Is this really the way to run a railway?



Whitstable station: the ticket machine is left of centre

I went up to London last week to visit some friends.

I was planning to catch the 10.38 to London Victoria. Only when I got there, with ten minutes to spare, the ticket office had just closed.

Why would they close the ticket office ten minutes before a train was due to arrive? It’s a busy train, being one of the early off-peak services that retired people use.

What’s worse, the ticket machine outside was out of order. There was a queue, with a young woman in the front, trying to pick up tickets she had bought online.

She was stabbing at the screen with her finger and cursing under her breath.

Someone else left the queue and went to bang on the window of the office, trying to get their attention.

Just then a consignment of boxes arrived, and the couriers were trying to get into the office as well. They were knocking on the door as the customer was rapping on the window.

Eventually the office opened, with barely a minute to spare. More people had turned up hoping to catch the train, and a large queue formed instantly.

There was a general air of angry frustration in the waiting room. People were laughing just a little bit too loudly, as if they were about to break into hysterics.

Most people managed to get their tickets, fortunately, and those that didn’t would have bought their tickets on the train, so nobody got hurt.

Even so, is this really the way to run a railway?

It’s all to do with privatisation. The way to increase profits is to squeeze down on staff costs. Less people doing more work means more income for the shareholders.

The big con, of course, is that when the rail system was privatised, we were promised that rail subsidies would cease.

In fact the opposite has happened. The rail system now costs the tax payer much more than it ever did when it was publicly owned.

Such are the joys of neoliberal economics. Less pleasure, more profit, and an end to civilisation as we know it.


From The Whitstable Gazette, 08/12/2016

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The Native Oysters Band at the Whitstable Labour Club


The Native Oysters Band playing at the Labour Club 2nd Dec 2016

What a wonderful gig at the Labour Club last night, featuring the inimitable Nigel Hobbins, and the revelatory Native Oysters Band, in aid of the Oval Campaign.

Nigel was brilliant as always, doing a poignant rendition of his Garden of England song, amongst others. These lines seemed particularly apt given the cause this evening: “For this is the Garden of England and it’s worth fighting for.”

The Native Oysters Band are a kind of funked up Brass Band, playing an extraordinary mixture of New Orleans jazz, soul, funk and classics, with a great singer and trumpet player, who sounded like Gil Scott Heron, two psychedelic sax players, a cool, laid back drummer, a keyboard player who stepped in at the last minute, and still managed to sound spot on, and the most wonderful tuba playing I’ve ever heard. Well I say “tuba” but I had to ask what it was. Actually it’s a helicon, which is a type of tuba made for marching bands. You would normally associate the tuba with oompah pah music, but this was ultra groovy. It sounded more like some funky fretless bass than anything you would hear in a German beer hall.

They looked great too, with their sailor’s caps with gold leaf designs on the peaks, with all the brass instruments, and with that great gleaming tuba in the background catching the spotlight: it was like the stage was lit up in a golden shimmering glow.

Lots of people got up to dance: except yours truly, who ran off into the bar when Julie Wassmer tried to get me onto the dance floor. You don’t want to see me dance Julie. It’s like Pinocchio on acid.

All of the musicians gave their time for free in order to aid the Oval Campaign, and Whitstable Society stalwart Graham Cox gave a great speech about the politics of the campaign.

This is not just a Whitstable issue: it’s a national issue. It’s about what a council can and can’t do with public land. If Canterbury City Council get away with selling off the Oval to the developers at a knock down price, then the same thing could happen in the rest of the country. This is a last stand for public land.

The Judicial Review takes place on the 13th, 14th and 15th of December and Whitstable people are encouraged to go along to show your support.

Funding for this vital case is still ongoing. If you wish to make a donation please go to:

Listen to a medley of the Native Oysters Band’s songs here:

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Fake News vs Stooge News

Julian Assange: “1,700 emails” proves Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS in Syria

Julian Assange: “1,700 emails” proves Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS in Syria

So the news this week has been all about fake news.

A significant factor in the American election, we were told, was the proliferation of news sites deliberately propagating made-up stories.

Channel 4 had an exclusive. Ciaran Jenkins, ITN’s Northern correspondent, was in a small town in Macedonia where, he claimed, much of the material comes from.

The piece involved a series of interviews with people in the town, including two teenagers who admitted to disseminating fake news.

Prior to the interviews he gave examples of the kind of stuff he was talking about: “Some falsely report that Hillary Clinton is a paedophile,” he said, “and that she sold arms to ISIS.”

This last statement was accompanied by a picture of Hillary Clinton next to a picture of Julian Assange. Underneath was written: “Julian Assange: 1,700 emails proves Hillary Clinton sold weapons to ISIS in Syria.

The implication is clear. News about Clinton’s support for ISIS is as absurd as news about her being a paedophile. Like the Macedonian teenagers, Julian Assange is also in the business of spreading fake news.

But this was an example of deliberate misdirection.

Say what you like about Assange, it is not fake news he produces, it is leaked information, pretty well all of which is true.

Furthermore, while it can’t be shown that Hillary Clinton sold arms to ISIS, leaked memos reveal that she was fully aware of the fact that US allies were funding ISIS, and she turned a blind eye to it.

Underlying the news about fake news is the assumption that our Western media produces real news.

It doesn’t take much digging to show that this, too, is a false assumption.

Remember those weapons of mass destruction? A lot of that information came from a dissident Iraqi Taxi driver who has since admitted he was lying.

Much of the news from Libya and Syria has also proved, at best, unreliable, at worst, completely untrue.

It’s not that the Western media concoct fake headlines: it’s that they repeat unquestioningly false information fed to them by Western Intelligence Agencies.

As one of my friends on Facebook put it: “I tend to think of the news as propaganda; now I’m being warned not to listen to fake propaganda.”

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Money, Magic and the Imagination – Part VIII

Arthur on the steps of the Royal Courts of Justice in in 2011, attempting to get a judicial review into returning cremated human remains to Stonehenge

After St Paul’s we walked to the Royal Courts of Justice on the Strand, where King Arthur read out the Royal Proclamation forgiving debt:

I, Arthur Uther Pendragon, having been raised Druid King of Britain on the Coronation Stone at Kingston upon Thames in January 1998, this being the first day of the Celtic New Year according to some calculations, do declare a Clean Slate, and a state of economic renewal, according to powers vested in the ancient Kings.

Just as the Sun returns to the same position on the horizon each year, and the Moon revolves around the Earth; just as the land is revived season by season, and the Earth begins anew again; just as birds return to their nests and salmon to their breeding waters; just as Winter gives way to Spring and Spring gives way to Summer, so the money cycle must be ever renewed and returned to a state of economic equilibrium.

Let all debts be forgiven. Let all forfeitures be returned. Let those who were dispossessed reclaim their customary possessions. Let the records be wiped clean and the Jubilee declared throughout the lands, as it always was. Let those who are enslaved by debt be made free. Let those who are brought low by financial burden have the weight lifted from them. Let the power vested in government to create money be used for the benefit of all the people, and not just the favoured few.

Let a new bank holiday begin, a holiday from banks. Let the banks be made accountable to those they have indebted. Let their privileges be revoked. Let those who hoard money be cured of their addiction. Let the money be free to circulate as it wills. Let it flow freely throughout the economy, like irrigation in a barren wasteland. Let the financial canals be opened and the land be brought to life again.

We are planting a seed here in the heart of the City of London, City of Cities, the birthplace of the old economy, where all debt is created, and to which all debt must be returned.

It is the seed of monetary Justice, the seed of hope for a bright new future, the seed of the new debtless economy, where usury and interest bearing debt give way to sovereign money in the hands of the people, and all of the people are free.”

He read it from the steps of the Royal Courts, from a scroll which he had fashioned himself, and which added proper gravitas to the reading. The whole thing was witnessed by the assembled company, the forty or so people who had accompanied us on our journey, after which the scroll was sealed with wax from the burning candle which had been lit in the concourse outside St Pauls, and then carried here.


Royal Courts of Justice: like someone’s fantasy of a Fairy Castle

The Royal Courts is an extraordinary building. It’s Victorian Gothic, in the same mould as the Houses of Parliament, only even more elaborately picturesque. It’s like someone’s fantasy of a Fairy Castle brought to life, with turrets and towers and vaulted arches by the dozen. You can almost imagine a giant fee-fi-fo-fumming in front of its Cathedral-sized front door, as an enchanted princess lowers her tresses from one of its many turrets, to allow a prince to ascend.

It is the perfect place, in other words, for a mythical King to read out a proclamation of great spiritual and political significance.

Actually Arthur is very familiar with the Royal Courts of Justice, having been here many times before.

Most recently, in 2011, he was here attempting to get a judicial review into returning the cremated human remains, dug up by archaeologists at Stonehenge in 2008, returned to their previous resting place near the stones.

He was also here in 1996, during the Newbury bypass protests, when he was brought under police escort from Bullingdon Jail in Oxfordshire, where he had been incarcerated for refusing bail conditions, in order to fight an injunction against him attempting to ban him from going anywhere within 100 metres of the contractors’ goods or chattels anywhere in the world.

They were claiming – falsely – that he was planning to go to Holland to lock-on to one of their cranes.

Each of the petitioners – the Highways Agency, the Department of Transport and Costain, the contractor – was represented by a “Learned Barrister” and his team, while Arthur represented himself.

So you can picture the scene if you like: the majestic court room, with its columns and arches and vaulted ceilings, with its wooden panels, its shields and plaques; the barristers in their wigs and robes, flapping about like crow’s wings, the judge in his shoulder length wig and ermined robes, raised on his platform; the police and prison officers in their uniforms; and Arthur, in the dock, in his battle-frock, with his circlet about his head, representing himself as the reincarnation of a Dark Ages Battle Chieftain, claiming Druid immunity on the battlefield.

Yes, that’s right, say it again – “Druid immunity on the battlefield” – quoting from the Classical writers, Strabo and Diodorus, from the first century BC.

The Learned Barristers laughed out loud when they heard that, but were soon silenced when the Judge adjourned the case to seek legal clarification on the matter.

On his return, the Judge ruled that Arthur was correct, but as he couldn’t show that Druids had practised such a right prior to the reign of Richard I, in and around Newbury according to local custom, it did not apply. However he did agree with Arthur that the conditions of the injunction were beyond his jurisdiction, applying not just to the UK, but to the rest of the world. He also agreed that they were impracticable. As Arthur pointed out, he could be driving anywhere in Britain and come upon temporary traffic lights or traffic cones belonging to Costain, and break the injunction without knowing it. In other words, put simply, Arthur won the case, beat the injunction, and was free to go on protesting at Newbury.

The ruling about Druid immunity on the battlefield being based on local custom, by the way, could also have been argued on the basis of national custom: which leaves the door open to the possibility of someone making the claim again at some point in the future. And if ever anyone feels like trying it out, they can refer to this court case as the precedent.

This is one of the things about Arthur that makes him so fascinating. People who don’t know him or who have never met him, often think he’s crazy: at best eccentric, at worst, certifiably insane. The man you meet, however, is just an old fashioned, working class biker-dude turned Druid: a bit rough around the edges, but obviously intelligent.

It’s the use he puts his assumed identity to that makes the difference; and, let’s face it, he’s not the only one with a penchant for fancy-dress. Those Learned Barristers too – the Judge, the court officials, the police and prison officers – all of them wear distinctive clothing to define their office.

The court room too is full of symbols. Take a look at the plaque on display in every court in the land, the famous “Lion and the Unicorn”: it’s a shield with the rampant lion on one side and a unicorn on the other. The unicorn has a crown around its neck, which is chained to the ground. What does that mean? Arthur says it represents warrior energy unleashed, and magical energy chained. Whatever it is, it is a potent symbol of British imperial power.

Arthur pits his own symbols against these: the rampant dragon on his chest, the silver crown with a flying dragon in the centre, the pentagram, the Celtic cross, the sword, which he insists on swearing upon in place of the Bible, and which was once brought to Reading Crown Court with a motorcycle escort, blue lights flashing, from Charring Cross Police Station on the order of the Judge. And if Arthur claims, as he does, that it is the “Sword of Britain” and the Judges allow him to swear on it as such, then doesn’t this make it legally true; legally binding in a British Court of Law?

It is through these symbols that he is claiming an authority which precedes and overrides that of the British State. And it is an authority which the Judges – themselves most often steeped in their own form of magical practice as Freemasons – almost invariably recognise.

Let’s face it: it is all symbolic.

Legal authority, power, status, wealth, democracy, the Crown: all of these are expressed in symbolic language.

And money too: those intricately designed notes we carry around with us, with the Queen’s head on one side and national folk heroes on the other; with the “promise to pay the bearer on demand”, which, when you put it into practice, means merely swapping one identical note for another.

You can’t get more deeply symbolic than money: a note which symbolises itself.

What Arthur does is to remind us that all real authority comes from ourselves.

Arthur has elaborated his own status into a recognisable system, a set of symbols by which we know him. But we don’t have to wear a white robe and a crown to be known and recognised for who we are; we simply have to know in ourselves that everything claiming authority over us is symbolic and create our own symbols in return.

And, this, of course, is what we’ve been up to all day. We’ve been addressing the world of money and finance with the symbols of our own creative power.

This is what magic is all about.

Can it change the physical world?

Maybe not.

But it does change the symbolic world, the psychological world. It changes those who practice it. It opens up the doors of the psyche to other possibilities, to other ways of being.

It unleashes imagination into the world. It creates a world in the imagination. It allows us to step aside from the world that is imposed upon us – through the financial system, the class system, through war and propaganda – and to look at it with fresh eyes, with a fresh mind, with intelligence, wit and sensitivity, in the hope that we can transform the world, and begin to make it new again.

To read the whole sequence please go here, and follow the links at the bottom of each page.

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Money, Magic and the Imagination – Part VII

The concourse in front of St Paul’s Cathedral: “Of all the places we gathered that day… the most perfect, the most precise, the most resonant with contained energy”

So we’re coming towards the end of our tale now. Two rituals done, two to go.

The next took place on the concourse in front of St Paul’s Cathedral and was lead by John Constable in the guise of John Crow, his alter-ego.

John is the kind of person that the word “charismatic” was invented to describe. He goes his own way and is unique and completely uncategorisable. He’s an actor, a poet and a playwright, as well as an urban shaman and a latter day voodoo priest. He wrote The Southwark Mysteries, a modern mystery play cycle, first performed in Shakespeare’s Globe and Southwark Cathedral on Easter Sunday, 23rd April 2000, and has presided over a monthly vigil at the gates of the Crossbones Cemetery in Southwark since 2004. Prior to that he led a Halloween ritual which culminated in a procession to the gates, and this year marks the 20th anniversary of what he refers to as “the Goose visitation”, when the spirit of one of the dead at Crossbones descended upon him during a late night walk through the streets of Southwark: on the 23rd November 1996.

Southwark is just over the river from the City of London, and was the place, just outside the jurisdiction of the City, where the well-to-do burghers, the gentry and the clergy would repair for rest and recuperation: which is to say, it was the place where the whores would congregate and where a god-fearing citizen from the other side of the river could cast off his pious cloak and indulge his more corporeal fantasies for a time.

The first time we’d met to discuss our plans had been at the George Inn in Southwark, after which John had led us to Crossbones and given us a guided tour.

When Jon Harris and I had reconnoitred the City a few weeks before, we’d selected a series of places where there was a little space in which to perform our rituals. We had no idea, then, what anyone would want to do with them.

It was John Constable who chose St Paul’s as his location, and forgiveness as his theme.

It is forgiveness that characterises Christianity as a religion, remember. Forgiveness of sins. Sin is another form of debt, which the Redeemer offers his life as payment for.

Of all the places we gathered that day, the concourse in front of the Cathedral was the most perfect, the most precise, the most resonant with contained energy.

It is laid out as a circle of stones around a central pivot. There’s a small hub in the heart of it. John lead us to this place and gathered us around to talk, while he drew a six pointed star in chalk on the floor and placed various objects at the points of intersection.

He reminded us that we are all implicated in the money process, that: ‘We all have our stake in the sum of human misery…’  It’s no good finger-wagging at the rich as this would tend to entrench them in their position. We all have to acknowledge the part we play. We all covet the products of the system. We all have mobile phones and computers. We are all guilty and we all need to be forgiven. We are all victims and we all need to be rescued. We are all slaves and we all need to be redeemed.

John then asked us to help to manifest an entity as a symbol of the system: a creature he called “Phatty”. Phatty is the Fat-Cat who feeds off human greed. We formed a circle and John did a performance of a poem invoking the spirit of this Being, as it resides in all of us.

(PHATTY from SPARK IN THE DARK by John Constable):

Phatty got a problem
Phatty in a fix
Phatty been got up to his old
not so clever tricks

Phatty got sticks
Phatty got stones
Phatty got a murky mix of
toxic home loans
Phatty get transfixed
by the things he think he owns

with his hypnotist inflections
and his wheedling little voice
Phatty project another trillion pound bonus
and an armour-plated Rolls Royce
and how we all get to trade our Freedom
for a share in his multiple choice

Phatty raid the kitty
Phatty pig the food
Phatty bank his fractions
on the price of Brent Crude
some say Phatty too fat to fuck
but somehow we all get screwed

Phatty he no Dumbo
Phatty know the score
Phatty know he been here not once
but many a time before
only this time how to wriggle out
Phatty not so sure

Phatty in a fluster
Phatty in a State
Phatty think about things he shoulda done
and wonder if it now too late
or whether he could buy a little more time
if he join in the Crisis Debate
and if he should use the time that he buy
to lose a little Phatty weight

Phatty need a chain reaction
Phatty need a juju man
Phatty need another distraction
like a Nuclear War with Iran
which is why we all got to disarm and defuse
before Phatty shit hit the fan
before Phatty money won’t buy no more time
and the Phatty bar-code don’t scan

till then scanning the dead
banks of CC-television
holed-up in his high-security tower
in his moment of decision
Phatty knows time and money just bought him
a luxury Phatty prison

for Phatty is a phantom
he feed on Phatty pricks
only this time his money won’t buy no more time
no matter how many digits he clicks
now when the Mob come howling for the Phatty Controller
it be Phatty head catching the kicks
or strung up from a lamp-post like Phatty Mussolini:
“That’s Phatty fixed!”


Phatty get sorted
Phatty get fit
light-bulb in Phatty head
be suddenly up lit
Phatty treat the Human Race
like he ready to run with it

take more than a remix
or a bullet-proof Bugatti
not as corporate catty
Race as in Human
when we flush out the ratty
as fat and thin we here begin
to bid a fond farewell

to Phatty.

He did this all from memory.

John then introduced us to the concept of the Long Dance performed during San Pedro ceremonies, in which participants dance for hours in a circle, first clockwise to release negative, destructive energies to the transforming fire at the centre – in our case represented by a single candle in the six-pointed star – then ‘widdishins’ to draw in and project positive, healing energies. He playfully announced that we would now perform our own ‘Short Dance’.

Which is what we did. We danced clockwise around the circle banishing and transforming Phatty’s energy, chanting these words: “Here Phatty’s Debt I now redeem / Awaking from his Deathly Dream.”

This went on for some time, maybe ten minutes, after which we reversed the circle and danced the other way to receive and emanate William Blake’s vision of forgiveness, while chanting lines from one of his illustrated books, The Gates of Paradise: “Mutual Forgiveness of each Vice / Such are the Gates of Paradise.”

William Blake too, knew these streets, living, as he did, in Lambeth, not far away, and would have walked them often in his epic jaunts around the London landscape. Blake was also prone to visitation of various kinds, and to an active engagement with the denizens of his imagination. If there’s any figure who unites all of us in our journey today, it is William Blake.

While this was going on someone I knew, Susanna, had exited the circle and was talking to a priest on the steps of the Cathedral.

She called me over and asked me to explain what we were doing.

The priest said, “I’m just wondering what’s going on here?”

I gave him a King Arthur £23 note and copies of our Positive Money leaflets. I showed him the picture of Arthur on the front of the note and he nodded over at Arthur in the circle and said, “ah yes, I can see him there.” I reminded him of the Jubilee from the Bible and the words of the Lord’s Prayer and explained that we were calling for debt forgiveness. He listened politely. He seemed a little sceptical but – let’s face it – who wouldn’t be?

After that I went back to the circle to continue participating in the process.

King Arthur made a very telling point about the space we were currently occupying. He said it always got on his nerves when pagans complained about Christians taking over what had previously been pagan sites. He said, “What is it about the words ‘Genius Loci’ they don’t understand? It means ‘spirit of place’. The spirit of the place is still here no matter what religion is being practised.”

A couple of things were happening nearby. One was a wedding. There was a photographer taking pictures of the happy couple, her in her white satin wedding gown with the veil cast back over her head: him in his suit and tie. No doubt they wanted this space for themselves. And not far away there was a gathering of foreign students being addressed by a couple of guides.

I went over and distributed £23 notes to them. Everyone wanted one.

There was other secret alchemy going on too, but I won’t say what this was as it would spoil the magic.

The amount of energy John Crow poured into leading this profound and engaging ritual was extraordinary. It was a privilege to have have been a witness and to have shared this experience with him.


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Money, Magic and the Imagination – Part VI


Jacqueline Haigh as Melusine in Daisy Campbell’s revue, 23rd October 2016

Before we continue with our tale, let’s remind ourselves of why we are here.

Why have a bunch of strangers met on the streets of London, on a blustery cold November day, to act out a series of rituals which, to the public at large, would look like nothing more than New Age gobbledegook?

So let’s look at the issues.

In 2007-2008 there was a banking crisis. We’ll start there as this is the most recent and obvious indication of what might be wrong with our world.

The banks had been raking in the money for years, and growing obscenely rich, but, what we didn’t know, is that they’d been engaging in major fraud to do this. Yes, that’s right: fraud. Fraud on a massive, industrial, transnational scale: selling fraudulent mortgages to people who couldn’t afford it in the United States (so called “liars loans”) then disguising these loans as secure bonds by slicing them up and repackaging them in complex financial instruments known as derivatives, which were then sold on the open market: to pension funds and local governments and other investors, large and small, around the world.

The rating agencies, whose job it is to test financial products and grade them according to risk, were giving out triple A ratings to these derivatives; to what were, in effect, doomed investments. They were doing this because their business was so inextricably tied to the fortune of the banks that they daren’t question what was going on.

The whole business model was riven by fraud, from the bottom to the top, and the CEOs of the large banks, who were leading this process, were becoming rich beyond measure.

And then, one day, the whole system ground to a halt. Banks stopped lending to each other, and the whole economic system was teetering on the brink of total collapse. It was then that “we the people” showed up. We the people, meaning governments world wide, were forced to hand over trillions of dollars in public money in order to keep the banks from imploding, because, we were told, these banks were “too big to fail”. If they collapsed, then the whole system would collapse with them.

Fraud, remember. Fraud on a grand scale. Fraud on a scale never seen in the world before. And not one banker was gaoled for it. Not only was no one gaoled, they were rewarded for their efforts, paying themselves massive bonus’ using the public funds that had only recently been handed over, and pocketing it themselves. After which, it was business as usual; except that the huge liabilities that the banks had created by their fraudulent practices, were now dumped upon the shoulders of the public to bear, while they went on doing exactly what they had been doing before, getting richer by the minute.

That’s the world we live in now: a world where fraud is rewarded, and the savings of billions of people are compromised, in order to keep the system ticking over.

At the heart of all of this lies the question of money-creation. Where does money come from? How is it created? Who brings it into being and how?

This is where most people get confused. It’s not a question that is asked very often. People think that money is just there somehow. The government creates it, by printing it: isn’t that how it’s done?

Well yes. That’s how it is done. That’s the stuff you carry round in your pocket; but that only accounts for about 3% of the money in circulation. The rest of it is electronic money, that exists as numbers in computers all over the world, and this money isn’t printed at all. It is magicked into being by the banks.

When you go to a bank and ask for a loan, where does that money come from? Do they go downstairs into a vault, and lift a great big wad of fivers they had stored down there, in order to lug it back upstairs to hand it over to you? Of course not. They just tap the number into your account, and you agree to pay it back. But what you believe is that the money has some kind of existence somewhere. They are lending you something they hold. But this is the really startling thing, the really mind-boggling thing. They don’t. They don’t hold anything. That money you have agreed to pay back never had any kind of existence anywhere in the world until the moment you signed the contract agreeing to pay it back.

If anything has the right to be called “magic” in this world, surely it is this?

Money from nothing, conjured out of thin air, abracadabraed into existence by the simple expedient of tapping a few numbers into a computer.

This is the big secret that lies at the heart of the banking system. It’s called “fractional reserve banking”. Banks lend out many times more than they hold as savings. Many, many, many times more. Part of the fraud in the banking crisis was that, in some cases, banks held virtually no reserves at all. All the money they held had been leveraged and leveraged so many times it no longer had any kind of substance or reality. It was homoeopathic money: money so watered down as to have no real existence any more. It was only the fact that we all still believed in it that kept the system going. As long as we didn’t all turn up at the bank at the same time asking for our money back, they could get away with it: they could get away with lending money that didn’t exist and then charging interest on it.

It’s called “confidence”. As long as we have confidence in the banks, the banks will continue to thrive.

And therein lies the key. “Confidence”. Like a confidence trickster: a con merchant, a con artist. The con artist gains your confidence by some little act of trust, by making it appear that you will make some gain, after which they betray that confidence, and take you for every penny you’ve got.

This is exactly what happened in 2007. You were conned. I was was conned. We were all conned. But the confidence trickster, in the form of the private banking system, has been left in place to continue with his egregious abuses of public confidence.

But there’s another element to this. If banks can conjure money out of thin air, why can’t we?

Well we can. That is the other option. It’s called public banking.

We’ve been sold a narrative, a story. The story goes like this. A country is like a household. It has to live within its means. So, like a household, it has to go to the bank to borrow money when it runs short. Currently we owe lots of money to the banks, so, in order to live within our means, and pay back what we owe, we now have to “tighten our belts”. That’s called austerity. We have to give away our benefits, take a cut in wages, sell off our public assets, and allow private enterprise to run the world for us instead.

But a country is nothing like a household. It is much more like a bank. And, like a bank, it can magic money into existence. It can create money out of thin air. In fact the sheer absurdity of the story we’ve been sold is illustrated by the process known as “Quantitative Easing”. Quantitative Easing is money created out of thin air by the Bank of England which is then given to the private banks, so that they will lend it back to us.

Are you pulling your hair out yet? Are you screaming with frustration? Why are we having anything more to do with these con merchants? Why don’t we just create the money ourselves and then spend it into the economy, making us all better off? Quantitative Easing for the people. It’s been done before.

Just to give you one example: Abraham Lincoln issued his own money in the form of greenbacks during the American Civil War, which were not only used to pay for the conflict, but for large infrastructure projects too, including the United States’ intercontinental railway system, still in use to this day. Such is the conjuring power of money that it can fund gigantic projects that will go on to have centuries of use.

You are probably wondering what a bunch of magical folk engaging in public ritual have to do with any of this? But that’s the point. The processes by which money can be called into being and then stored and accumulated, is itself a form of magic. It is invisible, conceptual, with so little existence on the physical plain as to appear almost non-existent. Most of the money is the world is stored as numbers in computers, electronic blips on a computer screen, nothing more, and it is only our collective confidence in the system that maintains it. It is belief, in other words, faith: the same means by which religious systems are kept functioning; and just as religion needs its theologians to help justify its claims, so the money-god needs economists.

Religion is something that exists mainly in people’s heads, as does money. As does magic too, of course.

All of them are deeply tied into the human imagination. But whereas money and God appear to exist outside of us, as forces that own and control us, magic is the means by which we can reclaim imagination for ourselves.

Magic is the application of practical imagination in the world.

It is the collective conjuring up of forces that, instead of controlling us, we can control.

It is at this point, perhaps, that we may return to our tale: a bunch of people hanging round by Wellington’s statue, having just planted our money-sigil into the Bank of England.

This is the moment that Jacqueline Haigh appeared to the crowd in the form of Melusine, the double-tailed mermaid, Jonathan Harris’ recently divined symbol of money.

Jacqui Haigh as Melusine outside the Royal Exchange

Jacqueline Haigh as Melusine outside the Royal Exchange

I’d met Melusine a few times before. On our last reconnaissance mission Jon and I had gone into the Bank of England museum where he’d shown me a treasure chest where they’d kept the money in the early days of the institution. There was a cut metal filigree design on the inside of the lid which showed a double-tailed mermaid. This, Jon assured me, was Melusine. The symbol appears again on the Starbucks logo. Look carefully and you’ll see: she’s a crowned princess holding a fish tail in each hand.

20150722_091339-1Jon had first seen the image on the front cover of an art catalogue from Düsseldorf dating from 1978, called, in translation, The Museum of Money. He’d written about this in his Money Burner’s Manual. She had also featured in Daisy Campbell’s revue on the 23rd of October, when she’d appeared on a raised platform above the stage: Jacqueline Haigh wearing a silver tailed costume designed and made by Sophie Lodge, during which she had scattered gold coins and had golden confetti blown out from a gun between her legs.

Quite why Melusine is a symbol of money is more difficult to work out, but we’re in the business of creative iconography here, and Jon was lead to his conclusions by mysterious and magical means, so we’ll leave it be for the moment.

As to why Starbucks would choose a double-tailed mermaid as their symbol (which in its unexpurgated form has decidedly sexual implications) is another matter.

So, anyway, that’s how Jacqueline appeared this day, dressed as Melusine, doing her Melusine dance beneath the statue of Wellington in front of the Royal Exchange, thus evoking the magical being, thus allowing her space in our collective imagination to weave her spell.

Part VII

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Trump: A man of the people? We’ll wait and see


In the run-up to the American elections a friend of mine on Facebook described Donald Trump as a fascist.

I thought that was an exaggeration. A loud-mouth certainly: a canny media operator, able to play upon people’s prejudices. But a fascist?

Where are his Blackshirts, his street-fighting army?

Does he have corporate backing? Does he have a political party even, given that mainstream Republicans are against him?

No, Trump isn’t a fascist, although he has the potential to turn into one. He has an army of fanatical followers, many of them armed, all of them angry.

Had he lost the election, maybe he could have organised them into a fighting force.

As it is, he’s won. He’s going to be revelling in his new found power. He doesn’t need to organise an army, he’s got the American army to play around with instead.

I think people here in the UK misunderstood Trump’s appeal. All we heard were his outrageous statements about Muslims and Mexicans.

What we didn’t hear were his views on the economy and the state of American industry. This is where his appeal to middle America really lay.

He was promising to rebuild their decimated infrastructure, to put up tariffs, to bring back jobs.

He is also an isolationist, someone who is sceptical of the endless cycle of war.

The alternative was Hillary Clinton, a fully paid up member of the war-party.

Hillary had stated categorically that she was going to impose a no-fly zone over Syria.

Now try and imagine what that would have meant.

In the end, this wasn’t a win for Trump, it was a defeat for the Democratic Party.

It was the Democratic Party which subverted Bernie Sanders’ popular campaign in order to ensure that one of its own had the ticket.

Bernie would have beaten Trump for sure. He appealed to the same demographic, and was making the same economic promises.

Only in Bernie’s case it wasn’t just rhetoric.

Trump pretends he is a man of the people. Bernie really is.

In the end we will all just have to wait and see what happens next.


From The Whitstable Gazette, 17/11/2016

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Money, Magic and the Imagination – Part V

Do what you will this life’s a fiction, and is made up of contradiction. Wm Blake.


The “King Arthur” £23 note, designed by Eric Drass

So that was it, all the elements were in place for a magnificent and fun-filled day of ritual action.

I’d always said there were three purposes behind it.

Firstly, we hoped to start a debate about the origins of money and the process of money creation, and I had some Positive Money leaflets with me to hand out in order to get that idea into people’s heads.

Secondly, we could regard it as Situationist street theatre, a piece of radical agitprop art designed to disrupt people’s perception of reality. I mean: magical rituals on the streets of London, how often do you see that?

But finally, I would always add, with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, it might actually work, we might actually change the world with our magic; to which Jon Harris had replied, emphatically: “Well I believe that it will!”

So that was the spirit we took to the event; one of playful reverence for the mysteriousness of the unknowable Universe, a willingness to play and be played upon, to allow the energy to take us where’er it will. We would believe in what we were doing, whether we believed it or not. And if that sounds like a contradiction in terms, well so be it. No one ever said that life was going to be consistent.

Me: I have no problem believing and not believing at the same time. I’m good at that. I can hold two entirely contradictory thoughts in my head and believe them both, and still not get confused.

A guardian dragon at the entrance to the City

The Eastern Dragon, south side of London Bridge

We met at the Eastern dragon on the South side of London Bridge, which seemed a good place to start. It definitely felt like a gate, with the two dragons, one on either side of the road, standing to attention at the entrance to the City.

It was a blustery, cold day, with low, fast-moving clouds and occasional bursts of brightness.

Arthur and I arrived late, having missed each other at London Bridge station. The group was already there, waiting expectantly.

I leapt up on the plinth of the dragon and made the introductions. Now here’s the thing: I hadn’t considered this as a place to make speeches from when we’d done our reconnaissance, but it was the perfect spot. You could almost imagine it had been placed there deliberately for just this moment.

One of the things about ritual magic is that no matter how many times you rehearse it in your head, on the actual day it has a life and a will of its own.

I swear I was sucked into a vortex from the moment I jumped up on that ready made podium and read my speech: a kind of bubble of bright energy which engulfed us all and kept the mundane world at bay.

After I got down from the podium, I spoke to Julian Vayne.

I’d made up a little story about the dragons, which I repeated to him. It goes like this. All the dragons on the outskirts of the city, guarding the gates, are male (although, it had to be said, they have peculiar, squared-off, truncated organs); the dragon at the heart of the City, however, in the mosaic floor of the Bank of England, depicted being speared by St. George, is more sinuous and alive, and might well be female. So my story is this: having killed off the female dragon, the male dragons are made bereft and controllable, which is why they can be used as guardians.

I told Julian I’d made it up, and he told me that he thought it was true.

After I’d told Jon Harris the same story, a few weeks before, he’d asked the concierge at the Bank of England what sex the dragons were. The guy had blinked in surprise, and his jaw had dropped slightly. He’d never been asked that question before. “I have no idea,” he said, looking at Jon as if he was a mad person making faces at him.

Meanwhile Arthur Pendragon was transforming himself from a biker to a King, by the simple expedient of putting on his robes and his circlet, and passing his leather jacket on to me.

The reverse of the King Arthur £23 note. It reads: The sum total of all wealth in the world is the sum total of all human activity, paid and unpaid, through all time on this planet. Therefore, we say, it must be free

The reverse of the King Arthur £23 note. It reads: The sum total of all wealth in the world is the sum total of all human activity, paid and unpaid, through all time on this planet. Therefore, we say, it must be free

I had a wad of “King Arthur” £23 notes, which I was handing out, and copies of the Positive Money leaflet. The idea was that if members of the public showed an interest in what we were doing, we would pass these on to them.

After that we began our journey over the bridge to the first venue: the space behind the Monument to the Great Fire of London on Monument Street.

We formed a circle and Arthur lead the Druid’s vow:

We swear by peace and love to stand,
Heart to heart, and hand in hand,
Mark oh Spirit and hear us now,
Confirming this, our sacred vow.

We said that three times, holding hands, after which Jon Harris lead his ritual, which went something like this:

“All Hail The Staff!” he said, raising his staff, in the air.

(“All Hail The Staff!” we replied, getting into the spirit of the occasion. And whether this actually happened or not, I want you to imagine that whenever Jon raised his staff and said those words, we repeated them in the manner of call and response in the style of The Old Time Religion.)

So here are Jon’s words, as nearly as we can remember them:

“Looking at the Monument we should remember that a big powerful fire starts from the smallest of flames.

“Today we are here in the presence of The Staff (All Hail The Staff!) and our King to ignite our souls with the spirit of loving forgiveness. Let this fire grow within us, and spread across the City and beyond. Let it engulf us with its flames.

“Don’t fear the scale of this task. We have magic on our side. And more than that, today, here, we have a Holy Trinity of Magic!

“First: above all things, we are in the presence of The Staff (All Hail The Staff!) returned from the three highest points in this land: Snowdon, Scafall Pike and, just a few weeks ago, the mighty Ben Nevis. Such a perilous journey was undertaken not because I wanted to take The Staff to the summit of these mountains, nor was it because The Staff needed to be on top of these mountains, but rather it was because the mountains themselves wanted to be beneath The Staff. (All Hail The Staff!)

“Second: for ten long years I have burned money by myself on the 23rd of October every year. This year, just two weeks ago, that sacred ritual took place at the Cockpit Theatre, just a few miles to the West of here. This time I was not alone. Twenty three of us burned that night. Much currency was put to the flame. And here today I have the sacred ashes of that Holy Sacrifice.

“Thirdly: The Lord of Lords, the King of Kings, Arthur Pendragon has come to London. He has returned to lead his children home, to take us to the New Jerusalem: to forgive us our debts.

“With this Holy Trinity of Magic we will create the world anew.

“ And so, today, I offer you anointment. And because it is such a special day, you may touch The Staff (All Hail The Staff!)”

And taking out a little clay pot in which was housed the ashes from his recent burning, Jon proceeded to go around the circle and to anoint the Pilgrims on the forehead, who bowed their heads in supplication, touching The Staff with reverence, repeating these words from the Prayer of Prayers:

“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.”

After that we made our journey to the next sacred spot, the small piece of ground in front of the Royal Exchange, over the road from the Bank of England. We stood behind the Equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington, where Julian Vayne and Nikki Wyrd took over. Don’t ask me why, but I have the feeling those might be pseudonyms.

I’d met both of them a couple of years before at the Ways with Weirds event in Cornwall organised by our good friend Ru Callender. Both of them are practising magicians, and Julian’s had been the first name I’d thought of when I was contemplating this event.

It was Julian who had explained the meaning of my new favourite word to me: sigil.

A sigil (from the Latin sigillium, meaning “seal”) is a symbol used in magic.

The aim – I think – is to design the sigil to reflect what it is going to be used for, and then to place one’s intent into it before employing it in the rite.

I’d already decided by then that money itself is the sigil by which which our overlords control us and bend us to their will.

This is why we’d created the £23 notes: as a counter-sigil, which we could deploy to undermine the effects of the money-sigil in our pockets.

I’ve written about that here, in our original mission statement, which I’d read out at the Cockpit on the 23rd of October.

So Julian had designed a sigil which he called “The Equaliser”. It was a combination of three symbols: the less than sign <, the more than sign >, and the equals sign =. Put together they create this:



The Chinese character for the well: eight fields surrounding a central well-field

He and Nikki had activated the symbol prior to our gathering today.

I told Julian that it reminded me of the Chinese character for the Well. It represents eight fields surrounding a central well, and was the basic structure of ancient Chinese society: eight families, all sharing the same water. It is a symbol of a shared resource, belonging to no one, but used by everyone; a symbol, perhaps, for how we envisage money should be.

(In our modern, Western world, of course, one person would own the well, and would be rich, and everyone else would have to pay to use the well, and would be poor.)

Julian held the sigil aloft and told us what it meant, after which we were instructed to take out our money, which we did, and, using our intent, and our imagination, and our will-power, to focus the sigil into our money, while chanting the following words as a spell.

“Less than, more than, equal – less than, more than, equal – less than, more than, equal -” over and over again, until, by sheer repetition, by concentration and by will-power, the money would be imbued with the magical intent: after which, Julian told us, the money should be spent into the economy, thus spreading the spell into the money system and undermining it from within.

And if you’d like to participate in this rite, you can. You can join us in your imagination. You can say those words, as we did, and direct your will, as we did, and, if you like, draw a little copy of the sigil on all your notes from now on, before spending the spell into existence and breaking the power of the money-lords, who until now have held us all in their dark net of magic.


£100 in £5 notes, collected one day before they went out of circulation

I was also carrying £100 in old £5 notes, which – sychronistically – I’d withdrawn from the bank on the very last day before they were taken out of circulation.

We now have polymer notes which don’t burn half so well as paper fivers, and which give off a noxious fume when they are lit. They are also marked with the face of the racist imperialist Winston Churchill, instead of the much more benign face of Elizabeth Fry, the prison reformer.

The idea was that we were going to put these fivers into the Bank of England. Instead of burning them ourselves we were allowing them to destroy them instead. By doing this we were planting our spell into the heart of the money-system, into the very place where, according to the mosaic design on its floors, St George had killed the female dragon, and ensnared the male dragons into slavery, who were now forced to become the guardians at the gates to the City. Dragons, remember, are renowned for hoarding treasure, and we want to set them free; along with the wealth they have secreted in caves all these centuries, in bank-accounts and bullion stores, in off-shore holdings in tax-havens around the world.

Anyway, Julian, Nikki and I moved away from Wellington’s statue to the War Memorial in front of the Royal Exchange (from the war monger to the victims of war) where we chanted over and enchanted the £5 notes with the magical sigil again; before I took them into the bank to exchange them for five crisp new £20s; which I then handed over to Eric Drass for the cost of printing the King Arthur £23s. Thus did the money go round as it is supposed to.

Have I told you how I love these people yet? I do. All of them. It’s like I’ve found my peer group at last, people as crazy, wild and absurdly optimistic as me; people willing to experiment, to be creative, to jump in feet first and ask questions later; to be spontaneous when needs be, but to be reflective also; to be dangerous and kind, brilliant and thoughtful, heavenly and hell-for-leather; to be measured when measurement matters, but expansive and imaginative too; willing to seek out the dark places and not be afraid, but loving the light that gives us life and never forgetting we are guests on this planet, and only ever passing through.

Part VI

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Money, Magic and the Imagination – part IV


A “King Arthur” £23 note, which we handed around liberally on the 7th Nov.

One of the gravest errors you can make is to assume that all the thoughts in your head belong to you. They don’t. They can come from all sorts of weird places: from the Ego or from the Id, from the media propaganda machine, from other people’s thoughts and feelings (including sometimes from people you don’t know), from the Earth and the Sky, from demons, gods and goblins, or from the very fabric of the Universe itself.

The trick is being able to tell the difference.

One of the surest ways to judge if a thought has meaning or not is if you notice it is “in the air”: that is, when other people seem to be having the same thought at the same time. Assuming it’s not a propaganda meme (which you have to learn how to spot) then it’s a fair bet it might have originated from some deep place in the cosmos.

Such was the case for the thoughts that lay behind Monday’s ritual events. Not only was I hearing other people expressing ideas that aligned with my own, but, when I mentioned it to friends they “got it” straight away, and were immediately enthusiastic. After that: well the Universe just seemed to conspire to make it come true.

It all goes back to the financial crisis of 2007-2008.

Everybody with half a brain must have realised that something had gone seriously awry with our world in those few months. Something we had taken for granted – the money-system – had gone all wobbly on us, and what has followed is almost a decade of pain and austerity for the great mass of humanity, and increasing wealth for the elite.

Now here’s an odd thing. I tried thinking about money and discovered that it is really, really difficult. There are all sorts of knotty problems in there, which are hard to get your head around. It’s like language: so close to us it’s hard to get a perspective. I mean, do you have any idea what the past participle is? I don’t, and yet I use it with perfect ease, having been born a native to my tongue. It’s the same with money. Try thinking about fractional reserve banking for a second. It’s something we are born into and understand instinctively, without knowing precisely how it works.

So I tried reading up on it.

Anyone who has ever looked inside an economic textbook will know that this is virtually impossible. Economic textbooks are designed to ensure that ordinary people can’t read them.

Luckily there’s a group of renegade economists out there, willing to blow the gaff.

One of them is Michael Hudson, President of The Institute for the Study of Long-Term Economic Trends, a Wall Street Financial Analyst and Research Professor of Economics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City.

I heard him on an internet radio station one day, and he was so lucid, and his explanations so clear and so simple, that I took to reading pretty well everything by him I could find.

One of the things I discovered was this little book, which you can read and download for nothing. It’s called The Lost Tradition of Biblical Debt Cancellations.

In it he points out that in Bronze Age times Kings had the right to cancel debt. Which they often did, either on their birthday, or on New Year’s Day, as a gesture of economic renewal. It was known as a “Clean Slate” and there is an immense record of clay tablets from the Middle East which show that it was a regular practice in those distant times.

In the days before standing armies, Kings depended on their peasants to make up the infantry, and would make these occasional gestures of solidarity in order to stay popular. In the Bible, however, the practice was formalised into Law, and there are whole passages of the pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) dedicated to this.

It was known as a Jubilee. Here is an example, from Leviticus 25: 8-13:

On the Day of Atonement you shall sound the trumpet throughout all your land. You shall make the fiftieth year holy, and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee to you; and each of you shall return to his own property, and each of you shall return to his family.”

It is a declaration of debt forgiveness and an end to debt slavery. In the fiftieth year, the Jubilee year, every bondsman or woman would be freed in order to return to their own lands, whose title reverted to the original owners again.

The importance of this principle is evident in the Lord’s Prayer (actually a very ancient Jewish text which pre-dates Christianity by several centuries):

The line “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that trespass against us” should actually read “Forgive us our debts as we forgive those who are indebted to us.”

The word “redemption” – which I had always understood as a spiritual word – turns out to have an economic root as well. It means to buy back what you once owned. Archaically it means to release someone from debt slavery: slavery imposed in lieu of payment on a debt. The “redeemer” of the Old Testament, the Messiah, was actually a prince who would forgive debts and free the slaves.

It’s odd that many of those in the American establishment who claim to speak for the Bible have forgotten this, one of its most important founding principles. The quotation on the Liberty Bell, for instance, is from the passage I quoted earlier: Proclaim liberty throughout all the land and to all the inhabitants thereof . The “Liberty” it refers to is liberty from debt and debt-servitude. Not political liberty. Liberty from banks.

Anyway, that was where I got the idea from: to get my very good friend King Arthur Pendragon to make a proclamation forgiving all debt.

If the Bronze Age Kings could do it, I thought, why not our own Biker King of the Gypsy Underclass?

But that’s all it remained for many years: an idea in my head.

Later, during the last election campaign in 2015, I was up in London talking to someone from the Daily Mirror about a possible column in one of their on-line magazines.

I met him at One Canada Square, one of the large corporate buildings in Docklands.

We talked about Arthur, who was the prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Salisbury at the time, and he suggested we could set up a publicity stunt by getting Arthur to come to Docklands and do a ceremony.

He said, something like: “Because this is where the dragon is buried.”

He meant, the dragon of unregulated Capitalism.

Unfortunately Arthur was too busy with his campaign to be able to take time off to get to London, but the idea remained and merged with the other idea, about a proclamation.

Then earlier this year another good friend, fellow writer John Higgs, told me that Alan Moore was interested in meeting Arthur, having read our book.

That meant one of three things: Alan Moore going to Salisbury, Arthur going to Northampton, or the two of them meeting somewhere in between.

That’s when the idea of reviving the dragon ceremony in the heart of London came back to me. Only not in Docklands, I thought, which is a new development, but in the City of London itself, which is where the historical beast is really buried.

They even have dragons there, as I remembered from a David Icke YouTube video I’d seen once: him pointing up at one of the dragons, telling us how this proved that the Illuminati were all Reptilians.

Very quickly the idea began to grow. Not just Arthur. I thought: why not get a bunch of practising magicians along to take part in the ceremonies with us?

So that’s where my main ritualists came from: practising magicians I happen to know, John Constable, also known as John Crow, Julian Vayne and Nikki Wyrd, quickly followed by Jon Harris, “The Money Burning Guy”, who John Higgs knew from a few years back.

All Hail, The Staff ! Photo of Jon Harris burning money at Festival 23 y Dan Sumption

All Hail, The Staff ! Photo of Jon Harris burning money at Festival 23 by Dan Sumption

It turned out that I already knew Jon, and that he owed me a pint.

We all met together, those of us who could make it, in the George Inn, Southwark, near John Crow’s house.

That’s when I discovered that the thought that I had nursed in my head for half a decade or more didn’t really belong to me.

It was an idea which had been biding it’s time, waiting for the right moment to emerge, and right now was that moment.

Everyone loved it and committed themselves to taking part in the project. John Crow took us to Crossbones graveyard, which is where his own personal story began, after which we took a walk through the City of London.

That was in early September.

We tried several dates on for size. I suggested Samhain, October 31st, as the Celtic New Year, but John Crow was busy with his last ever Halloween of Crossbones. We thought about November 5th, the day of the now annual Million Mask March, which seemed apt given that the mask they all wear is based upon Alan Moore’s V for Vendetta; but that was a Saturday and we decided it would make more sense to do it when the Bank of England was open. Finally we decided to make it the nearest weekday after the 5th: Monday the 7th November.

I was due to give a talk in London at Caroline Whimsy Westbury’s Nova Stella Nights in the Castle in Farringdon (which I highly recommend) only I’d forgotten when it was supposed to be.

Jon Harris and I decided we needed to take a look at the City again, to work out where the various rituals spots should be and we agreed on the 11th of October. This turned out to be the same day as the Nova Stellar event. This was just one of a number of significant synchronicities that aided our enterprise.

That decided it. Nova Stella would be the day of our first announcement, to the Pagan, Wiccan and Druid community of London.

The next synchronicity was that someone at the event (I’ve forgotten your name I’m afraid) informed us that, according to some calculations, the 7th of November is considered to be the Celtic New Year’s Day, being exactly half way between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice.

So New Year’s Day it was then, one of the days that the Bronze Age Kings would traditionally use to announce a Clean Slate.

Another synchronicity was that Jon Harris had himself already been invited to take part in an event exploring the meaning of money. This was Daisy Campbell’s spoken word piece in the Cockpit Theatre on the 23rd of October, “Poetry Can F*ck With Your Finances”. Jon made sure that I was on the guest list, and Daisy asked me to make an announcement of our event that night.

I think everyone who was there that evening will agree that Daisy and Jon between them made us really contemplate the true meaning of money: Daisy with her choice of words from Hakim Bey,  Heathcote Williams  and Jon Harris’s own Money Burners Manual, and Jon with his awe-inspiring money burning ceremony. I don’t think I’m being immodest if I say that the words to our mission statement, which I’d composed only a few days before, fitted the evening to perfection.

That was another reminder that the thoughts I’d had didn’t only belong to me. Apparently they’d been going on inside Daisy Campbell’s head too; as well as in Hakim Bey’s and Heathcote Williams’ before us.

Taking part in Jon’s money burning ceremony remains one of the defining moments in my life.

What Jon has done is to bring back a very ancient idea, and to update it for the modern world. The idea is that of ritual sacrifice. In ancient times this could be an animal, or even a human being. But money makes a much better sacrifice, in that it can represent anything, and yet it hurts no one.

The sacrifice is yours’ and yours’ alone.

As for the argument – which I’ve heard – that you could make the sacrifice by giving it to a charity: that’s not the same thing. Giving money to a charity is not making a sacrifice, it is spending the money, albeit on a good cause. Burning money is an out-and-out sacrifice.

Burning money destroys money, but it doesn’t destroy the value that it represents. The value remains. That is the deep secret behind money burning, at least as I understand it.

Value is eternal. It never goes away.

You make the sacrifice. You burn the potential that the money gave you. In my case I’d saved up a £20 note which I’d had pinned on my bookshelves for several weeks. I could see it from my computer, so that I really felt it belonged to me. I brought it down every so often, held it in my hands and spoke to it. I imagined all the things I could spend it on, while reminding myself that its destiny was as a sacrifice. Thus it became very personal to me. It wasn’t just a £20 note. It was my own personal sacrifice.

Money burning is like a prayer. It is a way of making a connection to the deeper parts of yourself, focusing on something that really matters. In my case I was focussing on our Nov 7th New Year’s Day Ritual. I was willing it to become all the things I’d imagined it to be.

Another little synchronicity is that I decided to ask my good friend from Whitstable, Jon Eldude to come along. Jon is an anarchist, partly disabled because of his recurring epilepsy, but very open minded and with a good heart, being deeply committed to the struggle for justice.

November the 7th turned out to be his birthday.

You can read about Jon here.

And one last synchronicity: or at least a very good idea. A friend of Daisy’s, Cat Vincent, told me a little folklore on the night of the Cockpit event. He said we were to ask permission of the dragons before we entered. We were to recite the motto of the City, “Domine dirige nos” (which means “Lord guide us”) while using the finger of one hand to mark out the coat of arms of the City on the palm of the other: a large cross in the middle with a small cross in the corner.


Part V

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Money, Magic and the Imagination Part III – Speech

A guardian dragon at the entrance to the City

A guardian dragon at the entrance to the City

Delivered from the plinth of the Eastern Dragon, south side of London Bridge, 7th November 2016 (this being New Year’s Day):

What is money?

Money is time. It represents all that time you have spent, in your office, in your factory, in your art, in your craft, at your desk, in your job, focussing your attention on a task of some kind, sometimes, but not exclusively, doing something that is socially useful, something that other people might appreciate.

Money is value. It is art. It is ingenuity. It is thought. It is planning. It is execution. It is service. It is giving over a part of your life to other people’s wants and needs.

Money has always been with us, since the beginning of time. Since the first human took the first steps on this planet, we’ve had money as our companion.

It is the item of exchange, the gift, the promise, the valued object, the carved stone, the rainbow-coloured shell, the glinting metal, which we offered to another as a token of trust. This is my pledge to you that I will pay you what I owe. Before the invention of writing, it was accompanied by our breath, our word, our promise. We promised to pay the bearer.

In this City, passed these gates, the wealth of the world is locked up. We want to set it free.

Money is work and there’s work to be done. Our planet is in grave danger. We need to learn new ways to relate to it. We need to find new ways of harvesting its produce. We need to find new ways to harness its energy. We need to plant whole forests of trees. We need to end the loss of species and take care of those we still have. We need to clean the rivers and reintroduce diversity. We need to rewild the remotest places, and bring back the bear and the wolf and the big cats to these shores.

Money is the key to it all.

It is lack of money that fuels crime. It is lack of money that drives people into gangs. It is lack of money that encourages addiction. It is lack of money that creates domestic abuse. It is lack of money that impedes our education. It is lack of money that forces people into bondage. It is lack of money that forces people into prostitution. It is lack of money that forces people into mercenary regimes. It is lack of money that forces people to destroy their environment. It is lack of money that stops people from fulfilling their destiny.

Don’t say it is just a bit of paper. It is so much more than that. It is our enabler. It is the means by which we store and distribute the value that we have made.

People without money are made desperate for it. People with too much money are made heartless and cruel.

We want to cure the wealthy of their wealth, and the poor of their poverty. Both are suffering from sicknesses of the soul.

We are one family, one people, one species on this planet. When a child goes hungry for lack of money, that is our child. When a man kills himself for shame because he can’t feed his family, that is our brother. When a woman sells herself to put food on the table, that is our sister. When a veteran of the war dies of cold on the bleak winter streets, or a lonely old widow freezes to death in a flat she can’t afford to heat, those are our Father and Mother, our blood relations, and we should grieve for them as we grieve for our own.

The word “capital” means the head, as in the head of a column. It has the same root as cattle and chattel. It is capitalism that has turned us into chattels that are milked for our labour. The word redeem means to buy back what we once owned. It is through debt that we became slaves, mere property without a soul. The redeemer is the one who pays the price of redemption, which is release from debt-slavery. The Jubilee is when all debts are forgiven, when the people return to the lands of their birth, when the liberty bells ring, and freedom sounds throughout the Kingdom.

Let us make today the day of jubilation. Let the Jubilee begin.

Part IV

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