Six Realms: guides wanted

After a long break, I plan to get back to pier-visitation in the summer. The plan is to physically visit the Six Realms described in some Buddhist traditions, mapped on to the realm I live in (England). This involves taking a popular image of the ‘Wheel of Life’ depicting the realms, superimposing it on a map of  England centred on the supposed mid-point of the country, then getting to places sited within each realm and recording my impressions.  The psychogeographical technique to be used is the ‘Finding’ approach described by Duncan Barford, ‘decide beforehand the outcome of the journey, and then look to experiences during the journey as the provision of that outcome’. 


Image: Maren Yumi

The SIx Realms can be thought of as metaphors, psychological or spiritual states, destinations for rebirth. For me they will become tourist destinations. 

My initial assumption is that I live in the Human Realm. Siting the others accordingly, by rotating the mandala and drawing lines, I have a set of territories to visit during a week’s leave. As bikers and scooterboys know well, seaside piers make great destination points for journeys and I’ll incorporate as many as I can. These could include

Aberystwyth (Hungry Ghosts)

Any between Penarth (Cardiff) and Southampton (Hells)

Any of the south coast ones – Bognor, Brighton, Eastbourne, Herne Bay, Gravesend… (Animals) 

East Anglia, eg Great Yarmouth (Titans)

Cleethorpes (Gods)

perhaps returning to the Human Realm via Blackpool

I’m working on an itinerary for week commencing 25th June – if any psychogeographers, chums, or other benign entities would like to meet up along the way let me know. 


Posted on April 15, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. There’s a National Piers Society? This actual set me on a ponder. The kind of typical piers like some you visit are not uncommon in the US. There’s a sort of common boardwalk with arcades type setup that one finds up and down the east coast, at least. They often have a carnival tone, with chances to win stuffed animals and get tattoos and that sort of thing. I haven’t explored much, but recall visiting various ones in Maryland, New Jersey. Venice Beach in LA has something similar.

    Then I puzzled for a bit, because here I am living in coastal Brazil, minutes from the beach, in a very populous area, and I have visited other cities on the coast, and I don’t ever recall seeing that type of pier. Maybe they don’t exist here. I recall the waterfront in Belem having a big (and rather ancient) fish market, full of gigantic prehistoric looking fish being cut up for sale. There were fishing boats and vultures and people hawking small quantities of grocery items. That was years ago. There was a ferry terminal, but that was in a different location I think.

    In Florianopolis I recall a paved waterfront jogging/bicycling path that went on for some kilometers, and here and there jutted out into little piers, some with benches or playgrounds, a bit like the Hudson River waterfront in NYC. People were fishing here and there.

    In Rio there are several places where one can take a long path (sometimes paved) out along the edge of a rocky promontory to the end, and sit there and have a drink or fish or enjoy the view. There’s a port, but it’s not for pleasure, just for freighters and oil rigs.

    I’d honestly never thought about piers much, so it was fun to think about them.

    • walkinghometo50

      I guess the UK ones were a product of a particular moment in technology and tourism, in a country with a lot of coast accessible to a lot of people. Many of them are ruins now, but they have a kind of cultural resonance.

  2. Since when were Aberystwyth and Penarth in the realm you live in (England)?

  3. Two more East Anglian piers that you might wish to include are Southwold (Suffolk), which has a Heath Robinsonian water clock designed by inventor Tim Hunkin, and Cromer, which is Norfolk’s crab central.

  4. What an interesting adventure! The life of a pier is a curious one, I wrote a blog entry about Brighton’s infamous and decayed West Pier which may be of a little interest to you?

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