“He’s the land-owner,” says John. “This has been in his family since the 1720’s. Maps. They were the big cartographers.”
I bet that somewhere on the estate, framed on a wall, is a map that is almost as valuable as the land- if it were sold at auction. Well done his family for not losing the land piecemeal to the inevitable leeches and addictions that accompany easy wealth – despite the passage of 300 years.
Apparently there was a maypole here when the estate fell to his family back then, down by one of the festival firepits now. So there’s ancient ceremony here, rooted in this soil. And right now this geographic land-owner has opened the gates to a remarkable jumble of energetic practitioners. He is here too, surveying the chaos he has allowed to take place, worrying about distancing, proud to have taken the step at the end of this stagnant summer.
Many of the representatives of practice rooted in distant soil have had to remain on distant soil, so the festival “Wisdom Keepers” are mostly of this land. Their perspective varies. Many people, myself included, are attracted to the clearer perspectives on spiritualism drawn by other cultures. My oojieboojie stuff takes in Peruvian tradition, scratches of vodoun, lashings and lashings of Buddhism, and magpied touches of virtually every practice I’ve been properly exposed to over the years. I’m a collector, and I spit in the face of the narrow assertion that “our idea is the only right idea” – particularly those of the Atheist tradition, with perhaps the most nihilistic God of all – the Nothing God, evangelised vigorously in every pub by left brain people with their head in a plastic bag.
This morning I sat in a circle held by a glorious man of the Christian tradition. He’s a vicar. He spoke with clarity and poetry of the beauty of nature. He locked us back into observation. He was charming and self effacing. “What’s coming up next here?” “Oh it’s just a talk by an idiot.” It was measured, crystal clear, beautiful and welcome. Now I’m off to a rainforest ceremony and then to a pagan fire ceremony. If you see wrong in this, look to yourself. The intention is clear, across these cultures and traditions. We align, as we must, in a will towards kindness, mindfulness, ambition, care of self and others and the land – all these things can exist in all these traditions and these colourful thought-spaces.
I’ve always been attracted by shiny things.
After the vicar I sat in the sun and chanted a Japanese Buddhist sutra, as I do every morning. I’m wearing the Camino boots my friends clubbed together to buy, flared Levis from the nineties, dad’s shirt from 1969, uncle Peter’s monogrammed trilby, mum’s pashmina, a jaguar and a scallop shell. Fucking hippy. With plastic bottles.
And I’m just as much of a hypocrite as everybody here, with the time and money and connections to come to this privately owned natureplace and hope that the strength of our shared ideals can somehow change the world.
But it’s nice to believe in something. I recommend it.