Is there any witch who has not sometimes dreamt of living the life of a village wisewoman? Well, Cassandra Latham-Jones is the real deal. She was the first person in the UK to be registered with the tax office as a full-time self-employed witch. Her book Village Witch is part autobiography and part a guide to the skills you need if you fancy following in her footsteps. The third edition came out recently.
One of the things I love about this book is that it is down to earth. It describes how tough it is to earn a living from being a self-employed wisewoman, but it also shows how satisfying a life it can be for someone who feels the calling and is prepared to put in the years of hard work necessary to learn the trade.
You notice I talk about learning a trade rather than becoming initiated into a spiritual path. That’s because traditional wisewomen, cunning folk and the like did a job in their community – helping heal the sick, finding lost things, contacting departed spirits, looking into the future and protecting properties and livestock from threats, for example. They weren’t priests and priestesses. Or, at least, that wasn’t what they earned their keep from being.
Publisher Mandrake of Oxford says on its website:
Village Witch describes life as a village wisewoman in the wilds of West Cornwall. The first part of the book documents the tortuous and sometimes harrowing journey to achieve this unusual occupation. It is a tale that ultimately moves through surviving and into thriving. Cassandra’s past experiences directly inform her present practice and are intrinsic to being a wisewoman – she acquires wisdom from actively experiencing and observing the vagaries of life.
Following on from this, Cassandra tells of the practice of her craft, which includes many stories and observations regarding the day-to-day experiences of a traditional wisewoman including her personal approach to magic.
Village Witch is an enjoyable read. Cassandra writes in an engaging style and her life story is a page-turner. The things she went through in her younger days would have made many people crumble. Although my own life has been very different from that of Cassandra, aspects of her book resonated with me strongly. I grew up in London and call myself a city witch, but my great-grandfather on my mother’s side came from Cornwall and I have always felt at home when I have visited the area.
I may possibly have met Cassandra, too. She describes in her past going to Greenham Common Peace Camp for an Easter Protest in which everyone joined hands around the wire fence. Well, I was at that protest too, so in a way we touched hands long before her book touched my life. The book has inspired me to learn more about traditional Cornish witchcraft too.
Village Witch can be ordered through Mandrake of Oxford, Treadwell’s Bookshop or Amazon.
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