Vision of Glastobury - 2008

(24.10.2008 )

The Broad Vision - Glastonbury is emerging as an internationally known spiritual centre.  In time, it is capable of becoming a model of a new way of living appropriate to the early 21st century.  It will draw people who are in search of their own spiritual understanding and be a place where people can live in a community which shares the same values - but not necessarily the same beliefs.

This new centre will be a model upon which other centres may emerge in the UK and overseas.   It is therefore vital that Glastonbury defines its own services if it is to be a model for others.

We are building something completely new but we have the guidance of the models of similar spiritual and academic centres which have been established in the pas. Essentially a spiritual centre supported by a secular town - examples are:

  • Oxford university with its “Gown” community and”Town” community.
  • The Medieval Abbey of Glaston with its monks and town.
  • Santiago de Compestella with its cathedral and pilgrim staff and town.

What does the place ‘Do’ - Glastonbury is a place where a transformative process raises the consciousness and spiritual awareness of those who experience its presence and energy. 

What does raising the consciousness mean? Essentially the individual becomes aware of a higher purpose in their life - a sense of guidance by the ‘Other’ in some form – a quickening of their interest in,  and commitment to,  a task that is greater than their own personal aims and ambitions – and a sense of Oneness with all nature and mankind.  In turn from this flows a feeling of fulfilment, love. contentment and joy.

How does Glastonbury do this? - This is a complex process and different for each individual.  It might be summarised by saying that there is a ‘Presence’ that guides the evolution of Glastonbury - a guiding Presence that is actively concerned with the development of Glastonbury as a planetary spiritual centre. This Presence has many names and appears in many forms, including that of the Company of Avalon. This Presence knows what is needed in order for the place to reach its full potential. 

The landscape itself is a key element in this process but to fully function it needs the skills and commitment of people to carry out the various essential supporting functions. The Overlighting Presence ‘Calls’ the people that it perceives as being needed to Glastonbury. These are the people with the skills, talents, experience and energy needed to carry out the various tasks. The methods of ‘Calling’ that are used are many and each is tailored to the personality of the particular individual involved.  Once the individual is here, they are subjected to various tests designed to hone their skills and purge their ego! Those that survive these tests emerge purged and ready to serve the greater whole.

What progress has been made? - The guidance is that all the people, skills, experience and resources needed are already in place.  Also most of the functions and projects needed have been started and many are thriving. What is missing is a united feeling of community and common purpose – a sharing of skills and facilities to enable the whole to blossom. 

What is needed? - It seem that the missing ingredient is a shared Vision 

a Vision of what Glastonbury is seeking to become – the purpose of the town as a planetary spiritual centre – and how such a centre serves residents, visitors and potential visitors. Such a shared vision would enable all those actively involved in projects to see how their particular activity fitted in to the greater whole  - how they could support other emerging projects –and what projects were still needed to complete the whole.

What might be the key ingredients in the complete Whole?

The Centre The Centre is the focus around which the Whole revolves.  The Centre is the Overlighting and inspiring energy of the place. This Spirit inspires all the individual aspects of the town but in the centre is created and nurtured the vision of the Whole.  To do this some people will be needed. These are not leaders or managers but focalisers. People who focus the vision of the Whole and work with individual projects to see how these projects might be supported so that each can fully achieve its potential. People would serve for a year or so in this Centre Group. It would probably work well if the group was made up of representatives of each of the Peripheral Groups 

The Peripheral Groups - There are a number of peripheral groups in which all the activity takes place. The actual number is yet to be decided.  Each group is made up of a number of different projects working together to give the total of services needed.  Each project within each group has its own people and is self supporting by generating its own income. By working together support can be given to each other and unnecessary and destructive competition avoided.

 The Groups might be the following:

Communications - The task of this group is to establishing just what is going on in the town and to make this information available in an easily accessible form to residents, visitors and potential visitors. A vital part of this task will be projecting a clear and understandable vision of the Whole to the local community.  This will need a well organised programme of befriending, and explanation of the meaning of a spiritual centre, to the key players in the town

 There is also a need for a coherent external marketing plan for the town. A plan which would have a particular emphasis upon Glastonbury as a centre of pilgrimage . Activities included in this group are:

  • The TIC
  • The PRC
  • The key Glastonbury portal web sites
  • Possibly the Chamber of Commerce 

Economics - Another vital group is one involved in some forms of wealth generating for the Whole.  These would include not-for-profit ventures that generated sufficient funds to enable them to support other projects in their early stages. These might include:

  • Successful Charities such as the Glastonbury Trust and Chalice Well
  • Manufacture, marketing and sale of artefacts and Artworks
  • Publishing, production and sale of specialised Books, CDs and Videos
  • Some of the local web sites

It will also be necessary to give active support to individuals in training for, and finding, jobs. Useful work is already being done here by the Opportunity Shop. Further useful support would be training and practical help with administration, marketing and finance for people starting up new ventures. A useful service is already provided by Business Link and this might be enhanced by the Chamber of Commerce.

Spiritual - This group would include all representatives of all faiths and paths practising in Glastonbury. It might be possible to achieve a greater understanding between groups and to develop an awareness of the universal truths that lie behind all spiritual paths. Some forms of shared ceremonies might be evolved.

Community - These are groups concerned with community building. These could include Transition Towns and multitude of special interest groups – Jacqueline Redmond produced a list of some 200 community groups active in Glastonbury.

Environment - This group includes all those involved in providing facilities and protecting the environment. This covers everything to do with fulfilling basic human needs – i.e. food, water, and housing, plus the buildings needed for community activities, and supporting the natural environment. This includes providers of an adequate supply of houses and flats to buy or rent - hotels and B&Bs – shops - events venues for hire.   Maybe a new conference centre - inexpensive serviced office space for start up ventures - a new theatre- and a modern residential retreat centre.

Sacred Places - This group covers all those groups involved in looking after the sacred places of Glastonbury. These include the Tor, Chalice Well, the Abbey, the White Spring, and Bride’s Mound etc. This group might also concern themselves with the future ownership of sacred places that are currently in private hands - such as Chalice Hill, Wearyall Hill, and the Springs of Glastonbury

 The group might also explore whether a universal spiritual building might have a place in Glastonbury -   such as the yurt in St Ethelburga’s in London and the earlier idea of a Sanctuary.

Culture - Those involved with all aspects of the arts and crafts.  Painting, music, drama etc.  Glastonbury has an abundance of talented artists of every kind. It would be worth exploring the possible need for studios and rehearsal rooms.

Education - An important part of the whole. All groups and individuals involved in providing courses, workshops and teaching.

 A particular interest would be in providing support of all kinds to new projects that are being established.  Groups currently involved include the Library of Avalon, the Isle of Avalon Foundation and large number of individuals.

Research is particularly important.  There is some academic interest in establishing a research facility in Glastonbury although no positive action has yet been taken. Areas where research is needed include finding out just what is currently being taught and what gaps need to be filled. It should be possible to set up a coherent body of teaching on the meaning and practice of contemporary spirituality – a sort of non denominational mystery school. 

Research is also needed in order to achieve an acceptable academic understanding of Contemporary Spirituality and the effect that those newcomers ‘Called’ to Glastonbury have had on the economic prosperity of the town.  

Health - All those involved in health and healing - physical, emotional and spiritual. This would include the local doctors and healers and therapists. This is a group that is already firmly established if not yet working as a coherent group

The Town - All the traditional activities and services of the town – the cafés and restaurants, shops, Town Council, Mendip District Council, Accountants, Solicitors, Estate Agents etc. Many of these enterprises already understand the concept of Glastonbury as a Spiritual Centre - but many do not.  A key task is to provide a clear description of how the coherent and competent development of all aspects of Glastonbury as a Spiritual Centre can be of benefit to everyone who lives in the town.