The latter half of summer had been rather busy for Cornwall and even though this was welcomed to help the economy, unfortunately it also included some aggressive and thoughtless behaviour from many visitors. I can almost hear the land and sea breathing a ‘sigh of relief’ as summer turns to autumn and life returns to a more peaceful and slower pace.
Cassandra and I have also been occupied with mainly distant work for clients, however during August and September we were able to see clients in person for socially distant readings, workshops and courses.
Autumn Equinox was overcast weather-wise, but also dry and Cassandra ventured out onto the land and harvested local blackberries, apples and autumn leaves, while I swept the hearth in preparation for our evening celebration.
We also had time to bake a wonderful apple and blackberry crumble containing seasonal spices of cinnamon and cloves, before keeping an appointment with a client.
Cassandra and I were given the wonderful opportunity by the new owners of Caer Bran Hillfort to bless the land. Here is some information about the site:
During the Iron Age a variety of different types of settlement were constructed and occupied in south western England. At the top of the settlement hierarchy were hillforts built in prominent locations. In addition to these a group of smaller sites, known as defended settlements, were also constructed. Some of these were located on hilltops, others in less prominent positions. They are generally smaller than the hillforts, sometimes with an enclosed area of less than 1ha. The enclosing defences were of earthen construction. Univallate sites have a single bank and ditch, multivallate sites more than one. At some sites these earthen ramparts represent a second phase of defence, the first having been a timber fence or palisade. Where excavated, evidence of stone- or timber-built houses has been found within the enclosures, which, in contrast to the hillfort sites, would have been occupied by small communities, perhaps no more than a single family group. Defended settlements are a rare monument type. They were an important element of the settlement pattern, particularly in the upland areas of south western England, and are integral to any study of the developing use of fortified settlements during this period. Despite subsequent mining activities and the bisection of the fort by a later track, the Iron Age defended settlement, 330m south east of Caer Bran Farm survives comparatively well and will contain archaeological and environmental evidence relating to its construction, development, strategic importance, agricultural practices, social organisation, domestic arrangements and overall landscape context.
The monument includes an Iron Age defended settlement, situated at the summit of the prominent hill Caer Bran. The settlement survives as a roughly-circular enclosure defined by two concentric lines of defence, the inner formed by a rampart and ditch and the outer by an inner ditch, rampart, outer ditch and counterscarp bank. The defences survive differentially; the inner rampart and ditch are much slighter in construction than the outer defences, the rampart of which is up to 4.6m high. The outer defences survive best to the north. Within the interior are the low rubble walls of at least two stone hut circles. The best preserved is centrally located and measures approximately 16m in diameter. This hut circle and the fort have been bisected by a later track, and much of the interior has an irregular appearance caused by numerous pits and spoil heaps associated with mineral prospecting and extraction from the medieval period onwards. Other archaeological remains in the immediate vicinity are the subject of separate schedulings.
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
We kept the blessing ritual quite simple but it also had real potency as we experienced positive reactions from the elements to our words.
The owners were keen to show us around the site particularly the quarry, where the tangible energies of elementals and guardians were present. We were surrounded by wonderful autumnal colours and as we stood at the highest point, even though the evening mist began to descend, we could see for miles, the wondrous landscape of West Penwith.
We returned to Cassandra’s cottage and enjoyed a well-earned rest by the hearth, discussing our experiences of the site while indulging in Cornish mead and warm home-made crumble.
We sat by a blazing fire and enjoyed a small, meaningful equinox celebration, toasting the ‘powers that be’ and hoping the changing season will also bring a positive outcome to the problematic situation we face, by encouraging communities to work together, caring for one another and also our environment. A perfect end to an energetic equinox!
Spring Equinox 2020 marks the tenth anniversary since Cassandra Latham Jones handed her business of Village Wisewoman to me.
I had previously qualified and worked as a holistic therapist and therefore was accustomed to dealing with clients, however this alternative way of working, meant clients would be dealt with in a different way. It is similar to counselling (in which I now possess a Diploma) as clients will contact us concerning various dilemmas in their lives and we provide a consultation to discuss the appropriate methods to help them.
Cassandra has a unique way of working and had built a good reputation and she is a hard act to follow. I had been a Cornwall resident for only ten months at this time and local residents did not know me well, however I had adequate experience to provide the services required. Over the years I have settled into our village community by frequenting our local Inn, some of the church services and village events, as well as performing at local festivals in West Penwith.
In a short period of time I developed an organized correspondence system when dealing with clients. I have a selection of email folders for inquiries, readings, distant readings, spells, charms, handfastings, rites of passage, feedback, property cleansings, wart charming, wisewomen walks and workshops. Notifying a client concerning the list of items we require when working with them now comes naturally to me and I converse with the confidence that comes with experience. Cassandra taught me to do my own accounts, which is quite an easy task with a small business. I admire her for managing this considering she has ‘discalculia’, however it was less of a problem for me as I am good with numbers and nowadays modern technology makes the work and book- keeping easier.
I understand why a ‘code of ethics’ is necessary and that it is wise not to cast spells for clients who wish to influence others against their will. These types of spells can have huge repercussions and there are occasions when I have witnessed this outcome when others have cast spells for selfish desires or without sufficient contemplation of their requests.
Learning the process of creating charms has been enjoyable and is reminiscent of times I used cross-stitch and crochet during my childhood and adolescence. I have the skills required for intricate needlework and the corresponding ingredients for each charm still holds a fascination for me as each one is unique to the client. For example, if I constructed two fertility charms neither would be identical in appearance or their contents.
Another aspect where needlework skills come to the fore is in creating clothes for our hearth dolls which inspired me to create more for other dolls with specific images and purposes. After observing this activity, Cassandra stated that my work with dolls is one of my greatest talents.
I have witnessed many Tarot readings and I now know Cassandra’s Tarot cards well, therefore I have the ability to provide readings from them myself if she were unable to do so. The psychic impressions and messages I receive during a consultation compliment her readings and never fail to add to the advice given. Our distant readings for clients unable to visit have proven to be extremely accurate and given guidance and help to many all over the world.
The Handfastings we provide are always wonderful occasions, we have taken on the role of Celebrants at wondrous sacred sites and other unusual venues. My past ceremonial training comes to the fore when setting up the sacred space although the words I now use are different and have a deeper connection with the ancient land around us. We prefer a couple to be in a relationship at least a year before taking this important step, some of our couples have been legally married a considerable length of time and others have their spiritual ceremony with us and attend a registry office before or after our ceremony if they require the legal contract.
I would love to experience more of these ceremonies on the beach or by the sea which in my opinion adds to the romance of the occasion.
Our property cleansings are quite an adventure, from modern houses to period properties, cottages, hotels and public houses. The history and varied lives that people once led can leave residual energies that seep into the foundations of buildings and affect them in startling ways. The spirits of deceased owners can form an attachment with their former properties which they have difficulty in releasing. Some spirits are harmless and the present occupiers are quite comfortable with their presence, however there are others that can cause problems and require guidance and persuasion to move on.
I have experienced on many occasions the remarkable difference of energy and atmosphere within a property after the cleansing during our return visits.
Spell casting is an exciting aspect of our work, particularly when a specific time is set for a client to work along with the practitioner. There have been occasions when the required result has occurred within 24 hours and also instances where a period of time has passed before reaching a successful outcome. Throughout this past year I have worked with one particular client casting many spells for an ongoing legal case and each spell produced a successful outcome for each stage of the process.
Our workshops have been successful as many are intrigued by the work we do and enjoy spending time with us to experience this.
We have met some wonderful individuals and had many fascinating discussions. It is also heartening to hear feedback on how the experience has changed their lives in a positive way.
I have also learnt more information during our ‘Walks with Wisewomen’ as Cassandra repeats the folklore and stories of various sites on each occasion. She is delighted with the way our work has become ‘second nature’ to me. It is not an easy path and I have been severely tested throughout the years. Cassandra is also pleased with the way I advertise and network to reach more people who need assistance and that the business has grown considerably compared to the time when she worked alone.
So there you have it…..ten years of organizing and working within the business of Village Wisewoman. It is so important to have an occupation one enjoys that will never lose its fascination or become boring!
I thank Cassandra for her patience and tuition over the last eleven years. Her methods are often unorthodox and there were times I did not understand them or how it would benefit me until I put her tuition into action. This scene from the movie Karate Kid is a good example of what I am referring to:
I look forward to the next ten years of becoming older and wiser as I continue assisting our community!
Cassandra and I hosted our last workshop for 2019 this weekend, the subject being Folk/Cunning Craft. One of our group has now attended all our workshops during the last few years and traveled all the way from his home in Scotland to join us. The other two members of the group experienced their first workshop on this occasion.
One of the group was new to the Craft which Cassandra found rather refreshing as she attended with an open enquiring mind and had many questions.
After two hours of discussion and identifying the type of jar/bottle spell each member needed to do, Cassandra took them out on a hedgerow walk to harvest the relevant plants, while I prepared other corresponding items for their return.
I also wrote out a list of correspondences that were available for them so that they could choose the items which resonated for them in their spells.
The group were given instructions on how to finish their jars/bottle spells at home, the liquids to use and how to seal them.
After they left for their dinner break, I prepared the hearth for blessing them in the evening.
After their spells were blessed we took them to a special place for charging them with the assistance of Granny Boswell on a wet, misty evening. We trimmed back the overgrown hedge so that we could see her headstone clearly.
Cassandra brought Cornish cake and ale for Granny, we had specific signs that evening of her acknowledgement. There were also three tall gravestones behind us that in the darkness had the appearance of three tall figures wearing black, shrouded by the mist. We were also in the phase of a powerful waning moon.
The moment we finished raising energy, the rain ceased and we conversed with Granny Boswell who responded with visible signs.
We then returned to the cottage for libations and Clutterbuck presented us with a live mouse! He had caught it Friday during our introduction evening, but after releasing it he could not find it. We heard some disruption in the kitchen Saturday evening when he caught it again and brought it to the hearth. (his donation to the libations!)
We enjoyed this workshop immensely, a wonderful end to the summer season.
“Had the most amazing weekend, mind blowing and loads to think about and read, thank you both x” A.T.
Sunday was a day of fierce winds and rain, but fortunately the August Bank Holiday Monday brought calmer and drier weather for our Wise Woman walk.
Two energetic and enthusiastic young men had journeyed from Chicago U.S. to spend a week in Cornwall. They had visited Glastonbury before continuing their journey here. They spent some time in Boscastle and Tintagel and were fascinated by the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic and St Nectan’s Waterfall at Rocky Valley Tintagel.
Jason had previously purchased Cassandra’s book and stated he was ‘beyond excited’ to meet her and experience one of our walks.
We usually invite our clients to Cassandra’s cottage and discuss the locations they wish to visit. Jason had a particular interest in the Logan Stone, so Cassandra decided that Zennor Hill would be the site to visit. Its an energetic climb to the top of Zennor Hill but Jason and Arkie were in their 20s, full of energy and therefore prepared for a challenge.
As we walked towards the hill Cassandra asked them if they would like to visit Zennor Quoit first. The vegetation on the moorland had grown considerably and in some areas it was chest height for the vertically challenged. We had given Jason and Arkie prior warning about the possibility of being ‘Piskie led’ and the path to the Quoit was particularly complicated with copious amounts of gorse and it was no surprise that on this occasion it occurred. Jason and Arkie were both delighted to have experienced this.
We eventually discovered the right path to Zennor Quoit, Jason and Arkie were intrigued by the formation of the stones and how one can climb inside to enter the heart of it for meditation and ritual purposes.
Here is information about the site:
The remains of this hillside Neolithic chambered portal tomb are quite difficult to find, but can be reached via a footpath from the B3306. The capstone which is over 5 metres long and weighs over 10 tons has collapsed and all traces of the mound which would have covered the tomb has disappeared although much surrounding cairn material was recorded by William Borlase the vicar of Zennor in 1769. It is Borlase we have to thank for the continuing existence of Zennor Quoit as he once paid off a local farmer the sum of 5 shillings to stop him dismantling the tomb to build a cow shed. It is unclear whether it was the farmers attempt at remodeling or the ‘excavation’ of the tomb with explosives in the 19th century that caused the capstone to fall. At various times cremated bones, a whetstone, flints and Neolithic pottery have been found within the chamber, while the 5 small upright stones just beyond the tomb are thought to be part of the aborted cowshed.
The site may look to be in a sad state of disrepair, especially on a wet, windy day, but this could be said to add to its beauty and melancholy, and it is still well worth a visit. Like many other sites legend says it was built by a giant, hence its other name of Giants Quoit and also that the stones are unmovable, or if they are moved they will return to the hillside on their own. Nearby, the church at Zennor contains a 15th century bench-end carved into the shape of a mermaid that is claimed to have visited the village and fallen in love with the churchwarden’s son. The two of them are then said to have returned to the sea, where the unfortunate lad can still be heard singing beneath the waves. stone-circles.org
Cassandra and I sat with Jason and Arkie by the stones and she related the history of the site. We also discussed the variety of Fae folk and their roles within Cornish folklore. The young men were well prepared with notepads and wrote down all the information.
After a while, we continued our walk to Zennor Hill. Jason and Arkie were fascinated by the house nearby where some say Alastair Crowley had worked magically there. Zennor HiIl is a powerful site so it would indeed be an ideal place to work in that way.
At the top of Zennor Hill we reached the Logan Stone. Cassandra instructed Jason on where to place his feet and the correct way to move the stone.
Here is some information on the site:
This extraordinary set of stone outcrops holds many unusual features, from rock basins to zoomorphic forms – deep fissures, runnels, voids, chamber-like enclosures and holed stones, that it would be difficult not to believe that it would have held an important place in pre-historic cosmologies. Some rock formations are uncannily like the quoits that occupy the flat land between zennor hill, carn zennor and sperris croft.
Tilley observes in an archaeology of supernatural places. ‘slabs that have toppled from the top of the rock stacks… rest horizontally or vertically against their sides, creating slanting roofed chambers large enough to enter and walk through.’ the proximity of Zennor and Sperris quoits raises the possibility that these dramatic rock formations were deliberately mimicked by the builders of these early monuments.
Tllley again ‘The tors were not only their source of inspiration, but they were constructed in the form of tors. In elevating large stones, these people were emulating the work of a super-ancestral past. Furthermore, the stones from which they were built were taken from the tors. The dolmens, in effect, were the tors dismantled and put back together again to resemble their original form. Once constructed, they could themselves be tors, something emphasized by the landscape setting of some of them on hills that lacked tors.’ Megalithic Sites
After their exploration of the site, we visited Zennor village so that they could see the church and explained the legend of the Zennor Mermaid.
The following information is about the church:
The church of St Senara in the small Cornish village of Zennor is one of the historic delights of the St Ives area. The present church dates to the 12th century, but it is thought to stand on the site of a cell founded by the 6th century saint, Senara, whose name has been altered over the centuries to become ‘Zennor’.
Senara may have been a Breton princess named Asenora, a devout Christian, who was married to a king named Goello. When Senara became pregnant the king’s mother falsely accused here of infidelity, and the king cast into the sea. According to the tale, she was put in a barrel, which was then nailed shut and allowed to drift on the waves. The barrel drifted to Ireland, and she was rescued by an angel. after her son, Budoc, had grown, they both set out to convert the natives to Christianity.
Alternative versions of the story say that she was washed up at Zennor, where she founded a church, before continuing on to Ireland, or that she came ashore in Ireland, and only later visited Cornwall and founded a church here. In either event, her husband heard of her good work and invited her to return to Brittany as his queen, and named her son as his heir. Alternatively, the church may have been founded by Irish or Breton missionaries and simply dedicated to Senara. The churchyard follows the oval outline of an Iron Age enclosure, which itself is built atop earlier Stone Age and Bronze Age field boundaries. Britain Express
We also visited the Tinners Arms for a well deserved drink.
It was a pleasure to spend the afternoon with Jason and Arkie, their energy, enthusiasm and hunger for knowledge of the Old Ways is heartening to see in younger folk. We are pleased they enjoyed their time in Cornwall and we are sure that it wont be the last we see of them.