Sabbats and Seasonal Festivals

The Dark Season of Samhain – Celtic New year

Ancient Origins of Samhain

Mythology and Folklore
Heathen Harvest
Celebrations
Cassandra and I attend our community celebrations, we travel to North Cornwall to organize the All Hallows Gathering in 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 Thursday

The Fearsome Legend of Krampus

Ancient Origins
Symbolism of Yuletide

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.
The following link will tell you more about this
Telegraph
Folklore of the Twelfth Night
Hypnogoria
The Old Winter Witches of Epiphany

The Ancient Art of Wassails

Tales of the Cocktail 

The Origin of Mumming

Why Christmas
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.

About Candlemas

Build Faith

Spiritual Meaning and Celebration of Imbolc

Guide to Spiritual Living

Origins of Valentines Day

The following links will explain the historical origins of Valentines Day and the Pagan festival.
History.com 
Witchology

Spring Equinox

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.

Spiritual Symbolism of Spring Equinox
Spiritual Sun.com
Celebration of Spring Equinox and Easter
No Beliefs.com
How Pagans celebrate the Spring Sabbat
Beliefnet.com

Autumn Equinox

This season and the falling autumn leaves reminds us of the wonderful release when letting go of things that no longer serve us, thoughts, negative relationships etc.

Belief.net

Autumn Equinox Celebration

Thoughtco

 

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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.

 

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.

 

Samhain Approaching

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.

28. Final Preparations

The renowned artist we were acquainted with since the Cornwall Conferences entered into a relationship with a young woman. She befriended him after his wife left and brought him out of his depression. 

View from Tintagel Cliiffs. Image - Telegraph

View from Tintagel Cliiffs. Image – Telegraph

His Tintagel Manor House is situated on the cliffs and I loved to look out over the sea from the lounge window. Although living in such a location can seem glamorous, the winter months are harsh with no shelter from the elements. The younger woman was also an artist but spoke often of her honours degrees and academic qualifications. She had letters after her name and used them on all her correspondences. My husband wondered why someone with a high level of qualifications would settle for the occupation of a poorly paid artist when she had the ability to pursue a lucrative career. Her artwork began to appear in the artist’s shop and my husband thought she used his popularity to publicize her own work. The artist was a kind relaxed man and the atmosphere was comfortable whenever we visited him. His partner however thought many of his friends ‘outstayed their welcome’ and began to change their social activity.

A female neighbour near Pendle cottage was a local councillor.  She suggested hosting a barbecue to introduce us to the neighbours, but I preferred to meet them in my own time. She spoke negatively of the area and the crime rate particularly burglaries that she assumed were committed by white Europeans. My husband assured her the crime rate in Cornwall was only a fraction compared to London. The young local boys were surprised that my son lived in Pendle cottage as it had a reputation for being haunted. They were nervous during their visits.

In September 2007 our friend from the Egyptian group visited us in Kent. He announced that he was moving to France with the rock band/commune and had entered into a relationship with a young female member of the group. His partner was understandably upset and I hoped we would all remain in contact. His return surprised me after his previous experience with them. Fortunately the relationship did not last as the commune leader controlled all his ‘wives’, and our friend returned to his partner.

I invited our landlord to one of our psychic development circles in Kent. He was aware of the unusual occurrences in the house as we had informed him that the burglar alarm activated during the night. I discovered the date of this incident was the second anniversary of his mother’s death. The landlord was curious to know if his mother had any messages for him. 

Image - Huffington Post

Image – Huffington Post

During meditation within the circle I sensed his mother’s arms around him. He later told me that he felt her hugging him without knowing I had sensed this. Group members provided messages and a description of his mother’s appearance and where she preferred to sit in the lounge. My Reiki student sensed her legs were weak and she used a walking stick. His mother approved of him renting her home to pay for her husband’s care. All the information given was accurate and the landlord left us feeling happy.

Image - Pinterest

Image – Pinterest

I heard via a social media site that the owners of St Nectan’s waterfall had put it on the property market. They hoped it would be purchased by someone who would not change it in any way.

Our next visit to Cornwall in October 2007 was during the school half term holiday. I volunteered to host the end of season Samhain ritual at St Nectans waterfall. My Reiki student and friend were eager to assist. I prepared invocations for them for setting up the space and they were also responsible for libations and distribution of small onyx crystals as gifts to each person attending. A friend of the artist had also offered to assist. His image was like the character of Merlin and I found him easy to converse with as he showed genuine concern about his friend’s problems even though he had some serious health problems of his own. 

It was a challenge transporting the ritual tools down the steep slate steps to the waterfall, but there were plenty of willing volunteers. When all was ready, we were joined by approximately sixty visitors. A couple who taught Karate in a residence near our cottage attended the ritual. I had contacted them as my son and I wished to continue our martial art training in Cornwall. The couple seemed spiritual as the man claimed to have North American Indian ancestors and their advertisement also gave that impression. My Reiki student and friend assisted setting up the space and as I was about to begin, both of them decided they were unable to invoke the quarters. They may have been nervous about the visitors, so I set up the circle in their place. During the ritual I asked all who were present to drop their ‘papers of regrets’ into the large cauldron  containing burning charcoals.

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The cauldron began to smoke and enveloped all who stood in the circle. I asked my husband to remove it and he carried it towards the waterfall where its contents suddenly burst into flames. The Karate master approached me after the ceremony as he saw eight cloaked figures observing us. His wife thought that her husband’s arm was around her during the ceremony and later realised his arms remained by his side. Many people sensed strong energies within the circle that night. The owner of the waterfall received positive feedback from all visitors. I did not ask for payment and was surprised that the owner did not thank us for providing it, but the happiness I felt working there and the spiritual occurences far outweighed all else.  Before departing, I thanked the Gods for their assistance and requested a suitable purchaser to appear.

During November 2007, I contemplated ending my psychic development circle. My husband was unhappy about the female members visiting weekly and made derogatory comments about them. I arranged for the circle to meet less frequently and my husband intimated that after our move it would be advisable to leave behind associations in Kent as they were no longer needed.

Living in Kent was not easy when I thought of our home in Cornwall.  I reunited with an old school friend. We both treated as different at school due to my parents’ religion and my friend had a disability. We formed a friendship at school and even created a dance to perform during the interval of a school pantomime and I was curious to find out how she had fared in life.  She was loud and excitable the first time she visited us and I discovered she had a family. I admired her for her accomplishments as she had not let her disability stop her from living a full life.  She was disappointed to discover I was moving to Cornwall but my husband was relieved about this as he was nervous around her.

My husband had another 18 months to work within the police force before retirement and he planned to commute from London to Cornwall for five days alternately during that period. We were rarely  apart during our 20 year marriage and this would be a test for both of us. 

 

New Years Eve Newquay. Image - Youtube

New Years Eve Newquay. Image – Youtube

We celebrated New Year’s Eve 2007 in Newquay. The locals wore fancy dress costumes and visited the town’s pubs and clubs. People of all ages gathered outside the Central public house at midnight. Some shared Prosecco in plastic cups with us which brought everyone together. 

At the beginning of 2008 our move was not far away and we had visited Cornwall 15 times during 2007. My college friend moved to Australia and as she had not been in contact with me, she still had my statue of Sekhmet in her possession. I was unsure if I would see her again as it was a long distance for a return visit.  My move to Cornwall was 300 miles away from Kent and not the other side of the world which put the distance I would travel in perspective. 

 

Image - Daily Mail

Image – Daily Mail

 My son studied for his GCSE exams and I taught Reiki courses and hosted psychic circles up until the day of the move. My son’s mock exam results were high and we were optimistic about his success. My mother in law assumed his intellect would not amount to much and I advised him to ignore her opinion and achieve his goals for himself rather than anyone else. I told both of my children that all that mattered was they worked to the best of their ability and would be loved no matter what the outcome.

We did not attend the 2008 Devon and Cornwall Conference as we had to prepare for our move. Our former Morris team performed on that occasion and we would also miss that. I often thought of the Conference during that weekend and when Saturday evening arrived I wondered if the wise woman noticed my absence, but assumed she would be far too busy.   

The urgency to move away from the negative energies in Kent made the first half of 2008 pass slowly. We spent the Easter holiday in Cornwall and attended the Pagan moot in Bodmin. There was an open ritual, but the priestess who offered to transport me to the site was unable to attend due to exhaustion from an initiation on Good Friday’s full Moon so I celebrated alone at Pendle cottage.

My psychic circle in Kent ceased as the members were unable to commit regularly and were also aware I would soon be moving away. One of the members offered to continue the circle at her place of residence but this did not last. 

My mother in law announced to the family she had a male companion. She had known him for about 3 years, but thought it appropriate to wait a while longer after the death of her husband before announcing it.  We invited them to dinner and I hoped my mother in law would behave better in the company of her new companion. No sooner had they entered the house she spoke of my husband working in London before his retirement. She stated that I would contact him every ten minutes as I would not know his whereabouts!  I rose above the comments directed my way. I missed the relationship with my first mother in law and was pleased to move away from my this one. My son was horrified that someone his Grandmother’s age had a boyfriend as most youngsters are. I discovered my first mother in law passed away as a friend had noticed the obituary in a local newspaper. I would have sent flowers for her but my husband advised against it as he thought my former husband and his third wife would not view it as a heartfelt gesture. 

Our moving date to Cornwall was on the twelfth of June 2008. It would fall on the 57th anniversary of the witchcraft repeal and the 7th anniversary of our Hand-fasting. The date was already a memorable one and we would soon be travelling to Cornwall to stay.

20. Networking

There were two bereavements within in my family, my Uncle passed away in 2002 and my brother in 2003. I was unaware of my Uncle’s passing due to no contact with family and missed the funeral. Close friends informed me of his passing and I contacted the undertakers who informed me the funeral took place the previous week. I visited the cemetry alone with a bouquet of flowers and laid them upon his grave.

Image - Panoramio

Image – Panoramio

My father contacted me when my brother passed away and I attended his funeral.  I did not attend the wake as many church members were there supporting my parents. I returned home and performed a solitary Requiem for him.

Image - Trewarden

Image – Trewarden

At Samhain my husband and I visited St Nectan’s waterfall to experience the ‘lighting of a thousand candles’. It was the final evening before the waterfall closed to the public at the end of tourist season. 

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We owned a fabulous sports car, a Hyundai mark 1 F2 model. It had a black exterior and interior with black leather seats.  I referred to it as my ‘bat-mobile’ and my husband had purchased the silhouette of a bat for the rear window as a birthday gift. We left Kent at midday on Samhain and stopped half way through the journey at a petrol station. I entered the shop to use their lavatory and the door was locked. While waiting I heard a rustling sound and assumed the occupant was reading a newspaper. After some time I became concerned about the occupant and knocked on the door to check that all was well. As I did so the door opened and the lavatory was empty. My son referred to it as the “haunted toilet” when we passed on our journeys to Cornwall.  The three hundred mile journey took only three and a half hours this time.

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We arrived at St Nectan’s waterfall by early evening and it was raining heavily.  We sat in the small meditation room waiting for the rain to ease.  More visitors arrived and joined us in the meditation room, two of them were women who were about sixty years of age wearing identical rain coats and head scarves.  I assumed they were twin sisters but after conversing with them discovered they were not.  I dressed for the occasion in a black hooded cloak and my son wore his wizard’s hat and cloak. 125-p-j

When the rain began to ease, we carefully descended the steep slate steps to the bottom of the waterfall. Each visitor was given ten tea light candles to place within the cavities and on ledges of the rock face. The ambience of the waterfall and the flickering candles were wonderful. The candles did not total one thousand that evening as there were only twenty visitors but two hundred candles created a beautiful scene. I heard the powerful roar of the waterfall and also singing. I followed the voices and saw the two sisters I conversed with earlier who had removed their coats and stood by their flickering candles near the waterfall.  I heard their voices clearly despite the rushing water.  A while later they seemed to have disappeared and when I enquired about them no one had seen them leave. 

Image - Tripadvisor

Image – Tripadvisor

There is a gravestone by the waterfall where two sisters are buried. Could it be that on Samhain night the spirit of the two sisters who sang so beautifully may have returned?

When it was time to leave, we realized that we had no torch. My husband thought the glen too precarious to walk through in darkness, therefore the narrow lane behind the glen would be safer. We walked slowly in the darkness and as in one part of the lane, I noticed a misty white figure to our left. My husband could also see it in the same place which confirmed my eyes did not deceive me. My son had a tight hold on the back of his father’s coat and we laughed like children riding a ghost train until we emerged from the lane to the car park. We began our journey home and arrived during the early hours of the following morning. What an adventure!

Image - Pagan Mag

Image – Pagan Mag

The Lammas edition of the Pagan Dawn magazine contained an article and photographs of the Eastbourne folk festival including our performance with the Morris team.  I also noticed an advertisement in the contacts section for new members to join a Cornish Traditional Witchcraft group. Experiences of Kent magical groups deterred me from working with another, but this was a Cornish group. An opportunity such as this would not often present itself often and could be where my development was leading me. It would also be deeply rooted within Cornish ways that I had searched for. I sent an email to the address provided, expressing an interest in joining the group. I explained about my future move to Cornwall in six years time and my yearly visits there. This would enable them to get to know me via correspondence and meetings during visits to Cornwall. I included sufficient information concerning my life and magical development and eagerly awaited their reply.

October Harvesting

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.

autumn-2016-1

 

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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.

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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.