Where will the gathering be?

We will gather peacefully for silent meditation the morning of July 4th, 2017 from dawn until noon; and a peaceful assembly of free speech and expression from July 1st through the end of Vision Counsel; in the state of Oregon. For directions, click here.

To find out how to get into the gathering without getting a mandatory court appearance ticket, click here and check out the right side-bar. To reach a human being, email Karin.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Planning for Fall/Thanksgiving Council/Counsel/Circle

The next conference call will be on Sunday, November 6th, at 6pm PST/ 9pm EST. 

The call in # is 641 715 0700. The access code is 185117. 

An ideal location for Fall Council has not yet been found. If you know of any viable locations in Oregon for Fall Council, please be sure to join the call! 

A partial list of what an *ideal* location would have, in no particular order, includes:
  • Indoor [heated] meeting space for council 
  • Indoor sleeping space and/or appropriate outdoor camping space •
  • Sufficient parking, including space for larger rigs 
  • Potable water 
  • Space for communal kitchen

Friday, October 7, 2016

Shanti Sena Basics

Some would say the phrase “Shanti Sena” means “peace army” from Sanskrit and has its roots in Gandhi’s concept of non-violent volunteer based peace keepers. While in gathering lore, some would translate the phrase as peace scene.  No matter the logical translation you wish to put on it, I translate it as being part of a family and looking out for my family in peaceful ways.

In the years of the strife between gatherers and the United States Forest Service Law Enforcement Officers (USFS LEOs), the phrase came to spell trouble for the LEOs and by 2008/2009 many gatherers actually thought the cops were the Shanti Sena (so not true). Because of the many misconceptions floating around, I thought I would take the time to rap about my perspective on keeping the peace at a gathering.

As many of my friends point out, “Shanti Sena” is a verb not a noun. In other words, no one “is” Shanti Sena, but many people “do” Shanti Sena. Most functions at the gathering are verb rather than noun based.

In a culture where individual liberty and communal needs often clash, countless opportunities arise to “do” Shanti Sena and keep the peace.

Before we worry about keeping the peace, we need to define “peace.”  For different people, “peace” takes on different connotations. For some, acting peacefully precludes any acts of physical violence, but yelling is considered peaceful. For others, cussing is not peaceful. For every one hundred gatherers, there are probably ninety different perspectives on what “peace” means. When we gather, I believe that 99.999% of gatherers have every intention of creating peace. We’ll get back to the 0.001% later.  So how then do we create and increase the peace at the gathering and take those skills into the world at large?

In my perspective, the single most important aspect to “doing” Shanti Sena is to be observant. Sure there are big movies that happen and lots of gray haired folks get involved with radios, but most of the time when a big movie happens, the root cause was a failure of each and every one of us to pay attention to the hurt, suffering, pain and/or stress building up around us.  (As an aside, not everyone with a radio has a clue.)

Reality check!  Going to a gathering, especially for the first time, can be very stressful. It’s a crash course in a brand new culture. Access to food and filtered drinking water can be hazardous. Being unprepared for the conditions can leave people cold and wet or sitting up by a fire all night to stay warm instead of sleeping. Many people who take medications for chronic conditions often seem to space out on taking their meds, leaving their health further compromised. Dehydration, low blood sugar, and lack of sleep are just a few of the stressors gatherers experience -- add to that doing activities or substances that are new to you. When one small thing goes wrong, people who are stressed out can explode.

Being observant means noticing that some belly is having a hard time or a bad day. Allowing each of us to be our own unique self means not telling other people what to do. Telling people to eat or drink can backfire. So what’s a kind loving brother or sister to do?

Pay attention to the people around you. Notice if they seem to be struggling, are confused or look disoriented. Offer to share your water or an energy bar you might have on you (always good to bring lots of these). Introduce yourself and make a friend. Usually people are more willing to share their troubles with a friend, than someone just trying to fix a problem. Share a song or a joke if the vibe feels right. Sometimes people are in their own head space and don’t want to interact. That’s OK.  You can still stay near them (but not too near) just in case they need help. If it’s two am, please don’t walk away from someone. If someone wants to wander the woods all night, grab a couple of friends and trail after them just in case they need your assistance.

If someone doesn’t have a safe place to sleep, try to hook them up with a camp that can help. If they have small children, Kid Village is a great place. But there are lots of other kind loving camps at the gathering that have the space to squeeze another body into a crowded tent or provide emotional support. If you yourself are new to the gathering (blessings to you for helping others), you can stop by INFO and ask for some advise.

If you find a lost kid, you and a couple of friends should escort the child to Kid Village. Make sure to take the child up to the kitchen and announce very loudly that you have a lost child. DO NOT JUST DROP THE CHILD OFF AT KID VILLAGE. 

If someone is having a health crisis and is willing, take her/him to CALM. Most of the larger kitchens/camps like Fat Kids, Montana Mud, Loven Ovens, and Kid Village (to name just a few) have medical people as well. If the person isn’t willing to move, find someone with a radio and medical people will come to your location. If that doesn’t work, send a runner to INFO or CALM with as much information as you have about the situation. By taking care of people’s critical needs before people reach the point of explosion, we create the peace we want to see in the world.

Other times we have conflicts that arise from differing lifestyles. For example in 2002, the gathering site was small and we ended up with Tea Time and Yoga Space next to each other. Talk about a mismatch in energies. Tea Time likes to stay up all night, serve tea and make raucous noise at 3 AM. The Yoga folks are more into silent mediation and mellow energy. Two distinct energies colliding is a classic gathering issue. If we want each camp to be free to express their own vision of peace and love, what to do?  When space permits, it’s always best to camp in an area that meets your vision of what comprises peace and love. So don’t be expecting to sleep in silence until noon every day if you’re camped in Kid Village as kids wake up early.  But ….

As to the 0.001%, when the situation gets a bit crazy, yell “Shanti Sena” and other people will come and assist. With a circle of people, we can try to get a council going where the parties’ involved and random calm and centered gatherers can sit down and listen to each other.  Keep in mind that sometimes people’s emotions are volatile and getting a council going is difficult at best. Then what?

SITTING down on the sidelines and oming tends to help ground energies. If nothing else, it makes misbehaving people feel a bit silly and often times that breaks up the situation. This doesn’t mean the root cause of the problem is solved, but at least it buys some time and space to work on the issues. I’ve experienced a beautiful voice singing an appropriate song calm everyone down as well. Peaceful, mellow music helps everyone feel better.

Sometimes problems don’t seem resolved at the time. That’s OK. Rainbow magic takes time to work. I’ve sat in circles with people who were full of anger. At some point the primary people stomped out of the circle and didn’t return.  Then a day or two or three later, I ran into those same people again, very happy and peaceful. Rainbow magic doesn’t always have a logical cause and effect.  Sometimes, just hanging out with someone for six hours prevents someone from getting lost in the woods (yes it really happens and if it’s cold out can be a cause of death), drowning in a lake (yes this has happened multiple times at gatherings) or wandering up to the road and getting arrested (you know this happens). Plus you’ve just made a new friend. The more we get to know each other, the more we create community. The more we actively work on creating community, the more we increase the peace.

If you are not able to help when the universe calls you, please, please, please, make sure someone else helps. Ask others for assistance, guide the person to one of the larger kitchens, go to INFO or CALM and let them know what’s going on. Be the change you want to see in the world.

Many years, we have Shanti Sena councils or workshops at the gathering where people who have “done” more Shanti Sena share the lessons they’ve learned with those who have “done” less or no Shanti Sena. As with everything gathering related, we are all of us teachers and all of us students. In the spirit of sharing other ideas on what Shanti Sena is and does, here are some other voices on the subject.

From Welcome Home with links to multiple Shanti Sena Raps by well respected family (must read).
From Niman - a scholarly look
From Medicine Socks
Rap 121
My Rap from 2008

Ask not what the gathering can do for you; ask what you can do for the gathering.

We are our brothers and sisters keepers.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

What is the Rainbow Family of Living Light?

Today's guest blog post is an oldy but a goodie, written by a long time gathering a long time ago but her wise words still hold true today.  Copied from the grandmommie of Rainbow web sites: Welcomehome.org filled with great hipstorical information. Enjoy!

 ~ ~ What is the Rainbow Family of Living Light? ~ ~ 

First of all, be prepared for a different answer from each person who responds. Rainbow is different things to different people.

Most of us, though not all, who consider ourselves part of the Rainbow Family, have attended the Rainbow Gathering of the Tribes, which takes place from July 1 - 7 every year. The first gathering was in 1972, the invitation to it reading as follows:

We, who are brothers & sisters, children of God, families of life on earth, friends of nature & of all people, children of humankind calling ourselves Rainbow Family Tribe, humbly invite:

All races, peoples, tribes, communes, men, women, children, individuals -- out of love.

All nations & national leaders -- out of respect

All religions & religious leaders -- out of faith

All politicians -- out of charity

to join with us in gathering together for the purpose of expressing our sincere desire that there shall be peace on earth, harmony among all people. This gathering to take place beginning July 1, 1972, near Aspen, Colorado - or between Aspen & the Hopi & Navaho lands - on 3000 acres of land that we hope to purchase or acquire for this gathering -- & to hold open worship, prayer, chanting or whatever is the want or desire of the people, for three days, but upon the fourth day of July at noon to ask that there be a meditative, contemplative silence wherein we, the invited people of the world may consider & give honour & respect to anyone or anything that has aided in the positive evolution of humankind & nature upon this, our most beloved & beautiful world -- asking blessing upon we people of this world & hope that we people can effectively proceed to evolve, expand, & live in harmony & peace. - Amen -

The 3000 acres never materialized, and the first gathering took place partly on private land offered for temporary use, and partly on National Forest land. As you can see, this was intended to be a onetime event. However, people liked it so much that gatherings continued to happen annually on federal lands, each year in a different state. The length of the gathering has since expanded beyond the original four-day span.

For many years, there was only the one gathering, and the spiritual focus was foremost in the minds of everyone who attended. Most folks were identified with the "hippie" movement of the times, engaged in establishing alternative social, economic, spiritual, political, and/or environmental consciousness. Many were involved either in the Peace movement in the cities or the communal, back-to-the-land movement in the country. In either case, exploration of alternative spiritual systems and states of consciousness was often a common theme.

Sometime around the mid-1980s, folks who felt it was too far or too long to the annual gathering started coming together for smaller, regional gatherings. People all over the country developed local and regional bonds.

In the past few years, the spiritual focus has been less obvious, due to the huge influx of people who may not realize the central purpose of the gatherings. These folks may come to party, to hang out, to find like-minded people, to gain support for their political causes, or whatever. Who knows? (I sure don't, since I haven't spoken with all of them.)

The interesting thing is that we all consider ourselves to be part of a huge, extended family, no matter what our reason for gathering, no matter what our spiritual or religious or political or economic or social views may be. And many people who have not yet had an opportunity to attend a gathering also feel they are part of this family.

Another interesting thing is that there is no formal organizational structure. There are no membership qualifications, no fees or dues, no leaders, and virtually no rules other than the one of "peaceful respect." Each year, individuals take personal responsibility and work together with others on whatever they are inspired to do, from office work, to scouting, to building the kitchens at the gatherings, to hauling in food and first-aid supplies, to peacekeeping, etc. Every project undertaken operates essentially on a consensus basis. Participation, communication, and cooperation are how things get done.

It is nothing short of miraculous.

The gatherings are free and non-commercial, and everyone is welcome. Each person is asked to bring their own camping equipment (this all takes place in remote areas of the National Forest), their own cup, bowl, and spoon, and whatever they might want to share to help the gathering happen (tarps, shovels, musical instruments, bulk food, etc.). No one will be turned away because of lacks in these areas, however. The Magic Hat is passed at mealtimes and around camp. Donations are used to buy food in bulk for the kitchens and whatever else may be necessary for the communal well-being (plywood covers and lime for the latrines, first aid supplies, etc.).

Besides the work that goes on to help the gathering happen, there's also lots of accoustical music, drumming, dancing, workshops, herb-walks, council circles, sister circles, brother circles, brother-sister circles, people hanging out, people bartering, people enjoying nature, people meditating, chanting, and praying, people talking politics, people talking spiritual and personal growth, people visioning the future, people doing bodywork and other healing work, ...

The list could go on forever.

For me personally, the Rainbow Family is where I have found my greatest opportunities to learn, to grow, to celebrate, to be one with my fellow beings and my mother Earth, to serve, to pray, to play. The gatherings for me are living theater, evolution in process, creativity manifest. I am passionately in love.

Picture twenty thousand people in a sunlit meadow, standing silent in prayer, holding hands in one huge, unbroken circle. Picture a parade of children approaching, singing songs, their countenances bright with enthusiasm and face paint, baloons and banners waving in the breeze. Picture the breaking of the silence with a cheer from the circle, then the silence returning once again, to grow slowly into a thrum of voices united in a single OM reverberating through the valley and on to the hills beyond. Hold the OM in your mind. Let it spread through and around and in you. Feel it pass from hand to hand and heart to heart.

The magic, the connection you feel is the essence of the Rainbow Family of Living Light.

Peace, love, and light,