Rainbow Gathering

Rainbow Gathering

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At first glance, there is nothing to brag about. As we were younger, we went once with Tom (the same one who accompanied me on this trip) for the whole day in the winter to the woods. We’ve wanted from dawn to dusk spend a day in the woods, eating sausage grilled on campfire and drinking tea. Yes that time we were thinking only about a tea. At the end we could stand just a couple of hours, and still most of the time we spent on listening to the music.

Now, try to imagine hundreds of people living in the forest, no electricity, no running water, no alcohol, from new moon to new moon, for a whole month. In the middle of nowhere, almost 10 kilometers from civilization (nearest village) . And all of this of their own volition. So you may wonder, why on Earth are they doing it?

For people. Only. Because Rainbow Gathering is for real people, flesh and blood, without additives such as a watch or cell phone, and in many cases even without clothes. Some would rather die than take part in something like that. I took the Rainbow as an interesting experience and I decided to try to join the family – at least for a few days.

Welcome, brother!

Free love defined by first flower children, probably does not exist today, but it’ is preserved in some transformed form. Rainbow People define the Rainbow Gathering as a temporary community. There is no official organization, which would control it, there is no man or group of people authorized to make any decisions for the community. Or perhaps: there is no one who would be more empowered than the others.

When we showed up at the Rainbow, we had no baptism, we didn’t go through initiation oath we didn’t even smoke a peace pipe. They told us briefly about meals, about the forest and even about poop, but about the poop it’s better left unsaid.

As soon as it was known that it is our first Rainbow Gathering. As soon as someon knew that it’s our first Rainbow Gathering, everyone welcomed us warm with extremely pleasant greeting “Welcome, brother! At Rainbow we are all are brothers and sisters. Whether you’re talking to 80 years old grandfather, or with a girl from Brazil in your age. By the way “Free love” would be in this situation damn awkward.

Rainbow family is, however, not only by name. Once, someone came up to me with a bowl full of some cocoa oatmeal (such truly cocoa from cocoa) and pulled the spoon in my direction. I couldn’t refuse, so I just ate. I praised my new friend , because actually it was delicious. My “new brother” smiled and went to feed the next person.

At the Rainbow you can’t drink alcohol or eat meat. Becaue we had some extra provision, the first thing we did after putting up the tent, we went into the woods and got rid of the lunches. As you can see in the picture below. We didn’t break the laws. People at the Rainbow are free – if you want to eat meat, eat it! Just do not do it in the front of the others, because it can offend them.

In the light of the fire and stars

If we collate Rainbow Family to a regular family sitting in front of the TV, for rainbow family it’s metaphorical TV is the fireplace. This is not just typical “fireplace”, with a bit of burning brushwood – a lot of these kind can be find between the tents. Main Fire is enormous more than a dozen huge logs were used so wecwere amazed with how it looked.
By the fire, people are sitting on the bare ground. All of them are barefoot shoes because the approach to the Main Fire in shoes is regarded as disrespectful. The circle is tight, because in the cold September night all the people try to be as close as posible to the fire. If you want to sit down, you have to wait your turn. Or, if you are very cold you can ask one of the seated person to step aside. He or she will probably agree, at the end you are brothers and sisters

But this is not a typical regale.They are singing songs about love,freedom, peace and Mother Earth, although they usually have the four simple lines of lyrics,and they are being sung over and over again just in a slighty different tone, like a mantra. Anyway, they also sing. And believe it or not, but it is not annoying. Listening to the chorus of friendly voices, looking at the fire, in the starry sky (very starry night, because I do not overshadowed by the city lights), we fall into a kind of trance.

I felt I was part of something. I do not know if you understand my point, but it was something like, “Damn, these people delight in something so simple. They do not need the money, career, computer, just be here and enjoy themselves”. Just like me.

I do not have to say, the atmosphere around the campfire is one of a kind. Space, fire, stars, singing, drums, joy – It’s not surprise that many saw it as a good place for meditation – the best nude or at least topless.

There were also some dances, cheers, but we were so tired after walking 10 kilometers on foot with backpacks that we went to bed early. The event at the fire lasted about one in the morning.

You don’t know what to do with yourself? Go and help in the kitchen!

Next morning we noticed that nothing intresting is going on around here. But suddenly, someone started shouting”Food circle”. At the Rainbow Gathering there is a lot of the food. Do not ask me from where do they have it. It’s true that they collect money to the Magic Hat, I tossed five hundred forints (about 2 dollars) just to not be mean, but damn – that mass food ?!

Kitchen, like everything else was on the outside. That time exceptionally, it was covered, because some time before in that place it was held a psychedelic festival and the organizers have built a lot of strange design. In the Kitchen there were many boxes, I coundet 4 boxes of plums and it was just minor part of food stores.
On the other side, it was furnace. There were huge pots arranged in which Tom., hippie from London, tried to cook up some food. No one forced him to do it, at the Rainbow Gathering nobody force you to anything If you see that something has not been done, it is something waiting just for you!

In the middle of the kitchen were several tables where “brothers and sisters “ were cutting the fruits and vegetables according to the Tom’s instructions. We didn’t have anyting better to do so we joined them.

The time we spent in the kitchen we remember the best. We were working together with eight other people which gave as an ideal opportunity to talk. There were people from everywhere: France, Brasil, 2 from Poland (who were living in London) Hungarian and Colombian and a lot of otheres, because the rotation in the kitchen was pretty big. With the majority of a community I really had something to talk about with everyone – they were travelers who came to Rainbow to rest for a moment, they were hippies, for which the Rainbow Gathering is a whole life and they are just moving from one local Gathering to other(at the moment they are probably chilling in Spain or on the Canaries Islands), there were other hitchhikers and a few sad people who were almost ran out of the funds and had to start thinking again about finding some work.

Working in the kitchen is also associated with other benefits, every now and then I “accidentally” threw fruits in the mouth instead of throwing in a bowl. Some time after we got soup someone else brought us a piece of freshly baked bread roll.And even you could smoke weed if you want to, because every now and then some hippie came with joint to share it with others.

Black Sheep of Family

Rainbow Gathering always occupies a large area. Forests and meadows, surrounded by low hills, were ideal for a tent. Or build a hut. We camped at the edge of the clearing to see Main Fire and know what is happening. A lot of people were lived much further, between the trees, or somewhere on the hill. One tent I even saw a mile from the camp.

The culminate moment of the each World Rainbow Gathering is a full moon, they said it was over 2500 people at that time in Hungary.In such a large community of people you can always find some kind of black sheep. We even saw even “one” when we were sitting near by the fire. Someone said that he was frome Greece but he did not looked like to me with the mass of dreadlocks he looked more like Jack Sparrow. I’m sorry – Captain Jack Sparrow.

I do not know whether he was high, or just had a bad day, but the whole evening he was sitting at near by the fire with a big cane. Every now and then he was yelling something, sometimes in English, sometimes in a other language and at the same time strucking his stick on the burning wood, scattering around the spark. When someone tried to throw wood, he braced his arms and legs and started to scream that it is his fireplace, and if someone wants to throw something into it, it will first have to throw him. I suspect that any other situation someone who would quickly fulfilled his wish, but the Rainbow is a peaceful assembly. And they don’t solve the problems here this way. So how do they solve the problems?

A little … weird. Firstly someone started to shout “This is my fire!” And the whole crowd followed him Then some hit the drum, which was not too relaxed – not without reason drum used to be instrument used during the battles.

In such an atmosphere they dragged him out of the circle, where a dozen or so people put him in the ground. Someone started shouting “Do not force the healing on him!”. Unfortunately, I do not know specifically what was behind idea of “healing”, because at that time I got the chance to pushed near by the fireplace and did not want to lose a seat because it was damn cold. Tom says lately to me, that for some time they held him down to the ground and painted his face. I have no idea how it ended, but he didn’t came back.

Food cirlce! now!

There are three cheers. First of all, when the food is almost finished, they yelling “Food circle.” A few minutes later, they repeat the command. And for the third time: “Food circle! Now! “And this means, It’s the last time to dig up from the messy tent, bring bowl and come to the Main Outbreaks where the food is served. Of course, someone who camp somewhere far could not hear the yelps. Therefore yelps are forwarded by other family members. And so the news is spreading.

In the huge circle around the campfire (much more numerous than the one on the evening party – after all, they give food!)They don’t start eat straightaway, at the beginning community is singing “never ending songs”. In my opinion, they just do it to stimulate and increase the appetite. Maybe because the food was not actually delicious. Soups, fruit, vegetables, some porridge … I must say that I enjoyed more fresh fruits and I little regret that most of them landed in the soup.

The system was simple. We all sat in a circle, and the “service” of great garem walked around, shouting for example, “Porridge for the first time!”, Which meant that they could eat only those who have not eaten before. Next “Porridge for the second time!”, And then “Porridge for all!” If you were still hungry.
The worse, the better

That was my first impression in terms of fashion. And not that I don’t like hippie style. It was the first time I felIt silly wearing jeans. Really more people “wearing” old blankets, tunics or naked one than “normal”. I didn’t wear a watch because I was ashamed. And I was never checking my phone in front of others.

It’s a little weird, but it has two huge advantages. Firstly, people actually talked to each other face to face. Nobody is ever text and talk at the same time – and we know that these days it’s actually become the norm.

The second advantage is freedom. All the strange things that I would normally not do in Wroclaw, for the people there were completely natural. They were juggling knife or mandarins, yoga, handstands, flips, meditation, playing the harmonica, doing “owls” on his hands, dancing, embracing the unknown person, yell at the sky, “Thank you, Sun!” When the sun comes out from behind the clouds , building shelter, chasing with young children, wallowing in the mud or running naked – and noone will judge you or consider you as a freek. You will blend into the crowd.

I experience a similar kind of freedom often when I am hitch-hiking, when I am waiting long time unsuccessfully trying to catch a car I usualy start to dance to get drivers. I really enjoyed this state of mind and experiencing it in a completely different situation was very pleasant.

Rainbow Gathering last lunar month – from new moon to new moon. In the middle of the month, is a great event (and the best time to experience atmoshphere of the Rainbow Gathering). We spent there two days (half Sunday, Monday, half Tuesday), so we somehowe felt the climate of the great event because new moon graced the sky on Wednesday.
Rainbow Gathering has that many shades as the rainbow – it depends on the country in which it takes place, time, weather, and the people, who take part in it. For example, the Rainbow Gathering in the US is quite diffrent story. In two days we realized just what this event can be.But I’ ll have to wait quite some time to experinced it fully

At the end of the gathering whole commpunity sit together in a circle and determine where will be the next meeting. The choice must be unanimous and discussion will take place until all people agree. At the time we were there they agreed that the next World Rainbow Gathering will be held in … Egypt! It will be amazing experience!

Michał Karaś
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