Need to know: Medicine FestivalBy Emily Cole
A young festival having a growth spurt, Medicine has doubled in size in the few years since its creation. What is it about Medicine that makes it speak to so many of us today? I’d say the clue is in the name – Medicine sees the world and humanity in dire need of healing and of change. It is a festival that starts with this reality – it doesn’t attempt to distract us from it. Instead, it encourages us to come into relationship with it in a way that inspires hope.
Located in rural Berkshire in the idyllic Wasing Estate, Medicine offers a festival that puts you more in touch with the natural world. There was a lot going on but also a real sense of spaciousness and beauty.
Camping ranges from BYO (in my case, an old and decidedly musty flower-patterned Cath Kidson number), luxurious tipis and other glamping options. Sustainability at its focus, it’s possible to rent a standard tent too.
The first thing to note is that Medicine is alcohol free (yes, you heard that right) and I have to say I was surprised at the difference this makes. Aside from the obvious benefits (I didn’t once have to contend with cups of beer and whatever else being lobbed my way in a crowd) there was a real sense of joy and safety that I’ve never experienced before at a festival. The energy was electric, people were open and kind and it really felt like a collective experience.
It’s immediately obvious that sustainability isn’t just an after-thought at this festival. There wasn’t a takeaway cup in sight, for a start. Instead, we all used our own camping mug (available to purchase for those like me who didn’t come prepared). If you aren’t walking around with a camping mug clipped on to you with a carabiner, are you even at Medicine? By the end of the weekend, I was ready to make this a permanent accessory. The toilets definitely deserve a mention – my first experience of compost toilets and I’d take them over the standard festival chemical portaloo any day. With open-topped set ups, they were spacious, surprisingly much less smelly and a thousand times better for the earth.
Generally the care that’s taken to limit damage to Mother E really helped me to feel connected to nature and more aware of my own relationship to our planet.
Medicine offers a huge range of events and activities, all with the goal to nourish the mind, body and spirit. Whether you fancy a deep-dive into deep ecology or the chance to begin to address your ancestral trauma, Medicine is here for it. Peter Gill’s https://www.livingfocusing.co.uk/ workshop on finding wisdom in the body and in nature was one of my favs. There was a lot in the way of performances too, with some big names in the alternative indie, contemporary folk and spiritual genres.
The Mamma Healing Village offered a little escape for a more chilled, individualised experience. I booked in a sound healing with Alistair Smith. Taking off my shoes and stepping into the bright tipi tent was like taking a deep breathe out. Alistair was genuinely interested in how I was and tailored the sound healing to this. It was surreal to feel so comfortable and tended to in amongst a festival. An additional cost to the ticket, but well worth it for a little transcendence. You can also catch him at his practice in Crouch End.
There was so much on offer that honestly, it was overwhelming at first. Fully getting into the Medicine vibe, I tried a little bit of “letting go” of the need to do it all. Wandering about was just as much a part of it anyway – the in-between transitory spaces, with campfires to gather around, singing and ceremonies to witness. And let’s not forget the cacao – lots of cacao (in a camping mug, of course).
From London, a short train to Reading and another quick train to Midgham or Aldermaston station. Book a taxi for the 10 minute drive or make a festival friend on the hike (I opted out of the latter but happily witnessed it through my window.) Make sure you book your taxi in advance!
Medicine put on coaches from London and from Reading too – details will be on their website next year.