Jacqui Woodward-Smith

Poet, writer, psychospiritual counsellor, low priestess walking a path of radical honey, completely and endlessly in love with the land and the Goddess. I am director of Scarlet Stitches, which, like me, is work in progress...

Website: radicalhoneybee.blogspot.co.uk

Diary 2017

In Southwark, one of the oldest, poorest, and dirtiest parts of London, an extraordinary thing is happening. Where before there was only concrete, a wild garden is blooming, its roots threaded through the bones of the dead. Here, in this most sacred of earth, lie the remains of paupers and prostitutes who the church refused to bury in consecrated ground. From at least the 14th Century until 1853, when the graveyard was closed and forgotten, 15,000 people were buried there in unmarked graves; approximately 9,000 of them children. And then in the 1990s workmen digging the Jubilee Line extension on the London Underground began to unearth bones and a deep healing of the dead, the living, and the land, began. Since 2004, on the 23rd of every month we have gathered at the gates at 7pm to hold a vigil; to tie ribbons, offer songs and poems, and to remember those who lie just beneath the surface of what had become a temporary car park. A people’s shrine has been created at the gates of the site and many have campaigned for a permanent memorial to the ‘Outcast Dead’. We dreamed of a garden and sang to the Greenman of future children who might play there. It seemed that it would never happen; the ground was just worth too much to developers; but then there was wild magic! Crossbones began to be marked on official maps and now we have been offered the land for three years to create a ‘Meanwhile Garden’. Hawthorn, crab apples, mistletoe, mugwort, foxgloves, hollyhocks, and thyme grow there. Dragonflies, honeybees, bright-eyed mice, curious rats, and tiny, fierce wrens have made it their home. The wild land was always there just beneath the concrete. We should never underestimate its power to break through.

On Crossbones Graveyard © Jacqui Woodward-Smith 2015