Sunday was a day of fierce winds and rain, but fortunately the August Bank Holiday Monday brought calmer and drier weather for our Wisewoman walk.
Two energetic and enthusiastic young men, Jason and Arkie had journeyed from Chicago U.S. to spend a week in Cornwall and visited Glastonbury before continuing their journey here. They spent some time in Boscastle and Tintagel, 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 expressed he was ‘beyond excited’ to meet her and experience one of our walks.
We 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 Zennor Hill would be the site to visit. It requires a copious amount of energy to reach the top however Jason and Arkie were in their 20s, full of energy and prepared for a challenge.
As we walked towards the hill Cassandra asked them if they would like to visit Zennor Quoit before climbing the hill. The vegetation on the moor 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 on this occasion with copious amounts of gorse, therefore it was no surprise that on this occasion it occurred. Jason and Arkie were delighted to have experienced this.
We eventually discovered the correct path to Zennor Quoit, Jason and Arkie were intrigued by the formation of the stones and how one can climb inside the Quoit and sit within 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 discussed the variety of Fae folk and their roles within Cornish folklore and they were well prepared with notepads to write 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 performed rites. Zennor HiIl is a powerful site, therefore 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 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 beverage.
It was indeed 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 delighted they enjoyed their time in Cornwall and are sure that it wont be the last we see of them.
I have felt a close connection with Zennor from the first occasion Cassandra took me to visit Zennor Hill in 2009. We were there for the specific reason of my spiritual connection with the land. Whilst exploring the hill I was drawn energetically to the village of Zennor that was visible below the hill.
I then learnt about the legend of the Mermaid of Zennor and have already written about on this site. See Mermaid of Zennor
It was a delight to see the mermaid carving upon the side of the pew within St Senara’s church in Zennor.
The worn pew is tucked away in a side-aisle and shows the scars of over 500 years constant use.
The curious carving of the mermaid has many interpretations from its medieval worshipers. Mermaids were a symbol of Aphrodite Goddess of love and the sea who held a love apple in one hand and a comb in the other. the quince (love apple) was later changed to a mirror which is a symbol of heartlessness and vanity. Medieval Christians viewed her as a symbol of the ‘sins of the flesh’. She was used to illustrate the two natures of Christ in the seafaring community as she was half fish and half human symbolizing that the Christ could be both divine and human. This resonated with the inhabitants of the region as their lives were intertwined with and dependent on the sea.
Recently I visited The Healing Star in Penzance where they displayed a plaster cast of the Mermaid of Zennor by Rory Te Tigo. He left it in the shop hoping they could sell it for him. Each time I visited I was entranced by it, especially as there is little memorabilia of this particular mermaid. When I eventually decided to purchase it, Rory had collected the mermaid as he planned to display her at an event. I contacted him and he kindly offered to make another for me over a period of three weeks.
Rory had the marvelous idea of producing a casting of the mermaid carving displayed in the Tinner’s Arms at Zennor and creates replicas of it using this method.
I am now the proud owner of a Mermaid of Zennor which is about the same size as the one in the church. Rory described in great detail how he created her, as you can see by John Isaac’s wonderful photographs Rory works with precision and achieves wonderful results. Her powerful presence graces our home and brings with her the blessings of the sea.
To see more of Rory Te Tigo’s work visit his website