Report from the 2023 Symposium
Here's what happened at the 2023 Symposium...
Prefaced with an excerpt from the printed programme…
Welcome to the 2023 Glastonbury Symposium – our 33rd event. 33 has long been considered an important number in many contexts, mythical, astronomical, religious and beyond, so hopefully this augurs well for a special Symposium this year … If you are new to us, get ready for a weekend (or day, if you are joining us for some of it) of enlightening, challenging and necessary presentations intended to indeed expand horizons and help keep free expression alive in an age when doing so becomes ever harder.
With our speakers we try always to stay on the cutting edge of what matters right now, mixed with subjects that people still like us to cover. But we never rest on our laurels. After the forced three-year break from in-person gatherings due to the declared pandemic, when we returned to full events last year we did wonder if perhaps the world might have moved on and fewer people would want to congregate this way in a newly technocratic climate. But we needn’t have worried; our 2022 Symposium was a huge success and in fact the recently raised questions, disputes and threats to freedom have instead revitalized the absolute need for live forums where like-minded seekers can voice their opinions and concerns, failed as they have been by an ever-more controlled and openly censorious mainstream media.
The notable rise of other ‘truth’ events and freedom networks is a welcome development which should ensure that far from becoming an irrelevance, such assemblies will become a fixture for the foreseeable future. The Glastonbury Symposium, here since 1990, comfortably keeps its place in this curve, having come full circle perhaps, needed again in a new context (it first began as an opportunity to discuss the burgeoning crop circles in a pre-internet age when information was hard to get). It will thus continue to tread its modern path of investigating truth and mysteries of many kinds whilst highlighting possible solutions and balancing paths – for whilst dealing with darkness, we must be careful to focus also on light. This is Glastonbury, after all, believed by some to be a ‘Free State’ where people can explore other ways of living and thinking without fear of censure.
The significant challenges that humanity faces will be discussed across the weekend, but in an atmosphere of hope and comradeship in the beautiful cocoon we create here, for even the hardiest seekers need some home comforts while wielding their swords of truth. Enjoy.
Friday 28 July 2023
Following a lively introduction to the weekend by MCs Andy Thomas and Helen Sewell, the 2023 Symposium made a gentle but firm start by revisiting a classic conundrum: the apparent presence of unexplained structures on the Moon and Mars, courtesy of Ananda Sirisena. As current president of the Society for Planetary SETI Research, Ananda is a diligent long-time UFO researcher with a fascination for official orbital photographs which appear to show evidence of unnatural features, especially the configurations of large mounds on the Martian surface. Showing the images and discussing the possibilities of who or what might have created these structures, Ananda also revealed fascinating details of his meetings with famous sci-fi author and scientist Arthur C Clarke and reminded the audience of the importance of figures such as George King, who founded the Aetherius Society and gave a surprisingly prominent interview about its beliefs in alien life being active in our solar system on the BBC in 1959.
After a coffee break, the theme leapt from space right back down to Earth to investigate the healing power of horses – a new theme for the Symposium. With a sparky and passionate energy, Natasha Leach took us through her moving and sometimes humorous journey with ‘Equine Facilitated Learning’, a process of working with horses which allows people to reconnect with their own spiritual nature in a whole new way by seeing how these magnificent creatures embody emotional intelligence and teach us to listen to the wisdom of our bodies. By tuning in to how they respond to our energy fields and hearts, we can become truly “aligned” and present in the moment, “opening uniquely powerful pathways for self-development and self-empowerment”. Natasha’s videos of horses interacting with her as she first practiced her craft were revealing. Anyone who had thought these were beautiful but essentially dumb animals came out of the presentation with a very new view of their astuteness, presence and importance to human beings.
After a break for lunch, the afternoon went from softness and healing to a harsher but crucial reality that needs to be faced. Adrian C Smith’s account of the Canadian Freedom Convoy of trucks (lorries) which took to the streets of Ottawa in January 2022 to protest against disproportionate lockdown rules and imposed medication was calm and collected but equally heartfelt. Freedom has long been an issue the Glastonbury Symposium has championed and Adrian’s account of what happened in his home country of Canada and why there are lessons that the whole world needs to learn from the draconian path that was taken there to put down objectors was riveting. His presentation provided a sober and very necessary reflection on how fear and crises enable governments, under the influence of unelected organisations such as the World Economic Forum, to make unwise and serious constitutional violations with impunity. Adrian also shared insights into his background as a one-time minister in a fundamentalist Christian sect and how having his eyes opened to the abuses of power within his own movement set him on a redemptive path to understanding how dominant minorities are able to control large numbers of people.
The afternoon continued with another powerful presentation, this time from renowned astrologer Wendy Stacey looking at the current state of the world and the developments that are likely to follow, as seen through the eyes of astrological analysis. The genius of Wendy’s approach is that her shrewd understanding of global events and the psychology of its peoples does not rely on all of the audience subscribing to astrological beliefs but instead on her wise and perceptive understanding of what makes society tick, identifying the general impact of social, political and economic trends and the rise of new technology such as artificial intelligence (see also Saturday morning’s talk by Andy Thomas). Wendy brought this to life with an overarching human context that everyone could comprehend and she expounded her belief that the next few years are likely to be ones of huge change beyond anything we have known in our lifetimes. The more we can navigate our way through it – with astrology as an extra guide and context for those open to it – the more likely we will be able to surf the biggest waves, keeping our heads above water and making the most of the opportunities for growth that will surely come amidst the challenges.
At this stage, the schedule should have welcomed Adam White to speak on health and new methods of blood analysis but a huge hold-up on the M5 motorway had other ideas for him and thus, after a hopeful wait, the afternoon ended one session early … We hope to welcome Adam back in 2024. Instead, things leapt straight to the Friday afternoon meditation led, as ever, by the Symposium’s trusty leader of such activities, Jason Porthouse. Bringing his usual friendly and calming tones to the proceedings, everyone was able to centre in and let go of all the ‘head’ stuff from the day so far and headed out into the dinner break feeling relaxed and refreshed, ready to prepare themselves for the evening proceedings.
The Symposium always likes to start the Friday evening with a musical treat to ‘clear the energies’ and set the scene for the following special guest speaker. Glastonbury’s award-winning and highly respected choir have been present at the majority of Symposiums over the years but after the lockdown breaks of 2020–21 they were unable to join us when we came back to full live events in 2022. This year, then, after such a long break, it was wonderful to have the choir back at their soaring best, filling the rafters with their interpretations of choral pieces from around the globe, some uplifting and others quieter and contemplative, but all of them beautiful. In their new blue and purple stage gear, they looked the part and it was a real pleasure to have them back once again, as was clear from the audience response.
The mysterious phenomenon of Out of Body Experiences (OOBEs), or astral projection, has been discussed by various speakers over the years, but this was the first time that an entire evening had been devoted to the subject, courtesy of Jade Shaw. One of the world’s leading practitioners of this gift, which has had increasing coverage thanks to people like her, Jade took the audience through a very high-spirited and lively exploration of OOBEs, how they can be induced and why they can be a source of mental and physical healing. Working with the audience in a series of exercises which involved people exchanging ideas on the subject with those next to or around them, and inviting a volunteer up onto the stage, Jade demonstrated that all us have the potential to explore this faculty and that it is not just for the chosen few. Along the way, Jade shared her own personal story from childhood to becoming a leading OOBE proponent and after this energetic performance, tempered with a balancing meditation, no one was left in any doubt that both the subject and her work with it were well worth exploring further.
Saturday 29 July 2023
The morning opened with Helen Sewell chatting with the audience, finding out where they all came from (a revival of an old tradition – and there was a indeed another broad sweep of international attendees this year) and sharing some of her thoughts on the astrological tone of the weekend, astrology being one of her professional talents …
Then it was onto Andy Thomas … As a key organiser of the Symposium – as well as a leading investigator of truth and mysteries – Andy’s traditional Saturday morning slot acts as a voice for the event itself, taking the temperature of global events and the ‘alternative’ community’s response to them in his authoritative and inimitable style. This year, after some general thoughts on what is left of democracy and freedom, Andy focused on a very particular and crucially important thread that threatens to tear up everything we have taken for granted thus far – artificial intelligence. Believing that the alternative world has been especially slow to realise the impact of this technology, with both passion and dark humour Andy showed how even convincing poetry and art can now be written by AI. When it eventually infiltrates all aspects of our lives and replaces most human employment – and selects what knowledge is made available – what then for freedom, the economy, our social lives and place in the world? Huge in its implications, these thoughts left a shaken but enlightened audience, with Andy asking whether spirituality could be the last bastion left which AI will not be able to replicate..?
Coming after such a weighty subject, it was appropriate that after a coffee break Ian Lynch actively brought in the spiritual dimension to the day, as he explored his experiences with synchronicity and how “signs” that can appear in one’s life can be important directing influences. Very aptly, he described his meeting with Andy Thomas at the closing Abbey meditation of last year’s Symposium, an encounter which led to him being invited up here on stage a year later. Ian talked about his background as a former BBC Breakfast TV expert on happiness and how he authored a book and oracle card deck created specifically for men, as an attempt to address what some have called ‘a crisis in masculinity’. He also discussed his work based on the famous A Course in Miracles and described some of the very curious synchronicities that came into his life when working with a stone medicine wheel in Arizona, only to make connections on his return to Britain two days later when he heard by chance about a project to create one there. Relaxed and optimistic, Ian’s demeanour was the perfect fit for this slot.
The Saturday Forum sits right in the middle of the Symposium’s weekend schedule and it feels appropriate that this is where a gathering of speakers from the weekend and a handful of other guests from the world of the ‘alternative’ come together to react to questions and statements from the auditorium, enabling a lively exchange. Chaired, as ever, by Andy Thomas, this year’s actual speakers on the panel were Adrian C Smith, Natasha Leach and Wendy Stacey, all of whom had spoken the previous day and who were able to expand on their wider thoughts and feelings in their areas of expertise. The special guests were Simon Best, editor of the very influential magazine Caduceus, and Roeland Beljon, the expert Dutch crop circle researcher who helped lead the Symposium’s annual circle coach tour earlier in the week. Everyone had their moment to shine as some very frank opinions were shared on paranormal matters, the erosion of free expression and the state of the world. As ever, the hour seemed to go in a flash.
Reconvening after lunch, a classic subject that originally helped fire the very existence of the Glastonbury Symposium was revisited as Gary King gave a very personal and candid account of his journey as a major stalwart of the crop circle research community for many years. Taking a more spiritual approach this time, as opposed to the more forensic detail he is known for, Gary brilliantly showed any newcomers to the subject just how much these astonishing patterns can change a person’s life. Intriguingly, he likened some of the lessons that can be drawn from the phenomenon to some of the learnings he has derived from his personal involvement with martial arts. Interpreting some of the remarkable symbolism in the fields through the prism of sacred art and geometry, he openly invoked some welcome memories of researchers such as the late Michael Glickman, himself once a regular presence on the Symposium stage. By the end, the audience were left with a striking reminder of just why the circle phenomenon continues to touch people and still holds a strong currency in the world, wherever the shapes come from.
Concerns about the bias of the mainstream media against alternative thinking have long been a concern at the Symposium, but hearing from Jemma Cooper, someone who was once a key presence in that media, was a revealing exercise. Although Jemma has been a quiet attendee of the Symposium for several years, her former work as a BBC presenter and journalist prevented her from speaking overtly of her interests and of her concerns about the state of free expression. Now she has left this mammoth organisation, she is free – within certain contractual strictures – to finally share her thoughts and feelings on the perils of modern media censorship and narrow-mindedness. For someone who had not given a major live presentation before, without notes or slides Jemma used her innate presenting skills to give a very erudite and compellingly honest sharing of the story of her career and the admittedly attractive trappings of being a celebrity, explaining how this all changed when her own beliefs about the pandemic lockdowns began to clash with the BBC’s enforced orthodoxy. Making the point that both mainstream and alternative media need to ensure they do not go down roads of irretrievable prejudice, she left the audience with many important thoughts about the future of truthful reporting.
One guest the Symposium has long wanted to welcome is Bosnian explorer and archaeologist Dr Sam Osmanagich, and this desire finally came to pass this weekend. It was worth the wait. Wanting to make the best of his presence, Sam gave two separate presentations with a short break between them, one in the late afternoon and another in the early evening. Best-known for his extraordinary – if often attacked – work with uncovering and exploring what he believes to be a complex of buried pyramids in central Bosnia-Herzegovina, Sam began with a fascinating presentation laying down the background to the importance of his claimed find, looking at the many different kinds of pyramids around the world, far beyond the ones we usually hear about. Some of these were a revelation to many people present and it set the scene perfectly for his second lecture on the details of his work in Bosnia. Despairing of the archaeological world’s rejection of his findings, which he was disarmingly frank about, Sam has ingeniously created his own workforce and compound – indeed, forged his own community – around the complex of tunnels and mounds which he believes is far older and more significant than many of the more famous ancient sites. Defending his beliefs and sharing his evidence, including some on the more mystical properties that many people have reported at the complex, Sam was a charming and engaging presenter and held everyone’s attention for the full two sessions. He certainly made the point that whatever the full origins of the Bosnian structures his investigations there are valid and should be considered more by others in his profession.
Sunday 30 July 2023
After the traditional morning introduction by Andy Thomas and Helen Sewell, Colin Woolford became another long-time attendee of the Glastonbury Symposium to make his first and successful onstage appearance this year. Starting the Sunday morning sessions with a unique and new take on the subject of UFOs, extra-terrestrials and universal consciousness, Colin blended these subjects with his equal fascination with the now iconic Star Wars franchise. Arguing that many of the characters, plots and concepts embodied in the mythology of that other “galaxy far, far away” neatly – and possibly deliberately – hold strong allegorical meaning for us here in our real galaxy, he shared some intriguing and often convincing insights into the social, political and spiritual lessons the films have to offer. Indeed, the Star Wars universe has now become a whole new mythology for our times and although Colin focused primarily on the movies rather than the ever-expanding television spin-offs it became clear that, as allegories go, this is as useful a way as any other of holding up a mirror to our own society and the problems and possible evolutionary paths that it faces. Perhaps ‘The Force’ is a more meaningful and present concept than ever we knew …
The vegetable kingdom is perhaps a neglected subject in the world of the alternative but, following a coffee break, Emma Farrell corrected this omission with her heartfelt and focused exploration of Plant Spirit Psychic Surgery. If plants have a consciousness of a kind, as much new research suggests they do, should we not be tuning into this far more directly as a way of divining which ones are the most beneficial to our health and to the well-being of our own minds? Using her years of experience as a plant healer and shamanic teacher, Emma calmly showed how by working with the Devic nature spirits – the conscious intelligence of plants – “toxicities can be released or re-patterned, creating a methodology of preventative, psychospiritual and physical healing.” Dovetailing this with her own experiences of Buddhism and shamanism, this presentation added new and welcome layers into our understanding of healing and the fields of consciousness that surround us.
The concepts of passive resistance and ‘freeman’ philosophy are ones that have grown in these times of ever-increasing control and seemingly excessive restrictions on human liberty. Torbz, the singly-named community leader and peace activist, through his long years of fighting for freedom of speech and with his strong views on sovereignty, law and the degradation of Western morals and ethics, was perfectly placed to speak very frankly about methods of resisting the creeping control agenda. Literally a towering presence onstage, Torbz described the “legal fictions” that have been imposed on humanity throughout centuries of quiet enslavement enforced through small print, bureaucracy and clever wording, and detailed his own inventive efforts at breaking free of these bonds which claim ownership of us. Whether everyone present agreed with his methods of resistance – refusing to pay parking fines and by throwing back at authorities his own complex interpretations of the law, etc. – was unclear! But it was hard not to be impressed by Torbz’s determination and rigorous, and sometimes humorous, attempts to stay a truly free man.
One wet lunchtime later, the lectures reconvened with Ian Jarvis, addressing another important subject which demands continual monitoring – the extraordinary exponential growth of radiofrequency radiation and EMF waves through our electronic communications devices and the new generation of ‘Smart’ and 5G technology – soon to be 6G and so forth. Described as entirely safe by the companies and governments pushing them, this view is not agreed with by a significant number of scientists, who believe that the negative ‘side’ effects on human, animal and plant biology may not be worth the conveniences they bring. Ian has form in exposing official cover-ups of harmful effects from the modern world, having been a volunteer for years working with the immediate victims and health-compromised descendants of India’s Bhopal chemical disaster in 1984. In recent years, Ian has become a Body Therapist and has become ever-more aware of what can damage human physiology and his impassioned and sometimes moving plea for people to protect themselves as much as they can from electromagnetic pollution was affecting and powerful.
Investigating UFOs – or, as officialdom now describes them, UAPs (Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena) – has always been a part of the Symposium’s remit but the recent surge of interest since the US military’s official recognition that there IS a phenomenon after all, after years of denial, has put it back onto the top of the agenda. The top Belgian researcher Bart Uytterhaegen gave a very striking and fat-free presentation on the current state of UFO/UAP awareness and where the seemingly new programme of disclosure is likely to go. Speaking in affable tones, but with great authority, he cited several major cases, some from Belgium which were fresh to the Symposium audience, and described the developments which had only just occurred that month, as the US held its first ever openly-declared congressional hearings on UAPs. With whistleblowing USAF officers now speaking openly about witnessing the reality of physics-defying technology and, extraordinarily, ex-intelligence official David Grusch claiming that the US is openly covering-up knowledge of, and withholding physical evidence for, ET activity, something big is surely in the offing. Often illustrated with his own unique paintings and drawings (to avoid copyright issues), and interspersed with some of his crop circle research, Bart left a big impression on everyone, now in no doubt that whether this strange tech is alien, foreign or black-ops, the world has changed irrevocably, with huge implications for the economy, environment and humanity itself.
Directly following the close of Bart’s talk, the main part of the Symposium (with just the Sunday evening to come) was concluded as Andy Thomas, with Helen Sewell, gave grateful thanks to everyone involved in putting on the Symposium, with the now traditional but welcome brief onstage appearance from administrator Diana Brown and a quick line-up of the ‘techies’, the essential crew who ensure that the mechanics of the weekend actually run to plan!
After a short tea break it was off to the adjacent Glastonbury Abbey ruins for another tradition – a standing meditation in its beautiful grounds. After the earlier rain, the weather was kind and stayed dry as once again Jason Porthouse stood in the middle of a large ring of attendees to lead everyone in a soothing visualisation, helping to balance and synthesise all the huge amounts of information and stimulation from the weekend proceedings. After closing hugs, everyone was freed to seek out dinner, or head for home (for those unable to stay for the Sunday night), leaving the stalwarts preparing for the final tour-de-force to come …
Although the whole weekend can be attended by anyone coming in on the door (subject to availability) the Sunday night closing guest is always a special moment for the Symposium, where the event is promoted more widely to local people. The hall was completely packed to hear the now renowned Richard Vobes speak on the subject of freedom of speech, what Englishness means today and about his extraordinary career, which has run from TV entertainer to truth seeker. In these times of harsh censorship and highly selective allowance of what is permissible to express, through his very popular daily YouTube shows, wearing his trademark tight waistcoat and cravat, Richard has managed to carve out a very special, if sometimes precarious, niche as a mainstream figure who also dares to ask the awkward questions about current events that others might shy away from. With his original roots as a street mime artist firmly to the fore for the early part of the talk – performing an extraordinary and hilarious acrobatic routine with a briefcase – the themes darkened as he came to address the very serious restrictions on free expression that accelerated hugely with the pandemic measures. With the gloves well and truly off, in this live environment Richard was able to voice some widely-held but apparently heretical opinions that YouTube probably wouldn’t countenance … He even managed to record his daily broadcast to his followers live on the stage! By the end, the audience were euphoric, educated as much as entertained by a very talented and refreshingly forthright performer with much to say.
And so ended the 33rd Glastonbury Symposium, going out with a bang and hoping to return yet again to plough its necessary furrow in 2024 … Thanks to everyone who attended, watched us via live-streaming, helped or organised in any way: it is very appreciated.
Photos by Andy Thomas
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