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Rainbow Gatherings

Rainbow Gatherings
by Butterfly Bill

“There is no authoritarian hierarchy here. We have a tribal anarchy where we take care of each other, because we recognize that we are All One.

The Gathering works because each of us takes the responsibility for doing what needs to be done, and for teaching others.”

Since 1972, the Rainbow Family of Living Light has been gathering in tens of thousands on National Forest lands in the weeks leading up to and following the Fourth of July every summer, and in smaller numbers at other times thruout the year. During these times they create temporary villages in the woods where they try to create a society that lives according to this ideal.

This society also encourages

cooperative living
ecological responsibility
individual freedom
and overall – peace and love.

The gatherings are in all ways free; the people are free, and the gathering is free – there is no admission fee, and no money is exchanged within the gathering. They are open to all peaceful people, and no one is turned away. “The Rainbow is everybody who has a belly button.” It reaches out to the whole spectrum of humanity.

This is a memoir of 14 summers of going to these Rainbow Gatherings, from my first Gathering in North Carolina in 1987, followed by many regionals and nationals from Vermont to Oregon until the one I attended in Montana in 2000. It also covers some of the winters in between. It provides detailed descriptions of day-to-day living in this utopian experiment, and shows the ways these gatherers fail and succeed at actually attaining these ideals. In contrast to the many accounts available by news reporters who have come to a gathering for the first time in their lives, this account is by a person who has experienced nearly all spheres of activity at a gathering, over many years.

I describe the people who make the Gathering go and various parts of its infrastructure in the order that I was introduced to them myself, giving many details. I examine their central ideal of anarchism, a society with no leaders, and describe how in spite of this leadership can arise spontaneously out of people trying to work together. I also examine their ideals of non-violence and non-coercion, and describe how successfully conflicts are resolved in peaceful ways and people are inspired to do things voluntarily.

Dr. Michael I. Niman, author of People of the Rainbow – a Nomadic Utopia, has called this a “native ethnography”, “because of its attention to detail and methodological deconstruction of the Gatherings as physical and social entities. The author is a native participant writing about his own introduction to the Rainbow Family and his eventual self-identification as a Rainbow.” (Read all of his review.)

368 pages, 21 chapters, 152,000 words, with an index, written music to 10 Rainbow chants, and selections from the 1995 Rainbow Guide Mini-Manual

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