Monday, November 20, 2006

The stone and the tower

We had walked a long way this day. The sun had gone and the wind was up, but there were still two more places to find.

London Stone is set in a wall behind a grill and a glass. For many centuries it was believed to be the stone of Brutus, brought by him as a deity. So long as London stone is safe, so long shall the city flourish, so it is said. It has survived being moved and being bombed and some believe that it is hard to destroy. Peter Ackroyd writes “It was once London’s guardian spirit and perhaps it is still. It is at least a material remnant from all the ancient legends of London and of its foundation.”

There was nothing for me to see. I could only poke my fingers through the grill and wonder what the stone felt like. As my companion read to me from Peter Ackroyds book, we were interrupted by an older gent, his chest covered with what my companion said looked like military-style medals. He was proudly and volubly showing a friend the historic sites of the city. He proceeded to lecture us all on the stones provenance and properties, before cheerfully bidding us goodbye and taking his friend off to Pudding Lane.

After they had gone, and we had finished hearing what Peter Ackroyd had to say, we stood and made a quiet prayer to the deities of the city. We prayed for the survival of the city, despite those who would threaten its population and way of life. We prayed for all those who fled to it, seeking shelter, tolerance and acceptance. That done, we walked on to our last destination, the White Mound at Tower Hill.

No pilgrimage is complete without a shopping opportunity and this was duly observed in the gift shop at the tower. That done, we made our way to the riverside and the two tall old trees standing on grass close by the traitors gate, where we had done ritual in response to the London bombings. I leant against the tree and reflected upon the day.

I was born in this city. There are a million reasons why I love it. Walking its streets today and exploring just a few of its sacred sites in a small and simple pilgrimage to find the Goddess, I fell in love with it all over again. How wonderful to have the streets secretly capillaried by rivers and streams, springs and wells, all hidden underground, slowly flowing and moving through the clay. And under that, an aqua table of water like a great big lake, which despite the lack of rainfall, has still so much water.

And as I moved closer to the river and listened to the tough little waves splashing rebelliously upon the shingle below, I thought of how the city had opened its arms to those fleeing tyranny. Today we marked Transgender Remembrance Day. This was a good day to renew one's acquaintance with the city through connection with its water and rocks. Quietly, ignoring the proximity of camera toting tourists, we began to sing to the river.

“The River is flowing, flowing and growing,
The River is flowing, down to the sea.
Mother Earth carry me, your child I will always be.
Mother Earth Carry me, back to the sea.
The Moon she is waiting, waxing and waning,
The Moon she is waiting for us to be free.
Sister Moon shine on me, your child I will always be.
Sister Moon shine on me, until we are free.

Tired but replete, we turned from the river and walked back into the scurrying London streets, past people dressed up to the nines in evening gear, confused tourists trying to find the bus stop and a long, long walk to a tube station that would get me home, on account of the engineering works and it being a Sunday! And as we walked, we planned our next trip – the sacred sites of Hamstead Heath, the Wells of London? Greenwhich – the Green Village perhaps? Whatever, I’ll let you know and tell you all about it.

Blackbird Owl

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