Spring Equinox 2020 marks the tenth anniversary since Cassandra Latham Jones handed her business of Village Wise Woman to me.
I 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 counseling (which I now possess a Diploma for) as clients will contact you concerning various dilemmas in their lives and we discuss the appropriate methods to help them.
Cassandra has a unique way of working and had built a good reputation over the years, so she was a hard act to follow. I had been a Cornwall resident for only ten months at this time and the 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 created 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, wise women walks and workshops. Notifying a client concerning the list of items we require for 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 work and keeping accounts easier.
I understand why we have a ‘code of ethics’ and that it is better not to cast spells for clients to influence others against their will. These can have huge repercussions and there are occasions when I have witnessed this after others had cast spells for selfish desires or without sufficient contemplation concerning 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 also have 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 not be identical in appearance or their contents.
Another aspect where needlework skills came to the fore was 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 informed me that my work with dolls is one of my greatest talents.
I have witnessed many Tarot readings and I now know Cassandra’s cards so well that I have the ability to provide readings 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 have a relationship of 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 if they require the legal contract.
I would love to experience more 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 in moving 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 needed to pass 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 very successful as many are intrigued by the work we do and enjoy spending time with us to experience this for a day.
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 Wise Women’ 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 advertised and networked 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 Wise Woman. It is so important to have an occupation one enjoys that will never become mundane or 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 to 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.
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”