Boekka’s 7th Year

The Boekka Guise team has experienced many changes since it first began in 2010. A change in appearance meant the Teazers who wore face masks changed to face blacking for disguise as it is easier to wear and traditional for Guise performers.  Penkevyll has had two changes of tatter and ribbon colours and now wears the traditional Cornish colours of black, white and gold.
We attempted to combine a Morris side with Boekka’s ‘Oss and Teazers as my son (our first rider) was eager to teach a Morris team. We had however heard from an experienced Morris dancer that when a group number exceeds 7 members, the group dynamics change and problems can occur. We found this to be the case, especially when our recruits joined for reasons other than dancing abilities, so it was not surprising that they were not members for long. We discovered it is not easy to recruit Morris dancers in West Cornwall as most local musicians and dancers prefer to participate in Cornish traditional performance and for some reason Morris dancing is considered an ‘English’ pursuit.  Boekka then reverted to a Cornish ‘Oss and Teazer team only and this works well.
We have three riders for Penkevyll the ‘Oss, two are local and the other lives further away. The rider who lives the farthest attended Sidmouth festival with his Morris team and then continued his journey to Cornwall to visit us. It was an ideal opportunity to get two of our riders together to practice with Penkevyll and the rider with more experience gave the newer one advice on ways of moving the ‘Oss to give her personality and character.
We also took the opportunity to photograph Penkevyll (Cassandra’s ‘Oss) and Morvargh (my ‘Oss) together.

 

I also had time for Teazing practice with Penkevyll. The energy of the ‘Oss is fast and wild and the Teazer blends with this energy incorporating fast, wild and ‘earthed’ movements.  Slow movement with the ‘Oss can still have an edge but needs to be done in a certain way and Cassandra is the only Teazer who has accomplished this judging by other performances I have seen.

 

 

This practice coincided with Boekka’s 7th Birthday, so we had a celebration together with Prosecco and cake.

 

After practice we spent the evening in our local pub the St Buryan Inn for music, singing and dancing which the locals and tourists enjoyed. Some of them moved from the lounge bar to the public one to listen and join in with dancing and singing.

 

 

We had a wonderful afternoon and evening. It is good to now have three riders (as well as my son who rode in the past) who not only respect but understand the spirit of Penkevyll. Boekka is now a small but happy group with good energies. Long may it last.

 

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33. The Interview

During our visit to Kent, I arranged to meet with my Reiki student and friend at a restaurant. She was teaching Reiki and magical ritual to a woman I was introduced to that evening. It was encouraging to see my Reiki student go on to teach others to use their spiritual abilities. My friends were concerned about my apparent weight loss and sensed problems within my relationship. Although I missed my friends in Kent,  life was about to undergo dramatic change in Cornwall. The following day I travelled home without the company of another driver and it seemed as though the car had wings and the ‘pull’ of the land was still strong for me.

I sent an email to the wise woman on my return giving feedback on the Montol festival. I received a prompt reply as we now shared an interest that she was passionate about. The wise woman explained that she needed a break after the exertion of Montol and suggested we arranged an interview at the beginning of the new year.

Image - Pinterest

Image – Pinterest

My husband and I attended a Yuletide ritual hosted by the Bodmin moot.  There I met a buxom gothic woman and I enquired about the ‘gothic scene’ in Cornwall.  There were no events locally for mature ‘goths’  that she was aware of and spoke of the time she attended a nightclub where she was surrounded by gothic teenagers and she was the only middle aged person there!  

Old London Stone. Image - Tripadvisor

Old London Stone. Image – Tripadvisor

I spoke of a New Year’s Eve event I attended that was hosted by the London Vampire group at the Old London Stone Pub.  I enjoyed this and hoped to find something similar in Cornwall.

Jamaica Inn Bodmin

Jamaica Inn Bodmin

I later discovered  there were Halloween events at the Jamaica Inn that my Merlin friend had attended, but tickets for the event were quite expensive.

During the moot Yuletide ritual, the priestess’ female dog was ‘in season’ and very affectionate. My husband had worked hard at the cottage and still wore his working clothes and the dog followed him  detecting the odour of perspiration. The moot members stood in a circle for a short meditation and when we opened our eyes the dog had wrapped her front paws around my husband’s leg attempting to copulate with him. The group were amused and my husband jested that out of all the attractive women in the room the dog was the only female that approached him!

Image - Young House Love

Image – Young House Love

A basket containing gifts donated by group members was passed around the room and the gift I chose contained small red and green Yuletide candles.  I told the priestess about my forthcoming interview to train as Teazer and it pleased her I was getting involved with Cornish events. The Pagans in Bodmin thought west penwith a long way away and I discovered that even a 10 minute drive was viewed a long journey by some. My husband agreed that we would be travelling many miles making the journey from mid to west Cornwall for regular rehearsals.

My interview with the wise woman was arranged for the 26th of January 2009 at midday. I had mixed feelings about it as I looked forward to meeting her, but was still a little concerned about the incident at the Conference. My husband transported me to the village by car as this area was unknown. The directions given were detailed and the journey of 40 miles took just under an hour. I requested that I attend the interview alone as my husband  frequently interrupted  conversations. He agreed and decided to explore Penzance until 4pm.

St Buryan

St Buryan

We travelled along the A30 towards Lands End and took a left turning into a two-mile lane that led to the village. We were surrounded by fields, stone crosses and milestones. I noticed the tall village church in the distance and marvelled at the landscape surrounding it.

Image - Megalithic

Image – Megalithic

 I  had a vision of finding a property in a place that was tucked away and difficult to find. My husband stopped the car at the chapel car park and I immediately saw the small gravel pathway leading to the cottage. He asked whether I was comfortable seeing the wise woman alone as I had not conversed during the journey, but this was something I had to do alone. I crossed the road towards the pathway and as I neared the cottage, I heard music that I recognized as the band at the Montol festival. I assumed the wise woman played this music to focus herself for the interview. I was not partial to band music at this time, but enjoyed folk music I heard at festivals with the Morris team.

The conservatory door was open and I used a small brass door knocker in the shape of a horse on the front door  which was just below a beautiful stain glass window. I knocked hoping she could hear me above the music. The traditional witch and partner described her as a feisty woman who did not ‘suffer fools gladly’ and I wished to make a good impression. The wise woman opened the door, greeting me with a wide smile which relaxed me a little. She invited me in and gestured towards a small padded chair with an embroidered labyrinth maze on the back. The wise woman brewed some tea which gave me an opportunity to take in the surroundings. A large granite inglenook hearth had old, well used magical tools upon it and nearby a small book-shelf  contained a huge variety of fascinating books. The centre of the room was clean and tidy, but I was aware of a thick layer of dust on shelves and many cobwebs between the beams and the corners of the room. She explained that cobwebs and dust were part of the décor and was unashamed of it. I asked her the age of the cottage and she abruptly stated there were more important things to discuss and we would talk about the cottage later. The wise woman spoke of the local festivals and the ‘Oss, explaining that in the spring of 2008 the original ‘Oss rider grew tired of political matters within the festival and left taking his ‘Oss at short notice. She was his Teazer for 17 years and the rider left 2 months before the festival and another ‘Obby ‘Oss was urgently needed. She asked for assistance from the traditional witch and partner to create another ‘Oss which took some time when done correctly. They formed a ‘cooperative’ and also created other ‘Oss related merchandise to sell and make a contribution to funds for the festival.

Meanwhile, another festival member acquired a horse’s head and he rushed the preparation which affected the skull’s appearance and the odour was unpleasant. He planned to have his ‘Oss ready for the festival and asked a female Cornish dancer to be his Teazer. He tactlessly suggested the wise woman retired from Teazing.  He then rode his ‘Oss at Mazey Eve 2008 and when the wise woman’s ‘Oss was ready later in the year she suggested they share appearances. The other rider refused to compromise and insisted he was the only festival ‘Oss. The committee however allowed both ‘Osses to perform and there had been difficulties with the sharing of events that she described as tiresome. The wise woman assured me I would not be involved in the political side, only the performance. I was amazed to discover that she had a metal rod in her spine due to surgery for scoliosis as she had danced for years. There were more riders needed for the ‘Oss and I suggested my husband and son as they were both physically strong and may be interested. I was sure that my son would love to be involved as he had a fascination in the past for the wooden ‘Osses at folk festivals. The wise woman was delighted to hear this and suggested I viewed some video footage of the festivals.  I accompanied her to the bedroom which was bright and airy with yellow walls and brown wooden beams. Her wooden bed was covered in a blue ‘throw’ with a black Celtic design. I sat upon the chair at the desk and she activated the computer. The video footage was similar to Montol and gave me insight on Mazey Eve and Mazey day. Throughout the afternoon I noticed that she frequently rolled and smoked cigarettes. I had heard her voice before on the recording from the Witchcraft Museum used for the display of Joan’s cottage and I purchased one of their first cassette tapes. Her loud laugh at the end of the recording was that of a smoker, so this habit did not surprise me. I disliked cigarette smoke and even though I was attracted to her, this habit put me off a little. The wise woman wore a sweatshirt with a ‘Neighbourhood Witch’ motif on it and a thick cardigan. She had two hot water bottles, one placed behind the small of her back and the other on her lap.  I wore less than that and she asked if I was cold but I felt quite comfortable with both her cats that had positioned themselves on each knee.

After discussing rehearsals and festivals, I gave her more information about myself. She asked my age and my reply surprised her as she thought I was at least 10 years younger.  I spoke about my life and the religious indoctrination plus other childhood experiences. The wise woman could relate to it all and she had also married a policeman in her distant past. She would be someone I could talk to and have the ability to understand having experienced similar. Our views on relationships and sexuality matched and I explained the arrangement in my relationship and noticed a change in her expression. There was also a moment during our discussion when she asked if I could be wicked. The way I answered the wise woman caused her to laugh loudly and her blue eyes twinkled with delight. At Conferences she portrayed a cheeky flirtatious personality which I assumed was constant and discovered that this was not the case as she  focussed only on the interview which impressed me. She spoke of her magical work and handing on her business after retirement. The wise woman explained that others had attempted to learn but were unable to handle the challenges that came with it. I expressed an interest in learning about her way of working in order to carry on the business as I had 13 years of magical experience. I was aware that there was much more to learn, particularly when it came to the energies of  Cornwall.

Time passed quickly and our conversation continued for 4 hours. The wise woman then politely informed me she had other matters to deal with and as we embraced,  I told her I had waited a long time for one of her hugs. The wise woman he replied that there were plenty of those to be had as she was an affectionate person. I blushed at her reply and had difficulty opening the latch on the door. As we crossed the threshold my husband arrived and I introduced them both and he received a hug too.

During our journey home I updated him on the interview and that he could be an extra rider for the ‘Oss along with our son. Another young man rode the ‘Oss for Montol 2008 but there was uncertainty on his future availability. On our return an email from the wise woman awaited expressing her enjoyment of the afternoon’s discourse.  I sent a reply and added a little humour as I now felt a little more relaxed when conversing with her. The incident at the conference was not mentioned, but I also sensed that a working relationship with someone as focussed and strong minded as the wise woman would not be an easy road ……

32. Discovering Local Traditions

When the traditional witch’s partner contacted the wise woman and suggested me for the role, she doubted my personality would suit, as she assumed I was a blonde ‘party girl’  that used crystals and ‘fluffy new age’ magic. She made her assumptions from the few times she observed me at conferences and from comments on the Pagan e-list. The traditional witch’s partner explained to her that I was a former member of a feisty Morris team that recently performed at the local Conference. She also told her about my achievements in martial arts training and then the wise woman realised there was more to me than she thought.

The following day I returned from a shopping trip and discovered a recorded message on the answering machine. I returned the wise woman’s call and we conversed for some time which was a good sign as she disliked this form of communication.  The wise woman described aspects of the personality required for a Teazer and I was delighted to hear that a mischievous side is important. She explained how the Teazer role connects with the energies of the Bucca elemental.  The wise woman suggested I attended the Montol festival on the 20th of December 2008 as I could then observe the performance.  I had assumed that she frequented nightclubs as I noticed that the wise woman loved to dance. There was a particular nightclub known as ‘Eclipse’ in Truro   frequented by the traditional witch and partner. It was attended by ‘gay’ club members and I visited there on one occasion just after our move to Cornwall. I observed the door each time someone entered hoping the wise woman may arrive. It surprised me to hear  from her that she rarely attended nightclubs, but did visit ‘Eclipse ‘ with friends to celebrate her 50th birthday. Our conversation was relaxed and boded well for the future.

 After our conversation I realised that we were more alike than I originally thought if we both had a certain type of personality to be a Teazer. I updated my husband and although unimpressed he was pleased that I would be involved in something I enjoyed. He agreed to attend the Montol festival with me but as we were travelling to Kent the following day, he told me we would leave as soon as the performance was over.

We met the traditional witch and partner at St John’s Hall in Penzance. A large crowd gathered outside, some lined up for the procession and others observed a team of teenage dancing girls  performing for the crowd. My son wore a black coat, mask and hat and I wore a long black velvet coat and a ‘black cat’ mask. My husband refused to dress up and wore his usual navy blue padded body-warmer, a grey sweatshirt and old blue jeans which did not compliment the gold mask and tri-corn hat.  We stood with the crowd and my husband noticed the wise woman arrive at the front of the procession line.  I could see her battered top hat amongst the crowd and she was smaller in height than I remembered. My husband suggested I approach her, but the crowd began to move and there was no time.

The first procession went through the town and up to the beacon at the Hill Fort. We walked at the rear behind the local band and I gradually moved to the front where I could observe the wise woman as she waved to the public and laughed with the men who carried the banner. The Obby ‘Oss appeared during the second procession so the wise woman had time to enjoy this one at a leisurely pace. I observed the way she interacted with her local community compared to the Pagan one. She stepped in time to the music and I stepped with her which she noticed but did not recognize me. As we reached the Hill Fort I found my husband and son who brought his drum and invited to play with the band. We stood beside the beacon bonfire enjoying the warmth on a cold evening. After a while the wise woman appeared and conversed with my son and husband and then turned to me. 

montol2008I attempted to speak to her, but the words would not come forth. She took a step back, studied me for a moment then lit her cigarette and walked away. My husband asked why I did not speak and I could not explain the profound and unsettling effect she had on me. I searched the area around the bonfire hoping to find her again, but she had disappeared.

The traditional witch’s partner introduced us to one of her friends who was also transgender. We visited a pub and her friend awaited a phone call as she attended a work Christmas party the night before and was intoxicated with no memory of what occurred. She hoped her colleague would enlighten her. The rest of the group were deep in conversation but my thoughts were elsewhere. After resting for an hour, we walked into the town for the next procession which began between 10 and 11pm. 

Members of the crowd were masked and for those not accustomed to this festival, it could appear rather strange. As the procession began to move, I once again made my way to the front.  The band stopped outside large wooden doors next to an Indian restaurant and the band leader used a baton to knock loudly.

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Before one had time to draw breath the ‘Oss dashed out followed closely by the wise woman. I observed immediately how energetic the role of Teazer was, as the wild ‘Oss was untethered. The Teazer chased her and kept a close eye on her antics with the public while performing moves the ‘Oss would imitate. As the rider had restricted vision, the Teazer would be her second sight to guide her along the streets and clear a path amongst the crowds.

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When I agreed to this role I assumed the Teazer was just another act within the festival and amongst a variety of performers. I did not realize the Teazer and ‘Oss  led the procession and were  main characters of the festival. It concerned me that this was a major role different to the type of performance I was used to. I only knew three people in this community, but the traditional witch’s partner assured me it would have a positive outcome. After the Teazer and ‘Oss completed their part in the procession, I observed the Teazer  coax a reluctant ‘Oss into the Barbican (her stable) and this amused my son. When the doors closed, my husband insisted on leaving immediately and I was unable to speak to the wise woman. I knew that she would be delighted her new ‘Oss had been successful and I missed their celebration. The wise woman enquired of my whereabouts and the traditional witch’s partner explained about my early departure.

Image - Café Press

Image – Café Press

I contemplated her performance on our journey to Kent. The mask she wore was similar to the one worn by the Phantom of the Opera in the musical.  I was often attracted to troubled dark characters in these stories: the beast in Beauty and the Beast, Mr Rochester in Jane Eyre and Heathcliffe in Wuthering Heights. There was something intriguing about them, their traumatic lives, their passion and their darker side due to troubled pasts. I wondered why the wise woman would take on a role such as this and whether she too may have another side to her that was hidden from the world.