Nature and Heart is Healing Medicine

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Festivals have personality. Some are boisterous, some a little restrained, and some are just beautifully chilled. The Medicine Festival is very much in the latter camp. Set in a gorgeous forest, lake and grassland setting, the long weekend feels like some sort of dream, all soft focus and languid ever-so-spiritual music. It’s a vision of how things might be, even could be, and it has something of the ’60s pumping through its veins – it isn’t called The Medicine Festival for nothing.

There’s no shortage of space. The organisers have obviously decided that it’s good to have the choice to escape the intensity of the crowd. Indeed, with a bit of a calf problem the distances were verging on daunting between some of the venues. For example, I only managed to make the somewhat far-flung Ubuntu tent late on in the weekend. A shame, as it turned out to be an excellent small venue and, well done to the organisers, it was an impressive attempt to feature and attract more people of colour to the festival.

Other notable venues included the bathing lake, the sauna, the unbelievably chilled sound temple, the nest (so far flung I didn’t get there…next time), the dance tent, the Goddess Fyr (with amazing sculptures and flags), and well I could go on and on. The forest-glade-situated Medicine Stage is the centre of things, where occasionally the music moved from chilled to dancetastic. In truth I wasn’t much in the mood for the latter – neither at this stage or in the lively late night dance tent – as the sound temple had knocked me into a kind of mindless oblivion. Also, did I mention my quite horrid calf injury? Not ideal for dancing. Fortunately there were plenty of homely fires to sit around and be notably meaningful.

Talking of which, this is a heart-led festival where you need to buy into the ethos to fully enjoy it. The great many workshops and talks and, well, ‘happenings’ all pretty much focus on meaning and spirituality, nature based activities and, of course, plant medicine. There was so much to do in fact that, at times, I was so overwhelmed by choice I decided to tune in and drop out and just sit around in the sunshine and enjoy the uber-hip modern day hippy vibe. My fomo went wild but hey. And all this just a few miles away from the core of the evil empire: nuclear-weapon-central Aldermaston. Oh the exquisite irony. I’m all for flowers not bombs and I rather imagine I was far from alone in this sentiment over the weekend.

I go to a lot of festivals and, for me, this one had the best organised healing area I’ve been to. It felt like a core part of proceedings rather than a worthy add on. Collated by founders of Mamma Well-Being, Annabel and Carmella, the balance of options felt pretty spot on to me. My judgement may have been skewed, of course, by being offered a complementary Rebozo Massage by the excellently named Angelika Ocean (she’s based in the New Forest if you’re interested). I was rocked gently around and held like a newborn. It was a beautiful and, yes, extremely chilled experience.

In line with the general vibe, the food options were exclusively vegetarian and vegan, mainly tasty, and at times even well priced, which is unusual in my experience. The cafes, some run by the organisers, were also very good, with no shortage of pricey life enhancing elixirs on offer. After imbibing a fair few of these over the weekend I suspect my chances of living forever have been exponentially enhanced. Note that this is a no alcohol festival and it’s definitely not the place for illicit boozing. I can’t possibly say whether other mood enhancers might be less frowned upon though.

As ever this summer there was some rain, and as ever this isn’t what you want at a festival, but fortunately it wasn’t bad enough to seriously dampen proceedings and for the number who enjoyed naked meandering around the site they didn’t even need to dry out their clothes. Oh yes, that very tenuously brings me onto the age range, which is broad but I’d say predominately 20-40 years old. There’s no sense of exclusivity though and there were plenty of grey hairs in attendance and quite a number of young children. I didn’t explore the children’s area in any depth, and I’m not convinced it’s particularly a festival geared for children, but it looked to me like a good deal was organised to keep them occupied and happy.

On the ‘even better if’ side, there weren’t enough loos and they weren’t somewhere you’d want to idle for many minutes while spending your pennies. This isn’t unusual of course, but it’s often something that could be better and that was true here. Also, while I wasn’t forensic in my investigations, I’d say the festival site wouldn’t be the easiest venue for the disabled or people with significant mobility issues. And one last observation, the camping and live in camper areas were completely fine, but the camper area was a good 15-minute walk from the festival site. This isn’t really a problem of course, unless you happen to have pulled a calf muscle…


Neil del Strother

Published on 22 August 2023 by Neil del Strother

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