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Black Magic Ritual Site Discovered
This tale was sent in by one of our visitors, it recounts the discovery of the remnants of a dark ritual deep within the Pennine hills.
This tale takes place in Saddleworth (Greater Manchester), which was supposedly a focus of occult activity during the 1970's and 1980's. The late Geoffrey Dickens, MP for Saddleworth, was widely known for his personal crusade against witchcraft and occult activity in his constituency. There was certainly enough evidence of strange practices in the area, one of many contemporary newspaper reports describes the discovery of a large pentagram painted on the floor of a ruined mill along with spilled candle wax, suggesting ritual activity. In all probability much of the fuss was about nothing, people just following their own form of religion, which was then blown out of proportion by the press. However there may have been a more sinister undercurrent in the area, and way back in 1980, me, my father and my father's friend were to discover evidence of Black Magic rituals in the darkness of a disused railway tunnel almost a mile into the dark depths of the Pennine Hills.
My father - still a young man at the time - had made plans with one of his more questionable acquaintances, for a little adventure. They would travel down one of the two disused Stanedge railway tunnels (from Diggle to Marsden a distance of over three miles), built in the 1800's alongside the more famous canal tunnel. There was a story about a vaulted room far below the earth where the two tunnels were connected by a passage. Here the railway executives and local dignitaries had lunched to celebrate their phenomenal feat of engineering in the 19th century. Whether they were wise to take me along with them was another matter, but I went anyway, exited as a young boy to be going on a clandestine adventure, and clandestine it would have to be as a third twin track tunnel - parallel but offset from the disused ones - was still in use, and the trip was also illegal, passing through railway property.
Dave (my dad's mate, often referred to by my father as a rum un - Lancashire dialect for a wide boy) had already parked a car at the other end of the tunnel, so we set off, pushing our way through a broken board into the darkness. As we moved deeper into the tunnel, the entrance gradually shrank to a tiny point of light in the gloom, eventually disappearing altogether so that there was only inky blackness and the light of Dave's torch picking out the grimy walls of the tunnel. Dave's prankish use of the torch to create giant shadow figures of himself on the tunnel walls did help my growing feeling of unease. At one point of the journey a train went by in the tunnel still in use, and the air rushing through interlink inking vents blew Dave's hat from his head as he hid his torch in fear of the light being spotted, but the moment of caution passed and we carried on.
We stopped at a small guard cell cut into one of the passages. A crumbling oil lamp stood on the rough stone table, and half broken shelves still clung to the walls. About the floor were rusting bits of metal and railway paraphernalia, probably dating from when the tunnel was brought out of service. Here in this tiny claustrophobic room, a guard or service man must have stayed as part of his shift. I can only describe it as like an empty shell, you could tell that there had once been life here - a working man going about his business.
The whole feel of the journey always reminds me of the mines of Moria in Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings' (after reading it years later), it invoked the same feeling of emptiness and dark foreboding that you get from imagining the companies trip through the deserted caverns, once the scene of so much dwarf activity.
We finally came upon the vaulted room in the centre of the tunnels, and this is where the darkness became deeper for all of us. I new something was wrong, the feeling of foreboding I had had all the way through the tunnel increased, and my father and his friend talked in hushed tones. Inscribed on one wall of the room was a large painted image of the sun with a demonic face, and on the other that of the moon, again with sinister features. Other strange sigils - all painted in white - glowed faintly in the light of the torch. On the flagstone floor was a large double circle - again outlined in a white material - within it occult symbols were etched, and burnt-out candles lay in wax pools around the perimeter of the circle. In one corner of this central room lay the headless carcass of a cockerel, still stained with blood. I will never forget the dark feeling that came over me, even though I was too young to really know the implications of the symbols, I wanted to run from the place, until I had reached the daylight and normality at the end of the tunnel.
We did not linger for much longer; as with many people growing up in the late 60's and early 70's listening to Led Zeppelin, my father knew enough about the Occult to realise that whatever had been going on here had been carried out by people with diabolical intensions, more worryingly - as my father recounted years later - the activity was relatively fresh and there was a possibility that the culprits were still around. We made quick haste and finally after what seemed like hours the tiny pinpoint of light that signified the end of the tunnel appeared and grew larger, until we finally emerged into bright daylight.
I have often wondered about the occultists who had carried out the ritual, they must have been dedicated and committed to secrecy to travel so far underground. It must have taken more than an hour to reach the centre of the tunnel, and there was the fact that whoever was involved risked trespass to complete their aims. Of course it may have been a one off; kids trying out a ritual from one of the magical textbooks available, but it still seems a bit extreme. From what I know now the ritual must have been a Grimoire working, possibly a demonic evocation outlined in the 'Key of Solomon' or some other available medieval Grimoire translation. Of course so many years have passed since the event that it probably does not matter anymore, but these people must have gone somewhere after access to the tunnel was closed for good.