Thursday, January 29, 2009

Commune Movement

Wales has long been drop-out central. A place where unhappy citizens (usually from England) come to project their Utopian fantasies onto the landscape. Father Ignatius and Eric Gill at Capel-y-Ffin; John Seymour getting back to the land in Pembs; hippies at tipi valley, are all obvious examples. Even today you'll find any number of downsizers, white flighters, second homers, born-again environmentalists, and New Age types fleeing across the border in search of their little bit of Eden in Wales.

It is no surprise, then, to discover that the Commune Movement was set up in Wales, circa 1968. Its founders - the Selene Community - were based in a remote cottage called Can-y-Lloer (Song of the Moon) overlooking the village of Ffarmers, in Carmarthenshire. These pioneers started up a magazine called Communes, of which an impressive 2,500 copies were produced on a bi-monthly basis. The journal acted as an information point for all the hippie, pagan and alternative communities across the UK. It was hoped that an international federation of communes could be developed.

The people who produced the mag were Tony Kelly and his two "wives" Betty Kelly and Pat Blackmore. They were a threesome and shocked villagers by strolling around nearby fields in the nude. Apparently the locals thought they were Buddhists. In fact they were neo-pagans and it was their desire to eventually become witches. Ironically, as a commune, the Selene Community proved ultimately to be a failure. Tony Kelly and co were too busy getting the magazine together to develop the commune properly and their numbers gradually dwindled from 34 to 3. They lived on sickness benefits and by renting out the land which they had bought for grazing. Their magazine eventually ran into financial difficulties and folded. The Commune Movement itself petered out in the mid-70s.

Pictured above is an edition of Communes magazine.