Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

Wiccan Shrine — Or What?

Over the past several months I have been exploring and photographing old streetcar tracks and pavements that have been exposed in the course of the many repaving projects now underway in downtown Raleigh. One of those forays took me deep beneath the city streets — and this is what I discovered.

Cautiously, I descended into an unknown netherworld.

Ultimately I found myself in a dank, dark and cold subterranean chamber. As my eyes slowly adjusted to the dim light filtering down from above, I spotted what appeared to be a small devotional shrine someone had erected on the opposite side of the room. Wiccans! — I thought.


A box of matches lay atop the makeshift altar, so I lit the pair of candles which had been placed there; they emitted an eerie glow in the darkness.

Suddenly, I heard a distinct ‘kerplunk’ behind me, and I spun around to investigate.

Relieved that no one else had entered the chamber, I looked closer, and realized some small object must have fallen from a cloaca maxima above me into the shallow brackish water at my feet.

I continued my exploration and could see through the culvert beneath the altar that another room appeared in the distance about 50 feet away. However, as the water was considerably deeper in there, I decided to save that particular venture for another day.

As I turned to leave, I snapped a photo of myself reflected in the shiny, hieroglyph-enscribed black tiles of the shrine.

Hmm, I thought, as I extinguished the candles and made my ascent out of this mysterious and hidden, subterranean chamber — Wiccans? I dunno. But with all that concrete and brickwork down there — maybe this secret shrine has some kind of association with the Masons?

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