The original idea of bringing together a Guise dancing team with an ‘Obby ‘Oss was first created on 8th August 2010. A brief history follows….
Wolfshead and Vixen Morris at Stonehenge
The photo above was in 2001 when Rhys (little boy in the photo below) and Laetitia his mother (photo above 3rd female from left) danced with Wolfshead and Vixen Morris. They are both founder members of Boekka.
Rhys with Pete Taylor
Cassandra in her role as ‘Oss Teazer with the original Penglaz at Montol 2007 (now a Teazer and founder member.)
Cassandra met Laetitia and began training her to be a Teazer.
Cassandra & Laetitia Teazing the Penglaz ‘Oss at Mazey 2009
Laetitia & Cassandra Teazing the Penglaz ‘Oss (with Rhys as rider) Montol 2009.
Penkevyll the ‘Oss had a former existence as a replacement Penglaz (Penzance ‘Oss) when the original Penglaz retired in April 2008. Sadly due to ongoing internal wranglings with another rival replica Penglaz, the original Penglaz felt the need to make a comeback thereby ousting both replacements ‘Osses.
For more information on this read the addition to the third article on the Media page at this link : https://laetitialathamjones.com/media/
We withdrew from the festival and gave our ‘Oss a makeover plus a new name – Penkevyll (Cornish for horse’s head). We had already devised and performed dance routines with our ‘Oss so we changed our kit colours and our side name to Boekka (Cornish for scarecrow)
None of this happened overnight – we stripped the ‘Oss of its coloured tatters and back to its basic covering of black material (We were reluctant to part with this as it had been quite expensive in terms of quantity of fire retardant cloth). We wanted the ‘Oss to have ears and so a pair of leather ones were crafted and, all in all, the overall look we were left with was spooky and Gothic! We decided to introduce the occasional colour of midnight blue and purple to the black. We have tattered tailed waistcoats with midnight blue and purple amongst the black. We originally included dark red with the midnight blue, but were getting different shades of red from each member which sometimes appeared pink in photographs!
After St Piran’s Day 2017 we decided it was time to give Boekka a new image. We have now changed out kit colours to the traditional Cornish black, white and gold.
The Teazers are distinctive in that they carry snappers with which to ‘teaze’ the ‘Oss and occasionally the unsuspecting onlookers! It was at Chepstow Wassail January 2017 that Cassandra handed her snapper and the position of Teazer to Laetitia.
We are actively recruiting for dark, edgy folk to be Oss riders, Teazers and musicians who are also dedicated, committed and not afraid of hard work. We will be travelling to 2 – 3 festivals and conferences/gatherings each year as well as appearances at local venues around the Land’s End Peninsula.
As we travel and not all events pay us to appear, but we do have a ‘cadge’ pot we pass around, which helps build our funds to help with travelling expenses.
Boekka is now an ‘Oss and Teazer team. When Boekka first began, Rhys wanted to teach and perform with a Morris team along with the Oss and Teazers. He successfully did so but he works away from Cornwall since March 2014. In 2015 we decided to close the Morris team and revert back to the Cornish tradition of ‘Oss and Teazers.
Please contact us if you are interested in joining our eldritch tribe as an oss rider, Teazer or musician…
The skull weighs 28 pounds so it is heavy, strength and reliability are required, puppetry skills and a knowledge of dance is an advantage. We work hard but also play hard, dancing, parties, good ale and meeting interesting people are the rewards.
If you are one of the fit strong males in Cornwall that we are seeking please contact us.
This recent feedback was given after witnessing Penkevyll’s debut at the Spring Equinox ritual 2011 which shows the lasting impression it left upon her:
” It was back on Ostara 2011 that I got to attend a Pagan Federation open ritual in St. Buryan.
That year I was living in between Falmouth & Truro, studying musical performance at Falmouth Uni (ex. Dartington College) and I remember that the PF officers were kind enough to arrange a lift for me from Penzance station all the way to St.Buryan. I could have never attended this ritual without their aid, so I am very grateful for the PF and the help they provide to seekers!
Cassandra and Laetitia had so kindly offered their garden for that specific ritual. I have such fond memories of that ceremony. It was a very well thought of and a very well designed ritual. The experience was very emotional and overwhelming for me.
This was the first Pagan ritual I ever attended and the landscape was simply breathtaking!
I remember the lovely cottage, the little stream running through the property with the small stone bridge arching over it, the pond, the old trees framing so beautifully the garden, some geese strolling around and the kids running around hunting for chocolate eggs hidden in the bushes, or on tree branches.
That cottage with its incredible garden, had just sprung out of a fairytale, or out of a magical movie set. It completely fit the picture that I held in mind, about a witch’s dwelling, in the most compelling way!
Attending that day’s ritual was what solidified my feelings about what my personal path was. It is what put my mind at ease, it is what made me certain about earth based spirituality being where I belonged. That feeling I got, of finally reaching “home”, was simply priceless.
An added bonus was being able to experience a Boekka performance -all complete with an Oss- which really amazed me. I knew nothing about Morris dancing or Oss teasing before and I had never seen a hurdy-gurdy before either, so that was a plus too!
There was a very friendly and cozy atmosphere throughout the ritual, the feasting, the before and after of the rite. Cassandra and Laetitia do gather around them some very interesting and nice to be around people.
Another thing that impressed me was how close I would feel to people I had just met. It was striking for me, that during that ritual, life itself in its various stages unravelled and was celebrated.
There was a lady that had brought her new born baby in a pouch, and she presented the baby for the first time to the circle. A lot of people gave creative gifts to the teeny tiny baby, songs, poems, wishes and blessings.
There was another lady that announced her upcoming handfasting, and I even got a very formal written invitation to her handfasting ritual, even if I had just met her.
There was a gentleman, who was part of the ritual team and he was celebrating his retirement, his turning into a Wise Man.
People from literally all ages, all walks of life and from quite distant places were present.
A few years later, I met the two lovely ladies again, as they were facilitating a Morris Dance workshop that was part of Witchfest!
I lived in England for 4 years in total, and in between Cornwall and London, I got to attend many more exciting open rituals and many events -pagan or not-.
But, if someone was to ask me what my most prominent and interesting memory from the UK is, that Ostara ritual is what I would pick. I would chose THAT intriguing story to tell!
After I came back to Greece for reasons beyond my control, I found out about the Village Witch book, and I got an electronic copy of it. It was a real page turner. I could not leave it down!
Not only did it take me back to Cornwall, it did take me back to that feeling of being among real witches, in a land that came straight out of a fairy tale….
I identified with Cassandra on so many levels while reading her book and I am so thankful for her openly sharing her story, her insights, her struggles and her magical pathway…
It helped me greatly at a time when I was properly struggling with my shadow self, at a time that I had very little control over my life . This deeply both human and magical book, actively helped me in one the darkest times of my life. It gave me hope and the conviction that I could create the change that I needed.
I teach English language and culture now in Athens, and at every opportunity I get, I do speak to my students (both young and adult) about the experiences I had, the people I met and the traditions I encountered while living in England… After all, to me, English culture IS about pagan traditions as well. I do speak to them about Cassandra and Laetitia and I see their eyes spark up in wonder and excitement and a lot of them insist on finding out whether these people truly were “real witches”…
I leave that question open for them to answer, but I can only hope that some of them will be curious enough to research further and maybe discover the amazing world where Cassandra and Laetitia live…
A world of real magic, intriguing objects- bull roarers and age forgotten musical instruments-, traditions, dances, jolly good fun, Chalices full of mead, awe inspiring nature and above all a sacred space – a space between space, a time between time- where these modern day enchantresses will craft for you the experience of a life time!
Thank you both for everything,
The following feedback was sent to us by someone who admired our performance and has a wonderful way of describing the impression it left with her………
I was captivated by your presence this summer at Marazion, July 15th, and lost in the power and rhythms of your dance against the dramatic backdrop of the sea beyond. I watched with increased interest and felt the very pulse of darkness and ritual coming from you. My small camera as my eye, I set forth to catch the moments when the wind took the dance to another level entangling with the tassels and flowing fabrics of your garb. For a number of years, coming to Cornwall, I have been entranced by the black carrion crows that seem to flow from place to place, sometimes at St. Ives, a favourite place. I began catching some of their movements and relationships on camera as well. When I saw you this summer the two images collided magically. And so I send to you some of my visions. I also believe in the power of darkness, mystical, dangerous, eternal.”
by Lorraine M. Tong-Oughton