Music festivals have been a part of our modern culture since the rise of Woodstock in 1969. Springing forth from the creative ambitions of counter-culture, these gatherings range from small local bands who play for a few hundred people, to world-famous acts that rake in hundreds-of-thousands of eager patrons from around the world. But despite the peaceful intentions that often lay the foundation of music festivals, festival-goers may find themselves perpetually linked to stereotypes of drug abuse, frivolousness, and social disregard.
Au contraire, my dear sirs!
Beyond these stereotypes lie the possibility for a great shift in perception. Perhaps music festivals are not a way for us to “drop out,” but instead are platforms for radical shifts to take place, for great movements to begin; here, like-minded people who hold high-hopes for the future can come together and celebrate our human potential.
My own exposure to music festivals began in 2012, when I first returned from a year abroad in China. After living in a culture where creative liberty was stifled within the parameters of a strict communist society, and personal expression was inhibited by the judging eyes of my Christian missionary peers, gatherings like Hangout Fest in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and Electric Forest in Grand Rapids, Michigan, gave me a mysterious sense that I’d landed on a different planet that had been awaiting my arrival.
When done right, a festival instills in you a sense of “One”-ness. A sense of community, unity, & love (all the things we are searching for when we pursue religion, yoga, meditation, and relationships) surges in the hearts of the people and in the landscapes that make up these events. Until recently, despite how much joy I felt while immersed in the festival atmosphere, I was weighed down by a sense of guilt for my desire to spend time and energy pursuing an activity that was neither career nor academically-focused. If it wasn’t making me money or earning me a degree, then a festival must just be a distraction, I was taught to believe; thus I feared I was somehow failing to “grow up,” and needed to find an excuse for my behavior.
Now that my career in yoga and art has led me to be more accepting of festival-going as a sort of business venture, I have given myself permission to enter guilt-free into more of these musical, transformative experiences. I have witnessed how shedding judgement can open our eyes to the beauty and possibilities of our global creative community banding together as One.
Over the past two weeks, I was given the opportunity to attend two very powerful festivals: Earthdance in Lakeland, Florida, and TomorrowWorld in the Chattahoochee Hills of Georgia.
Both festivals are global gatherings– one is made up of small groups spread throughout different locations around the world; the other brings people from every corner of the earth to form a mini-city in a giant celebration. Both festivals called for a shift in energy– cultivating peaceful, joyful, loving vibrations through positive images, rituals, and words. Through music and dance, encouragement of self-expression and recognition of every human being as a friend, everyone begins to feel how much power we have as individuals to change the world. We can see ourselves in one another, and stereotypes become laughable. It becomes clear that we ARE love, we are ALL love. By being allowed to show this love to one another, and to fully embrace and love ourselves as we are, perception shifts. Energy shifts. Fear and anger die away. Life and beauty rise up from the ashes like a Phoenix.
Music festivals lay the foundation for individuals to realize their potential, and for groups of people to recognize their power to change the world. The lesson here is that the communities built during a weekend of festival-going can be brought back into the “real world.” These two festivals taught and encouraged this, and for the first time, I saw how music festivals are not an escape from a reality–they are a solution to reality as we endure it today. Life does not have to be a struggle. We can work together to lift ourselves out of the muck. We as a human tribe can choose to once again embrace the earth and the love that courses through our veins. We, oh Awakened Ones, are the beginning of a Peaceful Revolution.
Tis the Age of Aquarius, and the nurturing energy of the Goddess. All things are aligning to pave the way for shifts to take place. The solution to a thriving world is on its way… we all felt it as we held hands and sang and danced to the rhythms of our souls.
THE MAGIC IS REAL.
Embrace it, and you will see.
by Courtney Graham, ShockT Designs– Wisdom in Clothing.