This was originally a magazine article.
For me, exploring and experiencing strange lands and otherworlds are in my blood. The unusual is everyday for me, yet I have always maintained a healthy scepticism. My experiences confirm to me that not much (if anything) that we are pressed to believe in is true, or even, what it seems. Life is full of contradictions and I strongly suspect that this is how it is meant to be.
There are lots of things that have come to us via religion that I have the deepest respect and regard for. All religions hold elements of truth and vast stores of authentic wisdom. The best of them are simple truths, not hard to understand. Only three words, attributed to Christ, tell us about all that we need to do to experience paradise on Earth:
“Love one another.”
Then there are other teachings that have ridden in through religions carried in the saddlebags of conjured demons that cultivate the very opposite of love; and every despair and woe can be traced back to these. Basically they feed on people’s need for matter to matter, for their own matter to matter. From the fear of loss of standing to the dread of oblivion, the terror of death these ever looming inexorable spectres draw even more agents of the Darkness to prey insatiably on the unforgiving who pray for the unforgiven. Darkness breezes through every inch of this world when it likes and virtually unmolested even in the places human beings believe have been raised to praise the Light.
I’d like to share with you three personal stories of my own where I encountered dark inclinations and sinister agendas present at three different churches in rural England.
Culbone church, Somerset
A chilling journey to a tiny church betwixt time and on the edge of worlds.
As I glanced up from where I laid in the sun soaked grass below a huge sarsen in the northern circle of the Avebury complex a tall, svelte, middle-aged woman in a flowing dress approached me. She sat for a while and then she asked me for healing. She had a troubled soul, was certainly psychic and I sensed that she had a deep fear within her about which she could not, and as it turned out, would not talk. She asked me where I was travelling to…A question I knew encompassed several meanings but I held to the obvious one and told her how I was making my way down to the southwest. She suggested that I visit “the smallest church in the kingdom” at a place called Culbone on the north Devon/Somerset coast. I felt a chill, but she assured me that it was a beautiful spot in heavenly scenery. I’d never heard of Culbone before but I’ll never forget it. This was in the summer of 1996.
We bade farewell and I made for the Avebury Henge Shop. Half an hour or so later I emerged to see the lady walking towards me again. She asked if I could take her to Glastonbury, where she lived. As I was heading for Glastonbury myself for an appointment with UFO Reality magazine, the next day, I agreed. It was dark when we reached her home so I declined a cup of tea, said goodbye, and drove up the hill to sleep in my car near the Tor. As I neared the top of the road a bright white light streaked silently from left to right across dark blue sky parallel to the horizon in front of me. (This object was also witnessed by someone else who had reported it to ‘UFO Reality’ prior to our meeting.) As I parked up I noticed that the woman had left a scarf on the passenger’s seat. I decided that I’d return it in the morning, which I did.
At first light I climbed to the top of Glastonbury Tor, the landscape so breath-taking in the mists of dawn, and then drove back into the town centre. After an enjoyable time at UFO Reality magazine’s offices I delivered the scarf and set out to investigate Glastonbury Abbey and the town centre. It was a beautiful day and my next stop would be Somerset and Culbone church.
I arrived at the track to Culbone around 4.45p.m. and parked near a gate. The track went uphill to a farm and downhill to the church. I grabbed my camera and holdall and sauntered down the steep-ish incline and into the moss-laden and sombre tree-lined avenue. On either side were remnants of old stone walls and ramparts. The road was much longer than I thought and as I tramped along the trees conveyed a very un-tree-like energy, if not menace. It really felt like they were watching me. The sun rarely, if ever, ventured into this musty tree-cave that was funnelling me into somewhere I was beginning to feel very uneasy about. I recalled my initial reaction, a chill, to the woman’s suggestion to visit this place while we lolled in the warm mid-summer sunshine of Avebury. It seemed so long ago. I did consider going back and forgetting about Culbone church. I hadn’t heard or seen any birds or animals, let alone people, and that occurred to me to be odd. Even the name was beginning to sound ominous…Cull and bone, but I’d come this far.
After a while I came to a sharp right-hand bend and in a few more paces I could see stone houses, just one or two…and sunlight…of a sort. I passed the first building (a mill at one time I pondered) and wound around to the little church topped by a witch’s hat steeple and sporting a tall cross in the yard at its fore. I explored the church building’s exterior and then tried the door. It was open and I ventured in. There was no one else about. I hadn’t seen a soul since I drove from the main road. A pleasant enough building to look at, quite plain but to be honest I don’t remember much about it. As soon as I entered the empty church this almost whispered, but clear voice, right at my side, cracked urgently through the silence, “GET OUT…NOW!!!”. It wasn’t an order, it wasn’t threatening, and the tone was unmistakeably earnest, benign and protective. Well, I didn’t need telling twice…I threw open the door to be met with a glowering twilight. It was too early to be so dark! I raced out the churchyard, through the looming branches reaching out to my stumbling form, and along the terrifying mile (that seemed like ten) of this sinister passage. All the while the voice accompanied me, encouraging me on, “You are safe… keep going… don’t look back…you are always protected!” And I did feel strangely secure. And I got there, the other side of the woods…and it was daylight, 6.35p.m.!
A couple of years later, on another trip to ‘The Isles’ from Australia, I returned to Culbone church. I went much earlier in the day this time. Again I didn’t see anyone and yet again there was a sinister air pervading the place, but perhaps it was less so this time. I saw a blackbird, and a sparrow I think it was, but that was all. The mill house (?) looked occupied, the church was locked and everything was I suppose quite normal. A week later I called on a friend. He showed me a photograph of a little church on the Somerset coast. Right across the wall of the church, and possibly right around it, an eerie black band was present. Apparently the photograph was sent to my friend by retired policeman and UFO researcher John Hanson… and you’ve guessed it, it was a photograph of Culbone church.
I looked up Culbone on Google and came across an enlightening excerpt from a book on Culbone written by Joan Cooper. Although legend says that Christ came here in AD25 it seems Culbone has been a place of dread for a very long time – dark sorcerers, wretched lepers, the insane, heretics, every manner of outcast stricken, deemed and chosen.
‘Culbone a Spiritual History’: www.minehead-online.co.uk/culbone.htm
Culbone is surrounded by ancient sites of sanctity and settlement. If anyone fancies a trip to Culbone Church here’s a map: www.streetmap.co.uk/map.srf?X=283500&Y=148500&A=Y&Z=120
Next story: A message in blood. (Coming soon.)