Spiritual Warfare in Glastonbury
Interesting article in the Times today about a clash between Catholics and Pagans in Glastonbury (the wicca HQ), during a Youth 2000 festival (cleverly named 'lightswitch @ glastonbury').
The article has a picture (sadly not online) of a Blessed Sacrament procession through the hallowed streets of Glastonbury, led by ex-gangster John Pridmore ringing a bell and several members of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. It's unfortunate that tempers were raised and that Catholics behaved so badly. However, I wouldn't dismiss as 'medieval' the attempt to put Christ back into Glastonbury by holding a Youth 2000 festival. After all, Glastonbury has so many associations with the saints - including SS Joseph of Arimathea, Patrick, Columba, David and Blessed Richard Whiting - and yet the town has been 'overtaken' by practitioners of a very alternative belief system. Surely Catholicism has an honoured place in modern Glastonbury?
Bad vibes in Glastonbury after Catholics turn against pagans
by Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent
BY THE light of the full moon, witches in Glastonbury will tonight be casting a “circle of protection” around Britain’s centre of mysticism after a group of militant Christians cast salt at them in an attempt to “cleanse” the town of paganism.One Roman Catholic was fined and two cautioned by police after the “alternative Hallowe’en” festival in Britain’s centre of magical mysticism turned into a spiritual battle between Christianity and paganism.
Now even the local Catholic priest has told his fellow Christians that they are not welcome in the town. The Christians were visiting for the Lightswitch@glastonbury festival, the eighth such event organised by the Catholic charity Youth 2000. Promotional material tempted them there with slogans such as: “Has the light on your halo gone dark? Have your wings gone a bit grubby? Just want to switch your faith back on?” Organised with the co-operation of the Catholic Parish Church and Shrine of Our Lady St Mary in Glastonbury, it was intended to be the Hallowe’en of choice “for those who have grown tired of tatty fancy dress and the Blair Witch Project”.
But police were called after militants told locals that they wanted to cleanse the town of paganism, cast salt around to exorcise “evil” spirits and called one woman a “whore witch”. Yemaya Pinder, a witch and a member of the Pagan Federation who owns The Magick Box store, said that she believed the Christians should be prosecuted for a religious hate crime. Mrs Pinder, a mother of two and grandmother of four, and whose sister is an Anglican vicar in Basildon, described how a group of Catholics had entered her shop and abused her. She said: “It was as if we had returned to the dark ages. They told me they wanted to cleanse Glastonbury of paganism. They said they had lighters and were going to come back and burn us down. When the police asked them to apologise, they refused.”
She said there were no plans to put a curse on the Christians. “But we are doing protection for ourselves and the shop and the town. We are working magic for the healing and the damage they very nearly did between us and the local Roman Catholic church.” She said that the town’s witches had begun to work their magic, starting the protective circle on Samhein, the Celtic new year, last Tuesday, and planning to finish it using the “high energy” of tonight’s full moon.
Dreow Bennett, the Archdruid of Glastonbury and leader of the pagan movement, said: “To call the behaviour of some of their members medieval would be an understatement. I witnessed a pagan being called a ‘bloody witch’ and being told, ‘You will burn in hell’. “Apparently this man was not a diligent follower of the teachings of Christ. It was my understanding that Christ taught compassion and tolerance rather than
hatred and ignorance.”
Father Kevin Knox-Lecky, the Catholic parish priest at Glastonbury, said: “I was utterly appalled by the disgraceful behaviour, language and threats that were apparently made to members of the local pagan community by a small fringe group that attached itself to the Youth 2000 retreat last weekend in Glastonbury.” He said the militants were “unChristian and unrepresentative” of the majority of the 350 young people at the festival. He had since met Mrs Pinder and Mr Bennett. The conversation ended in “mutual embrace”. He said: “We have agreed to keep in touch with each other and to support each other in the event of negative attention from any extremists from whichever faith. I have frequently found evidence of rites performed on my church steps.”
Youth 2000 is a registered charity which aims to forge links
between young Catholics through retreats and events. Charlie Connor, the managing director of Youth 2000, said that aiming “blessed salt” at pagans was in direct contravention of the spirit of Youth 2000. “For the avoidance of doubt, Youth 2000 does not condone or encourage this kind of behaviour from anyone. We fully agree that differences on matters of faith cannot and should not be resolved by any kind of harassment.” But he added: “Youth 2000 would also like to place on the record that many young people at the retreat were harassed, sworn at and even cursed by people. One incident included the taking of photographs of young people, including children, and numbers plates by people present in the town. They were forced to move on. Regrettably, Youth 2000 will not be running a festival in Glastonbury next year.”
Avon and Somerset police said: “The neighbourhood beat manager was on patrol on Saturday and was alerted that there was an incident at the Magick Box shop. The officer arrested a man for a public order offence. He was later released after being issued with a fixed penalty notice. Two women were also given cautions and words of advice about their future behaviour.”