Hemp is one of the earliest domesticated plants, we’ve been growing it for, a whopping…wait for it… over…. twelve….thousands years. Early Chinese paper was made from it, as were textiles across the East.
One of Free’s suppliers, Sivargo, came in to drop off hemp t-shirts.
“How long have you lived here?” I asked him after a while.
“I came in 2004. It’s the spiritual heart of England and people are drawn here.”
I raise a questioning eyebrow and nodded, inviting him to go on.
“There are different chakra points around the Earth. And at the moment Glastonbury is the heart.”
“So where do you two think I ought to go, while I’m in Glastonbury?” I asked them smiling.
“They run mind, body and soul events in the community cafe, but it’s closed today. Tomorrow’s Beltane so there’ll be May Day celebrations.”
“Of course!” I thought, feeling stupid. “That’s why the visitors are in town.”
Sivargo handed me The Oracle.
Sadly I had not been bestowed with a criptique all-knowing fortune teller. The Oracle was ‘The unique free guide to Holistic Glastonbury and local area’. My feet were feeling a bit raw from the previous day so I thanked them both and sought out a cafe to rest and consult the Oracle.
In the cafe a lady in her late twenties told me she’d lived here all her life.
“There used to be shoe shops, and a Woolworths.” She said. “We get about a million tourists a year.” I tried to imagine how many fairy statues that must add up to.
Flicking through The Oracle there were spiritual pilgrimages, family gatherings, oracle readings, handfasting services (similar to marriage), music, craft fairs, past life regressions, feminine power, yoga and consciousness, lots of different therapies, earth walk – communing with the spirits of the land, and lots of dance lessons and events. I wondered though, once you had communed with the spirits of the land, and found them to be in pain and angry, where did you go to do something about it?
There were some large Beltane celebrations the following day. The timing was perfect. Although I hadn’t travelled far, it seemed I would be sticking around. Beltane is a Pagan festival celebrating spring and fertility, often using bonfires in the evening.
I rang up Miranda as my safety contact and let her know I would be staying. She had instructions that if she did not hear from me for two days, she was to start a search. You might be in rather a state after two days but because sometimes I might not have signal or battery I hadn’t wanted her to cry wolf.
“I’ll find somewhere to pitch the tent, maybe near the Tor.” I said with far more ease than I felt.
“I’m so jealous!” she said. “I can’t believe you’re in Glastonbury for Beltane.” Miranda’s own May Day celebrations in Oxford would involve listening to the early morning choir and jumping in the river, Oxford traditions for the last five hundred years.
I felt compelled to recommence the search for environmentalists. Maybe they would be at the Tor. Dragging myself and enormous pack slowly up the hill to the Tor I started to scout out places where I might be able to pitch my tent later. Above me the Tor loomed. I was halfway up, just before a gate. I felt like I should go up, because it was Glastonbury after all, but I was so tired. Constantly trying to find people was mentally tiring and my body was still recovering from the day before. There was a feeling of guilt if I stopped.
“Other people get to have breaks. It’s ok to sit and enjoy a moment.” I persuaded myself. “Do what you need. Stop searching and look after yourself.” So I flumped my pack down and started to spread out my poncho to sit on. No sooner had I begun then a woman coming down the Tor asked me.
“Are you going to camp here?” The tone wasn’t hostile.