I walked into my first rainbow gathering with a hit of acid under my tongue and a vampire on my arm. We arrived at the welcome tent far past sunset. Me, sans tent and rolling my luggage through the mud like I was on my way to a 4 star hotel and not a 3 ring circus in the middle of the forest. The more I travel, the less impulse I have to plan my adventures, or research my destinations. So I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I was asked to join a caravan of smooth talking gypsies and troll haired forest dwellers to the world rainbow gathering. One minute I’m in a Transylvanian forrest having tea with God, and the next I’m bribing train rides into Hungary to hang out with hippy legends, vagabonds, and pirates. All the Wikipedia information in the world couldn’t have prepared me for the ups and downs of the rainbow.
In theory, the rainbow is a beautiful concept of people coming together for one moon cycle, living as a tribe; One large family, harmonious with the nature, without money, without obligation, and often without clothing. Essentially we are sharing, singing, creating and playing in the forest outside of the constructs of every day society. But with any breakdown of a social structure, comes the rise of a new one. Humans are social beings who create mini societies wherever we go. As soon as we arrived, we built up our surroundings. Hard working rainbows construct gypsy castles made of tarp and tape. Everyone falls into their habitual roles. The cooks feed the camps, the musicians fill the camps with song, the shamans heal, and the hippies spin in circles naked by the fire. We learn together, we grow together, we even gossip together, maybe not about Hollywood actors, but about dark sorcerers who are causing trouble up on Sesame Street. As humans do in any culture, subculture, or family, we fight, we cry, and we especially fall in love.
Most interesting of all were the relationships found and lost on the rainbow. When your only job for the day is to build a fire and collect some water from the well, it leaves a lot of room for sex, drugs, and love. Or in some cases, heartbreak. Feelings are intensified under the full moon of the rainbow. At a place so open and loving it is still important to be aware of who you open your heart to. Some people are there to make beautiful, soulful connections and others are there to taste the entire rainbow, if you know what I mean.
I discovered that the rainbow is not always about peace and harmony, but about seeing the true colors in people, especially in yourself. I also found some truths along the way… Any love that is outside of yourself will seem unfulfilling. Every moment, high or low is meaningful. I learned that there is no separation; that my adversaries are just projections of myself and that the ones who find it difficult to show love are often the ones who need love the most. It doesn’t take a rainbow gathering to learn these lessons, but the rainbow draws you inward and gets to the heart of things quicker. Without the distractions of modern society, its gadgets, money, restrictions, and laws, we begin to shed layers, become raw, and relate to people on a more spiritual level, or push people away so that we don’t have to. I will be forever grateful to the characters I met on the rainbow, those whose names I never asked, whose background I’ll never know, but whose hearts beat in time with mine for a moment under the Hungarian moon.