This pandemic year found three of us gathering in the Crypt of St Martin-in-the-Field to walk to St Paul’s on our fourth annual Sagittarius Thames Pilgrimage, postponed by two weeks due to lockdown. We kept our social distances during lunch and reviewed the Landscape Zodiac map for the Wheel of Life Pilgrimages, and told interested people nearby about the Wheel of Life.
We started our Pilgrimage by standing as near as possible to the stocks for punishing people and dedicated our Pilgrimage to liberation of people in distress. (St Martin is in the Fields as it used to be strawberry fields and gardens with a Poor House on the site of the National Gallery.) We moved on in St Martin’s Crypt to the Nativity Scene, then to admire an artwork entitled ‘With the Heart of a Child’ by Nicola Ravenscroft a most moving piece made up of seven life-size bronze children. Each child represents a continent on the earth and children’s dreams of a better future. (https://nicolaravenscroft.com/gallery/ see With the Heart of a Child)
Our first stop after crossing Trafalgar Square was the Equestrian statue of Charles I, the point in London where all distances are measured from, and the site of the original Charing Cross. We connected through Admiralty Arch to Buckingham Palace to the Sovereignty of our Island, straight down Whitehall to the Palace of Westminster and its governance, Trafalgar Square which has been the focal point of many rallies, demonstrations and celebrations and with St Martin-in-the-Fields, for spirituality and social activism with the homeless and other causes such as protesting against apartheid at South Africa House for years.
We carried on our route towards Embankment and Charing Cross Stations, entering Embankment Gardens to reflect at the York House Water Gate, the place to which the Thames stretched before creation of Embankment in the 19th century. We walked over Hungerford Bridge where we gifted yellow roses to the River. The typical December day, grey and cold, was brightened with a most beautiful sunset as we turned around during our South Bank walk. Hundreds of others pilgrimed in their own way along the South Bank, choosing walking rather than shopping this December Saturday.
We went down steel steps to the River side at Gabriel’s Wharf, swished our boots in the sand by the lapping river water and made a Mandala of yellow roses on the sand. Some onlookers from South Bank walkway level may have bemused about three women, their boots and bodies socially distanced, quietly standing over, then taking a photo of their boots with roses and a lantern.
It was dark as we walked past Tate Modern, then heading back so we could get inside for a toilet break, had to have a special toilet ticket to get in. We gave thanks the River Water Spirits for granting us relief, headed outside and over the Millennium Bridge into a biting wind, pausing to bless and toss one yellow rose into the Thames, moving swiftly with the tide towards the sea and connecting us to everything.
St Paul’s looked as beautiful as always with the added sparkle of a Christmas Tree twinkling under the Dome. We paused for a prayer at the Firefighters’ Memorial, remembering our Samhain Pilgrimage 31st Oct and thanked the key workers looking after us in the Pandemic. We walked mindfully towards St Paul’s, stopping for a prayer at the drinking fountain dedicated to St Laurence & Mary Magdalene.
We couldn’t enter St Paul’s, preparing for Even Song, so we ended our Pilgrimage at the statue of the Good Shepherd by Elizabeth Frink in PaterNoster Square, our place of beginning for our Samhain Pilgrimage.
Roberta Ardern and Phyllis SantaMaria,
Local Contacts for Sagittarius and London.
Our next Pilgrimage on 31 Jan 2021, starting at Primrose Hill, London, will be celebrating Imbolc.