An Open Letter to a Young Lady Pursuing Attending her First Rainbow National/Annual Gathering

I have edited this to protect the identity of the young adult woman I wrote this to on a public forum on Facebook (I’ve replaced her first name with the name “Urchia” – I hope she likes it!). She had appealed to the entire group of over 3700 members to help her find a kitchen or camp to join that would be willing to speak to her mother, who was withholding “permission” to attend the 2018 National Rainbow Gathering unless her daughter (who is already of age and will be 20 years old during the event) could present a group of people that would reassure her of “proof of organization,” a “leader that could reassure that her baby is in good hands,” and an “itinerary with emergency numbers.”

I have a lot to say about the Rainbow gatherings in general, both glowing recommendations and first-hand accounts of deep corruption and danger. However, that writing will take up much more time than this one open letter. With more support and opportunity, I can write more.

With that,

Dear Urchia,

Urchia, I have spent half of my work-day so far drafting a response to your post and have scrapped a couple of thousand words already. I feel called to offer you the most help I can. I hope that this post well-synthesizes my points, which come from different angles.

What other people are saying about the physical demands of the gathering are very true. Yet, with a “hobble,” you could still get by. People will help you. I have had people sherpa my bags for me for miles when I couldn’t walk anymore. You could walk in naked and within 15 minutes have a full equipment set. Seriously. That’s what happens at the gathering if you are open to it. Especially if you’re newbie- most gatherers will bring extra whatever just because they know someone will need it, or even part with their own items for the same reason.

The gatherings are vast – yes, miles and miles of trails. You could definitely arrange with a camp ahead of time to align and stay with them, but chances are, as you walk through the gathering you will find so many areas and groups that you will find somewhere you did not expect, and know in your heart that is your place. To plan ahead with a group you don’t even know may appease your Mom, but it would severely limit your growth and exploration. You can walk through the gathering at whatever speed you want. Sometimes it takes a good day and a half to even make it in a quarter of a mile because you meet people that you love and end up staying at their kitchen until the wind changes, then it’s off to somewhere else. Rainbow is not a “tour guide” experience.

Other people suggested inviting your parents. This could, yes, be a wonderful bonding experience. But it sounds like your parents are averse to you going in the first place and are trying to create challenges for you to meet to make it harder for you to go – making you “plead a case.” I apologize for passing judgments but I have nothing to go on but the information you have provided. It seems like your mother doesn’t like the idea at all. If she went, it could potentially bring out with extreme clarity the true dynamic between the two of you and you would have to make a choice between fulfilling her expectations, or pursuing your own path. Honestly, from a distance, it seems like that is what this challenge is all about for you. The gathering is basically 9 months away. Metaphor for the day – perhaps this is your incubation period for your own freedom. You seem extremely diplomatic, brave, and full of light and dreams for your future. You will soon learn that if you continue to have to get “permission slips” from your mother than you will never be able to fulfill your own path. While under her roof, yes, you have to abide by her rules as long as they do not abuse you or infringe on your rights. But, if Rainbow is what you are really pursuing, you will soon learn that asking anyone for permission for anything you want to do on your own is a fast track to being sucked into submission and possibly abuse. Rainbow is a magical world. Really weird and intense stuff happens there. Before the internet, it was all word of mouth, and people would travel cross-country on nothing but basically echolocation to get there. It’s totally unlike the way that the towns and cities are set up.

Some others have suggested that to tell you to follow your own path is disrespectful to your parents with whom you seem to have a beneficial symbiotic relationship. However, one thing stands out to me: you are 20, and still asking permission, and at almost a year in advance, to go to an event. This is very alarming. You do NOT need permission. It is so admirable that you are going to such great lengths to honor your parents by asking the questions you are asking. However, as other people have stated, kitchens and camps are not going to be able to offer a “leader” or any of the structures for care taking their “baby” that your mom seems to want. You aren’t a baby. You’re an extremely articulate, diplomatic young woman who seems to be very skilled at negotiating and planning ahead, and navigating the world as you know it. No matter what kitchen you may arrange with, you won’t be “in anyone’s hands.” The gathering is sort of like a jungle, baby. No one is going to look after you. And if someone is looking after you, you better be careful because there are a lot of creepers out there. Some spaces are “notably safe.” Krishna Camp is one that I have found to be in this category. But, the people who facilitate these camps are extremely busy, and both tight-knit and loose-knit at the same time. What your Mom is expecting, just straight up is not going to happen. Perhaps she can be appeased this far in advance, but if she expects surveillance, she isn’t going to be able to do it at Rainbow, and if she could, it would really put a lid on your experience.

When I was 17, after I graduated high school, I went to Europe by myself. I paid for the trip with money I had saved, and when I told my mother I was going, she threatened to “call customs and have them stop me.” I went, and came back, with no incident. I am so glad that I took that step, and although much time has passed (I am now 32) my mother and I continue to mature our relationship. I still live in her house. She now respects that I can handle my own. And I respect that she cares so much about me that she would try to enforce restrictions to protect me, but we both know that you can’t keep children babies for long, or dogs puppies for long, or trees sprouts for long. But, please know, that you will never grow, unless you can go off on your own at least sometimes. Eventually, Urchia, you will have to learn to look your mother in the eye, WITH RESPECT, and say, “Mom, I love you, but I need to do this, and I will be OK, and I will see you when I get back. Please trust me.” She will either respect you more for it, or won’t… but ultimately you have only your own inner peace, or inner chaos, to reckon with. You do have a choice – you can choose to follow your mother’s decree, and I am sure your life will be very comfortable and loving with that dynamic, but at what cost? If you do present her with what she is asking for, and she says yes, will you feel as though you have succeeded? What if she retracts her allowance? Will you accept her retraction and stay? Are you willing to give her the power to control your movements like that?

Another story of mine… I had been asking my mother to let me have a dog since age 5. For decades, my mother forbade me to adopt one. I was living in her house and so acquiesced to her, but my soul deep down knew that without a canine companion, I lacked a piece of me. The winter after I turned 30, she “agreed” to let me adopt. I bursted with joy!!! I had gone to the shelter, started looking, was going through the process, and then one day, my brother freaked out at the idea. My family had a “conversation” which was actually them yelling upstairs – without me to present my voice – and my mother came down into my apartment to tell me that she had “decided” that I could no longer get a dog. No discussion. No negotiation. Nothing. As fast as she gave me the permission, she took it away, and of course at that point I had no recourse. That summer I went to Nationals in Vermont and I was offered the opportunity to adopt my Beatrice. I took her back to my childhood home a couple of months later, after sending pics to my mother, and although it took some time, everyone there accept Beatrice now. My parents even take her for walks when I have to be out for a while, and buy her food and rawhides just because they want to. You may be so surprised at what happens when you claim your birthright unapologetically – with respect, yes. Respect for yourself and for what you know is right for you. You may be surprised at the respect that blossoms in your family when you are the one to pave the way and be brave to overcome barriers. You may end up becoming the one in your family that people go to when they are having a confusing experience and need counsel from someone who has traversed the unknown. Trust yourself. Be diplomatic but please do not allow your dreams to be manipulated by your “elders.”/ You seem like an extremely capable and straight-laced young lady. You’re not going to become an addict or degenerate. You may become a warrior. In order to become a warrior, you have to forge your own path. You’re already there, Lady.

Ultimately the dissent that is arising in the responses to this thread are alerting you to the very important choice you are presented with: how are you going to pursue your own dreams while the people who you are closest to are so against you doing so on your own accord? There is only one way to learn for real, and that is with experience.

Consider making the choice to go to Rainbow like going to college, or pursuing the major you WANT TO STUDY in college as opposed to what your family wants you to study…or joining the military, or getting involved in a serious intimate relationship with another person. It has the potential to change you – in fact it will change you – and it will change your relationship with your family. You will be taking your own life into your own hands. This seems like a fork in the road for you Urchia in terms of how you live your life on the whole.

I am just going to leave it there for now. Feel free to contact me either publicly or privately on here if you have more questions. I want to help you ❤ Love light courage and magic to you Urchia.

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