Blog Archives: October 2011

There’s nowt so gold as green

Monday, 31 October 2011

 

Posted by Charles

 

An irony of the natural burial movement is that it was begat by idealists and freethinkers and  environmentalists… and then spied and pounced on by venture vultures scenting carrion. When you do the math you can easily see why — and begin to fear that there are going to be tears before bedtime.

Here’s an example.

Take 15.7 acres of land in Haslemere, Surrey. Get planning permission to turn them into a natural burial ground. Put them up for sale for around £3 million. 

This is actually happening.

The buyer sells each plot at what you’d pay for a plot in local authority cemetery in leafy Haslemere, namely £2,000. That parcel of land is set to earn…

£28 million. 

More here

 

 

 

Jellyrollin All Over Heaven

Monday, 31 October 2011

Lord have mercy on my sins, 
Open the pearly gates and let me in. 
Slippin’ through on Judgement Day, 
When they heard the way I play 
Leaning On The Everlasting Arms. 

Jellyrollin’ all over Heaven 
Hear the guitars ring 
Jellyrollin’ all over Heaven 
Piano players sing 

Heaven don’t allow no easy ridin’, 
We’ll be ridin’ easy anyhow. 
I love to see them sisters shakin’ that heavenly thing. 

Well I takes my time but I got in a hurry 
I heard Charlie Freeman and ????? 
The damnedest sight I ever saw 
Cut the pigeon wing, did the turkey in the straw 
See them sisters shakin’ that heavenly thing. 

Now I’m up in Heaven sittin’ down 
Strummin’ that harp and shinin’ my crown 
Angels they are gathered round when they heard the earthly sound… 
Just A Closer Walk With Thee 

Jellyrollin’ all over Heaven 
Hear the guitars ring 
Jellyrollin’ all over Heaven 
Piano players sing 

Heaven don’t allow no easy ridin’, 
We’ll be ridin’ easy anyhow. 
I love to see them sisters shakin’ that heavenly thing. 
Go on shake it girl… 

Got ol’ Gabe blowin’ his horn, 
Old man Moses pullin’ out the corn. 
Angels jukin’ and shakin’ ’em down 
Jellyroll got ’em liftin’ their gown 
Nearer My God To Thee 

Jellyrollin’ all over Heaven 
Hear the guitar ring 
Jellyrollin’ all over Heaven 
Piano players sing 

Heaven don’t allow no easy ridin’, 
We’ll be ridin’ easy anyhow. 
I love to see them sisters shakin’ that heavenly thing. 
I love to see them angels shakin’ that heavenly thing. 
I love to see them angels shakin’ that heavenly thing. 
I love to see them sisters shakin’ that heavenly thing. 

Buried this day

Monday, 31 October 2011

 

Joan Wytte was born in 1775 in Bodmin, Cornwall. She was sometimes called the “Fighting Fairy Woman” or the “Wytte (White) Witch”.

Joan was famed as a clairvoyant, and people would seek her services as a seer, diviner and healer. Her healing practices included the use of “clooties” (or “clouties”), strips of cloth taken from a sick person and tied to a tree or a holy well as a form of sympathetic magic, such that when the cloth rots, the disease was believed to dissipate.

Later in life, she became very ill-tempered as a result of a tooth abscess, and would shout and rail at people. She often became involved in fights where she exhibited remarkable strength and people came to believe she was possessed by the devil. She was eventually incarcerated in Bodmin Jail, not for witchcraft but for public brawling, and due to poor conditions in the jail, Joan died of bronchial pneumonia at the age of 38.

Her bones were disinterred and used for séances and various pranks, then later displayed at the Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle, Cornwall. It is said that, while her skeleton was on display in the museum, they started to experience disruptive poltergeists, and a witch was bought in to advise them, who said that Wytte’s spirit wished to be laid in a proper burial. She was finally laid to rest in a peaceful wooded area in Boscastle, and her gravestone reads: “Joan Wytte. Born 1775. Died 1813 in Bodmin Jail. Buried 1998. No longer abused”. [Source]

Joan was buried on 31 October. 

Thanks to Belinda Forbes for this story. Joan is the subject of a lecture this evening at Arnos Grove, details here

This ae nighte

Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloween has deep roots. Through All Hallows Eve to the old pagan night of Samhain, each marks the time of year when the veil between this world and the next are at their thinnest and the dead and the living can most easily meet and mingle.

 As this blog’s contribution to the celebrations, here is the Lyke Wake Dirge in probably the most famous of recent versions performed by Pentangle.

It’s a very old Yorkshire dialect song for the time spent sitting with the corpse (Lyke is an old word for corpse – think Lych Gate). It describes the journey the soul makes and the challenges it meets on the way. In a way it’s a set of instructions but, if there’s a lesson, it is that charity in life is the best way to ensure safe passage in death.

 Here are the original lyrics, with a translation:

This ae nighte, this ae nighte,
Every nighte and alle,Fire and fleet and candle-lighte,
And Christe receive thy saule.

When thou from hence away art past,
Every nighte and alle,
To Whinny-muir thou com’st at last;
And Christe receive thy saule.

If ever thou gavest hosen and shoon,
Every nighte and alle,
Sit thee down and put them on;
And Christe receive thy saule.

If hosen and shoon thou ne’er gav’st nane
Every nighte and alle,
The whinnes sall prick thee to the bare bane;
And Christe receive thy saule.

From Whinny-muir whence thou may’st pass,
Every nighte and alle,
To Brig o’ Dread thou com’st at last;
And Christe receive thy saule.

If ever thou gav’st silver and gold,
Every nighte and alle,
At t’ Brig o’ Dread thou’lt find foothold,
And Christe receive thy saule.

But if silver and gold thou never gav’st nane,
Every nighte and alle,
Down thou tumblest to Hell flame,
And Christe receive thy saule.

From Brig o’ Dread whence thou may’st pass,
Every nighte and alle,
To Purgatory fire thou com’st at last;
And Christe receive thy saule.

If ever thou gav’st meat or drink,
Every nighte and alle,
The fire sall never make thee shrink;
And Christe receive thy saule.

If meat or drink thou ne’er gav’st nane,
Every nighte and alle,
The fire will burn thee to the bare bane;And Christe receive thy saule.

This ae nighte, this ae nighte,
Every nighte and alle,
Fire and fleet and candle-lighte,
And Christe receive thy saule.

On this night, on this night,
Every night and all,Hearth and house and candle-light,
And Christ receive your soul.

When from here away you pass
Every night and all,
To Thorny Moor you come at last;
And Christ receive your soul. 

If ever you gave hose and shoes,
Every night and all,
Sit then down and put them on;
And Christ receive your soul.

But if hose and shoes you gave none
Every night and all,
The thorns shall prick you to the bare bone;
And Christ receive your soul.

From Thorny Moor then you may pass,
Every night and all,
To Bridge of Dread you come at last;
And Christ receive your soul.

If ever you gave silver and gold,
Every night and all,
At Bridge of Dread you’ll find foothold,
And Christ receive your soul.

But if silver and gold you gave none
Every night and all:
You’ll tumble down into Hell’s flames
And Christ receive your soul.

From Bridge of Dread then you may pass,
Every night and all,
To Purgatory fire you’ll come at last;
And Christ receive your soul.

If ever you gave meat or drink,
Every night and all,
The fire will never make you shrink;
And Christ receive your soul.

But if meat or drink you gave none,
Every night and all,
The fire will burn you to the bare bone;
And Christ receive your soul

On this night, on this night,
Every night and all,
Hearth and house and candle-light,
And Christ receive your soul.

 

 With thanks to Jeff Duntemann for his translation of the Dirge. If you are interested in reading more, his page is here.

 

Spooky Scary Skeletons

Friday, 28 October 2011

As a final fling – and to get in the mood for Halloween – here’s Disney’s classic from 1929, edited to include Andrew Gold’s great song ‘Spooky scary skeletons’. The song starts about 1.30secs into the video.

 

Spooky scary skeletons
Send shivers down your spine
Shrieking skulls will shock your soul
Seal your doom tonight

Spooky scary skeletons
Speak with such a screech
You’ll shake and shudder in surprise
To hear these zombies shriek

We’re sorry skeletons
You’re so misunderstood
You only want to socialize
But I don’t think we should

Cause spooky scary skeletons
Shout startling shrilly screams
They’ll sneak from their sarcophagus
And just won’t leave you be

Spirits supernatural
Are shy what’s all the fuss
But sacks of bones seem so unsafe
It’s semi-serious!

Spooky scary skeletons
Are silly all the same
They’ll smile and scrabble slowly by
And drive you so insane

Sticks and stones will break your bones
They seldom let you snooze
Spooky scary skeletons
Will wake you with a boo!

Funnybones

Friday, 28 October 2011

 

Posted by Vale

 

 

What is it with this fascination with bones and skeletons?

Faced with a pile of them and one man plasters into the walls and cornices, another creates chandeliers and shields while elsewhere anonymous skulls are given names, cleaned, polished and even appealed to for information.

Bones seem to be the acceptable face of death. Tangible reminders of course; a frisson of the macabre certainly, but once the Yorick lesson has been learned –  you might think there would be little more to add.

Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath
borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how
abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at
it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know
not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your
gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment,
that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one
now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?
Now get you to my lady’s chamber, and tell her, let
her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must
come; make her laugh at that.

Except that there always is. Faye Dowling has published a wonderful Book of Skulls that, through images, explores our continuing fascination:

And, for the ossuary lovers, Thames and Hudson are publishing Empire of Death.

It brings together the world’s most important charnel sites, ranging from the crypts of the Capuchin monasteries in Italy and the skull-encrusted columns of the ossuary in Évora in Portugal, to the strange tomb of a 1960s wealthy Peruvian nobleman decorated with the exhumed skeletons of his Spanish ancestors.

And our old friend St Pancras is on the cover too.


You can look at it here.

Quote of the week

Friday, 28 October 2011

 

 

 

“As long as you can see me, you’re fine. As soon as you can’t see me, you’re mine.”

 

David Sterne, funeral director, Louisiana. 

 

Source

The sisterhood of the skulls

Thursday, 27 October 2011

 

Posted by Vale

 

If Kutna Hora and Capela dos Ossos show anything it is that we cannot let bones lie.

Buried and disinterred, stacked and stored these vast collections become places where the living can meet and marvel at the dead.

In Naples, at the charnel house in the middle of its Fontanelle Cemetary, this urge has flowered into a full blown relationship. In the 1870s a cult arose around the anonymous dead. People adopted skulls, cleaned and polished them, gave them names, brought them offerings and asked them for favours.

The cult lasted until the late 1960s when the church closed it down.

You can read about Fontanelle here and here.

Page 1 of 712345...Last »