36th meeting of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Stonehenge, June 22, 2015
Chaired by Dr.Thomas Clough Daffern, present were Joy Angelthorne, Ben Fellows, Lorraine Chatwin, Jenny Wheatcroft (Treasurer, IIPSGP), Donovan Mitchell, Paul Muir, Dice George, Keir, Jane, Rachael Bibby, Maria Naranho, Eva Hoogendorm (Burnbake Trust for Prison Art), Arabella Gilleney, Wesley Burrage, Eloise Hammond; Robert Crowther; Lewis, King Arthur Pendragon (very late) and Cas / Caroline (very late).
Venue: Salisbury Theological College, Cathedral Close, Salisbury, Wiltshire
Main Theme of meeting – Pagan Rights
In 1998 George Firsoff involved on the periphery of the Battle of the Bean Field felt strongly there was persecution of the Pagan, Druid, hippy and traveller community by the establishment in Britain. George F witnessed lots of wrongs done and felt what had happened at the Battle of the Beanfield had been hushed up by the establishment. The Exclusion zone was then put in place by the establishment for 20 years afterwards. Thomas tells us that George F was a self-identified Pagan priest and some of his ashes are still in Thomas’s castle, he wanted them scattered at Stonehenge. Thomas says he won’t do this until we get a proper Spiritual Pilgrimage Centre at Stonehenge. Thomas then mentions Brian Visiondance who has also been involved in the early days of the TRCS meetings.The TRCS is the only forum where the bigger picture is discussed as far as what we the people want to see at Stonehenge. Thomas suggests Stonehenge issues are a microcosm of conflicts around the planet between indigenous wisdom, pagan wisdom, people’s wisdom and corporate heritage management profit wisdom. Thomas is also Peace Officer to the Council of British Druid Orders and runs the Order of Peace Poets, Bards and Druids, a member order of COBDO, which as an Order focuses on restoring the Druids knowledge of peace an nonviolence and mediation.
TCD – I got involved with it because I am a philosopher; I was teaching peace studies at the University of London and Religious studies at the University of Oxford when I met George F. I was doing a PHD on comparative spirituality and peace making. I think if we are going to get peace on this planet we are going to need to get peace between indigenous pagan, revealed religions and secular scientific thinking so I see it as a microcosm of much bigger issues. Am a Druid and also a Christian (inter alia, also a Sufi, Buddhist, Qabalist, Yogi and theosophist and philosopher etc) I see both pagan and revealed spiritual paths as reconcilable through spirit/matter “sacred marriage”, via common sense.
Intro Jenny Wheatcroft – says she met TCD in London many years ago (1994) and that is when she started getting involved in peace studies and is very interested in people who are concerned about these issues. She is currently treasurer of IIPSGP, which is the body responsible for the running of the TRCS.
Intro Donovan Mitchell – heard of the meetings through Joy… has very deep interest in what it takes to make more peace in this world including indigenous cultures we could learn a lot from.
Intro Wesley – interest in Stonehenge issues for the last 30 years particular interest to access and gatherings at Stonehenge.
Intro: Arabella Gilleney – a careworker and gardener, running a gardening business in Bournemouth, lives in Poole, Dorset, a friend and student of TD since the 1990’s in East London (Kingsley Hall)
Intro: Lorraine Chatwin, a PhD student from Birmingham University, doing a PhD on art and the imagination
Intro Keir – heard of the meetings through Joy… helped Joy with her Stonehenge Ancestor project interested in spreading peace as a general thing throughout society has always been top of my agenda.
Intro Jane – here to learn what the current situation is. Use to go to Stonehenge festivals before they were banned and enjoyed free access.
Intro Eloise Hammond – says she is making a documentary film about Druids and Stonehenge and had recently been up all night at Stonehenge for the Solstice, and was interested to film this meeting; she loved Stonehenge and had been gong there for years, she lives in Oxford but grew up in Wiltshire went to SH as a teenager; goes to all equinoxes and solstices now; interested in the Druid side of it as well. Interested in all the different groups that need access…
Intro George Miles – he says he has been interested in the politics of Stonehenge access since the early 1970s and had been involved with the TRCS since it was started by Thomas and George Fiirsoff, he had come last year to Amesbury also for the 35th meeting; he helped run an important website that documents the whole history of the troubles of access to Stonehenge
Intro Robert Crowther – Here to learn more through interest stimulated by Joy has martial art and Buddhist background, studied in China at the age of 16 with Shaolin Monks, wondered if Druids had any martial art tradition
Intro Paul – Interests Taoism Chinese paganism, naturalness, human development and here to learn more about Stonehenge.
Intro Ben – Film maker and investigative journalist did a walk across the UK against corruption in government. Stopped at Stonehenge and talked to folks when interest was raised.
Intro Lewis – just finished school, aged 17. Here to find out more about things people his age are not really interested in. Lewis is a musician.
Intro Joy Angelthorne – Been interested in Stonehenge since I was a child and went there with my parents for picnics. My father knew people who were involved with rebuilding Stonehenge back in the 50’s. Went to the festivals in the late 70’s seems a shame it has to be commodified at all. Likes the idea of returning it to a more natural setting only really opposed to the blocking off the drove if that is on the agenda because travellers and new age travellers have used those roads traditionally for ever. Use to live in Salisbury on the droves and always felt it very important for certain echelons of society to be able to live this way. There are people who can’t fit in with the conventional way of living in this country and it is a wonderful way for people like this to live. Love the idea of there being a spiritual pilgrimage centre at Stonehenge where people can come for free and go along the droves and our government and E/H taking into account the value of people in this country caring for our heritage in this way that is natural to them.
Intro Rachell Bibby – an artist and art gallery officer from Edinburgh, had driven down from Edinburgh to be at the all night Summer Solstice event and loved every minute of it, although found the officials very heavy handed when clearing the circle in the morning; interested in pagan and Druid rights and the collective imagination of British culture
Intro Maria Naranjo – artist and psychologist and psychotherapist from Edinburgh, originally from Spain, had spent all night up at the Stones for the Summer solstice; also had been to Avebury and loved that place too
Item 1 – Ongoing changes about the governance and management of Stonehenge. Thomas asked under the freedom of information several times questions such as ‘who is going to managing the stones under the new guidance?’ The answer received was E/H has changed into 2 new bodies. One a charity governed by charity law designed to raise funds and look after the properties it manages. Could not get from them the articles of association of the charity so it seems one bit is the charity which is called English Heritage the other bit has the duty under government laws to care for the up keep of the fabric of these old places. It is quite obscure the actual distinction. When TCD ask E/H who actually own Stonehenge it is a question that is very hard to get an answer to. TCD thinks technically in law SH is owned by the British people because it was gifted to the nation. The government through its agencies manage it on behalf of the British people.
Joy – we need to clear up what we mean by ‘Stonehenge’ and says as she understands it there are at least 3 aspects, being the stones as a monument, the land surrounding the stones as a monument and Stonehenge the corporate business.
TCD – What is at stake is those that officially manage SH keep reinventing themselves and nobody is accountable for long term policy making for the people.
The TRCS is upset that there are no real facilities for education been built into the new visitors centre. Spending 100 million and there is not even a library, research facilities, meeting rooms or facilities for children’s groups. Had they listened to what the TRCS are saying at our meetings over the years they would have known what to include when spending the 100 million as far as what the people would like to see there.
Somebody points out that there is nobody representing E/H is at the meeting and TCD says he feels that as E/H have got what they want they are a bit smug and see no reason to attend the meetings. They are all individuals who are answerable to their own hierarchical management structures and they are paid a lot of money to not attend.
TCD – they use to come as they were afraid of trouble and saw it as a pacification exercise. Also they set up this thing called the ‘round table’ which meets every couple of months and that is under their control unlike this one. They limited the RT’s agenda to a very narrow focus which is always the next public access and they don’t want to discuss the bigger issues.
Another difference between RT and the TRCS meetings are that the minutes of RT are anonymous under Chatham house rules with no one accountable for what is said. TRCS is a public forum and on the record as a public meeting, maybe another reason they do not want to attend.
TCD says this in one of the problems he has with E/H the buck is not stopping anywhere and for example to ask quite simple questions he had to get it through freedom of information.
TCD says as a Druid he does not find E/H allowing free public access 4 times a year satisfactory too many limitations as to what you can do with no sensible way of addressing this matter officially.
From TRC perspective spiritual pilgrims should have access to SH any reasonable time and not be hassled if they want to sit down and meditate and say a few prayers, light some incense of do some shamanic work.
Eloise Hammond pointed out that it is not a reverend atmosphere and even with the public circling it could turn into a kind of freak show. Groups can book at private times.
Joy points out it costs money to do this.
TCD – to book Stonehenge for an hour for wedding costs £30 pounds per head so for 30 people oiot costs 900 pounds for an hour wedding slot He had been asked to host a wedding this year and these costs had ruled out Stonehenge. Thomas thinks a reduced rate, of 1 pound per heed, should be made available for pagan and Druid ceremonies like weddings in the circle. Or it should be free. We need to look in to free access for the pagans of this country.
Ben says when he was a Stonehenge he spoke to E/H and they said they pulled in 8 to 11 million pounds per year then met Hugo van Maasakkers involved with the development of the new visitor centre experience and what he said essentially was they were intending to turn it in to a 56 million pound per year profit business. There is also suggestion of a film being made and Disney style corporation running the enterprise. Ben suggests this is corrupt considering the SH was a gift to the nation. TCD talks about information scarcity in this context. Ben talks about concrete under the stones and a lady questions this. TCD explains this was done a long time ago although not many realise that this has happened as part of the repair and maintenance that has happened at SH over the years.
Jenny W – from an artistic perspective if you take an image in some way and alter it that image becomes yours so if they have said they own the concrete they have added something to it E/H could say they have become a part of it. She makes the point that from a deeply spiritual perspective people at E/H are not necessarily qualified to be dealing with these issues.
Jenny W points out we are long way from understanding how SH was used by the ancients so none of us have a very strong position on that. Joy points out neither do E/H and as far as we have been told by archaeology there were different things going on in different periods through time. Today there are people who are very passionate as to what happens at Stonehenge who have had a connection with the place for all of their lives and parents having a connection too, E/H it seems their passion is now about making money with nothing sacred about it.
TCD counters what Jenny is saying by saying in the ancient pagan druid traditions of these islands much has been handed down in oral tradition by the different druid orders and druid schools preserved in Wales and in Ireland and Scotland with knowlege of the ancient history of the Celtic gods and deities. The legends says that Stonehenge was created by Merlin, that is the archetypical figure of the wizard, there are many Merlin’s of each time in British history so in folk legend and Druid oral teaching much has been passed down. If you study the significance of this as there are 800 stone circles in these islands it might be a question of the deliberate suppression of the knowledge of what these ancient sites stand for which was already 3000 years old before the Romans turned up. The knowledge keepers who were known as Druids knew what these places were for E.g. celebrating the changes in the seasons and religious rituals have been going on since 8000 BC. Read ‘Britain BC’ by Francis Prior – he goes into the archaeology of all that was going on before the Romans. When the Romans came they wanted to eradicate all the knowledge of the Druids with imposed civilisation yet some wisdom keepers have kept that wisdom alive.
The current visitors centre does not give access to the knowledge of the ancient myths and legends of British history or the ancient gods and goddesses of these lands.
Point raised that ownership in pre-history Britain would not have been an issue so today’s issues would not have been relevant then.
Ben suggest we now go to the E/H the corporation and insist they fund a spiritual pilgrimage centre in the SH environs that covers all we are discussing here now.
Item 2 – Stonehenge Spiritual Pilgrimage Centre.
TCD explains 5 years ago when E/H were still a quango under different management Peter Carson who was running Stonehenge organised a day long long-term brainstorming and different stake holders were invited to say what they wanted long-term for SH. TCD says he tabled a 5 page document wanting a permanent venue as a Spiritual Pilgrimage Centre this idea really emerged from discussing with other interested people and finding out what they wanted.
‘’ A Spiritual Pilgrimage Centre should be established somewhere in the immediate Stonehenge landscape, within a walking distance of not more than one or two miles (preferably closer), on long-term loaned MOD / National Trust / Private land, where a wooden structure be built (by the community) in the form of a woodhenge type round-house structure, or large Celtic round house, suitable to house visiting pilgrims for an overnight stay (max 3 nights) in simple sleeping bag type accommodation, plus space for a central fire, with open air to sky for smoke dispersal.’’
Book shop, library café, place for people to stay over and place for fire at night, place for story telling workshops for children, meditation space, live music, dancing plus a space for theatre performance as well. With stories such as the Battle of Bean field told, the type of thing that is not typically told at the visitors centre.
This being a space for the Bardic arts which are the living craft of the different Bardic and Druid orders in Britain of which there are many 1000’s of practioners who as yet have nowhere to go at Stonehenge. What is provided at the moment is mere tokenism by E/H as there is nowhere to sit or keep out of the rain if needs be. So what is needed is a space managed by the Pagan and Druid community with responsible leadership through the Pagan Federation, the Council of British Druid Orders and the other major Druid Orders in Britain. Land provided by the military or National trust on something like a peppercorn rent of £1 a year.
Wesley asks if it would be possible to raise funds to build the building and TCD says he thinks it would be. A Celtic roundhouses are quite reasonable compared to the cost of the new visitor’s centre and would cost about £250,000. TCD – the vision is if all interested parties are agreed that they want to be part of that project then they could provide voluntary the man power.
E/H has showed no proper interest in this project so far.
The idea that this centre will deal with the Spiritual requirements of those who have interest in SH for this purpose and help negotiate this for E/H who seem to be avoiding the issue.
Discussion was made regarding raising private funds for such purpose.
Jenny W suggested liaising with the East Dorset centre of ancient technology round house project and offered to liaise with them on the matter.
Item 3 Interfaith Peace Treaty
TCD discusses a unique and new interfaith project and his work as secretary general of the world conference of religion and peace who are the main interfaith peace group on the planet. He says talks of meeting the last but one pope in the College of Cardinals with bishops and their equivalence of every faith, where this whole interfaith movement on the planet honours the role of the pagan community. There is going to be a world parliament of religions in Salt Lake City this year. In 1893 the WPR started and kick started again in 1993.
This where very learned people come together and are very chummy yet so far are not able to reach out to the Taliban types or extremists on all sides.
TCD – What I thought after having talked to amazing spiritual elders of all traditions, how do wars end?
Wars end with a Peace treaty that’s the invention of the diplomatic peace process where they all sign a document.
Being that we are in an interfaith war that is raging on the planet so we need an interfaith peace treaty. So I have written the text and have invited people to read and sign the text and spread the word. The intention is to get a million people to sign the treaty by next year. Then have a formal launch that will take the teeth out of the idea that religions are causing all the wars.
INTERFAITH PEACE TREATY
‘We are gathered together as the intellectual and moral and spiritual authorities of our respective traditions, in order to affirm and swear in solemn oaths and affirmations that we hereby declare a lasting and inviolable Interfaith Peace Treaty between our respective traditions.
We, the followers of various religious and philosophical traditions, hereby declare a lasting peace treaty between our respective faith perspectives.
Whereas the world is suffering from inter-religious wars, including civil wars
Whereas for centuries mankind’s social and intellectual and emotional life has been rendered insecure by wars and the constant threat of wars, which have often had a dimension of religious difference involved
Whereas mankind still suffers from the grave threat of nuclear war and omnicide, either deliberately launched or accidentally caused
Whereas as long as representatives of our respective faith traditions remain in violent conflict, we are not able as one humanity to devote the energy, wealth and ingenuity we require to solve the other global problems facing the planet (poverty, unemployment, social development, equality social justice, environmental conservation, sustainable development etc.)
Therefore we are resolved, as responsible and visionary intellectual and spiritual leaders of the various faith traditions of mankind, that we shall utter, affirm, declare and swear this permanent INTERFAITH PEACE TREATY
And in so doing we appeal to all the other responsible and enlightened leaders and followers of all the faith traditions of mankind to subscribe their signatures and oaths to this sacred text, and to follow it henceforth, now and forever.’
INTERFAITH PEACE TREATY
TCD says he includes this here as this is about theological peace making and the fear factor of having a spiritual centre that embraces all religions including paganism is addressed in this document. As the document is a declaration of peace that includes indigenous tribes, pagan and shamanic traditions. This document has already been signed by heads of religious and pagan establishments from all over the world.
TCD also explains that his caveat for the Stonehenge Spiritual Pilgrimage centre being run by the Druid and Pagan community is a matter of courtesy as it is their temple only it would be an interfaith centre where people from all religious background would be welcomed.
TCD says he has just got back from Milan from the European Transpersonal Association gathering of visionaries, Shamans and Elders and spiritual wisdom seekers from all over the planet. The gathering was called ‘Feeding the Soul’ one of the people speaking was a guy named Grahame Hancock who spoke brilliantly about Shamanic communities and the use of indigenous psychoactive plants, mankind’s need and right to have ecstatic experiences. He spoke of the ancient Egyptians use of blue lotus to evoke visions and shamanic experiences. Bearing that in mind TCD reads out paragraph 49 of the Interfaith Peace Treaty TCD tells the meeting this is relevant in SH’s psychedelic iconographic phase of people wanting to experience that transcendence, then persecuted, criminalised and imprisoned for it.
‘That as religious leaders and spiritual elders on the planet, we affirm the right of humanity to transcendence, and to the full flavour and taste of wisdom; we oppose and seek to heal the symptoms of sophiaphobia (killing and martyrdom of sages, burning and destruction of books, libraries, schools, places of wisdom, silencing of wisdom-teachers); we affirm and acknowledge that historically most tribes of human history have used transcendental medicines, herbs and psychoactive plants as medicine to achieve altered states of consciousness, and bring vision and insight; we acknowledge that the use of psychoactive drugs by all the generations of mankind is a search after this transcendental experience, and declare that the current vicious and violent “war on drugs” is unwinnable, and causing hundreds of thousands of casualties locked up in prisons world-wide and the criminalisation of a valid part of the human experience; we call for peace between mankind and the psychoactive drugs of the plant kingdom; many of our faith paths have ancient and secret knowledge about the right use of plant medicine for healing and consciousness exploration; we urge that such sacred medicines be available legally for spiritual purposes as a matter of religious freedom and economic common sense (taxation from legalisation can fund social needs), and that over-use, abuse or misuse of the wrong drugs at the wrong time should be treated as a medical and social problem not a criminal problem; we therefore join our voices to the growing clamour of those who call for the decriminalisation of transcendental, psychoactive and recreational drugs, but to be sold under licence (not to minors) and with strict instructions, guidance and information provided, including spiritual information; we believe this will help create greater conditions of peace and self-awareness on the planet; we also call for the ancient initiatory mysteries to be bought back, the ancient oracle centres, the disused and destroyed spiritual retreat centres and monasteries of the planet, as places for the healing of souls, and the re-finding of our brightest, best and truest natures. Outer peace has to start within. The greatest jihad is the search for inner peace and enlightenment.’
TCD – that paragraph shows the microcosmic politics of Stonehenge and the persecution of people seeking transcendental experience since the 60’s which is when SH flashed on the map of Britain’s underground culture.
Jenny Wheatcroft makes a point that it was the 1000’s of people coming together and gathering in this sociable manner this way that really frightened the authorities.
Also the point was made that it was generally the Shaman in cultures where this sort of drug taking happened that controlled the ingestion of such substances and not the general people.Thomas points out these concerns are addressed in the treaty and Shamans etc. should not be penalised for the use of such substances.
Joy – says she thinks everybody especially young people should have the right to know the difference between drug use and drug abuse. It is wrong to be thinking the use of drugs is the work of the devil as much as it wrong that people don’t understand the use of drugs and become addicted. That far more realistic education on these matters is required.
Paul says it is much more dangerous to have drugs as forbidden and people having access without any education, feedback or support.
Item 4 – Human rights
TCD says the new government was going to bring in a new British human rights bill and he would love to see the wording of that.
Ben – it does not seem that they have taken into account people’s religious or spiritual faiths and that there are laws in the country that protect faith and is wondering if we can apply those laws to these issues concerning SH? Where there is a corporation coming in and doing the corporate thing and that is ok if there is something going alongside it that takes into account the spiritual matters.
TCD explains King Arthur Pendragon has taken the government to court over religious freedom and has won on some occasions.
George Firsoff, King Arthur and Rollo Maughfling have taken the government to court. Rollo has written a statement as he cannot be here which I shall read out later.
Ben asks if the legal route has been tried with getting a portion of land.
TCD says no and explains that the legacy of battle of the bean field is the first thing to take into account. After that people who were there took the police to court and eventually won and got some compensation.
George and Wesley explain all the compensation people received went in legal costs from the Battle of the Bean Field hearings. That they never got a penny out of it and they lost their vehicles and their possessions.
TCD says when they first set up the TLCS that they wanted an official apology and proper compensation for the people injured by police in the Battle of the Bean Field and that is still on the table.
Jenny W explains with the battle of the bean field incident there was a legal situation that year where if you meet in so many consecutive years it establishes a precedent in law and a right so they had to stop it that year. She says this was a well-known fact which is disputed by others in the room. TCD asks Jenny to provide written evidence for this as it is quite important.
2 more newcomers enter the meeting room.
Maria and Rachel introduce themselves and come from Edinburgh had been at the solstice the previous evening.
TCD explains there are several ways of approaching the legal aspect of SH, one is that it is a world heritage centre and that has certain legal ramifications and UNESCO keeps the charter of world heritage sites and the government has certain duties due to this. He says one woman that use to come to the meetings who is now dead was always writing to UNESCO saying E/H were not living up to their duties.
The question of religious freedoms under UK law is interesting because Britain does not have a written constitution; we remain a Christian monarchy with an Anglican hierarchy and the notion we the people have certain rights is won. The Magna Carta was one milestone in that and so was the bill of rights which emerged in 1688 out of the ‘Glorious Revolution’ and the notion of human rights itself emerged out of that. John Lock argued that we do have these innate rights and one of those is the right to religious worship, freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, we are exercising them having a meeting like this.
From the Anglican theological position the Queen organises commonwealth interfaith gatherings that meets every year with 53 faiths and every faith represented and the Queen personally supports the interfaith vision and peace through that.
TCD – I have some concerns about the European Union which seems to see itself as a secular body and really has no awareness of spirituality. It seems to be a business for political secular elites who are trying to make everything outlawed unless it is officially approved under EU legislation and is the most untransparent system where it is impossible to find out anything. If we think there is an information scarcity with the British government it gets much worse with the EU and really they have an antipathy towards the very notion of religion. I think there should be a European Counsel of Spiritual Elders to balance and check what the EU parliament and committees are doing because I don’t think the political leaders are very well educated in the matters of ethics or meta physics.
They are all lawyers and military intelligence types and fairly corrupt.
Item 5 – Question of access
Wesley – particularly for the summer solstice the period of access is too short, I think it is a very dangerous situation where people are forced back on to the roads after having been up all night long and it is only a matter of time before an accident happens. I think access should be spread over a longer period of time so the pressure on the site itself is less severe. The problem is that access is all night long with no day light access. It starts just before sunset and closes just after sunrise.
Maria describes her first time at Stonehenge and she was so overwhelmed by her experience that morning especially being shepherded out of SH by the stewards who were very confrontational and insistent at 8 am. That is was such a shock to have that spiritual connection with the stones through the night and then all of a sudden be pushed out by the stewards.
TCD says he thinks it used to be 9 am and that it is so insensitive and almost like deliberate humiliation to push folk out this way. He personally thinks it should be open to at least noon on open access days and that as the TRCS we should write to them and say its too little, too mean and this needs to be changed.
Joy – says why on earth not 3 days just open for those wishing to celebrate the solstice mixing with the tourists ?
Wesley – they don’t want people milling around all that time because it turns into what they view as a festival.
Comments on how it is not like this at Avebury and it is far easier to enjoy the spirit of the celebrations there.
Eloise H says there are a large portion of people go to SH with the idea of getting drunk in their minds.
Joy points out that people arriving with no clear message as to what is going on, some for a festival some for a spiritual experience with the druids some just to party and everything in between leads to a chaotic atmosphere with no real organisation.
TCD – says it would improve things if they were allowed to put up tents and marque’s with information about the sacred purpose of this time and that events on the solstices and equinoxes traditionally lasted 3 days.
Joy points out this already happen to some extent as there are other groups using SH the 2 days after open access.
Ben points out from what he is hearing in the room the spiritual aspect of SH seems to have been lost and a festival with a spiritual dimension to it might be the answer, then everybody would turn up with the right intention.
TCD says his intention with the Spiritual Pilgrimage Centre is that if you went there you would also get access to the stones any time of day or night. A base camp where you would go and then you could get the spiritual tour of Stonehenge with different shamanic/pagan/Druidic traditions working the ceremony’s there.
Maria says there was nobody to explain what was going on and there was no obvious person or druids to turn to for information.
Maria said she was so overwhelmed by the sun appearing at dawn in the circle that she was crying and laughing with emotion and then she was left with nowhere to go with that experience. There was no ceremony that she saw inside of the stones just little pockets of people around the place doing their own thing.
Item 6 – The Status Of Pagan And Druid Studies In Education
TCD – I always try and point out to kids that this is part of your religious heritage. There were these ancient religions in Britain and Ireland and RE is dealt with by the Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) an independent body which considers the provision of religious education in the area under the jurisdiction of its Local Authority. In the Cornish one they have now put paganism as part of the curriculum; heads of education in Britain have quite a lot of freedom to teach this stuff.
I have set up the Pagan and Academic Education Network which is a project to get pagan studies more advanced. I think paganism should be on every SACRE in Britain and I think we should wake up to the fact that we have all these sacred sites around Britain and kids have the right to learn about them.
There is also another dimension to this which is the Irish-British issue. Something I find extraordinary is that in Ireland you learn about the ancient myths and legends but in England and Wales this does not really happen, so I think it is a courtesy to the traditions that were here that they are taught in schools and colleges. So schools in Britain should teach Irish history and mythology and spirituality as bit, like a GCSE in Gaelic etc
Item 7 Filming
There were some films made about the Battle of the Bean Field, I think they are on YouTube, some people made a documentary for channel 4.. what I have tried to do is gather an archive, so the TRCS is a holder of the archive so if anybody has got any footage of the Beanfield or anything please can you send me a copy. We do have films of these meetings since 98, 99 we have the footage and audio. One of things I wanted to know was about was when the convoy went to Savernake Forest who was the aristocrat that gave them shelter? George says the Earl of Cardigan. TCD says he would have like to have invited him to the meeting because he has heard that he has fallen on hard times and it is almost as if the karma of helping the convoy has caught up with him some way. Finally the system has found a way to get him for supporting the travellers so I think we should reach out to him and send him our best wishes. Hopefully he can come to the next meeting next year because he is a good man and does not deserve this kind of treatment.
TCD asks Eloise H that if she makes a documentary to send him a copy. Eloise is filming in the room. Nicola Hague who works for the institute as a media coordinator made a documentary about Druids which should be published soon. I think there is a bigger story and I recommend making docs about these things. Jenny W refers back to the legal issues and asks if there is any way Druids can claim back ancient land like Maori’s have done in NZ. TCD says yes there is and that he runs the Pagan and Druid rights and services which George F first set up and bequeathed TCD as chair and TCD invite’s people to get involved with. But it is a long uphill struggle.
Item 8 Rules and regulations
TCD asked Rachel as she was there for the first time at solstice this year if she given a little sheet with rules and regs on and did she find the access satisfactory? She says she just walked in with security checking her bag and then you could just go to the stones, no leaflet with rules or regulations.
George said people had parked on the drove a few days before and that the main parking was on MOD land.
TCD says – the thing about access is it is a bit mean not allowing people to take sleeping bags in, there is no shelter and people cannot take tents in so what if it pours with rain in the night. There needs to be more leniency as to what is allowed to be taken in and more sensitivity to people’s needs.
Joy asks if there is light in there and questions the degree of rubbish that is thrown down on the ground asking about rubbish bins etc. TCD says there are spotlights in there and that rubbish bags are available. George points out that people with camera’s stand around the rubbish bins as people are leaving and take photos and it is these photos that end up in the media. Wesley says there are litter pickers through the night.TCD addresses the need for more education and guidance teaching the sacredness of the land and better ways to stop litter.
Speculation regarding the different theories and original structure of SH having a wooden platform and roof were briefly discussed
Item 9 Visitors Centre
TCD asks who has been to the new SH visitors centre . Only Rachel and Maria had been and they said they had found the whole experience awful. There is nothing really there and the books are all main stream and the whole feel was so corporate and a total lack of any information about paganism. They said it cost £16.50 pp.
TCD then consulted with Ben to clarify that the construction company that designed the SHVC was a company that designs Disney complexes and part of the Disney Corporation and asks Ben to table that information to him. It is discussed that Disney involvement is not necessarily a bad thing as long as it is not at the expense and trivialisation of the sacred, which seems to be happening at present.
Finally Eloise H asks about the pre-history ancestors bones that have been removed from SH circle by archaeologists. Ben said that when he was there he asked if the bones that are in boxes in Sheffield University are going to be put back in SH, they gave him no response so he asked if they were going to be displayed in the SHVC and again no response.
Joy says as far as she understood it there were originally human remains in all of the Aubrey holes and Mike Parker Pearson says the Aubrey holes possibly had the blue stones in them originally and it looks as though the cremated remains were packed in the holes under the blue stones although there are many theories on this. It seems quite certain that in the 1930’s somebody excavated the Aubrey holes removed the cremated remains from some of them and then at a later date put them all back in again to one hole which MPP excavated in recent years and removed all the of the cremated remains from this hole again. Joy explains ‘as far as I understand it there has been an intensive study done on these remains at Sheffield University and there was an agreement that they would be returned to the earth and put back in the Aubrey holes or the hole they had been removed from within 5 years. 2015 was the deadline and they either had to be put back in or go to a museum. It is kind of crazy to me that here we have an ancient heritage site a place archaeologist tell us was a place the ancestors went to honour their dead and then they remove the dead from the site, whisk it away and put it into some museum. As far as I am concerned this is taking from the authenticity of the place, there are aspects of SH that are already very ‘mickey mouse’ so why are we taking away the very human remains of our ancestors from the SH circle? We have enough human remains removed from out lands, our museums are full of them for scientific study and displayed in museums. I have been told that some pagans like to honour the ancient dead in glass caskets in museums only I would say there are enough in caskets in museums for this purpose already.
TCD says – In terms of the counsel for British Druid orders which I am the peace officer for, we took a vote about first Oddie and then Arthur’s (slightly less) extremist campaigns of putting all the bones back from every museum in the country (Arthur says just at Stonehenge apparently). We decided archaeology was ok as long as the bones are treated reverently and if they can then be eventually returned. So there is a discussion between the Druid community and the Archaeological community going on – we don’t want to put all the Archaeologists out of work and do guerrilla type actions to make them put them all back – as Oddie wanted – but also we want them to be mindful they are dealing with sacred remains. I just met recently an Irish Archaeologist from Ireland at the Castle (Daniel) that did a thesis on the cremation rituals of the Boyne Valley where New Grange is and the comparable rituals in Varanasi in India, where they are still doing religious rituals and cremation and what he did for his thesis is he analysed the cremation remains from the Boyne Valley, and looked at the wood that had been used and found it very similar to what they do in Varanasi. Then of course cremation was outlawed under the Christian domain because they thought the body was going to physically rise so you had to be put in a grave and it was only in the 19th century cremation was made legal again and that was because a Druid campaigned in British history to get cremation allowed. So I personally think there is a spiritual significance that could be featured in their visitor’s information or in our Spiritual Pilgrimage centre information. It’s about death, transformation and re-birth.
Ben says that the Spiritual significance of SH seems to have gone and it is generally agreed in the room that the returning of the human remains would go a long way to putting that back in.
TCD says he also has the remains of George F and he cannot see any reason why not to have a cremation point or ash scattering ground at SH.
Eloise H says that last night a lady had brought her father’s ashes, her mother was there in a wheel chair and had been there at the Battle of the Bean Field and was pregnant with her daughter and they scattered the ashes of the father without having to ask anyone, so this is already going on at the equinoxes and solstices.
Finished with a minute silence.
(Minutes scribed from video by Joy Angelthorne and TCD)
(Note the meeting then broke for refreshments, and attended to the business of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Britain and Ireland. At the end of that meeting, Arthur and Cas came in and made a contribution, saying they had got the times muddled up. Arthur said the Summer Solstice had been a great event and that he had happily married off some couples with hand fasting ceremonies.)