The year 2020 has many special dates and anniversaries but unfortunately the Covid Virus has prevented people from celebrating in the way they had planned. August 8th marks our Cornish Guise team Boekka’s 10th birthday. So much has happened in this time.
The following photographs of Boekka in the days when our ‘Oss Penkevyll briefly performed as Penglaz the Penzance ‘Oss.
Mazey Eve 2009
Devon and Cornwall Pagan Conference 2010
We were in the developmental stages of creating a Guise team that could travel to other parts of Cornwall and the U.K., however we did not realize that Penglaz was not permitted to perform outside of Penzance (although this now seems to have changed).
When Boekka and our ‘Oss were no longer required in Penzance this set us free to re-name our ‘Oss and perform anywhere we desired. It took us a while to change our image and the following photograph was at her naming ceremony on 6th March 2011.
Boekka then made it’s debut with Penkevyll at Spring Equinox 2011 in Crean St Buryan. The Teazers were now working on choreographed dances with a band consisting of a hurdy gurdy and drummers.
Creating and running a Guise team is hard work organizing practices, events etc. A few more members joined which inspired Rhys to teach a Morris team, alongside the existing Guise team. Some onlookers did not agree as they considered Morris dancing an English tradition rather than Cornish.
In 2011 we attended various events shown in the following photographs.
Cornwall Pride 2011
It also seemed to be a year for media work! We appeared with Sue Perkins on a TV program All Roads Lead Home and also in Paul Merton’s Caravanning Adventures.
Rochester Sweeps Festival was our first weekend away to an event and Kent is a 300 mile journey. Penkevyll caused quite a stir as it seemed that no one in Kent had seen a skull ‘Oss before.
In 2012 the Morris side connected to Boekka grew to 12 members. More dances and events were introduced and as we had no musician at this time, the teams performed with percussion only while Laetitia taught herself to play melodeon. We also hired a minibus and travelled to Scotland in March to perform at the Scottish Pagan Conference.
We were invited to perform for the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle at their Charmday event.
We also performed at Godolphin Fair
In Marazion on a hot summer day.
It did not take long for Laetitia to learn tunes for Boekka composed by Rhys our rider.
Rhys also played percussion on occasions for the Teazer dances choreographed by Laetitia.
Teignmouth Folk Festival
Pasty Day Redruth
By 2013 some members left for various reasons and others had joined us. There was a lack of regular commitment in 2012 so we were unable to reach a high standard of performance with a limited number of fit, outstanding dancers. We continued with our new members taught by Rhys. A local man who is a former Cotswold dancer joined us and he also rides Penkevyll on occasions. He has now been with Boekka for 7 years.
Bodmin Riding Heritage Day
North Inn Pendeen
May morning on Chapel Carn Brea
In 2014 two Morris team members left and it was difficult to get new recruits as performers were more interested in Cornish entertainment. Rhys tried to maintain a high standard of performance that some found it difficult to cope with. We continued with the few dancers we had and the Cornish Teazer and ‘Oss part of Boekka remained intact.
Teignmouth Folk Festival
Wreckers Day of Dance
Bodmin Riding Heritage Day
Chapel Carn Brea
St Pirans Day
St Pirans Day – we usually team up with the Whippletree band in the processions
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.
A fantastic Samhain weekend is over and the Celtic new year begins. It marks 20 years of my personal spiritual path. This path is entirely different to the religion I was raised to believe. The excitement of my first awakening to a new spirituality will remain a prominent memory as I put aside the indoctrination of the past and summoned the courage to explore another.
I received a warning from a renowned Pagan in London to watch out for “space cadets” and take my time finding the right path. It was an exciting period of my life, eager to acquire as much knowledge as possible and experience everything!
During the early days I worked alone and the rituals I performed were beautiful and very familiar to me. After a year of personal study I took the step of self initiation. This was the most important step during my development, a private dedication between myself and the powers that be.
After experiencing the energy one person could raise within a magical circle, I contemplated working with a group. I replied to an advertisement from the Pagan Dawn wishing to recruit new members for an Egyptian group. It was a different way of working and the energies raised were considerably strong. I met other members of this group who became constant friends.
Between attending groups I also taught friends how to perform ceremonial rituals.
Venturing into the Morris dancing world with a Kent team introduced me to members of Wicca. I became a member of a Gardnarian group and the rituals were happy joyful occasions. The group would meet at my place of residence and there I learnt how to set up a group altar and prepare a larger space.
After leaving this group I was initiated into an Alexandrian group that worked with Egyptian deities. The training and rituals were well structured and it was during this training I discovered that the Wiccan path began during the 1950s. This was disappointing as I had been searching for ancient ways rather than a modern belief system.
I replied to an advertisement for new members to join a Traditional Cornish group before moving to Cornwall. I applied with a view to becoming a member of the group after a few years of correspondence and visits. I moved to Cornwall during my 13th year of development and met Cassandra Latham Jones in 2009 and eventually I found what I had searched for. It is easier to connect with spiritual energies of land and sea here than within the surrounding areas of London. There are however some beautiful sites in Kent such as the Coldrum Stones that were just a few miles away from my home there.
Moving into a new community is not as easy as one thinks. Genuine people are few, but when you do find them, they are of great value. Others can be suspicious and territorial. If they decide to dislike you, nothing you can do or say will change their minds. I have learnt that it is not always important to a community how talented one is if they are not associating with the “right clique” or born in the “right place”. Some allude to a birth connection with Cornwall to feel more accepted, but I am proud to be a Kentish Maid.
When one is talented at their craft, they can meet interesting and genuine like-minded people who show support. Alternatively talent and success can bring groups of jealous detractors. Their aim is to project their own negative traits onto a mutually agreed person in order to make life unpleasant and drive them away. If one finds themselves in this situation, it is vital to remember that only a person that has something special about them that others covet, it will attract the detractors.
Cornwall has a variety of people. Some are genuine good- hearted souls who want to live a peaceful life and do what they can to help others without an ulterior motive. Some create a “fairy-tale image” and place more importance on the glamour but have a lack of any real substance or power. Some can use others under the guise of friendship for their own personal gain only to cast them aside when they are no longer useful. Some seek fame and fortune and will attempt to discredit others whom they view as a threat. I now believe the “demonic forces” some religions speak of are actually within the personalities of some who can use and abuse beliefs to feed their own egos and gain power over others. It is sad that a spirit being is often scapegoated to provide a distraction from a person taking responsibility for their own thoughts and actions.
When one focuses upon the positive aspects of life, the Cornish landscape and the ocean are wonderful. They are good for the soul and to see them daily is truly a blessing.
I am now accustomed to the seasons and changes of the atmosphere. As I walked to the village church one evening I was greeted by a beautiful crescent waxing moon and the star of Venus adjacent to it, bright and beautiful. Nothing tastes of the sea more than a raw oyster and fresh seaweed from the shore. To awake in the morning and see a murder of crows feeding from the field behind the cottage is wonderful. To sit on the beaches and cliffs listening to the music of the sea is divine.
Here in Cornwall, the beaches, coves, woodland, stone circles, holy wells, quoits and ancient buildings are all nearby. Focusing on these aspects of life reminds me of how blessed I am.
My 20 year spiritual path led me here and I have worked hard during this journey. This is where I will stay!