Boekka’s 10th Birthday – Memories

The year 2020 has many special dates and anniversaries but unfortunately the Covid Virus 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).

2011

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 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 of the community did not agree with this inclusion 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 the Television program All Roads Lead Home and also Paul Merton’s Caravanning Adventures.

Rochester Sweeps Festival was our first weekend away to an event and Kent is 340 miles away. Penkevyll caused quite a stir as it seemed that no one in Kent had seen a skull ‘Oss before.

2012

In 2012 the Morris side connected to Boekka had 12 members. More dances and events were introduced and as we had no musician at this time, the teams performed with percussion only while I taught myself to play melodeon. We hired a minibus and travelled to Scotland in March to perform at the Scottish Pagan Conference.

Boekka performed at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic’s Charm Day event in Boscastle.

We also performed at Godolphin Fair

In Marazion on a hot summer day.

It did not take long for me to learn tunes for Boekka composed by Rhys our rider.

Rhys also played percussion on occasions for Teazer dances choreographed by Laetitia.

Teignmouth Folk Festival

Pasty Day Redruth

2013

By 2013 some of our members left for various reasons and then new ones joined us. Due to a lack of regular commitment in 2012, we were unable to reach a high standard of performance as we had a limited number of good dancers. Rhys then taught the new members Morris dances. A local man who was a Cotswold Morris dancer joined us and also rides Penkevyll on occasions. He is still a member of Boekka now.

Bodmin Riding Heritage Day

North Inn Pendeen

Lands End

May morning on Chapel Carn Brea

2014

In 2014 two more members left the Morris team and it was difficult to get new recruits as performers were more interested in Cornish performance. Rhys tried to maintain a high standard of performance that some had found difficult to cope with. We continued with the few dancers we had along with the Cornish Teazer and ‘Oss side of Boekka that remained intact.

Teignmouth Folk Festival

Wreckers Day of Dance

Lands End

Bodmin Riding Heritage Day

Marazion

Lands End

Chapel Carn Brea

St Pirans Day

St Pirans Day – we usually team up with the  Whippletree band in the processions

Chepstow Wassail

The first All Hallows Dark Gathering 2014

We continue this journey in Part 2!

An Auspicious Dark Gathering in 2018

This year I took on extra responsibility in organizing The Dark Gathering as Cassandra needed help 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 and also arranged with village residents a ‘park and ride’ scheme so disabled folk would find it easier to get 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 in our lives and this has proved to be so.

At The Dark Gathering this year, our special guests were Wolfshead and Vixen Morris.  I looked forward to seeing them once again.

Image-Chris Hicks

The first dance performed by Wolfshead is known as ‘Four Seasons’. A person is often chosen to stand in the centre of the space while the men dance around them. I was delighted when Melanie, Vixen’s Squire chose me to stand in the centre. It brought back fond memories of the last time this occurred outside the King Arthurs Arms Tintagel in 2001.

Later that afternoon, Melanie invited me to join them performing my favourite dance Gemini. It’s a dance I have not forgotten in the fifteen years since I last performed with them. It is also a favourite of Beltane Border Morris.

I had no time to practice, so they performed it once and then invited me to join them for a repeat performance. As soon as the dance began, the fifteen years I had been apart from Vixen seemed to disappear. I danced every move as precisely then, as I had all those years ago.

Here is video footage of their dance and at the end, you can hear them inviting me to join them for a repeat performance.

The members of Vixen were amazed that I remembered it and pleased with our performance together. It was wonderful to receive a hug from each of them when the dance was over.

The last time I performed with Vixen in Boscastle outside the Museum was seventeen years ago on the twelfth of June 2001 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Fraudulent Mediums Act and Witchcraft Repeal.

Participating in this dance again gave me a wonderful and positive memory of my final Morris dance at The Dark Gathering and being with them again completed the circle. It is the most satisfying Morris dance I have performed at this event and I cannot thank them enough for that opportunity.

The Dark Gathering goes from strength to strength and has a protective energy that surrounds it. Long may it continue.

20th Year of a Magical Journey

A fabulous Samhain weekend is over and the Celtic new year begins. This marks twenty years of embarking on my personal spiritual path which is entirely different to the religion I was raised within. The excitement of my first awakening to a new spirituality will remain a prominent memory where I put aside past indoctrination and summoned the courage to explore an alternative path.

I once received a warning from a renowned Pagan man in London to watch out for “space cadets” and take my time finding the right path. It was an exciting period of my life and I was eager to acquire as much knowledge as possible and experience everything!

During the early days I worked alone and the rituals I performed were very familiar to me. After a year of personal study I took the step of self initiation and this was and still is the most important step of my development, a private dedication between myself and the ‘powers that be’.

After experiencing the energy one person could raise within a sacred space, I contemplated working within a group. I replied to an advertisement in the Pagan Dawn magazine that wanted to recruit new members for an Egyptian group. It was a different way of working and the energies raised were powerful. Two members of this group became genuine and constant friends that I am still in contact with. Whilst learning ritual within various groups I also taught a group of friends to perform rituals. I met them through teaching Reiki courses and discovered they were also interested in magical arts.

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Venturing into the Morris dancing world when I became a member of a team in Kent also introduced me to members of Wiccan groups and I began working within a Gardnarian group where the rituals were happy, joyful occasions. They met regularly at my place of residence where I learnt to set up a larger altar and prepare a space to accommodate five people.

2nd-altar-yule

After leaving this group I was initiated into an Alexandrian group that honoured Egyptian deities. The training and rituals were well structured and during my training, I discovered the Wiccan path originated from the 1950s. This was rather disappointing as I had been searching for the ancient ways rather than a modern belief system.

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After leaving the Alexandrian group, I replied to an advertisement asking for new members to join a “Cornish” Old Craft group. I suggested that maybe we could correspond and meet over a period of six years to see if I would be right for the group before moving to Cornwall. I moved during my thirteenth year of spiritual development and did not join the group after all when I met Cassandra Latham in 2009. I then found the Old Craft I had searched for. It is easier to connect with the energies of  land and sea here than in the busy outskirts of London. There are however some beautiful sites in Kent such as the Coldrum Stones that were situated a few miles away from my place of residence.

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Moving into a new community is not as easy as one thinks. Genuine people are few, but when you find them, they are invaluable. Others can be territorial and if they choose to dislike you, nothing you do or say will change this. I have learnt that it is not always important within a community how talented or capable a person is unless they associate with the right ‘clique’ or are born in the ‘right place’.  There are those however who allude to a ‘birth connection’ within Cornwall to feel more accepted, but I do not as I am proud to be a Kentish Maid.

When one is talented at their craft, they will meet interesting and genuine like-minded people who show support. Alternatively talent and success can also expose jealous detractors. Their aim is to project their own negative traits onto a ‘scapegoat’ to make life unpleasant and drive them away. If one finds themselves in this situation, it is vital to remember that only a person who is talented and has something worth coveting attracts this.

Cornwall has a variety of people. Some are genuine good- hearted souls who want to live a peaceful life and do all they can to help others without an ulterior motive. Some create a “fairy-tale image” and place more importance on ‘glamour’ but lack any real substance or power. Some will work under the guise of friendship for their own personal gain only and cast others aside when they are no longer useful. Some seek fame and fortune and try to discredit others that they consider a threat.

I believe the ‘demonic forces’ religions speak of are actually within the personalities of some who use and abuse belief systems to feed their own egos and gain power over others. It is sad these organizations scapegoat a spirit being rather than take 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.

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I am now accustomed to the seasons and changes of the energies.  I walked to the village church one evening 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 and to sit on 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 time. No matter where my journey in life takes me, I have fulfilled my childhood dream of living in Cornwall and learnt so much here.

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