Cornwall Earth Mysteries Group
CEMG, The Cottage, Crowan, Praze, Camborne TR14 9NB
Web Site: www.meynmamvro.co.uk/earth.htm
Tel: 01209-831519 or 01736-787186
20 years of Cornwall Earth Mysteries Group events
It was in the Summer of 1989 that Meyn Mamvro included a note in its ninth issue that some readers might like to consider starting up a local Earth Mysteries Group with meetings in the Winter and field trips in the Summer. It invited any reader who might be interested to drop MM a line and a number did so. The result was that MM organised a talk by Paul Broadhurst and Hamish Miller on The Sun and the Serpent at Penzance Public Library on 30th November that year. The talk was well attended with about 50 people present, and a Committee was soon formed to run the Cornish Earth Mysteries Group, consisting of Carol Bishop, Paul and Charla Devereux, David and Dorothy Haynes, Andy Norfolk and Cheryl Straffon.
The first meeting was on Jan 27th 1990, and subsequent get-togethers were on the last Friday of the month at the Green Centre in Penzance. Events included a talk by Paul Devereux on Earth Mysteries (Feb), a joint evening with Friends of the Earth on Electro-magnetic radiation (Apr) and a dowsing day with Don Wilkins at Heather Farm, Pendeen (Apr). In the Summer of 1990, the Group organised the first of their site visits, a ley walk following some of the leys around the Merry Maidens area. Over 35 people turned up for this, and it became obvious that there was a lot of interest and support for the Group. In September of that year it started the first of its regular series of winter talks at the Green Centre, and the first season featured Craig Weatherhill As Above So Below, a slide presentation of Penwith's sites from the air; Hamish Miller on Dowsing at Ancient Sites; Nick Johnson (County Archaeologist) and Robin Meneer (ESA Officer) discussing The Future of Cornwall's Past, and the first of the winter socials at Pendeen farm with a walk to Chûn Quoit to see the non-appearance of the Winter Solstice sunset!
Early 1991 brought further talks by Paul Devereux (Earth Mysteries), Rose Lewis (Journey to the Sacred Mountain), and Cheryl Straffon (Ancient Penwith). The summer visits that year were to the Tregeseal stone circle to check out the May Day dawn alignment to Boswens menhir (it didn't align!) and do some dowsing, Nine Maidens (Boskednan) circle for a (very foggy) field day of dowsing, and Boscawen-ûn stone circle. At Boscawen-ûn circle members checked out the sunrise alignment on the 'axe head' carvings on the centre stone, followed by a field day. Ultrasound and radiation readings were taken, with the quartz stone giving lower radiation readings than the other circle stones. Finally, there was a site meeting at the Merry Maidens in August, where some interesting dowsing was done, a 'lost' stone rediscovered, and radiation readings taken. The 1991 Autumn series of talks started with a report of the Summer Activities by Andy Norfolk, a report on the Crop Circles then appearing in Cornwall by George Bishop, and the Winter Solstice annual visit to Chûn Quoit for the (non) sunset and social.
1992 brought another fine collection of talks, which by now had transferred to The Acorn in Penzance to accommodate the increased numbers of people who were now coming. In January Paul Broadhurst spoke on Cornish Holy Wells linking in with his new book 'Secret Shrines'; in February Cheryl Straffon spoke on The Ritual Use of Ancient Sites; in March Paul Devereux on Sacred Sleep; and in April Professor Charles Thomas on Holes in Space and other Fortean items - selected reminiscences of a field archaeologist. This season set the tone for CEMG talks, which have always been an eclectic mixture of mainstream archaeology, 'alternative' researches, and the practical and the spiritual. The 1992 Summer field trips included visits to Tregeseal stone circle (May); Boscawen-ûn (June); Halligye fogou for an imaging session (July); and the Tinners Way Walk (August). Again, the Autumn season started with a report on Summer Activities by Andy Norfolk (September), followed by talks on Arthur -Man and Myth by Craig Weatherhill (October); Wyrd-weaving magic and technology by Tom Graves [in association with The Ley Hunter]; Shamanic Fictions by Alan Bleakley (November); and the annual Chûn walk and Yuletide social at Heather Farm.
1993 talks brought Earth Mysteries by Andy Norfolk (January); Dreams in Steam - working with the hot springs of Bath by Maggie Stewart (February); a special visit by Monica Sjöö in March; and two talks in April: Archaeology of Scilly by Jeanette Ratcliffe and an impromptu talk on the occult and paranormal by author Colin Wilson. It was already becoming clear that CEMG was able to attract big-name speakers from inside and outside Cornwall, though it was interesting that it was often the local researchers and presenters who received a much better reaction than some of the 'outsiders' or big names in the field. This was particularly true this season. The 1993 Summer activities were blessed with some fine weather for the annual Three Wells Walk in May (now a CEMG event), the Zennor Churchway Walk in June, an Imaging Session at Boscawen-ûn circle in July, an awayday to Bodmin Moor (Hurlers) in August, and an investigation of the newly-identified Mên-an-Tol 'stone circle' in September. The Autumn 1993 talks brought some old and new favourites. Helena Patterson spoke about Celtic Lunar Zodiacs; Craig Weatherhill about Cornish Legends; and the father of megalithic research in Cornwall John Michell made a special visit to talk about The Old Stones of Land's End. As usual, the year ended with the Chûn Quoit walk and social.
1994 talks included Paul Broadhurst on his new book Tintagel and the Arthurian Mythos; Cheryl Straffon on her new book Pagan Cornwall: Land of the Goddess; visitor John Billingsley from Northern EM on Earth Mysteries in Japan; and Roy Lake on UFOs. The 1994 Summer activities included the annual Maypole Dance and Three Wells Walk in May; a site visit to Carn Euny Fogou with Ian Cooke explaining the solar alignments in June; a clear-up day at Madron Well and walk along the 'spirit path' to Lanyon Quoit in July; a dowsing day at Chûn Castle where the well was also cleared out in August; and a visit to Carn Brea near Redruth with Kenny May in September to look at the alignments there. Autumn 1994 brought some more speakers from near and far. In September, Jill Smith from the Isle of Lewis brought Whispers from the Edge, an inspirational mix of earth mysteries, art and poetry; in October Kelvin Jones (by then a Committee member of CEMG) spoke about The Meaning of Runes; in November the late Don Wilkins gave an entertaining talk on Dowsing - Old Stones and New Discoveries; and December brought the annual social at Heather Farm and walk to Chûn Quoit.
1995 began with talks by a lively Jill Harris on The Pre-Christian Origin of Celtic Saints; Rose Lewis on Sacred Sites of the Himalayas and Tibet; parapsychologist Serena Roney-Dougal on Where Science and Magic meet; and Andy Norfolk on Dowsing - gift or heresy? Summer events included the annual May activities, a midsummer solstice morning meeting at Carn Brea with Kenny May; a visit to the newly-discovered Grumbla Cromlech at Sancreed; an interesting visit to the St. Breock Downs area, where the existence of a second stone row at the Nine Maidens was dowsed for and identified; and another imaging session at Halligye fogou in September. The Autumn talks included Craig Weatherhill on Megaliths and Meanings; Jacqui Wood on Reconstructing the Bronze Age; a return visit by Jill Smith on A Circle for Callanish; and the winter solstice Chûn visit followed by a Celtic Storytelling session.
1996 brought a memorable performance from self styled Arch-Druid Ed Prynn on Megalithic Mysticism; Jo May of CAER on his experiences of Boleigh Fogou; Cheryl Straffon and Caeia March on their research on Celtic Goddesses; and Kelvin Jones on Witchcraft in Cornwall. This was a particularly successful season of talks, and support was excellent for all the events. Summer 1996 activities included the annual May events; a walk around the Chyanhal standing stones area with Craig Weatherhill in June; a fascinating visit to Jacqui Wood's reconstructed Bronze-Age settlement at Greenbottom in July; a story walk telling the legends of Tregeseal with Kelvin Jones in August; and a visit to Duloe stone circle and Pelynt well in September. The Autumn talks included Andy Norfolk on UFOs, Abductions and Fairies; Jane Thurnall-Read on Geopathic Stress; Jeremy Harte on folklore and legend, entitled In the Hall of the Mountain King; and the usual Chûn Quoit visit and Celtic storytelling, now moved to the home of Committee member Cheryl Straffon in Sennen, following the departure of David and Dorothy Haynes from Heather Farm..
1997 brought a return visit by Jill Harris talking about Solar Games; CAU archaeologist Jackie Nowakowski on Aspects of Life and Death in Bronze Age Cornwall; Barry Reilly on Druidry and the way to sacred space; and visiting researcher Terence Meaden on Sexual Symbolism and Fertility Aspects of Megalithic Art and Monuments. Summer events included the regular May ones; a visit to Pendeen fogou with Ian Cooke in June; a memorable walk to Zennor Quoit and Trendrine Hill in July, where the ancient settlement was revealed after a gorse fire, and the strange and enigmatic hummadruz was heard; an entertaining visit to Ed Prynn's Seven Sisters stone circle in August; and an investigation of the energies and alignments of the Lizard in Sept. That summer was a particularly memorable series of site visits. Autumn 1997 talks were an eclectic mix that included Craig Weatherhill on The First and Last Wilderness; Ken George on Megalithic Astronomy; John Downes on Morgawr, the Owlman and other Fortean animals; and the Chûn Quoit visit and Celtic storytelling, now moved to Age Concern in St.Just.
With the temporary closure of The Acorn in early 1998, the talks moved to the Queens Hotel and produced huge turnouts (average 100 people a time) for talks by Hamish Miller on The Earth Responds; Caitlin Matthews on The Spells of Women; and Cassandra Latham on The Work of the 20th Century witch in West Penwith. Summer activities that year included the May events; dowsing St.Levan's mythic pathway at Bodellan near Porthcurno in June; a Well-Sprung Walk around some wells and springs of St.Just with Rory Te'Tigo (by now a Committee Member) in July; a visit to some Lesser-Known sites of West Penwith (Carfury menhir, the Bosiliack stone, Bosiliack Barrow and Fenton Bebibell well) with Cheryl Straffon in August; and a visit to St.Nectan's Glen and Rocky Valley near Boscastle in September. These years were the heyday of CEMG, with well-attended talks, site visits, new discoveries and a friendly and companionable group of fellow enthusiasts, eager to share knowledge and experiences together. In Autumn 1998 the Group moved back to the Acorn with a talk by Chesca Potter on The Greenwood Tarot and Wheel of the Year; Heather Campbell on Feng-Shui and the Penwith Landscape; and the annual Chûn visit and Celtic Storytelling in St.Just.
1999 was the Total Eclipse of the Sun year, which was prefaced by a talk by Sheila Bright in January on Living in Time: seasons, cycles and spirals; John Attwood from the Rollright Stones Trust on How to buy a stone circle and survive!; and Dennis and Chrissie Holwill on A Memory of the Future, focussing on the pyramids of Egypt and psychic energy forces. After the usual May events, there were the Summer visits: Leskernick Hill settlement on Bodmin Moor; more lesser known sites of West Penwith, where 30 people walked to Treen Common circle, Bosporthennis holy well, Bosporthennis Beehive Hut and Bosigran Courtyard House Settlement; the first of the Lammas picnics on Trencrom Hill; and a site visit with some new ideas at the Merry Maidens circle, the Pipers and Boleigh fogou with Rod and Lavinia Blunsden, who were now Committee members. The last season of the decade started with talks in the Autumn by Rob Stephenson from the London Earth Mysteries Group on Ancient Sites and psycho-spiritual practices; author Paul Newman on Hill Figures; and a return visit by Chesca Potter on Celtic Shamanism, followed byr the December Chûn Quoit visit and Celtic Storytelling.
2000 started with talks by Jan Machin on The Western Mystery Tradition, archaeologist Peter Herring on Prehistoric Bodmin Moor; Geraldine Andrew from Harmony Pottery on The Wheel of the Year - seasonal rituals; and Kelvin Jones on Folklore and Witchcraft. The Summer activities started as usual with the Maypole Dance (this year accompanied by a team of pagan-style Mummers) and the Three Wells Walk, and continued with site visits to Mid-Cornwall (including Roche Rock, St.Gundred's Well, Castle-an-Dinas - where the whole Group fell asleep!, and the Devil's Quoit cromlech; a story walk with Kelvin Jones to Botrea Barrows and the old Celtic Chapel at Boscence; the second Lammas Picnic at Trencrom Hill and visit to Bowl Rock and Beersheeba standing stone; and a walk around The First and Last Sites of Lands End, including the little-known Sennen menhir, Table Maen, and the King Arthur Stone, finishing at the newly-constructed World's End stone circle, which gave the Group very bad vibes! The 11th annual season of talks began in Autumn 2000 with Philip Heselton on A History of Earth Mysteries; followed by mystic Sheila Jeffries on The Cornish Landscape Zodiac and the stars of Orion; Graham King on The Museum of Witchcraft at Boscastle; and the Yuletide Chûn Quoit visit and Celtic Storytelling.
This was followed in 2001 by a visit from Monica Sjöö on The Norse Goddess; a return visit by Jill Smith on Mother of the Isles; author Robin Payne on his book The Romance of the Stones; and author Serena Roney-Dougal on The Celtic Lunar Zodiac, showing that CEMG was still attracting big names to come and talk. The Summer 2001 events started with the Maypole Dance as usual, but this was the year of the Foot and Mouth crisis, and the Three Wells Walk was, for its first and only time, postponed until the last Sunday of the month. The June walk was postponed for similar reasons, but in July there was a special weekend visit to the Foot and Mouth-free Isles of Scilly. On the Friday evening the Group visited the museum on St.Marys and on Saturday there was a walk right around St.Marys, where many interesting sites were explored and discoveries made. On the Sunday the Group chartered a boat to visit the uninhabited off-island of Nor Nour, with its Romano-Celtic settlement and shrine. Finally, on the Monday some of the Group remaining went to to the island of Gugh, where more exciting discoveries were made. This weekend was perhaps the highlight of any of CEMG's Summer outings, and one that remains strongly in the memory. The 3rd annual Lammas picnic took place on Trencrom Hill in August 2001, and in September there were two site visits: at the beginning of the month to Porthallow Vineyard where Sheila Jeffries showed the Landscape Zodiac and mystic sites, followed by a return visit to Halligye fogou; and at the end of the month a storytelling walk by Kelvin Jones around Newlyn, Mount Misery (hill fort?), Castle Horneck and Lesingey Hill Fort, entitled "Bucca, Borlase and By-Ways". 2001 was definitely a year of re-scheduled visits, as a talk by Aubrey Burl, planned for October, had to be postponed until 2002 because of his illness. So the talks started in November with Andy Norfolk on Faeries, strange lights and Celtic Gods, which covered almost everything! This was followed by the Chûn visit and Celtic Storytelling in December.
The series of talks resumed in early 2002 with Caradoc Peters on The Carn, the Knocker and the Reliquary: Rock-ancestor dreaming in the prehistoric south-west; Ian Addicoat on Haunted Penwith; Cheryl Straffon and Sheila Bright on The Goddess in the Temple: Life Death and Rebirth at Maltese Temple sites; and Martin Matthews, Curator of Helston Folk Museum, on Peculiarities: folklore, legends and artefacts of the Helston area. The talks continued to be a wide-ranging mixture of earth mysteries, folklore and spiritual topics, and this was particularly evident this year. After the Maypole Dance and Three Wells Walk, Summer 2002 visits continued with the first Lesser-known sites of the Kerrier area with Andy Norfolk, visiting Crowan Church, Prospidnick menhir, Wendron Nine Maidens circle, Men Amber stone and Vincents Well. In July Howard Balmer led a visit to the stone circle he had discovered surrounding St.Eval church, and the hidden cave of Porthcothan Vau, where a Neolithic axehead had been found. In August there was the 4th annual Lammas Picnic on Trencrom Hill; and in September a walk with Rodney Blunsden around lesser-known sites in the Paul area (Paul church and Sheela-na-Gig, Castallack Round and Vau and Kerris Round and Inscribed Stone). The Autumn 2002 talks started with Aubrey Burl making a special visit to talk about how Stone Circles Grow Up; followed by something of an international flavour of topics, that included Michael Kent on Egyptian Magic; Jane Pugh on Adventures on the Inca Trail;and the Chûn visit and Celtic Storytelling, which was still attracting 40+ people each year.
In 2003 the talks continued with Howard Balmer on Discovering St.Eval and Carnac; Jan Machin on Egyptian Goddesses; Craig Weatherhill on Legends of Ancient Sites; and Jude Currivan on Cosmic Geomancy: the harmonics of consciousness. The 15th Maypole Dance in 2003 was celebrated with a birthday cake, a good turn-out of over 60 people and a nice write-up and photo in 'The Cornishman'. The Summer activities continued with The Three Wells Walk; the second of Andy Norfolk's Lesser-known sites of Kerrier area (Maen Pearn and Maen Pol stones, Piskey Hall fogou and Tolvan stone); the second of Howard Balmer's visits to the standing stones and barrows of the St.Eval area; the 5th annual Lammas picnic on Trencrom Hill; and a walk around the Ch.Carn Brea-Bartinney wells with Rory Te'Tigo. Autumn 2003 brought talks and presentations from Julie Walker on Manx Island Essences; Michèle Brown on Shamanic Practices; and Geraldine Andrew and Cheryl Straffon on Sacred Ireland. The Chûn visit had no sunset as usual, but this year a glorious full rainbow, and the Celtic Storytelling was curtailed by an unexpected power cut!
2004 brought talks from Pam Masterton on The Chakras and Cundalini; archaeologist Paul Bonnington on Chapel Carn Brea; Steve Gardner on Approaching the Sacred Site; and Howard Balmer on Padstow's Obby Oss, with a unique film of the event from the 1950s. After the May events, Summer 2004 outings went to Cranken near Newmill with Raymond Cox ('Strange Lights and Courtyard Houses'); the 3rd Lesser-known sites of Kerrier with Andy Norfolk (Crowan Beacon circle, Calvadnack Tor settlement and Carn Marth); the 6th Lammas Picnic; and on the hottest day of the year a visit with Sandra Hutchings to sites in the St. Austell area (Gwallon stone, Towan Well, Caerloggas Down neo-circle and Menacuddle well) + welcome cream tea! Autumn 2004 talks were by Steve Patterson, ostensibly on Cornish Witchcraft; Valentia Lithryn on New Energies for the New Millenium; Pamela Gray on The Science of Healing; and the Chûn walk and Celtic Storytelling.
2005 continued with Pat Angove on The Sacredness of Sacred Sites; Marcus Mason on Eclipses, Planetary Grids and Soul Awakening; Gloria Falconbridge on Celtic Totem Animals in Myth and Legend; and Andy Worthington on Stonehenge and the Druids. Noticeably the numbers of audiences were beginning to fall away, and coupled with a rise in the cost of hiring The Acorn and the difficulty of finding new speakers locally, it seemed as if the talks were coming to an end. After the May events the 2005 Summer outings continued with Paul Bonnington on Coastal barrows at Nanjulian (a day with heavy mist and rain); Cheryl Straffon on King Arthur's Downs and Garrow Tor; the St.Michael's Way from Carbis Bay to Trencrom Hill; and Geraldine Andrew on St.Agnes well and chapel, the Beacon and carving at Trevaunance. Autumn 2005 brought talks by archaeologist Peter Rose on Caves in Cornwall; Cheryl Straffon on Megalithic Mysteries in Cornwall; and the Chûn walk and Storytelling.
2006 talks were by Andy Norfolk on Song Lines: myths in the landscape; Barry Reilly on Moving between the Three Worlds of Druidry; and Gloria Falconbridge on Mythical Beasts After the May events, Summer outings were by Bart O'Farrell Dowsing down the Lizard (Dry Tree menhir, Croft Pascoe barrow, Grade Church and St.Rumon's Well); Cheryl Straffon on the Treen Circular (Treen entrance graves, Bosporthennis Hut and Quoit and Treen circle); Andy Norfolk on Tegonning and Godolphin Hills; and Cheryl Straffon and Geraldine McCarthy to Holywell Bay Cave and St.Cubert's Well, with a record 40 people. Autumn 2006 brought a return visit by Jill Smith on Journeying into the Land and The Lunar Standstill; Craig Weatherhill on Folklore of the Stones; Alan Neil on Dowsing Ancient Sites; and the Chûn walk and Storytelling. This was the last season of talks, and from now on the Group concentrated on outings, and activities with the newly-formed West Cornwall Dowsers Group, who together started to make interesting new on-site discoveries.
After the May festivities, Summer 2007 outings were with Bart O'Farrell More Dowsing Down the Lizard (Three Brothers of Grugith, Crousa Common menhirs and Tidal Rock); Ian Cooke on the Mên-an-Tol circular walk; Andy Norfolk on a 'Songlines' walk from Chapel Carn Brea to Chapel Euny wells; and John Ashton leading a return visit to St.Nectan's Glen (where a holed stone was found in the pool), Rocky Valley mazes and St.Julitta's Well. There was the usual Yule gathering, but with smaller numbers the Storytelling moved to Cheryl Straffon's home at Boscaswell Village.
In 2008 there were the 20th Anniversary Maypole and Three Wells Walk celebrations, and the final Summer 2008 season consisted of Bart O'Farrell Even more dowsing down the Lizard (Kynance Gate settlement and Lizard village stones); Carn Brea and Carwynnen Quoit with Andy Norfolk and Pip Richards; and the climax of a joint CEMG/Society of Ley Hunters visit (during their Moot in Cornwall) to Tregeseal Common, where the Group had first gone in 1991, as the wheel turned full circle. The final season ended with the 20th anniversary of gathering to see the Chûn Quoit sunset, which true to form was cloudy! Celtic Storytelling followed at Whitewaves, and 20 years of CEMG was celebrated with feasting and good memories of a cornucopia of fascinating talks, walks, original research, and companionship and friendship.