A journey home down rainbow road…
I drove into John Day unsure of how to reach my final destination. However I was positive I would find my way after some reassurance from a brother I encountered at a gas station an hour out of town. I was finally going to participate in a national gathering of the Rainbow Family of Living Light. For those of you who have never heard of this community, check out my previous post for some insight on the history and an explanation on their philosophy: Rainbow Gathering: Ocala, Florida.
Luckily for me I encountered an individual looking for a ride from town into the gathering. Knowing this was my ticket in I pulled right over and picked him up. His rainbow name was Earwig and I found him patiently waiting on the side of the road munching on some watermelon. He was very gracious for the thirty mile ride in as it would have been quite the trek with his broken leg. Upon learning it was my first nationals he gave me a big welcome home and a quick rundown on what to expect- including the mass of federal marshals invading the gathering on land and from helicopter above.
We were miles and miles out in the middle of the woods when we finally came upon the beginning of the never ending line of cars leading into a massive parking lot of vehicles, campers, busses, and v-dubs galore. I dropped him at handi-camp just outside the main gate and made my way back down to bus camp to get the van all set up. The van felt so small among the mass of school busses converted into class-A homes for groups of travelers who came from all over the nation. A young fellow moved some sticks to make room for me and I climbed into the back of the van to pop the top and set up my bed for later that night when I heard a knock on the door. I climbed out to greet a fully nude man concerned with my parking spot. Apparently another car had recently been towed from this spot and he directed me to a safer spot to stash the van. Another brother helped me safely back in and led me to main circle- a two mile walk through a series of camps through towering trees, over fallen logs, and through circles of people offering jokes, stories, and tokes to ease your long journey home.
The gatherings I had previously attended were regional gatherings consisting of a few hundred people at most. I knew ahead of time that there were close to 12,000 people at this gathering, however that information still did not prepare me for what I was about to see. We turned one last corner and entered a clearing bustling with loving souls. I felt a wave of excitement rush over me as I looked around trying to take it all in. People were playing, mingling, and relaxing everywhere you looked. It was a field of hemp clothing, dreadlocks, peace, and love and I could not wait to indulge in it all. It was slightly overwhelming to think of myself as a solo individual in a mass this large but I knew instantly that I had found home. We found a cozy seat in the circle just in time to enjoy the night’s bliss- salad, rice, and curried lentils prepared by generous kitchens set up on the outskirts of the woods operating solely off of donated supplies and food. It was crazy to think that these small unorganized groups worked efficiently enough to feed thousands of hungry hippies. They did a splendid job.
Tragedy did not wait to ensue however. An elder had fallen prey to a spontaneous heart attack and unfortunately did not pull through. His kind and loving soul now roams the other realms of our ever-expanding world sending good vibes down to the family from above. All 12,000 family members made their way to the edge of the circle to offer their condolences as his body was carried away. Kind words and thoughts were offered to his children who were attending the gathering with him. It took some time but love brought the joy back into the crowd as we all knew it is what our brother would have wanted.
From here Mercedes, my friend from the lot, brought me up to check out his camp dubbed United Kitchen. Here he prepared fresh chai tea as I mingled with a variety of brothers and sisters popping in from the woods from every which direction. We laughed as we watched our family members playing in the clearing like kids again- how everyone should live their lives if you ask me. After a long day of driving I began the trek back to bus camp to settle into a slumber and reflect on the heartwarming experiences of day one.
I started day two early with a peaceful trek out to main circle to sit and write. It was the Fourth of July and the family was preparing for a prayer for world peace by remaining in silence until the commencement at noon. Due to this fact I expected to be doing my own thing until conversations could resume but with this much family around I should have known better. Sans-communication I met multiple friends along the trail who came from all corners of the world to participate in the gathering of the family this year. One of which offered me to join him for breakfast and took me off the main trail and back into the teepee circle. We sat among teepees small and large eating toast with apple butter and blueberries while skimming a book on plant identification. I later learned that he had moved to Portland, Oregon from a town outside of Mexico City and now runs large conferences promoting environmental preservation and organic farming techniques. In exchange for the cash to get an oil change on the van he offered me the opportunity to write an advertising piece for his conference taking place in California later this year. If you are interested in attending or learning more about Miguel’s work you can learn more here:
Soon it was rainbow-noon and time to head to main circle where the whole family was gathering to pray for world peace. We all joined hands, slowly moving the circle out further and further until everyone could fit. The circle turned into more of a squiggly line as it grew so large that it encompassed the entire clearing of the forest and then some. Everyone closed their eyes and prayed for the possibility of the world one day living in peace and harmony while releasing vibrating ‘ohms’ into the energy field of the earth in hopes to heal the souls collected on the Earth: today, past, and future.
Suddenly someone yelled out in joy, followed by another and another. Everyone began laughing and smiling, reaching to the sky and twirling in the peaceful loving vibrations swarming around us. We ran to the center of main circle with lightness and purity in our hearts typically only experienced by children in today’s harsh world. It was a magical commencement as people began playing drums, singing, and dancing with primitive instinct. Watermelons were cut and distributed, joints passed around, and true love and bliss shared among the masses. I can be fairly certain this was an experience that not many people in the world will ever come close to. Although I strongly wish they do one day.
As the activities wound down I sat off in a quiet spot on the side and wrote in my journal about the ups and downs of the experience so far. It was beautiful and welcoming, however the amount of people here was overwhelming at times. I had met countless wonderful souls and had amusing and profound conversations. However I couldn’t help but feel at times I was floating on the outside of it all. I wrote in my journal that I was considering taking off before nightfall and looked up to take it all in one more time.
Just then a man ran up to me and told me he was told by a stranger that he needed to come give the girl in the John Lennon glasses minding her own business a hug. We shared a warm embrace and parted ways with a “lovin’ you” as another brother came and sat beside me. He told me he was looking for a buddy to journey with and after sitting and chatting for a while we got up to go explore the forest. We visited all sorts of camps and clearings. We stepped into the spirit house to admire the beautiful pictures, memories, and spirits hanging from hundreds of strings from the ceiling of family members passed on. You could feel their spirits floating in the breeze as brothers and sisters took turns coming to the front to tell stories and share in the memories of their beloved family members.
We crossed through Dirty Kids camp and over a creek via a makeshift log bridge where we entered into Lost Boys camp. Crossing under the sign reading ‘Welcome to the other side of Neverland” a three story pirate ship hippie rigged with logs and twine came into view. We climbed to the very top being instructed on which logs were too sketchy to step on and experiencing thrilling anticipation as the logs rolled and creaked under out feet. Three stories high, we felt on top of the world as we overlooked the forest canopy. It all felt so surreal up here. After dinner we attended a talent show with hundreds of other brothers and sisters in the ambiance of the woods and ended the night watching the extremely talented fire-throwers and hoop-dancers next to the drum circle. In the morning I reconnected with the brother I had met at the gas station in town and he played me songs on his guitar in a shady spot beneath the trees. We toured a converted school bus before heading to the van to see what was causing me some trouble on the drive in. Before I knew it familiar faces and new family surrounded me helping to solve any and every problem I could possibly have.
It was at this time I was told I am accepted as one of them and will forever be considered a sister of the rainbow family, and it felt like it too.
And to think I almost left…