No worse place to be sick than at a Rainbow Gathering

Really. There isn’t.

See, throw half a chapatti in any direction at a Rainbow Gathering and you’ll hit half a dozen healers, shamans, students of alternative medicine and well wishers with a little book about Ayurveda. It seems no one thinks too much about politics or religion on the Rainbow but beliefs about health and healing are always the focus of fervent, sometimes heated discussion.

hippie healing

Couldn’t you just give me a paracetamol?

And so you stumble out of your tent feeling terrible, your head throbbing, your stomach churning. weak and in need of a little moral support. But rather than the cup of tea and a hug that you were hoping for, you’re likely to be the recipient of some of the world’s most questionable medical advice. Here are some of the gems I’ve heard at Gatherings.

  • breathe in the healing smoke of the fire
  • drink a glass of sea water every day
  • apply leeches
  • let flies stitch together the holes in your aura


For my part, when I get  ill at a Rainbow Gathering, I usually don’t tell anyone just to be sure of some peace of mind. On previous occasions I had people feeding me onions and sugar, rubbing my neck with crystals, giving me reiki from across the circle. But the worse instance was when, at the Bosnian European Rainbow Gathering in 2007, I caught a virus that left me too weak to walk to the spring without taking lots of breaks. In one of these pauses, while leaning against a rock, a brother passed by, saw I was sick and explained to me he had the cure. He pulled down his trousers and then frowned:

‘It’s not sex.’

He then proceeded to pee and declared that while the first and last parts were no good, the middle of the stream of my urine would heal all. The sight of a grown man greedily scooping up his own piss in front of me was about the only thing that could have made me feel worse at that moment.