About Palden | A short autobiography - Paldywan Kenobi

Palden Jenkins
Retired author, photographer, webmaster, historian and humanitarian
Palden Jenkins
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About Palden | A short autobiography

Palden Jenkins, 2011. Photo by Cho HopkingA Life Lived
as Well as I Could
This short autobiography outlines how my life has unfolded

Early life - the 1950s

I was born on 5th September 1950 (3.45pm) at a maternity home called Hartfield House, in Hartfield near Forest Row in Sussex, south of London.

Three peculiarities came with this. First, before becoming a maternity home, Hartfield House had been the WW2 American Generals' HQ in England, from which Eisenhower had directed the American part of D-Day. That was rather an ominous start for a person who was to become a peacemaker!

Second, I was born using relaxation techniques, which then were unheard of, overseen by an innovative doctor. All of the staff was present and watching because I was the last baby to be born there before the maternity home was to be closed (the baby boom was subsiding). Later in life, in my late twenties, when living in Sweden I was involved in campaigning for home birth. What's interesting here is that we tend to give birth similarly to the way we ourselves were born. Most of my kids were born at home, and the birth of the one that wasn't, Maya, convinced me she too should have been born at home.

Third, Hartfield House was right next door to the Hundred Aker Wood, which features in A A Milne's Winnie the Pooh. I've never quite figured out the meaning of this. But juxtaposing Pooh, Christopher Robin, Piglet, Eeyore and Kanga with D-Day and WW2 certainly makes for a rich contrast of imagery.

At the time of my birth my father had been promoted to a new job in Cardiff, Wales, which meant he was away during much of my pregnancy and at my birth. My mother, brother (then four) and I joined him there, moving from Sussex, when I was about four months old. During pregnancy my mother had had to struggle on alone in Sussex raising my brother and me - a foretaste of the era of single mothers that came later on during my adult life. My father did his best, working for our family and having a house built in Cardiff for us to move to. These were post-war years when life was hard and making sacrifices was the norm, but life in the 1950s was gradually getting better too.
School photo, around 1958
Palden Jenkins, school photo, 1958ish
I grew up in Cardiff until I was ten. I was always rather a stranger in a strange land, a quiet, shy lad who played alone. I became short-sighted when I was seven - my inner seeing was developing - and from then on I was painfully called 'Speccy Four-eyes' by other kids, or later on, 'The Professor'.

I was quite sickly as a child, but lying in bed ill turned out to be part of my spiritual training, looking at it in retrospect. It was my first experience of altered states and, once, when ill, at about age seven, on a sunny day my mother had made a bed for me in the garden, and I had a UFO experience, with a beam coming down from it to envelop me. That was a sign of times to come.

I had one foot in this world and one in another. In later life this became a gift and asset - also quite a challenge. But at the time it made me feel like a stranger in a strange land, and my mother thought of me as a very strange boy. Though I was not troublesome. It took me until I was 65 to find out that I had Asperger's Syndrome or 'wrong planet syndrome' - because that's what it's like.

I remember a few of my early-life deeper experiences, but not the more normal everyday experiences. The memories I have retained seem to encompass defining moments, moments of awakening, which must have been imprinted in a part of my brain that wasn't wiped clean later on in an accident I had at age 24.

In one case, a magazine called Look and Learn dropped through our letterbox with a picture of a Viking at the prow of a longship. I saw it and fainted. Later in life I spent time in the Orkney Islands and in Sweden - two of my daughters are Swedish. So that boyhood experience was perhaps a premonition of my future in Scandinavia. Or a deep memory of another life.

I remember being hit on the head by a flying brick, thrown by someone at school, around age six. Blood started streaming down and I went into a funny, faint state - that's all I remember of that. The impact probably impacted on me longterm. I remember only a few other things, like snapshots rather than proper memories.

Palden Jenkins - astrological chartOne memory I have from later on is of sitting high up a mountain in the Rhinog mountains of North Wales with two friends, age 15 or so, after a long climb, looking down on a frozen lake and having what was perhaps my first conscious spiritual experience. I beheld the grandeur and wonder of the natural world and saw this world in a new, rather sparkly way. (For astrologers, both Uranus and Pluto were conjuncting my Sun at the time.)

I realised that, while I had a problem with the civilisation I was growing up in, feeling alienated, I was okay with the natural world and with being on the planet itself. During my life I have drawn great strength from a love of the natural world and the wilds, and in my thirties I was attracting people out into nature, to share the experience by coming to the camps I organised. I've lived in some lovely places.
I didn't like school. I couldn't relate to it, and I had few friends. I was mis-educated, not recognised or catered for - I was just a quiet, strange boy. I tried my best to fit in with what seemed to be required of me, but at heart I wondered deeply what all this was about. And who are these people? Where am I? Is this what life is? Is this what you get? Is there no one who understands?
Even so, in my childhood and teens I was a bookworm and a thoughtful, quiet boy. I spent a lot of time in my room or outside. I was continually thinking, questioning, wondering why.

The Sixties - my teens

In 1960 our family moved to Formby, near Liverpool, in NW England, and I went to the Waterloo Grammar School in Seaforth, part of Liverpool. I was good at geography, history, economics, languages and general studies, but I only came out of myself properly by the age of 15.  Liverpool was a violent city - Protestants and Catholics, Mods and Rockers - and, without knowing it, I was already learning about peacemaking, mainly through painful experiences of getting beaten up!

13 year olds at the Waterloo Grammar School, 1963, (I'm third from left, top row), with our form teacher, 'Taffy' Hughes - he was okay, though other teachers definitely weren't

Two events were crucial in this process of emergence, honing my will and helping me step into my power - after all, at times a peacemaker needs the willpower and courage of a soldier, with no weapon protection. I adopted cross-country running and mountaineering around the age of 13, through which I learned stamina, determination and perseverance. It helped me transform a sense of loneliness into a calmer feeling of aloneness.

Not only that, but as a runner I found I could lick the hind legs off the football heroes in my school (this was Liverpool, after all). Until then they had thought of me as a mere wimpy weed, but afterwards I gained more respect. My technique was to hang around mid-field for the first half of the race and then to accelerate as the others were getting tired and slowing. I wasn't exactly competitive, since I was a more a resolute, determined type, and this was my get-back at the sometimes violent competitiveness that, until then, other boys had asserted over me. (I have Mars in Scorpio.)

The second event was an encounter where five youths in Liverpool attacked me with bottles and chains. I had to fight for my life. As much to my surprise as theirs, something in me snapped and I went apeshit, slammed one of them hard against a wall, overcame three others and made them run. Suddenly I realised I had power. It was a breakthrough: I felt more in charge of my life. I wasn't going to take shit any more.
Around 1966, aged 16, perhaps in Wales
Palden in a state of wonderOther 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.
Also I volunteered at weekends on a nature reserve at Formby - the warden was the first grown-up I had ever met whom I felt understood me. We had a good rapport and I learned a lot from him about nature and life. We did squirrel surveys, observation of leaf-cutting bees, clearing and maintenance together on the sand dune and pinewood nature reserve at Formby.
Around age 16-18 I was involved with the Conservation Corps (later to become the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers). We did workcamps on nature reserves. Once, in Scotland, David Bellamy (before he was famous) was involved, and he helped me work something out. I was troubled that the new trend of creating nature reserves, while it was good, was just a sticking-plaster job. I was realising that we had to change society and the economy, to stop the ecological damage happening. He seeded in me the thought of going toward politics rather than ecology - which later I did, by going to the LSE.

I was desperate to get away as much as possible from my rather dysfunctional family, and early experiences of the emerging Liverpool scene of the Sixties really helped. Yes, I was there. Well, occasionally, but it made a big difference to me. I saw the Beatles, Cilla Black, David Bowie, John Peel and the Mersey Poets, and queued up at Nems to buy advance copies of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

The big life-changer for me was taking LSD at the age of 16, sitting on the side of a dock in Liverpool, looking at the colours of the petroleum skin on the dirty water in the dock, and talking with the (later rather well-known) poet who introduced me to it. This was the mid-1960s, when there was a pioneering feeling of breakout and exploration, a sense of why not? That very day, something went clunk-click in me and the direction of my life changed - though it took a few years yet until that new life-direction really took shape. My eyes were opened and the lid came off. From then on I was clearly on a path of inner growth and change. I made a choiceless choice to follow the pathless path.

I edited my first magazine at age 13 - a local scout magazine called Shillelah. I discovered at age 15 that I was a brilliant notes-free public speaker: I was shy, yet someone cajoled me into speaking at the school debating society, and I was surprisingly eloquent, winning the debate hands down. By age 16 I won the Northern Schools public speaking championship, speaking about why we should join the European Community. In my life, we joined it and then we left it - great, huh? But in speaking I found a key part of my path, a way to make a contribution.

Over time I struggled with and clarified my thoughts about politics, the world and the meaning of life. Being a long process, it took until my Saturn Return at age 29-30 for everything to fall sufficiently into place. But this struggle for truth and understanding was grinding away through the late sixties and the seventies.

I tended to be a leader in later years at school, whereas earlier I had been a quiet, shy, unremarkable boy. Voted in as chairman of the sixth form, I caused a stir by asking the headmaster to abolish sixth-formers' compulsory wearing of school caps. He didn't like that, but we did, and they were eventually abolished.

I was a Venture Scout too, doing the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. More long hikes and mountain-climbing!

In September 1968, age 18, with four good A-Level GCEs, I went to the London School of Economics to study (mainly) geography, then called spatial studies. My headmaster had doubted I would even qualify for Lancaster or Salford universities, but I got the best A-Level results in my year, beetling off to London instead, following The Beatles. Haha, goodbye to all that - school, for me, had been like a seven-year prison sentence in black uniform. I've always worn bright colours ever since. Twenty years later I was running educational camps, propagating what I felt was true education - qualifications-free life-education for the soul. 'A Living University on the Green Earth'.

I thought I'd be taught truth at the LSE, since surely a leading university like the LSE would provide it. After a year I felt dissatisfied - again, out of place. Truth wasn't there. Social psychology seemed to be about fitting people into the Megamachine, not understanding the human mind more deeply. Economics was about capitalism, as if there were no alternative. A conflict was emerging within me between 'rationality' and what I was discovering on my inner journeys, between the mainstream view of life and the radically new perspectives that were revealing themselves to me and to so many others in the late 1960s.

One morning I met Dr Karl Popper who, in a moment of candour, told me, "I'm regarded as one of the world's greatest living philosophers, yet I still don't understand my wife...".  I realised that my pursuit of knowledge would henceforth take me outside the ivory towers, and it did. An autodidact, I've been best known for my knowledge in subjects that universities reject, such as astrology, cereology, geomancy and ETs, and subjects that I didn't study in university, such as world history, geopolitics and life-wisdom.

Political activities at LSE were stimulating and kaleidoscopic. The music scene was great, and student meetings were at times exciting and at times annoying and depressing. There were so many groups with bubbling ideas, ranging from New Leftists and Trotskyites to feminists, radical psychologists, eco-freaks, acid freaks and all sorts. I was interested in all of these and the fascinating, brainy people carrying such beliefs, but my main influence was the learning experiences I was gaining through use of psychedelics.

At an early stage I instinctively understood the spiritual virtues of psychedelics - LSD, mescaline and psylocybin. I was moderate in dosing and careful to choose my moments, and the setting, and to apply the right kind of reverence to the process. I spent seven years on that path and, though it was illegal and countercultural, I am eternally grateful for that experience. It put me on a spiritual path, and that has been at the heart of things ever since.

My interest in astrology and the nature of time arose from the observation that, even when taking the same dose of the exact same 'mind medicine', the experiences that came up would be very different. By the mid-1980s I wrote an astrology book called Living in Time, sharing what I had learned about the way that time passes and how the passing of the times works.

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.

No, actually we were mapping out the moral direction of the longterm future, a future that even today is yet to start fully developing. We were perceiving emergent issues that, by the early 21st Century, were becoming urgent and imperative. That, in the context of the times, was subversive.

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.

Only in 2023 was the existence of a branch of secret police, the SDS (Special Demonstration Squad) revealed: fifty years earlier, these people persecuted, victimised, demonised and tortured people like me. Back in the 1970s and onwards, it was not believed that such things could be happening, and we were disbelieved when we complained of it. It couldn't happen, so it didn't. Similar things were happening in Northern Ireland. When I landed up in Sweden in the late 1970s there were many other British political refugees there - most Brits at home were not aware of this.

Britain, supposedly a bastion of decency and freedom, looked to many of us like a totalitarian state. This was difficult for people of my father's generation, who had fought against Hitler for their understanding of freedom in WW2. What they didn't realise was that, whether people are controlled by sticks or by carrots, it's still social control. 'If democracy really changed anything they'd make it illegal'. Modern postwar Britain was still a divergence from the real path our civilisation needed to follow. This matter is yet to be resolved, even fifty years later. Who decides?

This was a defining time for me in which I chose a path that not so many people choose - first, an alternative path through life, and second, a path that is both spiritual and political in orientation, with a foot in each camp. Often people choose one or the other. I became both a mystic and an activist - involved in what I came to call meta-politics. Decades later, this perspective informed my humanitarian work in and for the Middle East, India and certain African countries.

Photo by my late aunt Hilary Bedford, early 1974

Palden Jenkins, 1974

The Seventies - my twenties

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).

Then came my near-death experience in August 1974, through food poisoning. My friend, a greenfingers who liked foraging, had got it wrong one day - he picked hemlock water dropwort (it had killed Socrates). He was the first to go, convulsing, and when he finally collapsed and I could do no more, I collapsed too. I woke up in hospital nine days later with no memory, no sense of time or place - though some, but not much, of my memory returned over the years that followed. My friend Michael had died.

A longterm outcome of this memory-wipe was a shift from intellect toward intuition - left and right brains became more balanced. What memory I have of my life before I was 24 is reconstructed - it's not memory but a narrative, with a few snapshot memories to back it up. I lost much of my identity. This changed my life. In some respects it freed me up, since I was less encumbered by the past. It's strange how we need a sense of personal history and memory to define ourselves. For some months and to an extent for some years I felt lost and disoriented. I wasn't really myself - but then, who was the self I was really supposed to be?

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

HH Gyalwa Karmapa XVIBy 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.

I landed up living in Sweden, having become very involved with the Lamas, and after a while I fell in love with Berit, a lovely Swedish woman from the far north who would become my wife for five years. I needed shelter and found it in the forest clearings of Sweden, after a stint in Stockholm running Sweden's first spiritual bookstore, Vattumannen (Aquarius), and also working as a printer on night shifts for a national newspaper, Svenska Dagbladet. The lamas and their teachings helped me greatly during this time.

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.

We had two children, born in 1977 and 1979. I loved my partner very much, and the birth of our children was wonderful. We lived out in a clearing in the forest at Vendel, north of Uppsala, and I was gradually healing after the traumas of the early 1970s. For a while we ran a campaign to reintroduce home birth to Sweden (by the 1970s they had 100% hospital births), arising from the unnecessary hospital birth of our first child. Our second child was born at home, out in the forest.

But by 1979 things were not right, and a difficult situation had gradually emerged over the years. I was still unstable and not fully recovered from my near-death experience in 1974 - I think I must have been quite difficult for my partner to deal with. In addition, I was an Aspie without knowing it, and neither did my partner nor her family know this - so I was perhaps incomprehensible and difficult to live with, and not good at fitting into others' expectations and norms.

Paradoxically, it was the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1978 that convinced me I had to do something - in its early stages it looked like a hopeful new development, though not so later. By 1979 I found a need to return to my own country, to reconnect with my past. My name had also by then been cleared - travesties of justice were by then recognised to have occurred and, unbeknownst to me, back in Britain my case had been used in evidence in the very first high court prosecution of senior police officers - the SDS. I was told this when I went to renew my British passport at the Stockholm embassy. I was called in to the man's office, sat down and offered a glass of sherry. I wondered whether this was a trap. Then the man told me I was free to return. This was a shock - I had reckoned on never returning to my home country. I took my eldest daughter with me on a visit, and as soon as we arrived I knew I had to return. I wished I could bring her with me, since we had been very close, but this was not to be - not permitted.

The Eighties - my thirties

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.

Something was pulling me back to Britain - after all, I had left under pressure, not out of choice. So I had unresolved feelings around my homeland which, in a way, have lasted all my life - even now I live at the far end of Cornwall, as far as possible from London, outside imperious England but still in Britain. I felt I had to do it. Soon after returning I landed 'by chance' in Glastonbury, which became my home for 28 years. It was the right place for me, like a safe haven.

I then spent two years crying out my grief, uncovering my emotions and vulnerabilities, doing therapy, recombobulating and also learning therapeutic methods on a Bath University course called Facilitator Styles. Gradually, I retrieved myself. The company and support of people in the local alternative community of Glastonbury saved me, helping me grow through my feelings of loss and lostness. Living in Glastonbury at that time was a great blessing.

The period of 1982-86 in Glastonbury was remarkable, culminating in a 'summer of love' around 1985, where the alternative community was vibrant, bubbling and exploring new possibilities. The town was humming with activity. There was an inherent social agreement that we were all there for truth, growth and the building of a new world. By the late 1980s, as the number of visitors, travellers in vans and incomers increased, the personal sense of connectedness and shared trust in the local alternative community local people dwindled, while many businesses, projects and events increased. This growth was good, but that period in the mid-1980s was a very special privilege to be part of. One thing I started at that time was the community habit of holding ceremonies at the quarter and cross-quarter days - something that has continued to this day and grows larger each year.
Glastonbury Camps, 1986. Photo: James Burgess
Palden Jenkins 1986In 1983, along came the mission for which seemingly I had returned to Britain. It happened, in a way, by 'cosmic trickery'. A good friend, Jamie, asked me to assist him in organising an earth mysteries gathering in Glastonbury. We held it at the Assembly Rooms in November 1983. It was a great success, a very moving event. Clearly, we would have to do another. But then Jamie dropped out, saying he was too busy. I was left carrying the baby. Suddenly it was down to me to decide. I paced up and down on this for a few months and then decided to do it.

At first it involved running gatherings in Glastonbury, for 60-80 people, then in 1984 it morphed into creating and running holistic educational camps, catering for 100-400 people each, with big volunteer teams helping out. The Glastonbury Camps of 1984-86 were memorable, a life-changer for hundreds of people and a prototype which, over the years, was to be emulated by many different new organisations, tribes and energy-streams. This was something new, and many innovations emerged which, later, people in that game accepted as normal, as if they had always been there (though I had to fight hard to establish some of them). I had started something big. Well, biggish.

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
I returned to Glastonbury and quietened down, working now as a book editor for a small publisher, Gateway Books, in the mind-body-spirit genre. I edited books by Dolores Cannon, Viktor Schauberger, Dr Fida Hassnain, David Icke and many other authors. The climax of this period was compiling a book for the Council of Nine, a group of cosmic beings, called The Only Planet of Choice, in 1992-93 - a significant set of psychic communications concerning the universe, the state of the world, the Middle East and the nature of life.

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.
Onstage, speaking about parapolitics, 2011
Another development was my involvement in crop circle research. I saw them as a kind of close encounter where the energy-fields of other worlds were being imprinted in ours (more about that here). I pursued cereology for 20 years from 1990, and it was a privilege and blessing to play a part in this crucial historic development, the full importance of which will probably take decades to emerge. My capacity to handle the contradictions of left- and right-brained perception came very useful here. Many others struggled with this, but I stayed steadily anchored in a deep-level, off-Earth understanding of the meaning of these things.

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.

I was the town's webmaster from 1996-2005, running the IsleofAvalon website, at the time one of Britain's leading small-town websites. its strength and popularity lay in the fact that it had no advertising at all, and it spoke for the town (or its alternative community) as a whole. It conveyed the mystique and magic of Glastonbury. In Glastonbury a few of us were also pioneers in online community networking and internet development in the late 1990s (noteworthy were Barry Hoon and Hazel Pegg).
Some of the Monkeys, 1995
In 1995-97 I ran a project called the Hundredth Monkey Project - a new kind of camping retreat where we put people to work to help the world, using consciousness-raising methods adapted from the camps of the 1980s. M100 was loosely based on the ideas of the Council of Nine, also upgrading the community-based circle-working techniques developed in the camps of the 1980s. We worked on such issues as Bosnia, nuclear testing, climatic and societal issues, the Davos conferences and 'the oligarchy', and for the emergence of truth and realism during a time of almost cultish materialism and corporate globalisation.

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.
1998, with Tulki. Photo: Will Glenn (I think)
Palden and Tulki Jenkins, 1998In 1996 my last child, Tulki, was born - this time a boy, with my partner Sheila. We lived together from 1993 onwards, for 15 years. The rather unique story of his birth, at home in Glastonbury on a futon on the floor in our house near the Chalice Well, is told here. I have been so blessed with wonderful children. What pleases me most is that I believe they all are net contributors to this world, good people with their hearts in the right place. I now (2023) have seven grandchildren - four in Sweden and three in Britain.

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.

But it was a longterm thing too: I had been treading the edge and moving mountains for thirty years. I had committed my life to healing the world of its darkness, and by 1999 it seemed to me as if things were in fact going backwards. I wondered if it was too late for the world to change. In this I might have been correct, though it might also have been a bout of deep fear and dread for the future - weltschmerz  or the pain of the world. I wondered whether I had got things thoroughly wrong. I wondered whether the battle was lost.

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.
Out camping, 2009. Photo: Cho Hopking
Palden Jenkins, 2009I had to start again. This was a gradual process - it happened properly seven years later in 2008. I needed to keep my business going, support my family and continue my community and civic duties in Glastonbury.

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.

The cracking point came when I applied for the job of warden of Glastonbury Abbey - I was the only local candidate. I was rejected in the first round - though I noticed in subsequent years that some of my ideas were taken up by the Trustees. They didn't want a radical option: my proposal involved turning Glastonbury Abbey into a multifaith pilgrimage place of a new kind. This finished me off - from then on, I started considering leaving Glastonbury.
A selfie in the mirror in East Jerusalem, 2009
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.
One of the peacemakers, Ibrahim Issa, came from Bethlehem in the West Bank - he ran a school that was a pioneer in trauma-recovery for children and adults. We clicked, almost like brothers, and I started getting increasingly involved with the Hope Flowers School and Centre in Bethlehem.

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.

But now it no longer worked to continue living in Glastonbury. Palestine and Glastonbury are both intense, rather crazy places, for very different reasons, and I could not do both. Something had to shift.
On stage at the Glastonbury Symposium, 2012
During 2007 things came clear. I had to shed a load, leave Glastonbury and re-start my life. Palestine was paramount now. By now my son was becoming old enough to manage with less of me, and my partner and I, having got on well, had grown apart, heading in different directions. My growing radicalism and Palestine involvement had become incompatible with her professional career-path. My life and business (as a webmaster, counsellor, editor and author) were disintegrating. I knew that, if I didn't make a move, my life would peter out. I had to do something to revive my spirits.

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.

I searched for an answer about where to head next, and received no clues. Glastonbury can be like that - it doesn't release you easily. So I decided just to head out, though I was pretty penniless, with all my remaining possessions in my little car, to sniff out possibilities. It took three months to find a solution - not bad going - though I didn't realise it was a solution for further four months after that.

Then it was 2010 - my sixties

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.
Palden in Jenin, Palestine, 2011
Palden Jenkins, Jenin, Palestine, 2011During 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 June 2012 I settled at Botrea Farm near St Just in Cornwall, and was happy to be there - it was dead right for me. Living at 'the end of the world' suited me well.

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.
But a trip to Syria in 2014 finished me off. I realised I was by now rather traumatised. Nevertheless, I worked remotely with Palestine and other issues (such as with a Tuareg tribe in Mali, as from 2016). In late 2012 I worked with Harry Fear, supporting his broadcasts during an Israeli assault on Gaza and, later, with We Are Not Numbers, training and supporting young Gazans in writing articles and making videos about their situation. I also continued my relationships with individuals in the West Bank, since one of my core objectives in Palestine had always been to support social leaders and help keep them on the rails.

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 and cancer

Boscawen-un again, with cancer, 2020

Palden Jenkins - cancer patientSomething 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 started a cancer blog, Notes from the Far Beyond, and a series of podcasts, Pods from the Far Beyond. This creativity became a core part of me cancer therapy.

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

Palden Jenkins in 2022I'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

Or: Audio Archive of public talks

Palden in 2023. Adapted by Palden from a photo by Claudia Caolin

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