Wednesday 11 March 2009

A Wayside Shrine to Gods Unknown

This mysterious shrine is at the side of an thatched cottage deep in woods in East Sussex.

Last weekend I went for a country walk across fields towards the clifftops not far from Beachy Head. When I reached the cliffs, I turned and walked along the edge. It was a glorious spring day; the sky was blue and the sun was shining although the wind was bracing and I could see huge breakers crashing on the beach far below.

After a few miles struggling against the wind, I turned inland once more, first scrambling up a chalky slope and then heading down a dirt track into sheltered woodlands. It was in the heart of this wood of ancient lichen-encrusted trees that I came upon the old cottage with its modern shrine next to the outer wall. Fresh offerings of trinkets, toys and flowers were on a small altar.

Thousands of years ago, our pagan forbears might slit have the throats of horses to appease the ancestors and gods and goddesses who liked such things in bloodier times. But they have long since metamorphosed into gentler deities, who do not demand sacrifice. The wafting smoke from incense or a libation of wine are far more likely to be offered in this day and age.

Who or whatever this wayside shrine honoured, I hope they would be pleased with the My Little Pony left as an offering on the altar, although it was certainly a curious thing to see on a Sunday morning walk.



Anonymous said...

How great to find this shrine! And I love that you left a My Little Pony! I'm certain the godesses and gods are pleased.

Badwitch said...

It wasn't me who left the My Little Pony. It was there already when I saw the shrine. I did think it was lovely though!