So I'm going to address some of the points that W. A. has brought up. Here is the truth, as I see it.
First of all, the locals get upset with us primarily because of the misinformation that is spread by the press, often originating in the outright lies about us that are put out by some of the Forest Service representatives. Secondary to this is the distressing behavior by a small minority of our young, early arrivals who have not yet caught on to some simple tenets of the more mature counterculture mores, namely,
By the time a gathering is over, the locals, with a few individual exceptions, love us and wish we would come back. I'm talking about the annual gathering here. The reaction to regional get-togethers is variable, depending on many different factors, primary of which is the balance of responsible, loving, community-conscious behavior on the part of the bulk of the participants, as opposed to the irresponsible, disrespectful behavior that seems to plague some regionals. Let us note that the regional families are as distressed by the problems on a first-hand basis as the rest of us are on the basis of what we hear. How to improve this situation is another subject entirely, and we've all addressed it at length elsewhere, so I won't go into it again, other than to say that Rainbow is a microcosm that does indeed reflect all of the ills of the dominant culture. Babylon has not found a realistic, productive way to deal with the problem of anti-social behavior or societally destructive substance abuse. We do better in many respects than Babylon, but we have our problems, as does any community.
When I speak of substance abuse, I mean primarily alcohol. White powders have always been incompatible with gathering vibes, and folks who are way into them either don't come, or do them discretely enough that they don't come to the attention of anyone else. Likewise heroin.
There has been much attention given in the press and on the rumor mill to the way people do or do not dress at gatherings and to the use of marijuana and psychedelics.
Rainbow is not about acid, peyote, pot, running around naked in the woods, wearing tye-dye clothes, or being wild in the wilderness.
Gatherings are an incredibly free space with very little internal regulation, it is true. This is by design and intent. What happens within that freedom is nobody's business but the people who are enjoying it, unless someone is being hurt. In that event, our system of PeaceKeeping (we call it "Shanti Sena," not "Security") kicks in, and the unsafe situation is dealt with.
We are not a religion. There is no Rainbow Bible anywhere that says, "Thou shalt do Acid and thou shalt see God." There is no "we" that espouses the use of psychelics, and certainly no attempt to get the kids to use it in some warped attempt to recruit them and steal their minds. It just doesn't happen like that. We have no interest in recruiting anybody.
We have no central body of "governors" to "clean up" anything. People who come to gatherings come as individuals, and do as they please.
We have no guru, and we have no one faith. Buddhist, Christian, Pagan, Bahai, Krishna, atheist, Native American, Zoroastrian, Sufi, Rastafarian - you name it, it's there.
I myself don't have one specific religious doctrine that I follow, but honor all belief systems, teachers, and holy ones. And yes, I do believe that certain "clean" psychedelics (LSD, mushrooms, peyote) are gifts from God. No, I didn't "find" God in LSD, but it sure helped me grow closer to what I consider to be Divinity. I haven't tripped in years, but still treasure those experiences.
For some, I have no doubt that God *is* found in acid, mushrooms, peyote; as well as in trees, rocks, streams, the cry of a hawk, the laughter of a child, the beat of a drum, the whisper of a flute.
Some people who attend gatherings hold pychedelics and marijuana to be a sacrament. Others simply do them recreationally. Many people don't do them at all, and I have no doubt that there are some people who shouldn't do them, ever.
As for their illegal status, well, the prohibition laws are harmful, expensive, damaging and wrong. They need to be changed. I will not enter into a defense of the use of marijuana and psychedelics here. As to their use at gatherings, it is simply a matter of personal choice. Does Rainbow encourage or advocate their use? No. Does everybody who attends gatherings use them? Not by a long shot. Is it something that could or should be controlled? To this I will answer with two questions: Why? and How?
We do not have a police force, jails, courtrooms. We have no desire to turn anyone in to the police. As long as someone's behavior is hurting no one, let them be. That's pretty much how it is.
Most of us who attend gatherings are far too busy helping the gathering happen to worry about incidentals like staying wiped out on mind-altering substances, or keeping others from doing mind-altering substances, or obsessing about what the locals think about mind-altering substances. There's cars to be parked, kitchens to build, meals to cook, supplies to be gotten, information to exchange, love to share, community problems to solve. The vast majority of us don't take off our clothes except to bathe or when we go to bed (and if it's really cold, we don't even do that!!).
What we take back to Babylon is not a desire to perpetuate wild, naked Bacchanalian hippie rites, but a consciousness that we all - including our Mother Earth - have a heart, a soul, a spirit that are connected. How we manifest this is incredibly varied. Some of us wear our Rainbow duds every day, and some of us put on different "costumes" for the roles we play in Babylon. Some of us do crafts, some of us grow things, some of us teach, some of us are politically active, some of us work in the social services, some of us live on the streets, some of us own land, some of us are lawyers and doctors and - gasp - Republicans. Some of us work in jobs that may be considered by others to be in the "Belly of the Beast," but continue to try to spread the light and love we have found with our family.
I wish you would come to a gathering. You would be surprised by what Rainbow is, and what it is not. You will not be required to take your clothes off or take part in any journeys to another dimension. If you wish to bliss out, you may do so, but you may choose any method you please, as long as you are not hurting anyone else. You can be as skeptical and obnoxious and challenging as you want. Not only will people continue to love you, some will actually like you the way you are and may even become your friends.
If you want to know something about us, all you have to do is ask. You do not need to attack or demean us. It would help if you would divest yourself of the pre-conceptions you have about us. We are all different. Please do not try to categorize or stereotype us. We are just people, like you, trying to do the best we can, who have a great love for each other and for the community we share - which in our case happens to be this incredible phenomenon caled the Rainbow Gathering.
In the Spirit of Reconciliation,