I’ve been extremely busy since my last post in September 2022. As I prepare for a new phase where I’ll be a lot more active on here again, it felt great to give a one-hour survey of over 40 years of my Glastonbury adventures for a podcast interview that was rapidly set up and manifested.
It’s been a whole year with nothing from me here. Have I given up and gone away? Far from it! I’ve been the busiest of my life, hugely involved in the most dynamic Glastonbury cultural events in my 27 years of living here. It’s time to give an overview of that. (I must thank the providers of photos copied in the frenzy of the mornings after from many people on Facebook without stopping to record their source. If you see a photo of yours here and want a credit, let me know and I’ll be happy to do that.)
Within days of the initial publication of this post, the Queen died. The final section has been updated to include a taste of how Glastonbury responded and our September Jubilee eventswere adjusted accordingly.
I’ve been fully immersed in Glastonbury’s Jubilee. Seriously? The Royal Jubilee? In a town where plenty of people believe the Queen to be an extra-terrestrial lizard and her family to be baby eaters? Maybe that is a bit extreme but Prince Andrew has recently been thoroughly disgraced through his association with monstrous sex traffickers. The archaic social structure the Royal Family represent is an easy target for a lot of valid criticism.
When the 2022 Royal Platinum Jubilee began to be discussed in Glastonbury, I realised we were uniquely placed to potentially bring something doubly unique into the situation. The template for the modern coronation ceremony was established by St Dunstan, an Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey and later Archbishop of Canterbury, when he crowned King Edgar in 973AD. The ruined Abbey once had Saxon kings interred there, including Edgar, and hosted many royal visits before the final disastrous denouement with Henry VIII. This was real history to set alongside its famous contentious associations with King Arthur and Joseph of Arimathea. Dunstan was a good means to establish a distinct Glastonbury flavour worthy of celebration.
2022 would also be the centenary of a great event in the town. Educationalist, writer, poet. and mystic, Alice Buckton had created a complex pageant that dominated Glastonbury life for almost a year. Episodes featuring amateur local performers depicting historical events such as the alleged visit of Joseph of Arimathea, the meeting of Alfred the Great and Guthrum, and the visit of Edward III to the Abbey were filmed. A parade down the High Street featured a mix of people in historical costumes and local dignitaries. The result was released as Glastonbury Past and Present.
Buckton was part of a remarkable group of people who were responsible for a Glastonbury revival long in advance of the hippie era. They were featured in The Avalonians, an outstanding 1993 book by Patrick Benham. Dion Fortune, Frederick Bligh Bond, and Wellesley Tudor Pole, were long-term inspirations of mine. It seemed obvious that the film needed showing again and that it could work its way into our Jubilee more widely.
The potency of this combination, Dunstan and Buckton, soon united a diverse group of people and unleashed an astonishing amount of inspiration. Great ideas were floated out there. Projects set in motion. Some directly manifested over the course of the Jubilee. Some changed or were forced to adjust, and some never happened at all.
Being fortunate to count as a friend the extraordinary Mayor of Glastonbury Jon Cousins, a long-term passionate advocate for the cause of martyred Abbot Richard Whiting, I was invited on to a council Jubilee committee overseeing the events, I quickly conceived of a conceptual umbrella to unite them all. Firstly, the title of Dion Fortune’s book about Glastonbury, Avalon of the Heart, was a very evocative term.
Most importantly for me, I realised the relevance of the work of Nicholas Roerich, a subject I have repeatedly returned to over a period of decades.
I have twice given presentations in Glastonbury on the anniversary of his death, one of which was recorded.
The Russian mystical artist and explorer has a cultural legacy beyond his prodigious output of numinous paintings.
As the Red Cross flag came to have a universally understood meaning, so Roerich created an emblem for his own ideals concerning the importance of art. He felt that great architecture, particularly religious buildings, art galleries and so on, were part of a collective world treasure that should be protected in times of warfare. He sought to create an image that could be displayed to signify such heritage and then to persuade governments to agree to its principles. It was an idea that had come to him during the Great War and he had managed to communicate something of it to the Tsar and some foreign governments but with no tangible result.
Three spheres within a circle came to represent religion, art, and science, encompassed by the circle of culture or, alternatively, the past, present, and future achievements of humanity guarded within the circle of eternity.
He found the image was ancient and widespread. In India it was considered a sign of happiness. He found it on a medieval Madonna, a Templar coat of arms, on Russian icons, on rocks in Mongolia, on breast ornaments of Himalayan people, Neolithic pottery, Buddhist banners. It’s interesting to contrast Roerich’s logging of this symbol and the use he made of it with another ancient image that had become increasingly noticeable and was being put to modern use: the swastika.
The three-sphere imagery is known to those familiar with Glastonbury history. In the time preceding the Roman occupation, a century long Iron Age ‘lake village’, or perhaps more accurately, swamp village, existed near the present town. A fifteen year excavation of it began in 1892, revealing the best-preserved Iron Age settlement in Europe.
Amongst numerous archaeological finds that gave a detailed look at the life there, the most notable was a bronze bowl decorated with a ring of three-stud clusters. The artefact achieved sufficient fame for a replica to be gifted to the Prince of Wales, the future George V when he visited the site in 1909. Celtic Europe had widespread trading links. Amber was imported from the Baltic region, probably through intermediaries. I’m happy to feel at least a nuance in the airwaves concerning connections between the sources of Roerich’s imagery and our local example.
A Banner of Peace committee was founded in 1929. It had representatives in New York, Paris, and Bruges and was supported by some notable luminaries of the time such as Bernard Shaw, Einstein, and HG Wells.
The 1932 Madonna Oriflamma became one of Roerich’s most famous works. It showed a Renaissance style Madonna holding the Banner of Peace. To Roerich, women are the disseminators and guardians of universal culture and beauty, bearers of the Banner of Peace. In 1935 the Peace Pact was signed in the presence of President Roosevelt by the USA and representatives of the Central and South American countries.
The world-historical process was against the initiative as the Nazis would soon demonstrate. Roerich died in 1947 but the ideals of the Peace Pact endured and resurged. The Banner has been displayed from a number of mountain peaks, including Everest. It has been taken to both North and South Poles. After his epochal first space flight around the planet, Yuri Gagarin said the view brought to mind a Roerich painting. In 1990 the Banner of Peace was taken on board the Mir space-station. It was up there for six months and during one extraordinary nine day period was placed outside. In 1997 it returned again to Mir.
In 2018 the cover of my book William Blake and the Glastonbury Gnosis, published as part of the first Glastonbury William Blake Festival, featured an image rendered by artist Yuri Leitch that I had conceived of, blending the Madonna Oriflamma with Our Lady of Glastonbury as seen in a statue from the local Catholic Church. The book included an overview of Roerich’s work.
We have a tremendous number of truly talented people in Glastonbury. Thalia Brown has been creating large banners for decades that have graced the walls of our venues during various conferences. These have featured Goddesses, crop circles, and so on. I had talked with her concerning the possibility of creating a banner of this vision of the Glastonbury Roerich Madonna back then but it had not been possible. The conversation restarted as Thalia was also part of our Jubilee committee. She agreed to do it. Not only that, she would also create two standard Roerich banners. The remarkable nature of the dynamism around us was that her work would actually be funded by the council. With this, it was now possible to bring the Pax Cultura concept fully in to our vision of the 2022 Jubilee calendar. We could now refer to the Pax Cultura Avalon of the Heart Glastonbury Platinum Jubilee celebrations. The banners could be present at all manner of events to express a unity.
I felt that our entire undertaking here, especially in the vicinity of the tragically ruined Abbey, partook of the art for peace vision, that we are something that somehow stands against the ebb and flow of history and indeed must survive and thrive always if that which sustains and motivates people to engage in culture, in community, is to endure.
Thalia started the banner project with months to spare before we assumed they might be used. The bigger world picture intervened with remarkable timing that made us realise we were indeed part of something greater. Thalia completed the first standard banner in the last week of February. Within two days, Russian troops entered Ukraine. I felt that the banner should be publicly displayed. Having bumped into my former boss, Gareth Mills, proprietor of The Speaking Tree and Courtyard Books, I immediately found the means to do so as he was happy to have one in a shop window. Thalia soon delivered and within days it was visible.
Here’s a gallop through where we got to and how the basic concepts infused the process. There’s a far longer story to tell here —
I have long been intrigued by the peculiar Glastonbury version of the St George story. I managed to communicate my enthusiasm concerning its possibilities to poet-playwright John Constable aka John Crow who was commissioned by the council to produce a Mummers Play that incorporated the Glastonbury story. It would be performed in full in Glastonbury Abbey over the Jubilee weekend .
To appreciate the extraordinary background of John and his incredible work
A free St George evening was set up for the Town Hall on the feast day of the saint, April 23rd. This was considered a preliminary part of our Jubilee as it concerned our national saint from a local context. The play would get a preliminary read-through to wet the collective appetite. A few short presentations would accompany it. This included myself discussing the mercurial mutability of our Glastonbury mythos and the virtues of giving in to the moods it evokes. To quote Dion Fortune in Avalon of the Heart,‘the poetry of the soul writes itself in Glastonbury’.
A notable aspect of the evening was the first public appearance of the Madonna Roerich banner. The visual template for the Glastonbury Jubilee was now established.
I will only mention in passing two other banner outings in May. World Labyrinth Day was celebrated in St John’s churchyard (where a labyrinth is located) led by Thalia.
And St Dunstan’s feast day on May 19th saw me in the Abbey and giving a Town Hall presentation on the story of our activities and intentions up to that point.
June 2nd, the date of the Queen’s coronation, began in St John’s Church in Glastonbury where vicar David MacGeoch presided over a blessing of various Glastonbury flames that would be brought together to light the beacon on the Tor as part of the synchronised nationwide events later in the day. It was wonderful to have Roerich banners prominently present in the proceedings.
Mayor Jon had interested a number of people in the manner in which Glastonbury was celebrating the Jubilee. A welcome turn of events saw the BBC in place to film our beacon lighting. The arrangement was that we should do this before the rest of the country so rapid editing could ensure that footage shown on TV would be acceptable. This meant that we would be the first beacon lit in the country after the Queen had provided the initial stimulus at Windsor Castle and Buckingham Palace. This felt nicely symbolic given the Joseph of Arimathea mythos concerning Glastonbury as site of first church in Britain. We have long been a beacon.
I had not intended or expected to be part of the civic procession that ascended the Tor prior to the beacon lighting. I was going to be a spectator. In a turn of events that rapidly seemed preordained, it was in fact me who carried the Madonna banner and held it during a wonderful moment when the beacon was lit simultaneously by two flames held by Vicar David and Glastonbury Archdruid Dreow Bennet. It wasn’t long before I was being messaged by people who had clearly seen Roerich banners on the BBC news footage in which Glastonbury was indeed featured first.
The process was repeated the following day when I found myself marching down the High Street holding the Madonna banner having not intended to do so. A contingent from St John’s, including a choir, expected to lead the procession, mysteriously did not appear, leaving the banners very near to the front and thereby left to carry the visual dynamic of the front of the parade. (Pictured is myself carrying Madonna with Thalia Brown and Zoe Price to the left and right.)
Our overall intention was to honour the Alice Buckton pageant parade. We were filmed with shots set up to deliberately echo 1922 that would later be placed together with old footage (no longer in copyright) for a documentary record of the weekend (hopefully set to manifest in 2023).
Into Glastonbury Abbey we processed until the banners were placed as a part of the backdrop of the full performance of the St George Mummers Play, an event I can only describe as a triumph.
Saturday June 4th saw the little matter of a speech I had written for Joseph of Arimathea being performed by Gareth Mills to a group of Druids. There’s a long story there —
Lots more happened that weekend and the banners were present but I’ve said enough to show how the broad vision infused the proceedings.
Since then, they have come out on a number of occasions, concerts, another William Blake event, and so on. They are actually the property of the Town Council and on one surreal night, they were parked in the council chamber and formed a background for a council meeting.
At the express wish of the Queen, the Jubilee events were supposed to last a year, from the date she became monarch in February following the death of her father, until the same date the following year. Most places had focused pretty much exclusively on the central period in June.
Once again, I realised there were some great Glastonbury options. We had a Royal Charter for a fayre to be held around the period of Michaelmas, Sept 29th. Henry I had set it up for 2 days. Henry III extended it to 6, from 23rd to 29th September. We are pretty big on Archangel Michael here, being as the iconic ruined church on the Tor is dedicated to him, and the famous ley runs through the town. It was during that same time of year that the Buckton pageant had happened in 1922, so it would be the exact centenary.
With the death of the Queen, our proposed Michaelmas events now clearly served as far more of a conclusion to the Jubilee than originally intended. A remarkable opportunity presented itself to form a bridge between the reigns of two monarchs and affirm a fundamental Glastonbury myth.
The famous Wearyall Hill Holy Thorn tree, alleged descendant of an original planted by Joseph of Arimathea, had been planted in 1952, the year of the Queen’s Accession. When horribly vandalised in 2010, a cutting had been taken and cultivated in Kew Gardens. It was ready to be planted in Glastonbury, this time in the safe setting of the garden of St Dunstan’s House, where Glastonbury Information Centre can be found, a location in the immediate proximity of the Abbey that our foundation myth affirmed Joseph had founded. The event presented continuity and the theme of regeneration to nicely mark the advent of the new King.
Before long, I was gratified to see an image that I had created being used to promote a weekend of events.
On Saturday September 24th, the new Thorn was planted as the climax of a tree-blessing processional ceremony that took in our Rowan memorial (where photos of recently deceased Glastonbury residents are placed) and a recently planted oak that was part of a nationwide Jubilee tree-planting initiative.
I am now involved in the not inconsiderable task of writing a book, provisionally entitled The New Avalonians, that does justice to the full extent of the Glastonbury Jubilee, of which only the highlights have been presented here.
Thanks to the Lockdown epoch, I haven’t spoken in public for over 2 years now. My brain has remained buzzing and when I get invited onto podcasts there is plenty of material to pour out. When that podcast is generally concerned with High Strangeness UFOlogy, Whitley Strieber etc, then I’m even more likely to go into overdrive.
I’ve covered some of this ground before. The theme of the secret life revealed by Strieber’s Communion I first mentioned in Avalonian Aeon and then expanded to bring in Castaneda in Atargatis. The whole crazy tale of the midget ETs dancing to Abba is featured in Atargatis, along with further Strieber considerations. The ‘Free Preview’ here reveals that material.
The story of Anthony Roberts 1969 UFO experience and where that led was the central focus of my book The Glastonbury Zodiac and Earth Mysteries UFOlogy. I got to retell it on Ancient Aliens but it a lost a bit in their edit. My 2015 book launch presentation at the Glastonbury Symposium does it justice.
I think this might be the first time I’ve talked about the 2015 Glastonbury UFO Bodybuilders Day Out which saw me sitting in the George and Pilgrim Hotel with 6 times Mr Olympia Dorian Yates hearing directly from Nigel Frapple the amazing tale of his 1954 UFO experience. (A lengthy interview telling the tale in full was posted this year).
Nigel wasn’t up for the Tor challenge but here is Lewis Yates, Dorian Yates, Lee Frapple, and myself.
We also cover the vexed topic of Nazi UFOlogy, Vril and Maria Orsic.
I finish with a little teaser from my current Colin Wilson project involving Robert Graves. It gives a flavour of what will hopefully be my return to live events at next February’s Glastonbury Occult Conference (postponed from 2020 with most of the original speakers appearing).
For a tea-leaf reading history mystic such as myself, today, June 28th, is a special date and I owe my appreciation of that to Colin Wilson. What he wrote in The Occult concerning the apparent connection of Rasputin with the Sarajevo murders that began the Great War has lingered in my mind since I first read of it back in 1978. I featured the story in my The Occult Battle of Britain and will do so again in my current Colin Wilson project. Here is the basic conundrum.
Colin Wilson noted that Rasputin had been almost fatally stabbed by a peasant woman, who screamed something about killing the Anti-Christ, in June 1914, during the general time that the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo set the falling dominos in motion. The first domino, as it were, was pushed by the Tsar when he ordered the mobilisation of the Russian army. Rasputin was the only person with anti-war sentiments who could have potentially stayed his hand but was fighting for his life. Wilson looked into this scenario with a different mind-set from an academic historian and was able to seemingly discover a startling synchronisation.
Rasputin’s daughter Maria stated that the stabbing happened on June 28th, which Wilson realised was the same day as the murder of the Archduke. Local time in Sarajevo at the time of the murder was just before 11:00am. The mystic monk was visiting his home-town of Pokrovskoe in Siberia and was stabbed at 2:15pm. Calculating time differences through longitude, Wilson was able to determine that 10:55 Sarajevo time is exactly 2:15 in Pokrovskoe. He stated in The Occult, that ‘The man whose death caused the First World War, and the man who could have averted the war, were struck down at the same moment.’
This would indeed be astounding if it were true. I want it to be true. It’s surprisingly difficult to discover whether or not it really is. Rasputin was a famous and important person, centrally involved in the drama of the Russian royal family. His every move was scrutinised and commented on. If he went out and got drunk and indulged in debaucheries it soon became news. Nonetheless there are divergent dates for the stabbing. I have ventured into the murky realms of Rasputin internet forums where all kinds of opinions are fiercely argued over minutiae of detail but I could not find consensus. The mystic monk’s daughter endorsed the Wilson account. That ought to be good enough but I’m aware that it isn’t.
The enigmatic tale will feature in my upcoming work as part of a large section concerning history mysticism in general inspired by The Occult featuring Arnold Toynbee Nostradamus, John Dee and Aleister Crowley as well as the Rasputin story.
A scaled-down version of it has just been published in the anthology The Magi and the Fool.
It’s remarkable for me to find myself featured in a work dedicated to Pope John Paul II and Our Lady of Fatima. This does seem to follow through from the headspace I was in when writing History and Myth.
I’m in interesting company here. There are pieces of rare Russian esoterica translated into English. A remarkable blend. Today feels a good day to promote it.
It feels like a really long time since I last did a podcast. Here I am on Spirit Box with Darragh Mason. talking about the inspiration of RAW’s Cosmic Trigger II Down to Earth in my consideration of my landing co-ordinates, a childhood in SE Essex in the 60s. Moving into the 70s takes me into the subject of Hauntology, where I genuinely believe I’ve added something to the topic by riffing on the ‘spectre’ of communism and drawing on my experience writing History and Myth to explain it through the long-held myth of the Golden Age that has haunted European culture and inspired many wild and often doomed Utopian movements. We move thru Glastonbury UFOlogy and end up in the liminal zone of the music scene 30 yrs ago when a 10 min McKenna rap could end up in the pop singles charts. I really enjoyed this conversation and hope some of you might do as well.
This track and specific video gets a mention so here it is—
Colin Wilson died in December 2013. A few months later I conceived of the idea of writing a book about him that would be like the introductions he wrote to the lives and work of Gurdjieff, Crowley, Steiner, and Jung. It would be maybe 100-150 pages long.
I mocked-up a cover that was a homage to his classic paperbacks, using the same font, and the colour background of Mysteries, perhaps my favourite book of his.
I started writing in 2014. Since then other projects intervened but I periodically returned to it. With the advent of UK Lockdown1 I felt it would be great for my sanity to complete it.
It was in June that a radical shift occurred. I became certain that I was going to end up writing something that would be almost as long as one of the volumes of the legendary Occult Trilogy.
Just as I had paid tribute to the enormous influence of Robert Anton Wilson on me with my expansive Aleister Crowley and the Aeon of Horus, I was now going to do the same with Colin Wilson.
I’m approaching this with the intention to apply what Wilson called existential literary criticism. There is a summary of his thought but the measure of it is how it has impacted on me. I therefore am weaving many personal stories that are clearly directly connected with my readings of Wilson’s books. It’s a huge task, the most ambitious I have ever undertaken.
I believe I have come to some very interesting understandings. Looking at Wilson’s meeting with Robert Graves, for example, so crucial to the creation of his landmark The Occult, led to me seeing things I don’t think anyone else has spotted. My attempt to give an account of TC Lethbridge, whose work was so vital to Mysteries, has led to a most satisfying retrospective perspective.
I’ve given up attempting to estimate how long this project will take to complete. I was hoping to present some extracts concerning Robert Graves at the Glastonbury Occult conference that had been set up for February 2021 but, unfortunately, events have overtaken us and it has been cancelled. The current intention is that the same conference, ideally with same speakers, will now happen in February 2022.
Here’s a wide-ranging discussion with Steven Snider of The Farm podcast that starts with material from my Aleister Crowley and the Aeon of Horus, concerning William Dudley Pelley, Silver Shirts, George Hunt Williamson, and Sirius. Spirals out to take in Alice Bailey, ancient astronauts, Wandering Bishops, Allen Greenfield, the Nag Hammadi plasmate, The Nine, Uri Geller, Andrija Puharich, Arthur Young, eventually leading in to Millennialism, Extinction Rebellion and QAnon.
Steve originally put this out as audio only but I felt it might benefit from some accompanying visuals.
The global lockdown has led to a massively intensified online connectivity between people through Zoom and Skype. I have found it most notable and strange to have had greater quality interaction and reached more people whilst in physical solitude than when out giving lectures and meeting up in person.
The best example for me involved a complex chain of associations that began when American astrologer Aeolian Heart wrote a post concerning the Liverpool dream of CG Jung. I contacted her and a live synchronicity scenario rapidly unfolded that took in the story of the KLF, and Daisy Eris Campbell leading the Cosmic Trigger crew on a wild journey from Liverpool, via Cerne Abbas and the Large Hadron Collider, to Bollingen, and demonstrated the remarkable time-release voltage present in Jung’s little-known 1939 West Country jaunt. So here is all that, the Beatles, Illuminatus, a brief intrusion from Charles Manson, Abraxas in Glastonbury Abbey, and plenty more.
I’ve long been a fan of American astrologer Aeolian Heart. I love the blend she presents whereby the nuances of an astrological event are drawn out via an analysis of a rock song by the likes of Jim Morrison, a poem from the Romantic era by Shelley or Blake perhaps, or some aspect of Renaissance Hermeticism. I welcomed the opportunity to talk about my History and Myth book, which strongly features the Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn conjunctions as part of its meta-structure. We talk history mysticism and cycles, all sorts. I’m really happy with the end result and hope you might enjoy listening as well.
In my latest book History and Myth I mention the Roman worldview, of the importance of omens and those who interpreted them, and how it was expressed by the famous historian Livy. When seeing this remarkable photograph, taken by Anupam Anand and published in The Washington Post, and pondering current events, I couldn’t help wondering how the Romans might have responded and whether we might learn something from it. The following has been extracted and adjusted from my book.
Jupiter was the great god of the Romans. A lightning bolt was a sign of his presence. On that basis, the behaviour of lightning was closely observed. A bolt that moved from left to right was fine. Right to left most definitely wasn’t. It spoke of his disapproval of current events. Whichever way it went, lightning required the magistrates of Rome to cancel all public assemblies on the following day.
A special class of omen was termed Monstrum, from which the word monster derives. The original sense of the word conveyed a warning being shown. They would be notable natural events that had a touch of the unusual or bizarre about them, something downright wrong. The birth of two-headed animals is a good example. The Roman Senate had to decide if some reported oddity warranted such categorisation. If it did, then the divinatory experts were called in to determine what action might be required. It might be that a neglected deity was in need of sacrifice and ceremony. I would venture to suggest that the fact that a National Guardsman was injured by one of the lightning strikes could be considered a monstrum warning.
This is my favourite example from Livy as it gives a comprehensive glimpse from the time of the wars with Carthage into a forgotten worldview.
‘Whilst the citizens were in a state of tense expectancy of a fresh war, the column erected on the Capitol during the Punic war by the colleague of Ser. Fulvius was shattered from top to bottom by a stroke of lightning. This accident was regarded as a portent and reported to the senate. The Keepers of the Sacred Books announced that the City must undergo a lustration; that intercessions and special prayers must be offered; and that animals of the larger size must be sacrificed both at Rome in the Capitol and in Campania at the Promontory of Minerva. Games were also, as soon as possible, to be celebrated for ten days in honour of Jupiter Optimus Maximus. Other incidents increased the religious terrors. It was reported that showers of blood had been falling for three days at Saturnia; an ass was foaled with three legs, and a bull with five cows had been destroyed by a single flash of lightning at Calatia; at Auximium there had been a shower of earth. In expiation of these portents, sacrifices were offered and special intercessions for one day, which was observed as a solemn holiday.’