Month: January 2013

Mark Townsend

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Mark Townsend: Hedgepriest! Magician, Priest & Author

“Amazing & Inspirational”
Uri Geller

“A Priest like no other”
Cherie Blair 

“Master Storyteller”
Barbara Erskine

Mark was ordained to the Anglican ministry in 1996. However in July 2010 he decided to hand in his ‘Permission to Officiate’ and resign his membership of the Church of England. While the C of E will always hold a special place in Mark’s heart he feels it has become far too narrow and rigid to be an appropriate place for him to continue his attempt at a fully authentic life of faith! A member of various spiritual groups, including the Progressive Christian Alliance, Mark is now planning for something new and exciting next year – a way that he will be able to express his open vision of Christian priesthood, in a fully sacramental way, and made available to all. Watch this space!

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‘Rev Mark Townsend is a special and needed kind of priest for our times, one who can connect to the earth-based traditions of old while encouraging deep ecumenism from within our own spiritual lineage, one who can play with magic and play with mystery, awakening spiritual unselfconsciousness in us all. We need the mystical awakening he brings alive across many artificial boundaries.’ 
Dr. Matthew Fox

‘We live in different worlds and each of us sees the world differently. But there is only one world, one creation, one universe. Mark Townsend has a special gift of building bridges across these worlds. Deep from within the Christian tradition he invites us to reaffirm our links with nature and those religious traditions which celebrate our oneness with the natural. His work is truly a work of grace.’ 
Revd. Donald Reeves

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‘The magician is always saying “things are not what they seem!” One wonders, therefore, why more spiritual teachers do not use magic and storytelling to communicate Gospel mysteries and paradoxes! Fr. Mark does it well-with humility, humour, and warm humanity.” 
Fr. Richard Rohr

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‘Mark Townsend is a priest at the edge! The place where new ideas and new understandings are formed is always at the edge. It is a place that institutions, because they demand conformity to the institution, cannot go. But it is always there, out on the edges that new thinking, new imaginings, new dreams happen.’ 
Revd. Peter Owen-Jones

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‘It has been good for me to converse with Mark Townsend, and recognize a fellow explorer of the boundaries, questioner of the powers that be, disturber of the so-called peace, payer of the price for such a ministry. Let him help you keep in touch with ‘magic’ and ‘mystery’ and discover it within yourself, especially if you are a seeker at a time when inherited forms of faith are losing their power to connect.’
Revd. Jim Cotter

‘Mark Townsend is a Christian who lives and thinks outside the box of traditional, institutional Christianity. In a time in which traditional Christianity is in a steep decline it is imperative that Church leaders encourage its pioneer priests to help us all chart new paths on which to walk into whatever the Christian or even the post-Christian future will be. Mark Townsend is just such a priest. A Church that heeds those who explore the edges is a Church seeking resurrection.’
John Shelby Spong VIII Bishop of Newark, USA 

Image‘Mark Townsend looks for glimpses of god-light in places where many ‘clergy’ are simply unprepared to venture. He has successfully combined the treasures of his own Anglican faith with the mysteries of the nature-based traditions. A magician too, he now uses this symbolic gift of illusion to awaken folk out of their own illusions, and thus be cre-connected to the power of NOW. At a time when people are increasingly looking to nature and self empowerment to have their spirits nurtured, the world needs people like Mark more than ever.’ 
Ian Lawton

 

 

The differences between Alexandrian and Gardnerian traditions.

As much as being widely agreed that there are only few differences between Gardnerian and Alexandrian traditions, personal observation has led me to the conclusion that while differences appear to be only subtle on an external level, they are much more profoundly demarcated on the inner.

An example that immediately comes to mind concerns how the experience of the Mysteries impacts on an Initiate’s personal life.

Trauma – an in most cases severe trauma – features prominently among Alexandrians.

I wish it would say on the label, still I don’t think one can ever prepare you for what’s to come. Even after it has happened the mind struggles to come to terms and keeps on looking for a reasonable and logical explanation.

It is also said that one key difference lays with the founders of each tradition.  Alex Sanders came to Wicca through a Gardnerian.  It is unquestioned at least as far as his 1* is concerned.  It is also pointed out that he came to Wicca as an already accomplished magus and that his experimentations revolved areas of magic not pertaining to traditional Wicca.  If a lineage accumulates Karma through its founder and is passed in succession with the power and the inner contacts, then given the travailed and fallen from grace life of Sanders, it all begins to make sense.

Many initiates have reported a remarkable shift and change of energy when making a transition from one tradition to the other.

For example S. was initiated 1* Gardnerian before getting 2* and 3* Alexandrian.  He spoke about a rush of power infusing the circle during a ritual.  I can account for that.  The energy generated within an Alexandrian rite is dangerously high voltage, at times almost palpable and visible.  It’s so strong that it can become difficult to harness and direct and if ever control is lost one can be sure someone is going to suffer.  But you get used to it and then you become addicted to it and nothing else will do, unless it feels stronger.  I know one person who started off as Alexandrian, changed to Gardnerian and then regretted it because she missed the old circles.  Other former Alexandrians, instead say it gave them a sense of relief and would never go back.

Now, I’ve only ever worked with a Gardnerian once.  In comparison it was like smoking a Silk Cut as opposed of puffing on a pipe.  The ritual turned out to be just as effective, but at the time I was quite baffled as the power seeped in quite subtly and silently into the circle.  It was much better contained, unthreatening and easier to handle.  Other former Alexandrians also report that in Gardnerian tradition the power flow is much gentler, it feels safer and easier to handle as it is much more attuned to the rhythm of the Earth.

It makes me wonder: are the two traditions dipping for power from different sources?

I’d speculate that Alexandrian tradition is more heaven and hell orientated as opposed to Earth centred.  The majority of Alexandrians, Maxine included, are anything but bothered with ecological or social issues, as if those were affairs pertaining only to those who were mere mortal.  For the most part, Alexandrians are engrossed in writing books, making a name for themselves, setting up networks, YouTube channels, argue with and disrespect each other.  Most Alexandrians do not have children, and for a fertility cult, the birth rate is seriously low, bordering on the nil.  But those who do have children, often experience life threatening situations around them and so modify or limit their magical practice with some external philosophy. Including, if not first and foremost, Maxine herself.

Why do so many Alexandrians come to such close encounters with death or some other form of tragedy involving their offspring? Have the murders of Aylsbury Hill – where many rituals took place in the 60’s – tainted the power that was raised, thus infecting the lineage with corrupted inner contacts?

These are just some of the questions to which I have yet to find an answer.