Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Pagan Eye: A March Hare in London Street Art

You don't get many wild hares in London, but here's one from East London street art. Although I took the photo above back in December, I'm sharing it now, on the last day of March, when the Mad March Hare gives way to the time of the tame Easter Bunny. I would imagine that by now the brown leaves are gone and those wall vines are starting to look green again.

My Pagan Eye posts show photos that I find interesting - seasonal images, pagan sites, events, or just pretty pictures. If you want to send me a photo for a Pagan Eye post, please email it to badwitch1234@gmail.com Let me know what the photo shows and whether you want your name mentioned or not. For copyright reasons, the photo must be one you have taken yourself.

Links and previous related posts

Monday, 30 March 2015

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Fortean London: The Sacred and Profane

London's hidden goddesses, seditious shrines and guerilla gardening as acts of magic were the topics at Fortean London: Sacred and Profane last Thursday. I went along to hear Caroline Wise, Peter Watts and John Constable give short talks touching those subjects. Here are my notes on what was said:

Caroline Wise and London’s Lost Goddess
Legends say London was founded on words of a goddess. According to Geoffrey of Monmouth in his History of the Kings of Britain, the Trojan hero Brutus sailed to England and founded London - but it was the goddess Diana who told him to do so. When his ships stopped off at an island, he found a ruined temple to the goddess Diana. She appeared to him in a dream and said he would sail to a land beyond Gaul, settle there and find land inhabited by giants. He landed in Devon where, the story goes, he did indeed find and fight giants, capturing two of them - Gog and Magog. Brutus then travelled to what is now London and made his palace at the site where the Guildhall now stands.

Although Brutus is legend, there are statues of Gog and Magog at the Guildhall and, in fact, a Roman amphitheatre has been found under the building.

Brutus, being a Trojan, called London New Troy. The labyrinth was the symbol of Troy and, interestingly, there are labyrinth symbols appearing at Underground stations all over London now. These are part of art project, but it is as if the subconscious of the people in the city are allowing that symbol to resurface, even if they are not aware of where the symbol came from.

There are also legends that St Paul’s Cathedral is on a site of an old temple of the goddess Diana. St Paul stamped out the worship of Diana and destroyed her temples at Ephesus. It is debatable whether there was really a Dianic temple at St Paul's. Academics go to great lengths to say there was no temple to Diana there, but legends are persistent.

A statue of the goddess Diana was found about 300yds from St Paul’s in the early 20th century when rebuilding Goldsmith’s Hall. Also, a broken statue of Diana was found at the Guildhall.  In 1634 the Bishop of Norwich wanted money to repair St Paul's and used the legend of  the Dianic temple as part of a fundraising campaign. He said the cathedral had replaced a shrine to Diana, and St Paul had been installed and Diana evicted. In one feast of commemoration of hunting that historically took place at St Paul's, a stag was paraded around the church, killed and its head put on pole before the rest was roasted for a feast.

The cult of Queen Elizabeth I is also intriguing. She could not marry because many Continental royalty were Catholic, but as she got older and would obviously be childless she was cast in roles of the virgin goddesses Diana and Phoebe, the chaste moon goddess, because that was less blasphemous than envisaging her as the Virgin Mary. The statue of Elizabeth at St Dunstan’s has moon goddess symbolism, while poetry written to her at the time saw her as a moon goddess too.

In the 20th century parallels were drawn between the goddess Diana and Diana, Princess of Wales.

The Cosmati pavement in Westminster Abbey is the spot where royalty are traditionally crowned. It represents Christendom radiating outwards as well as the elements and the cosmos. Charles and Diana's wedding was switched to St Paul's at the last minute. Caroline Wise said that from that moment, "The mythos went wrong". Princess Diana found out the night before her wedding that her husband was having an affair.

Caroline said: "I wonder if the reason the venue was switched was because Charles did not want to stand on the Cosmati pavement and lie in his marriage vows."

We all know the tragic story of the end of Princess Diana's life - she was hounded by photographers and died in a terrible reversal of the story associated with Diana, goddess of hunting.

Caroline summed up by saying there is no reason there wouldn't have been a Roman temple in the middle of the city. She said: "Whereas the goddess Diana was consciously invoked in Elizabeth I by people because it was right for the time, perhaps it was not right for Princess Diana, as the story all went awry."

You can read more about London's goddesses in the Guide to Legendary London,which Caroline contributed to.

Peter Watts on London’s Shrines
Shrines created unofficially by grieving members of the public after someone has died are a modern phenomena. We see them everywhere these days, often things like flowers tied to lamp posts and broken bicycles by dangerous roads. Harking back to Caroline Wise's topic, the biggest version of these public shrines was when Princess Diana died.

Peter Watts said he walked through Hyde Park shortly after her death and the closer you got to Kensington Palace the more flowers you saw.

He said: "There was a a waist-high carpet of flowers. They were rotting in the heat of the summer and people were wandering around looking at labels."

Peter said he found it incredibly powerful, but also seditious.There was a lot of talk in the press about how the royal family were not paying attention to what people felt and that this shrine was in a way revolutionary. There are these types of public shrines to famous people including rock stars, There is one outside Amy Winehouse’s home, one at Freddy Mercury’s house. Abbey Road is a shrine for the Beatles. Mark Bolan has a shrine at tree he crashed into. There is an official statue there now, but Peter felt that detracted from the sentiment in the unofficial memorials.

There are some similar shrines in history, Bayswater Road Convent has a basement chapel in which the walls are covered in relics - body parts such as bones and of Catholic martyrs hanged at Tyburn. There is also a replica of a gallows.

You will often find coconut shells in the canals of west London, close to Southall. These are a Hindu offerings to Ma Ganga; coconuts are seen as the fruit of the gods. Graffiti shrines – street art – commemorate things like the Battle of Cable Street. Sometimes councils take exception to street art and remove it.

Some shrines can be quite strange. There are places linked to fictitious characters including a phone box covered in messages to Sherlock Holmes after he faked his death in the TV show. There is another shrine to Ziggy Stardust. Broken skateboards from Southbank undercroft are ceremoniously thrown into the Thames, but many can still be seen as they have deliberately been aimed to land on a platform under a nearby bridge. There was at one time a spoons shrines to drug addicts in tribute to dead fellow users (pictured). However, that shrine has now been cleaned up and is no more. Peter said it seems sad, as though these people are being officially erased from public memory

The subject of leaving things like flowers, ribbons and other memorials to create unofficial shrines is controversial. Some see it as leaving rubbish and creating a mess, but others see it as the public making sure their feelings - often of grief - are noticed. These shrines are in a way an act of sedition and rebellion, and very powerful.

John Constable on Crossbones Graveyard
Crossbones Graveyard is perhaps one of the finest examples of ordinary people creating a shrine that has gone on to become a lasting memorial. This was what John Constable, who started the shrine to prostitutes and paupers in Southark, talked about.

The Southwark Mysteries was written by John Constable in his shamanistic persona of John Crow, after being inspired by the Goose - a spirit of the Winchester Geese, as the prostitutes of the area around Southwark Cathedral were called. Although he had researched Southwark and the borough and knew about Winchester Geese, it was only after being inspired to write his first poem that he found out about Crossbones Graveyard, the unmarked and unhallowed land on which the poor of the area were buried in times past.

His attempt to raise awareness of this broke out of a literary form into a reclaiming of the site that was being used to build the Jubilee Line Extension. During the building work, many skeletons had been dug up and destroyed. John Contable and other felt this was wrong. Little by little the work began to create a shrine for the outcasts. Events such as Halloween at Crossbones and other performances took place to remember and revive the spirits of Crossbones. John Constable said he felt called beyond the role of writer.

He began holding rituals on the 23rd of every month to honour the Goose at the gates, and these ceremonies still take place. The gate are a shrine to the outcast dead, and now the outcast living too. People have hung ribbons on the gates over the decades since the ceremonies began.

After many years of being a protest shrine, London Underground has taken the idea of creating a permanent memorial on board. Recently it has moved the gates to a better position and a garden is being officially created beyond them. John Constable said that the gates are a dividing space between the living and the dead.

For many years Crossbones was a guerilla garden; unofficial. Transport for London has now granted a three-year lease to BOST and work is going on to create Crossbones Garden as a public space.

John Constable said: "I am pleased, but there is a double edge because there is a sense that it becomes mainstream and some of the magic is lost. It seems to me that this is the way this had to happen, it was only viable with the support of the community and a truce with the underground."

To find out more about Crossbones, visit the BOST website at http://www.bost.org.uk/open-places/crossbones-graveyard/ or the Crossbones Graveyard site: http://www.crossbones.org.uk/

To find out more about London Fortean Society events, visit the website: http://forteanlondon.blogspot.co.uk/

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Planting Bee-Friendly Flower Seeds in Egg Shells

It is Earth Hour this evening - the annual call to turn off the electric lights and gadgets for an hour after it gets dark as a small gesture to helping the environment. Tonight I'll be joining in with Earth Hour, but I thought I'd also do something environmentally friendly during the day.

I'd seen a meme going around on Facebook showing egg shells being used to grow plants from seeds. Seeing as I've been enjoying boiled eggs with bread-and-butter soldiers for my lunch recently, I thought I'd save up the egg shells and have a go.

I carefully washed out the shells and popped them back into the egg box. Then, I nearly filled them with compost from my own garden, popped a couple of seeds for bee-friendly flowers in each, put more compost on top and gave them a watering.

They are now sitting in my window sill. Hopefully some seedlings will grow from them and I'll be able to plant them out in the garden to help the bees.

Egg shells also make great containers for seed bombs, if you fancy a little guerrilla gardening as an Earth Hour activity. I would recommend using a small amount of wet clay to seal the open top of the egg though, unless you are very good at keeping an egg box upright while carrying it around.

Earth Hour is from 8.30pm-9.30pm tonight, wherever you are in the world. For more details about it, visit http://www.earthhour.org/

There is also a pagan Earth Hour ceremony taking place in London this evening. You can find out more here: http://www.meetup.com/London-Woodland-Witches-Outdoor-Pagans/events/219778814/

Previous related posts:

Friday, 27 March 2015

This Week's Pagan Events In and Near London

Here are some of the events that could interest pagans in the week running up to Easter. Most are in London, a few are in other parts of England.

Now - 25 May; Goya: The Witches and Old Women Album. Art Exhibition at The Courtauld Institute of Art, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 0RN. Open 10am-6pm daily. Entry: £7.50. Details: www.courtauld.ac.uk

Now - 31 May; Surreal England - Leonora Carrington, Pailthorpe and Mednikoff, Robin Ironside and Austin Osman Spare. Exhibition at The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art and Natural History, 11 Mare St, London, E8 4RP. Museum open Wednesday - Sunday 11am - 10pm. Tickets £3. More details: http://www.thelasttuesdaysociety.org/

Friday 27 March; New stories from Sutton Hoo. Venue: BP Lecture Theatre, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Time: 6.30pm-7.30pm. Tickets £5, advance booking recommended. For more details visit: https://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/events_calendar.aspx

Friday 27 March; Dark River - London Dreamtime storytelling at a secret location near Bermondsey Tube. Time: 6.45pm. £3. Adults only, advance booking essential, email vanessa@londondreamtime.com. For more details visit http://londondreamtime.com/calendar/

Friday 27 March; Forgiveness - The Greatest Gift to Myself. Talk by Pierre Pradevande at The College of Psychic Studies, 16 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2EB. Time: 7pm-8.30pm. Cost: £10/£12 Advance booking advised. For details call: 020 7589 3292 or visit https://www.collegeofpsychicstudies.co.uk/

Friday 27 March; Creating True Lies. Talk by Dr. Robert A. Gilbert at Rilko (Research Into Lost Knowledge). Venue: 50 Gloucester Place, London W1U 8EA. Doors open 6.45pm, lectures starts 7.15pm. Entrance: £8/£6. http://www.rilko.net/EZ/rilko/rilko/home.php

Saturday 28 March; Exploring the Deer Mother - Elen of the Ways Workshop with Caroline Wise, author of Finding Elen. Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Tickets £45 (£25 deposit, balance due on the day). Time: 10.45am to 5.30pm. Booking essential and limited places. Tel: 020 7240 8906 or email: info@treadwells-london.com. http://www.treadwells-london.com/

Saturday 28 March; Crossbones Garden Open Day with performances. Enter by Union Street gate, London SE1 1TA. Nearest tubes Borough or London Bridge. Time: 1pm to 4pm. The event is free, but donations are welcome. For more info contact: info@bost.org.uk

Saturday 28 March; Unveiling of a blue plaque to Charles Hoy Fort (1874-1932), founder of Forteanism, the study of anomalous phenomena. Outside 39 Marchmont Street, WC1N 1AB. Time: 2pm. http://marchmontassociation.org.uk/news-article.asp?ID=200

Saturday 28 March; Earth Hour 2015 - Eco Ceremony and Candle-lit Social in London with London Woodland Witches Wiccans Eco-Magicians and Outdoor Pagans. Meet by the Inn The Park, St James Park, London, SW1A 2BJ. Time: 7.30pm- 10.30pm. Bring food and drink to share. For full details and to reserve a place, visit: http://www.meetup.com/London-Woodland-Witches-Outdoor-Pagans/events/219778814/

Saturday 28 March; Earth Hour - turn off the electric lights and gadgets for an hour from 8.30pm-9.30pm wherever you are in the world. For more details visit: http://www.earthhour.org/

Saturday 28 - Sunday 29 March; Leaping Hare convention 2015. Talks and workshops by Karen Cater, Wassailing; Joanna van der Hoeven, Nemetona, Goddess of the Grove, Nimue Brown, Spirits of Place. Also storytelling, drumming and ritual. More details: http://www.freewebs.com/leapinghare/

Sunday 29 March; Cross Bones Guided Walk with John Constable. Meet at Tabard Street, London SE1 1JA, in the pedestrian area between St George The Martyr church and Crossbones Gardens at 1.45pm for 2pm start (note, British Summer Time). Nearest tube: Borough. Tickets: £9/£8 concessions. Advance booking http://www.wegottickets.com/event/312051 or pay on the day at 1.45pm.

Sunday 29 March; The Kith of Yggdrasil Pub Moot- Fiona Mackenzie will be talking on Seidr, the first Seeress, and the Oseberg Gythia. Venue: The Horseshoe Inn, 26 Melior Street, London SE1 3QP. Time: 2pm-5pm. For more details email Phil at thekithofyggdrasil@hotmail.co.uk.

Sunday 29 March; Creating Personal Mythology. Lecture by Ken Rees. Venue: Theosophical Society, 50 Gloucester Place, London W1U 8EA. Starts at 2pm. Tickets: £15, £10 concessions, £7 TS members. http://www.theosophicalsociety.org.uk

Sunday 29 March; The Wisdom Teaching of the Upanishads. Talk by Bhupendra Vora. Venue: Theosophical Society, 50 Gloucester Place, London W1U 8EA. Starts at 6pm. Tickets: £7, £5 concessions, £4 TS members http://www.theosophicalsociety.org.uk

Monday 30 March; Tarot Meditation: Justice, with Marysia Kolodziej. Venue: Treadwells, 33 Store Street, Bloomsbury, London WC1E 7BS. Time: 7.15pm for 7.30pm start. Tickets £10. Advance booking required. Call 0207 419 8507. For further details: info@treadwells-london.com http://www.treadwells-london.com/

Tuesday 31 March; Sound Meditation. Venue: Goose Green Clinic, 57 East Dulwich Road, London SE22 9AP. Time: 10.45am. Cost: £10. More information and booking: http://www.meetup.com/Holistic-SoundBath-Meditation-Summoning-The-Sacred-Dulwich/

Tuesday 31 March; Chertsey Moot. A social moot held on the last Tuesday of the month at the Golden Grove pub, Ruxbury Road, St Annes Hill, Chertsey, Surrey, KT16 9EN. All welcome. From 8pm to 11pm. For more details, email: sian_ap_pysgotwr@yahoo.co.uk

Tuesday 31 March; Wicca: Another little social evening hosted by Wiccan High Priestess Caroline Westbury.. South London Wicca Meetup meeting at Imperial Durbar, 14 Trinity Road, Tooting Bec, SW17 7RE. Start time 7pm. Free but you must reserve a place in advance. Details at: http://www.meetup.com/South-London-Wicca-Meetup/

Wednesday, 1 April; The Witches' Inn. Pagan moot at The Feathers Hotel, 42 High St, Merstham, Redhill, Surrey RH1 3EA. Starts at 8pm. Moots are on the first Wednesday of each month. https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Witches-Inn/1568424150049437

Thursday 2 April; Change Your Mind, Heal Your Body.Talk and book signing by Anna Parkinson at Watkins Books, 19-21 Cecil Court, London WC2N 4EZ. Time: 6.30pm. Free event. For more details Tel 020 7836 2182 or visit the website http://www.watkinsbooks.com/

Friday, 3 April; Sacred Walks and The Kingston Zodiac Adventure - walking Aries in the The Kingston Zodiac. Meet in the car park of Hounslow Heath, Off the Staines Road, Hounslow TW4 5ABL at noon. Walk takes about 2 hours. Cost £10/£5, advance booking required: http://www.meetup.com/Sacred-Walks-Kingston-Zodiac-Adventure/

Sunday 5 April; Mythic and Legendary London Guided Walk with Caroline Wise. Meet at a location near the Strand. Time: 1pm-4.30pm. Wear suitable shoes and raincoat/umbrella. Cost: £15. To reserve a place and get details of the meeting point, email starofelen@gmail.com.

The information above is correct to the best of my knowledge, but I do not organise any of these events and am not responsible for them. If you spot anything that needs changing or know of any other pagan events that you would like to see listed, please email badwitch1234@gmail.com