The Oregon Eclipse Festival/Symbiosis 2017 - How one of the best events I’ve ever attended turned me into an eclipse chaser and renewed my hope for humanity
The Oregon Eclipse Festival 2017 was the most conscious and diversely attended gathering I have had the honor to be a part of. It was full of transformation on many levels, especially the totality of the eclipse! The unparalleled effort and work put forth by all of the producers and everyone who came was something that I will cherish all my lifetime.
I have participated in hundreds of gatherings over the past twenty plus years, including national and international Rainbow Gatherings, Burningman, countless retreats, workshops and conferences. I have created a livelihood for myself as a medicine woman and healer in order to participate in such gatherings and events. This is the first year that I chose to attend only one.
I could feel the energy of the Oregon Eclipse Festival 8 months ago and, quite honestly, my first reaction was “Oh, hell no--I don’t want to get caught up in that shit show!” Then I met Roberta, a medicine woman who is friends with the producers of Symbiosis. Roberta told me stories about what was forming for the event, how it was a collaboration between fourteen music and transformational festivals from around the world: Symbiosis Gathering (CA), Bass Coast (BC, Canada), Beloved Festival(Oregon), Envision Festival (Costa Rica), Hadra (France), Noisily Festival (United Kingdom), Festival Ometeotl (Mexico), Origin Festival (South Africa), Rainbow Serpent Festival (Australia), Re:Birth (Japan), Science and Non-Duality (California), Sonic Bloom (Colorado), Universo Paralello (Brazil), and Lightning in a Bottle (California). It didn’t stop there. Dozens of other production teams would be creating spaces for education, contemplation, reflection and exploration. Many temples, shrines and sanctuaries were being created to honor and nourish and encourage a conscious environment.
Roberta was creating a 1Nations Earth Camp, an alcohol and drug free space that would be held with ritual, ceremony, prayer, Elders Council, Native arts and skills classes, women’s circles and environmental education. There were also intensive workshops in ancestral ways, yoga, art, ritual, herbalism and permaculture before the event would begin.
Roberta asked if I would facilitate a firewalk for the crew and graduates of the workshops. I had such an intense flow of energy go through my body upon this proposal that it was impossible to deny the potential for growth and illumination. So, I said, “yes!” About a month before the firewalk, it became clear that a large fire was not appropriate for the land at that time--extreme precautions were put in place to avoid wild fires--so I was asked to present a talk at the event instead. I was intimidated. I am not at ease talking in front of large audiences especially with a microphone. My husband Brian and good friend Nancy encouraged me, “Sure you can do it! Of course you can do it!” they said. I kept asking myself, “what was I going to to get up and talk about?” They suggested to me to simply share my story.
Talk about myself! What!? Even more intimidating!
I spent some time with that intimidating feeling, allowing the support from my loved ones to land, and I surprised myself by saying “yes!” Then, the work of preparing began. I collected pictures and spent hours crafting what the talk what going to be about. It was distilled into “Cultivating Conscious Transformation--Discover Yourself through Everyday Ritual.” Through this process of preparing this talk, I became more aware of how I have transformed my life, how empowered I have become and how important it is to share that. I shared how I used to be really scared and anxious all of the time, couldn’t breathe or relax into my body, had constant pain and couldn’t sleep. I shared my journey with climbing, painting, knitting and becoming a medicine woman. I shared my experience with intention setting and creating a life I love in a place that fills me with gratitude and appreciation. I shared the little everyday rituals like breathing consciously, acknowledging beauty, and even simply greeting your neighbor. I utilized essential oils and plant medicine to open people further, and I created space for everyone to share their own stories and create personal intentions.
I realized that, in talking and sharing the simple rituals that I engaged in each day, that I was in a festival space that integrated everyday ritual with a global ritual. Attendees were surrounded by an incredible amount of cooperation, appreciation and gratefulness. Sure, the line to get in was crazy, but it felt like an initiation. Everyone I know that was prepared and could take care of themselves found that it slowed them down to the pace needed to fully integrate what was coming. A total solar eclipse.
During the totality of the eclipse I felt every emotion at once. I was both fearful and in joy. It was overwhelming and tranquil. I was looking into the eye of the universe and it was showing me how we are all connected. I experienced ultimate alignment within my soul in a way I have never experienced before--total understanding of the light and dark. I cracked open and began to weep as I felt that the pain and suffering of the earth and her people. It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life, and one of the most sacred rituals I have participated in.
Brian and I were at the Womb Temple, surrounded by thousands of people during the totality. At one point, a man started to lose it. It seemed that the demons were being released and he started yelling in a way that was scary, but people around him started to tone and hum and sing, and I found myself doing the same thing as if it was being pulled from me effortlessly. A music was formed that calmed and healed the man without any actual words. Magic. Hope. Love.
Some innovations and attention to detail that put this event above others and set a new standard for gatherings globally...
Ecozoic toilets-The question of how to deal with human waste at a large event is always an issue. Porta potties, even when their names are “Honey Buckets” can be disgusting and claustrophobic. The Oregon Eclipse Festival provided Ecozoic toilets. These use a natural occurring biological process which turns human waste into a useful probiotic fertilizer. BRAVO! They didn’t stink, were kept clean, there was plenty of space to move around in. It’s an inspiring solution for the equilibrium of our planet.
700+ scheduled activities and ceremonies-a vast assortment of music, talks, workshops, dance performances, art installations, hot air balloon rides, bath houses, boat taxis across the lake, giant water slides, tea houses, Permaculture greenhouses, horse rides on the Big Summit Prairie. Burning Embers from Standing Rock made the journey to ignite three sacred fires around the festival grounds. The last of the sacred fires were lit moments before the eclipse.
Diversity-70% of the tickets sold were to international visitors. During the totality, I sat with a couple from Russia and a woman from Brazil.
Ecological Initiatives-there was a strict pack-in/pack-out policy, zero waste policy, which means that only reusable or compostable dishes were used with the food vendors, green procurement policy, meaning that only reusable or recycled products were sold onsite or used in event infrastructure.
I am still in AWE and truly grateful for this experience. Thank you THANK YOU. This will not be my last total solar eclipse gathering...Chile here I come! Patagoaeclipse.com