Report from the 2022 Symposium
Here's what happened at the 2022 Symposium...
Prefaced with an excerpt from the printed programme…
So, where did we leave off..? It seems astonishing that the Glastonbury Symposium, although it successfully continued as an online event during the two lockdown years, has not gathered in person like this for three years – making it our 30th ‘live’ gathering and our 32nd year overall! If you are new to us, then welcome, and we hope you will have an exhilarating time whether you are joining us for some or all of the weekend, as we ‘expand our horizons’ to hear some enlightening and powerful free-thinking presentations which challenge the bombardment of mainstream dogma and censorship.
Regrettably, the global upheavals of the last two and a half years have all too obviously been used to close down freedom of expression and restrict personal choices more than anyone could have imagined when we last all physically met in 2019. Even then, warnings were being given by more than one speaker about the coming suppression but few could have predicted just how quick it would be and just how far it would go. Still, here we are pressing on regardless. Some supporters felt we should have ignored the lockdowns and somehow gone ahead in person anyway but anything we might have mounted in that manner would not have resembled the Symposium people expect and we could not be seen to take risks with people’s health, for all the clashing opinions. We decided to go online and bide our time, preparing to resume as we are now, in full strength and effectiveness.
If you are returning to the Symposium you may notice a few small alterations that we hope will enhance the conference further for you. Coming back to full strength after a break has been an invigorating experience and we have taken the opportunity to refresh things a little with a slightly new look and some innovations. Developments include, for the first time, live online streaming, so that those further afield can join us too.
One change attendees may notice is that, after many years as the Symposium’s co-MC and matriarch, Sheila Martin has stepped down to pursue other interests and to actually spend some time in her garden each summer! The Symposium takes enormous efforts to mount and we pay tribute to Sheila for the decades of dedication she put into ensuring the continuation of the event. We all remain friends and will honour everything she has done by keeping the Glastonbury Symposium flourishing and making it a positive experience. Enjoy yourselves this weekend, then, even as your horizons are expanded!
Friday 22 July 2022
After a break of three years since the last in-person Symposium, the changes were rung from the start by an introduction from Andy Thomas and … Helen Sewell! Although long a familiar face at the event, this was Helen’s debut as co-MC for the weekend, adeptly stepping into her new role. With introductions made, the floor was then clear for Jason Porthouse to make one of his excellent openings to the weekend. Titled, ironically but very accurately, Living in ‘Interesting’ Times, the presentation introduced the audience to some of the current concerns about truth, freedom and justice they would be exploring in the days ahead as Jason highlighted some of the less discussed spiritual aspects of our times in his gentle yet powerful tones, tones which would be employed again with his meditation later this afternoon and on the Sunday afternoon. Thus relaunched in style, the Glastonbury Symposium 2022 was ready to unfold…
After a coffee break, natural voice practitioner and multi-instrumentalist Ravi Freeman investigated, from a holistic and scientific perspective, the huge potentials of sound, which many traditional and ancient cultures have always known. There has recently been a recognition of alternative tunings to 440 htz, the standard pitch for Western music, and a rediscovery of overtone sounds which resonate in harmony with nature, from the smallest atom to the planets and galaxies. Ravi demonstrated these with a multiplicity of instruments and impressive demonstrations of ‘overtone’ singing. Music and its deeper meaning has always had an important place at the Glastonbury Symposium and this magical presentation added further to that legacy.
Our next speaker was Adam Malone, tackling a controversial subject with a welcomingly fresh perspective. When studying for his MA in Myth, Cosmology and The Sacred, Adam’s interest in the power of mythic narrative brought him to focus on both the work of David Icke, whose ‘Reptilian hypothesis’ – which says that world leaders have been infiltrated by an evil alien bloodline – is perhaps one of the most compelling and immersive mythic narratives of our time. As Adam said: “The Reptilian Agenda places us at the very centre of an ancient intergalactic battle that has waged for millennia and is said by some to be playing out in the world today – even inside all of us.” In his talk he tackled the fundamental issues at the heart of the Reptilian hypothesis with illuminating insights and, cleverly, without judgment, offered a pathway towards real understanding of what lies behind an idea which has divided even the alternative community.
After lunch, the afternoon resumed with a very spiritual presentation by energy healer and medical intuitive Skylar Acamesis, making a welcome return to the Symposium after her striking appearance a few years before. Sky explored her belief that we are able to regenerate and remote-view our immune systems by talking to and charging our energetic fields, both in our bodies and the bodies of others. She also explained methods of how to dis-create disease and recreate health, teaching us how to reprogramme the body’s energetic blueprint so that our immune systems work better and continue to communicate effectively with the body. Throughout the presentation, Sky invited contributions from the audience and gave feedback on personal problems that required healing. The success of her approach could be seen by the long line of attendees keen to talk to her afterwards, lining the corridors in the hope of receiving more of her gratefully appreciated wisdom.
The key subject that sparked the original Glastonbury Symposium 32 years ago was the arrival of the amazing pictogram crop circles in the fields of England and abroad, and the circles always remain a welcome topic to revisit today. As a world explorer and author on ancient mysteries, as well as being a regular guest on History Channel’s Ancient Aliens and Search for the Lost Giants, Hugh Newman presented a stunning selection of his latest aerial drone footage of the newest crop formations from this year – still appearing, even now – and some previous ones missed in our lockdown hiatus, as well including some very impressive drone’s-eye-views of famous and mysterious ancient monuments around the world that Hugh regularly visits.
The soaring dreamscapes of the preceding presentation led perfectly into the afternoon’s closing meditation with just the minimum of breaks to allow people to settle, as Jason Porthouse returned to the stage to lead the traditional Friday calming session in his inimitably centred and friendly style, sending people out in a nicely Zen-like state for the dinner break.
With the Avalonian Free State Choir sadly unavailable this year, our Friday evening music slot was more than ably filled instead by Torbz, providing some wonderful performances on the ‘hand pan’ (see picture) as well as some affecting original songs with acoustic guitar. An old friend of the Symposium with a lot to say in addition to his musical contributions, Torbz would be reappearing next day as a guest on the Saturday Forum (see below).
We were very honoured to have as our Friday evening special guest Professor Ronald Hutton, the senior Professor of History in the University of Bristol, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Society of Antiquaries, the Learned Society of Wales, and the British Academy. He is also the historian on the board of trustees which runs English Heritage, and chair of the Blue Plaques panel which awards commemorative plaques to historic buildings. Ronald’s books on British history between 1400 and 1700 and ancient and modern paganism in Britain are renowned and he explored the latter in this presentation entitled Britain’s Pagan Heritage, with special emphasis on the most famous of all prehistoric monuments, Stonehenge, as well as one of the most enigmatic of ancient British artefacts, the bog body called Lindow Man. Contrary to what some might have expected, far from a dry academic run through facts and figures, Ronald sparkled with quirky humour, even as he educated and informed, keeping the audience laughing throughout the entire lecture, his warm presence providing one of the highlights of the whole weekend. Far from being the work of perfection some might hold it to be, Ronald sees Stonehenge as the work of “cowboy builders” – an example of badly made flawed genius ..!
Saturday 23 July 2022
To open the Saturday morning, Helen Sewell brought a new note to the proceedings, sharing some of her well-known astrological insights into what was going on for the event and the world on this particular day, having fun listing all the aspects of astrology that might be coming into play and welcoming people to the day ahead.
Always a presenter, as well as a runner of the Symposium, this year Andy Thomas performed his traditional Saturday morning slot by looking at the key so-called ‘alternative’ issues of our times and exploring how his book The New Heretics highlights serious problems with the way that freedom of expression and the right to question orthodoxy is being destroyed by an establishment that seems to believe suppression actually changes people’s minds – when it doesn’t. In turn, the belief of alternative thinkers that everyday politicians and official versions of mainstream global events have no validity at all may be equally misplaced. Andy advocated, as always, finding a balance between the two approaches but there are hopeful signs that this may yet be achieved. In a very appropriate epilogue at the end, Andy remembered some recently fallen old friends of the Symposium – circle researcher Michael Glickman and Alternative View founder Ian R Crane – before giving a heartfelt tribute to his still very much alive but now retired Symposium colleague Sheila Martin, who was in the audience and touched to receive a bouquet of flowers handed to her by her ‘replacement’ MC Helen Sewell!
Jez Hughes is another old friend of the Symposium but in the years since we saw him last, he has become author of the much-praised book The Wisdom of Mental Illness – Shamanism, Mental Health and the Renewal of the World, and in this very inspirational sharing Jez explored how traditional shamans undergo years of mental distress as part of their initiation and revealed how their approach can be applied to help heal the current surge of mental health issues. He uncovered many of the cultural biases around mental illness and our uneasy relationship with altered states of consciousness, which might hold the key to healing many symptoms, as clinical trials on psychedelic medicines show extraordinary potential in treating and enhancing mental health, and unusual states of consciousness may even have helped us evolve as humans. Always a very strong and positive stage presence, sharing personally and honestly, Jez was truly on form today and left everyone with a much greater understanding of a serious issue that should be considered in a new way that doesn’t pathologise or stigmatise mental health issues.
The Saturday Forum is now a well-established and popular feature of the Symposium, allowing interaction between members of the audience and a guest panel in a brisk Question Time-like format. As ever, Andy Thomas led a panel discussion between five guests, some speakers from this year’s event and others making a special appearance for the Forum. Guests this year were: Skylar Acamesis (healer and nutritionist who spoke on the Friday), Mark Devlin (DJ and truth author, speaking on the Sunday), Gary King (crop circle and UFO researcher), Nancy Polet (crop circle and spiritual researcher and one of the leaders of our circle coach tour this year) and, once again, Torbz (musician and freedom campaigner). Answering audience questions, the panel shared inspirational and constructive thoughts about developments in the ‘alternative’ world, with a particular regard to growing threats to free expression.
American writer and global affairs analyst Patrick Henningsen opened the afternoon session with a gently powerful warning for all of us. Founder of the independent news site 21st Century Wire, Patrick revealed why the advances and freedoms we have enjoyed and benefited greatly from are now in danger of disappearing. “A new Iron Curtain has fallen on the West”, as governments work diligently with transnational Big Tech monopolies and corporate media to sanitise and censor speech online, and propaganda is beamed directly into our pockets via smartphones. Seeing through this illusion has become one of the great challenges of our time and Patrick deftly explored why is this happening now and why the ruling establishment are so afraid of a disparate community of independent media outlets, bloggers and social media users. Although serious listening, Patrick did the excellent service of leaving the audience feeling hopeful that with enough collective action and people speaking out, the war for freedom may yet be won.
Some Symposium attendees may have remembered Dirk Campbell from a previous appearance as a renowned composer and instrumentalist specialising in world music but in this completely new presentation he exposed the story of the Syrian Kurds’ defeat of the Islamic State group, their struggle to survive as a people and their unique experiment in living a solution to the world’s problems. Dirk learned this story through his daughter Anna’s commitment to the Kurdish cause, and the tragic sacrifice of her life during the Turkish invasion of Syria in March 2018. In a moving and carefully thought-out sharing, Dirk likened the “lessons from Syria” to the recent introduction of what he sees as fascist policies by the UK government – an alarming trend when considering the regimes in Turkey and Syria. Over here, unregulated capitalist economics threaten our environment, climate, and our species in his view, but Dirk believes the Kurdish way of living a better balance of communal life offers an alternative way forward we could all learn from.
To celebrate our 30th in-person gathering, we thought we would return to crop circles each day of this particular event, and, after tea, were were joined by Barry Reynolds. During the 1990s, Barry was one of the world’s leading crop circle researchers and founder of the Sussex branch of the Centre for Crop Circle Studies (later Southern Circular Research). Barry’s IT background has enabled him to give a new view over the placement of crop formations within the landscape, which he presented here with a series of stunning examples of how the Sussex crop circles (used as an example) have had more very intriguing correlations with each other over the years than may at first be obvious. Using his extensive knowledge and cutting-edge software, he showed incredible fly-bys, not previously possible, superimposing crop formations from different years onto the landscape – in the same videos. In his quiet, diligent way, Barry demonstrated without doubt that there is clearly far more to the placement of these remarkable shapes than anyone previously thought, whatever it may ultimately mean!
In another much-demanded return to the Symposium, our Saturday evening speaker was remote viewer, astral projector and brainwave entrainment researcher Todd Acamesis (husband to Skylar), who shared his astounding examples of how everyday people can access hidden realities, the afterlife, and beyond. His “journeys in hyperspace” reveal to him that we live in a thriving multiverse, teeming with human and non-human intelligences. Todd says: “We don’t need disclosure from dishonest governments. We just need to learn how to access the gateways through the ancient traditions available to us, including remote viewing”. In this talk, Todd took us on a thrilling tour of our solar system by sharing his astral visits to the planetary bodies, showing that there is far more consciousness up there than we may think on the astral planes and sharing tales of meeting government-sponsored remote-reviewing oppositional ‘agents’ along the way… The fact that after the talk, with the Town Hall closed for the evening, both Todd and Skylar were out on the terrace outside for quite some time, chatting to entranced attendees into dusk is testament to the draw that both his subject and his genuine charisma had for many people present.
Sunday 24 July 2022
Unfortunately, today’s planned crop circle speaker was unable at the last minute to make the Symposium, so Andy Thomas, as a long-seasoned circle researcher and author of many books on the subject, stepped in to give a comprehensive overview of the whole phenomenon, taking the audience on a soaring journey from the very earliest reports to the latest developments. He expanded on all the many suggested theories and arguments put forward over the years and highlighted the extraordinarily poor and misleading way the media has (mis)represented the crop circles for many years. Overall, he made the case that this continuing mystery is very far from explained and that for every formation that may be man made, there are many that simply cannot be explained so easily. By the end, the audience had been reminded, should they have needed it, of just why the astonishingly beautiful patterns still inspire and intrigue after all these years.
Health and different ways to preserve it has long been an interest of the Symposium, and this year acupuncturist and yoga teacher Charmian Wylde explained how traditional Chinese Medicine is over 3,000 years old and how it describes the causes of ill health as largely ‘emotional’ and ‘climatic’, with the abilities of the body paramount in maintaining its equilibrium against constant change and disruption. She explained how the achievements of modern medicine ensure we live longer, but in a fast-paced and often aggressive world we frequently confront chronic ill health. Charmian thus considered today’s health issues from the perspective of Chinese Medical disease causation and provided useful insights to protect health, prevent illness and live in peace and well-being. Her gently assertive and friendly demeanour gave her an authority which impressed many in the auditorium.
Another popular speaker returning in a different capacity this year was Mark Devlin. Renowned as a British club and radio DJ, music journalist and author of the Musical Truth books, which expose the darker side of the music industry, Mark also grew up as a fan of Ian Fleming’s fictional spy hero James Bond, lapping up both the original novels and films. It was only in recent years, given his new understanding of how mind-control and social engineering works, that he realised the extent to which the Bond stories have been used as establishment propaganda, all under the guise of ‘fiction’. In this illuminating talk, in his always succinct, convincing style, punctuated with some streaks of dark humour, he broke down what the stories really reveal, looking at the real-life Intelligence background of Fleming himself and drawing striking parallels with elements of Bond villains and the global agendas threatening our freedom today. We may have far more to worry about than the fictional SPECTRE…
After lunch, the afternoon session resumed with some live scientific experiments. Chris Connelly has had over 20 years involvement in Spiritualism – but also over 30 years’ experience as a scientist in the Space Industry. Chris holds Master’s degrees in Engineering and in Psychology and is currently a PhD research student exploring the role of mediums’ psychological processes. Refreshingly, Chris sees no conflict between mediumship and science and has been working to show that mediumship may not be purely subjective but that there are detectable neurophysiological indicators associated with these experiences. Years of experimentation has had successful results using low cost commercially available equipment, as Chris demonstrated. After giving a history of unfair scepticism towards such work, pulling a brave volunteer lady from the audience Chris wired her up to a standard medical brainwave detector and, without her seeing the signals, she was subjected to different levels of audience ‘intent’ that – remarkably – were clearly recorded as brain activity changes on the screen The implications of such work on how mediums and individuals with paranormal beliefs should be perceived are clear and Chris should be congratulated for helping to pioneer such important experiments.
UFOs are always a big draw at the Symposium and as chairman and lead investigator of the Birmingham UFO Group, Dave Hodrien is one of the leading British researchers. In his presentation, Dave took a good look at the recent military revelations about the reality of what it now calls Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAPs). As he explained, in December 2017 the New York Times released an article which would become a turning point for the UFO subject, revealing that the Pentagon had spent millions of dollars secretly studying UFOs for years. Alongside this news, three US Navy videos reportedly showing UAPs were also publicly released. This was just the beginning of a series of disclosures which would forever change the public’s perception of the subject, as Dave explored, highlighting different aspects of these crucial revelations in his animated and passionate manner. It is gratifying that the dedication and resilience of people like Dave is finally being rewarded with at least some kind of official acknowledgement, which in itself goes to prove that there has indeed been a significant cover-up going on for years, as they always suspected!
As has become traditional at the end of the main part of the weekend schedule (bar our special Sunday evening guest spot), thanks and credits were then given by Helen and Andy (who praised Helen for getting through her very first Symposium as co-MC more or less intact!) to all the cast and crew, and they were joined onstage by faithful administrator Diana Brown, who usually bestrides the corridors but always makes it onto the stage for this one-minute rare appearance to receive some well-deserved applause. And then, with a little less time available this year because of unusual events at the Abbey, everyone was rushed out of the room ready to get themselves around the corner for the final meditation…
For some, the Sunday afternoon official finale of visiting the famous adjacent Abbey ruins for a meditation before either leaving or going for dinner before the evening special speaker has become a central part of their Symposium experience and this year had one of the largest attendances ever seen. Led by the ever-reliable Jason Porthouse, his calming and friendly tones cut through the breeze and the rain stayed away despite a few lowering clouds. With everyone standing in a huge ring, with the ancient ruins in the background, this (nearly) final act of togetherness is always a magical moment, leaving those who have to head off back home feeling like they have had proper closure, while getting everyone else ready for dinner before the closing speaker of the weekend…
The Sunday evening special guest spot is where the Symposium opens up with more direct promotion to the Glastonbury community, as a few more seats are usually available then, vacated by those who have sadly had to leave in the afternoon for sometimes long journeys home. Tonight, there were absolutely no seats left by the time the audience had flooded in to hear Dr Mary Helen Hensley. Following a near-death experience from a 75mph car accident in which she broke her neck, Mary Helen found that her existing skills of communicating with those in spirit blossomed and a series of incredible, serendipitous events led her to develop new abilities to facilitate healing processes for her and others. In this presentation, she shared with us some deeply personal – but sometimes very humorous – accounts of the transformations that have taken place in the lives of her patients and in her own life. Mary Helen’s irrepressibly lively personality and very skilled stage presence made her the perfect way to end the 2022 Glastonbury Symposium, sending everyone home on a high and ready to engage with the outside world again with resilience and a determination to make it a better place to be.
After being away from its natural form for so long, this July the Symposium seamlessly established itself once again as one of the most successful, enjoyable and informative gatherings of its kind. This was also the first year we live-streamed the event to people around the world online, widening our outreach to those unable to make it to Glastonbury itself, something we hope to expand on in future. We would like to thank deeply everyone who supported us, including audiences, speakers, crew and staff.
Remember, videos of many of the above presentations can be watched, together with many other amazing archive lectures, on our YouTube channel!
Photos by Andy Thomas
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