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Impressions of Pagan Cornwall

by Pat Hogan

Cornwall, or to give her the original Celtic name of Kernow, is a very special part of the British Isles that lies beyond the end of England. Having more in common with Ireland, Wales, Gaelic Scotland and Brittany, Cornwall is a land set apart in place and time. Here five thousand years of history and pre-history can be found in the magical landscape of moors, sea, rivers and streams, ancient field patterns and woodlands.

— Cheryl Straffon, Cornish writer and researcher, and guide for Sounds & Furies' trip to Cornwall, Beltaine 2000

We started off in Glastonbury, taking a walking pilgrimage up the long and winding path to the Tor. It was a wet and sloppy walk up on this misty, overcast day but this added to the pilgrimage. We spent time in the Chalice Gardens at the foot of the Tor, a beautiful meditative place with walks, grassy areas, and bubbling brooks arising from the spring where people come by the droves to fill up their jugs with blessed water. — Pat Hogan

Chun Quoit — burial places for the dead, but more importantly, dwellings in which the spirits would continue to live. It was to these dolmens that the elders of the tribe would come to commune with the ancestors.

"Another woman and I crawled through a narrow slit, into Chun Quoit. Inside, the chamber had just enough room for the two of us to sit cross-legged on the dirt floor. We began toning, the sounds echoing off the atone and vibrating back through our bodies. I still remember the bliss that comes when our spirits reverberate with the land and magic around us." — a traveler from California

Some of us headed into nearby Penzance to hear a talk on Witchcraft organized by the local Earth Mysteries group. Although the word "Witch" isn't used as prevalently or in the same way as we do in Reclaiming, the speaker talked about village Witches known for their healings, hexes and spells.

We also took part in a Beltaine ritual and gathering in the countryside north of Penzance. The ritual was held in a field with a grove that held a huge carved-wood yoni and phallus. Many people were dressed in traditional and non-traditional Pagan attire. Rags were tied to the tree (a common sight in Cornwall) carrying people's blessings, healings and wishes. We danced a zig-zag sort of spiral dance around a huge fire. Many songs were sung, and then on to food and drink. We talked with our new Pagan friends as the night got darker and the flames grew higher. — Pat Hogan