Celebrations for the outcast dead

LONDON — The Southwark district has long had an association with the esoteric world, being the home of 20th-century occultist Austin Osman Spare and (before the fire which ravaged it) the Cuming Museum, which housed the Lovett collection of magical artifacts. More recently one of its hidden gems has become the focus of a small but dedicated following among British Pagans, occultists, and indeed Christians and members of other religious groups. This is an example of several events and gatherings which are not part of any organized inter-faith movement in the U.K., but which have developed organically across Pagan, Christian and other religious groups. This particular place is the cemetery of Cross Bones, dating from the medieval period. It is a graveyard for the outcast dead; mainly the medieval prostitutes of Southwark who were known as the ‘Winchester geese’ (as they were licensed by the Bishop of Winchester) ,and who worked in the area known as the Mint, one of Southwark’s worst slums. They were licensed to work in the Liberty of the Clink, which lay beyond the law of the city of London.

“Santeria panic” obscures serious problems in black cemeteries in Miami

MIAMI — Reports in three local newspapers have been focused on neglect and vandalism in some cemeteries here. Only one article stressed allegations of grave desecration involving Afro-Caribbean religions. Unfortunately, that paper has the largest circulation of the three. These problems are most severe at two black cemeteries that opened during the Jim Crow era. Neither cemetery has enough funds to provide proper security, upkeep, and maintenance, which increases their risk for vandalism.

Using a Wiccan to Call a Bluff and other Pagan News of Note

Top Story: In Marion, Illinois, the city council is weighing the decision of whether to allow a local group to erect a Ten Commandments monument on the city’s Town Square. Enter atheist activist Rob Sherman, who says he’ll bring a lawsuit against the city if they erect the Ten Commandments monument without also allowing a display by a local Wiccan. “If a Ten Commandments monument is placed on Marion’s Tower Square, resident Robert Donelson wants equal access to share the views of his Wiccan religion … “If Christians are going to have their viewpoint up here, let them at least put up ours,” he said. Donelson, who said he has been a Wiccan for five or six years, was introduced at the news conference by Rob Sherman, the atheist from northern Illinois who has warned city leaders they could be in for a legal battle if the Ten Commandments go up on public property …

Turns Out it Was Teenagers

The St. Petersburg Times reports on the case of a grave desecration in which a skull was stolen. Turns out it wasn’t practitioners of Santeria, Vodou, Satanism, or any other “occult” religion, it was some stupid kids out for a thrill. “Nick Macchione wanted the skull. On his knees, he reached inside the broken crypt and felt around the bones and rotting clothes until he grasped it.

Update: Those Dark Rituals We Don’t Understand

Remember yesterday when I complained about some apparently secret evidence in a New Jersey case of a grave-robbing, and the subsequent racial profiling of people who “practice Satanic rituals” (ie Santeria and Palo)? “Capt. Richard Conklin of the Stamford Detective Bureau said Wednesday that police are targeting people of African, Central American, Haitian, Cuban or Caribbean decent who practice satanic rituals as potential suspects in the grave robbing. “We’re starting to look at this as a ritualistic-type incident,” said Conklin … Conklin said evidence recovered at the grave site and in New Jersey indicate the body was taken for ritualistic reasons. For fear of compromising the investigation, he would not go into specifics …”
Well, the police have decided reveal some of the evidence that has them rounding up the usual African diasporic suspects, and it doesn’t exactly paint a convincing picture of Satanic Santeros. New Jersey police investigators say sacrificed chicken remains were found a quarter-mile from the body of a two-year-old girl taken from her Stamford grave.