Glastonbury 2015: The hippie hideaway of Green Fields hums with hugs and hash cakes

A hugging workshop is just one of many events you can attend

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The Independent Culture

I have been hugging a stranger for the past minute and a half. All I know is that her name is Ellie and that she is about six inches shorter than I am, so her arms are round my neck and she’s leaning into me, her chest forward, her legs back, forming the angle to our isosceles triangle. She’s probably not an axe murderer or anything, because I’ve met her at a hugging workshop. Ellie’s hands are tugging my hair, forcing me to crane my neck backwards at an uncomfortable angle.

After 30 more seconds we are instructed to release the embrace. “How was it for you?” She asks. “Oh, very nice, thank you,” I say, before seeking out a taller partner. Daniel is a chatty young bloke who’s proud of his hug-giving prowess. “All my friends call me the huggy monster,” he tells me. It was only so-so, but I didn’t want to knock his ego so I told him it was tremendous.

The hugging workshop is just one of many events you can attend in the Healing Fields, a subsection of the Green Fields at Glastonbury, where there’s something of a fight on to reclaim the festival’s hippie spirit. This is where you will find Gong Baths, which revitalise you by “vibrating every cell in your body”, reiki healing, massage techniques from across the globe, herbalists and colour therapists. It’s easy to forget about the rest of the festival here. You could easily spend a day disappearing up your own chakra.

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Gavin Whelan and Caroline Jones, both from Totnes, who run the hugging workshop, which lasts for one hour, say it has huge therapeutic benefits. “It releases oxytocin and endorphins,” says Ms Jones. “It’s an opening to intimacy, really. When you allow yourself to dissolve into it, it can connect you with yourself and other humans. It’s particularly important in cities where we lead such isolated lives.”

I leave the workshop smiling and head to the stone circle, which sits on a hillside overlooking the festival, the traditional gathering place of Glastonbury’s hippie contingent. This is where nitrous oxide, or “hippie crack” as it has become known, has been banned by festival organisers, because of the standing stones’ sacred status. It’s permitted everywhere else, though. The presence of two prowling security guards suggests they’re taking the ruling quite seriously. They tell me there’s not been much trouble here but I notice a few “whippets” – mini canisters – and black balloons are strewn across the ground.

Whether you’re high or not, the stones are a good place for contemplation and self-discovery, so I settle down to meditate. But before I can achieve inner peace I’m disturbed by a middle-aged woman. “Hash cake, dear?” she asks, offering a wicker basket. It seems hippie Glastonbury is still going strong; you just need to know where to find it.