Hugging has been used for millennia across the world as a greeting, a farewell or affirmation between loved ones as well as providing comfort and being a social easing tool. Whether it’s a three second café cheek to cheek, a mutual shoulder grasp, an art gallery air hug or an uncomfortable back slap, hugging can be redesigned at will to fit any situation. However, in the right arms, it can also be a profound and deeply spiritual experience. It is known as the New Age or Glastonbury hug.
Imagine a beautiful, sunny day in May. There’s a light breeze, lazily swinging the hanging shop signs. The scent of apple blossom drifts across from the Abbey grounds, like a whispered prayer for the cider apples to come. Glastonbury folk are up and about, mixing in with the tourists and pilgrims. In the distance, a truck’s air brakes pump and hiss and a dog barks. A doorway hides a busker sat on a blanket, carefully blowing a few shrill notes on her penny whistle.
Two people approach each other in front of a crystal shop. Their eyes gaze into each other’s soul, before each calls out a greeting. It’s time. The hug is initiated.
Now we wait.
Starlings hop under the street benches, looking for pasty crumbs.
A gluten-free woman shouts angrily at a man, thoughtlessly unloading trays of loaves from a bakery van.
And we wait.
The figures stand as one, immovable as a love mountain, heart and base chakras aligned and pressed together. Their eyes are closed, faces buried in each other’s dreads, feeling the moment.
More time passes. Cars and buses drive by in a soft, acrid fug of fumes and dust.
The huggers briefly mumble before pressing even more tightly together.
An old lady tries to squeeze past on the narrow footpath and stumbles over the kerb. Some eggs spill from her shopping bag and smash in the road.
Passers-by rush over, one managing to stop the oncoming car. The old lady is a little shaken but unhurt. They help her to a nearby bench where she can recover.
Two starlings lift into the air before resettling under another bench.
A vegan rescues the broken eggs, collecting up the shells and gloop reverently from the road.
The church clock chimes the hour. The hug remains unbroken, lost in a smiling, magnetised, non-verbal, twin soul reverie.
A cyclist slowly creaks up the high street on an old rusty bicycle.
Then, finally, imperceptibly, something shifts.
The hug begins to separate, like a meaningful cell division, pulling apart with mutual regret.
Their gaze is held for a final time while farewells are spoken.
Each participant feels loved, seen, blessed and energised by the shared experience.
They part company, one to buy a large rose quartz from the crystal shop, the other to begin another hug, further down the street.
A dog barks.