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.
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.
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.
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.