HIGH TIMES: Poland 1991

Marcus L. Endicott (mendicott@igc.apc.org)
Wed, 16 Sep 1992 11:23:43 -0700 (PDT)

/* Written 11:22 am Sep 16, 1992 by mendicott in cdp:awf.rainbownew */
/* ---------- "HIGH TIMES: Poland 1991" ---------- */
>Reproduced without permission from HIGH TIMES, August, 1992.


What happens when a dedicated North American Rainbow warrior travels to his
first European Gathering? He discovers thousands of punks, Deadheads, hippies
and political activists camped high in the mountains on the Polish-Soviet
border. European Rainbow, it turns out, looks and acts a lot like its
American counterpart.

Text and Photos by Jery Rainbow Flag Man

On July 15, 1991, I boarded a $160 one-way flight to Paris. From there I
scuttles to North Italy where I linked up with a Rainbow Gathering novice and
a car. We zipped through Budapest, East Hungary, East Czechoslovakia and
finally into the southeast tip of Poland next to the now-extinct USSR.
Fortunately, my American passport didn't require any visas. My Mexican
passenger wasn't so lucky and had to pay her way through each East European
country. Finally, with dictionary Polish and epileptic gesturing, we arrived
at the Rainbow Gathering in the Bierzacady Mountains three days late.
Sloping down the entrance pathway to the edge of camp, I passed a spring-
fed stream and then a grassy, platformed ridge with two tepees. One bore a
hand-crafted sign: "Medicine Tepee." A line of colorful supplicants awaited
their turn. A male, his magenta Mohawk in need of a head shave, talked to a
punkess sniffling her nose ring. An American Deadhead twiddled with his
nipple-length ponytail. A pair of German girls jabbered, "Ya, ya, ya!" to a
peacenik skinhead. The valley opened up and I stopped to catch my mind and
breath. The lush, green vista was dotted with more tepees than I'd ever hoped
to see in Europe. If I were Native American, I'd think I was back home. But,
then again, so I was. "Welcome Home" tingled my spine and curled my smiles as
I dropped my pack and walked into the effervescent greetings of Rainbow
Gatherers: "Howdy, Guten Tag, Bonjour, Bonjourno, Buenos Dias, Dzien Dobry."


"I am a Polish Tourist Bureau agent and stay here during the warm months in
this small camp of Quonset tents with our big kitchen. While we are at the
bottom edge of the gathering site near this small river in the Bierzacady
Mountains, we are also here every year to serve the tourist and student
campers on this land next to the national forest. We've been here twenty
years with peace and quiet and never more than twenty people visiting at a
time! I believe this Rainbow Gathering has far too many people. A maximum of
a hundred and fifty would not harm nature, but these thousands have frightened
all the animals out of the valley. They will not come back for years!"


"I've been to about ten Rainbow Gatherings, two in Europe, three US nationals
and five US regionals. The first in Nevada really turned me on, becoming my
exodus from L.A. I've been chasing rainbows ever since, even forgetting about
that pot o' gold at the end. This gathering is amazing to me in seeing the
European Family coming so close together. So many different tribes
conversing: a Spaniard listening to a German speaking Italian and answering
him in French. Luckily, for Americans, manu Europeans can also speak English.
One problem for me, as an American, was the choice of days next year for the
gathering in the north of Poland. they chose July seventh through
seventeenth, which immediately follows North America's gathering. I hope they
change the dates so Americans can more easily arrange their traveling to come.
Those going cheaply need the extra time for Air Hitch's 'week-long
reservation,' as well as more time to hitch across Europe to Poland. Speaking
of logistics, there's a computer network called Peacenet with a free Rainbow
information source of gathering dates, locales, etc. Just call San Francisco
information for the telephone number of Peacenet and then hook up."


"Ingemar means the 'Light from the North.' We call our camp the Scandinavian
Camp. We came with forty adults, five children and one dog in a big Rainbow
bus. The bus belongs to a group of Rainbow People who could not come and so
they let us use it. This Rainbow Gathering has only five to six kitchens. We
set ours up as one of them. A big one. We cook for ourselves and also for
the main circle where everyone eats. One of the kitchens, the Polish I
believe, was cooking East Indian chapatis, a wafer-style bread. The Dutch
camp built a clay oven for baking bread. The americans has a popcorn kitchen.
We came to the Gathering the day before it started, and I'm staying a few days
after it's over. I've been to other Rainbow Gatherings in Norway and Austria.
Austria was a big one and the one here is even bigger. I think this Gathering
is very important because it is the first in Eastern Europe. That is why the
Vision Council decided it should stay in Poland again for next year. I also
believe every European Gathering is important because so many nations come.
I've even met many Russians. I've had a wonderful time. No problems at all.
Life's been very sweet here. The canvas for my tepee came from the Swedish
garbage. I found it in the dump waiting for me. The canvas is very old but
still good. Look, you can see the date printed on the side - 1898! One
hundred years old!"


"My profession? I've worked at everything from being a garbage man to a
journalist for the main Solidarity newspaper. I worked with the seed camp
organizing and now I help here at 'Information Center.' Some people promoted
Poland for its East European site before the Vision Council. Some were
against the Bierzacady site because it would disturb, if not destroy, the
flora and fauna - especially the wildlife for a year, two years or more. We
finally chose to have the site at Bierzacady in a protest against having sheep
here this year. I'm a little disturbed by the 'party' aspect and its
enthusiastic twenty-four-hour drumming. I would like to see more spiritual
stuff. Maybe, when I come again, the superficial things will be less
important. Polish people never experienced this before, so that the family
aspect, the meditations and spiritual things will be better next time."


"I'm with people who want an ecological society in the Bierzacady territory.
Many Polish societies protested against using this site in fear of its
destruction by huge Rainbow crowds, but we thought the Rainbow could help.
this land might be sold very soon by the government. There are real estate
speculators and companies that want this land in Bierzacady for industry,
timber and hunting/tourist centers. The only way to protect this area is to
buy it. We want contacts and contributions to help us in this and in the
creation of an ecological and education center. For our national park, this
is an important buffer zone. We hope, by example and information, that our
ten ecological stations with scientists might, in the future, help and
influence our national parks. The station will protect the valley from
industry and hunters, the ecology from domestic herds and farming, as well as
leave the natural food an shelter for the creatures here. We wanted the
Rainbow Gathering here to inform people of the danger of losing this land and
to protect it this year from the five-thousand sheep overgrazing the forest
grasslands. When we explained why we wanted the gathering here, the
ecological societies accepted the reasons and the risks. Maybe, hopefully,
there will be something good after this gathering."


"I've lived here not long, but strong: six years in forest middle, day by day.
I first came to look for rare snake, two meters long, for photos. My first
profession is animal studies, my second is photos. People think my pictures
are special because I live middle of forest, of animals. The first day in
this forest, I saw in a tree, ten meters away, a Golden Eagle! Later, I took
the first photo ever in Poland of the very endangered Imperial Eagle. In
autumn, there are many European Bison here on the gathering site. Owls with
their babies. Hawks and eagles with their babies. Bears looking for honey,
catching fish. I live in this house [the Information Center] all year with
animals everywhere: deer herds, otter, wolves.
"Three years ago, I had three baby wolves for pets because someone shot
the mother. Sadly, only for her fur; not for life, but for vanity by death.
I had the baby wolves one-half year, my best friends. But, in the winter,
some crazy fool shot my three friends dead. Before, I walk everywhere with
them, happy. That day, I heard shots and I go look for my wolves. One hour
later, I find this lunatic hunter skinning one of my friends. Only for the
fur. I grab him by the jacket and I say, 'Okay, you take fur of my friend,
but give me your skin in exchange!' He was a poacher. He had no license for
hunting there, so I take his rifle and give it to the authorities. This
spring, I realize my roots are here. We want to save forest, especially for
endangered animals here. After this, for Poland and East Europe, I think
there be big wave. We send six-hundred invitations to USSR."


"I'm originally from America, but now live in both Finland and India. I've
been working at opening an old temple in Finland about thirty kilometers from
Helsinki for the past five summers. It's a pre-Ice Age temple. A family near
there has been passing down this one saga of mankind, and a few of us have
been learning this story for the past six years. This is my first European
Gathering. It's been great. It's been a little chaotic, but the spirit's
been really good. The Polish people have been really nice, and the site is
spectacular! I haven't seen one airplane in all these days. This is a magic
place by comparison to my place in Hawaii where planes fly overhead all the
time. Americans mostly play it safe. They take pre-packaged trips to the
Virgin Islands or Hawaii in five-star hotels. They never meet or get to know
the people as we do. There's very few people making any good feelings on the
planet today. People want them, but in our systems, our conditionings, we're
really separated from each other. We're all living in our little boxes. Mama
eats in the kitchen, Papa eats in the living room in front of the television;
and the kids eat in their rooms in front of their TVs. I think that the
Rainbow helps to bring us out of our separation and collects us as one family.
When you have a few thousand people eating dinner together in the evening,
this is a very magical moment because we don't normally eat with each other,
and this is the time we should be together. I feel the Rainbow is growing; it
started in America twenty years ago and has been growing since. Now, it's
European and, I think, Australian! The more people experience this wonderful
spirit, the more they want to come back and be with their friends. The
Rainbow light keeps growing and getting bigger. Soon we'll take over the


"I'm from Aachen near the border of Belgium and Holland. The most important
experience for me was to live in a big community of people without
civilization, control, and things that make life easy. At first, I thought it
would be very hard to solve the problems of living here with hundreds and
thousands of people. But it works, I saw how easy it could be with the right
feelings and attitudes. I also found the workshops very interesting,
especially the Breathing Workshop by Gary, the Bubble Man. It was easy and


"I'm from Amsterdam. I'm concerned for the possibly frightened wildlife, but,
on the positive side, we've been in contact with a beautiful and unique
nature. For city people, it's a big step into what is so raw and natural.
Strange, yet exquisite, a very different way of life. By the way, the
strength of the drumming struck me as if people were unloading their
frustrations and aggression with it. To be free of the burden of our Western,
so-called civilization is very difficult when people are unconsciously forced
to live in very regimented patterns. The technocrats often force us to live
in very artificial and inhuman conditions; often, not to improve the quality
of life, but only to make more and more money! The burden of civilization is
also a terrible weight upon gay people, as myself. The curse upon homoerotic
people by western 'normal' love is not spiritual or even love. Many people
here talked about love, but I found little open expression of my own way of
gay love."


"I'm originally from North Carolina. I'm an artist. Did graphic art for a
long time but got bummed out and stopped. Been doing music since. This is my
second European Gathering. I came over here in July 1990 for the Austrian
Gathering, and stayed traveling about. The army was really as nice as they
could be considering we were the 'invaders.' The original site proved to be
too small, so we counciled and moved next door onto the base. They
immediately brought us two-thousand gallons of water at seven o'clock the next
morning. They did try to make us leave through propaganda, but this was
unsuccessful. They drove around with trucks and megaphones telling us to
leave, asserting the area was dangerous. They flew overhead in helicopters
dropping leaflets saying the same thing: unexploded bombs, unremoved mines,
undetonated grenades, dangerous snakes, bugs, etc. An Austrian focalizer told
us not to worry since the land we were on was an external security area of the
military reservation that had been thoroughly combed by minesweepers long ago.
There were a few old, spent shells, but only blanks had ever been used in this
region. The area was a large training ground and the army was on its yearly
vacation in August, so only a skeleton crew and the commander were there. He
contacted Austria's central government for orders of what to do. They saw we
were unarmed, peaceful, and a potential risk of bad publicity. So the
politicians handed the hot potato back, telling him to do as he saw fit.
Since our stay was short, he let us remain on the condition we all leave
immediately after the Gathering. We kept his word on that and all the cleanup
was done as we were leaving. The army inspected the site afterwards, was
satisfied and had no complaints. What's amazing about this military
reservation is that Hitler created it before World War II. He cleared the
people out and obliterated forty villages to destroy the evidence of his being
raised there by his Austrian mother and Jewish father. Hitler did not want
the world to know he was one-half Jewish! The local people were very happy to
see us peace and spiritual types camping there. The drums, the music, the
joy. For all our lifetime, almost every day, we hear guns and for us the war
has never ended. The meditation circle we had on Hiroshima Day was very
powerful. Almost everyone at the Gathering was in it. Many began weeping
spontaneously. The group energy transmitted strong healing vibrations to that
place. A very powerful experience. Loud helicopters flew overhead dropping
the 'GET OUT' leaflets in the middle of the meditation, but nobody picked up
the papers!
"None stopped their meditation! None broke the Circle! If they meant to
alarm us, they were dismally surprised. About ten minutes later, the
commander marched to the center of the circle and gave up, announcing we could
stay. You can't fight love! In Austria, there was no Kiddie Village because
the Seed Camp was in a different location. Thankfully, the Polish Seed Camp
was able to create a Kiddie Village this year. One of the differences between
European Gatherings and the States is that there is no 'A' [Alcoholics] Camp
at the Gate or anywhere. There's much less of a problem with alcohol at these
gatherings. There isn't any and there's on need for it. That's what we've
found. The food here's been real basic. A lot of beets, potato soup,
cabbage, onions, turnips, beans. Supply's been a lot better than we expected.
However, there's been fewer and smaller kitchens than usual. Not a shortage
of hands so much as a shortage of kitchen equipment. Poland may be wealthier
than Albania, but, by our standards, it's still poor. Yes, especially for
Eastern Europe, bring kitchen equipment. People here are very willing to
share both of themselves and their homes. They're very hungry for the
exchange of information. A negative is that they're financially poor and may
naturally suffer from this poverty-minded perspective. Any help they can get
traveling to Western European and American Gatherings is welcome and needed
from us as family or individuals."


"Inali Wakan means 'Quiet Spirit.' I've come to the Polish Rainbow Gathering
to serve as the Medicine Man for the Sweat-Lodge, a Native American tradition
of cleansing for the body and spirit. We build a small, round hut, and we
heat stones in a fire outside. These stones are put inside, in the center,
and ten to fifteen people squat naked around them while I offer prayers to The
Great Spirit and sprinkle water on the hot stones. In a sense, this is
similar to a steam bath, but we, as Native Americans, are also always
concerned about spiritual cleansing. The sole reason I came here was to teach
about The Holy Sweat Lodge Tradition so people would not desecrate the lodge
and could correctly show others The Holy Way. I did the sweats for over one-
hundred-fifty people who learned a lot. They brought the traditional offering
of tobacco and, if they had none, I asked them each to bring a small stone. A
free stone. Many Native Americans, Lakotas included, do seminars about The
Sacred Sweat-Lodge and charge lots of money that the poor can't afford. The
Spirits told me to go to the Land, not owned by people, to teach their Way and
to be free. Many of these self-taught medicine men learn by the book and do
things backwards, and so I enjoy teaching the correct Way. For the public,
I've brought information about Leonard Peltier and AIM [American Indian
Movement] support groups for him. He is unjustly in jail, persecuted by the
white police and white politicians. I also brought information about
Proposition 1 for Nuclear Disarmament. The Gathering is good, very good.
There were a lot of emotions with people, but they were just emotions. On the
whole, The Gathering was very successful. This prayer staff that I carry is
what draws the people to the Lodge and to speak to me. This prayer staff is
very powerful. It is a children's prayer staff. It has traveled all over the
Americas, and over forty-five-thousand children have prayed with it. Once,
the governor of Pennsylvania was fortunate enough to hold it in his hands.
The feathers on it are from the Spotted Eagle and the Golden Eagle. The
sweats were excellent. The Spirits who came to the Lodge were very happy with
the Gathering, especially with the many Polish people learning the Teachings.
So many Spirits came into the Lodge that it was like sitting in the stars.
Some of the people who sat with their eyes open saw them in the darkness as I
did. Yesterday, when walking through the forest to the parking lot about
five-hundred meters from the gathering site, I saw an excellent omen. I saw a
mama bear with her baby bear. It was a very good sign, especially for me,
that my teachings will give birth to a greater Spirit! MITAKUYE OYASIN!" [A
Sioux expression of parting, meaning, "As all things are related!"]


One of the high points of this gathering was the Rainbow Circus. In front of
one of two "Small Tops" they'd erected, performances eventually festooned with
dancers, musicians, mountebanks and audience. The circus in the day; music,
dancers, torch jugglers and performances at night. Once, in the afternoon in
front of the Small Top, a 12-meter tall hot-air balloon made of rainbow
colored, biodegradable paper teetered upright from inflatable flaccidity and
arose to chase Apollo into the sunset. A striped and stilt-walking clown
creature jitter-bugged in front of the phalanx of laurel-crowned and topless
women drummers who were every bit as good as the men. Poetry readings, folk
singing, small plays in the Dutch camp. The Swedish dance troupe. The clowns
with performing dogs. Didgeridoo music. And Bubble Man! Now, six months
later, I roll that jewel of a Rainbow Gathering in my mind. There were 50,
maybe fewer, Americans there. What a pity. Well, you have my small record.
Should any of you get curious to know more than the US crowd, turn east,
Brothers and Sisters, turn east and travel.

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