Here are a few quotes from William Bottrell mostly from his book "Traditions and Hearthside stories of West Cornwall" but also a few from other sources. They give an idea of the ways of workings, Craft and Lore of the Pellar including a description of various charms as well as the, at least locally famous, spirit Nalgah. The first section is from "Annual visit of the West-Country folks to the Pellar of Helston, to have protection renewed." followed by an explanatory note not found in the book. All were collected before 1870 except the explanatory note, which is slightly later.
Thomasine Blight who is mentioned near the end of this piece claimed to be a member of the line of Pellar founded by Matthew Lutey.
According to ancient usage, the folks from many parts of the WestCountry (i.e. Devon & Cornwall) make their annual pilgrimage to some white witch of repute, for the sake of having what they call "their protection renewed." Spring is always chosen for this object, because it is believed that when the Sun is returning the Pellar has more power to protect them from bad luck than at any other season...
The conjuror received the people and their offerings, singly, in the room by courtesy styled the hale (hall). Few remained closeted with him more than half-an-hour, during which time some were provided with little bags of earth, teeth, or bones taken from a grave. These precious relics were to be worn, suspended from the neck, for the cure or prevention of fits, and other mysterious complaints supposed to be brought on by witchcraft (i.e. ill-wishing). Others were furnished with a scrap of parchment, on which was written the
or the following charm:-
These charms were enclosed in a paper, curiously folded like a valentine, sealed and suspended from the neck of the ill-wished, spell-bound, or otherwise ailing person. The charm is regarded as an instrument of great power, because the magical words read the same backwards as forwards. A gritty substance called witch-powders that looked much like pounded brick (see magic powders page) was also given to those who required it. An aged crone also of the Pellar blood, mother or sister of the white witch in chief, received some of the women upstairs to cure such of the least difficult cases, as simple charming would effect. But the greatest part of them preferred the man, as his charms only were powerful enough to unbewitch them. Instead of the earthy powder, some are furnished with a written charm, which varies according to the feelings of the recipients. Most of the very religious folks (Christians) have a verse of scripture, concluded with the comfortable assurance that, by the help of the Lord, the white Witch hopes to do them good.
But those who have no particular religious sentiments (pagans?) he furnishes with a charm, of which the following is a literal copy:-
On one side of a bit of paper, about an inch and a half by one inch, NALGAH. Here follows a picture of what must have been the conjurors own creation, as such an object was never seen by mortal eyes in the heavens above, the earth beneath, nor in the waters under the earth. The only object we can compare it to is something which is a cross between a headless cherub and a spread-eagle. Underneath what might been intended for angle or bird, there in an egg, on which the creature appears to be brooding. There is another egg at the extremity of one of the out stretched legs of the creature. This picture, which is the most singular part of the charm, can only be represented by the aid of the pencil. The word:-
TETRAGRAMMATON, is under it. On the reverse,
ADONAY HAVE MERCY ON A POOR WOMAN.
From the worn condition of the charm (which had been in use many years before it came into our hands) it is difficult to make out the writing.
Another amulet, which is commonly given by the Pellar to his patients, to be worn suspended from the neck, is a small bag of earth taken from a man's grave.
Besides the above-mentioned precious charms, the Pellar gives his neophytes powders, to throw over their children or cattle to preserve them against witchcraft, ample directions as to the lucky and unlucky times (astrology), and a green salve which is said to be an excellent healing ointment. I have talked with many who have visited the Pellar every spring, for years running, that they might get their protection renewed. Yet there is no finding out all that takes place at the time of this important pilgrimage as the directions are given to each individual separately and all are bound to preserve the greatest secrecy about some portion of the charm or it will do no good. Others were supplied with blood stones, milpreves, or snake-stones, etc manufactured by the Pellar family to be worn as amulets. The blue-stone rings, in which some fancied the pattern of a snake were particularly prized. Because it was believed that those who wore them by that means safe from being harmed by any reptile of the serpent tribe, and that man or beast bit and envenomed, being given some water to drink, where in this stone had been infused would perfectly recover of the poison...
The powder must be thrown over the backs of the cattle, now and then to prevent bad luck. But if any spell of witchcraft happen to strike we must after sunset bring the ill-wished beast into a ploughed field. There bleed it on straw and as the blood and straw are burning together the ill-wisher will either come bodily into the field or his or her apparition will appear in the smoke plain enow for us to know them. Many burn a calf alive to save the rest of their stock, and that ensures them from bad luck for seven or nine years, I've forgotten which. The same as bleeding a white hen on a mill-stone once in a while prevents danger from the mill, for they say the mill will have blood every seven years...
"Yet with all the free talk about the cattle and charms, Mathy, drunk as he was couldn't be got to say a word about the ceremony which is said to have been performed by the Pellar, or priest of the Old One, to protect the persons of his patient against bad luck for the next year."
There has always been profound secrecy observed respecting some of the proceedings, which take place between the white witch and his patients....
A Pellar of great repute in the neighbourhood tells me that this is inscribed with two charms, that Nalgah is the figure (of the spirit) only. The Abracadabra is also supplied, the letters arranged in the usual way. Another potent spell is the rude draft of the planetary signs for the Sun, Jupiter, and Venus, followed by a cross, pentagram, and a figure formed by a perpendicular line and a divergent one at each side of it united at the bottom. Under them is written, ' Whosoever beareth these tokens will be fortunate, and need fear no evil.' The charms are folded in a paper on which is usually written, ' By the help of our Lord these will do thee good,' and enclosed in a little bag to be worn on the breast...
"I went on my knees under a White-thorn tree by the crossroads, and there, for best part of that night, I called on the powers till they helped me cast the spells that gave old Jemmy and his family plenty of junket and sour milk for a time."
"For they (earth spirits) can't endure the Sea, nor anything that comes there from, and, above all they abhor salt; so brine or sea-water."
They bled his diseased cattle on straw, burned the straw and the blood, carried flaming torches of a night around the folds. Fire was also borne with the Sun's course around sown fields. Bonfires were lit and his cattle forced through their flames. Other rites were performed according to old usages only known to Pellars.
The witch (Thomasine Blight), holding her staff (Gwellen) towards the spot where the old woman was buried, began her incantation, or citation, with long strange (old Cornish?) words, slowly pronounced. Then she continued in a louder tone, "Spirit of Jane Hendy, in the name of all the Powers above and below, I summon thee to arise from thy grave and to appear before me and this man! By the spirits of fire, air, earth and water, I summon thee to arise! Come hither, appear and speak to this man! Come!" This she said three times, raising her voice at each repetition until it ended in a shriek.