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The First Rainbow
edited by Phoenix Rising and Butterfly Bill
I was “ME”, becoming “NOW. I would eventually evolve into “WE”. I couldn’t be who I used to be, a student, a Naval Officer, a son. So I set out on a journey to find my true self. I was sitting around a campfire when I came to the realization that I was “ME”. Having. achieved that, “NOW” was the next objective. “ME”, being totally present, was “NOW”. “NOW” was seeking to become WEONE with “IT”. “IT” is the InfinITe TotalITy. I realized that everything around ME is Now!
In the summer of ’71, I had traveled extensively under the name “ME”, that stood for Mother Earth, My Existence, with a beautiful sister named Laughing Water. Neither of us had any ID or backpacks. We traveled simply as Laughing Water and ME, across Canada and the U.S. I had called myself Mother Earth or ME. It had greatly contributed to the concept of “ME”, and consequently the “ME generation”. Then I became “Now”, you know, like “Be Here Now”. Actually, “Now” was “Won” backwards, and NOW ON was NO-WON.
Eventually I developed a whole language of these double-entendre homonyms. They would become the core of my philosophy. The philosophy of “IT”. And I would become a professor of “IT”. I call it, “ITOLOGY” And I professing “IT”, today call myself the “PROF-IT”.
What you are about to read is the story of NOW in 1972 embarking on a great RAINBOW adventure, an adventure that would span decades, an adventure that realized “WE” and “WEBOWS”. The dawn of a new tribe, a new culture, whose core was “IT”. So off I went to the GATHERWEING of the RAINBOW TRIBES.
The First Rainbow
It was the summer of ‘72 and the Gathering of the Tribes had begun. Now had first heard about the Rainbow Gathering at the All-One co-op in Venice Beach, California, in December of 1971. Now was living there pursuing the hippie lifestyle. Now had a little money saved and was staying at a friend’s apartment waiting for winter to pass when Now decided he would head up to a commune in British Columbia.
Kahuna, the co-op manager, had said a carload of people came through talking about a huge Gathering planned for July of ‘72 in Colorado. “They plan on getting close to a million people,” he said. It would be another Woodstock except there wouldn’t be any electric music. It was called “The Gathering of the Tribes”, and all who felt the oneness of the universe and humanity were invited. It was to be a huge camp-out. No alcohol or guns were to be allowed. No money was to be exchanged. Everything was to be shared communally. Now thought, “I’m in.”
Now had previously become bored. The whole point of evolving from ME, a self-centered entity, was to become NOW, a part of the total environment. But once the Now level was reached, it was hard to change the Now experience when you remained in the same place. Now needed excitement. Now needed change. His life was all too constant, too normal, too boring. This Gathering brought a new hope.
The Rainbow People had left a poster describing the Gathering. It highlighted a period of meditation for world peace. It said on July 4th there would be a huge joining together and everyone would “OM” at high noon. It was to be held at Table Mountain in Colorado. It listed items not to bring and items to bring: food for two, warm clothing, cooking utensils, tents, water, matches, etc. Now knew the moment he read the poster, Now had to be at the Gathering.
1971 was the peak of the peace movement. The Vietnam War was still dragging on, and protest and peace marches were a daily part of the American scene. Now, as well as thousands of others, perceived the Gathering of the Tribes not as a protest, but as a celebration. It would be a joining of the colors of the rainbow, the infinite variety of all mankind. Everyone would join together to share the oneness of humanity. Through displaying the beauty and diversity, all people would put positive energy into the establishment of a moment for worldwide peace and tranquility. This event was to be known as the High Noon Meditation.
These two main attractions were of equal importance:
(1) A huge Gathering, projected by some folks to be in the hundreds of thousands, and
(2) a defined positive activity, a period of silent meditation and focus on peace at high noon on July 4th at Table Mountain, followed by a huge communal OM.
The stage was set and all that was needed were the characters. The first Rainbow Gathering was an idea waiting to unfold. Countless thousands of hip generation individuals had experiences and visions of the joys of being together. Woodstock was a guiding light; many future Rainbow People were at Woodstock, or wished they had been. So when the call went out for the “Gathering of the Tribes,” as the first Rainbow Gathering was called, many, many, people were waiting and ready to go.
Now also had a vision of a huge Gathering of people. Now called the gathering “IT”. Now planned an event for August 6, 1971. This was not that big of a success, but the Gathering of the Tribes had flyers there and lots of good P.R. This, as far as Now was concerned would be IT. IT basically would be a huge focusing of energy into one place and one time for one reason and that would be IT.
A Journey to Rainbowland
The months flew by and Now headed up to British Columbia to Felton, a commune where he had lived. Now spread the word of the Gathering as he traveled. Arriving at the commune, Now helped plant the gardens and helped get some of the houses shipshape, and helped put-up plenty of food. It was June, and Now began to think about the Gathering.
Now was sitting around the campfire with members of the commune. Now asked, “Who’d like to go to the Rainbow Gathering in Colorado?”
“Don’t everyone speak at once”.
“What about you, Peter?”
Peter replied, “I’ve just located the site for my new house up in the woods and have found some dead trees. I’ve got my garden to worry about and I don’t like to travel.”
“Well, I think I’ll just head down on my own,” Ed said.
Sam had been silently watching. “I’ll go with you, Now, but I’m going to change my name to Someday Soon.”
“Someday Soon?”, Now questioned.
“Yeah, if you be Now, I’ll be Someday Soon. Let’s leave in the morning.”
“No, let’s throw the I Ching and see what it says”
Three coin tosses later, they had their answer: Water about the Mountain – good time to travel.
“Someday Soon said, “Well, let’s pack tonight and head out in the morning.”
“Let’s not take anything”, said Now. “We’ll trust in faith.”
“Okay”, Someday replied, “Let’s just go on faith.”
Now had evolved from Mother Earth or ME into calling himself and having others call him Now. It was one of those name changes that accompanied certain realizations and states of awareness during the so-called “hippie era.” Now took being hip very seriously. He had reached the “NOW” level of awareness, having progressed from the “ME” level for Mother Earth. It had greatly contributed to the concept of “ME”, and consequently the “ME generation”. Then he became Now – you know, like “Be Here Now”. Actually, “Now” was “Won” backwards, and Now On was No Won.
So Someday Soon joined Now, and the two headed off to the Rainbow Gathering. One of the commune members, Greg, drove them across the border and down into Spokane.
They traveled with no ID’s or backpacks. The border guard didn’t check since they told him they were headed to Spokane for rock concert. Someday Soon had some cash, so they took a flight from Spokane to Denver.
Once in Denver, they heard rumors and talk of the Gathering. There were wild rumors of the Rolling Stones being there, along with various other rock groups. Someone had a vision of 100,000 hippies merging together and OMing in unison. It was all part of the build-up and hype. The governor was opposed to the hippies and the Gathering, but, it was going to be something special, no matter what!
Now was caught up in the excitement of it all. Now and Someday Soon met a lot of different people on their hitchhike to find the Gathering. Some gave them information and others were turned on to the Gathering by the zealous duo. Now had frightened Someday Soon and a few other folks with his graphic descriptions of the results of the “OMing” scheduled to take place at high noon July 4th. One scenario had the OMing done by the half million projected attendees to create a sonic boom breaking windows and whatever else, on a mad vibration radiating outward to the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. Other projections had the OMing melting snow on the mountaintops and causing avalanches and earthquakes throughout the Rockies. Now wasn’t trying to be malicious or alarming, but he was merely letting his experience at Woodstock contribute to an overactive imagination.
They hitched a ride from a girl who told them the Rainbow Family was using Boulder as a staging ground. She let them sleep in her car. She knew exactly where to find the Rainbow organizing group. It didn’t take long to find the co-op house where the Rainbow Family was preparing for the Gathering; it was on Aurora Street. Someday-Soon and Now entered that co-op.
There was a great deal of preparation going on. The Rainbow Family were organizing news conferences, meeting with lawyers and elected officials, and sending out the message that it was a constitutional right to gather, and the Gathering was definitely going to take place. The Colorado governor had decided that Colorado didn’t need the estimated quarter million hippies that some had predicted to arrive, and had decided the event was prohibited. He authorized his forces to prevent the Gathering from taking place. This included stopping cars and harassing people and telling them the Gathering was not going to happen. So the lines were drawn and tension was building.
Organizing a Rainbow
Inside the co-op house were Plunker, Garrick, Patterson, Sky Blue, Mitch, Rob Roy, Fawn, and a few others. These folks were acting as a Rainbow organizing committee, and were meeting with newspapers and other media, getting articles published and having news conferences on TV and radio.
The Rainbow Family was apparently more than just a “bunch of hippies.” They had retained a lawyer and were fighting for their constitutional right to gather for religious purposes. Radio and television were broadcasting reports that the Gathering was cancelled. But the Rainbow Family asked for and were given air time to express their views, and state why they should be allowed to have the Gathering.
The first of the Rainbow organizing group that Someday and Now met was Mitch. He was about 6 feet tall, with short blond hair and a smooth clean-shaven face. He had the demeanor of a preacher and the manners of an English butler. He was open, friendly, and helpful, inviting them in to stay and help with the planning. “Or,” he said, they could, “head out to help with the Gathering site.” Someday Soon decided to do that, while Now stayed at the co-op.
They wanted the Gathering to take place at Table Mountain, but the state and federal Forest Service wouldn’t give a permit for that particular site. So they set up camp on land donated by Paul, a local farmer who had been made aware of the peaceful, spiritual intention. He had over 200 acres he would allow to be used for a Gathering near Strawberry Lake. But there were a lot of legal problems and the police were not letting people go up there.
“Welcome Home” was Mitch’s greeting. The Gathering wouldn’t start until the first of July, and it was only the 15th of June, but we were making plans and preparing the Gathering for the rest of the family.
Mitch showed Now around the co-op. There was plenty of floor space to crash on, and the kitchen was open for anyone in the house. There wasn’t any mention of money or a donation.
The next person Now met was Sky Blue, a young, dark-haired girl. He greeted her with, “Hi, I’m Now”. Now had arrived! It seemed like the arrival of Now had been somehow expected, or at least no cause for any concern or surprise. The changing of names, identities, and headspaces was a common practice in the alternative lifestyle movement. There was inward and outward appreciation and acceptance of someone such as “Now”, who had adopted or was using a new name. It was like a religious practice. The long hair and beards, along with different styles of dress, the total acceptance of marijuana as a sacrament, and finally the adoption of a simple nickname or far out identity – these were all hippie practices.
Patterson was next on the scene. Wearing a white robe with a wild mane of blond hair and long blond beard, he was a cross between a biblical prophet and a hellfire and brimstone preacher. Patterson was always on the move, especially his mouth. “It matters not what goes into your mouth, but what comes out”, was one of his favorite sayings. Patterson was big, strong, and rugged, and when he spoke, you listened. He was great at dealing with the legal entities because he had been a pre-law student and a champion debater. He used these skills with a self-righteous zeal that was hard to refute. It was great strategy for Patterson to deal with the “authorities” in his stern, uncompromising manner, and then have Mitch or Garrick come in and take a toned down, common sense approach to the basic constitutional rights of the Gathering.
The basic reason why the establishment was afraid of, or shall we say opposed to the Gathering, was that there was no real ulterior motive for the Gathering. This was not going to be a rock concert with loud, amplified music. That was one of the basic tenets of the Gathering, no electric music. This was not a particularly religious event, nor big sport contest, nor even an anti-war demonstration or a political rally. It wasn’t even a Love-In. No! The Gathering of the Tribes, as it was formally called, was for the sole purpose of people getting together with one another, just because they wanted to be together. At high noon, everyone was to be together for an official observance. (But whether that was to be in silence or OMing had not yet been determined.)
Another Family or tribal organizer at the co-op was Garrick, a hyper-energy orator, who had seen the Gathering of the Tribes in a vision. He was a great moderator with a very positive approach for promoting the Gathering to the media, which was where a large amount of the organizing energy was being focused. The media had pitted the Rainbow Family against the establishment , fearing and predicting an invasion of hippies into the beautiful mountains, polluting the water and destroying the forests.
The Family, on the other hand, stated that the forests would be protected and the forest is just the right environment for such a Gathering. Right in the middle was the “populus”, all the millions of people in Colorado and the country who were the real decision makers. It was up to the people to decide. Should they attend the Gathering or support its taking place, or prevent the citizens from gathering. The media – newspapers, radio, and television – was the way to reach the public and inform them of the purpose of the Gathering and the right for it to take place.
Plunker, the last of the core of visionaries, was the most deceptive of the bunch. Barry was called Plunker because he always carried his homemade “plunking” instrument that looked like a cross between a banjo and ukulele. Plunker always wore a hat and had a somewhat crazed look in his eye. But he knew the purpose of the Gathering and the right to have it, and no one was going to prevent it from happening as far as he was concerned.
This group was quite the media find. There was definitely a symbiotic relationship formed within a number of Rainbow Family news conferences. The members clearly expressed the reasons for the Gathering, and the basic constitutional right to gather for peace, harmony, and unity. These people were the main core group at the co-op. Mostly college educated, intelligent media-wise folks who enjoyed the limelight and appreciated the value of good press.
There were many other organizers of the Gathering as well. They weren’t obvious and didn’t want to be called leaders, but just the same they were spokespeople and members of the Rainbow Family. Many like Chuck , Rob Roy, Red, Buffalo John ,Tony Angel and Sal were out at the parking lot for the Gathering. Some were going back and forth to the Gathering site with Paul, trying to get the area ready. They were getting supplies for the medical MASH unit, finding sources for water, cooking, and setting up camping areas.
Now really appreciated what was happening with the media and the information process that was needed at the co-op. Many people would come into town and not know where the Gathering was or how to get there. It was essential to have a funneling point in Boulder to give out positive information and coordinate supplies and transportation, and of course deal with the media.
Now’s first trip to the media was quite momentous. Garrick and Mitch had quite a rapport with the media, interreacting with veteran newsmen as well as younger college-educated journalists. The Gathering had become quite a newsworthy event with television interviews, injunctions being sought, surrounding controversy, and colorful organizers. Now went with Garrick to the Denver Press Bulletin and met one of the AP newsman, Jerry Skinner. Garrick was giving some mundane details as to what legal manipulations were being done when Now took over.
“Yeah, Jerry, and this Gathering is going to happen, and the reason that the government is opposed is that they don’t like people to get together without a reason because there is a cosmic force that can be created by this focusing of energy at one place and one time.”
“What do you mean Now? People are always gathering at different places,” stated Jerry.
“Yeah, but they always have a diversion, some agenda, or some focal point. Here, people will be gathering together and the real purpose will be the focusing of all this energy at high noon, July 4th. In that particular movement, all this divergent energy from all these different people will be focused at one point at one time for one reason. People will all OM together and form an AtOMic WEaction. A group WEaction that will create a sonic sound wave that will vibrate as far away as the Pacific Ocean.”
Jerry was half paying attention when Now got into his rap, and a rap it was. Now had developed quite a fertile imagination as well as a great sense of delivery of the important points of information. Jerry became riveted into his seat, listening intently. He scanned the others to see if they were in agreement. Garrick and Plunker had to say it was possible, but the wind was being taken out of their sails. Their purpose was not to unbalance the world, but merely to have a get-together beyond politics and purposes. This other stuff was all Now’s idea. Yet the idea was appealing, and other people might have begun to go along with the OMing. But who knew where it could lead or the damage or benefit that might be ONE.
Garrick had to usher Now out. They didn’t want him to appear defrocked of his Rainbow membership since everyone belongs to the tribe, but who needed an opportunist or doomsday predictor of what would happen or could happen. Now however was thinking in massive terms, literally, and the idea of massing together, forming a huge circle and OMing was the driving force that had driven Now to Colorado and the Gathering. However, Now also realized that this was merely his own vision and people were coming for a variety of different reasons. This was not his party; he was merely a participant and invited guest. If something dramatic were to take place July 4th, Now would be there. But Now would not be the catalyst, merely a part of the ingredients.
After this, Now decided to keep a low profile in Boulder. Another experience helped solidify this approach. A few days later after the newspaper episode, a new member of the Rainbow Family arrived. One must remember that the Rainbow Family was based on the assumption that the faces of mankind form a colorful rainbow, and all people everywhere are members. This concept, although not new, was very firmly based on the concept of the oneness and unity of mankind. This oneness was the basis for the Rainbow Gathering. (The WEvision, which happened later, was also formed on this premise.)
This new arrival was named David Moses, and he had some very innovative ideas. He had short blond hair, but wore a beaded headband and serape. He had an idea for a Freedom Train of rock stars to travel around the country opposing the war and expressing the unity of mankind. He also decided to get some additional posters and wanted to drive up to Aspen to contact some friends of his with GrassRoots, a public access television station. Now and David hit it off, so Now decided to ride up to Aspen. They would help spread the word of the Gathering and see more of Colorado.
A Side Trip to Aspen
They set out for Aspen in Dave’s late model car. “Dave, how did you hear about the Gathering?”, Now asked as we headed down the road.
He answered, “I’m a record promoter, I handle rock bands in Chicago. The Rainbow flyers were passed out at one of the concerts.”
This apparently was the best means of spreading the word. Garrick, Plunker, Sky Blue and Chuck had criss-crossed the continent since last summer passing out flyers and telling people about the Gathering.
“Yeah, I saw one of those flyers in Santa Monica and decided Now should be there,” Now stated.
“Yeah, what good would a Gathering be without Now there,” David added.
“The Gathering definitely sounded like the right place and the right time for me,” Dave continued. “My bands are doing fine but there needs to be some useful purpose, a sense of belonging that I seem to be missing in my life.”
“Well, we’ve all came to the right place,” said Now. “Yeah, there are certain times in your life when you know you’re doing the right thing and you are where it is at. Where something is happening that is important and you’re supposed to be there.”
“Well, it feels like that to Now.” That was one of the total realizations of becoming Now. It is a valuable asset and Now must be at the forefront of action. Be where the most important event in the Universe is taking place and participate in it and contribute to making it a success,”
“Yeah, that’s the way I feel about this Gathering,” said David. “Everything else is just secondary and right now the most important thing to do is to make this Gathering happen successfully.”
“It’s not often that you find a good cause to get involved in”, said Now. “Felton, the commune I live on in Canada, is great, but I’m not needed there. This is where Now belongs.”
“Well, let’s see what we can do to spread the word here in Aspen.”
They climbed the mountain leading into Aspen. There was plenty of snow on the surrounding mountainside, even though July was rapidly approaching. Aspen was a really neat little town with a lot of open meadows. The road was dotted with rustic A-frames hidden in the bush. The town itself had an alpine village air about it. Bicyclists dotted the roads, and there were open-door cafes and tourists and townspeople wandering through the streets. There seemed to be a lot of dogs, especially malamute huskies that seemed to be the ego trip of a lot of their owners. It was much like individuals taking pride in a car. The dogs strutted as much as their owners. Yet, they all appeared to be on leashes to avoid confrontations.
The GrassRoots studio was upstairs above an arts and crafts store. There were a lot of them in Aspen. Skiing season was pretty well over and most tourists were just out for the scenery and souvenirs, so there were plenty of little shops and t-shirt stores vying for the tourists’ dollars.
David introduced Now to Gladys, the co-owner of GrassRoots. She really liked the idea of the Gathering and wanted to do an interview with us. A good thing about the Rainbow Family was that everyone was a spokesperson. That is, as long as there was no advocation for violence or any disruptive act. Alcohol and guns were discouraged, and anyone who wanted to gather with members of the Rainbow Family was welcome.
So David, Moses, and Now would be spokesmen and help spread the word in Aspen. We would inform people as to why the Gathering should take place, who were invited, why people should attend, and what to bring. At this time there was a legal state policy against the Gathering and notices were being sent to discourage people from coming from other states. In keeping with the “GrassRoots” title, David had some powerful Columbian to enhance our awareness and prepare us for the interview. After a few tokes and a few giggles, we were ready for the interview.
“Welcome to another week of happening here at Aspen. Tonight we have two representatives of the Rainbow Family who are planning a Gathering of the Tribes in our Rocky Mountains near Granby.” Now was the first to speak having gathered quite a lot of information while working at the Welcome Home Center in Boulder.
“First, we want to make it known that the Gathering is not anti-anything, but is for people of all lifestyles, races and areas to get together for a week of unity and togetherness. I am “Now”, as all of you are, out there, and we have a right to gather and peacefully assemble. There will be no harm done to the forests or the water supplies. We merely want a peaceful, pleasant place to assemble, away from roads, houses, city lights, and noises.”
David continued,” The idea of Gathering is not new to any of us, but the government of Colorado, so far, has not approved this Gathering and openly states that it won’t occur. We want to clarify the fact that all people have a right to gather and we will exercise this right beginning July 1st near Granby at Strawberry Lake.”
Gladys asked a number of questions.” What was the expected turnout?”
“100,000” was Dave’s answer.
“What should one bring?”
“Food and supplies for yourself and one other person for a week, plenty of warm clothing, camping gear, and a positive happy personality”, David stated. “There will be no electric music or rock groups. There will not be any stars, only Family members. All are welcome; all are equal.”
Now emphasized the fact that at high noon on July 4th a Gathering of all the participants would take place, and a period of unity would be observed. Now didn’t mention anything about OMing or sending out cosmic shockwaves.
The interview lasted a total of ten minutes. Gladys assured them it would be on her weekly “Happening at Aspen” show. Gladys had known David from when they were both in Chicago and she had gone out with one of his closest friends until she moved to Aspen to get out of the rat race. So we figured it was a sure thing.
After the interview, Now and David went into town and began passing out the flyers we had printed, describing the Gathering and giving directions. We talked to one of the storeowners who said we should go talk to the Sheriff of Aspen to get a permit to pass out leaflets. David was a little incensed with the idea of having to get a permit, but felt it wouldn’t hurt to talk to the Sheriff.
Back in their car, they had a few more tokes and drove over to see Sheriff Evans at his office. The minute they walked into his office, they knew they had come to the wrong place. At the front desk, a longhaired man and his girlfriend were in handcuffs. It turned out they had been caught smoking in the park by undercover agents.
When David and Now were finally ushered into the Sheriff’s office, they were greeted by a short, muscular drill instructor-type with a Marine haircut and an iron grip handshake. “Hi, I’m David Moses,”
“And I’m Now,” he cheerily stated as he shook hands with the Sheriff. In the office the Sheriff had a real live marijuana plant about 3 feet tall over by the window with a sign, “Killer Weed”, attached to the urn. “What can I do for you boys?” the Sheriff stated briskly.
“We have some flyers we’d like to pass out in your city,” said David. “We heard we needed your approval.” David handed him one of the flyers.
“Well, let’s see,” the Sheriff said, briefly appraising the flyer. “Do you have any more?” David and Now both quickly handed over their stack of flyers.
“I don’t think you’ll be needing these. You boys know that Gathering isn’t going to take place here in Colorado, don’t you?”
Now was beginning to feel very uncomfortable. The aggressive demeanor and statements of the Sheriff were bad enough, but the last series of tokes had left Now somewhat disoriented. And he had a severe case of cottonmouth. His throat dried up, he felt tense, and maybe it was just best to “when in Rome, do as the Romans do.”
“Yeah, the Governor won’t allow it”, the Sheriff continued. Since word of this hippie convention has spread, we’ve had nothing but hippies and vagrants come through here. All of them on their way to that there get-together. There’s no way it’s going to happen. Well, just the other day we stopped this guy hitchhiking through town. He didn’t have a cent on him. He was going to where all the longhaired freaks were supposed to meet.” Now thought about his empty pockets and no identification.
“Yeah, you folks won’t be needing these. Got any more?”
“No,” they both lied. (They had hundreds still in the car.)
“Well, I just wanted to let you boys know where you stand here in this town. I assure you, there will not be a Gathering. Is there anything else I can do for you boys?”
“No, I guess that’s it.” David looked at Now knowingly and we both got up to go.
“You said your name was Now. Boy, how did you get that name?” Now was taken aback by that question. He had dealt with FBI agents and border guards, so the sheriff wasn’t that intimidating.
“It’s a spiritual name. I gave it to myself. It reminds me to appreciate every moment of this glorious and wonderful occasion called Life.”
The Sheriff’s eyes brightened a little and he just nodded his head as the two walked out of his office.
“Wow, what a redneck,” David said as they headed back to the car. “His neck was bigger than linebackers for the Chicago Bears. Well, I think we have served our purpose here in Aspen. I’ve given some flyers to Gladys. Let’s split and head over to Crested Butte”
“He sure seemed sure of himself.” Now stated. “Yeah, according to him there will be no Gathering. We’ll see, we’ll see.”
They headed to Crested Butte and a number of little towns along the way, passing out the remaining flyers. When they didn’t have any more, they drove back to Boulder. “You know Dave, I’m not going to push this Gathering anymore,” Now pensively stated.
“Why is that,” David asked.
“Well, either it will happen or it won’t. People should be made aware of it and make their own decision. But I don’t feel that I should be selling the Gathering or hyping it to convince people to attend.”
“You might be right,” David stated. “All it causes is separation and people being alienated from each other when the whole purpose is to get people together. Sometimes you have to push for your rights,” he spouted.
“Yes, but sometimes the truth just happens and we must be there to experience it, but not create it.”
or Somewhere Under the Rainbow
Someday Soon had quite a few adventures of his own. In Boulder, Someday Soon had abandoned his regular clothes and made a robe of tie-dyed sheets and put on some sandals. His appearance, with his long hair, was quite different, to say the least. He left Boulder and headed to the Gathering site. On the way to Strawberry Lake, the state police stopped the van he was riding in. Everyone was ordered out for an ID check. Everyone else (eight people) left the van, but Someday Soon stayed inside and stared blankly into space.
One officer, Jenkins, was quite young, and the other, Stevens, was quite the veteran. Jenkins came up to Someday Soon and ordered him out of the van. Someday Soon wouldn’t move and didn’t respond. Jenkins looked for help from the people who had gotten out of the van. “Who is this guy,” he asked.
“His name is Someday Soon”, said the driver. By this time Stevens had came up to the van and nudged Someday Soon, but got no response. Finally the officers, getting desperate, asked the driver to talk to him. He said, “Someday Soon, there are some people here who want to talk to you.” As if on cue, Someday Soon broke his trance and silence.
“What is your name,” asked Jenkins.
Someday Soon said “Someday.”
“Where are you from?
“I came from there and I am here now,”
“Do you have any identification”, asked Stevens.
“I come in peace and remain in peace. I am whom you perceive”, Someday said.
The two officers looked at each other and the rest of the passengers and finally decided to get back to business. A call came in of an accident on the interstate. They told everyone to get back in the van and they left, shaking their heads.
On arriving at the parking lot, Someday Soon met Friar Tuck. Friar was a cross between a used car salesman and an evangelist preacher. “Welcome home,” said Friar. “If you got any money, just put it in the box. You won’t need any money here. Nothing will be bought or sold at the Gathering and if you got some spare drugs, we could sure use some here in the parking lot. No firearms or alcohol in the Gathering. So, if you got any alcohol, pass it over.”
Friar was one of the opportunists that take advantage of happenings such as the Rainbow Gathering. “There are no rip-offs in the Universe,” as the saying goes, but Friar sure did a lot of redistributing of the wealth and it seemed to go in one direction. Friar had access to a rented car courtesy of one of the major magazines covering the Gathering. He didn’t need a tent to sleep in because he had a hotel room in town. He ate all his meals at restaurants, and never made it up to the campsite for the Gathering. Yeah, Friar made sure he was well taken care of.
But it really didn’t matter that these were his needs. Everyone else was also well provided for. There were plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits, and grains by the ton, oatmeal and rice, and beans. There was enough food to feed thousands of people. Some were donations from stores in Colorado. Others were bulk purchases, or brought by wealthy family members, or food co-ops from around the country.
Everywhere there was music and dancing. It looked like a New Age festival with colorful dresses and characters everywhere. There was a lot of togetherness, and the theme for those arriving early was that they had to work to fix up Home for the rest of the family that would arrive later.
There were a lot of menial tasks, such as digging shitters (as the outdoor latrines were called). There were no men’s or women’s; only communal trenches dug about six feet into the ground and covered with boards, with an ample supply of lime for sanitation. First aid (or MASH) stations were erected, big tents manned by ex-military medics, paramedics, and a few doctors. Communal kitchens were situated throughout the site, stocked with food supplies, mostly dried beans, rice, and oatmeal. The meals would be plentiful, but simple. Everyone was to be fed in big communal meals, once in the morning and once at supper.
Chuck and Rob Roy were two predominant organizers at the main-camp. They weren’t into hanging out in the city. They wanted to get everything organized to make all the family comfortable. The Gathering officially was not to start for one week but there were already close to 500 people on the site near Strawberry Lake.
The site was gorgeous: a lake surrounded by a meadow, surrounded by pine forests. The parking area was a good two miles below, down a steep trail. The only problem was that the lake was surrounded by a marsh. That made camping in the meadow very difficult. Campsites were scattered throughout the woods with kitchens arranged near the fringes of the forest.
There seemed to be two divergent groups forming. There were people such as Rob Roy and Chuck who had created the main-camp and hadn’t left for weeks. And there were groups of “partiers” such as Friar Tuck. The party people had decided that the real “happening” was in the parking lot. The parking lot had a fresh supply of new arrivals every day, and with them came fresh fruit, junk food, grass, and forbidden alcohol. Although the alcohol never made it into main-camp, it definitely was a major contributor to the headspace in the parking lot. This was before “A Camp” (alcoholics camp) had become a reality.
This situation was causing a division in the hardcore family members. Some with families and kids wanted the Gathering to be a spiritual happening, while the young and restless had a concept of a good time/big party with alcohol, drugs, and rock ‘n roll music blaring from car stereos. Some food and supplies were not reaching the main-camp. Many new arrivals, seeing the scene at night in the parking lot as they came in, just packed up and split. They became disappointed and confused as to the purpose of the Gathering.
The ultimate solution came with “Bear” at the daily council meeting. Bear stood 6’5” and weighed close to 300 pounds of solid muscle, with a big beard and long black hair. Bear had been at the Vortex festival in Oregon and had a spiritual vision of what the Gathering should entail. His solution was to form the Shanti-Sena, a non-violent peacekeeping force, based on the type that is used in ashrams in India and Tibet.
He asked for volunteers and got about 30, including Chuck, Rob Roy, and many young enthusiastic peacekeepers. They made a sweep of the parking lot at night, peacefully explaining the spiritual purpose of the Gathering, the need for some families to have peace and quiet, and the desire for a spiritual appreciation of the Gathering. The change was dramatic! Even when a group of hardcore bikers arrived, they peacefully were made aware of the reason for the Gathering.
The major problem occurred when the authorities finally decided to block off the access to the Gathering. In effect, the people were stuck in the parking lot and the main-camp site. Action had to be taken.
Movin’ On Up
or Conflict Resolution, Rainbow Style
Paul, who had grown up in the mountains, knew a number of backwoods trails. He could lead groups into the site. But there were problems. These trails took about 5 hours of hiking, while the established trail took only an hour. People started trailblazing on their own and were getting lost. There were a lot of children, pregnant women, and handicapped who could not make it on these trails.
The majority of the Boulder crew drove out to the parking lot on the 29th of June. We all held a big family council in the parking lot the next day. The state troopers had formed a blockade between the parking lot and the trailhead, about 3 miles away. The parking lot had well over 5,000 people including were over 100 busses in Bus Village and about 1,000 cars. The main-camp site had another three to four thousand people already. Many more people were disregarding the Colorado state warning. They were heading our way in droves. Something had to be done.
Paul had the solution. It was simple. He lived in these mountains, he owned the land for the Gathering, and he loved the Rainbow Family and what they were trying to do. He would lead a group of his friends to his property in the morning. It didn’t matter that there were over 5,000 friends; they would just be going as invited guests to his place.
So preparations were made, and on the morning of July 1st, those in wheelchairs and babes in arms would be at the forefront. Along with them would walk the pregnant women and the Shanti Sena (for protection). But the real protection was the one placed in God, and the people’s desire, ability, and right to gather together as one body.
Daniel, Plunker, and the rest had done their job and alerted the media. The cameras were ready. Videotaping was taking place as Paul, leading thousands of people, stepped forth from the parking lot. Passing Bill Stevens, the officer in change, he said, “Well, I’m going to visit my property and these here are my invited friends.”
“You can’t do this,” Bill said.
“I sure can,” said Paul.
And the masses just streamed by. Now was there with the children. Bear carried a big American flag. The rest – festively dressed, happy, smiling, waving the peace sign – marched along. All the while the media were recording the event.
It was too much for the state police. They just moved aside and the gates were opened. Paul and his group walked the three miles to the base of the trailhead. Paul went back to meet more new arrivals, but the impasse had been broken. The state police allowed buses to drive to the trailhead and drop off family members. There was among them a resigned acceptance of the Gathering.
Now was finally getting to the site of the Gathering, right on schedule. The real work was up on top, and the parking lot was left with a skeleton crew headed by Friar Tuck.
At the main-camp, tents were pitched. (The temperatures were in the low forties at night.) Areas were cleared for campfires. More shitters needed to be dug. Plastic pipes for water supplies were installed. There was a lot to do to prepare for the expected hundreds of thousands. However, fortunately or unfortunately, due to the reports of cancellation and the limited access and size of the main-camp, a total of only about 30,000 people arrived.
The real fun began about the 3rd of July when all the supplies had been carried up the side of the mountain. The kitchens were fully operating. Most people had arrived and set up camp. The shitters had been dug. The first-aid tents were fully stocked. Then the media and police made their appearance. But the police and state troopers had limited access due to private ownership of the land. The rest was National Forest and the forest rangers were in charge. The police were only observers, and no arrests were made. It was funny to see 200 lb. sheriffs on horseback, wearing guns, being confronted by naked flower children and offered marijuana. Everyone had a sense of humor and respect for the space of the other person’s rights and situation.
Helicopters occasionally flew overhead, some from the media, others from rescue and police units. But now, there was a general agreement to “just let the Gathering happen”. And happen it did! There were freaks of every kind: naked ones, tie-dyed ones, some with long hair and beards, others with crew cuts. The Christ family was there in white robes espousing their no killing, no sex, and no materialism philosophy. They wouldn’t wear leather and owned no cars and hitchhiked and professed to follow Christ’s simple life. The Hare Krishna devotees were there with their shaved heads and a huge supply of prasadam (spiritual food) that they served to over 5,000 people daily. There were rolfers, rebirthers, Buddhist meditators, born-again Christians –the list went on and on. There were tribal communes and groups from all over the country. New-age citizens arrived from many countries; West Germany, England, France, and Australia were represented. There were Indians and blacks from Harlem. There were oriental monks from Tibet, complete with chimes and drummers and chanters. It truly was a New Age festival.
One of the most interesting tribal groups was the Life Family from Seattle. There were about 30 of them, and they had arrived in a beautifully painted bus. They were led by Life Israel. Every member had taken the last name Israel. They had given up their other worldly names, and were given Christian names based on personal qualities, like courage and strength. The women had long hair, wore long dresses, and were given names such as Hope, Simplicity, and Charity. They believed that all members of their family were part of the body of Christ, and they believed “Life” was the head, and the force that held the family together.
It was a simple belief of dedicated oneness, a belief that only materialized when the members had forsaken their previous lives. Joining the family, they gave to it their lives and all their worldly goods. No one was forced to join the family and all were welcome. They were a very together bunch of people: artists, musicians, restaurateurs, and builders. Now made quite a few contacts with the Life Family and they invited him to visit their home on his way back to British Columbia. He made a special mental note to be sure to visit them and find out more about this family.
The Gathering had an extremely spiritual purpose. There was a feeling of giving and sharing. The Shanti Sena made sure there was no selling of drugs. Whenever someone was found selling drugs, they were liberated of their stash (much to the chagrin of a few dealers). This included one from San Francisco with 2000 hits of windowpane acid. But for the most part everyone was content. There was plenty of food. There were little personal tribal campsites and kitchens, and there were large communal kitchens. The weather was cold, but not freezing, and there was no rain. There was plenty of herbal sacrament for anyone who wanted to partake. And many varieties of tribal families and individuals were to be found.
Love 22 was there with his Uncle Sam hat and 22 dollar bills. These bills were in the shape of real dollars, but had Love 22’s face printed on the front. According to Love 22, everything could relate to the number 22 (check on this). He was even arrested once by the U.S. Treasury Department for counterfeiting his phony bills. He was acquitted when a federal judge dismissed his case, saying no one in their right mind could mistake one of the Love 22 bills for the real thing.
Pagan the Poet was there with his lyre. Home was there with his make-up. Someday Soon was one of the main supply controllers. Red was there with his red robe and hair. Silent Eagle and his squaw, Fern, and papoose, Little River, were there. Silent Eagle had been a stockbroker in New York until he took acid two years ago and turned Indian. Interstate, who had logged over 1,000,000 miles hitchhiking, was there. Anyone who had any kind of alternative lifestyle was there. It was the place to be; the parade of characters was endless.
About one third of everyone was naked during the day. The weather was clear and warm. The sun-seekers were the ones with the young, firm bodies. Both male and female, they felt the peaceful, comfortable vibe of the beautiful, serene location. They wished to be one with “it” and all of nature.
Now was one of the leading nudists. Someday Soon had given Now some good acid when Now arrived, and he stashed it in his clothes and ran around naked during the day. He slept wrapped in a donated blanket at night.
The nudity of the Gathering was not sexual. It was similar to what one would find at any normal nudist park or free beach. Clothes were an encumbrance, a separation. The weather was warm, the people were friendly and not offended by those without clothes, and the land was beautiful and serene. Also, there was the lake to swim in and suits were not needed. There were Indian sweat lodges where clothes were forbidden. It was natural and normal. Many people tried public nudity for the first time and they liked it.
The high point, of course, came on high noon, July 4th. The moment was quite momentous. The sonic boom was not created, but there were other disruptive factors that prevented this. First, the half million participants never arrived, for a variety of reasons. The bad press with its negative comments, and threat of cancellation from the Governor had discouraged many. Many simply weren’t interested in camping in the woods. Others would only come out for electric music and rock stars. The difficult trail and limited size of the location were taxed by the roughly 30,000 people that did arrive. But it all, of course, worked out for the best.
The final factor was something that no one had really expected: a division in the Rainbow Family. The original vision of the Gathering (spawned at the Vortex festival in Oregon,) was a Gathering on Table Mountain in Colorado. The Park authorities intervened initially, because Table Mountain was a cherished mountain. The thought of thousands of hippies camping on it had incensed the establishment. When the Strawberry Lake site had been decided, those original Rainbow visionaries still wanted to go to Table Mountain for the silent meditation on July 4th. After discussions with Garrick, and noting the estimated size of the Gathering, the Forest Service was persuaded to approve daytime use of the site.
Every day at noon, after breakfast and at Sunset, there were Rainbow Family council meetings. In council, everything was decided by consensus – from who would dig the shitters to who would talk to the media and authorities. These meetings were run with a focalizing piece, a peace pipe, which was used to indicate who had the floor. It was passed around the circle. The one with the pipe could speak or offer a blessing or pass it on. If a person holding the pipe was too long-winded, public pressure would help to speed up the process.
Garrick had the pipe, and in a loud voice he spoke, “We have all come together for this spiritual Gathering of the Tribes. We have eaten together, loved together, smoked together, and worked together. Tomorrow we shall all play together.” This was all well received, but what he said next was unexpected and caused quite a stir. “Those of us that are the spiritual bodhisattvas and spiritually focused will journey ten miles to Table Mountain and we will have our spiritual meditation.”
This was quite sudden and unexpected. Most people had assumed that the meditation would take place in the big meadow by the lake, but others had been praying for the chance to meditate on Table Mountain, a sacred Indian site. This statement alienated Now and many others. It implied that the spiritual members would go to Table Mountain, and those who stayed weren’t into the spiritual aspects of the Gathering, but only the materialism. However, there were many people who could not make it to the “spiritual mountain,” as the new nickname for the site was called. They were too young, too old, too tired, too weak, too pregnant, or just didn’t want to have to get dressed and walk 5 miles to the site. Those going would have to leave at sunrise, to ensure arriving for a Noon ceremony.
A big division took place between those going to the spiritual site and those wanting to stay, not because they “weren’t spiritual,” but because they wanted to maintain unity and have the meditation at a close, convenient location so that the majority of people could participate. Early the next morning, Garrick and Plunker led a contingent of 5,000 to Table Mountain. Now and the vast majority stayed at Strawberry Lake. Both sides naturally got what they wanted. The spiritual seekers in their self-righteous state of mind only wanted to be with the spiritually enlightened who were really trying to pursue the truth, while the others were just at the Gathering to socialize. On the other hand, those who stayed at Strawberry Lake could relate to many more people and felt the real value is to have a larger mass, and that everyone is spiritual in their own way. There was no right or wrong, only separation.
July 4th therefore held two silent meditations. Each lasted close to an hour. Both those at Table Mountain and those at Strawberry Lake sat in huge circles and meditated. Finally, becoming One, the giant circles joined hands, with a rush of energy and loud OMing. All the beings charged toward the centers of their circles, transforming into a huge mass of hugging OM (or holding oneness).
Now, being at the Strawberry Lake meditation, partook of some magic mushrooms early in the morning. The meditation was full of visions of cosmic gods dancing in his head and in the sky. There was much time to contemplate, and for astral travel, first to the Table Mountain site and finally to above Earth to see that the whole planet is a commune, and the whole human family is the Rainbow Family (being “WE”).
Finally, when the mass was formed and those merging into the center began OMing, Now experienced the same sensation that he had felt at Woodstock. But here there was more. There was a taste of the future, and visions of “IT’” formed in Now’s mind. Now realized that people must be aware of “IT”. Now felt that many who had merged at Strawberry Lake had no real idea of what the OMing could accomplish. Nonetheless they definitely had a spiritual experience.
There were no ascensions at Table Mountain with the spiritual bodhisattvas, but perhaps the time was not right. These people were not ready. There were shared visions of cosmic light, gigantic visual effects, and tremendous feelings of euphoria. Yes, it was happening, the ideas, concepts and creation of “IT” was becoming manifest in many more thousands of beings.
At the End of the Rainbow
The Gathering wound down after the 4th, but something miraculous occurred. In the partially melted snowy mountainside, some people perceived the form of the “WHITE BUFFALO”. This Native American symbol brings with it a new PEACE for all peoples. Perhaps the perception of the White Buffalo came only with knowledge of Indian folklore. Perhaps eyesight was altered from large amounts of sacrament. Who can say? What we do know is plans for future gatherings were made at the Family council.
Now and most of the others came down on the 4th. His interest in the Gathering was diverted to thoughts of traveling and seeing more of the home planet. He retrieved his clothes from their hiding place and got dressed. He headed to the parking lot and caught a ride to Boulder.
In Boulder, He was hitching at a corner when a gaily-colored step van drove up. Inside was a gray-haired, bearded, guru-looking guy with a headband and about six other Rainbow people.
“Where you headed?” said Day, the driver.
“I’m not sure”, said Now. He had been debating which way to go.
“Well, we’re headed east. Do you want a ride?”
“Sure”, said Now, as he hopped into the van to begin another adventure.
During the later Rainbow Gatherings, one of the greatest events was the Kid’s Parade led by Wavy Gravy. All the kids would dress up in costumes and masks and march into the Om circle after the surge of humanity had taken place.
The surge was formed by having everyone gather in a huge circle in the meadow to meditate and pray for an hour. At high noon, July 4th, everyone would join hands and Om softly, gradually building to a crescendo of tremendous volume and energy. Then everyone in the circle would join hands, move slowly at first, then move quickly into the center, forming a huge mass of humanity, hugging and OMing, generating a huge amount of energy and activity.
This was the high point of the whole Gathering. The focusing of all the energy forms, the vortex and the transmitter and receiver of all the energy, this is the circle. It forms a huge spiral of galactic energy funneling upward, carrying the individuals along this channel to a higher, united state of consciousness. The combined energies of the individuals unite to form a column of sound and light, lifting all the entities as one single unit towards the heavens. It could be analogous to the rapture or perhaps even in a strange way to the mushrooming cloud of an atOMic explosion.
Such was the case with the Rainbow Gathering when the OMing had stopped and the exhausted, exhilarated participants massed together, contemplating eternal bliss. The children’s parade arrived to ground these would-be cosmic astronauts to the reality, beauty, and joy of life. Here on Mother Earth, the children represent the purpose and future of Earth. The cosmic connection is in the past history, not the intended direction of humanity’s evolution.
WE are light energies that have coalesced and condensed into slower vibrations of massed protoplasm. Our purpose is to procreate, inhabit, experience, and enjoy the earthly state – not to transcend as our cosmic energy into the eternal bliss from which we came. However, a reminder of the past can make all of us appreciate and enjoy more our present evolved state.