I recently posted a video on my Normal For Glastonbury facebook page of a woman walking down Chilkwell Street. She looks unhurried, calm, in fact totally unremarkable, but for the fact she is naked, in the street, in England, in February.
I heard about the naked woman from a friend, she posted on Facebook and tagged the post ‘Normal for Glastonbury’. She’d seen the woman walking naked by the Spring and, concerned, had checked in with her, but finding her relaxed and not showing signs of any distress, had concluded that she was celebrating the Celtic festival of Imbolc, that marks the first signs of Spring.
I don’t know who took the video, I first came across it a few hours after my friend’s post, on a closed Facebook page for Glastonbury residents who like to ‘rant and rave’. Sometimes this means ranting about how hippies have ‘ruined their town’, so far it has not pointed me towards the location of a single rave – not even a half decent house-party. The response on this page to the video was mixed – some were horrified at the idea of a naked woman in the street being seen by children, others she must be suffering from a mental health issue, while many saw no problem at all. There was a lively discussion about whether this behaviour was against the law, and the much more accepting attitudes towards public nudity in Europe – particularly Germany.
I was interested in what the response would have been had this been a naked man, I suspect it would have been more vociferous, but also that it might have led to less comment- I’ve heard numerous stories of naked men in Glastonbury, some of which are in my earlier blog post about this subject ‘Nude but not Lewd’.
The video has led to a massive spike in my facebook page views, significantly larger than the click through to my latest blog post. it appears that seeing a naked woman is more appealing than reading my most recent post, a fascinating and revealing interview with Mark who runs the Sonus Magus music shop in town. Who ever would have guessed?
I had reservations about posting the video, if she’d been showing signs of distress or if it had a disrespectful commentary I wouldn’t have. Watching it, I felt it had a mesmerising and almost meditative quality, enhanced by the lack of narrative and the soundtrack of passing cars. The responses on my page have been positive and thoughtful. She’s been described as ‘brave’, ‘liberating’. ‘unencumbered’, ‘lovely’. Concern has been expressed about the effect on her health of walking naked in such cold weather and also for her state of mind.
One comment suggested “She was following the ancient way – after the Imbolc ritual, she started at the fire on Bride’s Mound, walked to the White Spring then on up to the Tor. This is the way that the the pilgrims would have approached the Sacred Glastonbury Tor”. I think this is a little fanciful, but I could see the idea catching on, I don’t think I’ll be taking part myself, certainly not in February.