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