Free State - Glastonbury’s alternative community 1970 to 2000 and beyond Bruce Garrard

Unique Publications £12.95 390pp available from local bookshops, or from
Free State - Glastonbury’s alternative community 1970 to 2000 and beyond is a book I never thought would be written. I could not have done it, even though I was as involved in Glastonbury matters as much as the author. Bruce Garrard has written a remarkably objective and comprehensive overview of the history of Glastonbury's alternative community.
It tells the story of a kaleidoscopic, creative and anarchic subcultural phase of Britain's history, arising out of Flower Power in the 1960s and gradually becoming the core raison d'etre of a former market town in Somerset with a peculiar history. Rooted in legends of prehistoric greatness, Arthurian significance and medieval ecclesiastical grandeur, Glastonbury has in modern times seen a century of history involving dissident metaphysical people and activities and alternative lifestyles. The period from the late Victorian era to the 1960s was ably chronicled by Patrick Benham in The Avalonians (Gothic Image of Glastonbury, 1993) and Bruce's book chronicles the flowering of the post-60s period, up to the Millennium.
Separating out the strands of all that went on in Glastonbury, particularly during its florescence in the 1980s, has been admirably done. It is impossible to mention everything that happened during these three decades, or every person involved, but Bruce has included a fair description and assessment of every major strand in this complex and colourful period in this rather magical small town.
The book will be of interest not only to those who know and love Glastonbury, but also to people interested in the dissenting alternative subculture that lived around the edges of an otherwise highly materialistic period of Britain's recent history. It's a story of people who didn't wear suits, didn't subscribe to metropolitan beliefs, didn't seek success and financial security and were certainly not conventional in their ways. They paid a price too, gave a lot to the world and reaped many benefits, more in terms of 'content of character' than material payoffs.
It is a chronicle of possibilities, some of which manifested in concrete form (such as the famous Glastonbury Festivals), some of which are yet to be realised (because the capitalism of Britain and the West has not yet allowed it) and some of which were pipedreams. It's also an informal sociological study of a subcultural movement of which the musician Brian Eno once said, "I feel I have been part of something much greater than it has actually been".
This book is likely to become an authoritative source for people later in this century who seek to uncover how many things of their time began. It's a tale of largely-forgotten giants on whose shoulders many future developments will stand, and it's a recounting of what happened in a small, globally-significant Somerset town during a period when most people were busy looking the other way, chasing their own pipedreams.
It's something of a masterpiece and, though I must confess to being mentioned in the book and to having edited it too, I do recommend you to read it because it ably describes a chunk of history that more people could have participated in than actually did. This is perhaps a saga of what they missed.
Palden Jenkins

Rainbow Fields is Home: Bruce Garrard

221 pages £9.95 available at Courtyard Books and Labyrinth Books

In 1984, Bruce helped organise a Green Gathering at RAF Molesworth, which turned into Rainbow Fields Village, an anarchic transmogrification of an existing peace camp set up in 1981 to protest at the proposed deployment of nuclear armed cruise missiles at the base. Six months later, Michael Heseltine arrived in his glamorous flak jacket, supported by 2,000 or so soldiers and police to evict the 100 people living there and fence the base in with many miles of razor wire. As is so common with government, the sledgehammer approach to cracking a nut only served to publicise their own ineptitude.
This book is a rare find, based on a diary that Bruce kept at the time, it gives an intimate and immediate account of what it is like to put oneself on the frontline of dissent. It also details how haphazard planning and chaotic implementation can still steer the ship, even when the crew are mutinous and no captain to be found. Indeed, the general lack of agreement between most people shines through, which is perhaps the human condition.
The CND hierarchy seem to try to distance themselves as much as possible from the new peace camp, even though it is serving to highlight the issues they should be most concerned about. At the bottom end, hippie travellers from the Peace Convoy prove even more destructive as their self absorbed issues fail to make any contact with the purpose of the camp.
This is a very humorous book, swamped with mud, musings and marijuana. There’s really no point to rebellion if you ain’t having a laugh at the same time: it’s the laughter that sustains when overwhelm threatens. This is a timely publication as a new wave of public dissent swells to prevent fracking in the UK - a must read for all potential activists. And the cruise missiles never came to Molesworth, although someone must have pocketed the millions that got pointlessly spent.

A Twist in the Coyote’s Tale: Celia M Gunn

368 pages £16.99

This wonderful book recounts the story of how Celia entered into a profound and transformative journey with Native American people while living in British Columbia. Her steps were guided by dreams, synchronicity, waking vision and past life memory, whilst lessons were learnt by the all too painful present and insightful wisdom of elders.
Celia was drawn to live in a place called Vallican, the site of a Native American burial ground which had been in use by the Arrow Lakes people for many centuries. The tribe had been forced off their traditional land and transported right across the Canadian border to live with other tribes on the Colville Reservation in the United States; indeed, the Canadian Government declared the Arrow Lakes people extinct in the 1950’s.
The heart of the book describes how Celia became involved in a successful campaign to protect the burial site and with the help and guidance of different members of the tribe, bring the Arrow Lakes people back into contact with their ancestral land. It is a real story, where outward successes are tempered by personal obstructions.
Celia writes with great honesty, expressing doubts and frustrations, just as much as insights and inspirations: this is an authentic spiritual autobiography, describing the process of following one’s soul path and how unexpected the consequences turn out to be. At the same time, Celia gives voice to many of the Native American people that she became friends with and the book is full of their teaching. This is an uplifting story of commitment, inspiration and dedication and her journey with the Arrow Lakes people continues to this day.

Walking in the Light: An Account of a Foot Pilgrimage from the Hague to Jerusalem

£14.95 393 pages (available in Glastonbury bookshops or [email protected])
This wonderful book describes a pilgrimage from The Hague to Jerusalem, walking via Germany, Czech Republic, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey. Johanna set out in April 2000 on well marked Dutch and German footpaths aided by accurate and detailed maps; by January 2001, she was making her way across Turkey without footpaths and no reasonable map to speak of.
However, despite the path disappearing on her, the kindness of strangers did not. It is perhaps one of the most significant factors in the book that, although she preferred to pitch her tent, so many people insisted in providing her with a bed for the night - and in some cases several nights when in need.
Another consistent theme is that so many of the kind strangers warned her about very dangerous strangers ahead. Romania was a country whose inhabitants were particularly maligned, yet, despite their poverty, they provided just as warm a welcome as others before.
By the time she reached Israel, kind strangers were warning her about dangerous strangers in the next village ahead. By the time she reached Jerusalem, kind strangers were warning her about their dangerous neighbours.
And the purpose of the pilgrimage was to collect written prayers for peace in the Middle East by calling in on churches, monasteries, mosques, synagogues on her way and talking to individuals as she chanced upon them. She then needed to devise a suitable ritual in Jerusalem with an eclectic group of helpers.
I highly recommend this book, which combines entertaining storytelling with observant self-reflection. This was a brave journey into the unknown, even though the concept of pilgrimage to Jerusalem is so familiar. The results are genuinely enlightening. Mike Jones

Meeting Shiva - Falling and Rising in Love in the Indian Himalayas Tiziana Stupia

£11.99 327 pages Changemakers Books
Tiziana Stupia, Priestess of Avalon and parttime Glastonbury resident, set out on a journey to the East six years ago to find her tantric soul mate.What followed was a wild overland journey that took the author through many different countries, including Russia, Mongolia,Tibet, Nepal, Pakistan and India. When the soul mate didn't show up after four months in India, she decided to go home. It was then that she met Rudra, the man of her dreams, on a final mountain trip through the Himalayas.
The small predicament was that her soul-mate was a drop-dead gorgeous ascetic monk who served as the administrator of the ashram she decided to reside and teach English in. Attracted to each other instantly, the two were drawn into an intense, romantic relationship that slowly turned to confusion and frustration for the author as she found herself shaken up by her boy-friend’s un-guru like personality and disturbing addictions. Set to a backdrop of breathtaking Himalayan scenery, fire ceremonies, mantras and rituals, Tiziana was drawn into a past long forgotten, that lead her to uncover some uncomfortable truths: about religious institutions, about her lover, and ultimately about herself.
In the journey of inner reflection that follows the dramatic encounter, Tiziana is able to make profound self-revelations and discover sage-like spiritual truths on her journey. From emotional drama to freedom, from need to self-love, from pain to transformation, this is a gripping book about the shadow projections most of us get entangled in. It also provides some practical advice about how to get off the emotional treadmill to a place of authenticity and freedom. It is when we begin to see relationships as a spiritual journey towards healing that our world transforms.
In addition to her personal life story, the memoir touches upon mythological stories of India, the caste system, Indian customs and traditions and the nature of living in a patriarchal system, and interestingly enough, ends at Shekinashram in Glastonbury, where most of the book was written.
If you've experienced a traumatic heartbreak, seeking spiritual wisdom or simply looking for a laugh-out-loud, cry-even-harder personal journey, you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of Meeting Shiva. Be prepared to have a life-changing experience.
This review is written by Vishnu of Vishnu’s Virtues, a witty spirituality and personal development blog.

Signs & Secrets of the Glastonbury Zodiac

Edited by Yuri Leitch An Anthology of the Maltwood Moot Avalonian Aeon £24.99 332pp

The Maltwood Moot have been meeting up over the last few years to both walk and discuss the Glastonbury Zodiac and they have now produced this magnificent collection of history, analysis, dreams, poetry, art and off piste musings that so wonderfully embody the Avalonian spirit. The Glastonbury Zodiac is inextricably entangled with the quest for the Graal, as elusive and ever present as always. The mists close in thickly for those who walk blindfolded by reason and the same mists clear erraticallly for those willing to step into the unknown.

A host of writers contribute to this anthology and readers will find their own favourites. Anthony Thorley initiates proceedings by exploring the possible connection between the writing of Madame Blavatsky and the development of Katharine Maltwood’s theories about the Glastonbury Zodiac. Alan Royce comes in with a brief but important essay which offers the Polden Ridge as a border between the ancient British tribes of Dobunni and Durotiges, taking the landscape back to prehistorical times.

Shirley Whitton offers an evocative essay exploring the Beaufort family presence in the medieval Zodiac landscape through the War of the Roses. Hank Harrison gives biographical details about Katharine and her husband John; Shirley Whitton returns with a warm and personal article about Mary Caine and the Kingston Zodiac. Tim and Sophie Knock recall Elizabeth Leader, for whom the Zodiac landscape was the exact scenery for The High History of the Holy Graal. Bringing us to more modern Avalonians, there are articles on Anthony Roberts, who published the seminal anthology Glastonbury: Ancient Avalon, New Jerusalem in 1997, and Robert Coon, whose planetary chakra system proposed Glastonbury as the heart chakra of the world. And who better to complete the modern trio than Paul Weston writing about the psychic questing adventures of Andrew Collins, taking us back to medieval knights gallivanting through the Zodiac landscape.

The section of the book entitled Mystery offers a variety of uncompleted trails for the pilgrim to explore further. This includes geometry and alignments within the Zodiac that Yuri Leitch believes was alluded to indirectly by Katharine Maltwood, including the Somerset Parallelogram and Melkarth Line. These articles begin to reveal the richness of the Zodiac, which can only truly be appreciated by walking on the individual signs and experiencing the unique quality of the different places and the synchronicities that duly arise.

One of the most important trails is that of the disappeared Well Maidens, whose departure created the Wasteland. To quote Yuri Leitch: “It is Earth’s water that connects all living things and it is our very real, symbiotic, empathic memory-connection to all of our ancestors and cultural histories - a direct connection to Spirit - and we contaminate it to our own sickness and sorrow?. In Glastonbury/Avalon we have begun the journey of honouring and restoring the springs and wells with Chalice Well and the White Spring being the foremost. However, there are many more, some honoured privately, but some neglected or forgotten. One of the pleasures of the future must lie in the reclaiming of these water sources and the return of the Avalonian Well Maidens.

The last third of the book is entitled Inspiration and steps further into the liminal or what John Wadsworth calls The Zodiac Memory Theatre. Indeed John expresses the experience of Zodiac exploration in a most satisfying way, including a wonderful suggestion from Patrick Harpur that Mnemosyne “is never a mindless data retrieval system, she is always an adorner, a myth maker, a falsifier of facts and a literaliser of fictions?.

I imagine that this splendid book is already sitting on many bookshelves, but if not, you should go out and purchase a copy right now! It is an outstandingly well presented book with high quality illustrations and photographic reproductions. Furthermore, it is genuinely exciting to see so many different Avalonian voices gathered together in one volume. Hopefully, it is only the beginning and we shall see more publications in the same vein. We are living in a golden age in Glastonbury at the moment, with an amazing collection of inspirational teachers, writers, artists, musicians, healers, spiritual practitioners and enthusiasts of all descriptions, all gathered here and celebrating life in its myriad diversity of beauty and wonder. We are offering a very different alternative to the mainstream and this book is a joyous testament to that fact. MJ

Inside You: The Twenty Four Lights

Inside You: The Twenty Four Lights Anna Moulsdale 169pp £15.99 Tibetan Pulsing Healing is a system of holistic healing that works with twenty four energy centres in the human body, each containing their own set of emotional and psychological components and representing twenty four different aspects of the human condition. It can be used to restore physical and emotional well-being and also as a practical and spiritual guide on the evolutionary path of consciousness. Tibetan Pulsing Healing was devised by an American, James Murley, later known as Dheeraj, who, like many initiatory healers, intuited the system through his own powerful need for self healing - in his case suffering from pancreatis. He found that by touching his pancreas and feeling the pulse beat, his pain stopped. He gradually became aware of the twenty four energy streams and through meditation developed correspondences of music, sounds, colours, mudras and much else besides. These correspondences build up a picture of the mood, energy, emotional issues, relationship dynamics or challenges for a particular energy centre. Meditations, mudras, vocal toning and affirmations are used to transform imbalances in the energy centres and these are given for the reader to experiment with. At the same time, the advantages of consulting a trained practitioner are apparent, given the complexity of the system and Inside You is a handbook for practitioners as well. An innovative and refreshing approach to healing with a strong emphasis on emotional and psychotherapeutic wellbeing. Recommended reading!

Qi Gong: Learning The Way

Qi Gong: Learning The Way Simon Bastian 151pp £12.99 This is an excellent introduction to Qi Gong and the core principles of Daoism, which underpin not only Qi Gong, but also many aspects of Chinese culture including the arts, acupuncture, herbal medicine, diet, astrology, feng shui, I Ching and martial pursuits. Western esotericism has sought to create a similar integrated structure as found in Daoism and key elements of the Western Mystery Tradition, including Qabalah, are used here to explore and contrast with the Chinese concepts of Yin/Yang, Five Element theory, the eight trigrams, the meridian system and much else besides. Both Western and Chinese esoteric systems are essentially studies of energetic change in the macrocosm and the microcosm - as above, so below - and the approach this book takes makes for a very different experience from the normal Western tendency to rationalise, fix and limit the movement of Daoist thought and practices.. The heart of the book looks at Qi Gong exercises that work with the congenital meridians. It is undoubtedly difficult to learn physical exercises from a book, but the basics can certainly be understood and practised from the information and wealth of accompanying photographs given here. If you have little knowledge of Daoism, this is a really great book to start with and if you have some knowledge, you will certainly be entertained. Available from the Wild Hunt, 7, Benedict St. MJ

Star Pilgrim

Simon Small O Books 362pp £12.99

An ellipse of brilliant light is pulsing over Niagara Falls and it is no random occurrence because telescopes and radar have tracked its passage to the planet since first appearing over the Sea of Tranquillity on the moon. Earth has an alien visitor and whilst many are entranced and uplifted in its presence, many watching television broadcasts from afar are deeply disturbed and disorientated.

This absorbing novel explores the very human need for fixed anchors in an uncertain world and the alien arrival is definitely not helping. The unlikely protagonist of the novel is an Anglican vicar, who is remarkably free of certainties, and his journey describes the opening of mysteries to those who are prepared to let boundaries of thought and belief dissolve.

It would be unfair to reveal the plot as it is a delight and full of synchronicities. One of the more unusual pleasures is that this a book that celebrates Christian mysticism in an authentic and uplifting way, crossing into areas not normally associated with Christianity, but familiar to spiritual seekers of all persuasions. The whole novel is infused with a deeply contemplative spirit that envelops the reader to wonderful effect. With echoes of Aldous Huxley, this book is highly recommended and available in all good Glastonbury bookshops!

On Being You: A Simple Guide to Self Enquiry

Michael Vincent Authorhouse 2010 Paperback, full colour on acid free paper ISBN 978144 909 7578

This book is delightfully presented in all aspects. I found the look and feel of the book immediately set a relaxed tone. The size and clean layout are easy on the eye offering the opportunity to focus on the content without undue distraction. The text is interspersed with relevant quotations and a selection of images taken from Michael’s extensive portfolio of original artworks created during his lifetime as a painter. Each quotation and image offers the reader an opportunity to pause and reflect before continuing.

Sri Ramana Maharshi offered Self Enquiry as silent Satsang. It soon became apparent to him that many of his students were not “getting the message? as they were unable or unprepared to sit with the silence. Faced with this fact verbal communication was started, much of it recorded by his devotees later to become the basis of texts. From here, the author explains, there has become an almost exponential increase in verbiage, particularly in the West, as Self Enquiry becomes more popular. It is the proliferation of differing words and the accompanying complexity or confusion that Michael seeks to address.

As readers, invited to work at our own pace, we are led through each section with simple and uncluttered explanations. I found that when approached in a relaxed and open way I absorbed the material with more and more ease. Following his desire to keep matters as simple as possible Michael’s book follows a path offering a measured journey through each of the areas addressed.

At only 80 pages, including images and quotations, some recommended reading and three pages at the end left empty for personal notes, it is clear that Michael has accomplished what he set out to offer : a simple guide to Self Enquiry devoid of surplus verbiage. John Emery

Avalonian Aeon From Glastonbury Festival to 2012 A Personal Occult Odyssey Paul Weston

£14.99 544pp

Avalonian Aeon Publivations

Those of us familiar with Paul Weston’s talks in Glastonbury in the late nineties have long been waiting for this account of his occult journeyings during the 1980’s and early 1990’s. I am happy to report that it surpasses all expectations, starting with the early acid fuelled misadventures and developing into the main body of the book featuring epic vistas of psychic questing across the Glastonbury Zodiac and points further afield.

Paul has always been wonderfully perceptive in his exposition of magical and mystical sources and Avalonian Aeon contains insightful studies of John Cowper Powys, Katherine Maltwood, George Gurdjieff and a host of other influences. It seems unlikely that any of these influences could have envisaged the kind of voyage Paul chose to launch upon.

The demented early days rarely allow for boundaries and the purple hazed initiation of Solstice Eve at Stonehenge free festival in 1979 sets up a repeating cycle of especially intense Solstices throughout the eighties - an inspired all nighter up the Tor is particularly memorable, where Sufis, Wiccans and bongo crazies conspire happily together in creating serendipity.

Psychic questing is an unaccountable phenomenon whereby information is psychically received, directions given to specifically described locations leading to the discovery of physical objects such as swords and gems, as well as apported objects, and further information.Paul was working in a group that included Andrew Collins, who has written extensively on the phenomenon, but much of the material in Avalonian Aeon has not been published before.

A vast mass of Arthurian, Sumerian, Egyptian, Mayan and other historical/mythical sources creates an ever evolving matrix out of which further adventure happens. I cannot remotely give justice to the intensity and richness of the material. The appearance of Trebor the Follet, a Cornish Sprite, might give you a flavour: Trebor offers plenty of useful guidance, but has an unhelpful habit of fusing electrics and bursting plumbing, as one might expect from a sprite.

And then of course, there is the Essex cultural background to deal with. For it is the Company of Essex trooping across the misty Vale of Avalon - hailing from Southend and all points East - very much in the tradition of Cowper Powys, where mystical ecstasies are counter-pointed by foul smells. Quests are deliberated upon in smoky pubs, excessive alcohol consumed and revelatory nights flow into breakfast at Little Chefs. Reaching for the stars and scaring themselves shitless in the process.

This is a superb book, an indispensable addition to the Glastonbury canon, full of inspiration and bound to lead to further synchronicities and connections. The Glastonbury Zodiac is currently gaining much more attention and Avalonian Aeon is an invaluable source book for those interested in exploring its terrestrial esoteric initiations. The book does of course carry the usual health warning Not for those of a tender disposition but you may have worked that one out for yourselves already. Too much for me to absorb in one week’s reading and I will be reading it in more detail again. But it sent me well doolally for the few days leading up to Solstice Eve 2010, so job done.

Mike Jones

A Pilgrim in Glastonbury Barry Taylor

Abbey Press 272pp £10

available from The Pilgrim Reception Centre

The idea that Glastonbury itself might offer a spiritual or tranformative process might seem unlikely to the casual visitor or indeed many residents, but for many others the thought is perfectly normal. This book is an autobiographical account of one person’s perception of the process, written in an unpretentious and honest way that may yet be extremely challenging to those holding to empirical belief sytems.

The first section of the book begins with the Call to Glastonbury, which in Barry’s case came more as an intimation that he was “being called to do something useful in Glastonbury?. However, guidance became much more specific on walking within the Abbey when he experienced a vision of the Abbey populated by chanting monks accompanied by a voice informing him that the task was to work with others “to recreate the lost spiritual heart of the town; to recreate the Abbey, but this time in a form suitable for today?. On consulting other people in town, he found that such guidance was not entirely uncommon and that it was often considered to come from the Company of Avalon, a group of discarnate souls overseeing the spiritual reemergence of Glastonbury.Following this guidance resulted in a 25 year journey of practical creativity giving the lie to the notion that spirituality is not grounded.

Community organisations that Barry has been involved in setting up include The Glastonbury Trust, Isle of Avalon Foundation, The Library of Avalon, The Pilgrim Recepion Centre, Glastonbury Online and the Glastonbury Community Development Trust. He has also served on the boards of Chalice Well Trust, the Chamber of Commerce and the Assembly Rooms and has given of his time as a volunteer or advisor to many other charitable and not for profit organisations. At all times he has held to the vision of developing Glastonbury as a centre of pilgrimage for all faiths and none.

The middle part of the book contain his reflections on how different projects have come into being and what are the particular opportunities and stresses that present themselves in Glastonbury - not the least of which is that a spiritually oriented voluntary sector is not a concept readily understandable to funding bodies. The last section of the book explores Barry’s understanding of spirituality as an integral part of one’s life, a path of personal transformation.

This book is highly recommended to both Avalonians and any other inquiring minds as this is a highly practical account of how a spiritual call can be answered.

Mike Jones

The Art of Mindful Gardening: Sowing the Seeds of Meditation Ark Redwood

(Leaping Hare Press £7.99)

Sowing the Seeds of Meditation is the subtitle of a groundbreaking new book by Ark Redwood, Head Gardener for the last 11 years at Chalice Well and student of Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and his worldwide Community of Interbeing.

A unique blend of Zen wisdom and horticultural insight The Art of Mindful Gardening is a journey through the cycle of the seasons, offering the observations and insights of a seasoned plantsman and a serious practitioner of mindfulness. Quotations, meditations, and practical advice illuminate many parts of the text.

In his introduction Ark says, “Gardening is a pastime that can give us a wealth of possibilities for mindfulness training� - and he shares his love and delight in growing plants from seed: “ Every springtime I am thrilled when I see the tiny seed leaves first appearing on the surface of the seed tray. There is something magical about germination, and I cannot see how anyone can fail to be delighted to welcome the manifestation of new life. I experience a tide of tenderness washing over me whenever I see those little green specks on the surface of the compost, and I make a silent vow to guide the infant seedlings to maturity, as if they were my own children. No wonder it’s called a ‘nursery’!...�

There’s plenty of practical wisdom wrapped up in the book too as in Spring he guides us into a Pruning Meditation, centering the breath and feeling the presence of the shrub to be pruned. In May we are instructed on the ‘Magic of Compost’ by a Master composter. “A well-made compost heap is truly alchemy in action...filled with life yet formed from death� and offered guidance on why ‘no dig’ horticulture promotes a healthy living soil.

In busy Summer, Ark asks us to practise walking meditation and breathe and relax into the present moment while contemplating ‘Suffering and the web of life’ and ending our wars against slugs and pests and diseases and instead cultivating ‘vibrations of love and attention’ to build up the health and immunity of our plants!

He celebrates the traditional cottage garden and the fact that flowers play a huge part in our folklore and history: “They link us with the ancestors and offer us their gift of healing� and observes through Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanhs words that just like flowers, “We manifest, then disappear. It is a game of hide and seek� but there is no real separation between gardener and garden – only the truth of Interbeing.

From Summer deadheading as a spiritual practice to the value of Copper Tools we move into Autumn and accepting impermanence. Soon we are contemplating why trees shed their leaves, learning to sweep leaves mindfully, plant bulbs adventurously, and embrace ‘the way of mulch’ to build soil structure and tilth, suppress weeds, retain moisture and insulate the soil from frost.

Ark celebrates the joy of harvest-time and offers us an ancestral meditation on abundance before considering frost and plant hardiness and planting bare root trees and connecting to our own roots as we go down into the darkness and death of winter.

It’s time for the garden and gardener to rest and to clean tools and sheds though characteristically Ark warns against extreme tidiness as “Gaia abhors uniformity and homogeneity�. With the return of the light and new resolutions in the New Year we turn full circle and begin to prepare the ground again as the snowdrop heralds Spring.

This book is destined to be a gardening if not a spiritual classic and Leaping Hare Press have done a beautiful job with its hardback arts and crafts cover and spacious design to complement an inspirational text making it a pleasure to read in every sense.

Anthony Ward

The Religion of Self Enlightenment - Emily B Scialom

This is the story of a perfectly normal man, Carrick, whose world is turned upside down by a near death experience. As a perfectly normal man, he is alienated, emotionally closed down and self centred. He drags himself through life unfulfilled and disconnected in every possible way. Just as normal as countless other men, punching out the clock of their lives. Then he dies. Carrick dies and is brought back to life in the operating theatre; and the life he returns to is not the life he knew before. Everything that he has previously accepted as normal no longer works. He is reborn to a world where all received habits, opinions, beliefs and actions seem bizarre and ridiculous. One of his initial problems is that his relationships with friends and family break down due to his inability to filter what he says. Carrick tells people of the pain and confusion he can see they experience, which of course makes people steer clear of him. Carrick is sent to a psychiatrist to cure him of this supposed mental illness and initially the meetings are fraught with misunderstanding and discomfort. The psychiatrist is busy trying to diagnose the problem and Carrick is busy trying to defend himself against the psychiatrist's clumsy intrusions. But slowly a relationship develops, where the psychiatrist begins to understand that he is watching his patient piece together a new life. "..I know why I am here. I know what I want to do. And I want more than anything to do it. But it is being taken away from me." "What is it you want?" "Nothing, to be free to be whatever I would like to be. To not know a plan, and so always be at peace knowing that I will never fail with nothing to achieve but living the best I can from moment to moment.." Carrick can no longer recognise certainty and sees that most human beings need to artificially create certainty in order to cope with living. That certainty might be religion or it might be science, it might be democracy or it might be sport - any structure will do to stave off truly experiencing life in all its wonder and connection. So Carrick writes a manifesto: The Religion of Self-Enlightenment. The manifesto explores the fragility and coercive control of beliefs which create separation. And in its conclusion, the manifesto states: "The idea of heaven is shown by the experiences of those who have died and returned....A limitless state of love and light is experienced by those returning from dead states...Their experiences are the best evidence people have about life's purpose. The message from this divine realm is to love one another and the wider world.." This book is a classic of Near Death Experience literature and one suspects that the author herself has gone through such an experience. It is also a classic of spiritual emergence - how conventional reality breaks down and one is confronted with the liberation of not knowing. And how not knowing turns into being able to trust inner knowing and thus begin to follow one's path. The Religion of Self Enlightenment demonstrates that the world we have constructed as modern human beings is built on extremely shaky foundations of unconscious belief. And it for us to step out of those restrictions and constrictions into a world of warmth, colour, intensity, enjoyment and love. Mike Jones

Atargatis: A Magical Mystical East-West New Age Psychodrama. Goddesses. Gurus. ‘Aliens’. Dolphins. by Paul Weston

Just when we thought it was safe to go out again, Paul unleashes the ultimate psychonaut depth charge of personal hagiography. Buckle up, strap in, and launch off into a universe where every belief is permissible and nothing is true. This is Robert Anton Wilson philosophy made manifest as Paul careers through the early 1990’s in fully confessional mode, pursuing a delirious mash up of deities, delusions, disarray and distinctly altered states of consciousness. We are eased in at the beginning with some of the material covered in previous books, as well as explorations of the lives of Osho and Muktananda. Rebirthing and Reiki do not present too much of an initial disturbance, but the notorious zoomorphic dolphin experience, familiar to attendees of Glastonbury’s Positive Living Group, gets the hazard lights blinking. What follows is a tempest of synchronicities, five going mad in the gloaming, impromptu pilgrimages, ill advised invocations, hair raising evocations and a story so wild that it couldn’t be dreamed up. By the time Atargatis steps on to the stage, the gentle reader is truly adrift, only to bear witness to a confounding crescendo that lingers long after the final page is shut. This is an epic! And beneath the thunder and ecstasy, it is a tale of the human condition. What we choose to believe and what we choose to filter out. The choice is ours. And in Glastonbury, we choose! On the good ship Avalonia, the destination is always further. Paul’s destination is further out than most. Read and wonder. Mike Jones

Your Zodiac Soul John Wadsworth

Astrology is one of the forgotten arts of spiritual development in the 21st century and this wonderful book illustrates this perfectly. John Wadsworth is a well-known local astrologer, particularly for his work with the Glastonbury Zodiac, and this book has come out of the amazing alchemical journeys which he has led across the zodiac landscape over the last decade or so. Astrology has always been about uncovering possibilities, intuiting our soul purpose and discovering our deep, creative motivations, along with owning our shadow and wounds. It is not only our natal chart that determines this, but the constant flow of planetary aspects through our lives that contain the potential to create transformative change, if we can but grasp the moment. This book has taken a new approach to exploring astrology in creating a wheel of the year from Aries to Pisces. In following the wheel, each star sign builds on the previous one: “Working with the twelve zodiac gateways to create balance, happiness and wholeness.” This can be done through a whole year, a month or even a week as the reader chooses, and creates a contemplative system of self-development and self-reflection. To quote John: “What I present here is a framework for self-inquiry, an opportunity for you to look at the whole of your life from a range of perspectives, drawn from the deep wellspring of zodiacal images and their associated mythology. Prompted by these stories and symbols, there is an invitation here for you to ask deep and searching questions of yourself…” So we start with Aries, leaping forth into action, grounding the inspiration in Taurus, engaging with language in Gemini and returning to the nest in Cancer. Shining in Leo, cultivating presence in Virgo, awakening to relationships in Virgo and contacting our power in Scorpio. Vision in Sagittarius, purpose in Capricorn, making a better world in Aquarius and soul awareness in Pisces. This is of course, a very brief and incomplete summary of the journey, for each zodiac sign is abundantly expanded, with stories from Greek mythology in particular. In Scorpio, it is suggested that “the Sun’s true home is the Underworld; it rises from it each morning, and returns there at the end of each day.” Thus, those mythic figures who travel to the Underworld are all profoundly transformed by their experience of the Midnight Sun “that illuminates the deep mysteries of the psyche.” The shadow sides of the signs are explored as well as deficiencies. One heading is The Leo Shadow of Cowardice, reminding us of the cowardly lion of the Wizard of Oz. Yet a failure to shine in Leo can be remedied. A tendency to gossip and complain in Gemini: “We entangle ourselves in stories that inevitably fail to inspire us and damaging self-talk based on limited perceptions of reality.” Too much or too little of Sagittarius: “blow things out of proportion, or completely underestimate the impact that … tactless honesty has had on another.” Astrology is an invaluable guide to life’s opportunities and challenges, giving guidance and understanding in times of confusion and crisis. This book provides a perfect introduction that ably leads the beginner out on to the path, whilst providing those with more experience further insight and food for thought. The book is full of wisdom and you can literally open any page at random and be inspired. It is a great addition to the growing library of Avalonian authors, who are expressing our collective vision. Mike Jones