Whatever Happened to the Wand Seller?

Here’s a wonderful guest post by bard and reallywannago.com blogger Lisa Goodwin

The Wishing the World Better Club

Photo by Sue Nitti
@picturethisblondie 

“If you have visited Glastonbury any time in the last three years you may have noticed a friendly character trading at the bottom of the High Street. Often dressed in green and sitting over a tiny portable stall adorned with beautiful handmade wands. His tall frame was accentuated by a green top hat sprouting long feathers, locals know him as Green, the Wand Seller.

Typically, he could be found opposite the George and Pilgrim. Sometimes he would leave his stall, trusting it was safe to go and have a pint. Often, he would engage in long conversations with tourists, give directions and chat to locals.

Green is kind and generous. He is an old-style street trader who has been selling his wares for 20 years. This is his lifestyle, he does it to make a modest living and to bring joy to people.

Every purchase comes with a pretty little bag, each bag has a small slip of paper inside that reads, ‘You are a member of the Wishing the World Better Club.’ Many people do not discover this until they get home.

I have known Green for over 18 years. We were there at the founding of the Wishing the World Better Club. In fact, Green told us when we met again, the inspiration came from a conversation he had with Max when we all lived at Tapeley Park Estate in 2002. Our family moved from North Devon 15 years ago and we didn’t see Green until he turned up in town.

When he arrived in Glastonbury, he approached the Town Council to explain his intention to trade on the High Street. He asked them if he would need a Licence. Apparently, he didn’t, and he was told to ‘just get on with it.’

On a few occasions the police asked him if he had a licence to trade. He explained what the Town Council had said, and he was happy to get a licence if he required one. The police said they would check it out. He never heard from them, so he assumed everything was fine.

A Mazing

Photo by Deborah Richards
Art Of Eloquence Photography
Photo by Deborah Richards
Art Of Eloquence Photography

The wand seller had a secret pastime. To give something back for his good fortune in being here, he would go up the side of Glastonbury Tor and make a labyrinth for people to enjoy. He marked out the lines with plain white wands and left them there. When he took the sticks away two weeks later, an impression would be left in the grass where hundreds of pilgrims had walked the labyrinth.

A big-hearted man, he would happily chat to anyone. On one occasion he broke up a fight on the High Street. Nothing pleased him more than to pass the day enjoying the unique Glastonbury experience, talking to locals, itinerants and tourists with equal grace. There was never any doubt of the Wand Seller’s positive impact in our community.

‘That’s why I was shocked to find out I wasn’t welcome here.’ He told me when we met at the Mocha Berry at the end of October.

During the first week in August 2018, Green was presented with a Cease and Desist Notice by two men he described as ‘Enforcement Officers.’ Wearing purple high vis jackets, they approached him on a busy afternoon whilst he was working and handed him the letter.

‘It was horrible.’ Green told me. He had come here with all peaceful intent, and rather than being asked to get a licence, he was told in no uncertain terms that if he didn’t leave, he would be prosecuted.

‘I was treated like a criminal.’ He said. For the council to go to all the effort and cost of obtaining a cease and desist notice was an insult. ‘I’m an approachable bloke. I would have been happy to move on or get the licence.’

It was the way he was asked to stop that really upset him. Glastonbury had booted him out. He left town and quietly sunk into a period of depression. He was bruised, it felt like a bad ending.

A shadow came over his eyes as he remembered how wounded he felt. But suddenly he changed, and the sparkle came back as he told me what happened next.

He was once told by a wise friend. ‘If a story doesn’t finish good, it isn’t finished.’

He was out with his mother in a North Devon café reading the Guardian. There was a news piece about anti-social behaviour in Glastonbury. The story reported ‘Bad Vibes in Glastonbury,’ and talked of plans to hire a private security firm to patrol the town.

Photo by David Greenway

He read on to discover that there had been a public meeting and he was mentioned in the article! Green swore out loud, even though he was having breakfast with his mum. The quote from the Guardian stated,

‘Some people are worried about the security patrol and say that measures to tackle trouble could force out people who make Glastonbury special, such as those who sell wands and charms and read fortunes on the street.’

His mum asked him what was wrong, so he showed her the article. His 80-year-old mother was just as shocked and swore out loud too. It was ridiculous, he had been told to cease and desist and now he had gone he was heralded as one of the people who makes Glastonbury special.

It was then he decided to come back and finish the story. He packed one hundred wands into his back pack and returned to the High Street. Green, for the love of it, spent the weekend outside the George and Pilgrim giving beautiful wands away for free. As we wandered by on the way home from the Faery Ball, he called out to us and rummaged into his bag. He was happy that he had two wands left that he could give to us, long time members of the Wishing the World Better Club.

Did you buy a wand from the Wand Seller? If you are a member of the Wishing the World Better Club, please let us know so we can pass on your good wishes to Green. He will be missed in Glastonbury, and we wish him well on his next adventure.”

Lisa and Max Goodwin are founders of The White Spring Sanctuary and Bards of Glastonbury. They have been magically involved in the Glastonbury Community since 2006. They are currently preparing to travel around the world discovering and sharing stories of inspiration. Read more at reallywannago.com

The photo of Green that heads up this article was taken by Deborah Richards, she’s got a fantastically distinctive style, please do look her up on Instagram at Art Of Eloquence Photography .  The wonderful head and shoulders portrait of Green was taken by Sue Nitti, check out her work on Instagram @picturethisblondie She’s taken hundreds of wonderful portraits of Glastonbury characters. The street scene was taken by our Town Crier David Greenway, another talented local photographer and all round lovely bloke. 

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19 thoughts on “Whatever Happened to the Wand Seller?”

  1. I wondered where this Magical Wand Making Minstral had gone…The Streets aren’t the same without him..I brought new people to Glasto with the intention of them purchasing off him.
    I’m absolutely disgusted to read this and I say to him come back in disguise or better still just come back and tell them to naff off. The world is run by lunatics it’s about time us normal folk built the barricades.

  2. I did not see Green while in Glastonbury last July but would have loved to support his craft. Is there possibility of purchasing wands from him to be sent to me in the States? If so, could you point me in the right direction?

    Warm regards,

    Charlene

  3. It sounds like your town isn’t as friendly as you’d like. Why has no one gone to bat for him? Seems to me that there are a lot of people who love him but did not go and stand up for him at the city Council. Or has someone done that and it failed?

    It doesn’t sound like a terribly friendly town anymore. And that is really too bad.

    • Susan, people simply didn’t know. I had absolutely no idea this had happened until Lisa mentioned it to me last week and said she had written about it and would I publish the piece, which of course I was very happy to. I don’t get the impression Green got much of an opportunity to tell people what had happened as he was basically intimidated out of the town, with no notice, by two Mendip Enforcement Officers. I have since learned that this is a relatively new Mendip Council Policy – to stop all unlicensed street trading, even selling a few vegetables outside your front door. I think I do a reasonable job of keeping up with what is going on locally, but unless I was to attend every council meeting it would simply be impossible to be aware of it all. I think you are being rather unfair in your judgement of our townspeople.

  4. My daughter purchased her very first wand from Green on her 5th birthday with some of her birthday pennies. He was very kind and advised her of how to use her wand. Along with the purchase he gave her a beautiful, tiny Ganesh, we keep this on our alter and she remembers the day and ‘the very kind gentleman’ 3 years later.

  5. I met green last year and shared a cheese board with him frim the g and pligrim had a lit of conversation with him a lovely fella and I find it disgusting hows hes been treated and yes im a member of wishing the world better club I do hope hes allowed back to glastonbury hes what its all about ,,

  6. I’m from the United States and I purchased a wand from Green two years ago when touring the area. I told folks back in the States that Glastonbury is so magical you can literally buy a magic wand on the street. I was very disappointed when I returned this week to find that he was no longer here. I was looking forward to buying some more wands.

  7. Noooooooooo! This is so sad. We met Green last July. We hadn’t been to Glastonbury for years and we wanted to take our 9 year old son to this place that has always held a special place in our hearts. We were heading to a crystal shop that our son had spied and Green was just setting up his stall outside and the wands caught his eye. Our shy and cautious boy plucked up the courage to get a bit closer and have a look. Green immediately read the situation so he just said a friendly hello and told us to feel free to pick the wands up. He soon put our son at ease and engaged him in conversation. We have a great photo of our son wearing Green’s hat and holding his new wand – now a member of the Wishing the World Better Club! The world is a better place for having Green in it. Please do pass on our best wishes – and if there is any way I can get a letter to Green via somebody, please let me know.

    • Hi Debbie, I was having a conversation today with someone about how popular Green’s wands were with children. I really hope someone has pointed these comments out to Green as so many people would like to get in touch with him, but I have been unsuccessful at getting hold of him so far. Best wishes, Vicki

  8. Thanks Vicki – I hope these comments get to Green too. And if ever you find an address I can send something to for Green, either direct or via a friend, please let me know, if you don’t mind. Presumably you have my email now I’ve submitted a comment? Or if not, I can private message the NFG FB page.

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