Some sites look like they’re made for gathering. West Wartling Wood, where we hold Buddhafield Southeast, is just like that. The shape and feel of the site contribute to the harmonious feel of this special retreat.
Driving there for the first time, I had to meander back and forth a few times to find the gate. Once I’d spotted a telltale Buddha on the dashboard of a parked van, I knew we’d found it. My son and I wandered in and immediately started meeting awesome new people.
A driveway winds it’s way to the perfect clearing. Over the set-up period, a couple of geodomes pop up here as well as a fire or two and some plumbing. A rope swing sways gently back and forth before my six-year-old leaps on it thus finding his main activity for the whole weekend.
Camping takes place in the woods. The trees provide shelter from sun and showers whilst also courteously parting every so often to provide mini clearings to put our tents in. The trek from car to camp is mercifully short as the whole site is compact. This gathering is around 50 people so it suits us perfectly.
The kitchen is a permanent fixture in this woodland that we rent from some lovely locals. The team bring food and some big pots from central Buddhafield as well as gas for cooking. Breakfast happens over an open fire after morning meditation.
The southeast gathering is held in the late spring and early autumn so you’re in the woods at the turning points of the year. Last autumn, I remember the first night feeling like it was warm and the next, there was a subtle chill in the air. Not enough for discomfort but enough to know that the season was changing. It was lovely to be out for that- eating under the stars and being on the land with friends before going home to cosy up for winter.
The schedule for the retreat is full enough for interest but relaxed too. You don’t need a notebook to keep track of the schedule or shoes to wander over to the next talk or puja. Last year, the autumn theme was ‘rest’. So many people appreciated meeting the need to rest in our awareness to find the strength to carry our busy lives. It was the most restorative event of my year… and I still had a very active little boy with me. We were held by the community and contributed our own holding in return.
If you want to add something low-key and beautiful to your Buddhafield events calendar this year, come and join us in West Wartling Wood. It’s a family-friendly and a friendly family all in one. The next event is 7th – 10th May 2020 over the bank holiday weekend. The bank holiday is on a Friday this year so we’ve adjusted accordingly. Only a deposit is payable now with a further donation requested on retreat. Check out the details here.
Text: Lotus Finch