Money Magic in the City of London

The City of London is a magical place. Surrounded by a ring of treasure hoarding dragon sentinels, the glass and steel buildings that are the statements of financial power tower over the landscape.

This is a place protected by the iconic London Stone which is usually housed within the City limits. However at the moment this monolithic guardian is outside the formal boundary of the financial district, having been temporarily moved to the Museum of London. The absence of this famous symbol from the place it protects just happened to coincide with an action proposed by C.J.Stone; a spot of situationist magic, aimed at transforming the way that money operates in our culture. On the 7th of November, a group of activists, Druids, occultists, artists and others made their way into the heart of the City to perform a series of rituals at locations such as the Monument (to the Great Fire of London), the Bank of England, St. Paul’s Cathedral and finally The Royal Court of Justice.

Defensive City Dragon

Defensive City Dragon

Trying to articulate what comes after capitalism is probably a bit like asking someone from the Middle Ages what would come after monotheism. While many people have a profound sense that something is deeply wrong with our culture of environmental over-exploitation, social inequality and frustration at the status quo, exactly what we should do about this is far from clear. The recent votes on the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s membership of the European Union, and the United States of America’s election of President Donald Trump, are perhaps expressions (albeit maybe misguided ones) of this desire for change from the way things are.

The details of the actions we performed are recorded by C.J.Stone on his blog. You can read what we got up to here and here (with more material to follow soon). If you want to join in this action, one that seeks to question the role that money plays in our lives and strives to discover more equitable economic social relations, you may want to use the sigil that we deployed as part of our process.

Sign of the times

Sign of the times

This sigil, known as ‘The Equaliser’, is formed from the signs for greater than >, less than < and equal to = (the equals sign of course appears as part of a number of currency symbols such as some versions of the Euro, Dollar, Pounds Sterling and Yen signs). The sigil also includes some runic associations, as well as the link to the Chinese character for ‘well’ which C.J.Stone spotted after it was created (see his blog post). There’s a chant too, to help power-up the sigil; “Greater Than, Less Than, Equal To”. Simply write this sign on the paper money you have and use it, sending the sigil into the currency in circulation. As C.J. records on this blog we were able to send £100 in old-style £5 notes into the heart of the City by the simple expedient of swapping these for new polymer fivers at the Bank of England. The statement on British banknotes,’I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of ‘, means that you can go to the Bank of England and swap it for another note of the same value.

Folks who are familiar with sigil magic will know that the classic way of deploying a sigil is to burn it once it is charged, the theory being that as the image is destroyed physically it goes to work in the unconscious ‘deep mind’ of reality. It’s rather nice to realise that the sigilised five pound notes that C.J. handed into the Bank of England will be destroyed by them in their incinerators in Slough. Slough is a town in Berkshire outside London. Its name derives from the use of the word to mean a depression, or ‘mire/swamp’. A ‘slough’ is a time or place of a falling away of non-vital things. It’s the word we use when a serpent throws off a layer of skin, a symbol of transformation indeed!

JV

Gems for the Library

Here are a few recent additions to my library that I thought you might like to check out…

The first is Momento Mori by Paul Koudounaris. This book gathers together some breathtaking photographs by the author that focus on the ritual uses of dead humans by the living. The collection spans images of skeletons dressed in gem encrusted raiment in Germany, the charnel houses of Europe (notably the astonishing Sedlec Ossurary in the Czech Republic where human remains are used to construct baroque ceiling ornaments and skulls cover every wall), and many more locations. The household skull spirits of Bolivia are photographed, as are the gilded corpses of long dead Buddhist monks, and the tragic monuments to those people murdered by the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. This amazing collection of images is introduced by an erudite essay which explores how the material remains of our ancestors have, by and large, become excluded from the day-to-day experience of many (post) Protestant cultures; contrasting this attitude with current global and historical contexts which show that this is an unusual disconnection. This isn’t a morbid or gruesome book, rather one that explores with text and astonishing images, how we make sense of death and maintain our relationships with those who have gone before us.

Bone yard

Bone yard

The next two volumes take as their subject drugs. The first, Mystic Chemist by Dieter Hagenbach and Lucius Werthmüller (with forward by Stanislav Grof), is a biography of Albert Hofmann. This is a detailed account, with numerous illustrations, of the life of Hofmann himself and his problem/wonder child LSD. There are some great tales here and Hofmann comes across as a thoughtful, kindly and dedicated person. Also included is some broader cultural analysis of the influence of LSD on art, science and other fields.

Continuing the etheogenic part of this trip, the third journal this year from Psychedelic Press is out now, maintaining the very high standard of writing that I’ve seen in the previous editions. Material from personal, legal, ethnographic, scientific and other perspectives make these volumes a real delight to read. There’s some ground breaking research being reported in these collections too, so if you want to get hip to what the psychedelic intelligentsia are up to these days I recommend a subscription. For example, in Volume II from this year historian of the counter culture, Andy Roberts, did a great job of refuting the oft repeated story (which actually appears in Mystic Chemist) that Francis Crick got his insight into the configuration of the DNA molecule while high on acid.

Acid-head before acid

Acid-head before acid

Another slice of counter-cultural goodness is available in the form of The Trials of Arthur by C.J.Stone. In this book, which has elements of gonzo journalism, we follow the story of one King Arthur. Not the first incarnation of that Once and Future King but his modern iteration as an ex-squaddie biker/druid activist costumed hero, who waged a dogged battle against The Man to allow unrestricted access to Stonehenge, and was an important part of the Thatcher years road protest movement.

Sword and the Stone

The Sword and the Stone

This is a deeply magical books where the symbolic identity of King Arthur, though a series of synchronous events and high strangeness, becomes linked to a chap called John Timothy Rothwell (born 5 April 1954). As the revelation of this identity unfolds our modern Arthur gathers his knights around him and sets of on various quests. The question of the ‘truth’ about Rothwell’s identification as King Arthur (as either a reincarnation of the ancient King or classic British eccentric, or both) is explored. The notion that there may be many ways to read this phenomena (as C.J.Stone and I suspect Arthur himself would admit) is maintained, while clearly showing both the symbolic power of that royal archetype, and the bravery of this individual (Arthur refused to wear prison issue clothes while on remand and was put naked into solitary confinement for quite some time). This is an important slice of counter-cultural history and describes how an inspired and magical approach to protest can affect real social change. People engaged with the Realpolitik of opposition and cultural transformation, who are inspired by occulture, should read this book. This volume elegantly describes how magic can practically bring about real changes in the world.

JV