Writer, performer and urban shaman John Constable aka John Crow initiates us into a contemporary magical praxis dedicated to the outcast dead of London’s Crossbones Graveyard.
This talk relates how the secret history of the unconsecrated Crossbones burial ground near London Bridge was revealed in a vision to his shamanistic alter ego, John Crow, by the spirit of The Goose. The Winchester Geese were medieval sex workers licensed by the Church to work inside an area of Southwark known as The Liberty of the Clink, although Christian doctrine prevented them from being buried in consecrated ground.
The Goose revealed her secret history in verses transcribed by John in a form of automatic writing. These verses in turn grew into The Southwark Mysteries, a multifaceted work published in 1999, included vision books of poetry and a cycle of modern mystery plays. The work has been performed in Shakespeare's Globe and Southwark Cathedral.
John took The Goose's transmission as his guide for developing the rituals and magical workings conducted at Crossbones for over 20 years, beginning in 1998 with The Halloween of Crossbones and including the vigils held on the 23rd of every month.
This talk takes in mediumship, trance and incorporation, street magic, synchronicity, and how spiritual works can manifest in the physical world - in this case by establishing a shrine for the outcast dead and a Garden of Remembrance on a site that, 20 years ago, was scheduled for redevelopment.
John will also perform selected channelled texts from The Southwark Mysteries.
Crossbones: On Redcross Way, an old narrow street near London Bridge, you will find rusted iron gates festooned with ribbons, feathers, flowers and other tokens of remembrance. On the other side of the gates lies a once-forgotten burial ground for the outcasts of society. This is Crossbones graveyard. The bodies of 15,000 paupers and sex workers were believed to have been buried there. It was first known as the “single women’s burial ground” where the Winchester Geese, medieval sex workers licensed by the Church to work inside the Liberty of the Clink in Southwark were buried - Christian doctrine prevented them from being buried in consecrated ground. But it was also a burial ground for children and the very poor people of London until its closure in 1853. The site was largely forgotten until the 1990s and today is a place of pilgrimage and monthly vigil to honour the dead and celebrate the people nobody remembers.
John Constable is a writer and performer, whose work includes The Southwark Mysteries and the dramatisation of Mervyn Peake's epic Gormenghast trilogy. His talks explore the secret history of London, especially Crossbones Graveyard and the medieval Liberty of the Clink in Southwark. These talks also present a contemporary approach to spirituality, mediumship, urban magic, and the importance of the outcast and the outsider to our cultural development
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