Glastonbury Symposium 2014
By Helen Sewell
FRIDAY 25 JULY
Our first speaker of the day, Jason Porthouse, set the tone for the conference by showing us that the way forward through these difficult times is to be truly present. As Jason says: 'can you imagine, if we were all able to do this, what a difference it would make in the world?' So true. His summing up of the key issues of the day and the need to now bring into full consciousness the long-prophesied spiritual ‘shift’ as a reality drew together many important threads into a coherent and accessible form and was a perfect opener to the weekend.
Simon, a.k.a. 'The Spaniard', was our second speaker and he boggled minds with his financial wizardry and explanations of how money truly works. For many of us, we just go about our business without really thinking about the actual meaning of our transactions or, indeed, the law surrounding them. With examples from his own trials and tribulations through the legal maze, Simon, an ex-city banker, expanded our minds by getting us to look with true understanding at the many legal and everyday words which have long been manipulated to appear innocuous. This was a very enlightening talk on this much misunderstood subject, which threw light on some major misconceptions.
After lunch, our first afternoon speaker, Steve Noble, spoke intimately and succinctly of his own personal journey of transition, which a lot of people in the audience were able to relate to! Sometimes, when we experience a 'dark night of the soul', we find it difficult to see our way through, so it was good that Steve explored his positive experiences through adversity as an example of the hope that we all can share. His honesty and wry humorous admissions as to the ups and downs of life provided a refreshing touch of reality in what was an uplifting and thoughtful presentation.
We certainly had our eyes opened to many things today. DJ and broadcaster Mark Devlin expertly got us to see that numerous modern musical artists (and even classics, like The Beatles) may have other agendas behind their sounds and images, perhaps controlled by darker forces. He demonstrated a shockingly large amount of strange, potentially occult, hand symbols and gestures that keep coming up time and again on record sleeves and in videos, which we pick up on in a subliminal way. Mark is also very concerned that much inappropriate music is being fed to our young children, and we would do well to be aware of protecting them from these nefarious influences. This was a new area for the Symposium to explore, but it will very probably not be the last time.
Next, in a perhaps not unrelated theme, renowned shaman and veteran philosopher Leo Rutherford pointed out that over the past 2000 years it is not surprising that our attitude to women, sex and violent action has been so warped. He quoted several remarkable passages from the Bible, and from later theologians, that seem anything but Christian in their preaching of repression and self-disgust. It is definitely time to re-balance the feminine energy and take responsibility for our own actions rather than follow an external doctrine that seems to have become catastrophically separated from its original intentions. Although inevitably a controversial theme, Leo’s entertaining yet serious presentation left the audience to decide for itself where sane wisdom really lies.
Leo was followed by a wonderfully soothing meditation by Jason Porthouse, and then we were relaxed further after dinner by a musical interlude with Susan Raven and her partner Satch, with beautiful songs echoing Celtic themes, utilising acoustic guitars and Susan’s clear voice.
In our new Friday evening speaker slot, we were very happy to welcome back Mary Rodwell with her fascinating research into our connection with extra-terrestrial races. Many, many people have come to her with their experiences - some as young as three years old - giving reports of how they have been taken on board alien craft and taught breathtaking knowledge by all kinds of beings. Mary was keen to strip away what she sees as the unfounded fear that sometimes surrounds this phenomenon. She is certainly a great resource and comfort for those who have maybe felt alone in their experiences, but also gives valuable insights for those of us who are just curious about this extraordinary subject.
SATURDAY 26 JULY
Andy Thomas, Truth Agenda author and, of course, co-MC for the Symposium, kicked off Saturday morning with a powerhouse of a talk on current world events and their deeper significance and hidden agendas. Commencing with a few theatrics using a satnav for the purpose of pointing out how reliant we are becoming on getting others to tell us what to do and think all the time, rather than figuring things out for ourselves, Andy identified many areas where we run the risk of being misled and disempowered, but, characteristically, also offered great hope by highlighting the unique opportunities these times offer. Thank you for your positivity, Andy.
Next on was Eltjo Haselhoff. Because the alternative community is often dismissed or ridiculed for not having hard evidence, it is always great to have a scientist on board, and Eltjo, a qualified astrophysicist, has published several peer-reviewed papers on his work with crop circles, including a new one just this year. He spoke about his personal journey and the corrupt opposition he has met in a scientific elite determined – unsuccessfully – to undermine his findings, which demonstrate that some crop formations really do deserve better explanations. At the same time, he illustrated complex concepts on the whole nature of reality in a very accessible and entertaining way.
In its new Saturday daytime slot, this year we introduced a new-style Open Forum, along the lines of BBC 1’s Question Time, with Andy Thomas acting as an adept chairman, hand-on-bell to police any overlong responses! On the panel was Eltjo Haselhoff, Ken O'Keefe (see later), Lucy Pringle, Mary Rodwell and Nexus Magazine’s Marcus Allen. The session worked very well, allowing audience members to ask burning questions on anything related to the subjects covered by the Symposium, while the new quick-fire format was appreciated and made for a lively, enlightening and sometimes fun hour.
The afternoon began with Danish engineer and truth campaigner Frank Rasmussen shining some crucial light on the confusing but potentially devastating subject of aeroplane ‘chemtrails’. Are they just normal contrails, or something more? With his qualified background in engineering, Frank brought some very convincing evidence to show that something nefarious is indeed going on, whether it is a deliberate conspiracy programme or simply a cover-up of a serious pollution issue; either way, we need to be aware of it. He also spoke about unnatural cloud formations and the infamous HAARP project. Frank is trying to awaken the Danish people too and organizes an excellent annual conference, now held in Copenhagen: http://www.openmindconference.com
We enjoyed Susan Raven's music yesterday, and this afternoon she demonstrated another side to her work by speaking on the remarkable work of Rudolph Steiner and his view on the elemental beings which some people believe surround us and help maintain the well-being of the planet. Steiner was not only an eminent scientist, he was also a mystic and a visionary and his work is a valuable resource for those seeking higher guidance, as Susan so adeptly showed. Her gentle, spiritual approach offered a welcome balance to some of the more high-powered subjects of the day.
The afternoon ended on a very energized note, as we encountered anti-fracking with a difference. Poet and protest activist Simon Welsh gave a powerful but very entertaining talk, calling on his personal experience on the 'frontline' at the Balcombe anti-fracking campaign in West Sussex, at which he got arrested – for singing. His personal journey was immensely inspiring and hearing it gave hope to the many attendees concerned about the very serious issues surrounding the impending arrival of shale gas fracking in the UK. Simon also shared a poem which encompassed many of the areas covered by the Symposium, from the Moon landings to the New World Order, and even got the audience singing his alternative anti-fracking versions of Jerusalem and the National Anthem to close a very memorable presentation.
The Avalonian Free State Choir is always very welcome in its regular Saturday evening slot at the Symposium. So much more than just another polite choir, their pieces and anthems from around the world, sung with gusto, humour and fire, never fail to inspire. Some of their children have joined them as the years have gone by, adding another layer to the choir’s unending mission to help uplift our spirits!
Our Saturday night guest speaker was peace campaigner and global activist Ken O'Keefe, whose measured, centered, yet passionate and determined approach went down an absolute storm. Speaking on his personal journey from the traumas of being in the US marines to becoming a truthseeker and a worker for peace in the Middle East, Ken’s authenticity and integrity oozed from him. This is a man who truly walks his talk and is therefore an incredible inspiration to all of us. He thoroughly deserved his standing ovation, and, without any accompanying visual material, gave one of the most striking and affecting presentations ever seen at the Symposium, as he helped wake everyone up to the realities of what is happening in our world, events that demand action from all of us.
SUNDAY 27 JULY
And so to our third and final day. If you have ever thought ancient history is a bit dull, then clearly you have never seen Maria Wheatley. Maria gave a fantastically energized start to the Sunday morning, with her enthusiastic delivery, as she made people look again at British monuments and landscapes that perhaps too many people have taken for granted. Her excitement for her subject is infectious, while her blending of conventional archaeology with belief in earth energies and subtle realms bridges many important areas too often ignored. To think that the stones at Stonehenge were once probably polished to a high sheen makes perfect sense when you think about it, and Maria helped remind us that what we see today may not be quite what the ancients knew.
The second lecture of the day, whilst not being entirely unique (tasteful nudity has been known before at the Symposium!), was, however, the first lecture we've seen where the actual speaker took (most of) his clothes off - and it wasn't because of the heat! Fitness and nutrition expert Magnus Mulliner was making the point that we should all look after our bodies far more than we often do, especially as it is the vehicle for the soul. We always need reminders and it was a great talk to get us to re-evaluate our eating and living habits, a theme that fitted in perfectly with the weekend’s ideal of finding positive responses to global problems. If we don’t start with the basics of looking after ourselves, how can we succeed elsewhere? This thoughtful and entertaining lecture was much appreciated.
Going back to the original core theme of the Symposium when it first began 24 years ago, Lucy Pringle gave an insightful talk on her latest crop circle research, with an emphasis on physiological and psychological effects on visitors to formations; even while inside one that had already been cut down this season, Lucy recorded distinct changes in the brainwave patterns of her volunteer subjects. Following circular tradition, she completed her presentation by showing us a very evocative slide show of crop circles from past to present, using her own exquisite images set to relaxing music. Wherever they come from – and the debates still continue after all these years - they remain incredibly beautiful, as Lucy so well demonstrated.
After lunch we welcomed an old friend of the Symposium, the very obliging Andrew Collins, who had stepped in for us at the last minute because the scheduled Graham Phillips was unfortunately unable to come due to health issues. Graham himself had stepped in for the originally booked Christopher Dunn, who was also unable to come, so we hope to welcome both back another time! Andrew was thus given an opportunity to share his latest fascinating research on the astonishing archaeological findings being made at the Turkish site of Göbekli Tepe, posing some fascinating theories that the cone-shaped heads found there may have been a result of interbreeding between Neanderthals from the north and homo sapiens from the area. The entire region may well be the crucible of many of the ancient Bible stories, from the Garden of Eden to Noah’s Ark, and Andrew presented a very coherent and convincing case. Huge thanks are due to Andrew for helping us out at such short notice.
It was good to finish the main body of the Symposium in a very upbeat way with our last speaker of the afternoon, Timothy Freke. Previously known for uncovering hidden mysteries behind the story of Jesus and other related areas, today Timothy gave a very energetic and inspiring talk on his own unique approach to life, using his ‘paralogical’ approach to the spiritual awakening which he feels we are all experiencing right now – the ability to see both sides in a debate and simultaneously consider all points of view before acting. Timothy’s animated personality, without slides or visual aids, filled the stage and provided a good send-off to anyone unable to stay for the final closing parts of the Symposium.
After some very deserved thank-yous to all the wonderful people in the many behind-the-scenes roles that keep the Symposium ticking along smoothly and efficiently, we all headed down to the Abbey grounds for the traditional final meditation. There was a wonderful cool breeze there, which, after the sometimes intense heat of the weekend was more than welcome. As ever, we all quietened our thoughts, standing in a huge ring holding hands while Jason Porthouse guided us into sending out healing to the trouble spots in the world, while also celebrating the impressive depths of wisdom and learning we had all received over the weekend.
After dinner, our special Sunday night speaker, Patricia Cori, affectingly highlighted the plight of our dolphins and whales, which are in urgent need of our help, surrounded as they are by many threats from modern shipping, fishing and sonar. To a packed auditorium, Patricia, in her inimitable charismatic style, shared her view that the cetaceans of our world have links to other dimensions beyond our own, and that it is our duty to help them to help us. This is a vital issue that desperately needs supporting and Patricia must be thanked for helping to raise awareness around the world. People left the Symposium feeling buoyed up with hope and positivity, for all the global problems we are faced with today.
Indeed, overall, the whole weekend programme had struck a balance between identifying some of the serious issues that must be dealt with, while at the same time signifying some of the wonders that still surround us and providing tools to help everyone go forward in optimism and conscious awareness of what we all can do to help make a difference in these shifting times of opportunity. If those leaving the Symposium came out with even a small determination to do at least something of their own to tip some dominos, then all of it was very much worthwhile.
We would like to thank all of those who attended, spoke or helped organize the Glastonbury Symposium in 2014. Everyone made it a wonderful event, and we look forward to welcoming people next year for the grand 25th anniversary event.