What Happens to the Magic Hat Money at the End of a European Gathering?

There aren’t many economists in the Rainbow.

I’ve often wondered just how much money flows in and out of the Magic Hat in a gathering but it’s rare that anyone holds the hat for more than a week or so as it’s a stressful job, and the finances recorded in the Magic Hat book are generally confused and illegible to my eye at least. Basically all anyone can say with much certainty is how much money is in the Magic Hat at any given moment. Either way it’s usually the case that there’s a whole lot of money left over at the end of a European Rainbow Gathering and yet by the seed camp of the Gathering next year the Magic Hat is once again empty.

The Magic Hat surplus is in theory meant to pay for the petrol bills of the scouts looking for a location for the next European Rainbow and pay for the first food orders and equipment needed for seed camp. But it’s hard to track down exactly who is looking after the money and what becomes of it. In fact, a certain degree of discretion is understandable as the Magic hat holder is besieged by requests and demands to release the money to fix a tipi, buy some land for ‘a permanent Rainbow’ or support a caravan of hippies travelling to a distant Gathering. I know one brother in Israel who just buried the Magic Hat money in the ground until the next year to put an end to the matter.

For years I’ve been hearing troubling stories about what happens to the money at the end of the Rainbow: stories of people gambling the leftover cash away, buying marijuana to sell ‘for the Family’, the funds being used to build houses in private communities in Iberia, and other Rainbow gossip. It’s hard to know if these tales have any foundation but money, if not the root of all evil, does make people behave in peculiar ways.

So this year in the European Rainbow Gathering in Lithuania we had a Magic Hat council and agreed that it wasn’t ethical to go round with the hat after food circle if the money collected was for anything other than the Rainbow itself. We resolved that all the money will go to the next seed camp in the Alps and the scouts can come with their receipts for the petrol they used to be paid back then. We spread the responsibility for decisions on when and where and to who to send the money over a dedicated Magic Hat team who will decide everything in an online group so that the pressure doesn’t fall on just one person.

Great Spirit willing, the seed camp for the Rainbow Gathering in the Alps can begin well funded and provided for next year. Let’s just hope that there aren’t seven seed camps spread out over Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Italy, France, Switzerland and Lichtenstein to choose from…

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