One of the best things about the weekend workshops has to be seeing old friends. Many live too far to visit, so it is a real delight to be able to meet… even though the time together is way too short. There are old friends and new faces, clocking up many thousands of miles between them to attend the workshop and the hugs and smiles are warm and real.
For those who organise these events, there is another side to that story and one that may not be talked about all that much, but it is none the less real for all that. Friends and strangers alike, would they really come all that way… even from overseas… if what we were doing was not worth the journey? There is a reassurance in that which is like a hug in itself. Months of preparation to create something that lasts from Friday evening to Sunday afternoon… that is all very well, but if no-one came…? But they do. By land, air and sea. The come with smiles on their faces and leave, I think it fair to say, with smiles in their hearts…. And some have already booked their places at Leaf and Flame.
It would be difficult, perhaps, for an observer to know what makes these times so meaningful. From the outside there is nothing to see. For those on the inside, taking part, the imagination takes flight and the essence of the work may create change at a very personal level. The Sunday always feels different; the rituals reach an emotional climax, there is generally a special ritual too as part of the morning’s work… and then there is just friendship and time to talk.
Robes are packed away, jeans reappear, the High Priest of an ancient temple may be seen lugging bags and boxes to the car… while a King in waiting stands with a mug of tea in the sunshine, laughing with an erstwhile adversary. The stories and rituals are new every year, but the camaraderie and feeling is the same.
Then, too soon, there comes a moment when only two cars remain in the car park… although this year there were three and for some of us the day was not yet over. It is at this point we look at each other and smile… realising that the focus of the last three months has come to fruition and, like a young hawk, fully fledged, has been released into the world to fly free and, with the breath of its wings, stir new currents into being.
There is a euphoria, relief, joy… and a gear shift that seems to roll up its sleeves, ready for the next task. This year, that will be the pre-Solstice gathering, visiting the ancient mounds and stone circles in and around Avebury… and suddenly the 12th of June doesn’t seem very far away…
For some of us, though, the final partings were still to come. A mile down the road is a spectacular landscape full of mysteries … and as it was so close, four of us were going to visit the place before heading back respectively to Sheffield and the north east of Scotland.
We were welcomed by hawks flying overhead… six or seven of them… buzzards and kestrels… The sun was shining, the earth green and beautiful and there was time. Not enough, nowhere near enough…but some. There was also a pub, the oddest little place you can imagine, with a magical atmosphere that always makes you wonder if it is really there. It seemed a perfect and fitting end to the River of the Sun.