Sunday, 25 December 2011

The European Rainbow Gathering and a short romance

About a Rainbow
It was near the end of August and after three days and three nights on the road I had arrived at my destination – the European Rainbow Gathering in Salto, Portugal. I had no clue if Walter and Ina had arrived yet, last time I knew of them was when they got picked up in Aurillac. Toby and Erik however I had SMS news from. Apparently, they had tricked themselves to a train ride from the middle of Spain to Portugal, but being a night train and them falling asleep, they did not notice that the train turned about and took them all the way back to San Sebastian, where they had been the day before! I simply had to laugh at this message, even if I then knew it would still be a few days before my fire dancing brothers would arrive.
My friends, I am getting ahead of myself. I guess I should talk a little about what a Rainbow Gathering is. Or, I mean, I can talk about at least what a Rainbow Gathering is for me.

First off, it is not a festival. It is a great meeting in nature where anyone are welcome and with only very few rules such as no alcohol, no electronics, no chemicals, respect nature and of course no violence. Essentially it is about healing oneself. Not a kind of healing specifically for illness or depression, more so a kind of healing from all the unconscious and manipulative influences from our societies, which we are the powerless recipients of every day; political situations we are inclined to relate to, news of war and death across the world we forcibly are made aware of, educations we preferably should complete, careers we ought to pursue, money and things we should own, what clothes to wear, what things to eat, how thin and beautiful we should be and on it goes. Shortly put; influences that try to tell us who we are or who we should be, in typical Rainbow language referred to as Babylon (taken from the Rasta Fari religion).
A Rainbow offers one some most welcome time away and the opportunity to find back to oneself and ones inner feelings. As such it heals us from the influences of Babylon.
The influences we will find at a Rainbow on the other hand, are those of wild nature, acoustic music, dancing, chanting, body and mind stuff, organic and healthy food and generally warm and caring people who will listen and accept you, whoever you may be, as long as you go by those few rules mentioned. There are no leaders at a Rainbow. It is not commercial in any way. You can choose to donate money (who will only go to support the family), you can choose to help with all the work that need to be done (gathering food, cooking, cleaning, digging shit-pits, etc.), but no one will oblige you to do any of these. Many countries have their national gatherings and then there are those that are meant to bring people together from all over, like this yearly European one I will tell you about. As tradition has it, a Rainbow will last for one moon cycle, beginning on a new moon, a full moon celebration in the middle and then ending the day before the next new moon. I arrived after the full moon celebration, unfortunately.

Okay, that was me relating to some of what I have found a Rainbow to be. There is a lot more to be said I am sure, and every single person will have a different understanding. But actually, I do not think it is that important to understand it. One of the ways a Rainbow heals, is teaching how to let go, to stop trying to understand the world, instead to just be and be happy.
Let us now get back to my tale and this one particular gathering and what happened there.

Last days of the European Rainbow Gathering 2011
The Rainbow land consisted of a big mountainous pine-like forest, with small creeks and springs forming a network of running water throughout. People had put up their tents and teepees, tarps and hammocks, and many of them in small clusters with bonfires for the night and for cooking. Usually the various clusters would represent the differing families, like a French one, a Great Britain one, the Canarian one, and so on. Next to the forest a big plain had been prepared for the sacred main fire. This was where the family would gather to have food circles three times a day - "bring your own bowl". Food circles are a central Rainbow thing and it starts with everyone holding hands and singing traditional Rainbow songs together for then to mount into a giant AAUUUMM. Imagine a thousand people or more auming together this way. It is indeed powerful. Then servers from the kitchen will walk around with huge pots of vegan meals, serving equally to all. The servers and the people cooking are just family like everyone else, who felt they would go and help.
In case there are not enough workers for any necessary task, a call will be initiated, where a group together for example will yell “HELP TO THE KITCHEEEN”. The spread out family who hear the call will then together in groups pass it on, and as such the whole family will know about important messages in no time. “FOOD CIRCLEEE”, “MUSICIANS TO THE HEALING AREAAA”, “WOOD FOR THE KITCHEEEN”, etc,. Simple, easy and motivating way to communicate between often thousands of people.
Two days after my arrival I rejoiced bumping into Ina and Walter. It turned out they had put their tents up just 20 meters from mine and had arrived the same day as me (the day after the storm). Then the day after meeting them, Toby and Erik finally arrived and our little group was together again. However at a Rainbow everyone is with everyone. Colors, creeds, nationalities, genders, all that does not matter. “We are one big family”, is the idea.
I had beautiful days together with the family, playing music in circles, juggling, philosophizing about life, laughing, dancing around fires to the sound of djembe drums roaring through the night, chanting, enjoying the fresh mountain air and the beautiful nature, bathing naked in cold and clear mountain rivers, the same places where we would wash our clothes, and so on.
I had many wonderful encounters with people as well, too many to relate every single one here. Among them were a group of Romanians traveling together who we shared many meals with, there was Alfredo, a Spanish theater actor and singer biking around the Iberian Peninsula and whom we had some stellar jam sessions with, Aska, a Japanese girl with whom I did sun meditations with on rainy days, Christian and Malaika, two Danes (the only ones left from the Danish family when I arrived) with an incredible and beautiful energy around them. I also spent some more time with Dani and Kati, the reiki healers and recycling clothes tailors whom I had spent the night in the church with during the storm. I ended up giving them my only pair of jeans, they were a bright blue color and I thought they would be perfect for them to re-tailor. Besides they were heavy for me to carry and I thought where I would be going, I would not need such relatively warm pants.
Here are some special moments I would like to share, starting with one morning especially worth to mention; I got up and went to Toby's tent to get him up as well. As I spoke his name I noticed how Ina's shoes were outside his tent. Next thing was a confirming morning voice “Ir'm uhp”, and then Toby tumbling out of his tent completely naked. I asked him, pointing at Ina's shoes and with His Nakedness in front of me, if I could put two and two together, and he nodded. After that day Toby and Ina formed a couple and their feelings for each other grew and grew and soon they became to me what I referred to as 'the Tobina'!
One specifically enchanting night was when we went – a group of six or so – to the Shambala, a big round beautifully decorated tent, located higher up the mountain for special reasons like reiki healing and yoga sessions. That night there would be story telling with Tom Thumb, an English actor and story teller who would convey fairy tales around a fire to a tent packed with eager listeners. His stories were captivating and so much better than any movie I have ever seen. Extra special was it when he conveyed a story from the Norse mythology, a story which I in my younger days had performed as a theater play in school, and the very main character, Loki, had been played by me. After the story I had to raise my arm and let everyone know how he had brought me back to that time and how his telling of the myth had touched me deeply.
One night around the sacred main fire, an elder named Flantuzzi - a Puerto Rico born American - was telling stories of his life. He told us about Woodstock back in 69, about his travels around the world, about how he had fathered four children, all the while he would be playing guitar and singing between his tales. It was a very cosy night and Flantuzzi managed to create something of a nostalgic ambiance. After one of his songs he let know he had brought CD's with his recordings and they were up for trade. And so one day I found him to get a hold of his CD and he gave me one just there. I told him I would trade it for something and he merely pointed out where his tent was. The day after I sought him out and I offered half a jar of my mom's honey, that I had brought with me from Denmark. He looked at me and noted if it was not too much, but I replied that if I have the honey, I will enjoy it and share it with others, and if he had the honey, he would enjoy it and share it with others. "I like the way you think, brother", he said, sealing the trade.
Ahh, one very delightful night was just before the Canarian family were leaving. They had invited everyone for food and music at their camp and there we were, singing and celebrating together. There were truly some of the most positive vibes I have felt in a long time, and the Canarians were so kind, sharing chapati bread, nuts, chocolate and chai with everyone present and on top of that they were absolutely brilliant musicians with crazy improvised instruments. “THANK YOU BOBBYYY” we all yelled at the sky, after having jammed some of Marley's classics. An amazing energy that night.
Days, nights, and time in general flowed together at the Rainbow. The sun in the sky would be the way to tell the part of the day, and with a keen eye one could do the same with the stars at night. A traditional Rainbow saying, when saying goodbye to someone, is a jokingly, “See you in five minutes”! It does not mean that we will actually see each other again in five minutes. Maybe so, but the point really is that time is but a concept and that we will meet again whenever time is right. I really like that saying, I feel how it is liberating me from the stressing punctuality I suffer from, for having lived the Scandinavian 'big city life' throughout many years.

A romance that did not last
One day I was juggling on the big plain, and I saw this girl lying in the grass. I recognized her from last year's gathering in Finland; she was Keke, a beautiful and playful English girl who I had had a splendid time with last year. We immediately started hugging, talking, laughing, playing, singing, just like we had done last year. Though this time around our time together would turn out to be more intense. The night of the day we met we were sitting together around the sacred main fire with many others, my arms around her while she leaned against my chest. Guitars, drums and flutes were playing and people were singing and chanting. I looked at Keke and I simply just had to kiss her right there. She kissed me back and I think literally our lips did not part for about half an hour. It was a long and tender kiss, and it felt like our spirits melted together, my heart and body tickling with energy.
After that we started to spent a lot of time together. The nights would get very cold, so it was as well very welcoming with one more body in the tent to keep warm. She was a very idealistic girl, interested in natural medicine, yoga, being like a child (seriously, she was like one at most times) and she dreamed of starting an NGO in a third world country one day. I saw myself in her and with Toby's remarks of how we fitted perfectly together, I seriously starting thinking if this actually could be the beginning of something special.
Days went by and slowly the mountain started emptying for people and tents. The new moon was approaching, which meant the Rainbow would be over, and so people were leaving. When the final day came a big ritual took place at the big plain, and people were reminded by an elder to take the Rainbow with them wherever they went. Erik and Ina had already left, and Walter and Toby left soon thereafter, while Keke and I stayed behind to help with the cleanup. For those of you who had read my former update, you might remember that rudraksha seed in a leather string I had been given by Walter for luck on the road and which I had lost upon jumping the river. Well, just before leaving, whether it was by extraordinary coincidence or pure magic, Walter found that very rudraksha seed right on the spot where I had jumped the river. It had indeed granted me luck on the road to the Rainbow, I had lost it upon arrival, and now, just before leaving the Rainbow to go back on the road, the very same person that gave it to me in the first place found it and could offer it once more. Coincidence? Nah, that must have been a stroke of fate...
It was raining a lot those days after the new moon and there was word out that the family was gathering anew in Afife, a small beach town some hundred kilometers West of there. Given the mountain weather had been pretty rough – rainy days and cold nights – the reports of a sunny climate at the beach we found very attractive. And so Keke and I decided to hitchhike there and with good luck (the rudraksha seed yet again priding my strawhat) we arrived the same evening of the day we left.
Indeed a lot of family had gathered at the beach. The water – being the Atlantic Ocean – not the warmest, made for refreshing swims, yet the waves were surfing huge so generally not the best swimming conditions. Keke and I had put my tent up some sand dunes away from the rest of the family. We desired some tranquility, and though the family indeed embeds that word in many ways, just being two with the sea and the sands we thought would somehow top it.
Some days passed and the police started to demand the family's departure. It was quite understandable actually, given there was an official campsite very close by, where tourists supposedly should stay, and then top it with a lot of naked hippies smoking weed at the paying tourists' beach. So slowly the family started to move away from the beach, but just up the nearby mountain range on the other side of town. Keke and I however, put on our most civilized clothes, and with my tent located away from the family, we hoped we would pass as regular tourists and that my tent would not be noticed by the police. Kinda hypocrite but funny as well and we did indeed manage, at least for how long we lasted..!
As Keke and I was spending time together, metaphorically speaking you could say there was starting to get sand in our relationship! Literally we had sand everywhere and in all our things, but I guess that is fairly uninteresting!! What happened between us was we started to disagree on some points and I personally felt she was stealing my energy. She really just wanted me to realize some things, like how my future plans and my studies (I am still undergoing my master thesis at this time) were things I could - implying I should - let go off. In many ways I knew she was right, but I am not that kind of person that listens well to people when they tell me what to do, and so I was insisting on going through with what I had planned. We had quite the back and fourth discussion one night in the tent, when she wanted me to come back with her to England and do some squatting in London, and she already had ensured a ride for both of us from an English brother. I had a plane ticket to Brazil from Lisbon a month later, and wanting to learn Portuguese I could really not see the logic in her plan. She said if we really were to make this work, I should come with her and I could always easily hitchhike back to Portugal after some weeks in London.
We had spent less than ten days together and I was already starting to feel strangled by these discussions and what felt like demands to me. Then I was starting to get a bit sick with something like a stomach block (opposite of diarrhea) and camping on a beach in a state of sickness is not very comfortable. And so one morning after 10 days together, I simply decided that now I would leave for Porto. Though I told Keke she could come with me, she took those news very badly, and after we in deafening silence had packed all our things and I had put my tent down, she wanted to let me know some very disheartening truths about me, using quite the cruel words and she did indeed manage to hurt me. I had made up my mind though, and in the end I guess I was just not feeling for her, what I really should be feeling, for us to continue down a path together. One could say I had been fooled by the 'idea of love'.
So I found internet in Afife, got in contact with a couchsurfer who very admirably agreed to host me already from that same night, and I bought my train ticket and left for Porto. The last time I saw Keke, short time after those cruel words she left me with, she was smiling and laughing together with some English family, being her usually self. “I can't have hurt her that badly”, I thought to myself as the coast terrain drifted by outside the train window, the train heading southwards to Porto. I felt both sad and liberated at the same time, and with the lesson learned, that even when someone seems perfect, it is not necessarily who you should be with.

And this is where I will leave you this time my friends. I hope you all had the merriest of Christmases and see you all in five minutes. Love and light, everyone.

No comments:

Post a Comment