London Bridge Covenant

“Old London Bridge in 1745″ by Joseph Josiah Dodd

Almost a year to the day since Timothy posted about this on his blog, and I’ve decided there might be something more in this than just idle speculation…

The various images I’ve found are certainly inspiring. Who knows, perhaps I can work up a sample covenant set upon London Bridge over the course of the year (or perhaps as my hopefully more successful upcoming November’s NaGaDeMon challenge)?

As I’m Australian, I don’t have local knowledge (I’ve stayed in London for a week once many years ago now), but I’ve dug up some interesting tidbits readily enough. Apart from the existence of a chapel on the bridge as Timothy noted (actually quite common to most significant medieval bridges), I’ve collected some  other really interesting aspects to the medieval bridge, three in particular which cry out for Hermetic explanation or seem to generate stories:

For one, all the pylons are spaced irregularly, perhaps to take advantage of firm bedrock in the river but a more mystical interpretation would be that the arrangement is deliberate or a necessary requirement for recasting of the Aegis, helps stabilise some sort of Hermetic Architecture effect or perhaps an ancient Mercurian Road ritual that strengthens bridges. This most likely needs to be renewed periodically, but perhaps the non-Mercurian magics used last significantly longer, suggesting the use of a Faerie or Illusion style duration such as Condition (Until), While (Condition) or perhaps Aura – enough to be a significant Story Hook but not something that the magi need to deal with on an annual basis. Might be even more interesting if the ritual needs to be cast within the Divine aura of the chapel rather than in a Magic aura or a mundane area.

Secondly, the various “starlings” (stone shoes for the wooden pylons) have a significant detrimental effect on the river flow, dropping the flow rate to less than a half or less in times of low tide – in some reported cases the bridge acts more as a causeway or weir.  This restrictive effect makes me think of the structure  as a form of mystical harness for the river, chaining the spirit of the Thames (Latin: Tamesis from the Celtic name “Tamesas”) and allowing the covenant access to the powers of the river spirit, like some form of involuntary Spirit Votary pact or non-Goetic Binding effect.

Concept Model for Old London Bridge

Related to the chapel above, the third interesting concept is that the bridge is maintained by a quasi-monastic order of men responsible for the upkeep, collecting of tolls and maintenance of the peace. Sounds a lot like an excuse for a covenant’s turb to me or at least a partial cover story for the covenant’s non-magical inhabitants. If the covenant’s turb consists of the whole brotherhood or at least controls the brotherhood, this accounts for several potential Boons but also requires a Hook that forces intermittent interaction with the mundane authorities.

The Thames itself seems to be fairly interesting, although that’s perhaps something best left for another post or when I get started on the covenant. For now, the fact that I most want to play with somehow is the tidal nature of the Thames. This is perhaps not surprising in itself but one phenomenon I found interesting is that the warmer fresh water flowing out, being effectively lighter and less dense than the cold salt water flowing up the estuary, rises over the colder current.

To me this evokes a conflict between two mighty Magic spirits, on the one hand the Celtic river spirit Tamesas, on the other side the briny, possibly Germanic spirit of the Channel, a favoured servant of the more powerful North Sea. The taming of the Thames (err, almost a bad pun there) by the Romans by building a bridge over it can then reflect the dominance of Rome over Gaul, replacing the opponents as Rome versus Germania. In Hermetic terms this could then play in out in microcosm as a Roman vs non-Roman conflict between the more Roman lineages (and perhaps a secret Diedne tradition) against House Bjornaer. On a wider Mythic scale, it could represent the Order of Hermes with subsumed Celtic elements in opposition to the northern hedge wizards, perhaps even the Muspelli that serve the Jotun of the seas, the giant Aegir.

And of course, continuing my developing Redcap theme, London Bridge would seem a logical place for the Mercer House of the Stonehenge Tribunal – sure in the 4th edition supplement Heirs to Merlin, the Mercer House is near Coventry, but that’s deuterocanonical now.

Surely the Line Editor won’t mind if I completely change this minor detail… it’s not like I’m going to add anything outlandish like game statistics now, am I? 😛


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