St George’s Day Crossbones Vigil (on the Astral)

When? 7pm on 23rd April 2020. Where? Wherever you are.

At 7pm on the 23rd of every month since June 2004, we’ve gathered in the street by the Crossbones shrine in Redcross Way – to honour the Outcast, dead and alive; to renew the shrine; and to reclaim the Secret History as revealed by The Goose to John Crow on 23rd November 1996. Our St George’s Day Vigil is traditionally one of our best attended Vigils, in which we honour George as an international patron, a healing energy and a protector of spiritual works..

Last month, 23rd March 2020, because of the restrictions on public gatherings, we couldn’t be there in the flesh. However, people from all over the world participated in Spirit, conducting the simple ritual acts in their own homes. We invite you all to do so again on 23rd April.

Here’s our basic ‘order of service’ – with opening, 3 ritual observances and closing. Create your own ‘street altar’ and be with us in Spirit. Like this:

1. Opening (on the stroke of 7pm)
Light a candle, incense, libation to the Goose. Ring seven chimes.
Say: ‘Spirits of The Dead, Spirits of the Living, Kindred. Welcome!’

2. Holding the Light (and the Dark)
Hold a candle for one minutes silence as you stand in shining emptiness. Imagine you’re lighting the open pathways for all beings to fulfill their most intimate aspirations.

3. “Binding and loosing”
Imagine tying a ribbon to the shrine at Crossbones Gates. Invest the ribbon with all that you would wish for yourself, and as you tie the ribbon, release that blessing for others. “See” the ribbons flutter in the wind.
Say five times:

‘Here lay your hearts, your flowers,
Your Book of Hours,
Your fingers, your thumbs,
Your “Miss You Mums”.
Here hang your hopes, your dreams,
Your Might Have Beens,
Your locks, your keys,
Your Mysteries.’

4. Bardic offerings to The Goose
Perform a short poem or song from ‘The Southwark Mysteries’, or something of your own dedicated to The Goose. Know that, whoever, wherever, you are, Goose be with you!

5. Closing
Close the ceremony with a libation and a sip of gin (if you have some and fancy a nip). Say:

“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.
May it be so.”

“Goose may you never be hungry!
Goose may you never be thirsty!
Goose may your Spirit fly free!”

And so she does…

When conducting the ritual, the aim is to get out of the way, allowing The Goose to work her magic through you. It helps to cultivate a state of “shining emptiness”, especially during the holding of the light. In this empty state, allow all sounds, sights, smells and other sense impressions to arise and vanish, with nothing for anything to attach to.

Over the fifteen and more years that I conducted the ceremony in my John Crow persona, I sometimes had to let go of whatever personal anxieties or anguish I was carrying. I found it helpful to remind myself that “I am Nothing. Thou Art!” – that it wasn’t me doing it, but John Crow and that he was there simply to serve The Goose and all Spirits, incarnate and disincarnate, who may be communing with us.

Since 23rd November 2019, when I handed on the hosting of the Vigils to a Magical Collective of Friends of Crossbones, I said that whoever facillitates this ritual, irrespective of gender, is the ‘John Crow’. If it helps you to get out of the way, please feel free to be the John Crow – and remember, at the heart of our work is play!

Goose be with us!

Open pathways!

JC >><<

The Crossbones Vigil

Sunday 23rd February 2020

What a powerful, gentle, shimmering, healing Vigil at Crossbones this evening! Big Up Mark Juhan, Nicholas Greaves and Jules Allen for conducting with such grace and a lovely light touch. Leslie held the light, and Nicholas led the echo poem ‘Here lay your hearts…’ as we renewed the shrine. The offerings kicked off with John Crow doing ‘The Book of the New South Bank’ from ‘The Southwark Mysteries’, in which The Goose prophesies the redevelopment of Bankside and the resistance that reclaimed Crossbones as a sacred place. Drew did a variant on ‘Oranges and Lemons’ with the bells of south London, before controverially decapitating a Trump fetish. Melissa J. told how she dreamed of Crossbones long before she found it, then sang a wild outcast song and got us all joining in on the chorus: “We’re navvies and skivvies and blacksmiths and tarts / We live in the gutter and dream of the stars!” Jules used his spot to explore the elemental powers that can make and break our lives, then led us to contemplate Kintsugi, the Japanese art of mending broken pots with gold, topping it with the wisdom of Groucho Marx: “Blessed are the cracked, for they shall let in the light”. Then Mark wrapped it all up with performances of poems by Harry Fainlight and John Constable, before leading us all in the unconditional blessings: ‘Open Pathways’ and ‘Goose may your Spirit fly free!’

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.

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