I found a way through the gridlines of power or whatever they were and saw the sign for the Release tent. I didn’t know much about them other than that they were a charity that helped drug users. A face loomed out of the crowd that wasn’t mine, well, it was me, but it wasn’t this me, if you know what I mean. I recognised him as a person I’d met the year before, or it might have the week before. I’d been sleeping rough in Tenby, scrounging off the girls who worked in the cafes and hotels and occasionally begging off the tourists, when I met Sarge and some other people at a barbecue on the beach one night.
We hung around together for a while, Sarge and his mate, Captain I think, came from the valleys somewhere, maybe Ystrad Mynach? Anyway we marauded around Tenby, harassing the holidaymakers and the locals, for a couple of days I think. And even though I only knew them for that couple of days plus a three second glance that midsummer day in Glastonbury, and I have had no sight or knowledge of them in the 43 years since, they remain a significant feature of my life, as much as that festival at that time and in that place does.
So I walked meekly into the Release tent and there was a bunch of hippie-looking people sitting on the floor. They looked up at me as I entered.
“Sorry,” I said, “can you help me? I’m having a bad trip.”
One of them, a long skinny streak he was, looked up at me and said: “Well we’re having a good one, so fuck off.”
The universe fell in on itself and I came out the other side, running down the hill from the Release tent, laughing and swinging my arms about with a primeval energy. Who needed Release?
I think it was getting dark, more campfires were lighting up on the slopes, in front of the Pyramid Stage the crowd was thickening. I was still tripping or whatever it was and suspended in a blissful state where I was connected to all things and all times. I was enlightened, or at least experiencing something close to enlightenment. Whatever state it was, I felt completely at peace, completely at one with Creation, if that is what this madness we call existence is.
Then a voice, saying words I couldn’t understand, though I was sure they were English, but it didn’t matter, because the words themselves were thrilling golden vehicles that carried intense love, light, and bliss. And I sat on the words and the sound of that voice, and was carried to the heart of life itself, to the source.
I found out long after the festival that the voice I had heard was the young Indian Guru Maharaj Ji, a 13 year old boy who had been brought back to the West by a bunch of hippies, and whose ashram I came to live in for a while, but that’s another story.
So, the thing is, and I don’t know if I came to frame things in this way during the festival or whether I’ve developed these myths in the 43 years since, but the thing is, I felt that that day I was part of something that was sort of spiritual, sort of divine, a one in a hundred lifetimes’ experience. And it was going good, we, that’s the Tribe, were well on the way to shining our Light, to giving as much energy as was needed to see this particular planet through the next cycle of two thousand years.
But it wasn’t quite over; there was still The God of Hellfire to overcome.
At some time near dawn, the Pyramid Stage vibrated with a different kind of Light – it was the searing, burning Light, the Light that burns away the old Age and leaves the ground ready for the dawn of the new. It was Arthur Brown’s job to fan those flames, and it was our job to make sure they were contained and directed.
“Fire – you’re gonna burn,” he sang, surrounded by artificial pyrotechnics, meant, I suppose to convey something of the real chaos of the universe. The crowd, including myself, took up the chant and the rhythm of that dance, everything rising into a crescendo – until . . .
That was it, the end of Glastonbury 1971. What was it all about?
Here’s one interpretation.
Everything in the universe is linked. Even if you just go along with a conventional scientific view of it all, then the universe started from a single point, infinitesimally small, but let’s just say it was the size of an apple pip. There was a big bang of some kind that came from inside that pip and everything that we now know as the universe came rushing out. So everything is connected, everything has the same source. Some of the molecules that make up my nose for example, are the same molecules that once made up the tail of a dinosaur that strode the earth in China, 65 million years ago (this is true).
Now as time passes and all that material that originated in that pip makes its way through the space that the universe occupies, it gets fragmented, evolution occurs, species of plants and animals emerge into reality, they evolve, until a creature that we call homo sapiens appears. Let’s say that that first specimen of homo sapiens is the common ancestor to all of us – let’s call him Adam. So there is still a strong connection between all of us – Adam’s descendants.
Anyway, that’s all by the by, the main thing is that there is a connection between everything, so why shouldn’t there be a connection between particular groups of people, let’s call them tribes. It’s not really a big deal. My tribe, call it the Tribe of Glastonbury 1971, demanded only two days of attention from me in my whole life and if what I believe to be true is true, it’s just two days over all the lifetimes I’ve lived for the last two thousand years, because it’s only once every two thousand years that we actually get together to do our bit and usher in a new astrological age, in the case of Glastonbury 1971 – that was the Age of Aquarius
So that was what Glastonbury 1971 was all about – or it may have just been the acid.
(I had no idea David Bowie played there)