December 24, 2009

A Third Ear Druidic Band?

Just three days ago, on December 21th, 2009, it's been the Winter Solstice, a moment devoted to ancient and contemporary Druids (see the wonderful photo taken at Stonehenge). 

TEB (Sweeney, Minns, Coff and Smith) played for Druids two documented times - on April 1969 and on July 15th, 1970 (Solstice Ceremony), both at Glastonbury Tor (see a shot here below).

Unfourtunately, apart for just these fourth b/w photos survived, taken on April 1969, there're no other details about these unique events. 

Glen Sweeney ("Melody Maker", June 1970) considered the Druids as "a bunch of old fine men", "the true guardians of the mystic traditions in this country". 
He told: "... when we play with them at the Tor there was this old chap of about 90 steaming up the hill, looking like he was about to die". 

Other interesting connections with Druids was the involvement of Dave Loxley - chief Druid of the Ancient Order of Druids - who designed "Alchemy" beautiful cover. A page written by him in 1988 is available on the Web at 

Was the TEB music a unintentional, accidental soundtrack for the modern Sixties/Seventies Druids only? Which was the real cultural and emotional connections with them?

no©2009 Luca Ferrari


  1. Glastonbury Tor as a hippy concert was a very strange location. Wikipedia states that "...another speculation is that the Tor was reshaped into a spiral maze for use in religious ritual, incorporating the myth that the Tor was the location of the underworld king's spiral castle". That's intriguing. What was TEB concert if not a "religious ritual"?


  2. The fact is that Sweeney is been always ambiguous about that kind of experiences... Even in the quote I've posted here he's ironic about Druids, so it seems as he wanted dissimulate the things... It's not easy to be sure about a real, genuine adhesion to druidic rituals... we need to get much more proofs about it, maybe some memories from Loxley or other people involved in that period (Carolyn Looker, Coff, Ursula Smith...). I will try to talk with Carolyn or Ursula and understand better the things...

  3. Another field of correlations is that between TEB and records such as Bruce Palmer's Cycle is Complete (Oxo) and Grateful Dead's (AoxomoxoA) and their obsession on excatological meaning (Alpha Omega Apocalypse). Apart the evidently similar ritual nature of the music, I've found this decoding of Aoxomoxoa word in a site: "..."AO" is the classic abbreviation for "Alpha and Omega", or the beginning and the end. "X" may be interpreted as a number of things: a mathematical symbol meaning "Times" (which can also be expressed as "of"; the classic Christian cross; or merely a dividing symbol, meant to separated the "AO" from the "OM". "OM" is a little too big to take on here, but it is the sound which, in Hindu and Buddhism philosophy, contains all the other sounds of the world". I found interesting also that OXO is included in AoxomoxoA, as a nucleus. "The Calm Before The Storm" has something to do with Air and Water, in meteo sense but also metaphisical. As to Aoxom follows oxoA, then the cycle reborn/restart Aoxom, as the season annual druidic cycle of the 2nd TEB album.
    The substance may be more deep.


  4. The Glastonbury Tor Labyrinth idea was first put foward by Geoffrey Ashe around 1979 - ten years after TEB played there! Although I've walked this 'Labyrinth' with several of the faithful, it now appears to be a figment of Ashe's fevered imagination. What Ashe took to be a Labyrinth are in fact the remnants of pre-historic cultivation terraces from the time when Glastonbury was an island - the Isle of Avalon, as some would have it. This also scuppers equally absurd 'New Age' notions of a Glastonbury Zodiac given that in ancient times all of the land would have been underwater! It does lend credence, however, to that other Glastonbury legend that Jesus visited there in his childhood with Joseph of Aramathea, who was a merchant sailor.

  5. For anyone interested in the Pagan Revival and modern witchcraft in the UK I would heartily recommend reading Prof Ronald Huttons excellent book "The Triumph of the Moon". Hutton apart from being a respected historian has become something of hero to many (but not all) of modern Pagans. His approach is simple: there is no historical evidence that anything of the so called Old Religion has been handed down from antiquity, and that most is reinvention, but that need not devalue the beliefs and faith modern Pagans have, and that Wicca is the only religion the Isles of Albion have given the world, in this it is unique and honestly spiritual. The history of the rise of Wicca from late victorian times and ideas of those times is truly a most fascinating micro history in it's own right. Happily TEB played their part, and yet transcend any pigeon holing.