Rainbow Gathering, Experimenting Self Transformation
Rainbow Gatherings are communities meeting in a nature setting to share together the ideals of peace, harmony and respect and to create an alternative to popular culture, mass media and materialism. The first Rainbow took place in 1972, at the National Forest Land (United States) and has been held annually ever since. Other Rainbow regional communities come together throughout the year all over the world. For my part, I attended seven such Rainbow meetings in Quebec, two in Mexico, one in the Canary Islands and one in Guatemala.
What’s cool about the Rainbow is that it is hidden; it takes place in isolation in the woods, far away. You must drive and walk for a long time, there is something magical to looking for it. At first glance, it’s like a tribe that is organized like a mini-city. Spaces are set up for a kitchen, a children area, a coffee shop, a music camp, etc… And a central circle with a big fire in the middle. It’s the sacred fire. This is where we eat; it is a place to share. Meals are completely vegan. Rainbows are provided for by local grocers who donate organic food, lentils, oats, etc… Other Rainbows organise “dumpster divings”: all the food comes from stuff wasted and thrown in the bins in cities. We get up with the sun. I sleep in a tent, but many sleep under a simple cover. We completely lose track of time, it is a rare and valuable thing to happen in life. There is also a lot of music in the evening, with jam sessions and dancing.
There you can experience a real micro-society. All views are gathered in a reduced space-time, within a smaller geography. We experience all these differences and confrontations, and experiment in matters of conflict management. We learn to talk, look, understand, to become more tolerant. All ideologies and beliefs coexist in harmony. In Quebec, if there is a conflict on a topic, we create a talking circle where we pass on the “Stick of speech”. When you hold the stick, nobody else can talk, even if the circle is 400 strong. We discuss very practical issues and decisions are not made through a majority vote, but truly through a common consensus. It can take days. At Rainbow, we often say “We are one.”
You return from a Rainbow with ideas, ideas for changing your life. Personally, I’ve never felt comfortable with the life I was living, and I questioned it. Vegan, nomad, green: we encounter people who have different lifestyles. We discover that it is possible to be happy living another way. I particularly realized the importance of taking care of my body, of eating better, of taking better care of the environment. Of being able to get rid of our addiction to technology and the Internet.
When you come back, you appreciate comfort again, but you quickly want to go back and to see again the people you’ve met, the people you love. Communities are created. After the Rainbow, a talking circle is often formed to create a community. In Guatemala, the site of the Rainbow was acquired to found a great eco-community. Coming back from the Rainbow means be have reconsidered yourself, you have been transformed, even purged, of technology among other things. And it is clear that you return, you judge much more severely the society you live in.