On April 24th the IRA exploded a bomb in Bishopsgate, near the NatWest Tower. This is the tallest in the City of London. It is built on the site once occupied by Gresham College, the original home of the Royal Society. This site may be considered as an Omphalos of London.
Dating back to ancient Greece, the original word 'omphalos' meant 'navel' and was particularly applied to the Oracle at Delphi. This was the physical and psychic centre of Greek mythology. Since then it has come to mean the psychogeographical centre of any culture, myth structure or system of social dominance. It's political relevance will become more apparent when the Yugoslav war spills over into Kosovo, where the Serbian Omphalos is located in a predominantly Albanian area.
In modern Britain however, we are embedded in a web of interleaved cultures and competing value-systems. There is no clear omphalos, although in recent years the subject has gained more interest. Notably the battles around Stonehenge makes more sense when seen as a matter of control of the omphalos there. This was preceded by the suppression of the Windsor Free Festival in 1974. Windsor is another omphalic site.
But these omphalic sites are not simply of interest to hippies. The army has maintained a massive presence in the Stonehenge area for years, and royalty has controlled Windsor for centuries. They are of great importance to the ruling elite.
Several places, such as the London Stone, Charing Cross, Westminster Abbey or Old Compton Street have been put forward as sites for the omphalos of London. Each has its merits. When we put forward the National Westminster/Gresham College site as an omphalos, we are suggesting it has a particular symbolic importance.
Sir Thomas Gresham was a leading member of the Mercer's guild. He founded the Royal Exchange, which then relocated the central money market of northern Europe to London. When he died, he left provision in his will for money accruing from the Royal Exchange to fund Gresham College, which would beset up in his former London house.
The College was to be administered jointly by the Mercer's guild and the Corporation of the City of London. Although no longer at its original site,the College still functions offering a range of lectures free to the public.
The City of London has responded to the bombing with the proposal by their chief planner, Peter Rees, that the Nat West Tower be replaced by "the world's tallest building". At the moment structural damage to tower is being assessed (it will take about 3 months). If repair costs are too high, the building will be demolished. In this event, Canary Wharf could be dwarfed by another monstrosity, recent ring spectacular development back into the City itself.
Meanwhile the struggle at Twyford Down continues. Twyford Down/St. Catherine's Hill has also been put forward as an Omphalos. (See our pamphlet The Great Conjunction, available from Unpopular Books for £2 +30p p&p). On November 27th, the date of the Great Conjunction, Twyford Down demonstrators attempted to block Marble Arch with banners marked with two runes. These were the Odal rune, meaning "land, property" and the Tir rune meaning "the vault of the heavens above the cosmic pillar" (The Secret Lore of Runes and other Ancient Alphabets by Nigel Pennick). The Cosmic Pillar is traditionally placed at the omphalos.
In our last issue we featured an account of government attacks on protesters at Twyford Down, entitled Victory to the Dongas. We have since discovered that they only constituted one group of the protesters and are noted for their fanatical royalist views.
We would wish to make it clear that while we oppose state violence against all the protesters, we see the political ideology of the Dongas as very negative. They are receiving support from a Pagan Link National Facilitator.
The Royal family claims descent from both Wotan (through the Saxon monarchy) and Freya (through the William the Conqueror) There is evidence that the monarchy has survived precisely by blending Paganism with Christianity (particular found in the works of Margaret Murray). Many Pagans have been drawn to paganism as part of a rejection of the ignoble squalor of modern power structures.We would draw their attention to the fact that many ruling class groups have a foot in both camps.
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