Monday, 23 December 2019

Boris Johnson Henry VIII Rune Soup Interview

It's been a wild ride in the UK. When Boris Johnson visited the town of Wells on the exact anniversary of the trial of Glastonbury Abbey's last Abbot there, the day before his horrific execution on Glastonbury Tor, my mind went into overdrive. Starting from a broad comparison between Boris and Henry VII, I found myself musing on all manner of things including Extinction Rebellion.

I'm grateful to Gordon White for giving me the opportunity to rapidly air this material.

The response has already been such that I am now fully engaged in writing a short book that I intend to manifest asap.

Wednesday, 30 October 2019

Hauntological Reverie Video.

In August 2014 I read Mark Fisher’s Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures and Simon Reynolds Retromania: Pop Culture's Addiction to its Own Past, back-to-back and was tremendously inspired, finding all manner of cultural memories stirring and being re-fashioned at a rapid rate. I had just got some simple video software having decided it was way past time to get some footage of my lectures online. Whilst tinkering about with it a most satisfying creative process followed that allowed me to express something of what I termed a Hauntological Reverie.

I sat with the result for some time. When writing what became my Glastonbury Psychogeography in 2016, the initial intention was to include some material on Hauntology that could also serve as an accompanying piece to the video. By this time I had adopted the strategy of back-engineering books in order to launch them at conferences and lectures and ran out of time so that little section was never completed. I have now felt the need to finish what I started. 

Hauntology bears some comparison with Psychogeography inasmuch as, firstly, they are both terms that originated in France but were then significantly re-visioned in Britain. The term was used by French post-modernist theorist Jacques Derrida in his 1994 book Spectres of Marx. It arose from the context of a time when Soviet Russia had dissolved and it was being proclaimed that communism had died. The American Francis Fukuyama had recently written The End of History, a widely publicised supremely contentious assertion that liberal capitalism had now definitively triumphed as it was the unchallengeable best way to make the world work. Derrida wrote of how Marx somehow persisted as both a presence and absence thus creating for him a strange status that required a new way of thinking to accommodate.

Once the concept was established it soon becomes clear that ‘persistence through memory that is mutated through absence’ is a theme that can be remarkably wide-ranging and fruitful. The absence of a future we once felt might happen leads to widespread cultural retrospectives. Some have argued that the majority of our culture now consists of cycles of Retro and rehash, mash-ups and genre blending. This can all be studied as a unity within the concept of Hauntology. We are remaking our memories and aspirations. When this becomes conscious and deliberate we have a new force in culture. Nostalgia becomes creative.

One of the most powerful forms of such experimentation can come through music. Some artists are deliberately using old recording technology and instruments, incorporating fragments of old TV series, movies, advertisements and so on, to create a mutated memory. It was hearing some of this music that inspired my Hauntological video foray.

The philosophy and methodology of the Ghost Box label was immensely inspiring to me. The name itself is an evocative reference to television sets and their peculiar powers. They describe themselves on their website as ‘a record label for a group of artists exploring the misremembered musical history of a parallel world.  A world of TV soundtracks, vintage electronics, folk song, psychedelia, ghostly pop, supernatural stories, and folklore.’’ 

Running through all this is the potent enchantment of a kind of false memory, a nostalgia for a past that has been wrongly remembered and also yearned for, even when aspects of it are disturbing. A re-visioning and re-inventing of the past is the great creative endeavour. Somewhere in all this I sense a feeling that the landscape and the memory dream that hangs in the airwaves through dreams and the moods of particular locales somehow involves itself in that endeavour, that something wants this adjustment in favour of a mysterious emotional nuance to occur.

Co-owner, composer and producer Jim Jupp stated that their nostalgia focus is “a particular period of time in British history--more or less 1958-1978. All this might be tied up with a special kind of national identity, nothing at all to do with jingoism, flags, sports, borders, anthems.” Having been born in 1959 and made my first visit to the Stonehenge and Glastonbury Festivals in 1979 to then watch the John Mills dystopian Quatermass, an apparent expression of the dark side of the dream in the early months of the Thatcher era, this lands very strongly with me.

The founders of Ghost Box Jim Jupp and Julian House grew up in South Wales. As teenagers they frequented Caerleon-on-Usk, a potent location full of history and mythology. It was also the birthplace of Arthur Machen, cult horror writer best known for The Great God Pan, an influence on HP Lovecraft. Machen eloquently evoked a compelling, haunted, often dangerous, landscape. This influence permeates Ghost Box as does much other horror from both literature and movies. Some Ghost Box offerings feature the spoken word or have written texts accompanying their packaging, ranging from short stories to seventies mock-up documentary items. 

Perhaps the most over-riding meta-nostalgia that unites the disparate material is a lost utopianism. The sixties saw the building in Britain of new housing estates and shopping centres, of high-rise blocks of flats, as a part of a huge programme to make good sites still bomb damaged from the war and replace homes considered to be slums. It seemed part of a vast social transformation that had begun with the welfare state and would assuredly make a better world that the TV shows and comics I consumed portrayed as a gleaming high-tec paradise where flying cars and moon bases would be sure to follow.
Of course this promise was not fulfilled. The seventies ultimately seem in retrospect to have been a grim strange decade. Things got dystopian at a rapid rate. The new estates and tower blocks destroyed communities and bred alienation, soon seeming to be slums as well. It was the landscape that provided a strange counter-expression of the times.

I have long felt that occultism, UFOlogy and Earth Mysteries, folklore and the hippie mysticism of leylines and so on were part of one spectrum and I was enthralled by the controversial research John Keel and Jacques Vallee who produced great work son this unity. In this video I playfully express that unity with a nod to the importance of the rock music of the time in helping this feeling with glimpses of Glastonbury Fayre and Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page in a fantasy sequence form the band’s The Song Remains the Same movie filmed in the grounds of Aleister Crowley’s old home on the shores of Loch Ness. I had got plenty of mileage from investigating the Crowley Loch Ness interface in my book Aleister Crowley and the Aeon of Horus and my first filmed lecture was drawn from this in September 2014.

This is my lost future, sourced from UK material.  I wanted the dynamism of this extraordinary blend to literally transform our sense of reality. It is grasped by the psychic prodigies the Tomorrow People, a British kids TV X Men. Evolutionary mutants will interact with the great mystery, safeguard us from its possible hazards, and eventually the whole human race will follow.  Perhaps help from external sources is available as well. Dr Who feeds that.

And those hazards There’s an edginess concerning what is really being confronted and where that might lead. Ancient devils might be the masks of malevolent aliens. Perhaps our potential is just being harvested and our ley pilgrimages to ancient sites will end like the 1979 Quatermas story with absorption into a beam of light that represents annihilation rather than ascension and redemption. This is our collective test of fear and resolve. A confrontation with a Dweller on the Threshold. It’s a selective variant version of a past that haunts my present, still seeking to transform the future.  

I had a distinctive personal immersion in Hauntological themes when writing my book The Glastonbury Zodiac and Earth Mysteries UFOlogy. The centre of gravity of the work concerned the previously unpublished 1969 UFO experience of author Anthony Roberts and his wife Jan. It led to a download that set Roberts off on a wild writing process dealing with ancient astronaut theories filtered through pulp science fiction and fantasy. As a Glastonbury enthusiast he was enamoured of the belief in the existence of a huge landscape zodiac shaped from a mix of topographical features. A popular idea in the sixties and seventies, it had no archaeology to back it up. Roberts took proposed dating back thousands of years and claimed it was an Atlantean relic created with help from ETS. However crazy this might sound, I have long felt a peculiar beauty and potency, a certain poetry in this kind of blend. It was the very epitome of British psychedelic Earth Mysteries UFOlogy.

The enormous manuscript that resulted, provisionally entitled Giants in the Earth, was never finished. In 2013 I became the first person outside of the Roberts household to read it in 40 years, Tony having died in 1990. Looking into the work and the influences it drew on made me realise that the inspiration of Earth Mysteries UFOlogy on the development of Glastonbury as modern mystical capital of Britain was far stronger than many might realise. It undoubtedly lay behind Robert’s creation and editing of the mid-seventies anthology Glastonbury: Ancient Avalon, New Jerusalem, perhaps the most widely circulated work on the mystical aspects of the place in terms of ley lines, terrestrial zodiacs, and so on.

I wondered what it would have been like if the book had been completed and published in 1971 when the initial writing inspiration abated? It could have sat alongside a large number of pulp paperbacks of the time and become part of a certain climate of thought. The ideas it contained would have become part of the fabric of seventies Glastonbury as shops like Gothic Image opened and began to establish the emerging modern identity of the town. Roberts was quite closely associated with the shop and if his book had been published it would assuredly have been on sale there alongside the anthology and found its way out as part of an expression of the blend of the time. I had a sense of a cover that would contain visual aspects of the ancient astronaut paperback art of the time. I even entertained the wild idea of publishing it. I knew that Yuri Leitch, who has been responsible for the cover art I have designed for my books could produce a superb homage in that style, perhaps featuring a classic Adamski Flying Saucer above Glastonbury Tor? Pages from the text were scanned. It would be a colossal task involving huge editing. It would cost a lot of money. In standard paperback size it would run to around 500 pages. The number of sales would be extremely limited. I ran out of money and it never happened.

My interest in Hauntology helped me to realise that this episode featured many familiar themes. The existence of this text in a kind of hyperspace represented an enhancement of an existing cultural trend. Glastonbury has had its share of UFO and Atlantean enthusiasts. This work though, by a man who was a passionate Avalonian, who had actually died of a heart attack on Glastonbury Tor, was the direct result of a UFO experience at the end of the mythic sixties. If this combination had rippled out into the headspace of Glastonbury pilgrims who might have bought the book in Gothic Image in the seventies and into the eighties then an infinite number of adjusted nuances were possible. This was a tantalising lost future that was not just an imaginative recreation. The text was real and inspired by something perplexing. All of this is part of the alchemy that led to me wanting to create my Hauntological Reverie video.

Immersed in the work as I was, and launching my book at the always cosmically expansive Glastonbury Symposium in July 2015, I felt that something of those nuances were strongly active in me and, even though I had not managed to publish the original text, I was helping that buried dreamlike current to break the surface. It was an uncanny feeling and helped along by my repeated listening to the 1976 prog-rock instrumental album In Search of Ancient Gods by Absolute Elsewhere during the writing of the book. I’d still like to see a 1971 retro version of Tony Roberts Giants in the Earth manifest and in doing so lead us to feel it had always been here somehow since that date.

As for my video, A Pilgrims Path from the album The Belbury Tales by Belbury Poly (a Ghost Box Jim Jupp project) really evoked the blend for me that had stirred in my readings and reveries. Images I rapidly gathered seemed to easily cohere with it. The name Belbury was taken from a fictional location featured in the CS Lewis novel That Hideous Strength, a work stuffed to bursting point with many of the coming decades’ motifs in terms of awakening landscape mysticism and opposing dark forces that constitute a kind of techno-demonism. I know the video is very much an amateur production but I hope it is enjoyable and conveys at least a little something of the feelings that inspired it.

Monday, 28 October 2019

British Music. Arthurian Landscape Evocation video.

Between Nov 2014 and May 2015, I presented a series of lectures unpacking my book Mysterium Artorius for the Glastonbury Pilgrim Reception Centre. The first was filmed with the intention of coaxing people along for the rest of the sequence. The footage was compromised by the lighting in the room and glare on the slide-screen and was never uploaded. Last week I felt it would be worth the effort to try and tidy it up to make it viewable, so here is British Music, featuring Glastonbury, Tintagel, Dion Fortune, John Cowper Powys, Edward Elgar, Frederick Bligh Bond, Circle of Perpetual Choirs, and including audio-visual sections with the music of Wagner, Vaughan Williams and Tallis.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Memory of a Free Festival: the Flying Saucer Vision video

Commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Beckenham free festival that inspired David Bowie’s UFOlogical anthem Memory of a Free Festival. Here is a presentation on 60s and 70s Earth Mysteries UFOlogy focused on Glastonbury. 

Part of the larger Glastonbury Blakestock Festival  that was spread over the 3 days of the 50th anniversary of Woodstock.

Material taken from my  books The Glastonbury Zodiac and Earth Mysteries UFOlogy, and William Blake and the Glastonbury Gnosis.

Monday, 5 August 2019


Some significant 50 year anniversaries are about to be celebrated in Glastonbury.

Primarily we have Woodstock, which happened between August 15th - 17th 1969. In the middle of those 3 days, the 16th, we also have the anniversary of the free festival that inspired David Bowie's UFOlogical anthem. I have taken this as the inspiration for a presentation on UK sixties Psychedelic Earth Mysteries UFOlogy, using the strange experiences of visionary Gino Gennaro who encountered 'Venusian fairies' on Glastonbury Tor, as my Blake connection as he went on to produce a strange book illustrated with Blake artwork as a result of the download he received.

There is still time to get involved an maybe recite a favourite Blake poem.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Glastonia Aegyptiacus available on Kindle

The greatest Glastonbury story I have ever heard concerns the epic 80s psychic quest of Andrew Collins that led him from the Somerset Star Temple to the Giza plateau and proved to be a huge inspiration and foundation for much of his future work. 
I have featured this story, with varying levels of detail, in a number of my books, primarily Avalonian Aeon. Around the time of the spring equinox I felt inspired to isolate the story and tell it on its own, adding some fresh material. I have now completed this at the time of the summer solstice, which was the period that Andy completed his great adventure in 1985 and subsequently led a group including myself on a vision quest around the Glastonbury Zodiac in 1990.

Starting with the medieval Essex mystery of the Knights of Danbury, an expansive odyssey leads to the Glastonbury Star Temple, a secret Knights Templar ceremony, Black Alchemy, and a Hermetic blend that reveals the Morphogenesis pattern and process understood and used by a lost culture before the pyramids. The epic psychic quest was the root of Andrew Collins later work and the initial inspiration for his investigation of ancient hybrid strains of humanity from the legends of the Nephilim to the Denisovans. The book also features the work of Katharine Maltwood and Frederick Bligh Bond. 

 The cover art is by legendary psychic Bernard G who was such a vital part of Collins’ early work, particularly cult classic The Black Alchemist. The Glastonbury to Giza story sees him functioning at the peak of his powers.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Michael Line, the Qabalah and the Tarot book available on Kindle

My 2016 book is now available on Kindle.
From the Preface.

The Michael Line, the Qabalah, and the Tarot was one of the first public presentations I gave in Glastonbury after moving here in 1995. Since then the material has increased and I have periodically returned to the subject. It was aired at one of Andrew Collin’s Questing Conferences in London. I commissioned Yuri Leitch to paint the artwork now featuring on the cover of this book as far back as 2006 to accompany my talk at Glastonbury’s first Megalithomania gathering. A short article featuring two of the landscape tarot visualisations appeared firstly in the ASH (Albion’s Sacred Heritage) journal and then Glastonbury’s Avalon magazine in the nineties. It has long been somewhere in the back of my mind that I should turn it into a book. 

This is not a work of history and archaeology. That’s probably not a big surprise to most people but there might be a few who get the wrong idea of what realm of discourse I think I am involved in here. It’s not news to me that the concept of leylines has not exactly been entirely accepted by academics. I also wouldn’t dispute that the reasons for that are often valid. The story starts in the realm of psychic questing, a subject even further out on the fringe. There’s no shortage of people who start foaming at the mouth when the topic is raised, particularly the Green Stone story. For the record, I was seriously involved in Questing as part of a group led by Andrew Collins and I consider the Green Stone to be part of the greatest paranormal drama played out in Britain in the twentieth century. What matters here though is how useful that story became in stimulating some faculty in me that helped the creation of a fabulous framework for a magnificent journeying. Picking around the minutiae of the original story would miss the point here altogether.

Andrew Collins included the Lights of Knowledge story in his original version of The Seventh Sword but the publishers asked him to remove it. I had the strange experience of reading it again, twenty five years later, thanks to Andy and Michael Tazzar, who has the manuscript. My account is brief. I hope that Andy’s full version of this remarkable adventure appears in print one day. It is the fundamental inspiration for my own material. Without it, there would have been no Qabalistic tarot Michael Line journeys. The questing of the Lights of Knowledge and the later ley pilgrimages have very different flavours. Seeing them together though presents a mysterious and powerful unity, an affirmation of psychic questing and the numinosity of the sacred landscape.

Some serious adepts of the Qabalah might get annoyed about all kinds of things. The use of the Jewish mystical system by western occultists of the last century or so, primarily the Golden Dawn tradition, is consistently contentious. And the most contentious point of all is the placing of the tarot into that framework. A nineteenth century invention we are reliably informed. As to which cards are supposed to fit the various paths, well that seems to be somewhat variable as well.

I have made use of the Golden Dawn tarot attributions in this work. They were accepted by Dion Fortune and, with one notable exception that will feature in the narrative, by Aleister Crowley, the two most important and influential occultists of the twentieth century. I make no arguments for anything being set in stone however. I have simply found that the material worked amazingly well in the context in which I experimented with it. It served a purpose. It served the purpose of leading me and, over the years a number of other people, on unique journeys that took in a diverse selection of ancient mystical sites across an endlessly inspiring landscape, an expansive journey that left an enduring appreciation of Britain’s extraordinary heritage and that showed how the magical traditions sit alongside poetry and history as profound creative vehicles. I certainly seek to stir poetic sensibilities though my combination of influences. The presence in the narrative of William Blake helps make that clear.

The wonderful cover painting by Yuri Leitch is an example of where artistic concerns have taken priority over magical details. In the Qabalisitc terms later explained here, the rainbow should connect the lower spheres depicting the White Horse of Uffington and Silbury Hill and pass beneath the image of Glastonbury Tor. I felt it worked better passing over all three.

Maybe we can say that the subject matter of this work is a bit psychogeographical inasmuch as it deals with the interaction of the human psyche with the landscape and makes use of some distinct mental mapping techniques to do so. Perhaps that might make some a bit more comfortable as that is a realm where we are allowed to be a bit weird and quirky.

I’ve travelled along the Michael Line in 1991,92,97,98 and 2011. I’m not going to feature any details of ’92 and ’98 here. It’s not because they weren’t great journeys. 1992 was a real biggie on a personal level. It’s simply a case of avoiding repetition. There were no innovations to the format in those years. 

My friends often joked with me about how long it was taking to complete my Avalonian Aeon. In the end, it was ten and a half years. In recent times I have gone to the opposite extreme. The Glastonbury Zodiac and Earth Mysteries UFOlogy and Glastonbury Psychogeography were each created in two weeks, albeit making use of some already written material, in both cases with the aim of launching at a conference. This process has now reached probably its maximum level of crazy intensity as I have gone from ten years to ten days to create this work for Laura Daligan’s Avalon Tarot Conference. I sincerely believe it is a feast for all tarot enthusiasts and leyline pilgrims, presenting remarkable ideas in a way that will hopefully inspire many to go forth on their own journeys.