William Blake and his wife Catherine are interred upon the Bone Hill, their exact resting place is lost, but there is a memorial stone in the boneyard. Barely recognised for his work during his lifetime, the shrine now overflows with flowers, potted plants, and coins in small denominations. Devotional offerings left regularly at the well-tended grave by admirers of Blake’s visionary magic.
Yet perhaps the most striking element of the Bone Hill are its trees. Avenues of tall, spindly London Planes that claw at the sky like bony tendrils, mighty oaks and sycamores with roots that run deep through the ancient hill of bones, and sparsely scattered willows that seem to bend and weep for the departed like daughters of Our Lady of the Cemetery. It is a true bone orchard, under the patronage of Gran Bwa, who rules the island below the sea where the dead reside. At dusk, after libations of black coffee have been poured to the earth, it is as if the trees themselves are possessed by the ancestors. Great branches vivified by the wind, stark presences made of twisted bark, creaking figures of wood silhouetted against the night sky. The London dead make their voices heard to the living and speak of older cities subtly embedded behind the pulse and charge of our familiar streets.
— from Stephen Grasso’s Smoke and Mirrors, pt. II - “Old Devil Moon”. You can read more of his occult history of London (including fun notes on Irish Vodou pirates)… and listen to his accompanying music mix at Bang the Bore.
Third installment’s up next week.