On April 9th, 2022 (all being well) there will be a ritual procession through the heart of Norwich. It will honour the creatures that have become endangered, and remember some that have already been lost.
It will also raise awareness about the ecological catastrophe we face unless we take immediate action. The attention of our hearts will be on our kindred species whose lives have been wantonly put at risk.
You are invited to join in.
The pilgrims, and anybody else who would like to join us, will gather at 12 noon outside Norwich Cathedral (between the Erpingham Gate and the Cathedral). They will be dressed in mourning black. We encourage pilgrims, where possible, to walk from their homes to the gathering place. Each pilgrim will have chosen one endangered creature – animal, bird, insect or fish. (For a list of creatures visit the List of Endangered Creatures )
Each pilgrim will carry a round ‘shield’ (45cm / 18 inches diameter) bearing the name and a bold and vibrant image of their creature. This they will have made themselves.
Over the months preceding the pilgrimage there will be workshops in which artists will be available to help you decorate your shield. For more information visit the Diary page. If you wish to decorate your shield independently – this is fine, just make sure it fits the size and hanging requirements. Instructions for making your shield can be found on the Shield page.
While outside the Cathedral, with the help of Simon Floyd and The Common Lot, there will be a time for pilgrims to rehearse the procession.
The procession will set off (led by Red Rebels) at a slow and solemn pace. Pilgrims will walk in silence. They will walk in pairs with their shields facing outwards. Drums will sound a slow rhythm. The tenor bell of St Peter Mancroft will toll once for each endangered creature. On the processional route there will be ‘stations’ where the pilgrims will halt. At each station the silence will be broken and some of the endangered creatures will be loudly named. A litany of loss. This will be followed by a ‘cacophony of the animals’. From beneath their black robes pilgrims will take horns, conches, rattles, whistles… or they will howl, honk, hoot, roar etc. Then they will return to silence.
Leaflets with information about the decline and what can be done to help will be handed out to the public during the procession… and will be available for pilgrims to hand out as they make their way to the gathering place before the procession begins.
The procession will end between the Forum and St Peter Mancroft Church (this may change as plans come together). There will be a culminating ritual. While a piper plays a lament on the highland pipes, pilgrims will hum the drone notes. The shields will be solemnly taken and hung from poles… creating a ring of ‘totem poles’. The totems of loss.
After the culminating ritual the pilgrims will disperse and the totem poles will, we hope, be displayed (in the Forum, in St Peter Mancroft, in the Cathedral, and other spaces). Also we will photograph each of the shields so that this website can become a record of the day and a source of instruction and inspiration.
While the mice in the field are listening to the Universe, and moving in the body of nature, where every living cell is sacred to every other and all are interdependent, the developer is peering at the field through a visor, and behind him stands the whole army of madmen’s ideas, and shareholders, impatient to cash in on the world.
Ted Hughes, writing in 1962
We stand now where two roads diverge… The road we have long been travelling is deceptively easy, a smooth superhighway on which we progress with great speed, but at the end lies disaster. The other fork in the road – the one ‘less travelled by’ – offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of our earth.
Rachel Carson writing in 1963
Credit for Sumatran Tiger on front page: Tommy Tripp’s Museum; or A Peep at the Quadruped Race, published by J. Harris & Son, 1820