Rainbow Gathering: Ocala National Forest, Florida

High off the chocolate frosted glob of dough I accepted from a fellow sister on the rabbit trail, I fell asleep that night among family I had just met on the forest floor…

“When the earth is ravaged and the animals are dying, a new tribe of people shall come unto the earth from many colors, classes, creeds, and who by their actions and deeds shall make the earth green again. They will be known as the warriors of the Rainbow.”

This is the quote you will find upon entering the webpage for the Rainbow Family of Living Light. It is quoted from a Native American tribe, and I hope it gives you goosebumps like it does for me and other fellow brothers and sisters I have asked. However, most of the family has no clue this webpage even exists. You will find this quote, and a small amount of history here. You will not find information on members, gatherings, or anything of the sort. For that, you must search much harder.

http://www.welcomehome.org/rainbow/main.html

I strongly believe that evolution has not come to its final terms with what we are to be as humans. Everywhere you look on earth you see evolution still happening, from the lioness who has grown a false mane (as the males do), to the natural development of a fungi that can eat plastic in response to our overproduction and pollution.  Humans do not yet stand all the way up right, and have not yet expanded their minds to the fullest potential in which would allow them to protect, cherish, and enrich the nature surrounding them here on Earth due to the ability to sense an all encompassing vibration of love, light, peace, and empathy. With the help of people like those I have encountered at the gatherings, the world moves slowly yet exceedingly surely towards this fairy tale of a reality.

After a journey towards the center of the woods, this time much shorter than the journey into the last gathering I attended, we come upon a sign hung in the trees. Welcome Home. It is a sigh of relief. Immediately after parking off the side of the dirt pathway another car of travelers approaches us and thanks us for being ahead of them, leading the way in through the maze of trees. I am eager to go explore- the land, the people, the portable homes. There is one main road leading both directions out of the home circle. It is filled with buses, vans, a few campers, and regular old cars packed down with people and luggage. At the end of the road on the far side was a lake that we would eventually go in for a morning swim on the last day of the gathering. It had never felt more amazing to get clean.

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Following clever signs hung throughout the forest we began in on the rabbit trail. This way, silly rabbit. Blue rabbit. Stinky rabbit. Plurr rabbit. Almost there, down the hole we go. These clever markings however were not much use to us in the dark and we kept managing to find ourselves at dead ends. “Hey there..” Another lost hippie in the woods. He rescued us and brought us back around through home and out into the main circle. It was maybe 7 or 8 p.m. and the dinner crowd (who gather to collect bliss* in mugs and ceramic bowls) had mostly cleared out. There was a fire going with a circle dug out around it. Clusters of people sat in and around that circle talking and playing. I sat with a girl and contemplated whether or not the bright star in the distance was a planet or not. We had many people approach us with such an influx of answers we ended the discussion more confused than when we began but at least we got quite a few good laughs out of it. After a short while, we wandered on.

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One of the beautiful travelers I encountered at Ocala

What must be understood is that the rainbow family is accepting of all people from all walks of life. While the majority of the camps and individuals you will encounter at these gatherings are child-like spirits, exuding love, peace, and selfless amounts of generosity, the nature of the gathering also attracts a bit of a seedier crowd. It is smart to always keep your wits about you… even at a spiritual convocation of people in the forest. We wandered into a section of camps much rowdier than the rest. My inner party girl instantly wanted to dive in. Luckily we were approached by a train-kid who goes by Little Guy. He was anything but a little guy. He explained to us that all are welcome in this area of camp as well, but caution should be took as this is where a lot of the alcohol and drug use takes part. People get amped up, people fight for fun. If something is going to go stereotypically wrong, this is the part of camp it is going to happen in. We weren’t quite ready for this being it our first night in and so were pointed to an easier going campsite. Here we were welcomed in and almost instantly handed a variety of instruments to play with by a group of travelers mostly from the north east. We found them howling in laughter at stories being told and making their own playful fun with no limits on how silly or loud things could get way out in the middle of nowhere land. A fellow from this circle taught me about trades I would later learn much more about it. Jugging, busking, and flying**- a hippies salvation on the road these days. We all ended up taking a journey through the woods to visit many other sites along the trail to main circle. This time it was 1 a.m. by the time we reentered the circle.

Walking into main circle at 1 a.m. was like walking right out of reality and into a dream. The heat from the fire could be felt all the way back from the trail and it cast just enough light over the congregation of people. It was flooded with people being moved by the full moon above. Hippies, dirty kids, rubber-trampers, backpackers, train kids,**** and lost souls celebrating coming home. People were were sitting swaying to the music, kids were out playing leapfrog, there were fire dancers and girls dancing with hoops. There were banjos, keyboards, and ukuleles. There was a guy belting out hilarious tunes. People from here and there were pitching in with random phrases, words, sounds, and beats. It was truly spontaneous, collaborative, and beautiful beyond perfection.

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After meeting a few others and learning about their journeys, I spotted a familiar face and made my way to the hippie who found us lost in the woods. After two or three protests, he had me up and spinning all around. A song or two later dozens of others had jumped up to dance with us. High off the chocolate frosted glob of dough I accepted from a fellow sister on the rabbit trail, I fell asleep that night among family I had just met on the forest floor.

It was all I dream life to be. I yearned for months to be home, and I yearn again until I return.

“Personally, the Rainbow Family is where I have found my greatest opportunities to learn, to grow, to celebrate, to be one with my fellow beings and my mother Earth, to serve, to pray, to play. The gatherings for me are living theater, evolution in process, creativity manifest. I am passionately in love.” Clara.

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*Bliss: the dinner provided by the kitchen camps; usually a combo of grains, beans, and veggies donated in bulk

**Jugging, busking, and flying: all ways of collecting money by searching to have a gas jug filled up, earning money by playing an instrument or presenting another talent, or by flying a sign. One common moral I noticed among the family was that they insisted on not lying, they would not say they are homeless in order to collect money. Money collected is used for food and supplies needed for family and gatherings.

***Hippies: a peaceful person usually rejecting the established customs of society        Dirty kids: typically couch surfers, travelers who get by on the generosity of like minded individuals offering free or work-for stay/rides.                                                                       Rubber trampers: travelers living in their vehicles                                                                             Backpackers: travelers on foot living off of what they can carry.

****This article is the first that I personally took none of the photographs pictured here. There is a very strong culture present at these gatherings that encouraged me to disconnect and live in the moment. I also did not want to take pictres out of respect for those who are not comfortable with their photograph being published on the internet. I found it more suitable to choose images already made available by family to the public. Some of these images were taken at Ocala 2017. All other photographs were taken at gatherings around the globe. 

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