Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Strife in the Rainbow Family

Summer is almost here, and for hordes of hippie extremists, that means one thing, the Rainbow Gathering. The Rainbow Gathering is an annual convergence of uber-hippies who have loosely aligned themeselves in the so-called "Rainbow Family of Living Light." From what I can tell, they converge in public lands in remote areas of the US by the thousands, camp out for a week, and do hippie stuff. A whole hippie tent-city is errected, with everything from make-shift restaurants to massage parlors. Somewhere in here, some big pseudo-pagan ritual happens, honoring the Earth and all that.

My interest in the Rainbow family came about because twice in my life, far-northern California has played host to the Rainbow Gatherings - both times in Modoc County, actually. The last time, in 2004, I was living in Siskiyou County, and I witnessed a brief spike in the hippie population as the hordes made their way across to Modoc County. At this time, I learned of the notoriety of the Rainbow Family amongst local Fish & Game and Forest Service personnel. They accused the Rainbow Family of hypocricy, citing supposed thorough and lasting ecological damage to the land on which they camp. I found Rainbow Family-associated sources that refute this, but I don't quite know which side to believe, and I can see some dishonesty happening on both sides... Regardless, it now seems there's something else to taint the image of the group.

The location for this year's Rainbow Gathering has been
announced, and it's somewhere near Nederland, Colorado - that's as specific as they tend to get until closer to the event. However, when I was investigating at one of the webpages closely associated with the group - since they aren't a formalized organization, they cannot have an "official" website - I noticed mention of something else, a so called "Gathering of Tribes," which looks to be a similar event, but taking place in the Ozarks at the exact same time as the Rainbow Gathering, July 1-7.

Perplexed by this, I did some investigation, and found this on the Wikipedia talk page for the Rainbow Gathering:

The "A Gathering of the Tribes" is/are bonifide Annual Rainbow Gatherings...

Counsels for the A Gathering of the Tribes are held openly on the land with the invitation going out well in advance, in short these gatherings are focalized by Rainbow Family individuals who have counseled and decided to follow their own path and heartsongs. These gatherings came about in 2003 after certain individuals of responsibility within the Rainbow Family (claimed Elders / Founders) started signing permits and changing the nature of the gatherings here in the United States. These alternative to the permit gatherings are intended as an expansion of Rainbow Ideologies while trying to maintain some measure of unity and respect with the various same type gatherings.

If you don't speak whacked-out hippie, that passage means that, in protest to the recent moves by those organizing the standard Rainbow Gatherings to obtain permits for the use of the public lands on which they are held, a splinter group has broken off to do things old-school, illegal-style. Why, you ask? Because these are weird anarcho-hippies were talking about here.

I don't know why, but there being a splinter group within the Rainbow Family just rubs me the wrong way. With an organization so disorganized, with such an anti-organization, how is there room for a splinter group? How is there even the frame for a division? There's no unity in the first place! It's a bizarre situation. At least now, should you be crazy enough and olfactory-challenged enough to attend a Rainbow Family event, now you have two options, with perhaps one of them being a shorter drive...


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