A team of 8 top healers, all skilled in complementary and new age therapies, were invited to participate as an experiment at Download in the new alternative therapies area known as the “retreat”.
The skills included Aromatherapy, Reflexology, Homeopathy, Osteopathy, Shiatsu and Thai massage. I was demonstrating holistic palmistry, with guidance and counselling.
The youngsters were in the main from the 20 to 25 age group, there were some in employment, some at college and many with no work at all, but very few had any knowledge of alternative therapies, and many would come into the retreat area and ask what it was all about, yet with the incredible heat that weekend, dehydration and so much severe sunburn among the 75,000 youngsters there, and with so many waking up from camping on the hard ground, the massages were very much in demand.
At the front by the stage, there were casualties among the “jumpers,” those who would jump off the stage into the crowd hoping to be caught, and not all were, so the osteopath was busy into the early hours, also looking after the display B.M.X riders, one with a nasty shoulder injury.
The newspapers and T .V. made much of the trouble by head-bangers as the festival ended, yet when seen in context this was just a tiny proportion of the weekend.
Many parents are uncomfortable with their kids wanting to go to this kind of event without them, but this is an important aspect of pushing the boundaries of who they are, mixing with other youngsters can be a complete voyage of self discovery, and a big boost for identity and confidence.
The security men were more discreet than I had seen at this sort of event previously, and this was appreciated by the crowd.
The amazing costumes worn by many of the festival goers, added to the light hearted fun of the event, for which many had saved for months to see their favourite bands.
Many of the problems I encountered, were the usual ones of young love anxiety, of eating disorders, parental conflict and how difficult it is for students to cope with huge financial debt, the stress of being a student often away from home and family, in scruffy student digs, often with poor diet, leads many to escape through alcohol, and sometimes worse, so although I did not get out of first gear in the metaphysical arenas, my psycho-therapy and counselling skills were much in demand., often for just a friendly word or re-assurance.
It never ceases to surprise me that many away at college and university, are barely literate, many realise that when their courses are over there is not the jobs available that were promised them, for those actually in jobs, these are often through employment agencies that take away their rights, but the hopelessness of the job-less can be the cause of much resentment, this anger and disillusionment among the young is responsible for much alienation and vandalism.
The one common denominator among all the young is the low self esteem, the erosion of self confidence through the political mismanagement and corruption of those in power, the highly paid government ministers who cheat their taxes by putting all their money in foreign banks, and their loyalty only to foreign paymasters.
The young look to us to show the way and light the path, yet whenever they look at adults, there is corruption and hatred, we lie and make false wars on far off countries, yet we criticise the young for their clothes, their music and their lifestyles,
We claim they have drunk from a polluted source, when we adults ourselves have stood by and allowed the well to be poisoned.
Yet we introduced the young festival goers to alternative therapies for everything from wasp stings, hangovers, and sunburn to a severely septic tongue from a piercing, this apart from the intuitive assurance and guidance that comes from long practise, I am sure we will be invited back for next year.
Rock Festivals like download provide a safe environment for all our kids to let off steam, evolve, to bond and to grow, and understand other cultures and people, to stretch the person they were meant to be, because the one thing the young all share is their music, but it can be so hard for a parent to loose those strings of parenthood and let go, but if it was up to me attendance at festivals like Download would be compulsory.
Terry the palmist