Since blundering into the idea of viewing the place where I live through an occult filter, I am already seeing something solid in the conjecture of another layer, usually invisible to the naked eye. This hidden layer is already beginning to reveal itself, subtley.
My impression that this would be largely a theoretical exercise in booklearning and the suspicious murk of deep topography has already been challenged. Yesterday, while setting off for the Post Office, I found what I can only describe as a ‘wreathed lingham’ at the top of Crow Lane in Rochester.
The wreathed lingham or phallus most often appears in English tradition as the maypole – a Northern-European germanic tradition linked to forest worship and Yggdrasil the tree of life. I seem to have found a makeshift pagan ritual site right on the main road.
In the woods there grew a tree
And a fine fine tree was he
And on that tree there was a limb
And on that limb there was a branch
And on that branch there was a nest
And in that nest there was an egg
And in that egg there was a bird
And from that bird a feather came
And of that feather was
And on that bed there was a girl
And on that girl there was a man
And from that man there was a seed
And from that seed there was a boy
And from that boy there was a man
And for that man there was a grave
From that grave there grew
In the Summerisle,
Summerisle, Summerisle, Summerisle wood
I have been very disappointed with my attempts to discover the dark occult heart of Medway. To be fair I hadn’t been too concerned with this as a quest until my friend Eddie De Oliviera pointed out that there was a preponderence of ‘new-age’ shops on Rochester High Street… well two or three (once of which has subsequently closed down).
The clincher came when Eddie noticed a “My Other Car Is A Broomstick” bumper sticker on a car parked on the Rochester Maidstone Road – I haven’t seen the car since so my attempts to photograph it have come to nothing.
So then my mind turns to the Sweeps Festival that happens in Rochester on Mayday – a veritable wellspring of pagan activity. This is the biggest May Day Festival in Britian – but actually celebrates the Mayday holiday that sweeps would traditionally enjoy… not too pagan really – and a revival of a 19th century custom that only dates back to the 1980’s – I’m sure to revisit the Sweeps Festival here nearer the time and look at what links there are there to be found.
So – at first glance I haven’t discovered a Wicker Man’s heart pulsing at the centre of the Medway towns. I will continue to look. But this has set me to thinking about what there is around me in these faded towns, hidden perhaps by a thin layer of grime, or behind a flush of cow-parsley and nettles. That which is forgotten, ignored or misunderstood, and I thought I might start trying to be a little more observant, take a little more care over what I step past every day.