Ghosts and God?!

Every Festival I like to have a ‘wild card’ event (or two). This year it is two events about ghosts.

I’ve never seen a ghost (but apparently about 1% of people have – I know quite a few people in Cerne Abbas who’ve seen one) but I have smelled ghosts on a number of occasions. Actually I’ve met a lot of people who have smelled tobacco smoke when there is no way smoke could be anywhere near. The last time I had a smell experience was in Cerne cemetery, where I smelled burning frankincense. Several other people walking through the cemetery smelled it so it wasn’t my imagination! Then imagine my astonishment when Matt Arnold (a physics teacher, paranormal expert, and theologian) looked it up on a paranormal database and there it was – it’s a well-known phenomenon that has been around Cerne cemetery for years, evidently.

Matt Arnold is the editor of The Christian Parapsychologist Journal, a publication of the Churches Fellowship for Psychical and Spiritual Studies. He is also a member of the Alister Hardy Trust, the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (the Education Officer) and the Ghost Club (1862). His website is a one-stop resource for Christians wanting to get a theological understanding of the unseen realm. He also regularly writes articles about the paranormal and the Bible for Christian publications and appears in a variety of podcasts discussing these issues. His first book Ghosts, Ghouls and the Afterlife in the Bible is being published later this year.

Matt will be leading two events, on the 21st and 22nd April. They are described below:

Encountering Ghosts: Storytelling Bring and Share (Friday 21st April)

Are you interested in ghosts and the afterlife? Have you ever seen or experienced something paranormal? You are not alone in experiencing the unseen realm! Encountering Ghosts is an open, non-judgmental space, specifically designed for people to bring and share their experiences with others. Facilitated by one of the country’s leading pioneers in Christianity and the Paranormal, Matt Arnold, we explore how these may help us understand more about the unseen world around us. If you wish to submit a story or question anonymously, a box will be available for you on the night (please write it down beforehand if possible).

Tickets for this are £7, which includes a glass of wine or soft drink. If you get a double ticket for this and the next event it is £10.

Ghosts: Breaking Open Ancient Wells in the Bible (Saturday 22nd April)

Ghosts are ubiquitous in cultural beliefs, from ancient times to the modern day. Many Christians today believe the Bible has nothing to say on the subject, or that it’s taboo and shouldn’t be discussed. Yet, hidden away in the texts of the Bible and associated early Judeo-Christian literature, is the very real belief in ghosts as spirits of the departed. We explore these texts and how we can understand ghosts in light of today’s modern ghost stories and encounters.

Tickets for this are £8, which includes coffee/tea on arrival and at a break, then soup and roll at the end.

Brewer for the Day: the Beltane Brew!

  • 1pm  Starting Off the Beltane Brew 

Cerne Abbas Brewery, Chescombe Barn, Barton Meadows, DT2 7JS

The Cerne Abbas Brewery is rapidly making a name for itself with its innovative beers.  Its Gurt Coconuts Rum Stout has won at several CAMRA festivals, and they’ve won over a dozen awards altogether!  Continuing in this mode Vic Irvine, Head Brewer, will start this year’s May Day brew at the Brewery from about noon.  Beer and cider will be on sale, both on tap and bottled.  Afternoon £7.50 incl ½ pint

Vic the Brewer writes….

“BELTANE BREWING.. This Saturday from Mid-day. We will be hosting the wild brewing for the beer we will be carrying up on to the top of THE GIANT on MAY DAY at sunrise. We will be joined by the participants of THE CERNE GIANT FESTIVAL who will be adding the herbs foraged with local herbalist Eleanor Gallia on their herb walk in the morning at Smacome Hill down the valley a mile.

We will also be hosting in the second barn our very own food hero Papa Cheese Smokehouse and Grill who will be unveiling his multi parish famous Smokey BBQ Ribasaurus mostly pork ribs. Hog bites, Supa-dawgs, rib-eye burgers and many vegan options with separate cooking contingencies.”

The Spirit of the Land

Wild Brew! The Making of the Beltane Brew. 

  1. 10am Gathering the Herbs for the Beltane Brew

Lower Barton Farm, Nether Cerne DT2 7AJ

The Beltane Beer is a vibrantly energising brew of traditional spring tonic herbs. In the morning we will forage for the herbs with medical herbalist Eleanor Gallia, gathering our cleansing and invigorating ingredients from the ancient chalk downland hill, Smacam Down. Join us on this herb walk and learn about the historic, medicinal and celebratory properties of our glorious native plants and the trees that play such a prominent role in the Celtic quarter days. The wild spring herbs we harvest will be brewed by Vic in the afternoon workshop at Cerne Abbas brewery.  Please wear appropriate shoes and clothing and bring secateurs, gloves and a basket. There is livestock and wildlife on the hill so please do not bring dogs, thank you.

Morning incl coffee/tea and cake £17.   All day (with brewing) £22

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See Kate Adie Live!

Monday 11th April

7 for 7.30pm   Kate Adie: Traveller’s Tales and Loving the Land

St Mary’s Church, Abbey Street, Cerne Abbas DT2 7JQ

Enjoy an evening of Kate’s travel anecdotes, together with her reflections on what you can learn from the land about the people.

£10 incl a glass of wine or soft drink and canapes

photo: Ken Lennox

Cerne Giant Festival 2022

We have a huge variety of events for you this year…..

We begin with our traditional herb walk led by medical herbalist Eleanor Gallia, and then will use some of the spring herbs in Cerne Abbas Brewery’s Beltane brew (9th April)

Our talks programme will be kicked off by Kate Adie (BBC From Our Own Correspondent) who will tell us anecdotes of her travels, reflecting on what you can learn about the land from its people. Other talks will be given by Michael McCarthy (writer and former environment correspondent for the Times and Independent) will speak about ‘Nature and Joy’, Ken Hutchinson (who organises the annual otter census) ‘Otters’, Peter Knight ‘Myths of Albion’, Gordon LePard ‘The Arts and Crafts Movement in Dorset’, Tim Stephens of Wessex Water ‘Healthy Soils Make Clean Water’, and amateur astronomer Rob Nolan will show us his amazing astronomical photographs taken in Dorset. 

Other workshops include making vegan food at Feed the Soul, Tai Chi/Qui Gong with John Drabik, how to cast a fly with Jeremy Mackenzie , river dipping with the Riverfly team, and a Minibeast Safari and nature games.

Walks will be led by Nigel Spring (butterflies and landscape), Tom Horsington will lead us around his farm, and the Barnes Society will lead a ramble round Cerne with Dorset poetry read by costumed performers. 

The Maldives …. and Us

A chain of 26 atolls – lagoons encircled by coral reefs – in the Arabian Sea of the Indian Ocean. The Maldives is a tropical country, and its capital city is Malé.

An idyllic playground for tourists, who go there to forget their problems.


“Time is running out for the Maldives – as not one but three existential dangers threaten its survival

Unless urgent action is taken to curb global warming, the Indian Ocean archipelago of more than 1,000 islands could be underwater by the end of the century – as rising sea levels, disrupted weather patterns and coastal erosion threaten its future.”

By Ashish Joshi, news correspondent, in the Maldives

Island countries such as the Maldives are discussing how they can maintain a territorial claim on land that is underwater.

We need to try to imagine what it would feel like to have nowhere to belong. Those of us fortunate enough to live in a country with a relatively stable future need to somehow find the compassion to respond.


“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that its center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.”

― Black Elk, Lakota Medicine Man