Tony Butcher

Tony Butcher

I was born in 1938, the eldest son of a grocer near Wimbledon. Filling up shelves and delivering orders on a trade bike filled much of my life up to leaving school. I didn’t take school seriously and left with only GCE’s in Maths and English.

Cricket was my one big passion when I was young. Whilst I didn’t like being a National Serviceman the cricket was brilliant. My second summer in the army revolved around cricket. I would get up, go to the QM Stores pick up another set of beautifully laundered whites and get on a coach to play the next match. I had a really good season and scored a lot of runs and took a lot of wickets.

Near the end of the season I actually had a chance to turn professional- well half a chance actually. The deal was that if I signed on for an extra year I would get a trial for the England Army team and stand a good chance of getting spotted by a county. However, I didn’t want to be in the army for a minute longer than necessary - not even for Cricket.

On leaving the army I had a number of office jobs none of which I liked so I played about a lot. After losing my old job after only four months, I was employed as a costing clerk for a well known tea and coffee firm.

I wouldn’t have lasted five minutes if employers had the same hard nosed attitude as today. In those days bosses were still had a paternal side to their nature. Their attitude was “he’s young and daft but he’ll grow out of it.” At least my work was alright. I could complete a whole month’s work in two weeks and I would spend the other ten days playing about amusing people.

One day our Section Leader came over to me. I thought he was going to tell me off. Instead he gave me my first poetry lesson.

“Have you ever tried doing that sort of thing in verse?” he asked. I probably shook my head. I had been to a School of Building so I didn’t know anything about poetry.

“Okay, tell me about someone you know” he asked.

I told him about a school friend of mine who had just become engaged and had fixed his wedding day.. My section leader had a quick think and rattled out a short and snappy verse humorous verse- I was hooked immediately.

I met Rosemary in 1959 when I was working for that company. We were married the following year and have been together for 52 years. We have three grown up children and are a close family.

Whilst working for another firm who manufactured diving equipment, I noticed a job for a PE and Games master at a private school. I applied even though I thought it very unlikely that he would choose me. However, the headmaster gave me the job because my ability as a cricketer. It was the only thing I took seriously in those days. It so happened that he wanted his school to have a good cricket team more than anything else and as it happened it was the only thing I could offer in those days. I fell in love with teaching from the very first day and never wanted to do anything else.

After a couple of very happy terms I learned that my first daughter was on the way I had to earn more- the salary of an unqualified PE and Games Master was not enough to support a family. I had to and had to get another office job. However, the thought of a lifetime in an office launched me into study.

A mixture of evening classes and correspondence courses helped me to get the qualifications I needed to go to a Teacher Training College.

I did four terms as a temporary teacher and then went to Sidney Webb College in London to train to be a teacher. When I was working as a temporary teacher I was invited by the Sports Master to go on a trip to Spain. He had arranged a number of football matches against Spanish school teams.

We didn’t fly. It was much cheaper to cross the channel by boat and then travelled through France, across the Pyrenees into Spain. We stopped at a place named Pamplona into order to stretch our legs and answer calls of Nature.

Guess what- we got lost! What was worse none of us could speak a word of Spanish so we couldn’t ask anybody. As we were walking past some up-market three storied houses, they seemed familiar. Even the patterns in the wood grain were familiar and suddenly so did the geography of Pamplona.

At that time I didn’t know anything about the possibility of having a previous life there but there was one thing I knew- and that was the way back to the coach . When I was proved right, the other teachers quizzed me because I sounded so sure that I was right. I told them it was a lucky guess because there was no way I could have told them what had really happened.

A couple of years later in my final term at college, I had a wonderful spiritual experience in Regents Park which changed my life. I was out walking with a friend when something inside told me to be still. I did so and had the feeling that I was at one with creation. I could feel the grass growing under my feet even though I had shoes on and I could feel a tree so distance away as part of my right arm. It didn’t last long but it showed me that there was a great deal more to life than I had found so far.

I read a lot of unusual books afterwards in the hope of some way of repeating it and eventually learned TM in 1968, which has always been the bedrock of my existence.

I began my teaching career with five years of primary school teaching. This was followed by another five years of teaching teenage children with behaviour difficulties. In actual fact I had the fourth year off to study for a diploma in teaching Handicapped Children at London University.

One summer’s afternoon in 1973 I was helping a 14 year old with his reading when I had a visual experience of what the so-called ‘Fairy Stories’ really mean and was really the inspiration for ‘Yoga Consciousness in the Ancient Mystery Religions’.

After five years at Melrose I was appointed as head of Cambridge House, which was a special children for primary aged children with behaviour difficulties.

Here I invented a lot of learning programmes which both heightened the children’s self-esteem and improved their behaviour. However, it was not just the learning programmes which produced this success. It was also because I persuaded most of the staff to learn TM, which made a calm atmosphere. The calmness of the atmosphere disallowed fights to spontaneously break out made it possible to teach normally. Due to this we were able to help 70% of the children back to mainstream schools.

I was at Cambridge House for about 7 years. Whilst there I developed a scheme to help children with literacy problems. It was called “Flying Start to Basic Literacy”. It had a very good review in the Times Educational Supplement and had a good response from school. The most notable was the headline of an article about a school in Wales.

It said: “WORD BLIND GRANT GOES TOP OF THE CLASS”- the teacher sent it to me with a letter saying she had given him nothing other than my system. The confidence he gained was sufficient to completely turn his performance around

Another headmaster friend of mine wrote four books for teenagers called “Flying High” books. They were about a young footballer and his girlfriend who had a flair for fitness, gym and dance. Looking back I can see that my friend Richard predicted the fad for gyms and fitness at least 15 years before it actually happened.

Several years went by. One day I got a phone call from Richard, who was the headmaster of a boarding school for children with difficulties. He was in the middle of a staffing crisis due to teachers being on courses or being off ill. He asked me if I could do some supply work at his school. I thought I was finished with teaching and stalled a bit. However, he was a good friend so I agreed. I soon felt very at home in the classroom again and got bitten by the bug again.

I did more and more supply teaching and less and less Flying Start- that was the name of my company.

One day I was asked go to a special school for only one day. I went but when I got there they said they’d had a call from the education office to go to primary school in Wimbledon. They thought it would be about one week. I went and liked it so much that I stayed there two years.

One day when I was in need of a new challenge, I saw an advert in the TES for a teacher at a private school for girls.

I had a very happy eight years and then retired to write my first book: Yoga Consciousness in the Ancient Mystery Religions.

I made my first visit to India in February 2001. We actually intended to go to the Kumbha Mela in Allahabad but it had closed prematurely due to an earthquake in Gujarat.

It was at the Hanuman Temple at Allahabad where I had a wonderful religious experience from Durga, which thoroughly changed my perspective on life- and even luckier- has become a normal every day experience for me. The most important part of my daily routine is to do a puja to her in Sanskrit. It started off as being only a few minutes- now- it takes about four hours every morning.

In fact my poetry and most other aspects of my life arise from her, consequently , I am very grateful to be one of her devotees.

If you are thinking that Rosemary must be a lady in a million to put up with an odd-bod like me you are right.

In addition to the interests already stated- I like gardening. I also have an allotment where we grow a lot of our own vegetables and a lovely dog, which we like taking out for walks.

How to find the wisdom of life in Fairy Tales


Recited by heart and passed down through the generations, the fairy tales have become the most universally familiar bed time stories. But, if like most people you consider waking, dreaming and deep sleep to be the only states of consciousness, you might have been missing the true meaning of these tales, embedded deep within the colour and fun of each one.


Yoga consciousness in Ancient Mystery Religions by Tony Butcher provides a fascinating new perspective on some traditional fairy tales showing us how to unravel the meanings, drawing on the ancient teachings of the Mystery Schools and in particular, the teaching of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Featured on Gardiner's World SKY 200

Encouraged by a life changing experience in which he started talking Sanskrit, a language he had no previous knowledge of, to the feminine deity, Durga, Tony Butcher, who has practised Transcendental Meditation for many years, takes us through the philosophy behind which ancient Egyptian teaching was based. He explains how transcendence, various states of consciousness and the Yoga Sutras all pave the way towards enlightenment and freedom from the bonds of the material, earthly world.

The second section of his book illuminates ten well-known fairy tales, viewing them as coded messages laid down for the wisdom of life. In describing some of the mystic symbolism used, the author sheds new light on what folklore has to say to us.

Yoga Consciousness in Ancient Mystery Religions is published by Janus Publishing Company Ltd. and is available at £8.95 in major bookshops and online retailers across the country.
ISBN 978-1-85756-622-2

Interview with Tony Butcher