In Howard Morton Brown’s book called Lanark Legacy he wrote that an often forgotten feature of the Lanark county settlement was that people believed in charms, omens, divination and other mystic portents of good and evil. In fact fairies and goblins had seemed to follow the settlers from the old country and were often seen in different spots of Lanark County.
These charms and omens etc. were held to affect such vital matters such as health, crops, and matrimonial and other domestic relations. Witchcraft once held a similar position in our area. One slowly dying belief was that some person or a group of people had the power to reduce the flow of milk of a neighbours cows and secure a corresponding increase from their own cows.
Years ago when I had my store Flash Cadilac in Ottawa I would hear the often delighted and excited conversations about ‘fests’ in Lanark County from some of my customers. It was a highlight of every calendar year, but I had no idea that years later I would become well acquainted with the founder Gina Ellis who was also a writer on the now defunct site Open Salon. She and her family soaked the Lanark land near McDonald’s Corners with their Pagan energy and hard work for a great many years and created what is known today as Witch Hollow.
“Nearly four decades ago I felt the need to flee the madding crowd for sanctuary in the country. I found the place now known as Witch Hollow and lived there happily for many years”- Gina Ellis
From the Witch Hollow Website
One of the first things Gina did was to locate the “moonlit meadow on dusky hill” and that was the Coven of the Silver Wheel so she set up a circle and a stone altar. They worked on it every Spring through Samhain and created a collection of old maypoles, slowly releasing their energy back to the land, show the passage of time.
Gina and her family and friends put together installations – the Ancestors’ Grove, the barn temple, the earth meditation site, the stage and viewing shelters, the spiral, the gardens…
Kaleidoscope began there (then known as Mini-Fest). Years later its grandchild, In-fest, a small informal gathering, was held on the Labour Day weekend. There were women’s weekends, a man’s weekend, Hecate’s Web gatherings, local sabbats and full moons, initiations, and lots of times around the firepit.
But as Gina said, “The Greater Wheel turns, marking the seasons of one’s life, and there came a day when the land and I came to a mutual understanding that we must part, and I found another home, far away. I hoped for a Pagan person to take over the land and care for its special places. I put the word out…to no avail”.
And then Helene walked through the front gate…
And I was able to say to this sacred place “Merry Part.” And hopefully some summer day, for a little time, “Merry Meet Again.”
Gina on her beautiful land. — with Gina Ellis at MacDonald’s Corner.
Located in the Lanark Highlands of Ontario, for the past 35 years these grounds of intense natural beauty have been home to one of Canada’s oldest Covensteads, the Coven of the Silver Wheel. In October 2014 the lands and home were purchased by a long-time practicing Occultist, Helene Arts, and her family. Witch Hollow is now run by Helene Arts and Justin Dickie.
Today Witch Hollow continues to be a place of strong psychic energy and paranormal activity, and is open to the public. The aim of Witch Hollow is to educate and explore in numerous aspects of Magick, Witchcraft and the Occult, through the transmission of knowledge and live experiences. We seek to broaden people’s knowledge and understanding of the Occult, and to work with them using Magick for positive self-help.
Visits and retreats to Witch Hollow are by appointment. If you are interested in visiting Witch Hollow, please contact Justin or Helene at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Witch Hollow also offers education and services through the Bank Street location of
Planet Botanix in Ottawa.
Please visit witchhollow.ca for more information
Witch of Plum Hollow
From a few grains of tea Elizabeth Barnes (1794-1891) was able to read the past, reveal the present and forecast the future. She was born in County Cork Ireland in 1794 and came to the USA with her husband Robert Harrison who died shortly after. She married David Barnes a wandering cobbler and settled in Plum Hollow, north of Athens, west of Frankville. Elizabeth lived there until she died in 1891.
Many people from all over came to consult Elizabeth. She helped so many people that she bacame affectionately known as ‘Mother Barnes’. She located a drowned man in a lake and knew foul play was involved. When a land owner consulted her about selling his property, she predicted real estate gains if he held it and years later it became a profitable gravel pit. She was consulted by a bookkeeper from Kingston whose job with a major New York company was on the line because the books would not balance. In a trance she saw knife cuts on page 89 that changed figures and also numbers which had been erased on page 333. With those corrections, the books balanced. She helped the young man keep his job. Her fame spread throughout Canada and the United States.
Wendy Leblanc added-Linda, the Witch of Plum Hollow had a Carleton Place connection! She was the grandmother of Amy Buchanan who was brought up in the brick house on the south corner of the Charles and Emily Street intersection. I have heard from good sources that the house is haunted! Amy’s family ran the Buchanan Insurance Company and when she married Vern McCarten, it later bcame the Buchanan-McCarten Insurance Company. The family lived and ran the business from the lovely home on Bridge Street across from the end of High Street – now a real estate office. A well-known, community-minded family! Their children, Janet and Doug, live in the Toronto area, I believe, and if they read this, I hope they’ll correct anything I got wrong.