The things that go on in my homeland...

Philip.Belben at Philip.Belben at
Wed Apr 18 13:31:04 EDT 2001

Nat, quoting me:

>>Not half as uneasy as just walking around the town.  Glastonbury,
>>that is.  That place has a really opressively occult atmosphere.
> Oh dear, I really don't want to get into a flamewar, Phillip, but I
> do want to point out that some of us are in fact right at home in
> that sort of "oppressively occult atmosphere." I enjoy mystical
> non-Christian  sites as much as Christian sites (Westminster Abbey is
> among my favorite places in England).
> I'm not a devout New Ager (Quaker if you wan to know), but a lot of
> my friends are, and I have floated around the fringes of
> Neopagan/Wiccan circles for a while...heck, Morris dancers spend a
> lot of time being asked suspicious questions even when we ARE devout
> Christians --- even clergy. Last Midwest Ale we had a whole picnic
> party praying for our immortal souls in rural Minnesota, because they
> thought we must be some sort of pagan ritual. Didn't seem to help
> when we explained we just do this for fun. In any case, I can report
> it has just as many cranks (no more no less) as the Church in all its
> variety. In both cases, though, it is the Jerry Falwells and Aleister
> Crowleys who stick out.
> And I think Glastonbury IS a bit over the top, but I enjoyed hanging
> out there for a day last time I was in the area ('97 I think, on a
> Morris tour, of course). And I think the Abbey grounds especially are
> wonderful.
> Just a request we be mindful whose mindset we "diss" here. They don't
> burn witches or martyr Christians in most of the world anymore, but
> both are still pretty sore memories. Care is adviseable...
> /soapbox

I apologise if I've touched a sore spot, Nat, but I really can't see why you
climbed up onto this soapbox in the first place.  Whose mindset was I even
commenting on, let alone dismissing?  (I take it that's what "diss" is short
for).  I merely reported that the atmosphere of the town makes me feel uneasy,
because I find the prevalence of the occult there oppressive.  Obviously some
people like that atmosphere, or they wouldn't open their shops there.  But
that's their own affair - I wasn't commenting on that at all.

I too love Glastonbury Abbey, not only for its Christian history but for the
site itself [*]; and I too enjoy visiting non-Christian sites (Stonehenge,
Buddhist temples in Bangkok, etc.).  I enjoy watching Morris dancers (although
last time I did so I felt a very strange urge to arrange the Stave Dance from
Bartok's six Roumanian folk tunes for accordion...)

But neither any of those points nor any feelings I might have about the "New
Age" movement has anything to do with the atmosphere I felt in Glastonbury.

Anyway, my thanks are due to Tanaqui for springing to my defence while I was
away over Easter.


[*] An organisation called the West of England Pilgrimage Association has done
some work towards restoring Glastonbury's ancient status as a centre of
pilgrimage.  Once a year there is a major pilgrimage, to which pilgrims are
encouraged to walk from as far away as possible.  After walking once or twice
from Wookey - about 6 miles - a friend and I, in the way of students, walked
from Cambridge - about 180 miles.  Never again will I impose on my feet to that

This time, though, I was visiting simply for the book shop.

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