East Meets West: Summer of Festivals Series- Blessed Coast Volume 2
I’d never festival’d before. Yes, festival IS a verb. Sure I’d sang “Ziggy Zaggy Oi OiOi” in Kitchener at Oktoberfest. I’m also told I had a great time at George Street Fest. (I would like to take this moment to offer thanks to Dionysus, the god of madness and pleasure that a) I survived b) no smart phones were around when I was having plastic cup after plastic cup of Lamb’s, rum because I have no doubt in my mind that I was the farthest thing from picture perfect.)
The Summer of 2018 found me changing the tides; in two months I found myself at three music festivals. Each with their own personality. I present to you, part two of Blessed Coast:
I had danced until well past dawn, and danced off the shyness and self-conscious tendencies while shaking of the binds of expectations and predictability. I was into a new day, and at the moment, it was a new life. I had earned my sleep. The morning birds and the dew, the first rays of sunlight in all their gentile nature tucked me in.
Conversely, as we all know, baby morning sun grows into formidable adult sunbeam in July, and in no time, my wake-up call was aggressive. Fuck me sideways, it was HOT. This was heat akin to cooking inside of an oven, waking up feeling hungover even though you’re not. You’re just so dehydrated in your tent in the midsummer midday heat. I needed water and shade- STAT.
I had slept through all the yoga offerings, which is rare for me, especially when I was at Bass Coast it was deeply important that I attended a class each day of the festival. Practicing outside is a totally different experience, to feel the earth under your palms, to acknowledge the sun or to not have music because nature herself is such a veritable soundtrack.
I meandered my way to Work Shop Space, I wouldn’t be without my gift of Mother Nature; Darrel Bob, an elder from the St’At”Imic Nation, planted many a powerful seed within the attendees of his talk. What a wonderful sense of humour; effortlessly doling out sass alongside his antidotes.
Darrel Bob was never disrespectful or cruel, rather, warmly and fondly ribbing a man for flirting with a woman. Respect was the message for us to accept, along with love, always love. Sharing the mission of indigenous people to bridge the gap and bring about healing for the generations after us.
Like the little girl, no more than a year and a half who was perched on her mother’s lap, eyes rapt on the man telling his stories. How? By looking after the Earth, a beautiful LIVING giving entity, who takes care of us so deeply that it’s our sacred rite to do the same. Darrel Bob stressed the importance of looking after one's tools, tools of healing, gifted to him from Mother Nature and friends and family. Imparting us with a story of how he once sat on the suitcase full of his tools, only to cause temporary paralysis in his legs for being so disrespectful.
All the while, as Darrel Bob was speaking, we were invited to participate in the cleansing ritual of smudging, performed by his wife. In one hand she held smoking sage, a plant whose smoke clears the energetic field whole raising vibrations, the other, a big beautiful plume of feathers. She would sweep across either shoulder, down a person’s front, their back, push the negativity off, away.
It was so much to absorb. I kept receiving more and more soul snacks. I was appreciating the wisdom that was shared and didn’t quite know how to integrate it into my life. I felt like a little girl, bashful and curious and a bit aimless not knowing which direction to take and I don’t mean should I go left or right. I roved on and came across a three-sided tent; a massage tent- yes, please! Course, me being me, it was not a relaxing muscle massage. It turned into an intense energy healing session. I howled and released, I did not censor, did not castrate the immense hurricane of emotion that was pummeling out of me. Nature got inside of me and pushed out the bits that I didn’t need to take residence of my physical or emotional body. Worth it.
Humbled and sensitive, gratefully drained of tears, I did what I always do when I need a reset; take to the water. Pro tip from me to any festival revelers; if an event has a fresh body of water, your enjoyment will go way up. Why? All together now; hygiene. You probably smell as gnarly as you feel after waking up in 40C + tent. Treat yo self. Splashing around in cool, clear water, rocks underfoot, snowy top mountains watching over you; I can close my eyes and vividly all my senses are transported back to that moment.
Another component to river bathing is the interactions it fosters. Jovial shrieks about how cold the water is; reminiscent of how good a DJ's set was, or just maybe, a friendly guy with a great smile whose totally buck naked will sell you organic chocolate mushrooms. Peak hippie reached.
By the final hours of my time at the festival, the heat had claimed everyone. We congregated in the swatches of shade seeking refugee from the scorching sun and we existed. I don’t remember people being particularly chatty. It was a comfortable silence where the community and energy were absorbed. I was content. And then, because life can get better, the guy sitting beside me, whom I’d never met, smiles and breaks off a piece of his cookie to share with me. It wasn’t the cookie itself I was so smitten over (though I am a self-proclaimed cookie monster), it was the unabashed kindness and generosity. That sweet, nameless man was happy with his snack and wanted to impart that to me, even though there would be less for him. I was touched. It was the perfect personification of the weekend; share the love.
Share the Love, my friends. Release, howl, wonder, dance, and tune into something much grander than the concept you have of life, which is knocking around, inside your skull. On the other hand, if that’s too much for you, start by sharing a piece of your cookie, who knows where that’ll lead…
*The complete Summer of Festivals Series- is available here.*