Occult Lampposts

Gareth E. Rees explores the clandestine urban messaging system on British streets

WORDS & PICTURES: Gareth E. Rees

LOCATION: A street near you

The smooth metal surfaces of Britain’s streetlights are a prime canvas for graffiti, coded messages and promotional stickers. Spread out at regular intervals in densely populated urban areas and illuminated at night, they are an ideal medium for conspiracy theorists, artists, musicians and local kids expressing their latest beef.

If we broaden the definition of ‘occult’ to include its original meaning, “clandestine, hidden, secret”, then lampposts can be viewed as an unofficial channel of covert ‘dark’ communication. Often these messages are creepy, weird and horrific.

Take this one below, daubed in the number of the beast. The same person repeated this across all of the lampposts in this one road in Hastings, a notorious hub for occultists and the town in which Crowley died (and allegedly cursed).

Or this one, referencing the ‘killer clown’, John Wayne Gacy who murdered 33 young men and boys in Chicago during the 1970s.

Meanwhile in Bristol – They Live!

This one is truly sinister- a plastic bottle stuffed with crow feathers. What does it mean? Who is this for?

Below, you’ll see a slightly sparkling punk band sharing space with a Bill Gates Covid vaccine conspiracy theory (technically a traffic light not a lamppost, but you get my drift).

More conspiracy!

Owls are a common symbol of wisdom, knowledge and intelligence…

The demon approaches…

I think the subliminal message here is DO take drugs. Drugs are great.

Decaying skull, consumed by rust.

The black cat with demonic red eyes HATES Nazis and so should we all. FIGHT BACK!

For more of my weird trips through everyday urban spaces, check out my book UNOFFICIAL BRITAIN; JOURNEYS THROUGH UNEXPECTED PLACES


Gareth E. Rees is author of Unofficial Britain (Elliott & Thompson, 2020) Car Park Life (Influx Press 2019), The Stone Tide (Influx Press, 2018) and Marshland (Influx Press, 2013).

More Articles for You

A Journey Through The Ancient Commons of the Bristol Ring Road

Andy Thatcher explores the A4174 to seek out the relics of hard-won ancient rights

Unofficial Britain’s Weird and Wonderful Reads 2022

WORDS: Gareth E. Rees I’ve had an insanely busy year. It began with me finalising my debut short story collection, …

Climate Change, Ecological Breakdown & Neoliberal Anxiety in the English Edgelands

LOCATION: Southern England WORDS: Gareth E. Rees, author of Unofficial Britain “Global warming had gone past the tipping point, the …

Newcastle’s Haunted Alley: The Mysterious Origins of The White Lady of the Quayside.

Joe Barton and Jack Gardner search for the true life origins of a dockside spectre

Edgeland Visions: Heraldic Relics from an Imaginary Time

In advance of his exhibition in Margate, Matt James Healy shares his abstract visions of a world on the edge

Beer Cans, Wildflowers and a Dead Dog’s Ashes – A Dream Life Beneath the Pylon of Hackney Marsh

With the remains of his dead dog in a cardboard tube, Gareth E. Rees returns to the pylon that sparked his edgeland obsession