So here we are, a party of 23, at Stonehenge, on a cold, bright, Saturday dawn, and we are about to gain access to the 5,000-year-old megalithic masterpiece. We are here to observe a full moonset just after sunrise, on a Saturday, at an hour when private access is possible.
A previous visit here was a seminal event for me; an illegal visit by me and two friends in a London taxi on Walpurgis night in 1977. The full moon was setting along the A303. In the half-light, spirals of mist twisted slowly in the frosty hedgerows.
The gates were closed. So we assumed our ancient rights and climbed over the fence. A man in a box threatened us with a dog, and the constabulary was alerted.
Meanwhile, we witnessed the simultaneous setting of a gigantic full moon on the western horizon and the rising of an equally impressive sun to the east. And for a moment, we felt the perfection of the living planet, suspended in space, observed from that sacred space on Earth that mirrors the cosmos.
Moments later, the police arrived. The confrontation occurred in the centre of the circle with the spectacular cosmic drama on either side and we felt invincible. No charges were pressed.
Now, my hope is that everyone will have such a powerful personal experience. So after a magnificent hour at the stones, it was back to the Holiday Inn for breakfast, a slideshow and lecture. Then on to Avebury and Silbury Hill.
I call these trips ‘spiritual mini-breaks’, and they’re the latest in a series of Reality Engineering events that I have been running for more than ten years.
In March we sailed up the Nile from Luxor to Aswan, on to Abu Simbel and ended with meditation in the King’s Chamber of the Great Pyramid. (It’s free of adornment, its dimensions being its secret, just like Stonehenge.)
We have also done trips to Brazil, Jamaica, America, France, Italy, Greece, and several to Turkey, Spain and Morocco.
In the early days we did board breaking, metal bending, and fire walking in the desert. But while these are all useful tools – and in conjunction with Huna and NLP techniques can provide life-changing experiences – I was already on the trail of the Perennial Philosophy…
The breakthrough came in 2005, in my 50th year, when I found myself on a route I couldn’t have even imagined when I left school.
Back then, of course, I was going to be a rock star, rather than run the family farm. In the end, despite two albums and five singles (the last one with Pete Townsend producing, and allegedly charting in Belgium), Rikki and the Last Days of Earth did not make the big time.
In 1981, I got married, had children, and turned to farming. I created Innes sourdough bread and Innes goat’s cheese, and was twice Supreme Champion at the British Cheese awards in the early days of the national food revival.
I was passionate about quality and authenticity. I still am, though now it’s as much about feeding the soul as the body.
Call me an old hippy, but I am increasingly drawn to the big questions. And I believe it’s a common experience: you have fun in your twenties, settle down in your thirties, work like fuck in your forties, and then you’re 50 and you… stop for a moment, and wonder what it’s all about.
In the west this is perceived as a mid-life crisis and time for a sports car. In the east it’s accepted as much more normal, and often time for a sabbatical, or a ‘spiritual gap year’.
In my own ‘gap year’, I experienced a revelation while being instructed by the late seer John Michell. He brought Glastonbury and ley lines into public consciousness back in the Seventies, and uncovered something of inestimable importance to mankind.
Following a trail through Plato, St John the Divine, Pythagoras and the measurements of the temples, he found evidence of an unknown prehistoric culture.
Someone had accurately surveyed the Earth, the moon and the sun, using a canon of numbers commensurate with the dimensions of the planet to build earthquake-resistant stone structures that encoded the data, and left them like a series of Post-it notes dotted about the earth for the benefit of future generations.
I am also – for want of a better word – a therapist. From that work, especially with the Warrior Programme, a charity for the homeless, I know it is possible for individuals to delete unwanted memories, and to create good new memories for themselves. (No one else can do that for them.)
My spiritual mini-breaks are like apps for your neck-top: techniques for uploading positive psychological states. And connecting to the inheritance hidden in the stones is massively boosted by the experience of the physical sites themselves.
Being part of these ventures has expanded my life beyond any horizon I could imagine, and has made my fifties my most enriching decade yet.
Appreciating the proportions of nature can give you a sense of proportion about yourself. And as you reach mid-life, what could be more important than that?
In 1987, Hugh started a farm-based food business growing organic herbs, salads and fruit, baking sourdough bread, and creating Innes goat cheese. In 2000, he qualified as a trainer of neuro-linguistic programming and founded the Thorpe Institute for the 7 Liberal Arts. He works with businesses, groups and individuals, and lectures internationally. For information on Hugh’s trips and events, visit his website, Reality Engineering