Handfasting Celebrants November 2018

Cassandra and I have been so busy of late with events and also work. Today we were asked to conduct a Handfasting at Boscawen-un stone circle. The couple decided to take this step on their 20th wedding anniversary. We became acquainted when they attended the All Hallows Dark Gathering in Boscastle and discovered that some aspects of our lives had synchronicity.

The weather was dry and cloudy with a slight chill of the forthcoming winter weather. Today was All Souls Day and the presence of the ancestors could be felt within the stillness of the air.

 

As Cassandra spoke of the ancestors and spirit loved ones witnessing the Handfasting rite, a murmuration of starlings flew over the circle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A special thank you to our lovely neighbours Jackie and Lottie for assisting us and capturing some wonderful images of Kim and Tony’s special day. We then joined the couple for a celebratory drink and a meal in our local St Buryan Inn.

Feedback:

“We simply cannot thank Laetitia and Cassandra enough for The Handfasting Ceremony they performed for us. We can honestly say that it was the most romantic, magical and memorable moment in our lives. Anyone who is considering “Tying The Knot”, look no further than Laetitia and Cassandra. From advice to reassurance, nothing is too much trouble. Thank you so much for everything that you have done for us. Wonderful, warm knowledgeable  Wise Women xxx” Kim and Tony

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Harvest Home in St Buryan 2018

Yesterday evening we attended the Harvest Home auction in our wonderful pub the St Buryan Inn. We arrived early to dine there, Cassandra reserved a table along with Vanda our Rector. While having our meal we were able to update one another on recent work as Vanda takes great interest in the varied spiritual events that occur in all areas of Cornwall.

It was not long before we were joined by other friends and local residents within the village before the auction began.

Local produce filled the table and it was wonderful to see three pumpkins as they have been absent for the past two years.

Our local resident Pauline bakes wonderful Cornish pasties, she provides a few smaller ones, but the giant pasty is awaited at the end of each auction as it is understandably purchased at a high price.

The pub was full of locals and there was a happy friendly atmosphere within our community.

 

 

I also purchased my first pumpkin from the auction as Cassandra usually does so each year if any are available.

Barry our wonderful caller does well each year and Penzance Food Bank will receive £354 from this superb event.

A Winter Handfasting 2018

We first met Karyl when she travelled from the U.S. with a group of friends to venture out on a Walk with Wisewomen two years ago.

This time she returned with her partner and requested we Handfast them both. January has had frequent stormy weather, gale force winds and heavy hail showers due to the icy temperatures.

Karyl requested that we conduct the ceremony in Cassandra’s wise woman cottage. This is only the 2nd occasion this has occurred as many years ago a couple from Denmark unexpectedly called on Cassandra requesting a ceremony. She asked them to return in an hour so that she could have time for preparation.

This time the ceremony was booked in advance. John Isaac our wonderful friend and photographer captured beautiful images of the occasion. The cottage is small so it was fortunate that the couple had only the presence of two good friends to support them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lammas Reflections 2017

The summer of 2017 consisted of a hot weather in June, July and August were surprisingly cooler with a considerable amount of rain. The corn collected for the construction of dolls had a different texture from the previous year. Some of the local farmers harvested earlier due to extra moisture.

We had a busy summer work-wise and spent time contemplating our harvest resulting from the year’s projects.

Our group met during the evening of Lammas to constructed new dolls and Brigid crosses.

Image – John Isaac

We then ventured out into the local fields of St Buryan to build a fire and burn our old corn dolls and crosses. It was a beautiful moonlit night with hardly a breeze. As each member of the group placed their corn in the fire we had time to reflect on the year that had passed, sacrifices we made and the lessons or rewards reaped as a result.

Image – John Isaac

 

Image- John Isaac

The flames and embers from a fire are hypnotic. This provides an ideal setting for scrying as many moving shapes are formed by the flames and smoke.

Conjuring and drawing energies from the fire and earth below, the moon and sky above,  the eyes of the elementals surrounding and observing along with the company of the ancient ones creates a powerful potency to draw upon and work with.

 

There was no better way to celebrate the harvest of our creativity throughout the spring and summer of 2017.

 

Our St Buryan Community

I moved to St Buryan in 2010 and Cassandra introduced me to some of the local residents that frequent the St Buryan Inn. She often referred to the pub as “her office” due to conversing with the community who may require her services. The other residents who do not frequent the pub I met at events and occasional church services conducted by our lovely Reverend Canon Vanda Perret. Cassandra and I often visit the Rectory for a cup of tea and a ‘catch up’ with Vanda and Bob.

The following video footage is an example of one of many evenings we spend in the St Buryan Inn listening to the St Buryan Male Voice Choir or the Cape Cornwall Singers. Many of the adults there Cassandra remembers as small children who now have children and grandchildren of their own. It is heartwarming to see many of the residents enjoying themselves.

You can see me in the following video (wearing a white shirt)  participating in  the singing. Cassandra usually sings along too but on this occasion she stood on a chair holding the video camera.

 

The following information about our village is fascinating:

St Buryan. Image – Alsia Mill

“The village of St Buryan is situated approximately five miles (8 km) from Penzance along the B3283 towards Lands End. Three further minor roads also meet at St Buryan, two link the village with the B3345 towards Lamorna and the third rejoins the A30 at Crows-an-Wra.

St Buryan parish encompasses the villages of St. Buryan, Lamorna, and Crows-an-wra and shares boundaries with the parishes of Sancreed and St Just to the north, Sennen and St Levan (with which it has close ties) to the west, with Paul to the east and by the sea in the south. An electoral parish also exists stretching from Land’s End to the North Cornish Coast but avoiding St Just. The population of this ward at the 2011 census was 4,589.

Named after the Irish Saint Buriana, the parish is situated in an area of outstanding natural beauty and is a popular tourist destination. It has been a designated conservation area since 1990 and is near many sites of special scientific interest in the surrounding area.

The parish is dotted with evidence of Neolithic activity, from stone circles and Celtic crosses to burial chambers and ancient holy wells. The village of St Buryan itself is also a site of special historic interest, and contains many listed buildings including the famous grade I listed Church. The bells of St Buryan Church, which have recently undergone extensive renovation, are the heaviest full circle peal of six anywhere in the world. The parish also has a strong cultural heritage.

Many painters of the Newlyn School including Samuel John “Lamorna” Birch were based at Lamorna in the south of the parish. St Buryan Village Hall was also the former location of Pipers Folk Club, created in the late 1960s by celebrated Cornish singer Brenda Wootton. Today St Buryan is a prominent local centre housing many important amenities.

The area surrounding St Buryan was in use by humans in Neolithic times, as is evident from their surviving monuments. A mile (1.6 km) to the north of St Buryan lies Boscawen-Un, a neolithic stone circle containing 19 stones around a leaning central pillar. The circle is also associated with two nearby standing stones or menhirs. Although somewhat overgrown, the site can be reached by travelling along the A30 west of Drift and is only a few hundred metres south of the road. A more accessible stone circle, The Merry Maidens, lies 2 miles (3 km) to the south of the village in a field along the B3315 toward Land’s End. This much larger circle comprises nineteen granite megaliths some as much as 1.4 metres (4 ft 7 in) tall, is approximately 24 metres (79 ft) in diameter and is thought to be complete. Stones are regularly spaced around the circle with a gap or entrance at its eastern edge. The Merry Maidens are also called Dawn’s Men, which is likely to be a corruption of the Cornish Dans Maen, or Stone Dance. The local myth about the creation of the stones suggests that nineteen maidens were turned into stone as punishment for dancing on a Sunday. The pipers’ two megaliths some distance north-east of the circle are said to be the petrified remains of the musicians who played for the dancers. This legend was likely initiated by the early Christian Church to prevent old pagan habits continuing at the site.

Like Stonehenge and other stone monuments built during this period the original purpose of such stone circles is unknown, although there is strong evidence that they may have been ceremonial or religious sites. Many other lone standing stones from the neolithic period can be seen around the parish, at sites including Pridden, Trelew, Chyangwens and Trevorgans. In addition to menhirs there are 12 stone crosses within the parish, including two fine examples in St Buryan itself, one in the churchyard, and the other in the centre of the village. These take the form of a standing stone, sometimes carved into a Celtic cross but more often left roughly circular with a carved figure on the face. It is thought that many of these are pagan in origin, dating from the Neolithic and later periods, but were adapted by the early Christian church to remove evidence of the previous religion. These crosses are often remote and mark/protect ancient crossing points. Other examples in the parish can be found at Crows-an-Wra, Trevorgans and Vellansaga.

After a period of decline during the twentieth century, which saw a reduction in the village’s population, culminating in the loss of a blacksmiths, the local dairy, the village butchers and a café in the early nineties, St Buryan has been enjoying a renaissance, fuelled in part by an influx of new families. The local school has been expanded to include a hall and a fourth classroom and a new community centre has recently been built nearby.

In common with other settlements in the district such as Newlyn and Penzance, the post-war period saw the building of a council estate to the west of the village on land formerly part of Parcancady farm. The development was meant to provide affordable housing at a time of short supply in the post-war years. The estate subsequently expanded westward in the nineteen eighties and nineties. In the last census return, St Buryan parish was reported as containing contains 533 dwellings housing 1,215 people, 1,030 of which were living in the village itself.

St Buryan Church. Image – Geograph

A church has stood on the current site since ca. 930 AD, built by King Athelstan in thanks for his successful conquest of Cornwall on the site of the oratory of Saint Buriana (probably founded in the 6th century). The Charter from Athelstan endowed the building of collegiate buildings and the establishment of one of the earliest monasteries in Cornwall, and was subsequently enlarged and rededicated to the saint in 1238 by Bishop William Briwere. The collegiate establishment consisted of a dean and three prebendaries. Owing to the nature of the original Charter from King Athelstan, the parish of St Buryan was long regarded as a Royal Peculiar thus falling directly under the jurisdiction of the British monarch as a separate diocese, rather than the Church. This led to several hundred years of arguments between The Crown and the Bishop of Exeter over control of the parish, which came to a head in 1327 when blood was shed in the churchyard, and in 1328 St Buryan was excommunicated by the Bishop. St Buryan was not reinstated until 1336. Only two of the King’s appointed Deans appear to have actually lived in the diocese of St Buryan for more than a few months, and the combination of these factors led to the subsequent ruinous state of the church in 1473. The church was subsequently rebuilt and enlarged, the tower was added in 1501 and further expansion took place in the late 15th and 16th centuries when the bulk of the present church building were added. Further restoration of the interior took place in 1814, and the present Lady Chapel was erected in 1956. The church is currently classified as a Grade I listed building. The Deanery was annexed in 1663 to the Bishopric of Exeter after the English Civil War, however, it was again severed during the episcopacy of Bishop Harris , who thus became the first truly independent dean. The current diocese holds jurisdiction over the parishes of St Buryan, St Levan, and Sennen. St Buryan church is famous for having the heaviest peal of six bells in the world, and a recent campaign to restore the church’s bells, which had fallen into disuse, has enabled all six to be rung properly for the first time in decades. The church has four 15th century misericords, two either side of the chancel, each of which shows a plain shield.

Like much of the rest of Cornwall, St Buryan has many strong cultural traditions. The first Cornish Gorsedd (Gorseth Kernow) in over one thousand years was held in the parish in the stone circle at Boscawen-Un on 21 September 1928. The procession, guided by the bards of the Welsh Gorsedd and with speeches mostly in Cornish was aimed at promoting Cornish culture and literature. The modern Gorsedd has subsequently been held nine times in the parish including on the fiftieth anniversary, both at Boscawen-Un and at The Merry Maidens stone circle. There is also a regular Eisteddfod held in the village.

St Buryan is the home of a wise woman, Cassandra Latham. In 1996 Cassandra Latham (now Cassandra Latham -Jones)  was appointed as the first-ever Pagan contact for hospital patients. Within one year she was having so many requests for her services that she became a self-employed “witch” and was no longer financially supported by the government.

The feast of St Buriana is celebrated on the Sunday nearest to 13 May (although the saint’s official day is 1 May) consisting of fancy dress and competitions for the children of the village and usually other entertainments later in the evening. In the summer there are also several other festivals, including the agricultural preservation rally in which vintage tractor, farm equipment, rare breed animals and threshing demonstrations are shown as well as some vintage cars and traction engines. This is currently being hosted at Trevorgans Farm and is traditionally held on the last Saturday of July.

St Buryan is twinned with Calan in Morbihan, Brittany.

Wikipedia

St Pirans Weekend 2017

This weekend has been an eventful one as the celebrations of St Piran the patron Saint of tin miners is an important yearly event.

Cassandra and I participated in the St Piran Furry, playing music with the Golowan Band. 600 school children processed and danced throughout the town of Penzance. They later sang in Morrab Gardens by the bandstand. It is wonderful that children are taught the Cornish traditions to ensure their continuation throughout the generations.

Image - Fran Duke

Image – Fran Duke

 

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We also took Penkevyll the Lands End ‘Oss to the St Pirans celebration in Redruth. Cassandra has handed on the role of Teazer to me as she now wishes to put her energy into the percussion within the band. The showers and high winds did not dampen the festival spirit.

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On the actual St Piran’s Day we enjoyed a beautiful roast dinner and a bottle of Pinot wine in our local pub the St Buryan Inn.

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Later that afternoon we attended the yearly St Piran’s event at the village hall, where all residents gather for cream teas. It was enlightening to converse with the locals, answering any questions they had and listening to their opinions on local events. The residents in the village put a huge amount of effort into organizing their own events connected with the village church.

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A delicious end to a wonderful weekend.

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Harvest Home Auction 2016

Each year the local village pub hosts the Harvest Home auction. This year it was on 26th September and it was a very wet, windy evening. The farmers bring some of their produce to the Buryan Inn for auction and the money is given to a different charity.  This year it was for St Petroc and Breadline

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There were large cabbages, marrows, onions, leeks and squashes, many apples and beautiful fruits set out on three adjoining tables.

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Cassandra has attended this local event for about 35 years as she would purchase her pumpkin for Samhain. Unfortunately last year no pumpkins were available and in the last few years there were few to go around, so solitary ones were sold to the highest bidder. Fortunately we are acquainted with a local resident who grows and nurtures a regular supply of beautiful pumpkins, so we now purchase our pumpkins from him.

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Julian or Barry are fun auctioneers so the evenings are full of humor.  Two handsome farmers are usually the “glamorous assistants” to hold up the produce and take them to the highest bidders.

Pauline is a fabulous baker of the local pasties and this year her 15 inch long pasty was up for auction and was purchased for £40!

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This particular evening marks the turning of the season from summer to autumn gathering the produce in readiness for the cooler weather in the months ahead.

£480 was raised for charity.