Cross Bones Vigil, Goose Night and Crow’s Swan Song

23rd November 2019

‘Goose Night’ – 23rd anniversary of the night of 23rd November 1996 when The Goose revealed ‘The Southwark Mysteries’ to John Crow at Cross Bones Graveyard. This was also the 186th consecutive monthly Vigil, and the last to be personally conducted by John Constable in his shamanistic Crow persona. 23 years of literary, dramatic and magical works climaxed and were ritually closed this night.

The open pathways lit in shining emptiness. 138 ribbons (2 x 69 or 6 x 23) tied to the gates, renewing the shrine, and the remembrance poem ‘Here lay your Hearts, your flowers, your Book of Hours…’ echoed 11 times. There still weren’t enough ribbons to go around but everyone got to touch the portal and to look through the bars of the gate into the garden with the Mary shrine, lit up with a Grand Cross of candles, the lights flickering in the shadows of the graveyard.

Black Swan Border Morris danced before the beribboned gates, fit to wake the dead with their pipes and drums, their wild howls and clacking staffs, their top hats and swirling tatter-coats.

For John Crow, Katy Kaos, and the 300-odd incarnate spirits packed around the shrine to the Outcast on Redcross Way, The Goose was well and truly with us.

The self-styled Crow Shaman was ritually purified by veteran interventionist Raga with her African broom.

John Crow then  performed the first part of ‘The Book of The Goose’, received in this place on this night 23 years ago.

Cross Bones Graveyard has inspired many artists. On this special night, folk punk indie star Frank Turner stepped up to perform his new song ‘The Graveyard of the Outcast Dead’, sending shivers down spines.

Goose Rhapsode Jennifer delivered ‘By The Grace of Our Lady Mary Overie’, from ‘The Book of The Goose’.

Then John Crow completed ‘The Book of The Goose’, the original poem from ‘The Southwark Mysteries’, ending with the words : “And Her Name is Liberty!”

And to top it all, Jules’ Spot. At pretty much every Vigil for the past couple of years Jules Allen has presented a different take on synchronicity and serendipity, riffing off various characters and stories linked with Cross Bones, Southwark and us. Tonight, he was on top form – even got 300 people joining on with his scintillating evocation of the number 23!

Gratitude to all of you, and to all of you who were here with us in the eternal now of our Goose Night – such a powerful communion, kith and kin, so many dear friends and family from so many phases of the twenty-three year site-specific performance and magical work, who have each in your own ways helped nurture and manifest the vision of our Cross Bones Graveyard.

Our Holy Place of the Sex Worker and the Outsider, The Goose and her Outcast Dead.

Thanks to Natalie and Lucy for lighting up the shrine in the garden. Thanks again, Jules and Jenn, for your exemplary work as Goose Samurai, demonstrating true service to The Goose.
Thank you Hej and Joseph and BOST for arranging a surprise after-party for Katy and I and everyone – and for presenting Old Man Crow with a blue-tooth speaker for my years of active service. 😉

Thanks, Marco, for the awesome carved raven staff – and for telling me the touching and inspiring story behind it! Thanks to all of you who gave us beautiful presents.

So many of you I want to thank, so many names spring to mind as I write this now, but like I said at the after party, the deeper you get into naming, the more hurting it is for the ones who accidentally don’t get name-checked. You know who you are, and how much you’ve brought to the great adventure!

Rest assured, your Crow will walk The Goose to the end of the line. Kaos and he are not “retiring” from Cross Bones, simply closing Crow’s ancient contract to serve The Goose for twenty-three full years. Done. Now, Goose willing, we’re free to have some fun with it all.

The Goose is loose in The Liberty.

JC, Southwark 23/11/2019

Photos by Max Crow Reeves
Photo of candle-cross at Mary shrine by Nicholas Greaves

Cross Bones Vigil – Goose Night – Crow’s Swan Song

Saturday 23rd November 2019

gather 6.45 for 7pm Vigil in the street by the shrine in Redcross Way, London SE1. Nearest tubes: Borough or London Bridge  (Borough High St. exit)

On 23rd November 1996, in visions and verses, The Goose revealed to John Crow the Secret History of Cross Bones.

Saturday 23rd November 2019 is the 23rd anniversary of this “Goose Night”, which inspired ‘The Southwark Mysteries’ and the magical works at Cross Bones Graveyard, The Halloween of Cross Bones and the Vigils held on the 23rd of every month since June 2004.

Along with our time-honoured ritual observances, John Crow will seal 23 years of active service with a performance of ‘The Book of The Goose’, assisted by Goose Rhapsodes Jennifer and Ross.

Black Swan Border Morris will dance, and a special guest will sing. Please note that at this Vigil there will be no public offerings.

This will be the 186th consecutive monthly Vigil and the last one to be personally conducted by John Crow. After this, the Vigils will continue, hosted by the Magical Collective with individual members taking on ‘The John Crow’ role.

Free! Donations welcome. 

Photo by Max Crow Reeves: John Crow Constable at the Vigil held on the 20th anniversary of Goose Night, 23rd November 2016 

Cross Bones Vigil – Halloween Portal

Wednesday 23rd October 2019

The 185th Cross Bones Vigils for the Outcast and Halloween Portal. On a drizzly night in a south London back street, 150 Friends of Cross Bones gathered to renew the shrine, remember the outcast (dead and alive) and reclaim the secret history of The Goose.

As ever, at the Cross Bones Portal to Halloween, we lit the open pathways and read out the Names of the Dead before tying their ribbons to the shrine.

Along with the Cross Bones Dead many of us were remembering close friends or family members who’ve recently passed over. Kelly and Maya, then Graham and David all stepped up to honour their Mums. Nicholas led us in singing Om Nama Siva in praise of our mutual friends: Green Angel and Shaivite, Paul Carr; and fellow Hemp pioneer Steve Charles Danks. Dave ‘500’ Fisher read out a moving account of his involvement with Crossbones and tribute to his son Jason aka DJ Brimstone.

We were deliriously amBUSHed by the appearance of The Green Man of Bankside aka David Risley and two singing Goddesses Dorothy Lawrence and Heather Tracy, who entered singing the song Crow wrote to welcome their many visits to the outcasts’ graveyard: “The Green Man is come to bless our garden, with flowers and trees for future children.” Massive gratitude to them, and to Katy who set it up with them.

The offerings in poetry and song featured Shaun with his song for Mothers and Grandmothers. Jennifer Cooper gave a feisty recital of ‘The Goddess and Old Man Crow’ by John Constable – another delightful surprise! Veteran activist Raga Woods tickled us with her “naughty brush… from Africa via Brixton” and, as many times before, urged us all to reclaim “cunt”.

Jules led us all on an illuminating drift from Halloween through Apples to Odin the Norse “god of poetry, divination and death” and the ravens of the Tower of London: “Although Odin is an uncommon name, one took up residence 23 years ago just over a mile as the crow files from where we are standing – a raven who guarded the Tower of London. That Odin has now departed for Valhalla, but two other ravens at the Tower, Huginn and Muninn named after the god Odin’s magical raven messengers ‘Thought’ and ‘Memory’, had chicks that hatched on 23 April this year, the first to be born at the Tower in 30 years.”

Then, on a night of serendipity and synchronicity, Roddy McDevitt gave a rousing rendition of a poem by Raven, the black Irish poet who tragically drowned two months ago. Like our Crow, Raven was a favourite of the Underground Piano Bar of Amo and Colm and the Irish crew.

Drew lightened us up with his cheeky riff-rap “Goose on the loose!”

Katy Kaos joined John Crow to sing ‘John Crow’s Riddle’, in which The Goose revealed her Mysteries on the night of 23rd November 1996.

Jules, Jennifer, Graham and Roddy each offered thanks and generous praise to John and Katy and to all the Friends of Cross Bones for our work here over the past 23 years.

There were Friends from all phases of the work – including Sophie from the very first Halloween of Cross Bones in 1998, Raga and Nicholas from Green Angels and the very first Vigil in 2004, DanielSusanna and Kim from productions of The Southwark Mysteries, Melisa and Jack who we met as a child in a wheelchair at long ago Vigils and who’s grown into a well-cool dude. And Zanna, NatalieDanny, Lucy, RossBernadetteMark and Em MaReanneElizabeth aka Rainbow Lizzie, Ros, Rma, JonathanMichelle and Tommy, Tom BakerMyraDolly, Daisy Campbell, Kermit, Ben, MaggieRichardNathanielMaria-TeresaJoplinCharlieKevinCaitrionaNeilFrancescaSinéadJoseph, Andy Lok, Laura Wood, Rebekah Shaman, Chris Stone, Kerry Rowberry, Jacqueline Haigh. Mark Allen, Anna Hope – even now, I reckon I’ve missed a few good friends who were there, and I may not have seen all my friends who were, and anyway I only knew about half the people there – it’s looking like there may have been more than 150.Dave the tube driver and more than a hundred more old Friends and new!

The atmosphere was numinous and crackling with psychic energy. We communed with the Dead, sharing our grief, our healings, our deaths and transfigurations. Birgit saw a reflection of the Shard convulsed into a giant vulva!

And, as ever, we close with our unconditional blessing:

Life! Health! Happiness! Open Pathways!
Health in the Body. Peace In the Spirit.
Love In The Heart.
It is this that we wish: For ourselves. For our friends and family.
For all our Brothers and Sisters. For The Goose and The Crow.
And for all Humanity. (Baixinha)

Goose may you never be hungry. Goose may you never be thirsty.
Goose may your Spirit fly free. (Crow)

Photos by Thomas Withanh
Green Man photo by Elise Oursa
Vulva photo by Birgit Gephardt

Cross Bones Vigil: Autumn Equinox

The street by the shrine in Redcross Way
Monday 23rd September 2019

John Crow writes: Thank you, to the sixty or seventy incarnate beings who came to reinvigorate the Cross Bones Vigil with your magic. Although your Crow was still a bit frail, he was energised by The Goose and by the presence of each one of you, Friends of Crossbones old and new.

There were friends like Lisa, who was once a regular at the Vigils and who returned this evening after many years living in Canada, along with some who were here for the first time – and an American woman who’d come straight from the airport to be with us! Joanna spoke of her Cross Bones family, and of how we met twenty years ago at Green Angels just down the road from the graveyard, then gave a spirited situationist rendition of a poem. Jennifer delivered an emotional tribute to Crow’s work here, which she sealed with a powerful Goddess poem. Mark was an inspirational Goose Rhapsode, performing the part of Jesus “the outcast god” in ‘The Houses of Healing’ from ‘The Southwark Mysteries’. Jules told the story of an extraordinary British-Asian secret agent who broadcast undercover from Paris in 1943. Hannah delivered a poetic personal testimony on what connects her with Cross Bones. Tommy gave us a death poem by his friend Olive, which he dedicated to our friend Irving Rappaport who died two years ago this night. Danny (The Revd. Nemu) and I also remembered our friend Paul Carr, who died two nights ago – we said a Pai Nosso and an Ave Maria for him. Indian poet Mamta Sagar transported us with the music of her poem in the Kannada tongue. Then Michelle and I completed the offerings with a performance of the Tantric rites from ‘The Book of the Honest John’.

I conducted this Vigil, with stalwart help from Jennifer, John Morrow, Thomas and the other heroic Goose Samurai. Hannah held the light and Jennifer oversaw the tying of the ribbons. Tommy and Michelle helped me carry the altar there and home, with a lift from Jenn. Behind the scenes, Katy Kaos was a star. We were pleased to see other good friends like Ross, Emma, John Higgs, Susanna, Ian Blake, Dave 500, Dave and Nidge, Sophie and Leigh, Roz, Andy Lok, Katie from GIVE, Louise who saw my ‘Goose and Crow: Urban Magic’ talk at Breaking Convnetion, Zanna, and Lesley aka ‘Old Ted’ from the 2010 production of ‘The Southwark Mysteries’, who announced, to loud applause, that there is to be a 2020 revival! All in one, the night more than delivered on its promise of magic made manifest. Thank The Goose!

Click here to read Bad Witch aka Lucya Starza’s evocative preview of this event: http://www.badwitch.co.uk/2019/09/event-tonight-autumn-equinox-vigil-at.html

Lucy’s Survey

Lucy, who led the last Vigil, is a Friend of Crossbones, a volunteer warden in the Garden of Remembrance and a PhD student studying our work at Crossbones. It is important to her that she accurately represents the experiences and connections people hold with Crossbones. Please consider taking her short survey. It will only take a few minutes. Click here to find out more: https://about.me/lucy.talbot.

Crossbones Blessing

The Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd. Andrew Nunn, performed the fifth successive ‘Act of Regret, Remembrance, Restoration’ for the women of Crossbones who over hundred of years worked in brothels licensed by the church yet were denied Christian burial and were laid to rest in the unconsecrated Crossbones burial ground.

The Dean wrote this special service to be conducted at Crossbones St Mary Magalene’s Feast Day. John Constable aka John Crow introduced the service, speaking of the deep ties between the Cathedral and Crossbones, how the Cathedral had invited in the outcasts for the performances in 2000 and 2010, and is now bringing its blessing out to Crossbones, to receive the outcast dead back into its communion. 

A newly ordained female priest read Malcolm Guite’s sonnet dedicated to Mary Magdalene. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dean censed the burial ground and blessed it with holy water.  

 

 

 

After the service, there was a guided historical tour of Crossbones…

 

 

 

Followed by performances of songs and poetry by John Crow and Kirsten Morrison…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The event ended with a ‘Magdalene Feast’ in the beautiful wild garden.

Cross Bones Blessing and Celebration

Sunday 21 July – 12.30 to 5pm – in Cross Bones Garden of Remembrance

Crossbones blessing and celebration of St Mary Magdalene’s Feast Day – and John Constable’s 67th birthday

For the fifth successive year, The Dean of Southwark, the Very Revd. Andrew Nunn, conducts a special service at Crossbones, the unconsecrated outcasts’ burial ground.  This ‘Act of Regret, Remembrance, Restoration’ expresses the church’s regret for the treatment of the ‘Winchester Geese’, the sex workers who worked in the Bankside brothels licensed by the Bishop of Winchester, yet were allegedly denied Christian burial. It’s also a powerful statement of the Cathedral’s support for the protection of Crossbones Garden.

The service will be followed by a performance of poems and songs inspired by Crossbones, then a picnic in the garden. Free and open to all. Under 16s please bring a responsible adult.

12.30 The Dean and clergy leave Southwark Cathedral in procession. (You can join the procession on the west side of the Cathedral, or gather with us to greet them at Crossbones)
1pm The Dean conducts the ‘Act of Regret, Remembrance, Restoration’ at Crossbones
1.30 John Constable conducts a short guided tour of Cross Bones history and myth
2pm John Constable and Kirsten Morrison lead a performance of poems and songs inspired by Cross Bones Graveyard and dedicated to St Mary Magdalene. Bring your own short poem or song to share.
2.30 After the performance there’ll be a picnic in Crossbones Garden to celebrate St Mary Magdalene’s Feast Day (which falls on 22nd July) – and John’s 67th Birthday.

Refreshments will be provided. Please bring snacks and drinks to share, minimizing packaging and taking any rubbish away with you.

The Importance of Crossbones to local Southwark history

Florence Eshalomi, London Assembly Member for Southwark & Lambeth, spells it out.

This week’s Southwark News (June 20) also has features on what’s happening at and around Crossbones on Sunday 23rd June 2019: 

The Great Get Together Bankside 2019 Crossbones Garden of Remembrance will be open from early afternoon until 6pm, with events happening all round the neighborhood
 
The St John’s Eve Crossbones Vigil  Gather 6.45 for 7pm in the street by the shrine in Redcross Way: to remember the outcast, dead and alive; to renew the shrine; to honour Jo Cox and other victims of fascism; and to celebrate the summer solstice

Hail The Queen of The May!

A balmy summer’s evening for the May 23rd 2019 Vigil – our 180th, completing 15 years of being here at 7pm on the 23rd of every month.

John Crow did the honours with Jennifer Cooper – he took us into being shining emptiness and she tuned us in with Rob, who was tuning in with us from Australia (at 4am Oz time) to honour his sister (who took her own life)  and to work on his own healing. We gave ourselves away as we tied our red and white ribbons to the gates. Many enhanced the experience by bringing their own ribbons to tie.

Then Crow kicked off the offerings with his Beltane chant, with everyone joining in on “Hail The Queen of the May!” Irene led the singing of the Crossbones anthem. Jules spoke on Rosicrucian connections – elucidating the esoteric significance of Katy’s rose-cross. Hannah read her poem inspired by the Vigil and spoke of the joys of being a Crossbones warden (more welcome!). Ian sang medieval songs of Spring. Hana spoke of stepping outside her comfort zone and speaking to a stranger. Drew sang The Coldest Kiss, haunting…

Lucy turned up just in time to say goodbye to her dead Grandmother, who’d disowned her when she was a child and whose funeral was today (Lucy wasn’t invited). And Claudia and Jonathan related the pilgrimage of ‘The 69ers’ from Cerne to CERN where, on 23rd April, they had enacted a psychic link-up with last month’s Vigil.

Another night of revelation, healing and transformation. Or just another Crossbones Vigil…  

Great to have so many Friends, long-standing or new-found, with us, all sharing their energy and concentration to boost the magic – including Graham Eden, who took these photos.

The heroic Goose Samurai kept us all safe from harm – and specifically by closing the road to save us from being mown down by traffic. We closed as ever with the Unconditional Blessing – Baixinha’s Message of the Caboclo, followed by ‘Goose Let Your Spirit fly free.’ And so She does!

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