Woodford Festival Blues

What is Woodfordia?

Over New Years I immersed myself in an amazing festival north of Brisbane called Woodford Folk Festival.

Every year, for the last 30 years, people have been travelling from near and far to part take in the “fantasy yet very real” valley called Woodfordia.

A Community and festival filled with music, arts, great food, and love. A very special place. If you want to read more on my experiences there read my other blogs on the festival here and the food and music here.

I thought I would write Woodfordia from a hormonal and health angle. The vibe is hypnotic and cleansing and there are “ scientific” reasons for this.

There is an instant community vibe when you cross into the valley called Woodfordia and you can feel stress start to leave your body.

Security are awesome, no degrading bag checks and scrutinising, just a pleasant hello.

We are so trained, (forced) into conformity and rules in mainstream living that a village where you have total trust and self regulation feels utopic. And Woodford is just that – Utopia.

People have intelligent, considered thoughts, show gratitude and express love.

Magic or Science?

Woodfordis is one of those places where magic health stuff happens.

The “ stuff” that double blind placebo controlled studies will spend years to prove or dispell. When common sense, common experience will tell you that it FEELS GOOD and you are not the only individual getting that vibe.

So turn inwards and let’s explore why this happens.

As humans we are biologically designed to live in villages or tribes. We are a social species.

People with a similar belief and culture will bond together. Many of these groups will have rituals and “rules” that permit the natural progression and regression of nature.

Such a community creates a sense of cohesion, of love and acceptance and calm.

Within these structures and communities people don’t tend to fret.

The Elders of the village/tribe take care of that. And with their wisdom and beliefs many of the elders lead by example by not fretting and stress either.

Spiritual beliefs, faith and self taught control has made them stress resilent and strong.

As a tribal member you just need to “connect” and demonstrate respect and love and conform to the rules of the group.

If you spice this up (or strip it down) by rubbing out time pressures, decreasing unrealistic expectations, banishing critism, then you have a great recipe to permit people to thrive.

It’s almost visible as people’s happy hormones replace their “urban” stress hormones.

Hormone Changes

1. Testosterone (our angry, survival hormone) subsides.

There are virtually no angry, angsty or demanding people.

Even when there are delays, mess ups, mistakes being made here, everyone is like “that’s all good” and smiling! No anger here at all.

People here forgive and accept.

The change is palpable and I like this place.

The guys are rejuvenating their male testosterone and androgens in different ways. Instead of screaming at the offs on telly in a rubgy match with a beer, these enlightened men are balancing themselves with the arts and nature.

I stumble across men learning to sing with Darren Percival. What a delight. Men hanging with other men, doing man-stuff. Making didgeridoos, singing, holding hands, hugging and kissing. It’s a beautiful thing for us girls to see.

2. Dopamine is available everywhere.

Our addictive, connection hormone, Dopamine, is HIGH here.

Stimulating, breath taking skits, shows and experiences bond you instantly to the people experiencing it with you.

Life long friendships are made in a fifteen minute interludes. Woodfordia is something you both can reflect upon for ever. That’s the power of dopamine.

It bonds you for life.


3. Serotonin our happy hormone sky rockets.

Fantasy monsters, live skits, characteurs meandering around the valley simply make you smile. This is just like the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Rabbits, frogs, ye olde trumpet players and more. The constant reminder we are children makes us respond like one. Our happy hormone, serotonin rockets.

It’s refreshing and leaves everyone smiling inside and out.

4. Cortisol levels drop

Cortisol, that life saving hormone that we are inadvertently switching on in urban jungles simply switches off.

There is no need to wake to an alarm, you can walk everywhere so no parking dramas, no artificial lights and all in nature.

Our adrenals love this relaxed way of being

Our minds and bodies don’t stress here.

5. Estrogen is bubbling in the females.

In fact I don’t think I have seen women look more sexy.

The freedom to express is the stage to be.

Be your essential feminine self.

Clothes are loose, hair is down, feathers are in, walking like a goddess is natural (no corporate strut here) and women are sexy!

Sexy and beautiful. Dancing, skipping and smiling. Nice being lady folks.

6. Oxytocin, the BEST hormone is oozing from the trees.

Our connection hormone, oxytocin, the elixir of love, is bubbling in every person and every scene.

Stimulated by the beautiful natural surroundings, the wonderful random hugs, the glorious music, and smells, oxytocin levels are high.

It makes us feel incredible connection and belonging. For many people they haven’t had the same oxytocin surges since they were breast fed babies.

No wonder people come here every year for a “top up”.

And all of these hormones make people feel addicted and not want to leave.

No one really wants to leave the beautiful accepting valley known as Woodfordia, that only lasts 5 days, not 365 days.

People extend their stays to top up on more. Their bodies urged and convince them unconsciously.

There is the well known Woodfordia Blues (I am coining it that).

The time of let down over the week after the festival is finished. The abrupt withdrawal of the sensational hormones above at their best.

Can you minimise your hormone withdrawal?

How can you cope in the days after Woodfordia?

What you need to do is keep some activities going every day that emmulate Woodfordia.

I call these Green Light Activities  and these are accessible to everyone even in an urban jungle.

Write down 10 of your favorite activities and try to do one a day back in the real world.

If it was the love and connection that made you cry while holding hands and singing, then find a choir, or singing group to join. If it was the sense and pride you felt listening to an Aboriginal leader talk about sustainability in indigenous communities, then join a group that are assisting this cause.

If hugging tress and walking barefoot around the labyrinth then make your own labyrinth and walk barefoot more.

Climb trees, thank trees, start bushwalking. Participate at your comfort level back in urban living and every day have a snippet of Woodfordia.

If eating vegetarian floated your boat, enrol in a raw class, go to your local markets, or go vego for a week. See if you like it. See how your body responds.

There are so many opportunities that wrap around you at Woodford it is worth it for the reminder of a beautiful world and planet we live in.