The Chepstow Wassail – Countryfile Magazine

Yuletide celebrations are now over and today it was a wonderful surprise to see this article in the January 2019 edition of Countryfile Magazine where my Sea ‘Oss Morvargh is mentioned. It was her first outing to Chepstow which was tremendously exciting for a little foal……

 

 

 

 

Cassandra was also pictured in an article about the Chepstow Wassail in Landscape magazine.

We look forward to this Wassail every year as it is such a wonderful event. See you all soon………

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Update for the Dark Gathering 2018

All Hallows event update ūüôā

All Hallows Gathering

There a couple of items that need updating in this year’s line up at the Dark Gathering.  Firstly, the Mari Lwyd Workshop will not be taking place this year after all.  However, we hope that we can reintroduce this again at a later date.

The other main change to the schedule is that sadly, the Boscastle Buoys are unable to perform for us this year.  In their place will be a demonstration of traditional Welsh dancing by Cwmni Gwerin Pontypwl.

Given these changes the Programme of Events will be as follows:

2 pm ‚Äď Warm up act from the Salt Sisters.

3 pm ‚Äď Dark Morris performances from Beltane Border Morris, Domesday Morris and this year‚Äôs Guest Side, Wolfshead & Vixen

4 pm ‚Äď Display of Welsh Dancing

4.30 pm ‚Äď Dark Morris performances

5 pm ‚Äď Comfort Break

6 pm ‚Äď Procession leaves from main car park

6.20 pm…

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Chepstow Wassail 2018 with Mari Lwyds

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.

 

John Isaac

We enjoyed performances by Widders Morris and Styx of Stroud. Morvargh danced to the music and I had a wonderful ‘work out’!

John Isaac

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.

John Isaac

John Isaac

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.
Cheers to you all this Wassail season!

 

A New Year Begins…

The All Hallows Dark Gathering 2017 event in Boscastle was significant for me. I have trained and performed as a Teazer alongside Cassandra Latham Jones since 2009 and it was at Chepstow in January this year she handed over her snapper along with the position of main Teazer.
At this event I guide Penkevyll and stood alongside her while the Wassail ceremonies took place.  The meeting on the bridge is a little more energetic as Penkevyll stand on the Welsh side with the Maris to meet the approaching from the opposite side to meet us at the centre of the bridge.
The St Pirans festival in March invites Penkevyll and Boekka to take part in their procession at Redruth.¬† The procession is uphill where extra exertion is required when Teazing, interacting with the crowd and¬†keeping an eye on¬†Penkevyll’s antics.
The All Hallows Dark Gathering in Boscastle is now a popular event. During the afternoon I build energy by moving to the music played for Morris dancers and connect with spirits of place from land and sea at the wondrous harbour of Boscastle.

Image – Sarah Eykyn

 

This year I also rode¬†my ‘Oss Morvargh during the afternoon accompanied by John and Sue Exton with their new Mari Seren. Dancing with Morvargh is the ideal warm up for the Teazing of Penkevyll. Mole the Squire of Wreckers Morris invited Morvargh to dance with his Morris band while the team performed¬†a dance about the sea. We worked well together and the audience enjoyed it immensely.
It was then time to take Morvargh back to our room and change into my Teazer kit. I prepared Penkevyll with the assistance of Cassandra and our rider. The procession led by the Maris made its way through Boscastle and the sound of throbbing drums meant it was time to appear with Penkevyll.

Image – John Isaac

 

Image – John Isaac

 

Image – John Isaac

Our space was rather restricted this year due to the fire display equipment for Mr Fox. Penkevyll danced and interacted with the audience until we observed the flaming torches of the procession.

We welcomed the Maris before guiding Penkevyll into the Museum for the Pwmco ceremony.
During this performance I was observed by my new apprentice Teazer. Scarlet is in her 30s and has a good connection with Penkevyll. She also connects well with the Cornish energies and has an enquiring mind with welcome experience in the performing arts. I look forward to her progression.
This year I sang the Cornish Pwmco alone while Susan Exton sang the Welsh version. I had no time to drink water after the energetic Teazing and hoped it would not affect¬†my singing.¬†¬†Susan and I thought the performance was better than expected, especially as she¬†had little¬†notice¬†due to¬†Vivien’s sudden illness.

Image – Susan Exton

The Mari’s stayed within the¬†entrance hall¬†of the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic when blessing the property, as the corridors and stairs¬†are difficult for the taller ‘Osses to negotiate. After the refreshments of beer and cake, I¬†guided Penkevyll outside to watch the fabulous performance of Mr Fox. There is a primitive energy about their performance which complimented the event.

Image – John Isaac

After Sarah Emery’s¬†beautiful song, it was time for Cassandra, Michelle and I to invoke the spirits of place with our bullroarers. Will Fox from Beltane Morris delivered¬†a wonderful speech about the meaning of Samhain followed by a blessing.

 

All participants worked hard, the cooperation and friendship of all concerned imbued positive energies into the All Hallows event of 2017. A fabulous start to the new Celtic year.

 

Nine and a Half Weeks … until All Hallows Gathering 2017

This event will be fabulous!

Grumpy Old Witchcraft

To say that organising the Dark Gathering this year has been challenging would be an understatement!¬† All sorts of spanners have been thrown into the works, but amazingly where a person or a side have departed, there have been folks who are only too eager to step into the breech and fill the void.¬† I thank you all!¬† ūüôā

As you can see from the poster, we have a very full line-up of activities and performers this year.  Whilst on the subject of the poster I want to personally thank Chris White who designed it at very short notice.  Even more amazing is the fact, and I hope he doesn’t mind me mentioning this, that Chris is disabled and is more or less housebound being a full time carer for his beloved wife.  Chris sadly will never be able to attend the Dark Gathering, but has given his full support…

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Morvargh’s First House Blessing

During the first week in July 2017 a close friend of ours moved to Cornwall. They are a special family, the lovely Michelle, her husband Dave, son Corvan and also their beautiful raven Odin. We entered the Aviary to meet him and words cannot express the feeling when you are in close proximity to such a sublime creature.

They were delighted to meet¬†Morvargh the Sea ‘Oss and she used her powerful and protective energy to bless their home.
The Mari Lwyds in Wales tradition is to bring good fortune to households:
“The¬†Mari Lwyd¬†(the Grey Mare) is a pre-Christian tradition said to bring good luck. People made a horse figure from a horse‚Äôs skull, with decorative ears and eyes attached. They adorned it with colourful reins, bells, and ribbons and wrapped it with a white sheet that is carried around on a pole. The Mari Lwyd and its party would go door-to-door, singing and challenging the families inside to a battle of rhyming insults in Welsh. At the end of the battle of wits (known as pwnco) the group would be invited into the house for refreshments.”
http://www.wales.com/mari-lwyd
“The Mari Lwyd (grey mare) is a centuries-old Welsh winter tradition involving a decorated, shrouded horse skull which is carried from house to house, or pub, by performers seeking entry for food/drink by entertaining with songs, rhymes or riddles.¬†The tradition is said to bring good luck.” Western Telegraph
“At last the Maris gained entrance to the Museum and they blessed it in their usual ways ending with the¬†traditional libations of soul cakes and beer.” Grumpy Old Witchcraft
https://grumpyoldwitchcraft.com/tag/cornish-witchcraft/ 
It was a pleasure to do this for wonderful friends who offer an abundance of unconditional love and support.

 

Welcome to Cornwall Michelle, Dave, Corvan and Odin!
www.wytchwyse.com

All Hallows Gathering 2016 – Part Two

A wonderful post about a fabulous event! ūüôā xxx

Grumpy Old Witchcraft

Now was the time for the whole raison d‚Äô√™tre of the Dark Gathering¬†‚Äď the meeting of the Welsh¬†Mari Lwyds with Cornwall‚Äôs Penkevyll the Oss.¬† This year we were going to try to introduce the Mari Lwyds into the proceedings in a different way ‚Äď we were going to have a procession.¬† However, there was one thing that we hadn‚Äôt factored in ‚Ästthat this year the clocks hadn‚Äôt gone back yet ‚Ästso it was still light by 5 pm, the advertised time of the Lantern Procession.¬† The Mari Lwyds traditionally don‚Äôt appear until at least dusk,¬†and there was lots of debate about when to start the tribal drumming (the signal for the Procession to start) ‚Äď and also when to light torches etc.¬† You can just¬†imagine the dialogue!¬† :/

To add to the confusion there is no mobile signal in Boscastle so we couldn’t communicate with the processional group who were…

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