An aspiring songwriter discovers a deeper reality after embarking on a revelatory journey through an extraordinary festival. When she is faced with her true self, will love transform her life?
Literary Fiction Inspirational, Mind Body Spirit
#1 in Literary Fiction
||Norwich, United Kingdom
||10 publishers interested
Welcome to my crowdfunding campaign! To read the first part of Medicine Song, please scroll down the page.
Here are some of the testimonials from my first readers:
“Fantastic, a kind of journey and instructional and very much an
uplifting and inspiring story. All in all, a wonderful, magical book,
and so in tune with what so many people are going through at this time.”
Johnny Fincham, Chirologist and Author of 'The Spellbinding Power of Palmistry'
“I just could not stop reading...there were so many synchronicities, parallels with my own life journey... it felt so close and familiar... and also opened my heart to new things I have not yet experienced. I could see myself, my spiritual teachers and friends in different characters of the book... It brought back memories and feelings from various spiritual and conscious gatherings, Sound Baths, healing modalities that I have been doing and revived beautiful memories from my time in Glastonbury earlier this year. It is wonderfully written, is flowing and is very enjoyable to read. I loved how you incorporated
spiritual teachings and practises in the book. And it felt like a true
Alina Mihailova, Science Technician at UEA
“Medicine Song was like a gentle cleanse of sweet summer wind! I loved this book, great characters, exciting story that supports
personal development and connection with the earth, energy and truth as it unfolds. It was both light and deep, sharing an innocence that is real, hopeful and creative. The characters have stayed with me like Steinbeck characters did. I can't wait for the next book. The only good thing about finishing it is I can get some earlier nights again! The book is ideal for young women,
older women, musicians, performers, teenagers and anyone seeking more. I have already recomended it to lots of people and want to buy it for many others!”
Vanya Green, Indigo Brave Theatre
“Stunning. A swirling, whirling, feast of a book. A story spun with
truth and love, with wisdom and insight. It is magical and yet down to earth. It opened me up with joy and it brought me to tears. I didn't want it to end.”
Sarah Price, Artist and Yoga Teacher
“It's amazingly good! It really flows and creates the presence in
the moment as you read it. It's actually a page turner and I've stayed up too late because I've been enjoying it very much. It's also transformative as you read it. An amazing acheivement!!”
Rosie Toll, Musician and Suzuki Violin Teacher
Medicine Song is a novel about waking up to who we truly are, remembering our connection to each other and the world around us. It is about learning to hear the voice of our Heart-Self, which is guiding us on our deepest path in life, connecting with the power of the heart and finding the true meaning of love.
28 year old songwriter Anna Leigh is about to wake up. For months she has been trying to ignore the feeling that something is wrong with the way she is living her life. She used to enjoy singing, but now she is disconnected from her joy; she is allowing her fear to drive her, believing that she needs validation from a world outside of herself.
She arrives at Glastonbury Festival 2013 for an officially booked performance, hoping to make her big break into the mainstream music industry, but Anna's Heart-Self leads her on a different journey. She is destined to become a healer through her music, and as she journeys through the five days of the festival, experiencing the tastes, sounds and sensations of one of the world's most extraordinary human creations, Anna meets a host of colourful characters who all have something important to teach her. Among them are souls Anna recognises without knowing why: a wild wolf woman named Moon, and Cedar, a charismatic Australian didgeridoo player, who each in their own ways turn Anna's world upside down and show her that there is a path of the heart, and a deeper mystery and meaning to the world around and within us.
As Anna experiences her first awakenings, she discovers practical ways she can consciously take steps on her journey of the heart, and how serving others with an open heart is the most joyful path of all.
In this time of great change on Earth, the extraordinary challenges we each face can become a catalyst for awakening, for greater compassion, so that we may follow our deepest calling and join in with this great Heart Song that we were never separate from in the first place.
The book is set in five chapters - one for each of the elements and correspond to the five areas of Glastonbury Festival's Healing Field: Water, Fire, Air, Earth and Spirit.
Supporting the story throughout are excerpts of lyrics from some of the UK Festival scene's most loved songwriters and performers: Mike Scott and The Waterboys, Seize the Day, George Borowski, Brian Boothby, Carrie Tree, Domenic DeCicco, Ayla Schafer, Susie Ro Prater, Tina Bridgman, Boe Huntress, Carolyn Hillyer, Michael Stillwater, Praying for the Rain and many others (gratis lisences for use of lyrics have been arranged in 95% of cases, 5% pending). Many of these songs form a musical soundtrack to the book.
As a singer-songwriter myself, Medicine Song is my heartfelt contribution to the world - a synthesis of all that I have loved and discovered throughout my own transformational journeys in the green fields of English festivals - in particular, the extraordinary Glastonbury Festival.
Note for Readers: This is a detailed chapter outline, so if you don't want to know how the book ends, don't read this.
Chapter One: Water
Cedar sits with his didgeridoo on the hill above Glastonbury Festival and plays his song out across the myriad of tents and stages below him with the sense that there is something significant about to happen and that there is someone out there who he wants to offer this song to.
One of the tents below is where 28 year old singer-songwriter Anna Leigh has just completed her fateful Glastonbury performance, which doesn't go at all as she'd planned. Having prepared for this for months and with a brand new CD, her hopes for success are dashed. Desolate, she seeks comfort from a nearby cafe - The Chai Chi Tent. Here she meets Kai, whose mission is to serve people and to give love to all he meets with the motto 'love is the most important ingredient in anything'. Anna's spirits are lifted by the magical 'Love Chai' and she by the realisation that she can
find more gigs in the Green Fields, which may enable her to find some outward success after all.
On her way to search for gigs, she passes through the Permaculture Gardens and meets Freya, a rainbow child who is a self-confessed guardian of the Rainbow Wishing Well. Freya
invites Anna to believe in wishes and speaks to her of gratitude. Anna is not quite ready to open to the possibilities Freya presents, but it connects her with a sense of loss inside herself - of something precious that has been forgotten.
After trying several venues and having no luck, Anna ends up listening to a woman named Nina Marshall, a singer-songwriter who seems to be able to do something Anna hasn't yet learned to do. It is creating a very different experience for the audience than Anna's gig had.
Comparing her own perceived failure to the success of Tina Marshall prompts an emotional breakdown, and Anna seeks
refuge in the Healing Area Water garden. From here, Anna is lead to have a hand reading with a kindly grandfather-elf chirologist named Johannes who explains to her about the five elements and tells her about the unique blueprint reflected in her hands and how she is destined to become a healer through her music.
Chapter Two: Fire
Anna wakes in her tent to the sounds of late-night Glastonbury Festival in full swing all around her. In search of comfort she heads out into the muddy site. Finding the Chai Chi Tent closed, she follows a path which leads her to the Tipi Fields, where she discovers the haven of Pacha Mama's Cafe. Here she encounters the mysterious wolf-woman Moon who is deeply upset from her
meeting with Cedar earlier. Moon's dear friend Maddy, who makes pancakes at Pacha Mama's comes over to speak with her. Both women seem somehow familiar to Anna. Listening to them speaking, Anna learns about a special performance which will be happening later in the Big Tipi with Moon and someone named Cedar. She feels compelled to go. Too shy to invite herself along, she follows Maddy there.
Moon discovers Anna outside the Big Tipi and invites her in. Anna's first encounter with Cedar is profound. She recognises him too because though she doesn't know it at the time, he is part of her soul family. She is put in touch with a raw passion inside herself. Through Cedar's music and his ability to
work with energy, Anna experiences a deep transformation, culimating in a release and a healing which enables her to have her first experience awakening and belonging. They all share some Chalice Well water.
It also becomes clear through Cedar's flashback what actually went on between Cedar and Moon earlier. In the past, they were lovers but can no longer be because of a vow Cedar has made to honour a vision he was given during a vision quest. Tonight the real truth had come out between them.
Anna falls asleep in the Big Tipi. In the morning, Moon returns to wake her and ask if she would like to join them for a sauna. Unhappy with her physical body, Anna is terrified to be naked in front of people. Left to make her decision, Anna finds the small wishing well at Pacha Mama's and makes a wish to be brave. She finds enough courage to join them and experiences further openings and insights. At the sauna Moon, Maddy, Anna and Alex (who is the drummer in Moon and Cedar's band) speak inspiration and the breath. Anna discovers that she doesn't breathe properly, and Moon offers to teach her the next day.
Chapter Three: Air
We begin this chapter in The Unfairground. Here we learn that Anna has had an upsetting phone conversation with her boyfriend, Daryl, who had been worried about not having heard
back from her in so long. Old patterns reassert themselves, and Anna finds herself in a downward spiral, feeling a sense of loss at thedisappearance of her earlier feelings of wellbeing. Afraid to tell Daryl the truth about her lack of CD sales, she tells him she has the chance of playing a second gig and so must now find one for herself.
With no gigs here, she continues on, finding some of the other
bizarre and interesting areas of Glastonbury like Block 9 and the
Field of Avalon.
In the Cabaret Field, Anna arranges to do a gig later in a little run-down venue called 'Imelda's Parlour', but doesn't feel good about it. Afterwards, she seeks distraction at the Circus Big Top, where she meets a wise tightrope walker who speaks to her of the power of thoughts and presence.
Anna plays her gig later that evening and discovers that after her transformational experiences, she no longer wants to sing her songs. She doesn't know who she is now, and again feels lost.
In the morning, Anna has her breathing lesson in Moon's tipi, and discovers how her own thoughts about herself have been holding her back. She breaks through her fear and passes through an emotional and spiritual doorway as she discovers what it feels like to breathe the way her body is meant to breathe.
On her way from Moon's tipi, Anna discovers an inspirational talk by a man who has had a Near Death Experience. He speaks about the 'Wild Self' and the deepest calling inside ourselves to follow our path, in connection with the earth and how when you know what you love, everything aligns with that. Here Anna has her vision of her own 'Wild Self', who she later thinks of as her Heart-Self. Cedar also happens to be at this talk and invites Anna to walk up to his favourite look-out spot. They speak about perspective, intention and what it means to make medicine music.
Chapter Four: Earth
Two of Daryl's friends, Shari and Eden have invited Anna to go see the Rolling Stones on the Pyramid Stage with them. Anna doesn't want to go, but joins them anyway. It prompts a crisis point and for the first time Anna is able to listen to her own guidance to choose her own path and not just follow what others want her to do as she has always done before. Escaping the crowds, Anna ends up back in the Healing Field in the Earth Garden. Here she meets Ali who gives her a Shiatsu treatment and speaks to her of her body's meridians and her physical alignment.
Afterwards, Anna seeks nourishment from Buddhafield Cafe and
encounters some of the Buddha's teachings about love and compassion and connection with all the beings of the Earth.
The Rolling Stones are going strong down in Babylon and Anna sits in the Earth Garden again to listen to them. Here she meets Michelle, one of the caretakers of the garden who is magically lighting up the garden with dozens of tiny candles. Together Michelle and Anna listen to the Stones and speak about the ego and of love.
Chilled to the bone from staying out so long, Anna heads for Lost Horizon Sauna, desperate to get warm. Here she feels held by the womb-like dark warmth of the sauna and learns of the great stone dragon in King's Meadow. She discovers Cedar is here at the sauna as well, and they both become acutely aware of their feelings for one another. Because of the vow he made, Cedar will not follow his desire to invite Anna back to his tipi and they both say goodnight and promise to see one another at Cedar's performing with his band the following night.
Too tired to return to her own tent, Anna curls up by the fire in the chill-out tipi and dreams of the dragon and how everything in the Earth is alive.
Chapter Five: Spirit
Confused about her life, Anna decides to visit Johannes the Chirologist again. Not finding him there, she ends up in a workshop in the Air Quadrant about 'Connecting with your Divine Centre'. Here she learns about chi energy, chakras and kundalini energy and is offered techniques for grounding and connecting with the heart.
With this reawakened sense of wellbeing, Anna explores the festival further. She makes a wooden spoon in the Green Crafts area and then decides to visit the Circus Field again. Once there, she finds people constructing a life-sized cardboard replica of St. Michael's tower on Glastonbury Tor and together with an inspiring older woman named Sorrel, Anna joins in the creation of the world's tallest cardboard building.
Seeking a place to rest after the exertion, Anna returns to the Earth garden, where some beautiful music is being played on hang and violin. Kai is there and he and Anna speak about how her journey has been through the festival. He helps her to see that 'not knowing' is a wonderful place to be, because it means she is open to something new.
Following this Anna has a crushing conversation with Daryl, and feels beholden to him again. She promises she will contact Shari who has been abandoned by Eden. Locked in fear, she agrees to meet Shari later and thinks she will have to give up seeing Cedar's band because she can't see how these two worlds can meet.
In this state of confusion and fear, Anna realises she is near to where the great, stone dragon is. She finds it within the wooded glade and remembers the dream she had. The teachings from the weekend flood back into her mind, reminding her of her own goodness and the voice of the heart.
This is where Anna reaches her most intense personal crisis - where she can choose to follow the voice of the heart which is guiding her or be propelled by her fear into things she doesn't want to do.
She chooses love and follows her impulse to go into the Peace Dome. Here she sits to meditate by the Peace Flame and receives a vision of her Heart-Self, and knows that she is not separate from that.
She knows what to do now, and invites Shari to join her in this magical world she has discovered. She and Shari end up having their faces painted by a faery-warrior woman named Noela and then have a life-changing experience listening to Cedar's band, 'Awakening the Dreamer'.
Shari and Anna are invited to join the band by their after-gig fire. The conversation touches apon enlightenment, medicine and love. They speak of how this is the Time of the Great Awakening on Earth, and how the wave has already begun.
Late into the night, people drift away from the fire - all except Anna and Cedar. There is something still unfinished between them. They can both feel it, but are confused about what to do about it. In the end it comes to Cedar that there is a way to honour both his vow and his desire to be with Anna a little longer.
Back in Cedar's tipi, they speak about their lives to one another and Cedar shares the story of his vision and the vow. They decide that Anna can sleep there, but that they will not make love. As Cedar offers Anna a goodnight hug, both of them connect with the things they have learned over the weekend about giving energy through the heart and this culminates in an extraordinary energetic experience for them both.
At breakfast with Cedar, he and Anna speak of the way forward. It is Monday and time to go home, and although Anna doesn't want to, she knows that she must go back to transform her life and not run away from it. Before they say goodbye to one another, Cedar tells Anna about the Chalice Well and she decides to go there on the way home to collect some of the magical, healing water.
The book ends at the top of Glastonbury Tor, where realisations crystalise for Anna before she heads home to transform her life.
BOOK 2 & 3
Medicine Song is the first of three books in a series. Book 2, provisionally entitled 'Medicine Wheel' follows Anna's onward journey through the following year as she learns how to truly embody these inspiring things she has encountered, leading to the total transformation of her life. She finds the love she is searching for in a surprising place and discovers how to be a medicine maker in her own life, through serving others and making a positive difference in the world. Cedar and Moon reappear in this book as well as a host of new characters. A rough first draft of the manuscript has been completed, but needs a redraft in the light of the completed 1st book.
Book Three takes Anna from June 2014 to present day and beyond. It brings the story into a more global context, exploring where humanity is going in this time of awakening consciousness on the planet.
Who this book is for:
1. Medicine Song would appeal to people with interests in alternative healing therapies, personal development, meditation, alchemy, angels, herbalism, consciousness raising, Buddhism, yoga practice and energy healing.
2. It will be of significant interest to the musicians and songwriters who appear in the book, and to the networks of people that follow them. The combined Facebook likes of all the musians and groups involved is more than 20,000. Many of these musicians have already pledged their support to the book, and would be able to promote the book to their networks.
3. Those who know Glastonbury festival and have read the book tell me they recognise the landscape and can see themselves walking the very paths Anna walks. The book has the potential to reawaken memories for those that have attended Glastonbury in the past and it also shares an experience of an extraordinary event for those who have never been there before but always wanted to know what it was like. This story would also appeal to lovers of the English greenfield festival in general.
4. Medicine Song holds practical tips for musicians and artists of all disciplines for how to create and share their work from a place of love rather than fear and so would benefit creative people looking to develop themselves as artists. It would also help those performing artists who suffer from stage fright or insecurity.
5. Medicine Song is like a little music festival in itself, featuring
the music of many songwriters who are much loved in Glastonbury's greenfields. It would be of interest to music lovers, especially those interested in music with the potential to open hearts, to heal and bring transformation both individually and collectively.
6. This is a novel for those who want an entertaining reading experience and at the same time want to feel nourished and uplifted, somehow changed, inspired or transformed by what they have read.
7. Primarily, this is a book to uplift and inspire, and is for anyone
seeking more meaning in their lives and wishing to find their deepest path in life. It is a book that will appeal more to those people who already have some awareness of the energetic nature of reality and some interest in developing themselves in a spiritual way.
8. This is a book that has been well received by both males and females, so could be marketed to both. However, if you want to focus your market, it has been most enthusiastically received by women between the ages of 20 and 65.
Celeste Lovick is a Canadian singer-songwriter, guitarist, author, energy worker and home educating mother now residing in the UK. She received her BA Writing Degree from Dartington College of Arts in 2010.
Medicine Song is Celeste's first novel, and brings together all that she loves and all that has been transformative in her life into one story. Though the main character is fictonal, in many ways Anna's journey over the five days of Glastonbury Festival reflects Celeste's own journey over the past twenty years.
Like Anna, Celeste began her musical performance career from a place of seeking validation from the world - of believing that if she could achieve success outwardly, it would feed a sense of self-worth inside. It never really worked because her deepest self was guiding her towards another way which she would begin to discover when she was attuned to reiki in 2001.
Through this and other transformational life experiences, Celeste discovered the power of the heart and how when you give heart energy to all that you do things transform around you. She began to realise that her purpose in life was not about receiving validation from others, but about the joyful experience of giving love in each moment, of being fully present and connecting with the world.
Medicine Song was borne of an impulse to share these discoveries with others. Through the four year process of writing Medicine Song Celeste's journey expanded, for her characters taught her more about this process of awakening and of being love in performance and in life. Medicine Song is not just a fictional story; it shares practical techniques Celeste has discovered for centering and balancing oneself, for returning to a state of presence and enabling one to give love in anything that they do. It explores ideas of Buddhism, yoga, meditation, energy healing, Tantra and enlightenment and it set to the musical soundtrack of some of the musicians who have most inspired Celeste on her own musical journey.
Celeste has released several self-produced albums and has had her lyrics featured in several editions of the Earth Pathways Diary.
And if you attend Glastonbury Festival, you may well see her performing somewhere in the Green Fields.
I will work closely with the musicians involved in the book, many of whom have offered their support with publicity through live performances and social media.
I will publicise the book at my own musical performances, including at Glastonbury Festival.
The Preface to Medicine Song is featured in the "Earth Pathways Diary 2018", which will be released in Summer 2017 and has a growing following of readers.
I will send out links to my own networks and ask people to share them with their networks.
I will utilise my YouTube Channel to promote the book.
I will organise book readings and signings.
I believe the book has a strong word-of-mouth potential, as many of my current readers have already said that they would buy it or recommend it to their friends.
I will organise a book launch.
My sister, Amanda Truscott, runs a blog called 'Creative Unblocking' and wishes to use my book as a resource material to recommend to people who visit the blog and attend her workshops.
Medicine Song will appeal to readers of:
"The Celestine Prophecy" by James Redfield
"Way of the Peaceful Warrior" by Dan Millman
"The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho
"Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior" by Dan Millman
"The Fifth Sacred Thing" by Starhawk
Before we are born, we choose.
We choose the circumstances of our birth. We choose a path in life that will be most deeply fulfilling to the soul. We choose those members of our soul family who we will come together within this life, who can shine a light for us, as we shine a light for them. So we help to illuminate the paths for one another.
As we are born Spirit refracts its light into all the elements of physical existence: Water, Fire, Air and Earth, and because of the density of having a human body, most of us forget who we are. Most of us forget what it is we are really made of, and yet, within each of us is a seed which knows that it is destined to remember the light from which it was born. So it is with Anna. This is her story, and the story of others in her soul family, who have agreed to come together to this place at this time. Glastonbury Festival 2013.
It is a potent place, not only because of the energy in the landscape, but because there are so many thousands gathered here who are beginning to resonate with their own Heart Song, and so that resonance ripples out, touching others who might not have consciously felt it before.
It is a place which offers the opportunity for great transformation. For there is power gathered here, and there is Love.
We are in the time of the Great Awakening on Earth, and like Anna, all of us born here at this time have our own part to play in the awakening consciousness, so that we may heal ourselves, and our relationship with our Earth, and all beings who live here.
As each of us comes to remember who we are, we can choose to raise our own voices and join in this great Heart Song, this great wave which we were never separate from in the first place.
Chapter One - WATER
It is the centre of its universe. From the higher vantage point on the hillside Cedar can see the old oak clearly, standing in the midst of a sea of tipis and tents. He thinks of how many times he has come to Glastonbury Festival, and sat up on this hillside in this very spot and gazed out at that particular old oak. It has become a friend to him.
Every time he has come up here over the past ten years, the vista has shifted just a little each time, but for the most part the tree has been the same. Often when he sits here he has the same feeling – of being part of something vast.
Cedar's didgeridoo rests on his lap. It's his favourite one – the big D. Harder to carry up here, but worth it. It's become part of his Glastonbury ritual, as has communing with the old oak.
Cedar thinks about how the oak has stood here in this spot for hundreds of years, long before this festival was ever dreamt of and it will continue to stand here – provided somebody doesn't cut it down – long after all the tents have been packed up, the rubbish collected and the fields returned to grass.
He wonders how it is for the tree, accepting this vast influx of people into its environs every year at this time, around the Midsummer Solstice. First the ones with their vehicles, the machines putting up the large and small stages, and all the tents and marquees and cafes, the extraordinary panorama of sounds, including all manner of electronic and human-made music, the media helicopters, and the psychic energy fields of more than 250,000 people who gather here to create their dreams, with all
their light and shadow.
Over the years, Cedar has had his share of extraordinary experiences in these fields. And they're not over yet, the sense comes to him.
His eyes rest on the strands of multicoloured lights which have been draped across some of the oak's lower branches, to mark the path that runs alongside it, taking people from one field to another. The birds which usually settle in its branches have vacated the area, finding temporary shelter in the trees beyond the large silver perimeter fence a few yards further up the hill from where Cedar sits.
He has a feeling that even with all the sub bass frequencies that are beginning even now and must be resonating in the ground below it, that the tree will continue to feel the sustaining thrum of the earth's humming, as its roots reach deep, a mirror of its branches above.
He thinks of Moon.
From here, Cedar can see the centre of the Tipi Field down below with its sacred fire burning all the time, and from this fiery centre how it reaches out to the four directions – North, South, East and West – with each direction presided over by a banner of one of four Great Chiefs: Sitting Bull, Chief Seattle, Red Cloud and Chief Joseph.
Somewhere in the East with Chief Joseph is Moon's tipi. Cedar had helped her set it up yesterday. At least the first part. Although many things have changed between them, this part of their Glastonbury ritual has remained the same. They had lashed together the first three pine poles and lifted them up, erecting them into a tripod. Into this they had placed the 15 poles which would form the bones of the structure.
As Cedar had watched Moon lithely flipping the lashing rope round the tops of the poles to secure them, he had caught a look in her eye – something unsettling. He can feel it now in his solar plexus like a message.
Something is up.
Moon had been a faithful companion throughout the past year, seeming to accept the conditions of their relationship, even though it hasn't been easy for her. Cedar has witnessed many times when she had stopped herself from following a flow that would have been so natural before.
But it can't continue this way, he knows. Something has to change.
It is changing.
He can feel it in the breeze rushing up across the expanse of the festival site below him, and the energetic shiver that moves through his body.
In the weeks leading up to the festival, Cedar has had a growing sense that there would be a significant meeting here. Something of importance would happen. His eyes rest again on the old oak, and he smiles.
It's simple for the tree, he thinks. The tree doesn't judge, so it doesn't suffer like we humans do.
Cedar realises how full of thoughts his own mind is, and reminds himself to breathe and bring his awareness down lower, as he has been taught, to that centre inside himself. He imagines his own roots sinking deep into the soil, earthing him. He feels himself growing calmer, his mind becoming more still.
He hasn't yet made his intention for the festival. He lets his gaze rest softly on the oak and then soften more, to take in the festival beyond it as a whole, knowing the answers don't come from trying to think too hard about them. They have to come into a space that's open for them.
As he lets his vision shift into soft focus, Cedar can begin to see the subtle glow of the tree's aura. It's like a clearer than clear lightness surrounding every part of the tree, sometimes gold and green and shifting colours. He can see how this energy field is touching those who walk by on their way from one field to another, giving them just a little more energy whether they realise it or not. Most don't even notice the tree there, let alone experience the energy that surrounds it.
He runs his hand along the smooth cedar wood of his instrument.
To find the key. To deepen the journey. That is my intention.
There is a song humming around the edges of Cedar's consciousness, asking to be sung. He listens.
You are Love. The words come to him. They have been spoken so many times by so many people, especially in these green fields.
But to really feel what that means...
He lifts the didgeridoo to his lips, and riding on his circular breath, he sings into the shaft of the instrument.
You are Love You are Love You are Love You are Love You are Love You are Love
He offers the song to the wind and the oak tree, across the tops of the tipis and out to all the people beyond. To Moon – wishing her well on her journey through this festival which has a power to be so intense for those who are open to transformation.
And like a wave of warmth washing through him, he has the strongest sense of someone else. Someone he wants to send this song to. Whose path is so close. Someone who, like him, has a dream of awakening.
She feels as insubstantial as the dust rising around her feet. Like she could, at any moment be blown over by a breath of wind. As far as Anna's experience of this moment, nothing matters right now in the loss of all she has been working towards. She just feels numb, staring out blankly at all the passing people, right through them, a million miles away from it all into nothing. Both her guitar case and the full box of CDs she had placed such faith in feel like dead weight in her arms. The midday sun is blinding.
Where do I go now? The thoughts drift through her mind. Where
is there to go?
As if in answer, a breeze from the far hills with just a hint of coolness brushes across her face. She closes her eyes, feeling the brief relief of it, as if it is all that is left to her.
In the distance, a didgeridoo vibrates the air.
When Anna opens her eyes, her gaze is resting on a maroon-coloured tent across the way, one that she hadn't noticed before, nestled just off the main arena of this part of the festival. Above the entrance is a large, hand-stitched fabric sign reading: The
Chai Chi Tent.
As she steps beneath the shade of the tent, Anna is greeted by the pleasing aroma of incense and sweet spices. Upbeat reggae music plays on a stereo, which somehow doesn't completely clash with the other beats coming from the various stages and cafes in the area. Anna recognises the song. It's Bob Marley's Three Little Birds.
Colourful woven mats cover the floor and there are little knee-high round wooden tables dotted about the front of the tent, each surrounded by small cushions for sitting on. The walls are lined with batik-style throws of reds, oranges and yellows and the wooden shelves are filled with different musical
instruments from around the world like drums, wooden flutes and shakers made from gourds. To the right side of the tent are a series of large handmade wooden tables set up as a serving area, laden with plates full of delicious looking brownies, cakes and flapjacks. At one side of the table stands a coffee machine and two large metal pots filled with Chai. One dairy, and one vegan.
This feels to Anna like a cheerful little island in a sea of strangeness.
Looking very chilled out behind the counter, and moving his head to the beat is a young man with long, nicely cared for ash blond dreadlocks tied up in a red hairband. He wears an orange t-shirt with a red mandala-type design on it. Anna guesses that he's probably just slightly younger than she is. Maybe in his mid-twenties. As he stacks more brownies on one of the plates he's singing along with the music.
This cafe was his idea. Kai has been working with chi energy for many years now in the form of Qi Gong and Reiki healing amongst other things, and had the idea to start a chai tent where all the food and drink were made with conscious intent and life-force energy put into them. Also a practitioner of Tai-chi, Kai decided to make a play on words and call his cafe The Chai Chi
The pot on his back stove has come to a boil. Kai's making a new batch of his special Chai recipe. He peels the fresh ginger root and grates it into the pot. With his mortar and pestle he grinds the cardamom pods, cloves and black pepper and drops them into the simmering water. Now for some fresh grated cinnamon, and a few larger pieces dropped in for extra flavour. With a small handful of his favourite spice, the flower-shaped star anise for that hint of liquorice sweetness, he's nearly done.
And of course, there is the last ingredient. The most important one of all.
This is when Kai notices the young woman with the guitar standing at the entrance to the Chai Chi tent. He can see immediately that she has just received a serious shock of some kind. There is a lost, vacant look in her eyes and her shoulders are slumped forward.
He can also see right away that she's one of those beautiful young women who don't know they're beautiful. She's wearing a dress that's too tight for her, and shoes that look so uncomfortable. Her auburn hair has been hairsprayed in place so that it doesn't move about her shoulders as it would naturally, and she's hiding behind that heavy layer of make-up. To Kai, all women are beautiful. It's just that most of them don't know it. Kai wants to say to these women sometimes, Please! You're beautiful as you are! You don't need to cover it up! Sometimes he does say that to them, but also he is trying not to judge, because they are on their journey, too. And maybe they really like wearing make-up. Who is he to say what's right for another person?
Kai notes that this young woman is carrying a guitar case and a box of some kind that looks far too heavy for her. The picture all falls into place. She's a musician, she's come from a gig and her ego has taken a hit.
So Kai decides to give this one a little extra energy. He finishes his blessing of the chai and turns to give her his full attention.
Anna notices the young man behind the counter is smiling at her. It's such a bright, friendly smile that Anna thinks he must have confused her with someone else.
“Hello!” Kai beams at her.
“Hi,” Anna replies, not sure how else to respond. Who does he think I am, I wonder? She steps closer, so that he can see clearly that she is not the person he's confused her for. But even as she does, his smile stays as bright and constant and full of recognition as ever.
“Just had a gig?” he asks.
Anna looks down at the guitar in her hand, which she had almost forgotten she was carrying. It feels utterly strange in her hand. She feels utterly strange herself, like she's at the bottom of a pond. Nothing makes sense.
She lets her guitar drop onto the mat by her feet and places the CD box on top of it, just to be free of the burden of them for a little while. She doesn't know how to speak about what's just happened, because she can hardly believe it herself. To speak it aloud would somehow make it more real. At the moment, she would prefer to hide in the stunned stupor of numbness. But this young man is being so friendly, Anna feels she owes him at
least some kind of reply. So she just nods.
Kai's eyes show immediate understanding. “It didn't go how you wanted it to?”
Anna is surprised to see such an expression of care there. The tenderness and understanding in the man's face are enough to cause a sob to rise up into Anna's throat. She wrenches it back down.
Standing there with his friendly gaze on her, Anna wonders briefly if perhaps this young man is actually trying to hit on her, and that maybe that's where the extreme friendliness is coming from. When men she doesn't know are friendly with her, it is usually when she's dressed in something like this, and it usually means they want something from her. Of course, it had been her intention to cultivate the look of the sexy singer-songwriter
for her big Glastonbury moment.
However, in this instance, looking up into Kai's exuberant, almost child-like face, Anna decides that this must be different. It doesn't feel like this young man wants anything from her at all. Quite the opposite. She can't figure it out, though. If he doesn't want anything, why is he being so nice? She gives up trying to understand and lets out a shuddering breath.
“No. It was... not what I had expected.” Barely holding her face in check, she opens the lid of her CD box, and shows Kai the neat rows of CDs – 50 in all – without a single empty space in it.
It had all seemed like a grand plan at first. When Anna had been offered this official gig at Glastonbury Festival – albeit on one of the slightly smaller stages – it had seemed to be her chance to make her big break. With encouragement from her boyfriend, Daryl, and funding from her father, Anna had recorded her debut album 'Your Love is the Answer', in readiness for this big moment.
It had involved many months spent in the studio going over and over the tracks, falling down with exhaustion in the night and telling herself that even if it was no fun at the time, it would all be worth it in the end. When the CD was finally complete and packaged in plastic, Anna had lifted the first one and held it between her fingers, staring at the face on the cover. For some reason she couldn't fathom, rather than feeling a sense of accomplishment, she felt like crying. She had made herself smile then for Daryl as he told her how professional it looked, but all she could think about was how it looked like somebody else on the cover, and how inside all the vocals had been auto-tuned, and so many parts separated out from one another to avoid bleed between tracks. According to the sound engineer, they had achieved their aim. It was radio playable.
And when it had finally come to the gig, standing up there on that stage with her Martin guitar, in front of that sweaty microphone, wearing an uncomfortable dress that didn't actually sparkle under the stage lights after all, in shoes that made her stumble, Anna had tried her best. She had tried her best to sing over the noise from the larger stages nearby, to gain the attention of the people who sat at the bar and talked throughout
her whole set. At the end, she had tried to stand tall when people
had politely clapped and nobody had approached her to buy a single CD. Perhaps worst of all for Anna was the absence of the Very Important Music Industry Man who she had envisioned would be there to hand her his golden business card and tell her she has what it takes to make it in the mainstream music industry.
Kai nods understanding. “Your special CDs... They didn't sell?”
“No. They spectacularly did not.” Anna shakes her head, feeling embarrassed to be admitting this aloud. The sob pushes its way back to the surface again. It's harder to quell down this time, lodging itself like a large ball in her throat.
The young man looks so concerned about her that Anna half expects he's going to lean over the counter and hug her, but he doesn't. He's thinking about it, though, she can tell. If he did, she knows, she really would break out sobbing.
Instead he just says, “It can be hard, I know, putting yourself out there, and if you've got a lot riding on what you're selling, then that can make it feel all the harder.”
His face is kind as he says this, but Anna hears something in his words which irks her... if you've got a lot riding on what you're selling... He makes it sound like I'm a salesperson!
This connotation bothers her. It's as if he's insinuating that she's
not primarily a musician, but someone toting wares. Yet, standing there, even in this half-numb state, she realises that in a way, he's right. With all her marketing materials and the dress and everything, what has she been doing all this time but creating herself as a product to sell? Suddenly, seeing herself this way doesn't sit so well as it did before.
Before Anna can question it further, her attention is caught by the giant plate of moist and decadent organic chocolate brownies on the counter in front of her.
Kai notices the direction of Anna's gaze and grins.
“Why don't you let me give you a drink and a cake on the house?” he says. He wants to offer her something. He doesn't normally give things away until the end of the day, but he can feel this moment calls for some kind of an offering.
“Really?” Anna can't really believe this man's generosity, and wonders again whether he has an ulterior motive. “Why?”
“Because, Sister, we’ve got to stick together. Help each other. Besides, we always give away loads of stuff here at the end of the day anyway. It's part of the ethos of the place. We sell and we give. It all comes around. Giving and receiving are two sides of the same thing.”
Anna still feels a little confused about accepting anything for free, but also she is aware of just how little money she has with her – only a £5 note and some small change. She had been so certain that by now she would have a significant amount of cash from CD sales. She had even imagined selling them all. That was why she hadn't bothered to stop at a cashpoint on her way to the festival or to wait for an hour in the queue at the festival's cashpoints.
“That's... so kind of you. Thank you.” She casts her eyes across the array of delicious-looking creations on the counter.
“There's nothing... special in these brownies is there?” Anna asks, thinking about the people she'd passed earlier, who had been wearing faery wings and selling hash faery cakes. “Of course, in my current state I could probably use some of that... but still.” Anna attempts to smile at herself, and is pleased when Kai laughs.
“You mean is there any herb in it? No. But special, yes. They're protein-only brownies, made with almond flour, organic fairtrade chocolate and... Love.”
Anna feels a smile curving the edges of her lips. For some reason this man's cheerfulness is starting to rub off on her. “I'll definitely have one of them, then. I certainly could use a little more love today. That's for sure.”
“The more the better,” he agrees, selecting the largest brownie in the pile and placing it on a napkin.
“Here you are.” He offers it to Anna in a way that reminds her of how the priests in her parent's church offered holy communion. The sacred sacrament of the chocolate love brownie.
“And a cup of our special Chi Chai?” Kai asks.
“Cow or soya?”
“Uh... I don't know. You pick.”
“I'll give you the soya. It's been... steeping longer.” His eyes twinkle with a hint of mischief. He spent a good long time on this earlier batch. It's particularly good; he's had three cups of it already.
She watches as he carefully dips the ladle into the larger of the two pots, drawing out the creamy, steaming light brown liquid and pouring it into a brightly coloured mug with elephants painted on it.
“What makes it Chi Chai?” Anna asks.
“A liberal dose of love and good intentions,” Kai grins.
Anna laughs, surprised to find genuine humour in herself. This whole situation all seems so silly suddenly. It's like she's in a strange dream, having walked into a multi-coloured landscape of Bob Marley and Love Chai.
“And hey, by the way, don't worry about your CDs not selling,” Kai says. “Because I heard that's happening to alot of musicians here. People are all into downloads now. So don't let it get you down. The number of CDs you sell at a gig is not a measure of your true worth. The truth is, your true worth is not about what you sell, or what anyone else buys. Your true worth has NOTHING to do with ANY of that.” As Kai speaks these words, he feels the power of them. This is something he's meant to say to her. It feels good to say it. He doesn't know whether she completely gets his meaning, though.
“Thank you.” Anna accepts the mug of steaming chai and carries it and the brownie over to a sheltered table at the corner of the tent, where she can have the protection of the canvas at her back and a view of the sun-streaked crowds walking by. Kai kindly follows with her guitar and box of CDs, placing it against the tent beside her.
“Thank you,” she says again. Wow. Good service here.
Service is one of Kai's intentions. “You are most welcome.” He offers her one more grin and returns to the counter to serve the next customer who's come in.
Anna takes a shaky breath, feeling how good it is to be sitting down. Her feet are really throbbing now. With relief, she kicks off her shoes and reaches for the big colourful mug of hot chai. Inhaling the incredible spicy stream, she feels an immediate sense of calm settling around her. She touches the mug to her lips and the sweet, milky drink slips over her tongue and down her throat, creating a warmth inside her that seems to be spreading throughout her whole body. Her throat completely
relaxes. This is without a doubt, the most soothing drink she's ever had. She looks up at the young man and wants to ask him again, are you sure you didn't put anything funny in this drink?
Just love, he'd said. Love.
Made with Love. People just say that, don't they? It's a figure of speech. Or so Anna had always thought. But as she sips this drink and feels the change inside herself, Anna is beginning to wonder if maybe there is something more to this love thing after all. Because if you could put the warmest, cosiest hug ever into a cup, this would be it. Love Chai.
She closes her eyes and drinks it slowly, savouring each mouthful. There is nowhere to be, but here, having this drink. For a moment, in the enjoyment of this, Anna actually forgets her feelings of failure and the gig, and she hasn't even tried the brownie yet. It's a haven of chocolate gooeyness.
Funny how simple things can bring so much pleasure, Anna
thinks, savouring every last crumb. As she sips the last drops of
Chai from the mug, she watches the young man behind the counter and marvels at his ability to show so much kindness to strangers. She can see from here that he's giving that same generous smile and attention to every single person who comes in, as if each one of them really matters.
He made me feel that way, and following on from
that thought – He can't possibly want something from all of those people. Maybe he really is that kind. Maybe he really is.
Anna sits with this realisation for a while, that a person could be generous and kind with no hidden motive. A sense of something comes to her, something about selflessness. She furrows her eyebrows, searching for it and catching a brief glimpse of something that both surprises and disturbs her. There has always been a hidden reason for pretty much everything she
does. She furrows her brows again, but then sighs and looks out at the crowds which appear to have doubled in size since her gig.
And now what? I can't sit here drinking chai and eating brownies all day. On one level, she is tempted. But also, something inside her feels stronger now. She is buoyed up by the energy she's received and feels like taking action somehow. Looking over at her guitar and CDs, she decides that she's not ready to give up yet.
He's probably right, she tells herself. How many CDs I sell isn't necessarily a mark of how good I am as a performer.
With this thought, determination ignites in Anna again. She slips her tight shoes back on, wincing at the little blisters that are beginning on the back of her heels. But she wouldn't dream of walking barefoot through this public arena. So on with the shoes, pain and all.
Okay. Don't lose faith Anna. You're still here. This is Glastonbury Festival. All is not lost. There are still things you can do.
Earlier this morning, when she had been queueing for the loos in the artists camping area, she'd overheard some musicians talking about how they had signed up for gigs once they'd gotten here. One musician had said he'd reached a personal best of 11 extra gigs at Glastonbury this year.
I could do that, Anna tells herself. I could find myself some more gigs.
There are no customers for a moment, so Anna seizes her opportunity and with her guitar in one hand and CD box under the other arm, she approaches Kai again.
He can see a change in her as she approaches. There is colour now in her cheeks and her hazel-green eyes have more life in them.
“I just wanted to say thank you again,” Anna is genuinely smiling. “That was literally THE best chai and brownie I have EVER had. I'm actually starting to really believe you about the love thing.”
Kai grins again. “Well, in my experience, love is the most important ingredient in anything.”
Love is the most important ingredient in anything.
Something about this idea tickles Anna, as if love could be put into something. As if you could actually choose to add it, like you would sugar or milk. Or soya for that matter.
“Absolutely,” Anna nods in agreement. But she does wonder exactly what Kai means when he says that. How do you actually put love into something?
Besides, what is love anyway?