Now was the time for the whole raison d’être of the Dark Gathering – the meeting of the Welsh Mari Lwyds with Cornwall’s Penkevyll the Oss. This year we were going to try to introduce the Mari Lwyds into the proceedings in a different way – we were going to have a procession. However, there was one thing that we hadn’t factored in – that this year the clocks hadn’t gone back yet – so it was still light by 5 pm, the advertised time of the Lantern Procession. The Mari Lwyds traditionally don’t appear until at least dusk, and there was lots of debate about when to start the tribal drumming (the signal for the Procession to start) – and also when to light torches etc. You can just imagine the dialogue!
To add to the confusion there is no mobile signal in Boscastle so we couldn’t communicate with the processional group who were congregating in the car park the other end of the village – eventually we sent a runner and the Procession started.
What I didn’t realise until much later is how popular the procession turned out to be. It certainly attracted hordes of people who came out especially to see the Mari Lwyds and to join in the fun.
Here is some drone footage of the procession compiled by Dougie Latham and Paul Sumner:
Not only did we have music in the procession but at the Museum there was a troupe of drummers drawn from all sides and the general public, lead by Dave from Beltane Border Morris, who started a tribal rhythm. This was enough to entice Penkevyll from her temporary stable in the back of the Museum and she emerged to join her Teazers in raising the energy.
Laetitia as Teazer shot out of the Museum like a bat out of hell, whilst I followed at a more leisurely pace making sure I guided Penkevyll out safely to her waiting audience. At our emergence, a huge cheer went up and we began to dance up the energy. Laetitia was brilliant in her role as Teazer. She was really fired up and danced like one possessed – which is just what is required with this role in my opinion. By fortunate happenstance her transformation was captured on film, as can be seen here:
This sort of ‘overlooking’ of a person can also happen to the Oss Rider – in fact, it is encouraged. You allow the spirit of the role/Oss to ‘ride you’ but you have to be aware enough of where you are going and what you are doing at the same time. This can happen with other types of theatrical performance including dancing. Indeed I have personally witnessed this with some of the dancers from Beltane Border Morris as they fly around the space – every now and then they can shapeshift momentarily. It quite magical and intensely fascinating!
The role of Teazer is complex but in essence is to be a bridge betwixt the Oss and the crowd – to be able to travel and dance between those worlds. Just because I’m not as spry as I used to be doesn’t mean I can’t function in this way anymore. Sometimes moving very slowly can have just as much effect. I like having two Teazers. It makes sure that the needs of Penkevyll are being well attended to as well as dramatic energy raising dance being performed – and every now and then, the two forces meet – and there is a ‘frisson’.
After some frolicking around and general mischief-making with Penkevyll we caught sight of the torches of the Procession approaching and it was time for Penkevyll to meet her bone sisters who she hadn’t seen for nine long months!
It was a joyful reunion! The crowd marvelled at all the different Osses and Mari Lwyds and after the initial welcome, Penkevyll and Teazers disappeared into the Museum to make ready for the traditional pwnco ceremony which went with it’s usual idiosyncratic craziness. No matter how well we try and arrange this part, to date it has always been chaotic – ah well maybe next year…! 😉
Here’s the only bit of footage that I have found thus far of this year’s pwnco. Apologies to anyone of a nervous disposition as my singing is truly appalling and my Cornish not much better. Oh, and try ignore the very rude remark made by a member of the crowd at the beginning!
At last the Maris gained entrance to the Museum and they blessed it in their usual ways ending with the traditional libations of soul cakes and beer. On return to the outside world we found that we were just in time for the now iconic Fire Dance by Beltane Border Morris. This year I can share with you some unique drone footage compiled by those two IT wizards, Paul Sumner & Dougie Latham:
Although the small organising team work over the year to bring about the All Hallows Gathering, it seems to go so quickly on the day. There was just enough time left to mingle with the crowd and performers in the torchlight and savour the atmospheric and heady mix of exuberant, wild dancing and feeling the old ancestral spirits of Halloween draw ever closer.
Time to stable the Osses and Maris, and certainly time for all of our intrepid performers to make their way to the Welly (Wellington Hotel) where their well-deserved dinner was waiting for them along with foaming pints of ale – aka Party Time! 😀
Although we were treated to a high standard of singing again from many talented people including the Boscastle Buoys the local male voice choir; to me the stand-out song was from young Jake Sonny Rowlinson who sang a heartfelt rendition of ‘What’s the Use of Wings’. I’m fairly certain that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house…
At the Welly we had a great time and there were many things to be thankful for and to celebrate – but the main thing was that although there were a considerable amount of last minute obstacles and challenges, they were all successfully overcome.
Time for the accolades:
Many thanks and appreciation again to Angie Latham for all her hard work and commitment. Angie remains as our Morris co-ordinator and PR/Publicity person – take a bow Angie! 🙂
Another person who has tackled all sorts of queries and followed up ideas and suggestions on behalf of the All Hallows Gathering is Judith Hewitt, who is also the hard-working, seemingly tireless Manager of the Museum of Witchcraft & Magic. A huge thank you Judith for a job well done quietly and with grace. 🙂
Whilst mentioning the Museum we need to also thank Simon Costin for his continued support and enthusiasm for the event. Loved your costume on the night Simon! 😀
Our faithful MC, Steve Podger once again rose to the challenge and delivered an accomplished repertoire of information combined with tradition and folklore with great aplomb. Cheers Steve! 😀
With grateful thanks to our sponsors:
The Museum of Witchcraft & Magic
The Boscastle Chamber of Commerce
Finally a very special mention to the Hero of the Hour, Kevin Godley. This quiet, unassuming man truly saved the day when he stepped up to the challenge of taking on the role of Oss Rider of Penkevyll with no prior knowledge or experience of the role. He has supported the All Hallows Gathering from day one and was present at our very first attempt at a happening in 2014. When he heard that we had been let down at the last moment and that Penkevyll would be unable to appear without a Rider, he didn’t hesitate in volunteering. By doing so he averted what could have been a major upset, which would have made a nonsense of everything we had arranged with the Mari Lwyds.
On the day he performed to the best of his ability and really put his heart into riding Penkevyll – I was very touched by his reverence and respect in his dealings with the Oss. Afterwards he was so inspired by it that he wants to continue being one of Penkevyll’s Riders. So, although one rider fell by the wayside, we immediately acquired a new and enthusiastic new Rider – result! Congratulations Kevin – we are very proud of you! 😀
I’ll just leave this post here with one last jewel in the crown – an amazing video commissioned by us and edited by a very talented young man, called Kieran. It’s taken of the whole event and lasts almost an hour, so make yourself comfortable with your favourite tipple and enjoy the fruits of all our labours… Ladies & Gentlemen, I give you the All Hallows Gathering 2016!