Intro to Somewhere Under the Rainbow – if you like it, feel free to support the author and buy the book!
It’s taken me a while to understand why I wrote this book.
On one hand I didn’t have much choice in the matter. Much of it was already written in my head over countless cups of chai around the fire, late night music sessions under the stars and rainy days of huddling under inadequate plastic tarps with other cold and damp hippies, big smiles on their faces. It was just a matter of putting it all onto paper.
I was a little hesitant to do so, however. Although they’ve been going on for over 40 years now, the Gatherings remain something of an open secret. The Rainbow is open to everyone and few leave the same way they came; they rejoin mainstream society with the strange glow in their eyes of a pilgrim who has returned from another world, another way of being. There could never, of course, be an official spokesperson for the Rainbow – there are as many points of view about the Gatherings as there are people who attend them – and yet I felt compelled to share my experience living with the Rainbow Family.
One of the greatest thrills in this life is to be part of something bigger than yourself. Whether it’s a movement, a religion, a project – there’s a certain magic in joining forces with others or devoting your life to something you believe in. It’s as close to the secret of happiness that I know of.
I first felt that sensation as an 18 year old arriving in India in the mid 90’s when the freak scenes in Goa and the Himalayas were going strong. There I found a small traveler community where it was the norm to take psychedelics, read esoteric texts, to have chosen another way of life.
Eventually – inevitably – however, the scene dissolved under a flood of development. I moved on to explore the rest of the world but never really found anything like it again. I drifted for a number of years over several continents, not really sure what I was looking for. I got quite lost, fell to pieces, put myself back together again and ended up wandering into the Rainbow Gatherings.
It wasn’t love at first sight. I had to melt a good deal of my skepticism before I found a sense of community and love in the Rainbow Gatherings that was simply the greatest gift I’d ever been given. I made friends in five minutes and companions for life. I got to work on and heal parts of myself that I didn’t even know existed. Eating mushy porridge, hugging sweaty hippies and choking on smoke around fires, I felt more welcome home than anywhere I’d ever been.
The term hippie conjures up all kinds of cliches these days where anyone can stick up two fingers and drawl out love and peace, man in a stoned voice and get a laugh. But there’s nothing funny about living in an increasingly neurotic, lonely world where we spend more time with our computers than with our loved ones. What is there to lose, after all, in hugging a stranger? Or singing all night with new friends inside a tipi?
There is, perhaps, the risk of being loved. Of opening your heart and letting others in. Your expectations of how happy you have any right to be might be threatened when you discover what fun it is to dance barefoot to the sound of a drum.
I’ve been going to Rainbow Gatherings in Europe and Israel for 12 years now and it’s been an incredible journey. I arrived a cynic, more interested in what I could get out of the Rainbow than what I could ever give. Like a pebble in the stream, however, my sharp edges were smoothed as I learned to open up to others and share myself in a way I never could have imagined.
This book then, is an attempt to share what the Rainbow has meant to me.
Somewhere Under the Rainbow, admittedly, relies a lot on anecdote and memory. I might have gotten some of the details wrong or taken the odd exaggerated story at face value. But believe me, even if everything in this book didn’t happen, it could have. Celebrational gatherings or 24 hour comedy shows, the Rainbows are never boring.
May everyone find their true colours.