Just before New Years, I popped my head into Confest for a few days just to get some sun, jump in the river, open my chakras, and connect with some fellow humans.
The familiar refrain of ‘Welcome Home’ greeted me upon arrival – and in its primal, esoteric and mostly warm and nurturing ambience – confest does go some way in conjuring the deeper idea of what home should be all about.
Plus we are all more comfortable walking around home naked, as one ends up doing at confest.
Set on the Edward River just across the Vic border into NSW, nestled among majestic Eucalypts and red dusty soil, confest is an event that I have just come back to in recent years.
In a sense, I have returned home to its embrace, and it provides a pleasing edge to my otherwise urbanised city life.
My attitude to the festival has changed.
I first attended as a wide-eyed tripper before I’d even hit 20 years old. Back then I used to dance in the dust all night and primal scream until I lost my voice, fry my brain and freak out. Yes, I had a blast, but I do see it as an evolution to bringing the experience to a new place of contemplation, deep relaxation, close connections and self reflection.
I am now happier to spend the sultry afternoons lying by the river with a good book rather than indulging base primal urges. I also enjoy distancing myself a little from some of the indulgent edges of the festival and even casting a benignly cynical eye over proceedings.
Is that guy running the workshops on spiritual power more interested in acquiring acolytes to his cause or actually empowering people? Isn’t there something just slightly patronising about the mud tribes parroting of so-called tribal behaviour? Do I really need to see these same guys completely naked for the entire festival?
But the stronger feelings I take away from the festival are positive.
I love the art and ceremony of it all, the openness of the people attending, the slow unwinding you witness after people get into the spirit of the thing after a few days.
I made great friends with the two Greek woman Joan and Cath at the lasagne and penne stall cooking make to order pasta with marinated eggplant, parsley and pine-nuts. I spend one evening wondering around with Norrie – a post-op trannie dressed as a queen in a flowing red gown, gold crown and glittering silver tie.
I had precious one-to-one time with dear friends at our lovely campsite (thanks Roger and Sarah!). And a magical moonlit swim around midnight with a cherished brother who I didn’t know was even there until that moment.
I also attended a 2 hour tantra and kundalini workshop this year that seemed to speak directly to questions I had pondered throughout the year.
The workshop was merely an introduction to the three key Chakra’s we all possess (stick with me here!) – in the head, heart and base chakra or erogenous zone.
The questions this raised for me were more rational than airy – how can we best distill and focus the energies inside us to greatest effect? How can this be applied to writing, to caring for people, and for loving? In that workshop, we paired off with strangers and learnt intimate circular breathing exercises together – an altogether positive and nourishing experience.
Now, as ever, confest still feels to me like a kind of home because it allows people the space to craft their own experience of the festival in concert with others, to exchange ideas, energies, inspirations and even love – and in that space some kind of magic can be manifested.
That is a wholly (holy?) welcome respite to the daily grind and disconnected lives that often characterise modern urban life.