Clapham Woods - The Dark Fantasy

Clapham Wood in West Sussex is a beautiful scenic area of woodland and Heath land located next to the sleepy village of Clapham. It has long been known as an abode for supernatural forces, ancient rituals and a magnet for haunting stories and legends. But is its sinister reputation justified?.

Clapham Wood has a long interesting history going back thousands of years to Pagan times. Its believed that the Druids and ancient peoples of a bygone age used the land for ancestral worship and to honour their Pagan gods and goddess, and to commune with the many nature spirits that are said to reside there in the many tree species found there. Its muttered by some that strange figures can both be seen illuminated in sun and sometimes wither into the shadows of the night. So its no wonder that it still captures the imagination of some, and draws back the modern Pagan in abundance to use these magical woods so to continue the ways of primeval man.

I think if you were to ask anyone who believes in the hear after and the power of ancient ritual, if they believe Clapham wood was haunted by the voices of the past, it would be hard to find a cynical mind. But in recent times the media and certain individuals have been telling dark stories and legends of human and animal sacrifice going on deep within the woods at night by unseen groups. Dogs and sometimes other animals are said to go missing, and occasionally the mutilated bodies are found the following morning by horrified unsuspecting dog walkers.

Even humans have said to have gone missing, only then to be found murdered a short time later. Is all this really the actions of an underground Occult group, or just a myth projected to the media, and summoned up in the imagination and overactive mind of someone looking to deep into nothing, looking to create a dark mystery novel? If you do the research I think it is safe to assume that it is a little bit of both fact and fiction, morphed together to make a mostly benevolent thing seem more sensational and malevolent.

Charles Walker is one such individual who has been studying the history and supernatural and UFO aspects of Clapham wood since the mid 60s. His story is somewhat dramatic and like something you might see in a Hollywood movie, or read in a murder mystery novel with a touch of politics and the supernatural thrown in for boosted effect. He claims to have been researching paranormal activity in the woods in and around November 1978, frustrated with little luck he then got a mystery phone call from a man asking Charles to meet him at a crossroads in the vicinity of the woods, sceptical, although unafraid, he decided to do so. When there he was met by the voice of a man assumed to be the same man that had phoned him previously, the voice told him not to turn around, and to listen to him, and told him about their group that the man called “The Friends Of Hecate” he went on to explain that it was his group that had been responsible for the kidnapping and killing of the supposed dogs that has been going missing. Hecate (sometimes spelled 'Hekate) is the Greek goddess of crossroads and witchcraft and the wilderness, has a strong connection to dogs and the spiritual underworld that some might see as “Hell“. The voice of the unseen man went on to say that they were a satanic group and would stop at nothing to silence anyone interfering, and would do whatever it took to keep their activities and intentions a secret. Mr Walkers meeting with the man ended with simple silence after Walker fished for more answers, eventually nervous he left and went home.

The above encounter somewhat confuses me. If the members of “The Friends Of Hecate” were wanting to keep their activities and intentions secret and private, what on earth were they doing contacting a researcher and telling him all about it, knowing he was likely to divulge this knowledge to others? I believe this story is a fabrication, or if this part of the story was indeed factual, it was someone pulling Mr Walkers chain, and he took the whole hoax seriously, which caused him to believe such a cult existed, which trigged his research into the “Friends of Hecate” causing him to look into myths that were never there. He wanted to find evidence of such things so badly that he was always going to find it. Other than what Mr Walker has suggested, no real tangible evidence exists at all for the existence of “The Friends of Hecate” nothing that cant be explained away by harmless Pagans performing rituals revering the elements of nature, which is a common occurrence in the woods of Clapham.

Mr Walker also claims to have had guns pulled on him, and been in high speed car chases by mysterious cars and that the group goes as deep as governmental positions, all the plots and scenes to Hollywood action flicks. If these things such as car chases and threats with guns did happen, why are there no reports of Mr Walker reporting it to the police? That is quite a serious thing.

Mr Walker claims that an unusual amount of pet dogs have gone missing in the woods because of these satanic groups, yet I my self looked into these claims and found that the numbers of missing dogs reported missing were no different than in other parts of the rural areas of the United Kingdom, in fact they seemed to be less around the Clapham area because dogs mostly get stolen in cities and towns by criminals looking to make some money from their sale. If this group was abducting dogs and wanted to stay anonymous, wouldn’t they, if they had any intelligence, be taking dogs from further a field instead of in the same woodland they did there secret rituals on? Why risk more suspicious attention on the area you perform your rituals, in which you would want as little amount of attention as possible?

Mr Walkers story reminds me oh so much of the “Satanic Panic” seen in the 80s and early 90s created by Christian fundamentalists claiming that Satanism was rife in our society and that thousands of people, both in the UK and U.S, were going missing and being sacrificed in devilish secret rituals each day. Of course this was obviously all sensationalistic lies and a form of propaganda with the agenda of terrifying people into their belief system, but the “Friends Of Hecate“ concoction seems to have the very same ingredients.

I do not suggest that Mr Walker is a lair, and from what I have heard he is believed to be an honest gentleman, and what I know from what I have seen is that he seems like a nice enough chap, but I believe he is looking into something that is not there, that he so desperately wants to be there, and that maybe his experience with the mysterious stranger in the woods might have made him somewhat paranoid, understandably so.

It is obvious that Mr Walker is seeing the left over evidence of innocent Pagan rituals gone on at the times of Pagan festivals, and he is using them to fuel his beliefs in “The Friends Of Hecate”. Dead animals are sometimes found in the grounds of Clapham, but many animals live in the woods and die in the woods, so there is no mystery there. Only a handful of people have been reported to have been killed in the woods, or at least found dead there since the 60s, some of which were not believed to have been murdered, but take any area of land over time its going to see its fair share of human death, after all, humans live on and use the land.

I would like to state that I do not believe that black magick does not go on in the UK, I am certain it does, but such things as animal sacrifice are exceptionally rare in the UK, and that human sacrifice most definitely does not happen, as reported by Walker and others in and around Clapham woods.

So, if most of the stories are just wishful fantasies of someone looking to create myths and legends for people to chat about over a nice pint, isn’t there any truth to the paranormal on Clapham woods? I believe so yes, just not as sensationalistic as some might want you to believe.

In the mid 60s a wave of UFO reports started to manifest into the media and newspapers causing people to travel to the woods and clearings to spot UFOs in the summer night skies. And ever since the area has been a hotspot for UFO sightings and activity. Some even connect the supernatural happenings such as the ghost sightings with the UFO sightings, saying the woods are a huge form of energy where powerful leylines cross attracting paranormal phenomena in abundance.

A very common experiences felt by many who dwell there is a feeling of sickness or dizziness, sometimes people say that they feel a presence following them and a terrifying feeling of vertigo. Could this be the effects of spirits roaming the land, or the energy pulsing through the woods because of the leylines found under the earthy pathways of Clapham?

People driving on the A27 through Clapham have reported having their steering wheel effected pointing their cars directly towards the woods by an unseen force.

Mists are said to be seen lingering around the trees, sometimes moving in and out of them, which being in a woodland might not be to strange, until the mists take the form of animals, in some reports bears and wolves.

Many reports of ghosts and spirits have been seen around Clapham, some believe they are spirits that once occupied the local church, others the ancient spirits of our Pagan ancestors, but what ever there origins, one can imagine the locals of Clapham must be fed up with the constant visitors and the dark reputation of their village and surrounding woods, and just want all the attention of their home to cease, but while TV shows like the fairly recent horrendous “Scream Team” continue to sensationalise it, and spread the myths about the woods, and people continue to write fantasy about it, I am sure the locals wishes are futile and in vain.

By Barry Stevens (Faeden)

Source of photos.

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