Last Spring I felt a strong desire and intention to start exploring the world of Summer Festivals. This was rather out of character for someone who, a little embarrassingly, at the age of 33 has consistently managed to avoid most of the UK large Summer Festivals. The one time I braved going to one before, I hated bits of the experience so much, it made me wonder why people put themselves through it. Being the daughter of a woman who hated camping, I have no practical skills to bring to life my lovely fantasy of natural living in the fields and navigating vast expanses of muddy territory amidst drunken folk will never become appealing to me. But, to my delight, it seems that every year more and more much smaller, quieter, manageable and family friendly field gatherings keep popping up! These were the kind I had my eye on this summer.
Into The Wild Summer Festival was one of my chosen destinations. It was a beautiful small scale event in Broomlands, Cowden, East Sussex during the August Bank Holiday weekend with a strict no drugs and no alcohol policy. Its workshops schedule covered a wide variety of interests from Yoga to Movement Medicine, Five Rhythms, Shamanism, Bioenergetics, Drumming Journeys, Foraging, Massage, Rebirthing, Singing, Chanting, Storytelling and much more. I felt that these types of activities were a perfect complement to a weekend camping in the embrace of a forest away from the city. They reconnected us with our bodies, grounded us and reminded us of parts of ourselves we often forget to nurture during our busy daily schedules.
During the day adults and children played, cared for each other, shared music, stories, rituals and tears that came up, or just sat down in small groups holding hands for a while saying nothing. There was no shortage of smiles to go around and as the night approached there were even more opportunities to bond with strangers around the various campfires. One night I stayed up late wandering and as I joined a fire circle I had the joy of witnessing a young man dancing to the voices and drumming of the group as if he had no single fear in his heart.
Some workshops, like Seth Newman’s of Bioenergetic Alchemy The Big Love Experience, made a grand promise through their title, but this was a truly heart opening session. As we were led through a series of bioenergetics exercises a gazillion of emotions came up for each and every one of us to be released, loved and shared with a sea of other human beings.
Seth Newman had another offering for the more brave among us called Tantric Trance Dance. This ‘dance’ event was wildly liberating, hilarious and profoundly touching at the same time! I found it delightful that on a Sunday afternoon we found ourselves blindfolded, naked (the majority anyway) and expressing our wild-man, wild-woman natures with abandon. For me there was also a beautiful teaching to take back home with me. One third of this journey was a super powerful shake, and so, by shaking so much the upper half of the body, while having our feet planted firmly on the ground, we not only moved away from tensions and thoughts ‘up there’, but we also embodied the nature of life itself; the ever changing, ‘shaky’ reality of our every day lives resting on the solid basis of an eternal, unchangeable nature within. We might have read about this duality in books and half understood it intellectually, but during this process we embodied it and it became a deeper understanding, remembered in the cells of our bodies. Mindfully sucking on strawberries at the end was a lovely bonus. If after your Halloween celebrations you feel there is more exploring to do into your wild and darker side, then join a special Tantric Trance Dance event in London on the 8th of November!
There were tons of other activities and workshops on offer, which perhaps did not take us to those deeper depths of our souls, but were equally healing. I LOVE hoola hooping and trying it out in different ways with Amy Hooploving was a joy!
We also joined Stephen Meakin on a little forest expedition to gather materials with which we made beautiful dream catchers.
I think it is so important for ‘city’ mums that they take their little ones out into the wilderness often and attending small festivals is a great way to do that.
I loved watching the lovely Lucy Mills – whom I had met in London at one of her super fun Paint Dance London events – lead these toddlers into some brush stroke action!
I believe I encountered a future talent in the world of illustration at Carl Sullivan‘s Pleebles drawing workshop.
Anita Myatt‘s Puppet Show workshops made me want to get in there and sew a puppet sock too!
I am not sure what the idea behind Lily Laughley‘s Laughing Lion Playshop was exactly, but the costumes looked fun.
I adore the idea of a rave first thing in the morning and was thrilled to find out that on Saturday and Sunday we would be starting our days with the morning clubbing sensation that is Morning Gloryville.
I was also thrilled I managed to get Boris Ausitn, one of Morning Gloryville‘s team, to pose for me with his fabulous necklace on made from colourful plastic whistles.
Boris Austin turned out to be a photographer and asked me to pose for him in return so that he could make a portrait of me. I love how the foliage is filling up my head, as if nature is doing a little spring clean to my brain.
More fashion related fun came from stambling upon Darryl Black‘s tent shop. I have followed and admired her wonderful upcycled clothing online for some time now, but it was such a pleaure to meet her in person and see her designs up close.
The lovely atmosphere created by all the above continued well into the night with live bands and djs playing in the main festival tent until late. It was lush to have the opportunity to dance surrounded by nature to the wild rhythms and drum beats created by the Urubu Collective, whose dances I have enjoyed many times in London.
On the last night I was wowed by an Australian band called Formidable Vegetable Sound System. They made us jump up and down as well as laugh out loud with their energetic songs and quirky commentary in between, mixing up biology, permaculture and the human condition in a hilarious mashup.
Throughout the festival everyone was talking about and visiting an ancient chestnut tree, hidden nearby in the forest. So, on Monday morning, before leaving, myself and two female companions made our way to give a long ‘hug’ goodbye to this goddess. And then, just at the last minute I received a last precious gift from this festival experience; as I was waiting by our van for my co travelers, heavy rain pouring down, Bibi Habibi, our friendly neighbour – who, as it turned out, was a professional storyteller – sat me under his caravan porch, made me a cup of ginger tea with honey and placed a candle under my chair to suck out anything negative – as he informed me. He then started performing in front me while I listened to him, with a heart wide open from everything which had occurred those last couple of days, crying and at the same time feeling like a really excited young child who was hearing of the wonders of this world for the first time. He told me an old story of a woman, up on the Spanish mountains, whose feelings were so powerful that the weather shifted according to them, and a new story of ‘Princess Maria’ and her meeting with the Dragon…
Amy Hooploving, Anita Myatt, Bioenergetics, Boris Austin, Carl Sullivan, Darryl Black, dreamcatchers, Ecstatic Dance, festival, Forest, Formidable Vegetable Sound System, Hula Hoop, Into the Wild, Into The Wild Summer Festival, Kevin Stoney, Lily Laughley, Lucy Mills, Maria Papadimitriou, Morning Gloryville, One Giant Leap, Pleebles, review, Seth Newman, Stephen Meakin, sustainability, Tantric Trance Dance, The Big Love Experience, Urubu, workshops
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