Danu's Cauldron: Wisewoman's Ways, and Wild Fey Magic

Living in a sacred landscape, walking between the worlds in the veil of Avalon Glastonbury. Where the old gods roam the hills, and the sidhe dance beneath the moon...wander into the mists with me and let us see what we may find...

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Meeting the Mari Lwyd

This year we decided to take a small break and celebrate Samhain and honour our ancestors by visiting the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, Cornwall, and join their revelries. It was a spectacular night. As we descended along the twisty lane to enter the small fishing village in the gathering dusk we were met by a host of witches, tourists and black clad Morris men- traditional British folk dancers with flaming torches and crow feathers in their tall top hats. The sound of drums and fiddles echoed off the cliffs above and mingled with the sounds of the sea and the reeling gulls.

Traditional Border Morris men (or sides) wear the colour black, to leave their identity behind and take on the role of spirits as they honour the underworld and the winter to come. They danced to ancient songs, their feet mirroring the turn of the year and the battles between winter and summer in the courtyard of the museum, where the many a witch of generations passed has donated their magical tools, and beneath the library that holds the history of our traditions going back centuries.  The audience around them sat or stood enrapt, many of them being those who walk the old ways themselves, bedecked in their cloaks, with wide eyed children sitting at their feet dressed as sprites and spirits.

And then the dancing ceased and the Mari Lwyd, the Grey Mare entered. A tall figure, hunched and cloaked she still towered above those assembled, her white horses skull gleaming in evening light, a memory of a time when she was honoured as the goddess of sovereignty over the land, a horse goddess, powerful and proud remembered now in our myths as Rhiannon, or the Celtic goddess Epona. Now she comes with the winter winds to remind us that here at the bones of things, she reigns still.  This year we were honoured to have three Mari Lwyd figures in attendance, two from Wales and a new Cornish one, ensuring the continuation of the tradition for years to come.

Their arrival was met by a hush as they paraded around the courtyard, before the traditional pwnco
ceremony. A pwnco is a rhyming contest, between a household and the party accompanying the Mari, who want to gain entrance against the households will. Each speaks or sings their rhymes through the closed door, until eventually the Mari wins and the door is opened. When she enters, she brings blessings and scares away all evil spirits, by exploring every nook and cranny of the house. But with her come the faery folk with much chaos and mischief, and the household usually fear her coming at first.  As she approached the door to the museum, the door closed and each party sang their rhymes until at last she was allowed entrance, bringing the hosts of the faerie and the wild things with her.  

After the blessing of the museum, the three Mari Lwyds paraded around the village, blessing the pubs and chasing away the ghosts and ghouls, and bringing with them the revellers, music and merriment.

By far the best Samhain in ages!

With thanks to

The Museum of Witchcraft and Magic http://www.museumofwitchcraft.com/

Cassandra Latham-Jones for creating the event https://cassandralathamjones.wordpress.com/2015/11/07/all-hallows-gathering-2015-part-one/comment-page-1/

Y Fari Troellog  https://www.facebook.com/Morydau-Magic-662469490553434/?fref=ts








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Danu Forest is a wisewoman in the Celtic Bean Feasa tradition of her Irish ancestors. You could call her many things- witch, seer, walker between the worlds, healer, druid, priestess, teacher, writer, gardener, herbwife, stargazer, faery friend, tree planter, poet, and wild woman. Danu lives in a cottage near Glastonbury Tor in the midst of the Avalon lakes, in the southwest of England. Exploring the Celtic mysteries for over 25 years, and noted for her quality research, practical experience, as well as her deep love of the land, Danu writes for numerous national and international magazines and is the author of several books including Wild Magic, The Druid Shaman, Celtic Tree Magic, Gwyn ap Nudd and The Magical Year'. She teaches regular workshops and online courses and is available for consultations, including healings readings and other ceremonies.


  • Gerrie
    Gerrie Sunday, 22 November 2015

    I learned of the Mari Lwyd in Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series. For a young American just beginning her Pagan path, this series was a Goddess send! Especially back in the 70-80's - all you could find pretty much on mythology/folklore was Greek/Roman with a smattering of Norse. I credit Ms. Cooper's books to opening my eyes to the richness of British folklore.

  • Danu Forest
    Danu Forest Tuesday, 24 November 2015

    Gerrie i love those books too! i think they encouraged a lot of us on the path...british folklore is much overlooked but is very rich and still very much alive. There is a lot more people practising what their elders taught them than ever gets recorded ! ;-)

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