Cassandra and I decided to host a Folk Magic workshop at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magicafter Simon Costin suggested we try it. Cassandra’s book Village Witch is stocked within the Museum retail outlet, a workshop provides the readers with more information on the subject where they can also interact and ask questions in person.
It was a glorious warm sunny day when we arrived. Simon had other commitments that day, however Fergus was around if we needed his assistance. It was also good to see Judith Noble who was overseeing the Artists Residency event that day.
We had a group of 18 attendees, all with either their own individual spiritual paths or not actively practicing but with a curiosity about Folk Magic.
Cassandra knows her Craft well, she has total connection with her audience and notes down a few ‘key words’ to outline subjects she wishes to cover. This makes the talk more spontaneous and much more interesting for listeners.
Cassandra is ‘down to earth’ which has moments of amusement keeping the audience entertained and also lifting the mood when discussing more serious aspects of the Craft.
After two hours of talking and discussion, we had a break for lunch, enjoying the warm sunshine and the sea air.
The group arrived back at the Museum after lunch and Cassandra guided them on a hedgerow walk near Minster Woods so they could harvest some greenery for their witch bottles. I stayed in the library updating our business accounts and searching for the video that Cassandra wished to play to the group.
On their return, the subject of spell casting and energy raising was also discussed. The following video was an example of how working women used chants while engaging in repetitive work that helped with the timing of movements and creating a bond between all workers. One member of our group made an interesting comment about the singing, as it would become apparent if one person grew weary which would mean they needed a break or a change of tempo.
After this I asked the group to move their chairs and form a large circle so that we could place all items for the witch bottles into the centre of the space. All group members could then help themselves to what they needed. Before they began, I suggested they held their jar or bottle between their hands for a few minutes to connect with the spirits and ancestors before their work began.
While filling their witch bottles there were many conversations occurring and sharing of greenery. We explained that their bottle would not be complete at the workshop, they would need to take it home, add a bodily fluid of their choice and seal the jar or bottle by placing a real wax candle on the lid so that the wax drips down over the seal. It can also be done by binding with twine, or a modern method of sticky tape (although we do not recommend the use of plastic.)
A few group members visited the Museum retail outlet and purchased Cassandra’s book Village Witch. When they returned they requested she signed them.
When the workshop was over and everything was back in place, I took another opportunity to sit on the fabulous Gothic chair in the library that once belonged to ‘Old Horny’ the goat God who now stands in the Museum.
Thank you to the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic for inviting us to host the workshop and to all who attended for being such a wonderful supportive group. I’m sure we will be seeing you all again.
“Had an absolute fantastic time at Cassandra and Laetitia Latham Jones’ Workshop at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic today. Learned so much, had a lot of laughs and discussions – it was total ‘amazeballs’! They truly are amazing and inspirational. Thank you both for such an awesome day of magick! Blessed be. xx” E.G.
“It was a fun, interesting and informative day. Cassandra is as entertaining as she is knowledgeable. Thank you both” C.M.
Wonderfully informative with humour and what a fabulous turn out! Cant wait to attend another one” M.E.
“We attended this first workshop and it was amazing, great people and great vibes, thank you everyone see you again!” M.H.
“Wonderful inspiring day with you all. Thank you Cassandra and Laetitia.” K.H.
“What a Wonderful day with beautiful people. Can’t wait to go back to bosscastle to go walking in minster woods. Thank you Cass, Tia for a day of knowledge and learning. Xx” P.O.
“We had a wonderful day lovely people and a great feel here yesterday x”
“I really loved it and look forward to the next one. Xxx💜xxX” G.W.
“I loved every moment of and loved the walk to collect wild flowers.” S.H.
“Can’t wait for the next one! Thank you Cassandra and Laetitia. Many new things heard and learnt. It felt very special. I’m only beginning to feel my way around ” spirit” but excited for the journey. Hope to see you all again soon.” C.D.
I have fond memories of my first visit to the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in 1996. I had not visited a venue related to the Occult before and was a little apprehensive but excited at the same time.
Museum of Witchcraft 1998
The Museum altered dramatically when Graham King took over as the new owner. On my next visit in 1998, the energy and display within was in complete contrast to what was there before. As I walked around the Museum reading the information about the artifacts, I was enchanted by the haunting repetition of the chants soundtrack.
As I neared Joan’s cottage, it evoked the same feeling as if one was approaching a real Wise Woman’s abode. The sound of the voice from within increased in volume as I turned the corner at the end of the corridor. It had a deep disconcerting tone…… a voice that came from someone not easily approachable but in dire circumstances one would need the courage to seek help. This was the voice of a person who knew their Craft well, one that you would not wish to upset for fear of the repercussions that would befall you.
I stood in the doorway listening carefully as I observed the cottage, the hearth, the real cats that were obviously ‘stuffed’ by a taxidermist, but there was an energy surrounding them as if their spirits were not far away. If you observe Joan long enough you can almost see her move while her fixed gaze remains on the crystal ball in front of her. As I stood there I contemplated what it would be like to live in a cottage like this and how an elderly woman would survive the winter months, whether she would manage enough work in order to live comfortably.
Before I left the Museum I inquired about the soundtrack and purchased one of the first cassette tapes from the shop. I listened to this tape frequently on returning home and thought about the woman who recorded the spells and charms. I had not met Cassandra at this time and her voice sounded older than her actual age, (the sign of a good actress) I could also tell that she was a smoker which evoked an image of Granny Boswell puffing on her pipe!
Little did I know what life had in store for me over the following 21 years!
So here I am, living in Cassandra’s cottage which was the inspiration for Joan’s cottage at the Museum of Witchcraft, I have been taught by the Wise Woman whose voice I first heard on the recording for the past ten years…… the ‘powers that be’ have taken me on an amazing unexpected and testing journey.
Last evening Cassandra and I produced the following video footage of her working by the hearth, while listening to the original soundtrack for Joan’s cottage at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic. We thought it would evoke wonderful memories for all who miss it, just as it does for me when I hear it. Enjoy!
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.
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 passed her snapper to me along with the position of main Teazer.
At this event I guided Penkevyll and also stood alongside her while the Wassail ceremonies took place. The meeting on the bridge is a little more energetic however as Penkevyll stood on the Welsh side with the Maris to meet the approaching English from the opposite side to meet at the centre of the bridge.
The St Pirans festival in March invites Penkevyll and Boekkato take part in their procession at Redruth. The procession is uphill and extra energy is required here when Teazing and interacting with the crowd as well as keeping an eye on Penkevyll’s antics.
The All Hallows Dark Gathering in Boscastle is now a popular event. During the afternoon I raise energy by moving to the music played for the Morris dancers (find Beltane’s music extremely powerful) and connect with spirits of place of land and sea at the wondrous harbour of Boscastle.
This year I also rode my Sea ‘Oss Morvargh during the afternoon accompanied by John and Sue Exton with their new Mari Seren. Dancing with Morvargh is also an ideal warm up for the Teazing of Penkevyll. Mole the Squire of Wreckers Morris invited Morvargh to dance alongside 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 her stable 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 wonderful sound of throbbing drumbeats meant it was time to appear with Penkevyll.
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 understands the Cornish energies and has an enquiring mind with welcome experience within 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 as my throat was rather dry. Susan and I thought the pwmco went better than expected, particularly as Susan had little notice before Vivien’s sudden illness.
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 fot 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 them which suited the event.
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.