Gathering Folklore

Rainbow Gathering Folklore

Rainbow Family of Living Light Gathering Folklore
The Rainbow Family of Living Light is an ideal.   This ideal is a product of many philosophies coming together in practice and performance to create a teaching that surpasses one religion or belief system to include all forms in one circle. The culture that is evolving gathers en masse in the national forest on the fourth of July to pray for peace in the world.  One of the original gatherers, Garrick Beck, states in his book that is soon to be published, “ Inner insights are so very personal, tailored to the makeup of each person. The Nature of God is revealed to each person in the Way most suited to their own intelligence.”
Throughout the rest of the year, those that can’t make it to the national gathering, call local gatherings. Here they can experience the performance of the retelling of the events of the national and world gatherings by those who were able to attend, and participate on a smaller scale in the transfer of knowledge and crafts to those who would learn. They come together for great OHM circles and participate in this performance as a center for this ideal.
Those who participate in the performance of this ideal are called Rainbows, Rainbow Family, The Family, Rainbow kids, and even Drainbows (if you are just an observer or receiver and do not participate). The Rainbow Way is a cultural ideal that encourages individual responsibility, community, caring, bettering your environment, countering the hate that is prevalent in most societies, and walking lightly upon the earth.  The ideal is One Love, and love is something that you do, not just something that you feel.
When a gathering is called by someone who feels there is a need for it, those who come tend to greet each other with “We love you” or “Namaste”
(I honor the god in you that is also in me. From the Hindu tradition)  In this photo you see a woman performing the traditional greeting which includes the hands together in front of you. This gesture with these words can vary according to the degree of respect being shown the person being greeted. When the hands are folded in front of the forehead it is for a respected elder or religious person. When over the head, it is in performance of the greatest respect to a deity or what some would call a saint.   This performance of greeting is repeated and taught at every gathering. It is performed by all walks of life and all belief systems as a common sign of respect.
The OHM circle is one of the main reasons that people gather in this way. Traditionally within the gathering the OHM circle is performed at every meal, whenever there is any tension or dispute, whenever there is a need to bring the gatherers into one peaceful mindset, and at the height of the gathering on the 4th of July. This Circle on the fourth is the main reason that most come to the gathering. The original intent of the circle on the fourth is stated beautifully by Beck when he references the first gathering in 1972 at Table Mountain.  ““Our Meditation of Peace is all about bringing Peace to this world. It’s all about going to places like Table Mountain, places where the Peace isn’t allowed and bringing it there. Don’t be sidetracked by these lovely meadows. The real mission is to fulfill the Silence. It’s not just about having a sweet time ourselves. It’s about bringing the Peace and Love from here back into the world. To help change it for the better. And that means going to Table Mountain.”  Traditionally the circle involves all participants holding hands with all thumbs to the left to continue the chain unbroken. It begins spontaneously and continues until all participants feel the vibration and desire to stop. I have personally witnessed the OHM continue for a full 45 minutes in a circle of 35,000 people. It was the most spiritual and enlightening experience that I have ever been a part of. The OHM is said to be the culmination of all sound and the base of all vibration. Here is a picture of the first circle at Strawberry Field in Colorado.  Here is a Russian Rainbow Gathering OHM circle. 
And here is a Thailand Rainbow Family Circle.   Here is Brazil.  In the center of these circles is a peace pole or altar of some sort.
( This one was taken here in the US in 2006 when 40,000 gathered in California.
In the center you can see the Peace pole. This is a downed tree or carved pole that serves as a focal point for all the energy released with the OHM. Traditionally on the fourth of July participants will make their way to the center of the circle at some point when they are ready and will place objects around the pole to signify their participation in the ceremony. They will place crystals or religious items or even memoirs of people in their lives that they wish the energy to reach.  This is done regardless of religious belief or inclination.
Other types of folklore that can be experienced at a gathering include the drum circles that are constantly forming and reforming spontaneously throughout the site. All it takes is one drummer to decide to sit at a fire and play and another drummer will hear it and join in and then another and before long there will be circle of drums. I have personally witnessed and played in circles that had as many as two hundred drums all participating in the heartbeat (the main beat that we all learn first). From this heartbeat come the heartsongs that all can be sung with this beat.
The heartsongs are songs that are passed down from generation to generation all speak to the spirit of the Gathering. They are in some ways very dynamic as they can change in beat or interpretation but also very static in the words themselves. They are sung all over the world wherever Rainbow Gatherings appear and the list grows as new songs are added.  I will include a few at the end of this paper.
Another static event at a gathering is the council process. As Garrick describes the way this council process began we can see how it became a way of decision making for such a large group of people. “There’s a green slope at the meadow’s edge where people are gathering to listen to each other: our council. People are speaking in poetry, in political statements, in prayers, in public with each other there to listen and share. Announcements are being made, logistical questions being raised and discussed. We are evolving a process that is almost as old as these hills. Forever humans have tried to figure out how to manage ourselves without tyranny. Here is a public forum in its origins finding out how to let each voice be heard. First a staff was passed from speaker to speaker; then after much objection the staff was replaced by a bowl; and then by a feather. The feather had the vibe. The council went on for days.”
The rules or “Raps” as they are called are passed out as each person comes in to the gathering.  These Raps describe how we have learned to deal with each other and the environment when in gathering process. These do not change and are included in every copy of the Rainbow newsletter “Always Free” and the Gathering “Mini Manual” that sets up guidelines for Gatherings wherever and whenever they appear. I will also include a copy of the Raps at the end of this report.
This report only touches on a few of the performances of folklore that can be found at a Gathering. Other aspects include the Tie dye clothes  (representing the colors of the rainbow in living form), the bridge trolls asking for a joke to cross the bridge, the prophecies of the Rainbow Warriors that are taught at campfires and respoken wherever there is an interest shown, and the game of Steal the Flag that has developed over the years between the familiar camps. A good folklorist would find many other examples of folklore to document simply by camping out for a week or two with the gatherers.
The last example I would like to touch on is the Vision Council. This is another council process that occurs at every Universal, World, National or regional gathering. This is the process that helps us decide where to gather next. It is held after the Main event and continues until consensus is reached with all agreeing to the decision. One vote can block consensus and since all are invited to be a part of this process and all have a vote, this can take days to accomplish. The respect for the feather is paramount in this process. Without it, the process would digress into a many sided argument. But all are taught to respect the feather and wait until they have the feather in their hands to speak. This is the single most important aspect to the Gathering and the most important folklore event that takes place.

Gypsy James
Folklore and Mythology
Final collection Project

Analysis of the OHM Circle
The context of the OHM circle is the Gathering event or wherever there is a need felt to gather the consciousness of individuals into one space. It is regularly performed before meals together and at social events. It is spontaneous. The meaning behind the OHM has been debated. Some say it is the universal sound. The Meditation Station found at  HYPERLINK “ states
By chanting a mantra, your cells, molecules, atoms, and sub-atomic particles all vibrate in the same wavelength as the mantra. Once attuned with this vibration you connect with everything resonating on that plane of existence. It’s like tuning a radio. At first you may get static, but once you are in the right frequency your reception is perfect. Ohm is the universal sound. It is within every word and within everything. So when you chant Ohm, you merge with all energy and all forms, from the sub-atomic to the universal, from the most gross to the most divine. And when you are tuned in perfectly, you will receive holy frequencies clearly and merge and emerge at one with the source of all and live happily ever after.
This has dynamic variations throughout the world but usually has similar meaning.

    This culture has developed out of a need to connect with other humans and a need to feel like there is hope for peace in a time of war. Many cultures have contributed to the form that this culture takes. The Hippie movement of the 60’s developed from the beatnik movement of the 50’s. The culture that demands peace and harmony in their lives can be traced all the way back to even our founding fathers that wrote the constitution. Most of these types of movements cite their constitutional rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The dynamic difference between this and other cultures is that it is constantly evolving to fit the needs of the people who call the Gathering. They are called Rainbow Gatherings in so many countries now that it could be considered a worldwide culture.

United States Annual Rainbow Gatherings
1972:   Roosevelt National Forest, Colorado
1973:   Shoshone National Forest, Wyoming
1974:   Dixie National Forest, Utah
1975:   Ozark National Forest, Arkansas
1976:  Lewis and Clark National Forest, Montana
1977:   Gila National Forest, New Mexico
1978:   Umpqua National Forest, Oregon
1979:  Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Arizona
1980:   Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia
1981:   Colville National Forest, Washington
1982:  Boise National Forest, Idaho
1983:   Ottawa National Forest, Michigan
1984:  Modoc National Forest, California
1985:   Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri
1986:   Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania
1987:  Nantahala National Forest, North Carolina
1988:   Angelina National Forest, Texas
1989:   Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, Nevada
1990:  Superior National Forest, Minnesota
1991:  Green Mountain National Forest, Vermont
1992:   White River National Forest, Colorado
1993:   Talladega National Forest, Alabama and in Kentucky
1994:   Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming
1995:   Carson National Forest, New Mexico
1996:  Mark Twain National Forest, Missouri
1997:   Ochoco National Forest, Oregon
1998:   Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest, Arizona
1999:   Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania
2000:   Beaverhead-Deerl rest, Michigan
2003:  Wasatch-Cache National Forest, Utah
2004:   Modoc National Forest, California
2005:  Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia
2006:  Routt National Forest, Colorado
2007:   Ozark National Forest, Arkansas
2008:   Bridger-Teton National Forest, Wyoming

2009:  Sante fe National Forest,New Mexico

2010: Allegheny National forest,Pennsylvania

2011: Gifford Pinchot National Forest, Washington

2012: Cherokee National Forest, Tennessee

2013: Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, Montana

2014: Uinta National Forest, Utah

The European Gatherings
1983 Switzerland
1984 Switzerland
1986 France
1987 Spain
1988 Spain
1989 Norway
1990 Austria
1991 Poland
1992 Poland
1993 Ireland
1994 Slovenia
1995 Czech Republic
1996 Portugal
1997 Greece
1998 Russia
1999 Hungary
2000 Romania
2001 Croatia
2002 Italy
2003 France (Pyrenees)
2004 Bulgaria
2005 Germany
2006 England
2007 Bosnia
2008 Serbia
World Gatherings
2000 Australia
2001 Zimbabwe (on the path of the solar eclipse)
2003 Brazil
2004 Costa Rica
2004 Quebec, Canada (Turtle Island Gathering, non-consensed w.g.)
2005 Turkey
2006 Thailand
2008 China
2009 Mexico

2010 New Zealand
2011 Argentina
2012 Brazil (Caparaó National Park in Espírito Santo)
2012 Guatemala
2012 Mexico (Palenque)
2013 Canada
2014 Hungary

Other Gatherings Around the World
Non-periodic African Continental gatherings are held since the World Gathering Zimbabwe 2001. Next one will be by the end of 2009 in Morocco. There are also non-periodic South American gatherings. The Peace in the Middle East Rainbow Gatherings are held every year (so far all in Turkey) since the solar eclipse of 2006. Black Current Rainbow Gatherings is planned to start with the Taiwan gathering January 2009 and take place in countries of East Asia

  • 2010 Republic of Macedonia
  • 2011 Croatia
  • 2012 Bulgaria Ribin Dol
  • 2013 Bulgaria Ruchey
  • 2014 Greece
  • 2009 India, Himalayas, Taiwan
  • 2010 Belarus
  • 2010 Moldova
  • 2010 Taiwan
  • 2010 Slovakia
  • 2010 Czech Republic
  • 2010 Portugal
  • 2009 Lithuania
  • 2010 Lithuania
  • 2011 Lithuania
  • 2011 Croatia (Eko-village Blatuša)
  • 2011 Indonesia
  • 2012 Lithuania
  • 2013 Lithuania, India
  • 2014 Turkey
  • 2014 Indonesia  
  • 2015 Aotearoa/New Zealand (Tuateawa,Coromandel Peninsula and Karamea,West Coast.) Sources: Rainbow Family Aotearoa Facebook page ; Te Whanau Uenuku – Rainbow Family of Aotearoa/ New Zealand Co-activate site.

Rainbow Family Folksongs (Heartsongs) 

The Way of the Heart

Let the way of the heart
Let the way of the heart
Let the way of the heart shine through
Love upon love upon love
All hearts beating as one
Light upon Light upon Light
Shining as bright as the sun
Repeat for as long as there is an interest.


We are an old Family
We are a new Family
We are the same Family
Stronger than before
We honor you and empower you to be who you are
We honor you and empower you to be who you are
(Sung by a woman)
I am a strong woman
I am a loving woman
I am a healer and my soul will never die
We honor you and empower you to be who you are
We honor you and empower you to be who you are
(Sung by a man)
I am a strong man
I am a loving man
I am a healer and my soul will never die

We honor you and empower you to be who you are
We honor you and empower you to be who you are

The River

The river is flowing, flowing and growing
The river is flowing Down to the sea
Mother carry me, your child I will always be
Mother carry me down to the sea            (Repeat as often as there is an interest)

Citations and references
Beck, Garrick  “True Stories and Untold Tales.” (yet to be published) Email conference response.  Rainbow Raps from the mini manual
Photos by Nathan Koenig, aka White Buffalo; and the black and white one of the circle in 1972 by Alan Carey
 This photo was sent to me by Garrick Beck to use in this paper . It shows him at the first council held in Strawberry Field Colorado in 1972 at the first Gathering. He is the one holding the staff. My thanks to him for his and other’s vision  and courage that has led to the development of this culture and way of life.