NOTTINGHAM, England — Around 4 p.m. on the night of June 6, an explosion ripped through the house of three Pagans in Bulwell, a suburb of Nottingham. The explosion destroyed their living room and kitchen. The explosion occurred just after Anthony Bowen, Phillippa Morgana Mair Cashion, and Vanessa Amy Bowen had gone to bed. Previously they were watching the Great British Bake Off. Vanessa Bowen and Cashion believe they would have been killed if they were still in their living room.
The police claim that a butane gas cylinder caused the explosion. Philippa said that the residents were unsure about the cause.
The blast killed the fish in their tanks, but their dog and rabbit survived. The Wild Hunt spoke with Cashion about the explosion and its aftermath. As of press time, their traumatized cat has not come out of the rubble of their home.
In an article in the Mirror, an English paper, the three Pagans were described as a couple and their unnamed “friend.” Cashion, the unnamed “friend,” described their relationship as a triad. They were saving money for a triadic handfasting; Robin Hood had once roamed in this area, and they plan to hold their handfasting in nearby Sherwood Forest where he purportedly hid out.Besides being Pagan and in a triad relationship, Cashion and Anthony Bowen live with disabilities. Cashion relies on a wheelchair. She has a cracked sacrum, migraines, fibromyalgia, and several other disabilities which cause her to suffer from more or less constant pain. Anthony Bowen has migraines and ulcerative colitis, among other conditions. He uses a cane and also experiences more or less constant pain. Vanessa Bowen provides care for the others.
Their cat, Thor, slept in the kitchen. After the explosion, that’s where they saw fire. Cashion cannot explain her rescue efforts. “Anthony and I jumped over the [collapsed] living room door. As we are both disabled, me more so than Anthony, I have no idea how we both did that. I can’t even stand long on a given day, but I put the fire out with a saucepan, as I thought the cat may have been in the room.”
Cashion said, “We got Thor in November; he was tiny, flea-infested, and scared of everything. . . . Even when he started exploring, he always ran back to me. He would sit on his hind legs and pull you down for hugs. He was incredibly affectionate. Every night since we had him, he’s come to me to say good night, head butting me, and bopping my nose. He has helped me so much. My health has improved quite a lot since he came. The idea of him cold, scared, and away from me was this huge dead weight on my chest.” Searching for Thor cost Cashion cuts and bruises and a huge glass cut in the sole of her foot. Still, she “would have stood in that kitchen again putting out that fire, if it gave me even a tiny chance of finding him.”The fire department arrived just as Cashion was putting out the last of the fire. At that point her legs gave way. She and Anthony Bowen were taken to the hospital to be treated for cuts.
The local housing estate has placed the three in temporary housing. Disabled people adapt their homes to their special needs. Over the years Cashion has built up these adaptions, which their temporary shelter lacks. “Being unceremoniously ripped away from all of these things has resulted in my health nose diving. An uncomfortable bed for me will result in 24/7 increased pain.”
Cashion and Anthony Bowen have dietary problems that severely restrict what they can eat. Donated food frequently falls outside those restrictions. One night, Cashion reacted violently to the available food. She “was on the floor screaming in pain for hours.” Only their friends and relatives know what food to bring.
The three Pagans escaped the blast with only their pajamas. The rest of their clothes remain in the ruins of their house. Cashion described their appearance when they went to the library. “I was wearing a hospital blanket as an improvised floor-length skirt, Ness [Vanessa Bowen] had one over her shoulders and Anthony was wearing a hospital gown and a pair of too-small jeans. Ness and Anthony had slippers, I had a pair of hospital issue slipper-socks. My wheelchair only had one pedal as the other was still in the house.” Since then, they have received some donated clothes.
Anthony Bowen and Cashion left their large number of medications in the ruins of their home. They have had to reestablish their inventory of prescribed drugs.
The danger of asbestos contamination complicates their situation. If the authorities find asbestos on anything, it will be destroyed.
These three Pagans deviate from the norms of “couple-ist” monogamy, Abrahamic spirituality, and “able-bodiedness.” Cashion has experienced invisibility and ignorance rather than overt hostility. She found a lack of awareness of the special needs that disabled people have. She felt that the housing estate workers would have looked more diligently for a cross or Bible in the rubble than they did for her Thor’s hammer. When she arrived at their temporary housing, she found the furniture reinforcing monogamy. “Two [single beds] were together and the other was pushed off on its own in the corner.” She also tells friends that “the reports should have me down as the crazy disabled woman that put out the fire, rather than a random unnamed person.”
Their mobility issues have prevented Anthony Bowen and Cashion from joining in with the Pagan communities of Nottingham. These three Pagans do, however, prioritize attending the local Pagan Pride event.
A GoFundMe site has been set up to receive donations to assist the three and their pets.