It is time that I now write about my experiences this year at the Annual Rainbow Gathering of Light in Richmond, West Virginia this past Fourth of July. Before I go on, I would like to publicly thank the Mayor of Richmond, West Virginia, the Honorable Robert Henry Baber ("Bo Henry"). I actually had the honor to sit and dine with him and learn much about Rich-wood and West Virginia in general.
Bo Henry has a five year plan he created to revitalize this nestled community within the most gentle and fertile mountains of the east. It is realistic and I pray that it becomes successful. There are some great houses there for very little and a community could be instantly bootstrapped into a thriving artistic retreat if it catches on. Nonetheless, I can say with due respect that West Virginia this year was the most inviting rainbow experience ever. A far, far cry from the last gathering in West Virginia. Truly the crowning moment was when we saw a wonderfully created rainbow banner emblazoned with our motto "Welcome Home"! Welcome Home indeed and thank you Mayor Bob Henry for your comfortable hospitality in welcoming our great diverse family.
Now on to the Gathering we go. First off there is the drive. I love driving to the Rainbow Gathering. After 27 years of Rainbow Gatherings I can "feel" the presence and this year was no exception. Even with the feint and switch of locations we managed to arrive spot on.
Parking this year was a cinch as there were three entrances to the gathering. There was a bit of griping about Bus Village being adjacent to the Main Meadow. Well, I for one, being the Elder that I am, really appreciated the short hike to our base Kitchen, "Instant Soup".
These mountains of West Virginia were wonderful. They are 3,200 feet above sea level and are actually quite steep. This made for the long way or the hard way at this years gathering. In fact, after the first rain one hard way turned into a mud sliding, rope saving, mad adventure. Of course I had to do it with Ramona in hand.
Speaking of Ramona she performed excellently I must say this year. Nary a fall, scratch or misfortune betook her which was quite a bit different than other years when I truly feared for her life. Of course she had her usual admirers. Many wanted to know all about her. At 76 years of age I guess I could understand, it being a novelty of sorts.
Those West Virginia mountains were great. There were pure springs everywhere giving forth pure spring water from the mountain rains purified through the loam and rocks of those mountains. These mountains were mostly comprise of a slate. Lots of flat rocks to create floors, stoves, ovens, Bliss Pits and more. Mad digging Shitters especially frustrating. Speaking of which, BARF's Shitter was the best ever. Two closely spaced logs secured and leveled to the ground. Wide enough for business yet narrow enough for containment. They were all six Rainbow Colors for their design and implementation.
Yet this was not their only contribution/invention. They came up with the best trash system seen to date. They used clear bags suspended between two ropes. Thus there were four clear bags in a row with the ropes spaced a foot apart to keep the bags open. This allowed one to see the level of trash and to know exactly where and how their trashed should be deposited.
One of my personal highlights was the honor I was given to umpire a whiffle ball game between BARF (Boston Area Rainbow Family) and NY Purple Gang. Well the rivalry between these great Baseball cities even found its way to the Rainbow Gathering. Past attempts at competitive play have failed miserably. The reason is quite clear actually. Baseball is the perfect gentlemen's sport. It is surely the most non-contact of team play. This fits in quite well with the Rainbow philosophies of Instant Karma, freedom, family and support. Baseball being comprised of a team of specialists mirrors the fascinating colors of humanity when stripped of money and pretense. I gained a new found respect for Baseball.
Right off the bat BARF sent in the girls. These two sisters were beautiful and came bearing their love and their gifts. They were quite persuasive and almost had me there enticements but fortunately I came to my senses quickly and called a fair and controlled game. Who won you ask? Well no one actually. The game was called on account of rain after 5 1/2 innings so it was unofficial. I look forward to next years game.
All this talk of sports and activity has made me wistfully think of our great Kitchen, Instant Soup. This year Instant Soup rose to a new level by not only creating a wonderful stove but also our first oven where we created everything from foccacia to cookies. We really dished out the soup, breads and nugs in general. Instant Soup you rock! However, I do have to give some kudos to Dunkapoo for delivering to us some incredible three risen eclairs freshly baked at their kitchen and then hand delivered to us at Instant Soup. Wow were they incredible.
Some of you may be wondering what is my infatuation with the annual Rainbow Gathering and what it is all about. Well first off let's dispense with the usual right now. An annual Rainbow Gathering is comprised of approximately 10,000 people. There is no one in charge or responsible. It just happens. It is held in a different national forest each year and has allowed me to visit almost 20 states so far. At a Rainbow Gathering money is useless and none is needed. There is no one marketing, selling or tempting you in anyway and this alone truly refreshes the mind. Drugs you ask? Yes, let's face it there are drugs when you get 10,000 people together. However, I must admit that this year, since it was held in the east, there were none of the western growers to share their bounty so nugs were not nearly as abundant. There is bartering at a Rainbow Gathering. This occurs at the Trading Circle. This year I went to setup my little rug, lay down my wares and to trade a bit. I learned a very quick lesson. I am a musician and not a trader. I realized that every time I wanted to just get up and play a song I was soon glancing over at my little blanket worrying about someone stealing my bits! Now mind you, I have never, ever, had a problem with someone taking my stuff. I have left my guitar out many times for anyone to use and was always respected. I guess the moral of this story is that possessions truly start to own the possessor. Like that old song said... "When you got nothing you got nothing to lose", or "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose", or some such phrase, song, psalm or whatever. Nonetheless it is true.
Drugs and alcohol, the scourge of society is interestingly exposed at a Rainbow Gathering. Alcohol is definitely looked down upon and in fact is very much not present at the Rainbow Gathering. Marijuana is usually prevalent and so are different psycho-tropics. Alcohol is limited to the "A" camp which is usually on the outside of a gathering. Now, if we take off our corporate/governmental blinders and just observe the people one immediately sees that alcohol and tobacco are dirty, dangerous and ugly while the rest is harmless, happy, and even loving. There is almost no crime, litter, or fighting at a gathering unless you are at "A" Camp where things can get awfully scary when people start getting real drunk. Well, I guess this just goes to show you that the powers at be prefer us scared, dangerous and out of our minds versus peaceful, happy and with an alternative consciousness. They just want us as sheeple and nothing more.
The next thing that becomes very obvious is what the lack of money does for mankind. It makes everyone relaxed, useful and truly a neighbor. Also, since everyone needs to help out in order to truly appreciate the experience, the rich and poor alike start mingling and enjoying each other. It is truly a miracle and makes me pray and thank G-d that much more. However, like everything else, people have to start to differentiate themselves so immediately you get the Jerusalem camp, the Jesus camp and the Krishna camp. Unfortunately I did not see an Islamic camp.
Well that is all for this years annual gathering of the tribes. I surely played and sung more than I had all year and the brother, sisters, and elders all enjoyed my musicianship. I also met and played with some wonderful musicians and artists.
We loooooovvvvvvvveeeeee you,