On the advice of many I decided to write a book about my experiences as a village wisewoman which was completed in 2011.
Village Witch can be purchased in most main bookshops or direct from the publishers at: www.mandrake.uk.net/village-witch
Thanks to an amazing synchronicity the 3rd edition of my book arrived hot off the press on exactly the same day as my 1st edition, albeit with five years difference in time!
Just for the record here is a quick run down of my various editions:
For more information about the reasons behind all these revisions:
Preface to the Third Edition
Why the need for a third edition of my book after only five years of publication? Too complex and troublesome to go into here, but essentially due to circumstances beyond my control and as a result of my own misguided altruism.
However, that’s generally how I’ve led my life. I’ve learnt the hard way who I can or cannot trust and I intend to continue to ‘take as I find’. Things and life have moved on considerably since I first put pen to paper as it were all those years ago. Most of what I wrote still stands regarding the work I do, though how I spend my leisure time has altered somewhat, including the type of people I socialise with. No longer do I mix with predominantly Pagan folk but a much more diverse community that reaches worldwide now.
Since I have withdrawn from most of my Pagan commitments I have concentrated more on simply working with the Land and my community. I wanted the images in this edition to reflect this, so I decided to completely change all the photographs to ones that are more up to date and show more of my work in action.
So many books, (and I was guilty of this myself in the early days) show purposely posed photos. Indeed in this day and age, Photoshop has come into its own and has created some wonderfully crafted images. The only downfall to this is when folk believe those glamorous images to be reality and are fooled and seduced by them. This happens when the boundary between fact and fantasy becomes blurred – and some do this deliberately for personal gain. I wanted to remain what I have always purported to be – a down-to-earth, pragmatic village wisewoman. Hopefully the photographic images in this book will record that fact.
A word about my contributors – and this time I chose professionals!
Angie is an accomplished and successful artist and I am delighted to be able to have her illustrations in my book that enhance the text and chapters so well. I admire her hard work and diligence to her professional commitments and I find her interpretations of the natural landscape truly inspiring and visionary.
For more information on Angie and her work contact her website:
John first approached me a couple of years ago at the very first All Hallows Gathering at the Museum of Witchcraft & Magic, Boscastle, Cornwall. He wanted to work with me to build up a photographic portfolio concentrating on what he referred to as ‘old style witchcraft’. His emphasis was on recording what was actually there, rather than finish up with a pristine, air-brushed version of the subject. This realistic, documentary style appealed to me and after viewing examples of his work, we agreed to collaborate together to produce the unique photographs you see in this book. None of them are posed and are taken whilst actively performing magical work. I think the authenticity of them shines through and I am well pleased with them all.
For more information on John and his work contact his website:
I remain grateful to both Angie and John for their stunning contributions to this the Third Edition of Village Witch.
I took the opportunity of getting the above photograph of my talented contributors, Angie Latham and John Isaac at the recent All Hallows Gathering in Boscastle.
I have over the years received gratifying feedback and reviews for Village Witch. Here’s a few examples:
“Cornwall has long held a central place in the esoteric history of the British Isles as a landscape of myth and evocation. Many individuals find in its secluded coves, windswept moors and wooded valleys a connexion with the numinous–with the spirit of place, born of the peculiar quirks of its geography. There are many guides to this hidden Cornwall, and a ready market for them, but there are few books that so readily describes working within this charged environment and of the profound influences it can have upon a life as Cassandra Latham Jones’s Village Witch, first published in 2011.
Now in its second edition, Cassandra’s account of her career and practice as the `Village witch of St. Buryan’ is by turns fascinating, insightful, evocative and even harrowing in places. Over the course of six chapters Cassandra leads the reader on a journey through her earlier life and emotional development, describing how events have shaped her and led her on her path to its current place at the heart of a village community in west Cornwall. Many will have heard Cassandra speak at conferences and so know something of her background but may not appreciate the many difficult circumstances under which Cassandra has had to labour over the years, and some of the material–particularly concerning her childhood–is heart-breaking.
The book charts Cassandra’s emergence as a practitioner dedicated to and absolutely within her local community and the many trials and pitfalls associated with practicing as a cunning-woman and healer in a remote location. As Cassandra notes, it is not an easy life but there are rewards, such as her work with patients as a hospital chaplain (one pitfall being the media circus that erupted following her appointment!). This is not a `how to’ kind of book, but rather an honest appraisal of the methods she uses in her healing work, almost as a facilitator, working with clients in search of a cure. As Cassandra notes, there are not very many descriptions of what consultations were like historically and mostly we do not know what went on exactly between conjuror and client. Cassandra acknowledges that her craft is born of pragmatism and an exploration of what works. Every case is different, and in the chapter of `Wisewomen Tales’ Cassandra relates some of the more memorable cases in her recollection. Village Witch is written in a conversational style and the reader is at once drawn in by the various narratives of the trends and milestones throughout Cassandra’s life, so too the accounts of the visits to Canada and Africa, where she was able to study and compare at first hand the methods used by native folk-healers. Several comments are laugh-out-loud, particularly the budgie mirror on p. 126!
Over the past 40 years the milieu of the `village witch’ or `wise woman’ in the early modern period is one that has attracted significant attention by academics. Investigation of the cunning-man or woman’s role in diffusing anxieties and local tensions surrounding incidents of bewitchment or stolen goods, which in turn reflect social rivalries, suspicions and jealousies, contribute to the understanding of witch beliefs at this time and the way cases could be resolved. In many respects much of this research culminated with Owen Davies’s ground-breaking study of cunning-folk published in 2003. While Village Witch will no doubt inspire others at this present time, it is certain to be of value to future historians of late twentieth and early twenty-first century esoterica and of popular belief in Cornwall at this time.
For this new edition the illustrations have been updated, both photographic and illustrative, providing a pleasing complement to the text. Cassandra has also added a note on her thoughts about the modern pagan scene in Cornwall, and how it has changed over the years. With advancing years, Cassandra notes that she is finding that she has less interest in the new fads within modern paganism and that, with her partner Laetitia, the local community now provides her focus.
Village Witch is an honest account of treading a path through life and breathing new life into old ways, and is heartily recommended. W.D”
“Cassandra’s writing, like her magic, is well-crafted and effective. In a book market deluged by prescriptive texts advising ‘how’ to perform the Craft, her book stands out as a beacon for those seeking insight into what it is like to actually walk the Ancient Path.
The nearest comparison I can draw to Village Witch, is the late Sybil Leek’s Diary of a Witch; since that was published more than forty years ago, this book is long overdue. Good books, like good spells are best cooked slowly, it seems.
Cassandra states that it was not her intention to write an autobiography. Yet, as she narrates her own journey much of Village Witch is inevitably autobiographical in style, charting her life from childhood to professional Wisewoman. This book is firmly grounded within the powerful landscape of West Cornwall and Cassandra home village of St Buryan. She shares with us some of the anarchic history of the area and introduces some of the local folk, human and otherwise.
It is perfectly feasible to consume the pages of Village Witch in an evening, simply enjoying it as a good read. Yet, this book deserves deeper inspection, as there are some real gems contained within its pages, such as Cassandra’s respectful reversal/revision of The Charge of the Goddess. The author offers the reader opportunities for introspection and reflection on issues of ethics and the necessity to avoid the pitfalls of ego, dogma and assumption.
Cassandra doesn’t shy from the Shadows, there is no ‘fluff’ to be found within the covers of this book. It leaves the reader in no doubt that she is a woman who can not only eloquently ‘talk the talk’ but can also purposely ‘walk the walk’.
I suspect that many weathered, wellie-wearing, witches reading Village Witch will find themselves nodding in agreement with Cassandra, as she imparts earthy common sense. Unfortunately, common sense is not always as common as it needs to be and readers with a predilection for crushed-velvet and ‘get witch-quick schemes’ may find this book more challenging. Jean.”
“Very much enjoyed the book. I found it candid, especially in relation to childhood experiences. However it did not dwell on these experiences, & used them solely for demonstrating an example of the background to the path one person found that led them towards the book topic.
I also found the book very informative in terms of the history of both Cornwall & Witchcraft.
The humour of the book carried well. I laughed at the anecdotes that were well described in order to paint the picture.
I would recommend this book to those who are interested in a holistic explanation of someone becoming a village wise-woman/witch, rather than simply a step by step account of how to enter into Witchcraft. L.M.”
I can’t wait to see the third edition of Village Witch – it was a wonderful book before. With Angie’s work between its pages it will be a masterpiece! We have plenty of ‘recipe books’. This is a marvellous account of someone following their heart into the craft against tremendous odds armed with the courage of her convictions and the strength in her heart. It’s beautifully written with ruthless honesty and an open heart. Thank you Cassandra for your bravery and for taking us on a journey through your fascinating and heart-warming history. Some say a witch is made while others claim they are born. This books tells how a witch comes to find her path and what lies at the end. You’ll want to buy two copies so you can share it with someone. C.W.
A link to a review from The Obscurum Society: