This extract from the programme notes sets the scene:
So... The Glastonbury Symposium has made it to 25 years. That’s a major achievement in a world where ‘alternative’ events such as these have a tendency to begin with big ideas and then gradually fizzle out.
There has always been an incredibly strong heart to the Glastonbury Symposium, not least due to the fact that its founder, Roland Pargeter, with a group of like-minded supporters, primarily started the event not from a place of seeking happy distraction but welling instead from a deep personal conviction and a desire to start important conversations about the ‘signs of the times’ that mattered at that moment.
Back then it was the dramatic arrival of the new burst of complex crop formations that primarily drove the agenda, but as the years progressed other related areas and concerns naturally seeped in and the event expanded to accommodate all manner of new thinking, beliefs and convictions.
Although the Symposium’s production team has evolved in the years since, the ethos of first and foremost wanting to call attention to the crucial alternative issues of the day, and then providing a warm, informative and entertaining atmosphere to enhance that, has remained, and we feel that sense of ‘mission’ has enabled us to still be here 25 years later.
Di Brown, Sheila Martin & Andy Thomas
FRIDAY 24 JULY 2015
Being our 25th anniversary, this year we wanted to revisit some of the core themes we have covered over the years and our first speaker to kick off the Symposium was therefore Francine Blake speaking on crop circles. This amazing phenomenon continues to excite and mystify, for all the controversy, and it was special to hear of Francine's fascinating research over many years, presented in her calm and centred manner. This was a wonderful way to begin the weekend, with a clear nod to our early origins.
Many of us have heard of the mystical Glastonbury Zodiac, but what exactly is it? Paul Weston next gave a very enlightening and thoroughly researched talk on the history of this landscape mystery, bringing in all the many intriguing people involved and seeing how many of their books have become cult classics. Some, like John Michell, were regular speakers at the Symposium in their lifetimes. In this way Paul gave a valuable insight into the background of the alternative community in Glastonbury, of which the Symposium is but one of many branches.
Hopefully we all had a healthy lunch in the break, because straight after we had the vivacious Jayney Goddard motivating us all to reassess our diet and wellbeing. As standing proof of the benefits of healthy living (Jayney was at one point close to death with rheumatoid arthritis) she took us on a very inspiring journey, with lots of practical advice on how we can all easily create better lives with just a few shifts in both the food we eat and our everyday routines. Unquestionably, good health ought to be a higher priority for people than it generally is, and this was a very good reminder.
If anyone is thinking of getting a smart meter, they might want to think again… Our next speaker, Mike Mitcham, leads the main campaign against the ‘smart revolution’ in the UK (stopsmartmeters.org.uk) and he has done a tremendous amount of research on the subject. Mike gave a stunning presentation, full of useful if worrying information on both the surveillance issues surrounding smart meters, and the dangers to our health from all the increased electromagnetic activity. All this was delivered with a sharp humour and welcome optimism, however. We do have a choice... at the moment! But we all need to fight to keep that choice.
After tea, Nigel Grace made a welcome return to ‘grace’ us with an update on the Bosnian pyramids situation. Nigel has been one of the key researchers into the now increasingly publicised mystery of possible pyramidial constructions and shafts beneath the hills of a region in Bosnia. We learnt that they could well have been built 31,000 years ago! The tunnels they have been excavating have been yielding more and more information to process and Nigel gave a very good resume of the current situation in his friendly and unsensationalised manner.
And so to the meditation led by the soothing voice of Jason Porthouse. Meditation is not for everyone, but the hall was fuller than normal today, maybe after Jayney Goddard thoroughly recommended the daily practice of meditation... It was a blissful balance to all the welcome but sometimes intense information being streamed to us throughout the day.
To start the Friday evening off John Dalton refreshed us with his wonderful harp playing. He is such a talented player and his knowledge of music and its deeper connections, touched on in his thoughtful introductions, always makes his transcendent performances far more than just entertainment.
Our evening speaker, Graham Phillips, really made us think. He has noticed that civilisations around the world suddenly changed from being peaceful to being more aggressive and warlike around 1500 BC. They also started to worship new gods, often depicted as discs with trailing lines. Could this all be a result of a massive comet appearing in the sky and the chemical effects of its tail entering our atmosphere? Graham gave good evidence to back this up and ended with the slightly disconcerting news that the Earth will again be entering the trail of debris from the same comet within the next few years…
SATURDAY 25 JULY 2015
After an opening visit from the Mayor of Glastonbury, Denise Michell, who gave a fond recollection of her departed husband John Michell and his part in the Symposium in past years, Andy Thomas kicked off a 25 years celebratory presentation. Starting first with birthday cake, Andy began a look at the last quarter century of the Symposium and some of the often profound issues which have been constellated by it. This was presented in a wider context, investigating some of the different areas and shifts which the ‘alternative’ world has dealt with over the years, from expectations of Earth Changes and possible extraterrestrial rescue, to ancient prophecies and the more modern hands-on approach of everyone helping to create a better world. Along the way, Andy evoked some enthralling Symposium memories, some hilarious and some nostalgic and poignant. A great start to the day.
Next up was an old friend of the Symposium, Nexus Magazine’s Marcus Allen, taking on the Moon landings and challenging the official accounts. Incredibly, this is a subject that has not been covered in detail here before, so it was perfect for the Symposium’s 25th that it was finally given some proper exposure. As technology advances it's interesting to see how even more anomalies in the official story are being brought to light. With his quiet reasoning and dry wit, Marcus demonstrated some very good arguments to show why we couldn't really have gone to the Moon in the way we have been told. Was the evidential record altered in some way, or did we really never go at all..?
The Saturday Forum followed at this point, as Andy Thomas chaired our Question Time-style panel and audience discussion with guests Alex: G, Palden Jenkins, Christine Page, myself (Helen Sewell) and, very especially, the Symposium’s original founder Roland Pargeter, who was moved to receive, quite rightly, a standing ovation for his work in first setting up this event 25 years ago. The lively and heartfelt debates which followed touched on some key issues for our times and added extra spiritual dimensions to some of the possible practical solutions. [Sorry, we don't have a picture of the Forum!]
UFO researcher Gary Heseltine was first on after lunch. He is an ex-policeman so is used to gathering and dealing with real evidence, which he applies to his work with UFOs. Gary presented five compelling cases which seem to categorically show, in his opinion, that extra-terrestrial encounters must have been involved. Gary says that too many people have been sworn to secrecy, which is why more does not come out in the mainstream. His down-to-earth approach and humour certainly helped bring this potentially important information to life.
What a powerful talk the professional shamanic practitioner Jez Hughes then gave. His authenticity shone through as he told his story and reminded us how we need to reconnect with our true selves and the Earth itself to make our way more positively and responsibly through the pressures of the modern world, something he has been writing about in his forthcoming book The Heart of Life. His earnest and warm sharings made for a good contrast to all the detailed information of the weekend, helping remind us that living through the heart as well as the head is crucially important.
Dan Vidler then took us back to the original roots of the Symposium, giving his thoughts and feelings on the inside construction and complex lays of crop circles, reminding us that it remains one the most amazing phenomena of our times, for all the controversy. Dan revived some old-style proper ground research, demonstrating that certain details are very hard to explain if the circles are all made by people as the media insists. His great photos showed the most incredible intricacies that are involved and it was good to see such enthusiasm and diligent observation.
We are so privileged to have the Avalonian Free State Choir entertain us with their beautiful singing each year, looking resplendent in their glowing red matching costumes. There’s a reason why the choir has become a regular fixture at the Symposium, and this was obvious to all present as they raised the roof with their ecstatic and expressive voices, with a very varied and welcome selection of pieces.
Our Saturday evening speaker, Anthony Peake, was on fire with a very impassioned talk on his latest research into consciousness and telepathy. Not content with just presenting subjective conjecture, Anthony always backs up what he says by referencing the latest science, and he really stretched our minds with a brilliant talk which touched on everything from the quantum qualities of the mind to the increasing evidence that consciousness does indeed exist beyond our bodies and this lifetime. This was a powerful and animated close to a great day.
SUNDAY 26 JULY 2015
On a wet and windy morning, it was wonderful to escape into the glowing haven of Glastonbury Town Hall, where truth TV and radio presenter Alex: G woke us all up with his fast wit and enigmatic style. He made us reassess how screen plots in cult TV and film can reveal much about the reality of what's going on in society today, particularly in regard to government cover-ups and authoritarian tendencies. This was prefaced with a heartfelt introduction where Alex revealed some of the very questionable voting irregularities in the recent general election, aptly and ably identifying just how deeply corruption is ingrained into our society.
We all know there is so much madness in society but rather than shrugging our shoulders and feeling helpless Richard Smith showed another way forward by giving a fascinating talk envisioning a different world – fairer, more peaceful and more prosperous for all, created with nothing more than an application of common sense and a determination from all of us to do our bit in creating change. Picking up on the themes in his new book A Future World Vision, which made its debut this weekend, Richard convincingly showed that as we all ‘wake up’ we will all be able to help evolve the systems which currently need improving.
If only astrology were more mainstream, then how much wiser we all would be. Palden Jenkins gave such an enlightening talk on how the planetary cycles correlate so strongly with the stage play of life that it seems incredible that this wisdom has been rejected by today’s overriding scientism and mainstream denial of the spiritual. Eschewing his usual stream-of-consciousness approach, Palden, who has been speaking at the Symposium on and off since its very first event, discussed the findings of his new book Power Points in Time and used necessary slides to demonstrate the likely effects of future astrological cycles. Palden moved everyone with his calm and reassuring presence and he remains one of our favourite speakers for many people.
Before the next presentation, Sheila and Andy led an audience chant of 'Here comes the Sun!’ to attempt to collectively dispel the rain so we could do our closing meditation in the Abbey grounds later that afternoon… (It worked! – more or less; the rain had stopped by then, at least.)
This incantation led perfectly on to our next speaker, Gregory Sams, who synchronistically and knowledgeably gave a wonderful and informative talk about our local star, the Sun, exploring the properties of its light and seeing how important this has been to humanity’s development. Gregory explained how we have light without and light within, and not just metaphorically, either – new science is showing that actual light is now known to exist in the tiniest part of our brains, firing up our minds and perhaps more. So this was truly an enlightening presentation in every way.
Our final speaker of the main Symposium was Christine Page. Returning for another triumphant and very lively talk, Christine, in her animated style, examined the theme of dragons and serpents in our mythology, seeing what they really represent and understanding how we can harness this power today. It was a very empowering talk, as Christine explained how the resurgence of earth or ‘dragon’ energy and the proliferation of things like crop circles around it represents to her a return of the Divine Feminine, come to restore equilibrium to our overly-masculine world. Both men and women can rejoice at this because it means that some of the darker mistakes borne from a long imbalance of energies may at last be redressed. We certainly hope so.
After the traditional and much deserved thank-yous to the Symposium staff and technical crew (who all came onstage wearing their sparkling new Glastonbury Symposium T-shirts, introduced for the first time this year to mark our 25th anniversary), it was off to the nearby Abbey grounds for the closing meditation with Jason Porthouse. It's always a special moment when we retire to the solace of these ancient gardens, and Jason led the large circle of attendees in a peaceful coming down from the main weekend just perfectly, made even better by the fact that the rain did indeed hold off!
Following the dinner break, the whole weekend ended fully with our traditional closing Sunday night speaker slot. This year we were very privileged to have as our speaker Iain McGilchrist, author of the bestselling and hugely influential The Master and His Emissary. Iain does not give regular talks, so to have him come to join us was a great honour. Iain’s seminal work on the right and left sides of the brain and how they work together (or should), both inside our heads and in the way we project the results out onto the world around us really is groundbreaking. Iain’s gentle humour and wise words were a perfect close to three days of both left and right-brain insights in about equal measure. Thank you Iain for stretching our brains just a little further.
We hope that everyone enjoyed this year’s very special event. The knowledge and research that our speakers share with us helps us all to grow and enriches us just that little bit more.
Those who come to the Symposium know that simply by being there one is also able to connect with other like-minded people and make new friends and acquaintances in a beautiful and supportive space.
This is something special in a big, bustling world of information overload which can sometimes be alienating without personal connections, and the power of physically gathering in this way – an experience that just watching YouTube can never provide – should not be underestimated.
The Symposium has grown and evolved greatly in 25 years, but its ethos of providing crucial information in a warm, welcoming and sympathetic environment continues on, and it will be fascinating to see what the years ahead have in store.
A very big Thank You to all our speakers, our support team and, of course, to our lovely audience.