2013 national rainbow gathering – beaverhead-deerlodge national forest Montana

HDR Sunset

Watching the sunset from the top of the hill.

In July of 2009 I wandered into a meadow in the Santa Fe national forest and found a sense of home that I had been longing for. The woods were filled with a tribe of people from many different walks of life coming together to share, learn, and celebrate with each other. That was my first experience with the rainbow family of living light and every July since then I’ve traveled thousands of miles if necessary to make sure I could step in that meadow, feel the warm embrace of a hug, and hear what has become the most important words to my heart; “welcome home.”

I’m writing this post from the town of Dillon, Montana; a place on the map that I never knew existed and will likely never return to. 60 miles from the site of the gathering, this town of less 5,000 people has become either the last bit of civilization you see or the first depending on whether you’re coming or going. Right now it is overrun with rainbows giving this town a narrow glimpse of the type of people willing to travel thousands of miles to live in the woods for a couple of weeks.

My trip started when I flew into Seattle on July 1st. I was picked up at the airport by a car full of people and gear being driven by a guy named Jim. Jim was moving across the country to Mississippi and was bringing some hippies home in the process. He wasn’t the typical rainbow kid and that made for a hilarious drive as we listened to gangster rap, smoked blunts, and talked about about the gathering. I told him about the phrase “six up,” which is yelled when law enforcement agents are spotted at the gathering. His response was “damn nigga, that’s how we roll in the projects.”

Smoking a newport cigarette.

He smoked newports.

The 13 hours we spent in the car getting to the gathering was beautiful. I watched the sunset from the backseat of the car and learned definitively what the term purple mountains majesty meant. The pinks and purples and oranges that painted the sky was a treat to see each night before darkness settled in on us in big sky country.

2013 National Rainbow Gathering

We arrived at the site around 11:30PM.  The crew I was with split off in our separate directions with the driver of the vehicle heading off to front gate to drink beer with the shwilly kids who hang out there.  I was heading towards upper bus village to find my friends on The Colaboratory.  I found the bus parked on the side of the road, and figuring it was pretty late I decided to just sleep in front of it and see everyone in the morning.

I laid out under the stars that dotted the sky above me.  I found a pleasant feeling in my heart as I thought about how kind the universe has been to me and the things that I have seen.  I thought about some of the things I have been working on, appreciating my progress, and the enjoying the lessons learned along the way.  Then I thought about how much further I have to go and all of the things I still have to see and learn.  I ended up not putting up my tent and spending each night of the week under those stars.

I spent the week eating pizza, curry, raw salads, delicious baked goods, and never going hungry.  I danced in costumes around the fire to the beats of drums that could be heard from miles away.  I sang songs that have been passed down for generations and sometimes we sang songs that we made up as we went along.  I laughed, cried, smiled, hugged, kissed, and held with the intention of just opening my heart and letting love pour out.  I shared stories, jokes, inspiration, and listened intently to whatever everyone had to say.


Main Circle at the 2013 national rainbow gathering in Montana

I’m going to close this post out with an excerpt from my journal to sum it all up.

“I write this with tears streaming down my face as they often do while I’m here.  I can hear the sound of a bow gliding across the strings of a violin carrying the song “somewhere over the rainbow” into the distance.  I came here with the intention of reconnecting with a part of myself that I let escape; a childlike creature that views the world through rose colored glasses with a endless sense of curiosity and adventure.  I am once again reminded that we are all eternal beings of infinite light and love.  And with that, anything is possible.”

More photos from the 2013 national rainbow gathering.

  • traveler

    thanks bro’……..walk in peace

    • http://chuckmanley.com Chuck Manley

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  • RainbowUnicorn

    I’m so happy that I was there. Hope I see you this year wherever we end up. :)