A little rant on “pagan tealights”

Ok, so I guess pagans… we are connected to the natural world in a spiritual sense and find inspiration and communion within the enspirited landscape? It follows really that we don’t litter, we reuse and recycle and all the rest, we honour life and probably in a semi-animist sense we recognise not all that lives is apparently or obviously living. It’s a shame when that gets set aside for the theatre of being spiritual.

Uley Longbarrow, or Hetty Peglar’s Tump

Hetty Peglar’s Tump, or Uley Longbarrow, is just as old and just as genuine as Stonehenge. It’s about 5,500 years old and also as old as its last rebuild. Ancient monuments often turn out to be like the tale of the grandfather’s axe. “It’s very, very old, but it had a new shaft a while back, and the blade has been remade a couple of times… but it’s still my old grandfather’s very old axe.” Both places are like that.

I was sad, a few years back now, when the powers that be decided the long-barrow was in need of some love, closed it for a while and reopened a smaller part of it after reconstruction. The old chambers now inaccessible had felt to me such euphoric spaces, and were a favourite spot for some solitary darkness where I could drift into the otherworld. Post-rebuild I hadn’t been back for a while.

Ambient light long exposure

We visited today. I removed numerous used aluminium tealight pots, and a larger one that had apparently been used for a larger candle. The sandy limestone walls and capstone were covered in burns and soot, and the walls streaked with red paraffin wax. Not even a tallow candle. Rotten apples strewed the chambers.

Ambient light long exposure

I know, we all work through pagan 101. Maybe back in the early days of my emergent paganism we were not as constantly made aware of plastic waste, of pollution and the like – but even then we didn’t leave rubbish around! Nowadays I can’t see an excuse. Fine, spend Samhain in a spooky cemetery or a ‘haunted house’ or even an ancient long-barrow…

But treat it like your favourite grannies house, your most beloved ancestor’s living room… If you want to make connections with those who have gone ahead into mystery, do it with respect. Imagine, if you actually made that contact, how they’d feel to see you pissing all over their carpets… what blessings they might bring to you… Oh my I’m getting old. But it was disappointing.

6 thoughts on “A little rant on “pagan tealights”

  1. Oh no, Hetty Pegler’s Tump is one of my favourite long barrows. Just awful to hear of it being desecrated like that.

    I do wonder if the people who leave tea lights and mess in burial mounds are actually Pagan, as you’d have thought that if they were connected to the wider community, they would know better, but maybe I’m being naive and that’s the “no true Scotsman “ fallacy.

    Either way, we need every Pagan organization to make it clear that burning tea lights in burial mounds or near stone circles is definitely not okay.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. One of my pet hates. I think part of the cause is a growing hunger for connection with sacred places and the ancestors who built them, felt by people who don’t have any idea where to begin. A lot of younger folk who are becoming interested in things we would associate with paganism aren’t necessarily identifying as pagans, and many of the spells and rituals found online or in zines etc assume an indoor ritual setting. I keep having to remind myself that what seems obvious to us might need to be learned by others. I wonder if there’s much scope for pagan organisations to team up with ancient site management and put up signs, maybe? In the meantime I just try to clear the litter wherever I find it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The same thing happens at Kennet Long Barrow. More than once we have taken out expended tealights and so forth, fearing that if there was enough damage this special place would be closed. It is sad that some people have to leave their offerings, forgetting that the intention and the energy behind that intention is a more powerful way to connect with the space and does no harm to the monument.

    Liked by 1 person

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