Cassandra and I attend our community celebrations, we travel to North Cornwall to organize the All Hallows Gatheringin Boscastle. The event is occurs outside the wonderful Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (and this is the ONLY SEASONAL EVENT we are associated with In Boscastle) on the weekend leading up to or on Samhain.
Early in the evening at Samhain we begin our personal celebration in the village of St Buryan when local residents escort their children around the village for ‘Trick or Treating’ and they visit a real Wise Woman’s cottage. We also visit the St Buryan Inn for a celebratory drink before the preparations for our private group celebration at midnight. It is indeed an active time in the spiritual and physical worlds as the Celtic year ends but it is extremely rewarding.
I will conclude this post by wishing you all a joyous Samhain and a prosperous and successful new Celtic year.
The Sublime and Sinister Sides of Yuletide Customs
Although the traditions and rituals of Christmas have evolved through the centuries, many of them have remarkably ancient origins linked to the midwinter festivals of Yule and Saturnalia and the hope of renewed life as the days lengthen with the promise of spring.
Folklore Customs of Twelfth Night and the Epiphany
The one thing guaranteed to elicit the strongest opinions this first week of January is the debate over which day to take down your Christmas tree and decorations. Is it Saturday 5 January, or Sunday 6 January? And what happens if you leave them up for longer? Are you really struck down with bad luck for the rest of the year as the superstition goes?
One thing’s for sure – everyone does it differently, and everyone has their own ideas.
Read more about the Chepstow Wassail tradition and enjoy your Wassails wherever you are!
Candlemas and Imbolc
The mistletoe hung at Yuletide has now lost its fresh green leaves and berries, but the brown dried remnants still hold the energy of the wonderful season of Yule. It is still working, bringing good fortune to the home until the season returns again. We have now approached the time of Imbolc and Candlemas.
Springtime arrives and with it the season of fertility represented by eggs, rabbits and flowers in bloom. The better weather encourages people to spring clean their homes, clearing out things that are no longer needed as we bid farewell to the long winter. New life, hopes and projects await us and the sun has returned.
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 Boekkato 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We have had a considerable amount of rain this October accompanied by the winds of Ophelia and Brian stirring up the seas in West Cornwall creating spectacular scenes. The winds have also assisted the trees disrobing their dead leaves as a reminder that we too to need to shed all that no longer benefits us.
The darker time of year beckons and the presence of our ancestors can be felt. We are nearing the end of the Celtic year and our thoughts turn inwards to the spiritual and physical changes within ourselves and how they will affect our destiny. We can plan our future to a certain extent, but life is unpredictable and the ‘topsy turvy’ energies, particularly in Cornwall, can turn our well made plans upon their heads and life then takes us in a completely different direction.
It was a wet and misty day today when Cassandra and I visited Lamorna late in the afternoon to purchase our pumpkins. A local resident grows, nurtures and sells them on the boundary of his property. The following image is one I captured last year during drier weather.
The journey to Lamorna valley is a wonderful experience. We pass the Merry Maidens stone circle which today was shrouded in mist. There were ‘walkers’ enjoying the atmospheric weather and silhouetted figures walking around the stones which added to the mystique!
The Lamorna woodland is particularly glorious at this time of year with its autumnal colours, crisp fallen leaves and the mist swirling around the trees.
The sublime scenery adds to the pleasure of each journey and deepens our connection with the changing seasons.
As we all prepare for our forthcoming Samhain celebrations, I send you all good wishes and hope that the new Celtic Year reflects back to you all the energy and intent that you have sent out to others.
October is a significant time of year as Samhain approaches and the year comes to a close.
Our seasonal pumpkins are chosen with careful contemplation. The energies of these beautiful vegetables are extremely important, therefore locally grown produce is a must.
It was a yearly tradition to purchase our pumpkins at the Harvest Home auction hosted by the local public house. In the last few years the pumpkins have been few or at times been absent from these auctions.
We now have an alternative adventure. We travel along the winding lanes deep into the valley of Lamorna where a local resident sells his pumpkins at the threshold of his home.
A wonderful part of residing in a village community is that produce of other items are displayed outside one’s home along with a jar for payment. This shows trust and faith in people’s good nature and many would not consider abusing this provision. This creates positive energies for the season.
It is now time to prepare the vegetables, dust off the seasonal decorations and gather ritual items as we await the closing of a productive year.