When I say that the Welsh, in contrast to the Scots, seem almost entirely lacking in ambition I actually mean it as a compliment. Wales is like Britain’s Tibet.
The last few centuries of Scottish history have been defined by glorious innovation and aggressive, hyper-pragmatic power games… putting Scottish bloodlines on the throne, largely inventing modern finance, television, the telephone, housing great centres of industrial and imperial wealth. (There is no “Welsh Rite” in Freemasonry.)
Smelling faintly of woad paint and long ships, there is a deliciousness to Scottish identity that seems to say “come at me, bro”.
But the Welsh?
You’ll not wake up to the sound of their war horns on the beach. It feels instead like they’d simply phase out of our plane of existence before your very eyes and go and blight your crops with a song about dragons. Eavesdropping on identity politics conversations in pubs across South Wales like I did last week paints a very different picture to the one you find north of the wall.
Little wonder, then, that Tolkien based some of his Elvish languages on Welsh.
Here at St David’s, the westernmost point in Wales, that Elvish current meets that wonderful Gaelic-Celtic early church current which reaches up to Anglesey and Iona and across to Ireland’s east coast… part of the early Christian superhighway, too old to be constrained by modern national boundaries, an archipelago of spiritual innovation, like a cold Aegean.
As with Iona, ‘The Message’ feels perpetually ‘new’ here. Just walking through the grounds, you resonate like a tuning fork with those days when the story of universal redemption for all was first told. It is entirely different to the feeling in any of the great cathedrals of Europe I’ve so far been to.
I am fascinated with the early political message of Christianity. We are so used to the idea (if not the implementation) of universal equality and human rights that the possibility of a divine being coming to earth for you has been reduced in its impact.
But watch this scene from Agora (8:54 – 12:42):
When Columba and David and the rest began speaking on these shores, they would have found a land so caught up in tribal allegiances and royal bloodlines… warlords and a priestly caste set apart by virtue of blood and being in some sense chosen. Women and slaves were traded, raped and stolen, just as they were right across Europe. (Saint David is the product of a rape.) The miracle in Agora is that a slave, someone else’s property, may be chosen by God, and that the bread that ‘belongs’ to his master is God’s bread to give to the poor.
Those few dark centuries subsequent to the arrival of such a radical message were a magical time of hybridity, birthing stories of Arthur and faery saints, when almost any Christian enclave outside of Rome was, practically by definition, gnostic paganism -a new message injected into an existing spiritual world.
Interestingly, in their down time from finding crashed Soviet aircraft in Africa for the CIA, rings around Jupiter and bases on the far side of the moon, some of the remote viewers in the Stargate Project RV’d a whole bunch of periods in history. (Well you would, wouldn’t you?) Remote Viewer 001, Joseph McMoneagle, wrote about this experience in the late nineties in a book called Ultimate Time Machine. He would lie in a soundproof, lead-lined faraday cage and receive instructions from an operator via microphone. This is a transcript of what happened when they attempted this with Jesus:
Joe: There seems like there is a missing piece here too, and I’m trying to grasp it. Hold on a second. Let me…
Joe: He, ah…. he was very ah… evidently he had a far greater deal of…. a far greater number of people followed him as opposed to what’s known or available in the historical record. He ah… he didn’t spend time detailing his ideals or anything to like… student type of people. But he did take the more brilliant people he became involved with and ah… and instructed them in the philosophic side of the ideal. He secretly made them understand the necessity for the interaction. They, in turn, with that single key, spread the information as well. It was if it was all hinged on a single precept. I think the historical record is a compilation of not only the information from this man called Jesus, but… an awful lot of what was credited to him that was provided by or taught by others based on a like premise, and included as well.
Bob: Of what sense can you make of his death then?
Joe: Ah… have to create a place… or a… you have to create a parameter in which the higher experience can be experienced, in order to develop information based solely on the higher experience. Ah… it’s kind of like… I’m trying to figure out a way of translating… of putting it… but I’m really having trouble doing this. Ah, it’s like a… man, until that point, or interaction between men created a form of learning or a form of information that was called learning, and this form of learning had become stagnated. It needed a kick in the pants, in order to progress to the next level. So… the reason for his… his actions, were to… initiate a question or a… a questioning that would grow as a blossom in the minds of men and women. It’s sort of like promulgating a new… a totally new experience, or a new experiential type of thing that men would come to know, that would cause them to participate or interact on a higher level of what man was really supposed to be.
Joe: I’m trying to… I’m trying… be very… it’s kind of like, ah… man at the time was like two kids on the street corner. And their interaction at first is a discussion on who has the prettiest models or the best looking bike, or I bet I can jump out of that limb in the tree and you can’t, etc… That… that form of interaction was producing a truth or information of a certain level. So then, these two boys are met by a man, and the man says, have you ever wondered where that tree came from, or how it might have grown? And the boys find that in the next day they are discussing the more esoteric nature of the tree, or the possible manufacturer of the bicycle, or how marbles are made – it kind of like shoved them up to the next level of understanding, of curiosity. The interaction between them produces a truth that’s a tenfold higher step than who has the largest bag of marbles – that kind of effect.
Joe: I feel a need… I just want to say one thing here. In the course or history of humanity this manifestation, this being called Christ… that was one way of doing this… doing it. There are many ways of doing this… doing it.
What emerged from the Jesus experiments was the picture of a man who was born with a particular intensity about him, a driven man who vanished into the wilderness at an early age (those missing years) to meditate and hang out with crazy desert wizards. This potentially triggered a walk-in experience and he returned with the revelation that a truth exists in the interaction between those seeking it that is much greater than that which is simply revealed. (Do as I do... or for where two or three gather in My name…)
The appeal of this permanently-unverifiable vision is that it tracks with the injection of a gnostic message of personal, universal, spiritual discovery back into mankind’s discourse. It was the combination of network effects along with a sympathetic ideological framework -messianism- that led to its appearance in Iron Age Palestine rather than, say, Madagascar. From there it could get further, faster. Had it come through elsewhere or elsewhen -and the implication is that is has– then Jesus would have looked very different.
It is a distinctly neighbourly view of Christ’s mission: The ongoing manipulation of human consciousness -presumably in this case for the better- by extradimensional forces. (Vallée, who was just down the SRI hall at the time of the experiments, would probably approve.) That uncorrupted transmission is keenly felt in places such as St David’s.
There is, inevitably, also evidence of that corruption.
Two pilgrimages to St David’s, for instance, eventually came to count as one pilgrimage to Rome. This is common across the Catholic empire and on the surface of it seems “nice”… most people could not afford such extreme examples of travel so concessions were made to the distant faithful. However, tuning into it in a place so awash with domestic folk magic, it feels like a further example of the archonic hijack. I get the sense that people chose to make repeated pilgrimages to St David’s and the Catholic response was to claim these for Rome: You’ve been to St David’s twice? That counts as going to Rome! You’re Catholic now, no backsies!
As for the man, himself, Saint David?
He lacks some of the bombast of Saint Columba but then his community was potentially too far south to worry much about Viking raids. He didn’t need to be quite so Gandalf with his miracles.
In fact, his story is rather light on wizardry. There is the tale of Saint David preaching to a crowd and a small hill miraculously appearing underneath him so that all could hear the Word. If you’ve ever been to Mid-Wales or are familiar with its geography you’ll understand why one wag, John Davies, said that he can “scarcely conceive of any miracle so superfluous”. Even in this, David is the quintessential Welshman.
But his association with magic (hollow) hills in Wales is evidence of his hybridisation with the indigenous pagan beliefs, as his association with corpse candles and enabling anyone who lives in Wales to be forewarned of their own death. From the perspective of actual magical practice, this opens up his ability to act as a psychopomp, as do his cryptic last words, which we’ll come to.
Saint David was initially believed to be the founder of Glastonbury Abbey, although later chroniclers say he merely “re-dedicated” it, bringing with him a great sapphire to do so. Either way, this hill magician’s story is intimately tied to that particular current. Speaking of Welsh magicians famous for hills, there is a legend involving Merlin and St David’s Cathedral, further blurring the associations and tying, inevitably, back to prophecies surrounding an English king. Also like Merlin, David was a bastard princeling.
As for those famous last words? They’re wonderful:
Be joyful, and keep your faith and your creed. Do the little things that you have seen me do and heard about. I will walk the path that our fathers have trod before us.
After a lifetime of magical hills and bringing mysterious sapphires to Avalon, Saint David says he will “walk the path that our fathers have trod”. The church would have you believe this is a reference to his ecclesiastical forefathers. Maybe. But emphasising tradition with your dying breath when you founded one of the country’s first monastic communities seems a little incongruous. Whatever the case, his subsequent hybridisation plugs him back into that indigenous current.
It is the least part of his dying words, anyway. He requests his followers to “be joyful” and “do the little things”. This is a profound spiritual message that remains untrammeled by Roman imperialism. The patron saint of Wales appears almost Buddhist. (That thing I said about Wales being Britain’s Tibet?)
There are fragments that we can only glimpse that just hint at the wonders of what really went on… a profound change in human consciousness in a time of miracles and magic. In this case, we glimpse a monastic community devoid of mercantile ambition and the desire for glorious expansion… it is a place where the hybrid holy man’s last words, instead, are to do the little things… to live a little, profound, life. It pleases me that this current remains universally available to any who seek it.
And I’m also glad it’s somewhere you can visit.