My London

8 December 2018

Local press article and interview with Jennifer Cooper on the history and living culture of Crossbones Graveyard. The journalist, Frederica Miller, gets a few details wrong – the Museum of London estimated there are 15,000 burials at Crossbones – but she tells the story in a way that will hopefully make it more accessible to all.

https://www.mylondon.news/news/south-london-news/hidden-london-graveyard-1000-prostitutes-15522189?fbclid=IwAR17fxfdoKclGGhyilus_LtVg7k6k5ThFmAIz4kP1IOH25273P6LLhVJCuQ

Crossbones Christmas Vigil for the Outcast

Sunday 23rd December, gather 6.45 for 7pm vigil in the street by the shrine at the gates in Redcross Way

The 175th Vigil, held on the 23rd of every single month since 23rd June 2004 – to remember the outcast, dead and alive, to renew the shrine at the gates and to reclaim the secret history of Crossbones as revealed by The Goose to John Crow on 23rd November 1996.

We each bring our own piece of the puzzle, and together we perform acts of remembrance and imagination, secular Human Rites, open to ‘all faiths and none’. Specific vigils are aligned with seasonal festivals – e.g. January 23rd is Imbolc, April 23rd is St George, June 23rd is St John’s Eve / midsummer, October 23rd is Halloween Portal, November 23rd is ‘Goose Night’.

At the 23rd December Vigil we mark the winter solstice and the coming of the light, Yule – and Christmas, with  lusty singing of traditional carols and sharing of tasty treats. Come prepared to join in with such classics as ‘Deck The Halls’, ‘I Saw Three Ships’, ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ and ‘We Wish You A Happy Christmas’. Yuletide and other seasonal songs are also welcome, especially if they’re easy for everyone to join in.

Please bring your own mementos or ribbons with the names of your lost loved ones to tie to the gates. You might also like to offer a short poem, song or personal testimony to the spirits of Crossbones Graveyard. Or be a ‘Goose Rhapsode’, learning part of ‘The Book of the Goose’ or another short poem from The Southwark Mysteries to recite on the night.

FREE. Donations welcome

Into our 23rd year…

23rd November 2018 marked the 22nd anniversary of the night The Goose walked John Crow about The Liberty of The Clink, to reveal her Secret History at Crossbones Graveyard.

It was also the 174th Vigil for the Outcast – so, once again, I came to remember, to renew and to offer my gratitude for these works that changed my life, as I enter the 23rd year of service to The Goose and The Crow. Conducting the Vigil, I was a bit scatty, drifting off a couple of times – and Priestess Jacqui had to step in at the end to remind me to complete the ‘Goose may your Spirit fly free!’ blessing amid much hilarity!

As ever on Goose Night, John Crow performed The Book of The Goose – with Jennifer Cooper stepping up to deliver ‘By The Grace of Our Lady Mary Overie’, thereby showing the way for all who’d like to become a Goose Rhapsode, learning some verses of The Southwark Mysteries and so enabling Her spirit songs to be sung long after this John is done and dusted.

Jacqueline Durban delivered a fierce moving poem on Remembrance, Drew Galdron sang his song of ‘The Coldest Kiss’, Nicholas Greaves gave powerful testimony from the Trans community, remembering those whose lives were cut short because of the way they were pushed to the edge, the outsiders of the outsiders.

And then together we celebrated the edge, and the people who live there, who are not simply to be pitied, though compassion for their suffering, but to be valued – because, it is on this creative edge where new life, new ideas, new ways of living are born. Then Geoff Miles and Hildegarde conducted their ritual within a ritual, in Frith, and, as one we connected to his magic copper ring, chanting over and over ‘Heal these bones and heal these souls…’

Maximum respect to our Goose Samurai crew, master and mistressfully co-ordinated by Jules and Jenn, and as ever to Katy Kaos for her many workings behind the scenes. In the photo you can see Jenn’s magnificent Santa Muerte hanging over Crow’s right shoulder. (Offscreen, Our Lady of Crossbones watches his left.) All this, and much more, with seven candles for Red Cross Mary and the full moon rising over Crossbones as we entered the portal.

Open pathways! >><< Photo: full moon over Crossbones, Goose Night, 23rd November 2018. Photo: Joseph Bonner

Urban Magic: making magic in an urban environment

Saturday 24th November 10am to 5pm – Urban Magic: Making Magic in an Urban Environment
a workshop led by John Constable aka John Crow
£75 members; £95 non-members (CLICK HERE then go to end of event page and click BOOK NOW)

The College of Psychic Studies, 16 Queensbury Place, London SW7 2EB

This intensive, day-long workshop provides a working introduction to magic, mediumship and urban shamanism, and practical information for anyone interested in conducting a contemporary ritual. We focus on the Crossbones Vigil as a model ceremony, exploring its ritual forms and how to balance these fixed points with a freedom that allows the unexpected to happen. The day includes: preparation (practical and magical); creating an altar and devising ceremonial forms; presentation and performance of rituals; connecting with the ‘spirit of place’ and holding the space.

Advance booking recquired. John Constable’s 2017 Urban Magic workshop was fully booked in advance, leaving many disappointed. Book now to be sure of your place.

Urban Magic at Crossbones Graveyard

Tuesday 20th November 7pm to 8.30pm – Urban Magic at Crossbones Graveyard
a talk by John Constable aka John Crow
£12 members; £14 non-members (CLICK HERE then go to end of event page and click BOOK NOW

The College of Psychic Studies, 16 Queensbury Place, London SW7 2EB

An initiation into a contemporary magical praxis dedicated to the outcast dead of Crossbones Graveyard. The talk takes in mediumship, trance and incorporation, street magic, synchronicity, and how spiritual works can manifest in the physical world. We focus on the Crossbones Vigil as a model ceremony, exploring its ritual forms and how to balance these fixed points with a freedom that allows the unexpected to happen. The day includes: preparation (practical and magical); creating an altar and devising ceremonial forms; presentation and performance of rituals; connecting with the ‘spirit of place’ and holding the space.

Crossbones Vigil for the Outcast / ‘Goose Night’

Friday 23rd November
gather 6.45 for 7pm Vigil at the Crossbones Graveyard gates in Redcross Way, London SE1

The 174th of the Crossbones Vigils held on the 23rd of every single month since June 2004…

To remember the outcast, dead and alive, to renew the shrine at the gates and to reclaim this magical place as sacred ground.

This month’s Vigil marks the 22nd anniversary of ‘Goose Night’ (23rd November 1996) when The Goose spirit revealed the secret history of Crossbones to John Crow, inspiring The Southwark Mysteries and the works at Crossbones Graveyard.

Please bring your own mementos or ribbons with the names of your lost loved ones to tie to the gates, and perhaps a poem, song or short personal testimony to offer to the spirits of Crossbones Graveyard.

FREE. Donations welcome.

Halloween blessings… to all the beings in all the worlds

Photo by Max Crow Reeves: The Halloween of Crossbones 2016

In 2010 we completed the magical cycle of 13 annual performances of The Halloween of Crossbones, which began in 1998. We revived it in 2015, when we danced with the dead with Wolfshead & Vixen GOTH MORRIS, and again in 2016, when Jacqueline led a silent communion with the spirits. We’d only do it again in the most exceptional circumstances. We now perform our rites for the outcast dead at the Crossbones Vigil / Halloween Portal every 23rd October. For friends who miss our samhain shamanigans, here’s Andrew Logan’s exquisite film of The Halloween of Crossbones IX (2006) back in the wild days when we could still party in the ‘Drome’ caverns under London Bridge.

The film ends with John Crow’s prophesy that we’ve come “… to create the garden that will one day flower here, despite the attempt of developers to turn it into three office blocks.” Back then it was simply a vision and a call to arms. Nine years later, the Crossbones Garden of Remembrance opened to the public.

Thanks to everyone who helped make it happen, to Jennifer who publicly envisioned the garden at a Vigil, and especially to the cast and crew of The Halloween of Crossbones – Michelle Watson, Niall McDevitt, Jahnet Rani Ji and Ground Control aka Katy Kaos. Poems from The Southwark Mysteries by John Constable. Recorded music by Mark Ominous. Produced by Martin Scooby.

Merry Samhain and a Happy New Year!

Opening the Portal

Crossbones Vigil / Halloween Portal, 23rd October 2018

Thanks to our long-standing Friends of Crossbones and the many new supporters who gathered last night at Crossbones Gates for our Vigil for the Outcast / Halloween Portal. The 23rd October Vigil is also our Halloween Portal – when we gather under the banner of Santa Muerte to perform the rituals originally conducted during our magical cycle of 13 Halloweens, including the Reading of the Names of the Dead – those buried at Crossbones and our own lost loved ones.

This ceremony was followed with songs, poems and meditations by John Crow, Michelle Watson, Tommy Calderbank, Jacqueline Durban, Mervyn Syna, Mark Juhan, Jerry and Jules. Big up Jennifer Cooper for her brilliant rendition of ‘Twilight of the Trade Marks’, showing the way for future participants in the Vigil to learn and perform one of the poems from ‘The Southwark Mysteries’ to incorporate the Goose and Crow spirits. Thanks for the powerful presence of Andy, Susanna, Maggie, Lana, Joanna, Jonathan, Elizabeth, Emma, Aileen and some bloods so new I don’t yet know their names. Sorry if I’ve missed someone. By the end, there were roughly 70 of us there and, as so often, I was a bit overwhelmed.

All this, with The Shard and a full moon rising over the Crossbones Gates as we faced the burial ground to deliver our unconditional blessing.

>><< Photos by Jacqueline Durban. Santa Muerte banner by Jennifer Cooper

Public Consultation

u+i, the developers of the site adjoining (and including) Crossbones, are holding 3 days of consultations on their proposed Landmark Court development, including their draft proposals for the adjoining Crossbones Garden of Remembrance: www.landmarkcourtsouthwark.co.uk. You may like to attend one of the following u+i consultation days and HAVE YOUR SAY.

Wednesday 17 October, 12pm-2pm and 5pm-8pm at Flat Iron Square, 64 Union Street, London, SE1 1TD

Thursday 18 October, 12pm-2pm and 5pm-8pm at Flat Iron Square, 64 Union Street, London, SE1 1TD
6.30pm Lucy Talbot gives a history talk, sharing her PhD research on the area.

Saturday 20 October, 10am-4pm at the Landmark Court Site, 17-23 Southwark Street, SE1 1RU (Redcross Way Entrance) with history talks, tours, performances and craft activities.
12.30pm and 2.30pm: John Constable and Katy Nicholls conduct 2 tours exploring the history and culture of the Crossbones Graveyard. Assemble on the Landmark Court site ready to leave at 12.30pm or 2.30pm. And, at 1.30pm: Lucy Talbot, history talk.

John, Katy and Lucy will all be around on Saturday, explaining why Crossbones is such a special place. We’re there to represent ourselves, and the Friends of Crossbones network.

u+i’s intial plans to protect and enhance the Crossbones Garden of Remembrance are based on the Vision Plan developed in public workshops with Bankside Open Spaces Trust (BOST). At this stage, we broadly support these plans and are looking to engage with them constructively. We’ve explained to u+i the importance of being guided by these basic principles:

Crossbones is a DIY, wild garden of remembrance for ‘the outcast dead’ who are buried in the Crossbones Graveyard.
It’s especially dedicated to sex workers and other outsiders.
It is a sanctuary in the heart of the city, a place for people to remember those buried there and their own lost loved ones, and to reconnect with the past.
It’s NOT a blank canvas – any proposed innovations can be judged on whether they respond to and enhance what is already here, rather than imposing their own ‘top down’ vision.
It’s ‘DIY’ in that it has evolved through work by those who feel a strong connection with Crossbones. Its ‘wildness’ reflects its history.
Any innovations should respect its historical, cultural, emotional and spiritual significance, the history of the graveyard AND the more recent works to reclaim it as sacred ground.

We’d welcome other Friends of Crossbones who support these basic principles and are familiar with the history to attend one of these consultation days and politely reaffirm the importance of the Crossbones Garden of Remembrance.

Autumn 2018: talks and workshops

with John Constable aka John Crow

Beginning the night of the 23rd November 1996 and shape-shifting over the past 22 years, a practice of urban magic has evolved at Crossbones Graveyard. It’s embodied in the verses of The Southwark Mysteries and in the Vigils held at the gates in Redcross Way at 7pm on the 23rd of every month.

Anyone wishing to delve deeper, please click on the highlighted links below.

The 13th October talk offers a fascinating introduction to the Crossbones story.

The 20th November talk and 24th November workshop are especially recommended for anyone interested in practising urban magic or incorporating it in their own spiritual works.

*

Saturday 13th October 2018 at 1pm – Crossbones Graveyard: Burying the Outcast
with Jelena Bekvalac and John Constable

Part of London Month of the Dead at Brompton Cemetery Chapel, London SW10 9UG

Jelena Bekvalac, Curator of Human Osteology at The Museum of London, tells the story of the excavation of the buried bones, and John Constable, aka John Crow, will reveal the history of Crossbones Graveyard and how he was inspired by it. £12 including a free Hendrick’s Gin Cocktail.

*

Tuesday 20th November 7pm to 8.30pm – Urban Magic at Crossbones Graveyard
a talk by John Constable aka John Crow
£12 members; £14 non-members (CLICK HERE then go to end of event page and click BOOK NOW

The College of Psychic Studies, 16 Queensbury Place, London SW7 2EB

An initiation into a contemporary magical praxis dedicated to the outcast dead of Crossbones Graveyard. The talk takes in mediumship, trance and incorporation, street magic, synchronicity, and how spiritual works can manifest in the physical world. We focus on the Crossbones Vigil as a model ceremony, exploring its ritual forms and how to balance these fixed points with a freedom that allows the unexpected to happen. The day includes: preparation (practical and magical); creating an altar and devising ceremonial forms; presentation and performance of rituals; connecting with the ‘spirit of place’ and holding the space.

*

Saturday 24th November 10am to 5pm – Urban Magic: Making Magic in an Urban Environment
a workshop led by John Constable aka John Crow
£75 members; £95 non-members (CLICK HERE then go to end of event page and click BOOK NOW)

The College of Psychic Studies, 16 Queensbury Place, London SW7 2EB

This intensive, day-long workshop provides a working introduction to magic, mediumship and urban shamanism, and practical information for anyone interested in conducting a contemporary ritual. We focus on the Crossbones Vigil as a model ceremony, exploring its ritual forms and how to balance these fixed points with a freedom that allows the unexpected to happen. The day includes: preparation (practical and magical); creating an altar and devising ceremonial forms; presentation and performance of rituals; connecting with the ‘spirit of place’ and holding the space.

Advance booking recommended. John Constable’s 2017 Urban Magic workshop was fully booked in advance, leaving many disappointed. Book now to be sure of your place.

1 2 3 4 5 6