“I am the last of the Avalonians,” said Dion Fortune, before she died soon after World War Two. In Patrick Benham’s book The Avalonians, she is indeed the last on his list. After that, and for the next twenty years, the Avalonian side of Glastonbury went quiet.
Then peace, love and flower power burst upon the world. Hippies embraced Glastonbury as a place that heaven had made just for them. They loved its Tor, Arthurian tales, red and white springs, ley-lines, mystical Christianity, faery legends, and the idea that the veil between the worlds was thinner here.
How the local townsfolk hated them! They stuck signs on their shop and café doors saying ‘No Hippies’ or ‘Hippies Use Side Door’. Maybe because they felt so unwelcome, after a while many of the hippies decided to become ‘travellers’.
Trying to go beyond conventional society, they took to living in beat-up old vans, often painted with things like flowers, rainbows and magic mushrooms. The problem was when their convoys found a place to park, they tended to take root – to the huge annoyance of the people living nearby.
As a result, a state of war erupted between travellers and local authorities, growing increasingly confrontational on both sides. The climax was in 1985 with the infamous Battle of the Beanfield, when police brutality towards the travellers shocked everyone.
(Ref ‘Free State’ by Bruce Garrard).
Around that time, New Age thinking was catching on. Like the hippies, New Agers wanted to create a kinder and more spiritually centred world. However, they mostly didn’t try to either escape from or attack the establishment.They believed in inner change as the best way to create outer change.
“By the mid-1980s Glastonbury was home to about 500 New Agers,” said Barry Taylor, who came here in 1985. About half of them were travellers tired of travelling, and the other half were followers of various esoteric and channelled teachings.
It was a close-knit group. They all knew each other, and shared ideals about turning Glastonbury into a key spiritual centre again. Some of them felt guided by a mysterious Company of Avalon that it’s said has long kept an eye on Glastonbury from the inner planes.
So in the last third of the 20th century, Glastonbury was a place of ideals and high hopes. It was during this time that the New Avalonians I’ll be writing about made their mark.
My definition of this group is that they:
- Came after the time covered in Patrick Benham’s book ‘The Avalonians’.
- Contributed to Glastonbury and / or the Avalonian ethos.
- Lived or worked in Glastonbury, or this general area.
- Have now passed on to the other side
They don’t need to have been saints, and none of them were. Running after the higher vision, they sometimes fell into deep potholes on the spiritual path. However, even their mistakes can serve us by showing what to avoid.
As George Santayana said, “Those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.”
In asking around and scouring my memories, I’m gathering a good list of New Avalonians. If you can think of anyone you’d like to suggest, or have any personal memories or anecdotes to share, please drop me a line.
You can add your comments here or message me via the contacts page on my website. It feels like now is the time to celebrate these people’s lives before our memories of them are lost forever.
This article was first published in Glastonbury’s Oracle Magazine.
For more articles on the New Avalonians, click on this link – the list is at the bottom of that page.
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