbour presented us with a basket of ‘goodies’ for Wassailing her trees, symbols of food, drink, fire and cloth to wish us an abundance in all these things.
Here is our Wassail song – the trees had no choice but to awaken with our singing….Wassail to you all!
The latter half of summer had been rather busy for Cornwall and even though this was welcomed to help the economy, 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 been occupied with distant work for clients, however during August and in September we were able to see clients in person for socially distant readings, workshops and courses.
Autumn Equinox was overcast weather-wise, but it was dry which enabled Cassandra to venture out onto the land where she harvested local blackberries, apples and autumn leaves. Meanwhile I swept the hearth and prepared the fireplace, in preparation for our evening celebration.
We had time to bake a wonderful apple and blackberry crumble containing seasonal spices of cinnamon and cloves, before keeping an appointment with one of our clients.
We were given a wonderful opportunity by the new owners of Caer Bran Hillfort to bless their land. The following article has 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.
Our blessing ritual was simple, however it also had potency as we experienced positive reactions from the elements to our invocations.
The owners were keen to show us around the site particularly the quarry, where tangible energies of elementals and guardians were present. We were surrounded by wonderful autumnal colours and as we stood at the highest point of the site, even though the evening mist began to descend, we could see for miles all 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 enjoying a small, meaningful equinox celebration, toasting the ‘powers that be’ and hoping that the changing season will bring a positive outcome to the problematic situation we face. We also hope that communities will work together, caring for one another and our environment. This was 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 and community work. Cassandra and I decided to postpone our workshops held throughout the summer until later this 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 host 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 ambiance as the cottage, the local residents have done an impressive job of giving the rooms a thorough cleanse. There are certain guidelines that need to be adhered to of cleaning the areas before and after use.
Our September workshop was our first one this year and we were fortunate to have only two clients to try out these changes and test the new way of working. The kitchen within the hall is not in use, so we were unable to offer the refreshments we would usually provide while 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 we were visited by four Red Admiral butterflies which was a pleasant distraction!
Our clients had a different views on various aspects of the Old Craft as one is in the process of training within a magical group and the other is a healing practitioner with a keen interest in the land and folklore which produced fascinating discussion. We had a short break to enjoy the sunshine outside and then set up the table for our practical work.
My work includes the construction of charms, therefore creating a Witch Bottle spell would utilise the same Correspondences when researching the correct ingredients to place within the bottles.
We have seen a variety of bottles and jars personally chosen by clients for each workshop and on this occasion our ladies had chosen huge receptacles! They gave a lot of individual thought concerning the ingredients by studying the Correspondence table provided. When they were satisfied with their choices and had gathered all they required, the construction work began.
We guided them through the first stage of their bottle/jar spell and after the workshop they take them home and complete them 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 us quite a while to clean any surfaces we had used before leaving the premises.
After a two hour dinner break our clients visited the cottage conservatory to bless their jars and then we transported our two ladies to a ‘place of power’ and gave them guidance in energizing their spells. We experienced a stunning sunset that evening and immediately after our energy raising, a murder of crows flew overhead. We sat quietly for a while enjoying the feeling of the 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 and enjoyed a glass of Cornish mead with saffron cake, while discussing the day and answering any questions they had.
It was a successful workshop, even though there were some aspects of it that were quite different 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.
A client booked a Wisewoman Walk with Cassandra and I. It is one aspect of our work where we were able to see someone in person but still maintain a social distance. This current situation with Covid 19, the lockdown and social distancing has changed all of our lives, particularly within our work.
We made some alterations, as we usually invite clients to Cassandra’s cottage and discuss their preferences for sites in the area. If not, we surprise them with our choices. As the cottage is so small, it is impossible to maintain the correct distance, so we met our client at the car park of the Merry Maidens stone circle. We were blessed with sunny weather that turned out to be warmer than the forecast predicted.
These monuments are fascinating, particularly when they have an entrance leading deep into the ground. There is also a strong feeling of being observed from the darkness beneath…
We observed two buzzards hunting for prey and these were visible from each site that 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 further down the road where Cassandra brought our attention to hawthorn and blackthorn bushes side by side in the hedgerow. The differences between the two are more obvious when adjacent to one another.
We were unable to open a gate leading to the field where the Piper’s stones stood but this did not deter Cassandra who proved that even now, at 70 years old, she can still climb it.
The standing stones have a regal presence about them, a tall and proud presence upon the land.
The second stone leans to one side and we discussed how deep the base of it would need to be within the earth to stop it from toppling. Cassandra stated there would need to be at least a third of its length there in order to keep it secure.
After this, we returned over the stile to make our way back to the Merry Maidens.
The Merry Maidens stone circle is a wondrous creation, surrounded by our local landscape and easy to find being situated close to the road.
Each stone within the circle has a unique energy (in my experience of working with them). The grass surrounding the area was rather 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 visited Alsia Well from here, walking through a field of vibrant yellow buttercups. So many flowers this year had 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 leading 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 it in 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 moody black clouds crept across the blue sky, but fortunately it did not rain.
This is where our first ‘social distance’ Wisewoman Walk came to a close, as we could not return to the cottage for a beverage and a chat as we usually would. It was a wonderful experience to venture out on the land again and work with a client in person after nearly 3 months of lockdown. It is 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 worked as a qualified holistic therapist and was therefore accustomed to dealing with clients, however with this alternative way of working, clients would be dealt with in a different way. The consultations providing guidance can be similar to counselling (in which I now possess a Diploma) as clients contact us concerning various dilemmas in their lives and we discuss appropriate methods or courses of action that may help them.
Cassandra has a unique way of working and has built a good reputation which means that she is a hard act to follow. I had been a Cornwall resident for only ten months when I began 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 the 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 lessens the burden of book-keeping.
I understand why the ‘code of ethics’ is necessary and it is wise not to cast spells for clients who desire to influence others against their will. These spells can have huge repercussions and there have been occasions when I witnessed the consequences when others have cast spells for selfish desires without forethought.
Learning the process of creating charms has been enjoyable and is reminiscent of past occasions when 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 as each one is unique to the client. For example, when I construct 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 hearth dolls which inspired me to create more clothing for other dolls with an uncanny likeness and purposes. After observing this activity, Cassandra commented that my work with dolls is one of my outstanding 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 fabulous 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 a sacred space although the words I now use have changed, with a deeper connection to the ancient land around us. We prefer that they couple are in a relationship at least a year before taking this important step, some 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 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 period of 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 does not lose its fascination or become mundane!
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 this 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 travelled all the way from Chicago, so we agreed to provide an extra Folk/Cunning Craft workshop for them.
They had attended a previous workshop and accompanied us on a Wisewoman 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 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 and impressions throughout the workshop while 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.