The Seen and The Unseen

moonlit-woods

It’s that time of year again when folks of pagan persuasion start to bang on about the Worlds Seen and Unseen and inform us that ‘the Veil is thin’ at this time of year.  Well, I don’t  feel that ‘the Veil’ is particularly threadbare at this time – unless of course you think that as there are a lot of Festivals of the Dead around now that somehow this is causing the Veil to be eroded in someway.  I think the Veil is made of much sterner stuff than that!  Remembering the Ancestors can be done at any time and in my opinion there needs to be more acknowledgement of them all year round.  Otherwise we end up just paying ritual lip-service to the Old Ones.  It’s a bit like honouring the veterans on Remembrance Day and then ignoring them for the rest of the year – see my post on this: Will We Remember Them?

Now let’s look at the Worlds Seen and Unseen.  Usually this term is blithely trotted out by many but what does it actually mean, apart from sounding slightly spooky and darkly romantic?  Well bad luck if you thought otherwise, but I’m not going to deliver some sort of esoteric and erudite lecture on this subject.  There are plenty of books and articles out there, beautifully presented in quaint archaic language for you to indulge yourselves in… at a price I may add.  My thoughts will be presented in the way I know best – pragmatically!

There is a familiar saying which goes, “Seeing is believing”.  Well, do you believe that is the case?  There are all sorts of things that go on right in front of us and yet we don’t see them.  It’s called being ‘In Plain Sight’.  As humans we rely pretty heavily on the visual to inform us about our environment, to the detriment a lot of the time of our other senses.  This over-reliance on the visual can however leave us pretty vulnerable, especially to those who take advantage of this trait and use illusion, allusion, subliminal messages and glamour to achieve their ends – and it doesn’t stop there.  The mind can play tricks too.

We’ve all heard of brainwashing and indoctrination and many fundamentalist religions and cults utilise this with horrifying effectiveness.  However, we can also do this to ourselves unwittingly if we form prejudices against anything/anyone that reminds us of what/who has harmed us in the past.  When we experience trauma in anyway it’s very difficult but oh so necessary to keep things in perspective.  Not everything/person who triggers that response is going to be equally distrustful but it’s hard not to think that at the time it’s happening.  Alas however if we do not, then we start to develop a kind of knee-jerk tunnel vision about the whole situation.  If you look for something hard enough then you will start to see it manifesting itself in front of your very eyes.  In a sense you have invoked it and if you have a strong magical mind it will be even easier to perform this illusion – for that is what it is.  It’s a kind of thought form – and that’s where the danger lies – when we assume things, and then act on those assumptions and reach what we see as the inevitable conclusion.  We are believing what we are seeing.

It’s all a bit of a minefield isn’t it?  So how do we avoid these kind of pitfalls?  It’s said in the occult world, ‘Test the spirits to see if they are real’.  I’d say have your powers of observation fully turned on.

candle-light

When I was young in my craft I was taught how to fine tune my focus by concentrating fully on a candle flame.  I was then taught how to gradually extend that focus to include the sides and then my peripheral vision.  Eventually after considerable practice I was able to extend this focus to include behind me as well but that took a long time.  The point being was to be fully aware of what was going on all around me.  In the same way we need to have full information of any given situation and to sift that information with an unbiased, flexible mind.  Evidence is of no value if it is assessed by a mind that is programmed to see things in a fixed, pre-determined way.  What I’m referring to here is the magical Will – the ability to let go yet be fully aware.  If you don’t have your Will in a healthy state then the effectiveness of your magic, not to mention your day-to-day life, will be adversely affected.

There are other more prosaic methods that stand in good stead to develop good powers of observation and at the same time, a fine appreciation of those around us.  Notice what people do.

mother-swan-and-young-seen-above-and-under-water-1380538945_b

We often use the metaphor of the swan apparently effortlessly and gracefully gliding across the surface of the water, whilst underneath the flippers are exerting a lot of energy to maintain that.  This sums up neatly what often happens for a lot of people.  They work quietly in the background getting necessary organisational and logistical tasks completed whilst the person or project that is more visible gets the majority of attention and praise.  Even though every now and then these folk are mentioned in dispatches and referred to as unsung heroes, these backroom boys are usually consigned to an afterthought.  Take time to acknowledge and thank people for their input and hard work.  Show appreciation to the tea ladies, cleaners, and shop assistants.  Take a moment to pass the time of day with someone who generally doesn’t get that sort of attention – you’d be surprised at the difference it can make.

Whilst I’m on the subject I want to make my own contribution to this.  Being a published author and having worked with the media over the years I have become visible for the sort of work I do and my lifestyle as a village wisewoman.  For 13 years I ran my own business making just enough to get by on.  I then retired from full-time employment and handed the business on to my partner Laetitia.  I have to say that since that time she has been simply brilliant as an organiser and promoter of the business.  After years of ‘just getting by’ she has worked steadfastly to create a profit margin and the work has blossomed accordingly.  We’ll never be rich in the financial sense but we do alright and the books are in a much healthier state than when I was at the helm!  I have also seen this diligence in action with other background roles she has taken on board, particularly connected with publicity and promotion.  Laetitia runs websites and maintains Facebook groups as well as keeping her blog up to date.  Every time our Morris side or Penkevyll (our Obby Oss) goes on a gig she takes the camera with her and records the action.  Often if she gets home early enough she’s on the computer updating the websites/groups with the latest photos and videos – if not, it’s the very next day.  Quite frankly, I wouldn’t manage even a quarter of that!  I just wanted to publically acknowledge my gratitude for her hard work and how much it is appreciated.  🙂

So, rather than just fixating on what is seen and blanking out the rest, remember the unseen that is actually right there in front of you – if you only had eyes to see it.

8-botanimal

All Hallows Gathering 2015 – Part One

2015h
Group shot of all sides at the All Hallows Gathering – Photo credit: Dougie Latham

What a spectacular event the All Hallows Gathering turned out to be!  As one of the main organisers I was experiencing considerable nerves and trepidation as Halloween approached this year – I had never attempted anything of this size before which involved quite so many people and logistics.  My main concern was the weather but as it turned out the weather gods were kindly and it was a beautiful winter’s day and evening.  Another issue that was on my mind was what the attendance would be like – performers as well as audience numbers.  I needn’t have worried as I watched what eventually turned out to be hundreds people slowly arriving and setting up.  The air was electric with expectation and anticipation and it was heartwarming to see so many people gathering together to celebrate All Hallows in such a special way.

Events kicked off at 2 pm with Catseye Morris, based in Cornwall – the side that I belong to as a member of the band, and Laetitia as a dancer.

 

2015i
Laetitia of Catseye Morris – Photo credit: Dougie Latham
2015l
Cassandra of Catseye Morris – Photo credit: Dougie Latham

 

 

Next up was Shadow Hunters all the way from Worcestershire.  This is a group that was especially created for this event.  It started off as a ‘Dark Morris’ scratch side and evolved to become an official Border Morris side.  They were energetic, elegant and spooky – not easy to achieve!

“Dancers of the Dark Morris . We come from the woods and dance …..and then slip away back into the shadows.”

https://www.facebook.com/shadowhuntersMorris/?fref=ts

 

Shadow Hunters - Photo credit: Dougie Latham
Shadow Hunters – Photo credit: Dougie Latham

Then came the infamous Beltane Border Morris from Devon.  They are renowned for their theatrical and punchy performances and we were delighted that they decided to join us at the Gathering.

http://www.beltaneborder.co.uk/

Beltane Border Morris - Photo credit: Tim Gent
Beltane Border Morris – Photo credit: Tim Gent

So for the next two hours onlookers were treated to some remarkable performances from these Morris sides:

Catseye Morris - Photo credit: Dougie Latham
Catseye Morris – Photo credit: Dougie Latham
Shadow Hunters - Photo credit: Dougie Latham
Shadow Hunters – Photo credit: Dougie Latham
Beltane Border Morris - Photo credit: John Issac
Beltane Morris – Photo credit: John Issac
Catseye Morris - Photo credit: Dougie Latham
Catseye Morris – Photo credit: Dougie Latham
Shadow Hunters - Photo credit: Dougie Latham
Shadow Hunters – Photo credit: Dougie Latham
Beltane Border Morris - Photo credit: Tim Gent
Beltane Morris – Photo credit: Tim Gent
 Beltane Border Morris - Photo credit: Tim Gent
Beltane Border Morris – Photo credit: Tim Gent

Then it was time to go and get Penkevyll from her stable where she was impatiently pawing the ground, so to speak.  The crowds delighted in her antics and then as the tribal drums began, witnessed Penkevyll and her Teazer (yours truly) start the dance which called up the Mari Lwyd(s).

Calling up the Mari Lwyds - Photo credit: John Issac
Calling up the Mari Lwyds – Photo credit: John Issac

Sure enough it was soon time for us to scuttle into the Museum of Witchcraft and await the arrival of the famous Mari Lwyd.  Once the Mari(s) had a short ‘meet & greet’ with the audience it was time for the pwnco ceremony.  Here’s some photos and footage of this old tradition:

Mari Celeste - Photo credit: John Issac
Mari Celeste – Photo credit: John Issac
Y Fari Troellog - Photo credit: John Issac
Y Fari Troellog – Photo credit: John Issac
Y Fari Troellog - Photo credit: Museum of Witchcraft
Y Fari Troellog – Photo credit: Museum of Witchcraft

Once the Mari Lwyds had gained entrance to the Museum there followed introductions.  Penkevyll and Y Fari Troellog were old friends, but Penkevyll and Mari Celeste had not met and exchanged pleasantries as only Obby Osses and the like can!  We then set off around the Museum bestowing blessings as we went.

The Unholy Trinity - Photo credit: Museum of Witchcraft
The Unholy Trinity – Photo credit: Museum of Witchcraft

Then it was time for much-needed libations of soul cakes (baked by Museum manager Peter) and beer – which was much appreciated by all concerned!  🙂

Libation time - Photo credit: Museum of Witchcraft
Libation time – Photo credit: Museum of Witchcraft

Meantime outside Steve Podger, my very able Master of Ceremonies, with the fantastic support of Beltane Border Morris entertained the crowd by torchlight with some powerfully evocative and wild dancing.

Torchlight time - Photo credit: Tim Dent
Torchlight time – Photo credit: Tim Dent
Beltane Border Morris - Photo credit: Tim Dent
Beltane Border Morris – Photo credit: Tim Dent

This included the now famous Beltane Fire Dance!

Once they were fed and watered, the Osses emerged from the Museum and mingled with the large crowd and danced to the pulsating tribal beat of the drums until it was time to end this part of the evening.

Oss party - Photo credit: Museum of Witchcraft
Oss party – Photo credit: Museum of Witchcraft
Oss dancing - Photo credit: John Issac
Oss dancing – Photo credit: John Issac
Samhain celebration - Photo credit: Museum of Witchcraft
Samhain celebration – Photo credit: Museum of Witchcraft

Steve our trusty MC, wound up the day’s proceedings and we wended our weary but elated way into the night for a well-earned dinner at the Cobweb Inn!

To be continued!  😀

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑