Black Magic In Clapham and Sussex
An article by Charles Walker, which details his long investigation into strange phenomena and black magic activity in the Clapham area of Sussex.
[Please note the views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Mysterious Britain team]
Anyone with an interest in the occult, and a few who have no interest, will have heard of the incidents which have taken place at Clapham Wood and Chanctonbury Ring in Sussex. There are however many other sites which are, in some cases, far less well known by many people for their importance within occult circles. Some have been mentioned briefly in the past, but because much of what goes on at such sites is rarely detected they never attract the attention which places such as Clapham have. Some of these sites have been the subject of my research in recent years. Such places as the West Kennet Long Barrow, Rollright stone circle, Glastonbury Tor and numerous locations in Devon and Cornwall. There are of course a tremendous number of other sites throughout the country. Some are used regularly whilst others are used at particular times of the year, such as the Summer Solstice.
A demonic wall painting discovered by the author in a disused manor house near to Clapham Church, once a meeting place for the Friends of Hecate. Image © Charles WalkerMany people will doubtless object to these places, many of which are well known historical sites, being associated with the occult and macabre practises. However in most cases there is more than just verbal evidence to indicate that this is the case. Very often proving that such activities take place at a specific location can be difficult. Blackmail, sex and drugs are used to ensure security within occult groups such as the Friends of Hekate, who have regularly used Clapham Woods for their meetings, is maintained.
I must just refer to one comment which is always made when anything to do with the occult appears in print, and that is that discussing the subject will just encourage others to become actively involved in macabre occult practises. In almost all cases this is not so. Actually it is ignoring the matter which eventually leads to people becoming involved; at least this is what I have found. So many times I have come across young people who have become involved because they were ‘curious’. Neither their parents or anyone around them would even mention the subject and they therefore decided to find out for themselves when the opportunity presented itself. Had they been given some information about the subject they almost certainly have avoided such involvement. Refusing to discuss the subject will not make it go away.
When the subject is discussed there is often considerable confusion as to what exactly is meant by witchcraft, Satanism, black magic etc. If you ask the uninitiated what they can tell you about witchcraft the chances are they will talk of the desecration of graves, the sacrifice of animals and the practise of sexual perversion. Why? Simply because this is how, by tradition most people see the practise of witchcraft. One interpretation of the occult in general has been accepted for many, many years, and that is the one which the church has promoted. In actual fact the practises referred to here have nothing to do with the pagan religion of witchcraft. Black magic and Satanism on the other hand does quite often include all of this and more, as you will discover throughout this article.
It is often said, including by those involved in the occult, that there really is no such thing as white and black magic. There are however ‘forces’ which exist naturally and which can be put to use by those with the ability to direct them towards a specific goal. The forces itself is neither positive or negative but exists in a ‘neutral’ position until directed by the magician. This means in effect that this force can be used to do both good or bad. Which one depends on the individual using the force. However because it is impossible to visualise a force it is personified as a god or goddess. At some time during a ritual, be it witchcraft or black magic, a particular deity will be called upon to direct his or her attention towards a specific end. This may be to help someone (positive), or harm them (negative), depending on the particular group in question.
Witches, that is those who follow witchcraft or white magic (Wicca), direct this force towards beneficial ends. As J Gordon Melton says in his “Encyclopaedic Handbook of Cults of America”, ‘Ethically witches value freedom and harmlessness as expressed in the Wiccan Rede, Lest ye harm none, do what you will. They also believe that the effects of their magic will be returned threefold upon the person working it’.
The mere fact that witches believe that the effects of their magical workings will be ‘returned threefold’ is enough to stop them harming anyone, even if they feel tempted at times. Such a threat does not however worry such groups as the Friends of Hekate. They feel that they are in a position to control what ever might happen and, if anyone gets hurt it will not be them.
Finally I should like to make it perfectly clear that although I have strong views regarding the differences between black magic, Satanism and witchcraft I do not want what I have said to be taken as encouragement for those who may be considering becoming involved in any form of occult practise. I would say that in most cases it is far safer not to get involved – but everyone has a will of their own and individuals must decide for themselves what they do and do not do with their life. Think very carefully before you make a decision, which will have a profound affect on the rest of your life.
Clapham Wood – The Occult Connection
The quite village of Clapham, Sussex, had its peace shattered in the mid 1960’s when stories in the local press gave details of unidentified flying objects which had apparently been seen in the vicinity. Suddenly local ufo enthusiasts were descending on the village at all hours, day and night, in search of evidence of ufo landings, of which several were reported, as well as local witnesses to the sightings. It has to be said that there were very few local people who had seen anything. Or is it that they were reluctant to speak of their experiences? It is difficult to say.
For several weeks there was an almost constant stream of sightings, although not all of them made news in the local press. All night vigils were a regular thing throughout the summer months, when hardly a weekend went by without there being at least ten people wandering through the woods and village hoping to see something. Most reports at that time were what is these days considered to be a classic sighting – ‘strange lights in the night sky’.
Occasionally stranger and less easily explained sightings were reported, although it has to be said that these were almost always made by those involved in the investigations. Those already convinced that ALL the reported sightings were genuine. One such sighting occurred in the summer of 1967. Mr Paul Glover, a well known local ufologist, was walking with a friend over the downs towards Clapham. At about 10pm they both noticed a large black mass in the sky moving at speed towards them. In written statements made later the described the object as boomerang-shaped. It moved fast but silently across the sky. After a few minutes their attention was drawn to two bright objects. One of these ‘ufos’ released a smaller object, which made its way towards and eventually entered the second object. Within seconds it left and disappeared from sight. As they continued their walk across the downs they saw more objects, a total of six that evening.
Mr Glover’s own group investigated this case but they could find no explanation for what he and his friend had seen. The case remained on their files as unexplained. After a while ufo sightings like this became less newsworthy. They were it seemed common place and there was really nothing new to report.
Peace was not about to return to the village however, as a new mystery began to unfold. Reports of dogs disappearing in certain parts of Clapham Wood attracted new interest. Dog owners reported that their dogs had wandered off in to the woods and were never seen again. In other cases dogs appeared to go mad in certain parts of the wood, running round in circles and foaming at the mouth. When they were taken out of that particular area they recovered fully.
Mrs Rawlins of Worthing lost her labrador dog after taking it for a walk in the woods. Entering a part of the wood known as the chestnuts she waited until she was well away from the main road (A24 Worthing to Arundel road) before letting her dog of his leash, allowing it to run free. The dog disappeared in to the woods for a short while, returning with no problem when it was called. It was not until she returned home that she noticed that there was something wrong. The dog appeared to be paralysed from the middle of it’s back down to its rear. It came on so suddenly and Mrs Rawlins decided to call her vet. After a brief examination he decided that there was nothing he could do and as the situation was getting worse there was no choice but to put the creature down.
The following day Mrs Rawlins re visited the area where she had walked the dog in the hope of finding out what could have caused her dog to become paralysed. She found nothing. As far as the author is aware the body was not examined and therefore no explanation for this sudden illness was forthcoming.
For the ufo enthusiasts the disappearance of the dogs was just what they had been looking for. There were reports of ufo landings at about this time and they were quick to conclude that there must be some connection between the two. This is something which most people looked upon as a joke. They could not accept that ufo’s were anything more than natural phenomena, i.e. planes. weather balloons etc, let alone that creatures from outer space would want to steal dogs. What on earth would they want the for?
Despite the instant dismissal of such a suggested connection the subject continued to be newsworthy, and for much longer than just plain ufo sightings. However whilst all this was going on there were some serious investigations taking place in to the disappearances, and the first thing that had to be established was whether the reported disappearances were fact and whether they could be explained away naturally. Perhaps the dogs had been shot? Could it be that they had been caught in a trap? Had they eaten something used in the control of pests? All of these possibilities were considered and investigated when it was possible to establish the exact area where the dogs had gone missing. In time all of these possibilities had been dismissed. So what was the explanation? At that time there did not appear to be one.
Throughout all of this I had been working on my own, attempting to follow through the various reports etc. Although I had been able to collect some information regarding the various phenomena reported my files were by no means complete. In many cases the local ufo groups had got to witnesses before me and either they were unwilling to discuss the subject any further or they had made an agreement with such organisations not to pass information on until the investigations they were conducting had been completed. Either way at that stage the situation was preventing me from carrying out my research. For this reason I decided that the best course of action was to join one of these groups. That would at least give me access to their files and at the same time allow me to be in at the start of any new investigation.
It soon became obvious, even if I had any doubts, that there was not even the slightest thread of evidence to connect the ufo sightings and the disappearance of the dogs. The ufo sightings in themselves were interesting, particularly as it appeared that detailed investigations had been carried out in almost all cases and still about 30% remained unexplained. The data in the files of the particular group I had joined was, like all other groups before and since, no nearer to providing an explanation for the sightings, unless of course you are prepared to seriously consider that these dazzling discoids come from another solar system.
What I became very interested in whilst looking through the various notes relating to Clapham Wood was the reports of the dog disappearances and the fact that a number of people had reported strange feelings whilst walking through certain parts of the wood. Such cases had, although I was not aware of it before, been reported some time prior to the first ufo sightings. Many people had always felt that there was something strange about the wood but they were not quite able to explain it.
However having established myself within the group I was able to extract information from the files and visit one or two of the people who had reported their experiences. What I was particularly interested in of course were the experiences which had been reported before the publicity began, and there were quite a few cases.
As far as the dog disappearances are concerned they seemed to occur in two definite areas, there were one or two exceptions to this of course. The main area was along a footpath which runs from the Arundel Road through the village of Clapham. A short way along the track (from the Arundel Road) four footpaths meet. In this vicinity a number of dogs had disappeared, unfortunately there is no accurate record of the exact numbers, and a dozen or so people have reported feeling sick, suffering from stomach cramp and vertigo. The second area was in the vicinity of the church, which is on the edge of the wood and slightly isolated from the village.
Looking through the recorded cases there did not seem to be a set age group, more males than females or visa versa, or fixed dates when this happened. These were all factors which I looked at in an effort to find an explanation. I even checked the phases of the moon and the general weather conditions, if they had been recorded, in an attempt to explain what had happened. There did not seem to be any obvious explanation. However their files were not complete and there had been so much publicity regarding the possible ufo connection that a great many people were reluctant to come forward with any information which they might have.
The only way I could see of getting this information was to make it known that I was interested in all aspects of what had reportedly taken place there, and this meant further publicity. The media was still covering stories and articles reporting recent experiences and this gave me an opening I had been looking for. I began writing letters to the local papers pointing out my interest in the subject. At the same time I had received some information regarding a possible connection between the strange feelings which, by this time, a considerable number of people had reported, and possible occult activity in the area.
The occult is something I had always been interested in but I must admit that I had not, at that time, thought of connecting what had been reported at Clapham with the occult. I had been so busy collecting together information and looking at all other possible explanations, and at the same time trying to convince those attempting to connect all of this with ufo’s that there was no connection, that I had actually overlooked the occult as a possibility.
My letters to the press, together with additional publicity, prompted replies from all sorts of people. Some were serious and provided valuable comments and information which I was to use in later investigations, whilst others (probably the majority at that time) contained somewhat stupid comments and were therefore of no value. Unfortunately when dealing with such matters as ufo’s and the occult you are bound to attract idiots and fanatics who very often hamper serious studies because they are able to attract publicity.
However in November 1978 the lead I had been looking for came along. I received a telephone call from a well-spoken person asking me to meet him in Clapham Wood that evening. The location of the meeting was to be at the crossroads along a footpath known as The Chestnuts, a place where several strange things are reported to have happened in the past. The meeting, if I was prepared to attend, would be half an hour from the time of the telephone call. Not a lot of time to consider whether I should go or not. I had received telephone calls before offering information but I had never attended simply because the callers just did not sound sincere. On this occasion however there was something about the tone of the voice that told me that I should take the caller more seriously than the others I had received.
After some brief thought I decided to go. It might just be worthwhile. The idea that I might be in danger never entered my head. It was not until after the event that I realised the stupidity of going without telling anyone about it. Although I had been communicating with one or two other serious investigators there was no time to get in touch with them on this occasion, and even if I did there was no guarantee that they would be able to drop what they were doing at that moment and join me. Anyway I set out for Clapham Wood, which was just a short cycle ride from my home. I had no other means of transport at that time.
I rested my cycle against the large gate that blocked the path to motor vehicles and began walking up the track towards the meeting point. As the light from the vehicles passing a long the main road gradually disappeared from sight the atmosphere of the place began to creep up on me. I began to feel totally isolated for a while. Had I not been able to pull myself together slight fear could so easily have turned to panic and I might have ran back to the road and cycled home without ever finding out what the mystery caller wanted. However I managed to control my feelings, convincing myself that it was just my imagination and nothing more.
Within a few minutes I reached the point where the four tracks meet and, in the limited light, began to look a round for the person I was supposed to meet. I could neither see nor hear anything and began to wonder whether I had finally fallen for a hoax call. I paced up and down the track, twenty yards or so either side of the crossroads, four or five times. Just as I was about to give the whole thing up a voice coming from behind some bushes on my left told me not to attempt to look round. ‘Just listen to what I have to say’, he said.
Hearing this voice so suddenly coming from the darkness and silence I had experienced for the past twenty minutes or so made me feel fear again. I was frozen to the spot yet felt like running as fast as I could. What was going to happen? ‘What an idiot’, I said to myself. ‘Why on earth had I let myself in for this?’
After a few seconds of silence the mystery person began to relate information regarding the activities of an occult group in the area. He also indicated that they used a sacrifice regularly at their rituals. The group was called the Friends of Hecate and they were devoted to the Goddess Hecate whose close association with dogs meant that such creatures were being sacrificed in her honour.
He went on to tell how the group, whose activities he said were of a satanic nature, was formed in Sussex and had been using Clapham and the surrounding area for some time. They had been responsible for taking the dogs and would continue to do so for the foreseeable future. The dogs, and occasionally other domestic and farm animals, were sacrificed at their monthly meetings. He also added that they would stop at nothing to protect the identity of their members and the activities of the group.
The meeting ended as abruptly as it had started. I did not hear him leave but when he failed to respond to my attempts to ask questions I assumed that he had left, or at least that the meeting was over and made my way back to the main road and home from there. It was not until I arrived home that I gave any serious thought to what might have happened. I could have been in real trouble. Fortunately this was not the case and I soon got down to analysing what had actually happened.
Why had this person decided to give me this information? He had also warned me not to pursue my enquiries any further. Surely he did not seriously think that I was going to leave it there, not after being given a possible explanation for one of the mysteries, which, by this time was almost constantly in the press. I am not one to go looking for trouble but I could not let this go. It was potentially far too important for that. If what I had been told was true these people had to be stopped, if that was possible.
The reasons for this person passing on the information is something which I had discussed with a number of people. One of the conclusions reached was that perhaps he was not entirely happy with what had been going on. It may also be that he was trying to get out of the group or perhaps he realised that I would not leave it there and hoped that in time the group would be exposed and their macabre practises stopped. That really remains a mystery.
What was not a mystery was the connection between thee Goddess Hecate and dogs. She is depicted as a triple headed Goddess, one of the heads being that of a dog. When invoked she is said to appear followed by a pack of hounds and in the past dogs were sacrificed in her honour. Once Queen of witches her fearsome spectral image was said to frequent graveyards and, according to some sources she has control over the dead.
I had established a connection between Hecate and dogs but I still had to find out whether or not there was any occult activity in and a round the village of Clapham. I was already in contact with someone who had a friend living in Clapham so I asked them if they had heard anything. Although they were aware of the reported ufo sightings they had not heard mention of ‘witchcraft or anything like that’. On my behalf they made some enquiries and met with a very hostile response. In fact so much so that there was a feeling that some body was hiding something. Certainly there are a great many people living in and a round the village that are not aware of what has been going on. However it is equally certain that the Friends of Hecate had and probably still have at least one if not more contacts in the village. It would not be possible for the group to operate in the way they do without ‘someone on the inside’ so to speak.
Every time I attempted to obtain more information about the group I came up against a brick wall. It seemed to me that there was no way of confirming the presence of an occult group in the area. It was at about this time that I met up with fellow researcher Toyne Newton. He had been studying press reports and speaking to some of the witnesses with a view to writing an article for ‘The Unexplained’ magazine. We had both been working independently up to that point but, after some discussion, decided that if we were to get anywhere we would have to work together. There was little point in us both going our separate ways, particularly as we discovered that our opinions of some of the reported incidents were roughly the same.
We spent the next month exchanging information and, as we looked through our combined files it became obvious that the whole thing was bigger than either of us had at first imagined. Far more detailed enquiries were going to have to be made if we had any hope of uncovering the truth behind this. Much of the material we had gathered had been clouded by the past investigations carried out by the ‘ufo experts’ and this had to be sorted out first. Although we sifted through the ufo reports and studied those which we considered to be serious and worthy of further study, we did not intend to get too involved with this aspect of the case. We failed to see that there was any connection between them, the occult activities and the disappearance of the dogs.
Having done all this we decided on a plan of action and whilst Toyne continued looking through our combined files and interviewing those witnesses still prepared to co operate with a serious investigation of the reported incidents, I concentrated on collecting any available information from my contacts inside ‘occult circles’. The most important and informative of these contacts being Elymas, the High Priest of an established coven of witches (pagans) in Brighton, East Sussex.
When I first asked Elymas what he knew of this group he said, ‘They are a group who know what they are doing and if you have found an area like Clapham which they find extremely atmospheric and right for their rituals then nothing will move them. Such people will do almost anything to protect the site’.
He ended that first meeting by warning me of the dangers involved. ‘If what you say about the woods is true then you are treading on very dangerous ground. Be careful, be very careful’.
This is something which neither *Toyne or I have ever forgotten. Certainly I would never consider attending a meeting such as the one I did in 1978. We relied on information I had been given at that meeting and various enquiries from safer sources to carryout our research the results of which were published in a book entitled ‘The Demonic Connection’ Blandford Press 1987.
However in July 1985 (the manuscript for the above book had been completed by this time) a reporter from one of Worthing’s free newspapers contacted me with a view to writing a piece about the strange events which had occurred in the past. His interest in Clapham had actually been sparked off by the appearance of crop circles in a field at nearby Patching. He asked me if I would show him a round the wood and some of the locations where what he called ‘strange events’ had taken place.
*Since the publication of the Demonic Connection in paperback Toyne Newton has decided to have nothing to do with any further publications regarding this case.
Determined to get the ‘feel’ of the area he insisted on going to the wood after dark and wanted to stay all night. The idea of staying in the wood all night was not something I really looked forward to but, after some thought I agreed to do it. My wife Jean was also talked in to coming along despite the fact that it really was not her scene at all.
As darkness crept in we pulled in to the car park near the Church of St Mary, Clapham. From there we walked back through the village and along the footpath where my meeting with the mysterious caller had taken place. After walking up and down the footpath a couple of times whilst I explained briefly what had taken place there in the past the reporter decided that there was nothing to be gained by staying in this part of the wood. We therefore made our way back along the track towards the village and on to the car park. Once there we stopped to discuss what the plan was for the rest of the night.
In a previous conversation I had suggested several locations that he might like to examine, one of which was just inside the woods at the back of the church. By this time it was very dark so before setting off we checked that our torches were working and then made our way through the churchyard towards the wood. As we walked across the field he asked one or two questions about the church and the house complex, one or two historical notes for the piece he was writing.
Just before you enter the wood there is a wooden gate to cross over, and the reporter was the first over. I stood behind my wife to help her over from one side and the reporter stood just on the other side of the gate offering his hand to steady Jean over.
Jean stood on the wooden step and prepared to climb over but before she was able to do so she was pulled away from it with some force. It was as though someone or something did not want her to cross in to the woods. She was dragged backwards and sideways away from the gate and towards a barbed wire fence. As she fell to the ground she caught her arm on the wire and blood flowed quite heavily from what looked like a very nasty gash. We wrapped clean handkerchiefs around the gash but the blood soaked through in a very short time. It soon became obvious that we were going to take her to hospital to get it attended to properly. Apart from anything else the wire was rusty and despite the flow of blood there was always the chance of infection.
After that experience Jean was in no condition to spend the rest of the night wandering through the dark wood. We therefore took her home before returning to continue where we had left off. We returned to the site of Jean’s ‘accident’ to see if we could ‘feel’ anything. There was nothing unusual as far as we could see. The rest of the night passed without incident and shortly after daybreak we all left for home to catch up on the sleep we had missed.
Later that day I awoke to find Jean still nursing her wound. She had been thinking how it had happened and what had caused it. She was adamant that it had not been a case of slipping or losing her balance. Certainly neither the ground or the step were damp, this is something that we checked when we returned after the trip to hospital. Jean was very definite about the fact that she felt something pull her away from the gate. Having discussed it at length throughout the day we made a note of the incident and vowed to examine the site again at some future date.
Two weeks later, when the dressing finally came off, we could see the size of the wound. It was not very large but it had been very deep and was shaped like a cross. Again we made a note of this but after a short while forgot all about it. Various other things happened which put it right out of our minds. The incident was not mentioned in the story that appeared in the paper shortly afterwards. The whole thing would have been forgotten completely were it not for the fact that the cross shaped scar, which Jean still has, began to itch quite badly some time after the incident. This bought the occasion to mind again and we soon realised that the scar was red and itching almost exactly one year to the day after it had happened. This has happened on the anniversary of Jean’s ‘accident’ every year since. Whether this is of any significance I couldn’t say, but it certainly makes you think. We have returned to the spot where this took place several times since but nothing else has happened. Jean, like many other people, still feels uneasy in that part of the wood however.
Jean was not the first or last to suffer in Clapham Wood. Many people had suffered at the time of the dog disappearances, and whilst they were innocently out walking. Another fact that should be noted is that by no means all of the strange feelings and other effects take place at night.
At about this time interest in Clapham Wood began to fade. The Friends of Hecate had not been forgotten but traces of their activities in other areas throughout the south was coming to light. Although a considerable amount of information had been gathered regarding the activities of the Friends of Hecate as a result of the investigations at Clapham it soon became obvious that, in toning down what they were doing in this area they had spread further a field. There were a tremendous number of other places that they could use; it was just a matter of finding them.
One thing that my investigations very soon ruled out was the fact that they would not work with anyone else. It had been suggested that they were in league with others, or that the group may have become integrated with another and therefore lost their identity. A few enquiries within occult circles soon ruled that out.
Whilst it was agreed that their aims may well be closely aligned to other groups or individuals involved in this sort of activity the group itself was well known for operating on its own. Those responsible for the formation of the group were not the sort of people that would take kindly to the suggestion that they should either works with other groups or, that another group should basically take over their operations. Although obtaining names has, at this moment in time, proved difficult, it is well known that those at the top of the Friends of Hecate are also at the top as far as their position in society is concerned. It is important that they are in control. This way they can be certain that they are not exposed, either to the public or to blackmail.
Back to Clapham
Although the investigations at Clapham Wood had long ago stopped, because it seemed that since the publication of The Demonic Connection activity in the area had almost died away, the area was still being watched.
I had not visited the wood for some time. There did not seem to be any real reason to do so. The group that I had been following and investigating, the Friends of Hekate, had, from what I had been told, moved on as far as main rituals are concerned. There had been no reports of animal disappearances for some time, not in the Clapham area at least. Nor had anyone reported any strange or unpleasant feelings.
However I had recently come in to contact with T…, a member of an animal welfare organisation, who had become concerned with the number of animals, and at that time particularly cats, that had gone missing in the Lancing, Worthing and Bognor areas. Investigations seemed to have ruled out the ‘usual’ explanations and he had come across some information which made him wonder whether there might be some kind of occult connection.
Most of the leads he had followed up did not seem to go anywhere and eventually he decided to contact me, and others with an interest in the occult, to see if there was any further information that we might be able to give him. There did not seem to be any thing whatsoever to connect the disappearances with the occult but he was eager to collect information which might help should there ever be a time when he should come across this possibility. During this time he visited Clapham Woods, which of course was well known because of the publicity that had been given to the investigations in the past
T…. is not the sort of person to let anyone or anything get in the way of what he was looking for. It was as a result of this attitude that he made what, to me was one of the most important discoveries within Clapham. Hidden in the woods near the church he found a well constructed and concealed hide. It was constructed entirely of natural materials – the small trees and undergrowth of the woods. In fact it looked like nothing more than dense undergrowth from the out side. It was something that you would not even give a second look at, until you had seen it from the inside.
One afternoon in February 1996 he took me to see this hide. So well constructed and hidden was it that even when you were close to it you would not think that it was anything unusual. However as he removed he timber and other covering from what turned out to be the entrance you could see that there had been a considerable amount of work put in to its construction.
As we entered the first room I thought that it was really nothing more than a straightforward hide. What is more there was no real indication that there was anything more to explore, but this was not the case. Towards the back of this room was another hidden doorway. This lead to another room, slightly larger, that was obviously the main part of the hide. This appeared to me to be the room in which a small ritual, it could not involve more than two or perhaps three people, would take place. The atmosphere was ideal for meditation, which I should imagine is something it was often used for. The interior layout was such that there is no reason why the two rooms should not become one in order to allow more people to take part in a ritual.
At the back of this room was another small room. Much of the time it looks as though this was probably used for a semi permanent resident to rest, possibly staying for a period of time prior to a major ritual. The surrounding area had also been used for rituals. The atmosphere and other signs seemed to point to this. Obviously things had not died down as much as I first thought. There was and is definitely still something still going on.
That same afternoon I was shown some other sites in the area, which had not been in use when the initial investigations had taken place in the 1970’s but were certainly being used now. This changed things considerably. Although I had never dismissed the idea of occult activity taking place at sites in and around my hometown of Worthing, I did think that the Friends of Hekate, or any other equally serious group, had given up using Clapham Wood. Apparently they had not.
I was not the first person that T…. had taken to see the hide. Other people he had made contact with, psychics, had been with him at the time that this site was discovered and they had all felt that there was something more to it than might at first appear. The contents of the hide also indicated that the person (or people) responsible for it’s construction had some knowledge of the occult and/or the paranormal.
It was at this time that, via various contacts within the occult world, that I received information about ‘something big taking place quite soon’. There was no indication as to what this might be but here was, I was soon to discover, a sudden increase in the number of sites being used in the area.
Not too far from Clapham, on a track between Blakehurst and Burpham near Arundel, is the site of a gibbet. The last person to be strung up there was John Upperton, who was hung in 1771 for robbing the mail. This site, and a nearby chalk pit, has been a popular site at which to hold meetings. The groups that use the sites are most certainly involved in satanism/black magic. Various types of evidence has been found there, and particularly at the site of the gibbet. From what had been passed on to me in the form of information it seems that the activities at this site had increased over the last few months – from about September 1995.
Suddenly this information bought Clapham and the surrounding area back in to the picture again. It had never really been out of it of course but had rather taken a back seat. However this seemed to prove the point that the site is far too important (and powerful) to be left alone for very long. Major rituals were still taking place there and the frequency with which other rituals were taking place there was being stepped up.
The problem we still had was being able to predict just when the rituals took place at these sites. We had tried predicting this at Clapham as far as the Friends of Hecate are concerned but had been unable to do so. At least the dates we had come up with did not lead us to uncover anything going on. We always seemed to be just too late or too early. Very often evidence of some sort of activity had been found on the date that we thought something might be happening, but it was usually two or three days old.
Initially we thought that perhaps these groups might meet on dates that coincide with the pagan calendar, but it seems that this is not the case. Subsequent information suggested that planetary positions and/or constellations might play an important part in when rituals take place. In the case of the Friends of Hecate it seems that the astrological sign of Sagittarius is extremely important. Exactly what aspect of Sagittarius is important and how the position of the constellation in relation to other planetary positions is important is something which has, as yet, to be determined. If we were able to discover this it would be possible to fully expose this, and perhaps even some of the other groups.
However whilst working on this it was important to keep an eye on the potential sites and the hope that something would be found that would lead to exposing these groups. The one thing that struck me when this latest information came to me was the fact that previous investigations had spent too much time dealing with ‘Higher things’. Certainly the initial investigations at Clapham, which lead to the publication of The Demonic Connection, gradually moved away from the area which was important. Although it was certainly clear that people in high places were involved in the organisation of the group, and almost certainly made all of the decisions regarding the groups activities, attempting to chase just these people had proved to be fruitless. What was needed was a change of tactics. Looking for those who actually carry out the rituals, involve themselves in the sacrifices and other ritual basics, would surely be far more fruitful.
People were looking far too high, at least at the moment. I decided that it was time to follow some more basic investigations and research. It is something I had done with the other sites I had come across and had proved successful so there was no reason to think that it would be any different at Clapham. With what had been discovered at Clapham and at the gibbet this had already proved to be a good move within just a couple of weeks. The investigations in this area are by no means complete, as new information comes to light almost daily, and from people who really did not give the occult activities which have taken place in this part of Sussex any really serious thought, until that is they stumbled across something for which they could find no other explanation. Animal bones, candle wax, circles constructed of flint, are just some of the finds at the site of the gibbet and at the nearby chalk pit.
All sorts of people for all sorts of reasons of course have used the chalk pit, and they very often have nothing what ever to do with the occult. It is therefore extremely important that any finds at the site are checked and confirmed, something which has as far as is possible been done. In most cases one would not expect to find any substantial evidence. If the occultists concerned are ‘serious’ they are not going to be so sloppy as to leave obvious signs of their activities lying about, or so you would think. However there seems to be some evidence that pagans or white witches – who should not be confused with Satanists and the like – are doing their best to combat the bad atmosphere (vibrations) being created by the Satanists.
Many of the sites being used today, wherever they are, were once used by pagans. They have however been forced away by those who’s purpose seems to be negative. Whilst efforts are being made to reclaim the sites many have been given up because of the work that would be needed – on a psychic level – to make them useable again would take up a tremendous amount of valuable time. The reason that evidence is very often left behind is to prove that the site is being used and no one, other than the group that has established itself there, should attempt to carry out their own rituals on the site.
Evidence that these sites were and still are in use came in various forms. In most cases the evidence was in a form which most people would ignore, imagining that it was just a natural part of the countryside. The branches of small trees and bushes were bowed, and in some cases bonded together, in order to mark the location of a particular site. Archways were made which lead in to the area where a ritual was to be performed and if a particular sites was ever abandoned the markings would be destroyed.
These markings and signs are not so obvious that just anyone would pick up on them. To most people it would look as though it were a natural part of the countryside. Indeed it was not until I examined two or three known sites in the Patching and Clapham area that I became aware of this form of marking myself. In fact T… and the psychics he had been working with picked this up before I did. It was something that they had detected at the site of the hide in Clapham Wood initially.
Subsequent visits to the woods revealed other such similar signs at sites that are known to be used, as well as a few that had only come in to use fairly recently. At one particular site this bonding took on the shape of a five pointed star which was inside the normal bonding which marks what we assume is a perimeter. It’s location and the care that appeared to have been taken in preparing it would indicate that it was probably a focal point for rituals. It is highly likely that the altar would be place in front of this. The way in which the star was drawn indicated that it was for darker practises – two points upwards with a single point down.
Obviously some of this bonding occurs naturally, especially in areas where small trees and bushes are tightly packed together. This is something that we were very careful to look for and to take in to account. However the overwhelming number of obviously artificial bonding that occurred at sites where other evidence has been found was enough to convince me and others that this was done for a specific reason – and this was nothing to do with woodland management or natural occurrences.
However by the beginning of March 1996 things were starting to build up. T… was keeping a regular watch on a couple of the known sites in Clapham Wood, as well as the hide. He had spent a great deal of time walking around parts of the wood through which public footpaths do not run. During my initial investigations with Toyne Newton we had established that the Friends of Hecate had been able to use just about any part of the woods they could. Whether this had been done with the knowledge of those who worked the area or not we had not established, but it seemed likely that they had some form of contact in the area which made it possible for them to do this. Because of this it was obvious that just walking up and down the public footpaths was not going to provide any evidence of what takes place there. We were not going to cause any damage and the purpose of our straying off the beaten track was, in our minds, important enough to warrant doing this. It was not that long before this paid off.
Watching the Woods
The one problem we always had, as I have said, is determining exactly when these groups meet. With this in mind T…. had arranged a meeting with the psychics, astrologers and pagans that he had contacted as a result of his determination to get to the bottom of what was going on. Being involved with animal welfare his main concern was to establish whether there was any evidence that these groups used animals as a sacrifice. So passionate is he about the well being of animals that he left no stone un turned in order to find out what was going on.
He had made it his business to find out as much as possible about the occult, a subject in which he had no interest up until this point, and anything else which might be of value to his investigations. He had contacted me quite early on and had subsequently made contact with psychics and pagans.
On 20 March 1996 T…. arranged to get all of those interested, and those who had assisted him with information, together in order to discuss what had been found so far, what was to be done about it and, most importantly if we were to get much further, what the most likely dates would be for rituals to be held.
It was very quickly established that there would be very little point in just wandering around the woods in the hope of finding something going on. Apart from anything else it would not be practical to have the area watched all of the time. Some idea of dates was essential, although T… said that he would be watching Clapham Woods regularly in any case.
The obvious thing was to go for the traditional pagan dates, although we were certain that they did not follow these strictly. Planetary positions, as mentioned earlier, had been discussed and with this in mind an astrologer and someone with a knowledge of astrological factors, planetary alignments and the significance of the planets in relation to myths, beliefs and religious associations, was consulted.
Although a considerable amount of general information was provided it still did not give sufficiently detailed information for us to specify a date. The problem of watching the wood therefore still remained. It was decided that, certainly in relation to major pagan festivals at least, Clapham Wood, as well as the Blakehurst site, would have to be watched. There was no other way. Not at this stage at least.
At the time of this meeting it was fairly close to a traditional pagan festival – the spring equinox. T…. therefore decided that once the meeting was over we would make a quick call – to Clapham Wood. Neither of us was confident of finding anything but we thought that it would be worth just checking. This is just the occasion that might unexpectedly reveal some evidence. As we had thought however there was nothing – nothing we could see at least. All seemed calm and quiet.
What we did not do on that occasion was to visit the more obscure sites. We had not gone to the meeting prepared to later go to the woods. Because of this we did not visit the one site which either was in use at that moment, or had been used very recently. It was not until a couple of days later that, during a daytime visit, we discovered fresh evidence of recent activity. The remains of a circle in the centre of which had been a fire was found deep in the wood.
There was nothing found that would indicate the nature of the ritual that had perhaps been performed there. It may of course have been nothing to do with occult rituals and at the same time there was nothing to indicate that the fire had been started by anyone working in the woods or by someone using it just to sit around.
The circle had been constructed of stone, it was between 7 and 9 foot in diameter, and a small fire had been lit in the centre of this circle. It was very close to a large old tree which, because of the way it had grown over the years, provided some very convenient places on which candles could be placed. The circle had been laid out near the side of the tree that would have made a perfect alter. I do have to say that there was no evidence that any part of the tree had been used as an alter, or that candles had been placed on or near any part of the tree, but the location was perfect. This was another site that would have to be watched carefully and regularly. For what ever reasons the closer we looked the more it became apparent that activity in Clapham Wood was once again on the increase.
Whilst I was working on plans to make regular trips to the woods some further information was passed on to me which made me think that, in some ways, history could be about to repeat itself – there was quite a significant increase in the number of UFO sightings in the area of Clapham. Although at the time the information was passed on to me very little had been made of it publically, a Sussex based UFO group had been recording the sightings and, when possible, investigating individual cases.
A meeting with members from this group to discuss the UFO situation in and around Clapham seemed to confirm my thoughts. For some reason there was an increase in UFO activity and at the same reason a marked increase in the amount of occult activity in Clapham Wood. The Wood had of course been used for some time. Soon after the publication of The Demonic Connection there had been a marked decrease, which we had put down to the fact that there had been a great deal of publicity about the area and we also felt that the hurricane played it’s part in destroying some of the secluded areas that until that time had been regularly used. However in discussing the case with others involved in investigation and research in various aspects of the occult or paranormal the thought that this might actually have been the calm before the storm was put forward.
The ufologists had already considered that this increase in sightings made the area a worthwhile site at which to hold a sky watch and had begun planning to do just that before I had been in contact with them. They had obviously been aware of the reputation that the area had with regard to the occult, and they also had limited information about previous UFO sightings but they were not aware of the fact that there was an increase in occult activity at this time. As with the investigations which had taken place years before they had begun to consider whether there might be some connection between the increase of activity in these two aspects of the paranormal.
One aspect of these groups’ investigations could, it was agreed, possibly provide some sort of answer. Ley lines have been of special interest to ufologists for some time. It has for many years been thought that ufo’s obtain some form of power from these lines, or that they are used as markers. It has also been noted, by some researchers, that many locations that are used by occultists are also sites where ley lines either cross or converge. The two subjects, that is the occult and ufology, are therefore in some ways connected. Very often where you find one you find the other.
This is an area that is being looked in to seriously by may ufo groups and certainly by those with a serious interest in the occult. As yet I am not aware of groups/individuals involved in the investigation of either of these subjects seriously working together. Certainly there are times when minimal co-operation takes place but full co-operation is probably what is needed.
In the case of Clapham Wood both ufo’s and the occult have played an important part in the areas recent history. Any groups involved in the investigation of this area has to have knowledge of both subjects. This is something which I became aware of very early in my investigations. Perhaps one reason why, once a serious investigation had been started, it became very easy to get information about the area was that there were several people watching the area. They may well have been interested in different aspects of events in the area, but at least the area was being watched.
Despite the apparent decrease in occult activity in the area Clapham Wood is still being watched, and fresh information regarding both ufo sightings and occult activity is coming to light. On thing is certain. The Friends of Hecate have maintained an interest in the area and still use it when conditions are correct.
This year (2001) Clapham has been used many times. Indeed there is an indication that it is being used as much as it was before the Friends of Hecate were bought to the attention of the public. For this reason I have got a group of interested individuals together to keep a watch on the site.
Anybody with further information about the activities mentioned in this article, and about black magic at other sites around the country can email Charles Walker.
All text and images in this article copyright: Charles Walker 2001.