It was just after twilight in a meadow where a bonfire and drum circle were swelling to life. A naked man with a didgeridoo appeared from nowhere. The slender 20-something asked my friend and I if we knew where his pants were (we did not), if we had noticed he was nude (we had), and if I was tripping (I was not). He proceeded to tell us about the Hindu goddess of death, Kali, who he said is taking over the world.
In any other setting this encounter would be (understatedly) unexpected, but at a Rainbow Gathering I quickly learned rules of the modern world don’t apply. The goal of the Rainbow Family is simple, one many might call idealistic – come to nature to celebrate oneness, peace and love through community, music, dance, and meditation. It’s a place where, according to the Rainbow Gathering “mini-manual” handed out to participants, anyone with a bellybutton, no matter their race, religion or background, is welcome as long as there is shared love and respect “without anyone getting hurt.”
After a discussion with my editor we decided I should head out to the gathering, just 40 minutes from Jasper, to see what it was all about.