“you’re going to meet such exceptional people here!” i heave a sigh of relief as i put down my bags under the bunk bed. i become an attentive student of ritual. in the first light of the morning there’s chanting, offerings of light, flowers, water. stories of the life of krishna, leaving cowherds in a forest drunk with love for him. meditation. i take about four days to settle down enough for the quiet to really fill my cells. the ashram sits on earth kissed by millenia of pilgrim feet. one tower standing alone in the green, pillars of wind rushing around it, through it. this place has a tiwanaku feeling to it, a sparkling jewel left without polishing, half-buried, away from the centre stage.
dishing out food on the main street with sharon and david
the red spring
minnie has a selection of cushions, but damn it – nothing like dead leaves for a nap
the signs are unmistakeable – i pull one card on arriving, “trust”. the first person to whom i ask gives me a bed, a workroom, a garden. i go to a conference by the apprentice to a famous magician, most of the books on my reading list are in the high street windows – along with crystals, cauldrons, goddess temples. no one else seems to think that the water from the springs tastes like our juices, but their names don’t lie – white for semen, red for blood. my hands burn like hellfire, an eco of an acquaintance in a distant spiritual town, who cured his ruined hands “with the power of the mind”, so long ago. there used to be a perpetual choir here. the land was bathed with holy chanting, every hour of every day. my conscious self understands – “that’s what you’ve been feeling, like a deposit of silt under your feet.” the texture of deep sacred sound, washing into the earth, the centuries. i give my first reading in a church – sitting on the grass. against one of the few walls still standing. i have a magnetic attraction to churches, with both polarities. i’m drawn to the grass breathing in the crumbled ones, and repelled by the walls of the closed ones.
we have a day of almost-end of the world with a huge storm, eerie yellow light and a red sun. i read cards, rumi winks : “ruby sunshine”. i give up on the idea of leaving and get a huge buzz every time i’m asked if i’m a local. “i am now!”. tastes like honey on my tongue.
putting stuff on shelves. a desk, all mine. fresh flowers. settling, slowing down at last.
the strongest pull here is the togetherness. on the way here, i did an exercise where you dig up the books that have been most relevant to bring you to your calling, however vague and cross-sectional that is for me. having read hundreds, i was surprised at how similar my top-off-my-head pick are – the hero of a thousand faces, women who run with the wolves, and a tie between midnight’s children and stranger in a strange land. every one tells of us woven in the bigger picture, dancing the same dance as our mothers, our gods, our rivers. being a molecule in an expanding horizon of molecules, every day is different in exactly the same way. the visible and invisible, the then and now all tickling and licking at each other. bref, here i sense the togetherness, a common mud holding us in the conscious collective. a man dances his demons away in a workshop where our guide speeds us up to his rhythm, as he cannot calm down to ours. we tense up, run, shout as he beats the floor with his fists. a dj talks of feeling seen, and dealing with death, words pouring out of her at the end of her show. i give out free food in the high street, receiving fifty strangers’ gratitude. at bridie’s i share a very special feast after the privilege of sweeping the hearth and the altar, its shiny trinkets, mirrors and four-armed deity. “all revolutions eventually fail because they don’t control the food supplies. we’ve been feeding the spiritual revolution for ten years now.” it’s the community shop’s anniversary, and at the table there are three generations, half of us strangers to our hosts. “and that’s as it should be”. it’s so tangible, the number of lives traveling through this hub, the trading of goods, information, good vibes, with a wind of change blowing fresh air through its corridors. i’ve done two tattoos, had an emergency apple crumble delivered at my doorstep, pilgrimed to the tor in motley company, picked apples from the avalon orchards, been offered a bike, shoes for the mud, plant tips, rides, jams. i feel like abundance has decided to monsoon and just drench me to the bone.