From: Butterfly Bill
(Hey BB, please email your URL so I can add it -- rob)
Every gathering I go to I give a name to, for thinking through my memories. For instance, I call North Carolina '87 the Virgin Gathering cuz that's the first one I went to; New Mexico '85 the Marathon Gathering cuz that one I did from seed to clean and stayed there so long I was wondering if it would ever end; Vermont NERF regional '89 the Bug Gathering cuz there were more flying insects there than I have ever encountered anywhere else.
Three names came to mind for Oregon '97. The first was the Huge Gathering. Man, that felt like the most populous one I have ever been at. There was solid people on Main Trail before the 1st. If New Mexico had 15 thousand, the recent one had at least 25.
The second name that came to mind was the Shush Gathering, cuz in the 4th. of July circle there were people holding up signs saying to keep the silence until the children had entered the circle, and otheres loudly saying, "s-s-s-h-h-h" when a spontaneous Om was starting all around the field like flames leaping up from a pile of embers. I felt the Spirit starting it when it was supposed to start, but a lot of self-appointed ushers were making sure it all went according to the schedule and the rules. Shushing an Om? Come ON!
And I wound up next to the procession of kids as it came in, and - as I have before - seen the looks of confused panic on some of the faces of the smaller ones who had no real idea of what was going on except that they were being taken into the middle of a huge group of strange looking people making wierd noises. And I'm thinking: maybe we should reexamine this idea of a children's parade.
The Baptists say that children shouldn't be baptized until they are old enough to understand the rite. Maybe some of their reasoning could apply here, too. Bring the children who are old enough to have a real awareness, but don't subject very young ones and possibly make them scared of hearing "Om" for life. The parade never seems to arrive at just the right moment, and sometimes seriously disrupts the flow of the ceremony. At Missouri it was led in by drummers, who disturbed the feeling of the silence severely.
The name I'm going to use is the third one: the BADGE GATHERING. Why? Because at no other gathering have I seen so many people wearing buttons showing their work certifications and affiliations. There were badges for Shanti-Sena, Co-operations, Info Crew, Shitter Digger, Trail Crew, Front Gate, and more that I can't think of at the moment.
Like, what's with all the badges? Are only people with these badges now allowed to do the work the badge says? Are we getting a bureaucracy with an organization chart? What exactly did you have to do to earn one of these merit badges? Did you have to dig one shitter, or 5, or 100? I was in eight clearly definable Shanti-Sena movies in two weeks, two were definitly action thrillers. I never found out if this qualifies me for a badge. One movie I emerged from with a banged up knee. Do I get a Purple Heart?
The gathering was not too strenuous, I was able to commute to my van in Inner Bus Village every night, the weather was beautiful sunshine for all but three days, I didn't bring enough warm clothes for the nights down in the 40's and 30's, but it was warm enough to go naked in the afternoons, which I did plenty of.
You had to be a real opportunist to get food, because of the intense population. Dinner circle was a mess that I didn't go to. Both the Arizona and the ISKON Krishnas came through with great dinners. I gave most of my energy to Gary's Rainbow Crystal Kitchen cuz he made the best soup in the camp. Dragon Camp made me many pancakes, which they served right off the grill to me with no waiting. (That's the way I like it, BOO to people who put their things in a pot and then make me have to wait until thay are all done so I can stand in a long line to get only one of them.) Honorable mention also to Chico at Hummingbird Cowboy's and to the gang at Cooperations for being likely to have something when I went there.
I'll be back with more experiences and opinions later, - Butterfly Bill