East Anglia is a mysterious kind of place in some ways. For starters, it’s a big, spread out, mainly rural, often atmospheric, region that can be slow and difficult to navigate in parts – although it does have a number of big towns such as Cambridge, Norwich and Peterborough within its borders.
And then there are the disputes as to which counties it actually covers, or not as the case may be. If you’re playing it by the book, you’re looking purely at the Kingdom of the East Angles, which was formed in 520 and made up of the North People (Norfolk) and the South People (Suffolk). The Angles themselves, however, were originally from northern Germany – Angeln in Schleswig-Holstein to be precise, the clue, of course, being in the name.
Over time, however, the Kingdom expanded into Cambridgeshire and is sometimes even said to include Essex, even though its name actually means ‘East Saxons’, which refers to a different German tribe that ran their own separate gaff. But an area between the Wash and just south of Colchester has been commonly known as East Anglia since the 6thcentury apparently – and so who are we to argue.
But despite the watery pleasures of the North Norfolk coast and Broads, and the cultural yet picturesque highlights of Constable Country and Aldeburgh, there seems much about the region that is hidden.
Again, despite its ancient burial mounds, woodhenge and churches, the region tends to hide its spiritual light under a bushel. While there are lots of healers, lightworkers and groups of an esoteric bent, they often take a bit of finding and are in no way as overt as in areas such as Glastonbury or the Great Stones Way.
Spirit of place
But in keeping with the concept of ‘Spirit of Place’, maybe there’s a reason for this secrecy that has passed down along the threads of time. As a friend of mine once put it, in an area where more witches were killed than in any other region in England, perhaps there’s an inherent reluctance for people to put their head above the parapet.
Because East Anglia was the stomping ground of the notorious ‘Witchfinder General’ and was synonymous with witch hunts. At a time when Puritanism was at its peak and the 1603 Witchcraft Act was still in force, local parishes paid Matthew Hopkins to find and try witches, who were all too often single, older women working as healers, herbalists and midwives – or who simply ended up as scapegoats.
In 1645, Bury St Edmunds, in fact, had the dubious honour of hosting the single biggest witch trial in England, at which 18 people were hanged. So while Hopkins made his money, the wise women and innocents perished.
But the time for hiding is now over. In an age where many people are searching for meaning and to understand what spirituality – which includes physical, mental and emotional health – means to them, we at the Spirit of East Anglia are creating a community of healers and wise men and women to help you on your path.
Not only will we provide a register of respected practitioners from across the region, but our aim is to become the go-to site for local people to discover all things spiritual – in the broadest possible sense. We also intend to hold a networking group for practitioners across the region each quarter.
Our founding members are:
Cath Everett, editor and journalist
Helen Preston, counsellor, Emotional Freedom Technique and reiki practitioner
Anita Ramsden, kinesiology and reiki practitioner
Sarah Stollery, kundalini yoga and meditation practitioner, who also focuses on children’s wellbeing.
We look forward to getting to know you over the weeks, months and years ahead as you learn to know yourself, and the mysterious world around you, better too.