Modern Religion and the River


From Waterloo Bridge, image by Charlotte Frearson

Down on the foreshore we sometimes find evidence that the Thames is being used for religious purposes, mainly Hindu as far as we can tell. So, earlier this year, I was fascinated to hear on Radio 4’s Book of the Week an extract from Craig Taylor’s book Londoners, in which a Wiccan priestess described how she disposes of spells. Once they are finished, at the end of the lunar month, their power has gone, but she doesn’t want to throw them out with the rubbish, and traditionally Wiccans would either bury the remains of spells or throw them into water. So on the way to work in the mornings, she casts her old spells off Waterloo Bridge. She made a connection with Celtic offerings and pilgrim badges which also went into the Thames. She didn’t describe what the used-up spells would be like, beyond saying that she might have used wax, or herbs, or lit a candle. I thought this was a wonderful addition to the rich variety of the river.