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, Daniel, Susanna 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, Natalie, Danny, Lucy, Ross, Bernadette, Mark and Em Ma, Reanne, Elizabeth aka Rainbow Lizzie, Ros, Rma, Jonathan, Michelle and Tommy, Tom Baker, Myra, Dolly, Daisy Campbell, Kermit, Ben, Maggie, Richard, Nathaniel, Maria-Teresa, Joplin, Charlie, Kevin, Caitriona, Neil, Francesca, Sinéad, Joseph, 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