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Gandalf's Garden was a mystical community which flourished at the end of the 1960s as part of the London hippie/underground movement, running a shop and a magazine of the same name. It emphasised the mystical interests of the period, and advocated meditation in preference to drugs. Muz Murray was prominent and editor of the magazine (and is now a world-travelling Mantra Master).
The shop was based in World's End, at what was then the unfashionable end of Chelsea and a fair walk from Sloane Square tube station, passing the Chelsea Drug Store (where the record shop scene from A Clockwork Orange was filmed) and across the road from a clothes shop named "Granny Takes a Trip," distinguished by the mini car protruding from its first floor level. GG was directly opposite the World's End pub.
The shop promoted a peaceful "vibe" and large cushions were provided on the floor for customers to "hang out" and drink honey-flavoured tea. The basement provided not only a toilet but also an area for a "shrineroom" where homeless street people crashed during the day and spiritual meetings were held every evening. It was the first popular centre to invite teachers, gurus, monks, researchers, etc., from every spiritual tradition and practice and gained worldwide recognition.
Gandalf's Garden was dispersed in 1971 into various "Gandalf's Garden seed centers" in different parts of the world, and the journal ceased publication.
Magazine Gandalf's Garden
The magazine emerged in 1968 and ran to 6 issues. It was part of the then-current Underground press, following the lead of the International Times and, particularly, OZ in departing from conventional black and white pages. In contrast to the psychedelic mayhem of many issues of OZ, Gandalf's Garden magazine was lyrical in choice of, for example, peach, light blue or pastel pink sheets with burgundy type, the colours rotating through the magazine. Sample articles are "The Glastonbury Mystique: Jesus and the Druids" and "The Third Ear Band". The letters page was called the "Seedbag". A touch of satire came in the form of a page "Oh to be in England" (press cuttings). Some well-known contributors to the magazine included Christopher Logue, Adrian Mitchell, Joan Baez and Spike Milligan.
The inside cover of the first issue set the tone with "You are now entering Gandalf's Garden—fear not" and an introduction by Murray which included:
|“||GANDALF'S GARDEN is the magical garden of our inner worlds, overgrowing into the world of manifestation. GANDALF'S GARDEN is soulflow from the pens of creators - mystics, writers, artists, diggers, delvers and poets. A wellspring of love and anguish that those with searching thirsts may drink thereof. As in the Stone Gardens of the Orient, where Soul Wizards sit within the stimulus of their own silences, contemplating the smoothness of the million pebbles, so should we seek to stimulate our own inner gardens if we are to save our Earth and ourselves from engulfment.||”|
It never achieved the wide circulation (or notoriety) of the older publications, but struck a distinct note of gentleness—or some might say escapism—in contrast to the increasing stridency and politicisation of the Underground movement, an extreme example being the Angry Brigade bombers.
Gandalf's Garden had ceased to function in London by 1972. Copies of the magazine have now become collector's items and are selling for anything up to a hundred pounds per issue. However, all issues are now available on CD-ROM together with photos of the Gradenscene and a history of The Life and Times of GG.
The members of the team have mostly gone on to be deeply involved in various aspects of the new age movement, including shamanism, Sufism and alternative medicine. Muz Murray is known in India as Ramana Baba and teaches mantra yoga and Advaita Vedanta worldwide.
Muz says: "Professor Tolkien was kind enough to allow me to use the name of Gandalf (he borrowed it himself from a dwarf in a Norse Saga) when I explained the ethos of the magazine. Afterwards he sent me a letter with his photo, saying how much he enjoyed the first issue of GG."
Besides several Mantra and Yoga study CDs, Muz Murray has authored: "Seeking the Master--A Guide to the Ashrams of India and Nepal" (Neville Spearman Press) now available only in downloadable form from his website; "Sharing the Quest--Secrets of Self Understanding" (Element Books/Inner Garden Publications, ISBN 978-1-44909834-6); "Words on the Way--A Guide to Understanding Esoteric Sanskrit" (Inner Garden Publications) and "Ifflepinn Island" (Evertype, Ireland; ISBN 978-1-78201-052-4) a faerytale fantasy likened to Moomintroll meets The Hobbit.'
- Site about Gandalf's Garden
- Gandalf's Garden on Facebook
- Cover images of Gandalf's Garden magazine
- Muz Murray's website
- The Complete Gandalf's Garden CD