Welcome to the fifth – and penultimate – upload from The Highgate Vampire Symposium 2015. During this session we hear from two speakers, Carrie Kirkpatrick and Sam Perrin, who each give us unique and personal insights into what makes Highgate so energetically charged. Highgate certainly seems to host an extraordinary amount of ‘paranormal’ phenomena, and its woodland (and Western cemetery in previous years) have been favoured by London’s Witches and Pagans for decades. What about this ancient hamlet causes it to act as such a psychic magnet – and amplifier? And what secrets have remained untold – until now – by those who have cause to spend prolonged amounts of time in its infamous cemetery?
Carrie Kirkpatrick is a practising Pagan, a Priestess of Hecate, and a prolific contributor to and figure within the London occult scene. She is also the founder of Oracle Television, which has its studios located close to Highgate Village. A Highgate resident, Carrie explains how her fascination with liminal space, with worlds in between, and with the archetypal psychic landscape of the crossroads is nurtured by Highgate’s natural environment both seen and unseen. Excerpts from the documentary ‘Hecate Rising’, which captures on film a Samhain (Hallowe’en) ritual evening organised by The Pagan Federation and performed in Queens Wood, Highgate, are used with her permission. You can see the whole film over on Vimeo here: https://vimeo.com/8171608
Sam Perrin is a former Highgate Cemetery tour guide with 12 years experience of volunteering and leading guided tours around the famous burial grounds. Since their inception in the mid-1970s, the Friends of Highgate Cemetery have had little time for rumours of supernatural incursions on their patch, and as Sam reinforces this is in part for a very good reason. We should not forget that the cemeteries remain working burial grounds, and open discussion of such topics on site could certainly be deemed distasteful by those burying or visiting the graves of loved ones. Additionally, the vampire flap of the 1970s and the ensuing vandalism to graves, bodies and monuments has naturally discouraged talk of ‘vampires’.
But with so many recorded cases of darkly clad figures and other anomalies in Swains Lane and within the West Cemetery, how reasonable is to assume that no guides have had paranormal experiences of their own? In an unprecedented move Sam was brave enough to share – with permission – some very uncanny and disturbing accounts of what appear to be a supernatural nature, involving not just herself but four other guides over the years. Most of these occurred in the vicinity of the North Gate, which has historically been a nucleus for sightings of tall dark figures – on both sides of the iron bars.
The sharing of encounters with what has been described as a territorial, proprietary presence has been taboo amongst staff and volunteers for a very long time, as Sam explains, and we are very grateful to Sam and her former colleagues for finally breaking their silence publicly. More level-headed, well-placed witnesses would be hard to come by, and their experiences can only enrich the pantheon of Highgate’s documented paranormal history.
Sam also introduces the very significant question of just what it is about Highgate’s man-made and geoscientific elements that could cause or enhance such experiences. The presence of underground, free flowing water sources, a proliferance of granite, and the impact of the huge signal mast at the top of Swains Lane are all put forward as factors worthy of further consideration. Could the small amounts of electricity generated by the tributaries of the River Fleet which run under the cemetery, combined with potentially measurable degrees of electromagnetic pollution provide an ‘all you can eat buffet’ for the entity, or do they have more influence upon the witnesses to this secretive apparition? It would be impossible to answer such questions in such a short session, but the fact that such questions are now being asked makes the whole Symposium worthwhile, in our opinion! It is surely time to move debate around this curious enigma beyond the question of ghost vs. vampire and ask, essentially, why Highgate?
You can find out more about Carrie Kirkpatrick’s psychic television channel, and her psychic coaching work, here: http://www.oracletelevision.com/
Sam Perrin’s fascinating blog can be found here:
Check it out for incredibly detailed, original and well-referenced biographical pieces about some of London’s less remembered notables.
And you can read more about The Highgate Vampire Symposium’s organiser, Della Farrant, via her book, Haunted Highgate at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Haunted-Highgate-Della-Farrant/dp/0750958316/