From Gandalf’s Garden to The Algarve

Muz Murray interviewed by Steve Andrews

I was recently reading The Portugal News when a name leapt out from the pages and took me right back to the days of Flower-Power and hippie counter culture. That name was Muz Murray and I was very happy to read that he now lives in Portugal too. He is a mystic, a yoga and mantra master, an artist, and the author of books that dive deep into the mysteries of mind, body and spirit, of life, the universe and everything. 

Muz Murray has been called “Europe’s answer to Eckhart Tolle,” but to my mind, he is the magical man who founded the Gandalf’s Garden magazine and centre in London in the late 1960s. My memories of IT (International Times) also take me back to the same time period, so what could be better I thought than an interview with Muz but published in the now? So I reached out to the universe to make this happen. I contacted IT, and sent Muz some questions.

From your most extraordinary life, please tell us about four of your most extraordinary experiences.  

I guess my first would be when I was gassed by the dentist in order to extract a tooth (that’s what they did in those days when I was a kid) and found myself out of my body and floating on the ceiling. I was able to watch the dentist and his assistant operating and heard them talking. That’s when I realised why many of us feel we can fly. 

Another was the constant childhood memory of being engulfed by a monstrous tidal wave, seemingly a mile high that swept across North Africa when Atlantis sank,covering the jungles with the sand of what is now the Sahara Desert. I was a youth sitting on the flat roof in a white adobe village in what now must be Libya when I saw the great wave coming. I had a dreadful fear of water while growing up and never swam until I forced myself in my sixties.  

My major experience was a sudden spiritual awakening that came out of the blue, when my consciousness appeared to expand to fill the universe. I was given revelatory knowledge beyond the capacity of the intellect to comprehend. This happened on the island of Cyprus, during several years of back-packing around the world. It was a completely natural experience and no drugs were involved. But it changed the whole course of my life. I found myself on the spiritual path with awe-inspiring insight into the nature of existence. I later learned that it was known as Cosmic Consciousness. And from then on, nothing would satisfy me but to regain the wonder of that experience.  

I relate the details of this momentous event in my book “Sharing the Quest: Secrets of Self-Understanding.” 

After many years of meditation and spiritual and yoga practices (and three years as a wandering monk in India) I achieved various states of Samadhi, or thought-free awakened consciousness.  

My last OOBE occurred after hanging on to the outside of an express train for ten hours through the night in India. I arrived in Rishikesh enfeebled with a raging fever. In an ashram, my guru-doctor tried to assist me with acupuncture. Unfortunately he hit a spot with one needle that caused instant death. I left my body and found myself crossing a vast rock arch over the universe to some unknown end. Then my mantra, which I had previously constantly mentally chanted, emerged in my consciousness and settled me. It seemed to be carrying me back to my body. When I realised I was back and before I was able to open my eyes, for the sake of the doc, I said, “It’s alright, I’m coming back!” He was greatly relieved, as he was contemplating throwing my blue corpse into the Ganges and wondering if he would be arrested for having killed a European.    

How did Gandalf’s Garden come about and how would you describe it? 

When I returned to the UK after three years travelling and working in various jobs down the whole of Africa, I no longer had any interest in a career. However, I went back to work at the BBC TV studios as a scenic artist in order to earn money to further my travels to India. During that period Flower-Power and hippiedom was on the rise and I encountered many lost and lonely hippies, who had been destroyed by society and then by drugs. I felt moved to help them with some direction.  

So I sank my India-bound savings into producing the first Issue of Gandalf’s Garden (with the blessing of Tolkien himself, I might add). Thus it began. Just six of us rented premises in World’s End at the far end of King’s Road, selling head shop goods, hand-made hippy clothes, exotic teas and porridge, and GG magazines. Soon we found we had become a community, a mecca for world crossers, and a haven for dossers and junkies on a bad trip. We nurtured them all. We also invited gurus and spiritual teachers of every stripe from all over the world to speak in our basement shrine-room. GG was a beacon of hope for many. 

Since the original magazines have now become valuable Sixties memorabilia,fetching over a hundred pounds each in the trade, I created a CD named “The Complete Gandalf’s Garden” offering copies of all the magazines, photos of the ‘Gardeners’, press cuttings, reviews of GG by authors in their books, and a 70-page account of the Life & Times of our community. (Available as a readable CD or a download. Find it here: https://bit.ly/2nSplOG) 

By the way, I still have one or two of the original magazines waiting for a good home for those who can afford it. I also have a few of the first ever copies of Issue 1 printed in the first 20 minutes of GG’s existence, provable by the lack of flowers in the title. I arrived just in time to stop the print run until the printer put in the flowers he had forgotten to add. Naturally, these are worth more.. 

How did you end up in Portugal, and tell us a bit about your life there? 

I was first invited by a Yoga Centre in the Algarve to teach Mantra for ten days with about 70 students. I loved the warmth and calm atmosphere of Portugal and the friendly people. So when some years later I was invited by an erstwhile friend who had moved to the Algarve, to come down for a holiday I was happy to do so. Whilst visiting him and his girlfriend, it was suggested that I came to live down there. They had an empty 2nd plot attached to their garden and said I could build a chalet there, sell my house in France (where I was then living) and retire on the proceeds. I would only need to pay for the electricity he said. This was quite an attractive proposition. 

Eventually, I decided to take the plunge, and change my life yet again. I put my house on the market, sold it, and sent all my furniture to the Algarve. 

I was just tidying up the house for the newcomers, having just a mattress and my laptop in an otherwise empty house, when I got a message in my email. “Well, actually, you can’t have a chalet in my garden, as it partly belongs to my ex-wife and we have problems. But you can have a room in my house for 1.000 Euros a month.” !!! What?   

With my furniture in storage in the Algarve, and a car chock full of my last bits and pieces, I had no alternative but to hare down to Portugal and run around like crazy to find someplace to buy that I could afford and still have a bit left over to live on. So that’s what I did. I found an isolated place in the hills, with no neighbours and no friends,and no one to talk to for three years. So I became a hermit.  

Now I rarely leave my ‘hermitage’ and spend my time trying to write my books, but mostly wrestling with computer confustications that I know not how to solve. And praying to the Gods of the Keyboard for a computer whizz-kid to come and sort out my Windows 11 complexities.    

 Can you please say something about your books? 

While I was wandering all over India as a sadhu (or errant monk) many fellow travellers constantly asked me where they could go for this or that teaching. So I investigated over 300 ashrams (spiritual hermitages) and collected all the information any seeker needed to know. Thus my first book was called “Seeking the Master—A Guide to the Ashrams of India and Nepal.”  This became the Bible of India-goers in the Eighties and was jokingly called the “Five-star Guru Guide.” After ten years, at the height of its popularity, my publisher retired and the book became out of date, as all the gurus had inconveniently gone and died on me. Very inconsiderate of them, I thought.  

A great labour of love was my second book,Ifflepinn Island”—an esoteric fantasy for children (and adults) with spiritual teachings slipped in as part of the adventures. I had worked on this book for sixty years, in between my travels and work. Reviewers have said it had the quality of “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Hobbit, “ and the “Narnia Chronicles” all-in-one. Unfortunately, my publisher turned out to be a skinflint and has not paid me any royalties for the past eight years. So I haven’t the impetus to promote the book.  

“Sharing the Quest: Secrets of Self-Understanding” developed from the time I was a kind of ‘spiritual agony aunt’ for Yoga Today magazine. Readers asked spiritual questions that were perturbing them and I answered them in depth, but in easy language. I later enlarged the articles into chapters offering yoga secrets and practices I was initiated into, and methods of self-understanding from my practice as a psychotherapist. This book is helping to clarify real spiritual issues for many seekers.  

You Are the Light: Secrets of the Sages Made Simple” is the culmination of all my spiritual insights and practices. It presents the mystery of Advaita i(the highest spiritual understanding) in a way that is comprehensible and illuminating for those seeking advanced teachings. Everything a seeker needs to know can be found here.  

Two different reviewers have said, “This is the only spiritual book I will ever need.” 
That says it all. 

For a little light relief, my latest book, “Old Mother West Wind Tales” is an updated rewrite of a 120-year-old American children’s classic, about the mischievous antics and adventures of the animals, birds and reptiles of the meadow, pond and wood. It was a book that charmed me when I was six years old. But having discovered it again in my eighties, I found it very old-fashioned in tone, so I decided to rewrite it in a more lyrical and upbeat style for the taste of children and parents today. I also changed many of the American animals to those inhabiting the English countryside, in order to introduce it to British children. And created 23 new illustrations. 

The book is getting all five-star reviews and charming adults as well as children, many of whom are saying this should become another children’s classic.  

So think of your kiddies for Christmas!   

Muz, I am sure many people think you look like a wizard, so if you could wave your wand what would your magic be? 

World peace—a world of people with open minds and open hearts.

Muz Murray, Author of: 

Seeking the Master –A Guide to the Ashrams of India and Nepal

Sharing the Quest — Secrets of Self-Understanding

Words on the Way –– Esoteric Sanskrit Terminology Explained

Ifflepinn Island-A spiritual fantasy for green-growing children and evergreen adults

Never Mind the Mind – Audio CD on Overcoming the Mind Machinations

You Are the Light: Secrets of the Sages Made Simple

https://www.muzmurray.com/you-are-the-light

Old Mother West Wind Tales–https://www.muzmurray.com/old-mother-west-wind-tales

All available from our UK Website: https://www.muzmurray.com  

and also on Amazon

Follow Muz on:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MantraMuz 

YouTube Videos: http://www.youtube.com/user/MuzMantraYoga

For more info on Steve Andrews:

https://steveandrews.info/

https://linktr.ee/steveandrews 

 

Steve Andrews is The Bard of Ely

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BOOKS: Herbs of the Northern Shaman, Herbs of the Sun, Moon and Planets, Herbs of the Southern Shaman, Earth Spirit: Saving Mother Ocean, The Magic of Butterflies and Moths (all by Moon Books),

PUBLICATIONS: Big Issue Cymru, SWND, Kindred Spirit, MyHerbs, Permaculture, Welsh Coastal Life, Celtic Life International, Mediterranean Gardening and Outdoor Living, Bee Culture The Magazine of American Beekeeping, National Federation of Occupational Pensioners, Prediction, and Living Tenerife magazines, Tenerife News, Tenerife Weekly and the Tenerife Sun newspapers, as well as the Huffington Post, Whitstable Views, Tripedia and Ancient Origins websites.


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2 Responses to From Gandalf’s Garden to The Algarve

    1. Love you Muz. You visited me when I was still very young. I still have all the original Gandalfs Garden magazines.
      You are one amazing human being.

      Comment by Valerie Brown on 10 December, 2023 at 8:17 pm
    2. Thanks for your message for Muz, Valerie! Sadly he was taken very ill with fever and pneumonia and ended up in hospital so wasn’t able to attend to much. He is back home now though and recovering well. That is wonderful that you have all the original Gandalf’s Garden magazines.

      Comment by Steve Andrews on 25 February, 2024 at 5:05 pm

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