Other notable times were inspiring experiences climbing mountains in Snowdonia, the Pennines and the Lake District. I was in the Scouts, and we had two good scoutmasters who took us adventuring, pretty much fortnightly. By age 15-16 I had two hiking and climbing mates, Trevor and David, and we did a lot of ridge-tops, summits and wet, cold nights camping in wild places.
Deep life-choices were coming up, especially as a result of the student occupations and political activities at LSE - peace marches for Ulster and Vietnam, late-night meetings discussing all-and-everything, angst over The Bomb, emergent worldviews such as feminism, Green and New Left thinking, new age mysticism, human rights, the global village and a new sense of what constituted freedom.
By the end of my time at LSE it was clear that my life-path was not to become the professor, diplomat or town planner I had originally aspired to become. I got in trouble with police and authorities, accused of exaggerated crimes because I was seen as a leader - their approach was to decapitate the movement by taking out perceived leaders. I was indeed vocal and articulate but not a leader, and I wasn't working for the Soviet Communist party either - I was a hippy, John Lennon style. I wanted peace, love and world change - quite harmless, really! I was distinctly non-violent and spoke up against confrontation with 'the pigs' (the police) - revolution is about building a new world, not just fighting the old one.
Experiences of punishment and suppression by the police and authorities confirmed rather than weakened my beliefs - the authorities were getting things wrong, taking an unhelpful approach. They had shot at British people in Londonderry, suppressed a movement for peace, love and a change of direction in society, they banged us on the head, implicitly supported a murderous war in Vietnam and accused us of being Communist sympathisers. That just didn't make sense.
Photo by my late aunt Hilary Bedford, early 1974
After leaving LSE and living for a year in London in a large squat on Elgin Avenue, Maida Hill, London, tripping out a lot, I soon needed to leave London. My spirit was growing brighter and I was becoming oversensitive to the city. I and my friends were also often being harassed by police. The intensity and pollution of London was clouding my soul.
In late 1972 I spent a few months in mid-Wales (Radnorshire), where I had a life-changing experience: a close encounter with an extraterrestrial craft on a dark November night, shared with a friend. It lasted around 20-30 minutes (time has no meaning with such encounters) and, while it was happening, we checked each other and what we were seeing. It was a big, lenticular craft, out of which came several smaller craft, which beetled off in different directions, seemingly busy doing things, then to return. They did a bit of a dance and the small craft re-entered the big one, and it faded and then blipped out. My first thought, straight after that, was, 'I now know what blessing means'.
I forgot this experience shortly afterwards - reconciling such experiences with 'reality' can be difficult for contactees, and this forgetting is common. But when I started remembering it, about seven years later, it was crystal clear and I remembered every detail. Even so, something in me wanted to understand more about this and, in year 2000, I did a regression to return to that moment in time, and the details came pouring out. I've recounted this in a podcast called Close Encounter.
I then moved to Snowdonia, where I lived in a beautiful little off-grid stone cottage by a waterfall in an idyllic mountain valley, Cwm Pennant. There was an old prayer about this valley, which went: 'Lord, why did you make Cwm Pennant so beautiful and a shepherd's life so short?'. Sometimes I was there alone, sometimes with a friend. Suddenly I had space to grow. It felt as if I were saying goodbye to humanity - I wasn't, as things turned out, but it was a necessary retreat from the world at the time.
Here my inner growth really flowered. I took psychedelics, roamed the mountains, chopped wood and carried water, studied sacred texts and teachings and lived a simple life. It was a time of awakening, enlightenment - also of recuperation from what had happened in London. I learned astrology, Taoism and Buddhism, waded through esoteric tomes like The Secret Doctrine and Alice Bailey's works, watched the fire and cooked over it, and was bathed by the music of the waterfalls, observed by a buzzard hovering overhead as I tramped around the picturesque and atmospheric valley where I lived (thanks to my old friend Charley Barley).
In the coroner's enquiry into Mike's death I was initially suspected of murder (since I was already suspect in the authorities' eyes from my LSE days and the police still wanted to nail me). But I was acquitted - it was deemed an accidental death. I lost my beautiful home, since the police had accused us of being heroin dealers. I had to move. I knew not where to.
HH Gyalwa Karmapa XVI
By a series of 'chance' happenings, after leaving Cwm Pennant in November 1974 I landed up visiting a Tibetan Lama, His Holiness the Gyalwa Karmapa XVI, who was visiting Samye Ling Dharma centre in Scotland. The Lamas saved me. I was taught meditation for the first time by Akong Rinpoche, the lama who ran and developed Samye Ling. Learning meditation stabilised my spirit. The lamas' teachings and blessings had a profound healing and protection effect. I had many remarkable experiences with them.
When the Karmapa asked me, in an interview, what I was doing with my life, I said I really did not know, and that I had come there to find out. Through his translator he said quite simply, "I shall be in Copenhagen in two weeks time and so shall you". It was a straight statement of fact. I went. At last, I was free from persecution.
Then I worked as an English-language teacher in Uppsala, teaching foreign students English for use in a Swedish university. It was a bit strange, trying to teach a mixed class of Chinese and Iranians, but I managed. At the school we pioneered a new way of teaching language, then called Suggestopedia, teaching via the unconscious by using soap-operas and conversation.
By the end of 1980 I returned to Britain - alone and rather a broken man. This was devastating both for me and for my family in Sweden. I was deeply unhappy about it and I am sure they were too - though my kids quite quickly gained a stepfather who was a good man.
Most memorable was the 'Chernobyl Camp' in 1986, a camp for people interested in ancient mysteries which took place at the same time as the Chernobyl meltdown. On arrivals day, people were arriving just after having heard about it on their car radios. It could have been the end of the world (it felt like it at first), but this camp was like a group initiation, the beginning of many new things, which were taken forward from there by me and many of the other people who were present - life-changing threads that expanded from there, starting projects, relationships, businesses and other camps.
Some of the Dragons, 1987. Photo: Chrissie Ferngrove
The camps had 100-400 people camping together for a week, engaging in large-group processes, workshops and community-building activities. They each had a different subject - music and dance, astrology, ceremony, ancient mysteries - and they represented a florescence of growth and new methods in the transformation movement. The full story is told here.
By 1986 I realised the camps had to be put on a more sustainable footing - the Glastonbury Camps had started spontaneously in 1984 and, by 1986, we were all rather worn out. So I gathered a new group together and, with them, founded the OakDragon Camps. We took the camps out of Glastonbury to other parts of Britain from 1987 onwards, running seven week-long camps per year. Other camps organisations started up from 1988 onwards, many of them born directly out of the Glastonbury or the OakDragon Camps, taking the phenomenon in a variety of directions.
By 1990 I was burning out and spent, and I left. There had been a lot of politicking and antipathy toward me. That was hard. There was a kind of revolt and I was ousted. I'd have preferred about three years more, in order to establish the principles of the OakDragon project more soundly, but others thought they knew better and took over. So I had to live with watching some of the essential core principles of the project deteriorating. Feeling rather defeated, I went my way.
My third daughter, Marieka, was born in late 1989, by a woman, Sionaidh, I met during the camps, with whom I had an unsuccessful relationship. After our separation, I would have liked to raise Marieka myself (I was good at parenting, actually), but this was not to be, and she was moved some distance away, eventually to grow up with her grandmother, a nice lady called Sylvia.
I had lost three daughters by now and was devastated with this - but then, as many were wont to believe, it was my fault, though I tried my level best. Ah, the tumultuous life of someone seeking to be a peacemaker! But to conventional society and many judgemental people I was simply irresponsible, an absent father who apparently did not care. That was the way things were then.
In 1987 my first published book Living in Time, an astrology book about time-cycles, came out - it did quite well. Twenty-five years later, I wrote a new, updated version in 2014 called Power Points in Time. I also started a new line of research into longterm astrological cycles and their relationship with historical events. I gained the support of some prominent astrologers in USA, including Rob Hand and Neil Michelson, who had recently developed the software that enabled this research. Eventually, by 1993, the results came out in a big, limited edition book, The Historical Ephemeris, which later became a web-resource, here. I spent time in USA, doing the research and lecture tours.
The Nineties - my forties
In the early 1990s I also finally admitted I was quite psychic. I had known this since I was about 23 but I'd always struggled with it. My brains and rationality kept interfering. Finally I let go, permitted myself to fly, and my psychic work lifted off. It wasn't channelling, which was popular then, but I applied myself in the area of providing insight, problem-solving, research, intelligence work, planetary healing and simply knowing things - what my old friend Sig Lonegren called 'gnowing'. I don't make a big deal about this, but it is a core part of my work. When doing public speaking, I'm not channelling - it's me speaking - but they do indeed drop things into me and elbow me in different directions, as appropriate to need. I could feel them doing things with the audience, and it felt as bit like a teamwork - I was speaking and captivating people and they were working with people's auras, energy-fields and perceptions.
During the 1980s and 1990s I worked as a counsellor, wisdom teacher, writer and a prominent person in Glastonbury and further afield. I did speaking tours of USA, Australia and NZ and acted as something of a spokesperson for Glastonbury. Starting the Glastonbury Gatherings in the 1980s, and involved in the founding of the Glastonbury Symposium in 1992, I was crucially involved in the starting of the town's many conferences that followed in the later 1990s and the 2000s.
Three camps and a few weekend gatherings were held, and the quality of people involved was high. We worked hard, using meditation, talking-stick processes and groupwork of many kinds, applied to the global-scale questions of the day. It was very successful: there were outcomes in world events that we knew, by dint of synchronicities, we had played a part in (though we cannot rightly say 'we did it'). Group sessions were powerful and moving. Surprisingly, we found that working on wider global issues seemed to create more personal growth for participants than personal growth-work itself did. But problems arose by the third year: financing the project was difficult, and issues came up that could have led us into dangerous territory - we were edging into territory we were not fully ready to handle and there was a risk of getting things wrong. So after three years, with regret, we closed the project, and everyone knew it was right to do so. A smaller meditation group, dedicated former Monkeys, (called The Flying Squad) continued the work for a further twenty years, up to 2018. It's worth checking out the Flying Squad website if this kind of work interests you.
Something in my heart and spirit was burning out by the late 1990s. There seemed to be so much giving out, with insufficient return. Closing M100 in 1998 was deeply disappointing, weighing me down - it had been a wise choice, though regrettable.
The Millennium - my 50s
I fell ill in 2000 around my 50th birthday, with a fever and flu-like infection that raked my body, lasting seemingly for months, taking me again to death's door. My naturopathic doctor told me that I had an illness of the spirit, and he couldn't really help. I went down and down, by now a pile of bones. I felt like giving up, though I also felt duty-bound to continue with my family life and my work. Always an optimist, my positivity had collapsed. I offered myself up and asked either to be taken away or returned back - wherever I was most needed. My son, then four, woke me up one day, yattering to me about trains, bless him, and I touched him and I knew I was alive. I was weak and ragged, but alive.
In 1997 I had taken on the running of Glastonbury's biggest town website, Isle of Avalon, an honour, a significant creative project and also a burden. It was unsupported by authorities or local business - being rather ahead of its time, when few realised how important internet was becoming. Running the website was a civic duty I didn't find easy to drop - many people and businesses relied on my work, and relying on me more than they were aware of at the time. When I eventually left the website in 2006, no one took it on. It's still online and rather out of date, yet as a comprehensive town website it has not been replaced.
I worked hard at reconstructing my life but things didn't really work. Increasingly, I felt Glastonbury and I were no longer nourishing one another. I applied for jobs and reached the shortlist in many cases, but I was too adventurous a candidate to be taken on - I had a good track-record but my CV was too rich and unconventional. I wasn't a system man and never was to be so.
Struggling on through the 2000s, life was okay but not right. By 2007 I was going downhill again. I needed encouragement or some good luck. But one thing had been developing, starting in 1997 and gaining steam in 2002: my involvement with Palestine and the Holy Land.
It was Pam Perry who got me into it - a wizard hustler for good causes, a disabled woman with one lung who worked from her wheelchair and bed. She worked the phones and I ran internet operations, with another friend working on financing people and projects in the Holy Land. In 2003 we helped found Jerusalem Peacemakers, a group of spiritual peacemakers from both sides (it's now called the Abrahamic Reunion). We publicised them, arranged speaking tours in the West and financed them.
Meanwhile, by 2006, Pam died (after a lung transplant that failed), the Jerusalem Peacemakers went their own way and I gravitated toward the Hope Flowers School, becoming their webmaster, international outreach person and strategic adviser. From 2005 onwards I stayed in Bethlehem for periods of months at a time, making many friends, developing many involvements and quite quickly becoming an 'honorary Palestinian'. This gave me new life and vigour: my sense of life-purpose seemed to be restoring itself with the Palestinians. They appreciate my presence and input in a way that Brits did not.
Sheila and I separated amicably (we remain close to this day, sharing a son). I pulled up my roots and left Glastonbury in 2009, saying goodbye to many good friends and to 28 years of personal history - I had arrived, age 30, on my first Saturn Return and left on my second, aged 59.
Then it was 2010
I travelled around for three months, crashing on sofas and staying in caravans, mainly on the Welsh borders. I landed up in a car park in the Forest of Dean crying my eyes out, feeling lost and rootless. Suddenly my cousin Faith rang up to invite me to Cornwall for a week while she and her family took a holiday there - I went, staying in a caravan in the 11-acre garden of some old friends, Hamish and Ba Miller (he was a well-known dowser and prehistorian).
I never left Cornwall. Whenever the time came to leave - though where to, I didn't know - something conspired to stop my leaving, and I didn't feel like leaving anyway. Cornwall, a steady, calm, open-space kind of place, acted as a good contrast to Palestine, and to the rather exposed, intense life I had had for decades. The unexpected death of Hamish Miller in January 1990 sealed it - I stayed to stand by Ba, his widow, who handled her loss admirably, but she still needed a man around for a while. My own mother died at the same time - I needed to sit and reflect awhile. I stayed for two years in a caravan under Trencrom Hill in Cornwall at the Millers' lovely house, Treviscoe.
During this time I returned to Palestine a few times, deepening my involvement there. This story is told in my book Pictures of Palestine and its two sequels, Blogging in Bethlehem and O Little Town of Bethlehem. One visit lasted five months, but most were three months (I'd get a three month tourist visa on entering). I considered moving to Bethlehem, though Israeli immigration rules prevented this (I am not Jewish).
In February 2012 I was back in Palestine, freezing my ass off in a particularly cold winter there. I looked out over the Israeli separation wall, there in front of me, outside the window of my apartment at the school in Bethlehem. This is not just a wall preventing physical movement and apartheid, but also a psychological barrier, a line across reality, separating realities into an irreconcilable divide between peoples, cultures, the developed and developing worlds.
Suddenly, a catchphrase came up: from the end of the world to the edge of reality. This referred to my life at the far end of Cornwall and my completely different life alongside the apartheid wall in Palestine. It seemed to sum things up for 2012 - living on the edge, yet strangely at the centre of things too. But then, I have the Moon in Gemini, at home in at least two realities.
During my time in Cornwall I wrote the book Power Points in Time (2014). Also I researched the ancient sites of West Penwith, offering a new view of their history and significance, which I presented on the Ancient Penwith website. Between 1015 and 2022 I created a series of accurate online maps of the ancient sites of West Penwith, Scilly and the whole of Cornwall.
In 2017-18 I wrote a full and wide-ranging report on the future of the world, Possibilities 2050. It went through the different areas of global life (such as population, agriculture, climate, public health and urbanisation), reaching an overall assessment of the mid-century prospects at the end. The answer I came to was that the world will go through changes more difficult and profound than initially anticipated in the 2010s, but that an eventual turn-around and transformation of life would come, and that humanity would likely survive. But it was a question of the amount of damage, pain and destruction that has to happen before such a turn-around happens - that's the critical issue.
I love Cornwall (see pics here). It has a great atmosphere, appealing to the Welshman in me. If you want fame and money, don't live here. This makes the social atmosphere quite coherent for those of us who do choose to live here - we all implicitly agree on certain of life's basics. It's a good-natured place. With its seafaring and mining traditions, Cornish people understand someone who goes to a conflict zone such as Palestine, investing so much in a risky project. They know that stuff. It's all about living dangerously, 'treading the edge', being alive.
Except it isn't really dangerous if you keep your wits about you. Frankly, the most dangerous things were getting to Heathrow airport on London's M23 orbital motorway, and Israeli drivers, who have a 'get out of my way' attitude while driving.
I shall always be an astrologer, adviser and seer, an editor, author and communicator and a 'social healer', while I'm alive. Now in my late life I feel I've reached my proper age. Sometimes it worries me, and I wish there were more support for spent pioneers like me, but I always get by. I've always had food in my belly and a roof over my head.
Merrivale, Dartmoor. Photo by Lynne Speight
At the age of 65 I discovered that, all my life, I had lived with Asperger's Syndrome. This was big news. It suddenly helped me understand how and why many events in my life had gone the way they had. I had been seriously misunderstood and misjudged, and this had cost me high (my three daughters too). I went through a month of deep anguish over that and then came to forgiveness.
I had misunderstood too. I had allowed myself to believe there had been something fundamentally wrong with me - because so many people had judged me so. I'd struggled all my life trying to prove I was okay and legitimate, and suddenly everything came into a new perspective. I didn't need to prove anything. I needed to be myself and make full use of my capacities, my 'superpowers' as an Aspie.
Suddenly I understood more about the advantages of having been me, and about the gifts I'd had available as an Aspie. I was able to acknowledge that, although I hadn't known I was 'on the spectrum', I had instinctively and unconsciously done things to adjust to it, especially following 1979, when I started doing psychotherapy.
Aspies call our 'condition' wrong planet syndrome - feeling like an outsider in this world and in society, seeing things very differently from that perspective and learning how to live in a society and culture that, frankly, is itself thoroughly mad, alien and unsustainable. 'Asperger's is not a programming error - it's a different operating system' - a bit like PCs and Macs. I don't believe in 'the spectrum' - this, to me, is an invention of neurotypicals who don't fully understand. I believe you either are or you aren't an Aspie, and the key issue is your capacity to adapt to life, your 'aspie mask'. Some people fit in better than others.
I have failed in some things, succeeded in others and learned so much in the process.
Life has at times been painful, and I survived, forgave and, I hope, in the end, am forgiven.
People see me as a leading light, an articulator of thoughts they never knew they had. By many I'm seen as a fair, just and principled person. Some say they wish their lives were like mine. All I can say to that is, if that is so, you're welcome to actually do it. How much more destruction does the world have to go through before we all take on our true purpose for being here?
Back in 1992 a nuclear physicist has asked the Council of Nine whether there was one single thing they would recommend which would change the world. Their answer was simple and straight: the world will change when the people of Earth each and all begin to carry out their life purpose.
In some respects I've been a thorn in some people's side, in many others' a bringer of light and breakthrough. Make your own choice. For the reality we feed is the reality that prevails - until, of course, it falls down and a greater reality overrides it. Which it can do quite often.
Boscawen-un stone circle, 2017. Photo: Linda McParland
We have entered a time of force majeure. The global change is now happening, and it's no longer driven by idealism and principle - it's pragmatic and expedient. Peace, healing humanity, healing the Earth and a fundamental change in society and civilisation is unfolding, right now. It's an historical process that is going as fast as it can.
I have no idea how long I shall live but I've had a full life, so it doesn't matter greatly. This is quite liberating. If I feel I have become a burden, I know how to fold myself up and die. But this strange freedom gives renewed aliveness too, relieving us of that burden of fear of dying that most people aren't aware that they carry - until, of course, they face their end.
When in Palestine in late 2011 I remarked to a friend that I didn't feel I was contributing much during that trip. She turned to me and said firmly: "Palden, when you're here, we feel safe". Right, good: perhaps there's less of a need for me to do things and more of a need for me simply to be around.
In 2016 a new person, Lynne, entered my life. She and I grew very close. Our compatabilities were remarkable, and we shared many interests and life-preferences, spending long weekends together, very much enjoying each other's company and bringing great blessings to each other. Both of us were astrologers, and we had such good exchanges and discussions. We cared for each other and had many adventures together. But suddenly everything changed.
Then came 2019
Boscawen-un again, with cancer, 2020
Something wasn't right, early in 2019. I was losing energy, light and hope. In late August I cracked my back while working in Lynne's garden in Devon. It took three months to discover I didn't have just a back problem - I had a blood-and bone cancer called Myeloma or bone-marrow cancer. In my case it looks as if it was caused by toxicity from electromagnetic and nuclear radiation. I was on my back and dying, until I was diagnosed in mid-November 2019 and went through chemotherapy. I was admirably looked after in Devon by Lynne, bless her, who cared for me, loved me and made great sacrifices during that first year.
I went through chemotherapy in Devon during winter 2019-2020, completing it in March and returning to Cornwall in March 2020, just before Covid lockdown started. I had now been thrust into a very different life. I was partially disabled and weak, with four collapsed spinal vertebrae and other complications, such as stomach problems and osteonecrosis. As 2020 progressed I did well with my treatment, but there was a lot to get used to since Myeloma cannot be cured, only managed.
It was a great blessing living on Botrea Farm in Cornwall. During the lockdowns I was very much alone, 'shielding', and I used this time to write a book, Shining Land, about the ancient sites and prehistoric civilisation of the neolithic and bronze ages in West Penwith, Cornwall.
I struggled through each day, with Lynne visiting at weekends, mostly fortnightly. Sometimes I was in good shape, able to walk a couple of miles out in the wilderness, and sometimes I was flat out, fatigued and unwell in bed. It was a lovely raised bed with a nice view of woods and fields out of the big windows of my cabin, The Lookout. But by early 2022, all this had become too much for Lynne, and my cancer and dependency had unbalanced our relationship. I was proving difficult for her in several ways. She left and I found myself alone. It was an enormous setback for both of us, and I regret it greatly.
In a rainstorm at Faugan Round, 2021, with Lynne
Cancer gave me an indefinite death sentence yet it also changed me, making me feel much older than I was - in my eighties or nineties, even though I was in my early seventies. This gave me a new perspective, which I shared widely through my blogs and podcasts. It was much appreciated.
I treated myself with a mixture of pharmaceutical cancer treatments and holistic medicines and supplements. I received much healing from others and also did deep meditations, working with a group of 'inner doctors'. My cancer story is here, on my blog.
In my relative isolation I did a lot of consciousness work with world issues and people elsewhere. Now unable to travel or drive a car, work normally or hobnob with others, I used my alone-time well and was much blessed by the help and occasional company of people in my life at the time.
I don't have long left. I could last five more years or I could keel over quite soon. I'm writing and recording as much of my knowledge and insights as I can before I go, leaving an archive of work on my website for my grandchildren and for people of the future to make use of.
I've been blessed with being close to the centre of the movement for global change during a time of fermentation of new ideas and possibilities, and I wish to share my slice of it, for future benefit.
Palden in 2022. Based on a photo by Penny Cornell
I'm glad to see the world start moving in the kind of direction people like me have banged on about for decades, and there's a long way to go. A long way to go.
Before long I'm off on a long journey into the afterlife. I'll be going back home (here's a podcast about my origins). God bless all of you who have played a part in my life, and I hope the part I played in yours led to good outcomes, even if only in the end!
This has been my life, such as it was. All things must pass. On for the next stage.
Thanks for reading this. It was good to do it - in two rounds of writing. My memory of my life is not good though. The Yaqui Indian teachers Don Juan and Don Genaro once talked of erasing personal history, and that's what, through significant memory-loss, I seem to have done. I guess the payoff is that it has shunted me more into the here-and-now.
This said, my interests have particularly focused on the past (as an historian) and the future (as a forecaster and seer), and as an astrologer I have been preoccupied with the way that time passes. Life is strange and, toward its end, many perspectives can arise that shed a very different light and meaning on it.
Dying is a gradual thing, a time of incremental entry into the Void and passage into the next world. I'm not finished yet, and I guess my angels will pull me out when they consider there's little point keeping me here. On for the next bit. Though I think they might give me a rest for a while, too. Or perhaps I might run a heavenly cafe up there, for all my friends to visit when they come over.
NEXT: My Online Archive
Or, my blog: Notes from the Far Beyond
Palden in 2023. Adapted by Palden from a photo by Claudia Caolin