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:

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:

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!

St George’s Day Vigil

And a goodly St George’s Crossbones Vigil for the Outcast it was replete with open pathway lightings, heart hangings, a spell to link us with the Pilgrims at CERN, “The Goose is loose in The Liberty” said x 23, Rhapsodes – Mark Juhan with ‘The Book of the Egyptian’, John Crow with ‘George and The Dragon Rap’, and Jennifer Cooper with ‘The Mystery of George and Martha’, healing the dragon and reclaiming George as an inclusive patron saint and protector of our healing works, then Maggie Woodall reading a poem she was given at Extinction Rebellion, Roddy McDevitt doing his own beautiful Compassion poem, and Drew Galdron his prayer for the warriors, Katy Kaos’ alchemical rose cross decoded, Danny Nemu, Gilda, Jana and Sophia singing songs for Sao Jorge and Ogum, with infant prodigy Samuel clapping along, Jules on the inspirational legacy of John Michell, all culminating in a terrific subversive piece of street theatre in which St George was persuaded to allow his daughter Britannia to marry The Dragon – whereupon she dropped the bombshell: “I’ve not only married a dragon. I am the Mother of Dragons!”

😉 We closed with gin and unconditional blessings. Huge respect to the Goose Samurai who held the road.

Last call for comments re. Planning Application affecting Cross Bones Graveyard

As reported in an earlier post, Joint Venture, a partnership between Transport for London (TfL) and the developer U+I, have submitted an application for a development at Landmark Court, the land adjoining Crossbones Graveyard. The application is available to view on the Southwark Planning Register (Ref: 19/AP/0830) – on that page, you can click on the ‘comments’ button to comment on the proposal.

The official deadline for comments to be submitted to Southwark Council has passed, but the Council will still accept comments if you get them in soon) You can access all the documents on the Planning Register. U+I have included a link and key documents on their own website

Cross Bones shrine and Garden of Remembrance 20th June 2019

John Constable aka John Crow writes: Katy and I are no longer actively involved in the management of the Garden of Remembrance. For the rest of this, our 23rd year of active service to The Goose and her Outcast Dead, we’ll focus on the Vigils and the transmission of The Mysteries, the spiritual heart of our work “in eternity” – of which the shrine and the garden are manifestations in time. To celebrate life in all in imperfection! We wish Bankside Open Spaces Trust fortitude and vision in their stewardship of the the Cross Bones Graveyard. We hope they’ll honour the vision of a wild, DIY garden of remembrance for sex workers and other outsiders.

Alchemical Rose Cross crochet by Katy Nicholls, Crossbones shrine to the outcast

We’ve devoted ourselves to this work since 23rd November 1996 and, Goose willing, we’ll close our magical cycle of 23 years on at the Vigil on 23rd November 2019. On the deepest level, our work is done. We’ve put everything into it, and the rewards have been immeasurable. We feel blessed to have lived to witness these manifestations of The Goose Vision. We trust that other “John Crows” will appear to serve The Goose and to continually re-imagine Cross Bones as a sacred place, a wild sanctuary in the heart of the city.

We’ll still tend the shrine, and water the garden when needed. Today we spent a beautiful afternoon at Crossbones doing just that. Katy hung her new crochet alchemical rose cross on the gates – ready to reclaim St George on his Day! – along with the new heart-board, chalked with “Resistance is fertile” (in solidarity with the ongoing Extinction Rebellion actions).

“Resistance is fertile” – first message chalked on the new heart-board

I swept and cleaned the shrine, Katy watered some thirsty plants and picked some flowers for Red Cross Mary…

Red Cross Mary, Cross Bones Graveyard shrine, 20th April 2019 – photo by Katy Nicholls

… and pasted a protective icon in the place of the suicides.

Note: Gabriella Leite (pictured smoking, bottom right) did not take her own life. A Brazilian sex worker and activist, she inspired the poor people of the favelas. We stand in solidarity with the Brazilian people in their suffering. She found her own place here, bringing light to the troubled souls who felt compelled to choose the exit door, and those they leave behind.

The solitary bees were buzzing in and out of their cells – though not in this photo! 🙂 In this one small part of this crazy world, all’s well.

Solitary bee hotel. Photo by Katy Nicholls

Here where the bones are crossed
be hallowed ground.

Here let the names that were lost
be found.

Shut out in days of old
the outcast dead…

Here bring them in from the cold
to be watered and fed.

Here let the ties that bind
against forgetfulness

light candles, build shrines
in the wilderness.

The Hallowing of Cross Bones Yard
from Spark In The Dark by John Constable aka John Crow (Thin Man Press)

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