Festivals are something that are part of summer for me. Midsummer festivals especially.
As humans we are naturally connected to the sun and the seasons and it’s lovely to celebrate that.
Gathering in a special place, dressing up and enjoying good food and drink, with music, dancing and bonfires.
These are all traditions that go back to ancient times.
My week at Glastonbury Festival gave me a chance to step back from everyday life, and while it is nearly a week since I came home, it’s still with me. This morning I’m taking some time to reflect, and I have some thoughts I want to share with you.
I strive to live an uncluttered life, and I always travel light. This is something that is a deep part of me. I only own things I know to be useful or beautiful but just because something is useful or beautiful doesn’t mean I need to own it.
For example, one thing I don’t currently own is a tent. I definitely need one for Glastonbury, and the last two years I’ve borrowed one from my friend Sandy. I am full of gratitude for his small, light, waterproof tent, and his generous spirit in lending it to me. The first and last thing I am grateful for each day while I am there is that tent! It keeps me safe and warm and dry.
As I travel to Glastonbury by train and bus, I have to carry everything with me. It takes almost an hour to walk from the pedestrian gate to the Healing Fields. My friend Julia also works in the healing fields and she offered to take some of my things in her car for me, including my two (very heavy) homeopathy books. Not having to carry those made a huge difference to my journey.
Julia was not the only person who offered to take things to Glastonbury for me. Last year was my first time at Glastonbury and I posted on my local mothers’ email group for advice and recommendations. Maddie came forward, sending a thoughtful list of tips which really helped me make the most of my time there. She offered to bring things for me this year too. I was really touched by that.
I feel blessed to have many wonderful people in my life and festivals are all about being part of a wider community. I feel this in many ways at Glastonbury, but especially as I am there as a guest and volunteer for the Travelling Homeopath Collective.
Marcus and Charlotte are the husband and wife partnership behind the THC. It’s a charity set up with a mission to take homeopathy out into the world through a presence at festivals around the country each summer. I’ve been with them for more than 10 years and I have so much respect for the work they do. Not only are they wonderful human beings, they are reflective homeopaths and great fun to be with.
As a homeopath it’s important for me to feel connected to my profession as a whole. While I’m at Glastonbury I’m one of 20 homeopaths, working in teams of 5. I spend more time with the people in my personal team. We are usually pretty busy, but we still have moments to share some thoughts over a cup of tea.
Every single one of the homeopaths on the Glastonbury team worked their socks off. Our tent was almost always full, and lots of people came back to write in our feedback book. Someone even came with a gift for the homeopath who helped him on his first night. I feel so proud of the work we did together.
I love coincidences and am a big believer in serendipity but Glastonbury is HUGE, so I’m always surprised when I see people I know.
This year my friend Keri stopped by the homeopathy tent while I was on shift so we were able to make a time to meet up and watch Radiohead together. She sent me her location through the Glasonbury app. Keri is so amazing with all types of tech – even in a field!
I waded through several thousand people to reach her, which seemed nothing short of a small miracle! Radiohead were the only band I saw on the main Pyramid stage, and it was a really big crowd, so it was lovely to have a friend to hang out with.
As well as being part of a community I love to spend time alone. I spend the majority of Glastonbury roaming freely by myself.
I get to do what I want to do, go where I want to go, eat what I want to eat, listen to what I want to hear. I can ‘people-watch’ to my heart’s content. I get to chat with strangers. I can spend time in the vintage stores and try on (and buy) clothes that I wouldn’t get to find in London.
Time alone gives me time to breathe. Freedom to be myself. To wander. To dance.
I deliberately stayed off-line for most of the time I was away. Last year my friend Aggy lent me her batteries. I was glad to have them, but they were heavy. This year I didn’t ask if I could borrow them and instead I decided to allow myself a budget of £10 to have my phone charged at one of the stalls run by charity in the Green Fields.
I charged my phone twice while I was there which I thought was pretty good considering I was there for almost a week. I would have considered leaving my phone at home but I wanted to take photos and to stay connected with my family.
I’m not a musician but music is an essential part of my life. Music played through a device can seem intangible. I love seeing musicians perform as I can feel and appreciate the creative force behind it.
The big bands at Glastonbury are always impressive, but the real joy for me is hearing music on the smaller stages. The energy I feel there touches me in a completely different way.
When I came out of the sauna on Saturday I bumped into my friend Jake. I’ve known him since he was a teen and used to babysit for my kids. He’s a talented musician and plays trombone and guitar in a couple of bands, including a gipsy swing band called The Bohemianauts. Seeing them play was a special part of Glastonbury for me last year. I knew that he and his amazing singer-songwriter mum Niki were playing in the secret and fabled Piano Bar this year. Luckily he was able to tell me where to find it.
I can’t begin to describe what it was like to climb down a human sized rabbit hole and to sit on an earth platform watching performances on a stage illuminated by candle light.
The Bohemianauts unleashed their unique style of musical mayhem while Niki’s songs made the entire audience laugh and cry.
Everyone around me was asking me who they were. I was so proud to know them.
Travelling to Glastonbury feels like a pilgrimage in so many ways. Preparation; packing; the journey itself. The event is something incredible, magical and transcends everyday life.
Along with the wonder and joy, there is also the dust, the queues and the toilets.
The toilets are mainly big holes in the ground. Luckily there are lots of them and you get used to it. This year I mainly used the compost toilets in the Stone Circle field. They were staffed by Water Aid. Every time I sat down I was reminded that many people in the world don’t have access to sanitation. Something else I take completely for granted in my daily life.
It is possible to have a shower while you’re there but there’s a queue, it’s communal and it’s solar powered (read luke-warm). Last year I spent an entire afternoon having a shower. This year I didn’t bother. I didn’t wash my hair for a week, which was fine as I only took my hat off to sleep.
I take small cloths so I can clean myself in my tent. It doesn’t take too long and I can easily brush my teeth and apply deodorant too. I never go anywhere without lipstick and Glastonbury is no exception. I don’t do the whole glitter thing though. I love what it looks like but it isn’t really me.
Nature and the Elements
Living in a field brings me face to face with nature in a way that I don’t experience during my daily life. I’m so much more aware of what’s important.
Festivals are a special time when I connect with the elements. Earth, air, water and fire are all up close. Fresh air to breathe, clean water to drink, good food to eat, a safe shelter plus bonfires and saunas for warmth and community.
Four hours per day I worked in the Travelling Homeopathy tent and we were busy! The most popular reason for seeking help was hay fever. It was midsummer, the weather was warm and the pollen count was super high. All of the homeopaths in THC know their hay fever remedies really well so we were able to help lots of people.
Other reasons for seeking homeopathy help included: sun burn, insect bites, injuries, cystitis and period pain. We also saw quite a lot of people who needed emotional support.
Festivals can be stressful as well as wonderful and our tent was a haven for people who needed some space and time to talk.
Many people discover the joy of homeopathy at a festival. When you have full on symptoms in a field, and you take a remedy that works quickly, you know exactly what has helped and that’s satisfying for us homeopaths too.
I’m back to work as usual now, and I’m happy to be prescribing from the comfort of my clinic room at The Plane Tree.
If you’re at a festival this summer keep an eye out for the Travelling Homeopaths Tent. If you need a remedy, you know where to go!
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