Nurturing Potential @ the Big Green Gathering


Maxwell Steer  

Imagine 12000+ people in peaceful interaction on an ancient fenland farmstead where the fields stretch from the Mendips to the Isle of Avalon across drainage channels peppered with willows. Imagine that these people comprise children, women and men in equal numbers.   

Imagine, if you will, that all of them feel free to wander around this ancient landscape in the sun, without inhibition yet without interfering with each other. Imagine that this site contains areas devoted to ecology, country crafts, healing, earth energies, entertainment and contemplation of spiritual issues. Imagine too that there is a field for travellers, where the whole families set up camp with their wagons and livestock and spend a few weeks without harassment. 

If you can imagine all this, then you will have the conditions of the Big Green Gathering as near as dammit. 

It is as well that it is largely ignored by the mainstream media because too much attention would bring a sudden influx of 'tourists' and sensation-seekers which would destroy the delicate balance of perception which the BGG exists to nourish. 

Having had various connections with the Big Green Gathering over the years I was surprised and delighted to be asked to coordinate the Spirit Zone on this occasion. What does the public want from a Spirit Zone? You could transpose this into the broader question: what are people's needs in this area of life?  

I often think the Greeks had the right idea. In Athens the apostle Paul derided an altar dedicated To An Unknown God - but actually that's how a lot of people first become aware that there is a dimension in their life which is not being satisfied by doing, and begin, infinitesimally slowly, to move towards the realisation that the central issue of life is not what you do, but what you are. You cannot do peace, you cannot even really bring peace, you can only be peace - or not. 

Our adjacent Healing and Earth Energies Zones were full of people doing healing, and despite some beautifully evocative structures by the Zones' coordinators the energy in these fields, I felt, had a happening feel, there was a sense of people purposefully engaged in doing and offering paths to self-development and wholeness. Since those offering services were much keener to pitch their tents in these zones than ours, they naturally created a more competitive atmosphere around them. By contrast I felt that the Spirit Zone ended up seeming much more spacious and laid-back. I take no particular credit for this, but with less competition for space our pitches were much looser, with large Buddhafield and Hare Krishna cafe tents, and even the Rainbow Circle area, a consortium of astrologers, had a more easy-going feel.  

In terms of pointers to the future, I felt that our 'Confession and beyond ...' tent was an experiment well worth repeating. It was the brainchild of Raga Woods, an eco-activist and spiritual animateur. Attending various festivals she had been struck by people wanting to release aspects of themselves in order to move on without engaging formal therapy, and had come to realise that what many people are looking for might, in old-fashioned language, be called absolution. She calls herself a 'low priestess of the holy earth' to make clear that she makes no claims, other than that of someone living in close contact with the land. Several people who visited her told me that her quiet and Samaritan-like listening had helped them to identify the self they had been searching for, and gave them courage to discard unwanted patterns. 

Perhaps maturity is accepting that you can't change the world, you can't heal its pain, you can't even lower the price of bread. So the most we can hope for is to interact constructively with a few people along the way. And therefore making a space that facilitates this process for other people is an effortless way of amplifying your own positive karma. And as ever, in interactions with the public, when you get it right people are extremely generous. My favourite compliment came from a black girl who said 'I wish you was my Dad.'   

Maxwell Steer is a composer and writer who became sensitized to the experiential affects of sound as a result of writing film scores. In 1981 he abandoned his conventional career (which had included posts as London Director of Music for the Royal Shakespeare Co, BBC Producer and Head of 20thC Studies at the Royal College of Music Junior Department) to pursue the integration of his musical and spiritual instincts and experiences.

For more information about Maxwell's work, try his website or click on his address below for a more detailed biography and a great example of "nurturing potential in action".

Maxwell Steer, 125 Duck St, Tisbury SP3 6LJ, Wilts. 0-1747 870070, fax 871511

The Big Green Gathering

Its website says “The Big Green Gathering is for people who care about health, the environment, sustainability, our children’s future and life in general. It is a celebration of our natural world and our place within it. As such it is a place for enjoyment, learning and fun.”