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WHAT IS PSYTRANCE?

WHAT IS PSYTRANCE?

by Mario Miotti

A History of Psychedelic Trance.

Trance is defined as an elevated state of consciousness induced by meditation or by the stimulation of our senses.

“Well the technical definition would be music with repetitive beats, but actually trance music is regarded as a type of music that stimulates a neurological effect in the brain that tickles the endorphins to make them come alive and allow consciousness to be expanded through the cosmic sound of music.” – Raja Ram- DJ

Psychedelic trance, often referred to as psytrance, is a form of trance music that developed from ‘Goa Trance’, It has a unique and complex sound with specific properties: a powerful rhythmic base, 140+ beats per minute, layers of acoustical or synthesized traditional instruments (gongs, guitars, drums, didgeridoos, etc.) and often played live and spontaneous.

“Trance music goes way back to the early caveman. They were dancing around the campfire at night and banging bones on bones, making a little percussion, chanting, and going into trance under the moon and the stars. Today, in the 21st century, we are still doing the same thing. And the idea is that if you dance to this kind of particularly psychedelic music at faster bpms… and you do it for some time, you can go into a trance, or a trance-like state. And sometimes, you even have transcendent experiences, where you go outside of your body and beyond the normal world, into something special, something beyond words. Most of these things we can’t describe in words. But that’s what the idea of trance music is. And to me, it’s a special magic that we can’t get any other way. When you want to dance, and get high from dancing to music, this trance music takes us in a special way like nothing else does. It can be deeply meaningful with other people and within your own self.” Chicago- DJ

Sound impacts our bodies in a way no other art does. The sound of music, it’s pulses and vibrations, affects us physically. The higher frequencies have divisions of lower frequencies, essentially accelerating you, in a very gentle way.

Elena Mannes, in her book ‘The Power of Music’, says that scientists have found that music stimulates more parts of the brain than any other human function. And that archaeologists have discovered ancient flutes- one of which is presumed to be the oldest instrument in the world- that plays a scale similar to the modern western scale. She writes, “This human relationship to sound starts early. The fetus begins to develop an auditory system between seventeen and nineteen weeks. Already, we are in a world of sound, of breath and heartbeat, of rhythm and vibration.”

The physical value cannot be underestimated. “You don’t actually dance to psytrance- psytrance dances you.” – Visionary Artist Android Jones.

“For me, trance music is ALL about dancing. That’s the essence of it for me, the dancing. There are lots of peripheral aspects but the essential things … the kick drum, the tempo, the baseline being a constant, no chord changes, create a hypnotic groove that if you dance to it for a while, you find yourself being overtaken by the music … and then you spontaneously move your body … and then your body takes over… and then you can spend some time outside of your mind, just like an active meditation. And that’s good for the soul.” – Billy Cosmosis, DJ

Psychedelic derives from the Greek word ´Psike` (mind) and ´Deloun` (relative to the sensational). In this expression, psike-deloun describes a manifestation of the spirit, the mind, and the soul. The simplest example would be that you see and feel what you are thinking but through your physical senses, from what had otherwise originated within your consciousness. Something like your own personal projection screen of mind into perceived reality.

“It has become the new form of spiritual culture, where before we had classical, jazz, and rock and roll. All of which were great, and I love, but trance is part of the new evolution which has happened post computers, in this new electronic age that we have developed into. Before all of this it wasn’t really possible. It’s all changed: instead of everybody having a guitar, everybody has a laptop; instead of everybody going into a studio, now you can sit on your porch with a sea behind you, making these incredible sounds. And then play them for your friends and your children, creating a family event. It’s for everybody.” – Raja Ram- DJ

In distinct comparison, all other forms of electronic music are around 120-128 beats per minute. Psy Trance music is between 135-145 beats per minute. It’s powerful, fast, multi-layered and emotional.

Eamon Armstrong, for Everfest, writes: “A complete psytrance experience follows a cycle which allows trancers to do deep psycho-spiritual work during the course of the musical session. It begins with Full On, the celebratory style of trance that is most popular. As the sun sets, pystrance typically moves into Twilight and the sound becomes darker. Twilight then turns into Forest, which is faster and has a tendency for more complicated and almost menacing sounds. It’s in Forest that you hear evil robot aliens and invading intergalactic insects. While this style is more aggressive, it allows the trancer to shake and work through more complex emotional experiences.” Read the excellent, well researched article here: Boom Festival: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Surrender to Psytrance.

Psytrance will be the kind experience that takes courage to walk towards, but in the end, you will certainly be happy that you did.

“The thing that happens on the psytrance dance floor that is so fundamentally different is that when it clicks, it’s almost like you’ve entered into a secret society. There’s a feeling your entire body gets when you’re getting initiated. It’s not abstract anymore. It’s like when you first ‘get’ yoga or meditation. There is this huge deep thing that existed long before you and will exist long after you and now you’re a part of it- along with everyone else. You realize there’s this higher degree of intelligence that’s been waiting for you this whole time.” – Android, DJ

“Trance culture and the psytrance subculture is a difficult thing to define, a few things in the mix: eastern spirituality, dreadlocks, hippies, beaches, hedonism, dancing… a mix of all those things. It’s got its excesses from my point of view, which are not so good, some unhealthy aspects, but on the whole, I’m happy to support and be a part of an envoy of taking it around the world. Because generally speaking most people are ecologically aware, they have dropped outside of the rat race, or are peripherally involved in it: creative types, almost an alternative nascent culture. I quite dig it. I’m happy to promote it via the music. The music is the focal point of it, it creates the social place where people meet and perform their dancing together. It’s international and global in scope… with all types of cultures contributing. It’s also, generally speaking, quite a positive force, mainly because people are groping for a new paradigm, how to live a creative life, a life that’s satisfying.” – Billy Cosmosis, DJ

“To be honest, Psy Trance is great and all with small crowds, but when its played for thousands and thousands of people, it’s got an energy unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Its finally getting that big stage to shine on and the instant success is the proof in the pudding all of us long-time-trancers always knew it would, if given the chance.” – Treavor Moontribe.

Bo Nuanual, for an article in The Untz, writes.. “In June of 1993, the now legendary Moontribe full moon gatherings began, and a prominent sound of these events was a new thing some called Goa Trance and others fittingly called Psychedelic Trance. As a genre, it’s taken nearly a quarter century to have its moment in the sun in the United States, which is odd considering how many legendary names in American electronic music got their start on psy, and how unbelievably popular it is as a whole the world over; South America, Europe, Australia, the Middle East, Asia—you name it. One of the last men standing from that first era of American Psy Trance DJs and organizers is the co-founder of those wild desert parties, Treavor Moontribe. If you recognize the name and you’re not in the psy community, that’s probably because you know him as one half of global bass and downtempo duo Desert Dwellers with Amani Friend.” For a full interview go read Bo’s article here: Treavor Moontribe: A Quarter Century of Psy Trancing in America.

Infected Mushroom is one of the biggest acts in the psy scene today and one of the best-selling groups in Israeli music history. Performing both as DJs and as a live act, they have reached a significant amount of crossover recognition since their debut in 1996. When asked how they would describe PsyTrance, they said, “Psy trance differs from typical Trance because it isn’t fluffy or commercial-sounding. Where Trance can be uplifting and euphoric, it lacks the heavy-handed emotional nature of psy. It uses melodies that achieve a level of pleasing harmony, whereas psy uses melodies that can be characterized as ‘sinister’ or ‘dark’. Goa Psytrance tends to be even quicker than other forms of Psychedelic Trance, and is often influenced by the sounds of the East, especially India. Trance is like skipping around in a flower garden, whereas true Goa Trance is like jumping on all of the flowers in the patch.”

“There were literally people involved in organizing Moontribe with me that quit because they hated Goa so much. I find it’s still this way in America, but luckily there is a whole new generation loving it and in great numbers. So, regardless of the haters, it’s finding a way to shine through so strongly that it just cannot be held back any longer!” – Treavor Moontribe

Psy Trance now is a broad term and within it there are sub-genres that were created in metropolitan cities of Europe and America for the purpose of commercializing the music. These new versions drew from influences which made the music mellower, funkier and more progressive. However, Goa Trance and what today’s Psytrance sounds like is far different.

If we try to understand the evolution of Psy-Trance then, it is necessary to travel back to the sixties, to that place in India called Goa. It is there that hippies, searching for harmony with nature, and tired of their life in postindustrial society, began visiting to renew the practice of their liberties. With rejuvenated freedoms, they celebrated on beaches and threw psychedelic parties influenced by the music they had grown up with, genres ranging from Acid Rock to Reggae.

We use the term ‘hippie’ because during that era, that is how they were referred to. The word hippie came from hipster and was initially used to describe beatniks who had moved into New York City’s Greenwich Village and San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. The term hippie was first popularized in San Francisco by Herb Caen, who was a journalist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Wikipedia states, “The origins of the terms ‘hip’ and ‘hep’ are uncertain. By the 1940s, both had become part of African American jive slang and meant ‘sophisticated; currently fashionable; fully up-to-date’. The Beats adopted the term hip, and early hippies inherited the language and counter-cultural values of the Beat Generation. Hippies created their own communities, listened to psychedelic music, embraced the sexual revolution, and used drugs such as marijuana, LSD, peyote and psilocybin mushrooms to explore altered states of consciousness.”

However, although the name and origin of the music comes from entheogenic experimentation (any psychoactive substance that induces a spiritual experience), we do not believe a mind-altering substance is necessary to step into the state of trance.

The hippies of the 60’s famed era, favored long hair and casual, often unconventional, dress, sometimes in “psychedelic” colors. They advocated nonviolence and love: a popular phrase of theirs being “Make Love, Not War,” leading them to acquire the moniker: “flower children.” They promoted openness and tolerance as alternatives to the restrictions and regimentation that they saw in middle-class society; often practicing open sexual relationships and living in various types of family groups. They commonly sought spiritual guidance from sources outside the Judeo-Christian tradition, particularly Buddhism and other Eastern religions, and sometimes in various combinations. Astrology was also popular, and the period of the 60’s was often referred to as the Age of Aquarius.

Public gatherings—part music festivals, sometimes protests, often simply excuses for celebrations of life—were an important part of the hippie movement. The first “be-in,” called the Gathering of the Tribes, was held in San Francisco in 1967. A three-day music festival known as Woodstock, held in rural New York state in 1969, drew an estimated 400,000–500,000 people and became virtually synonymous with the movement.

In today’s day and age, the word ‘hippie’ is interpreted in many different ways, but in essence still refers to the values that hold true: believing peace and love are essential in an increasingly globalized society, supporting health with fresh local food diets, espousing sustainability and permaculture, and using herbal medicines as preventative measures against disease. Currently, people of all ages and placement in society can espouse ‘hippie culture’ in terms of how they want to live their lives, without actually ‘being hippies’ as one would depict them straight out of Dazed and Confused.

But back in the 60’s, in the Haight/Ashbury districts of San Francisco, hippies gathered in radical protest against the ‘system’. They were opposed to: materialism, conformism, enslaved work, societal control, greed, competition, class differences, racial segregation, ideological repression, and governmental bureaucracies that destroyed the fluency of life. They expressed their psychedelic style through youthful, daring fashion, colorful graphic art and music by seminal cultural artists such as Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, The Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Jefferson Airplane and Pink Floyd.

But as that era drew to a close and crackdowns on their freedoms increased, they looked for other places in the world to live out their desired life. So, in the 70’s they migrated to the beaches of Goa (India) where there were no restrictions on how they wished to live. The beach of Anjuna was the most favorited; and when eventually their acid-parties influenced the rest of the world, they contributed to what would become known as the ‘Summers of Love’.

At its core then, Psytrance was the evolutionary soundtrack to the lives of the people that were part of that process. Through the revolution of the 60’s, to the rebirth in Goa in the 70’s, through to the blending of Acid Rock and Regge traditions with DJ-led trance dance culture. A culture that grew and absorbed innovations in original EDM productions, performance and aesthetics from all around the world. And because of the transformation and the significance of the music to the lifestyle, much of psytrance today is still very much deeply based in spirituality, exploration, rebirth and discovery.

It presumes that you will, in a trance-like state, dancing amongst others, journey into a connected existence with all that is happening inside the environment of where you hear the music (and perhaps beyond). And through that, you will be moved. Moved to thought, to intention, to inspiration, to reaching into something you will want to return to later. It is for this reason that psytrance festival locations tend to be forests, ruins, or near bodies of water, where energetic fields tend to always be at their highest. And away from the adulterating forces of industrial life. In combination with these settings, the music and the energy allows one to ‘fall into the beat’ and travel down those ‘thought roads’ of the meditative state.

The trance part of the experience is more or less the ‘ultimate’ part of the experience.

And though the presence of mind altering substances are certainly present, true music festivals are not used for mindless substance abuse. They are created and delivered on the foundations of ‘hippie culture’, where the reason for doing what you are doing is carried on the back of a value system that has deep roots in the culture of societal freedom, love and expression. These festivals espouse tolerance, acceptance, and well-being, with the purpose of the event understood as a ceremony of ritual wherein the primary element is the harmony between the people involved. You get spectacular music being played through incredible sound systems. And through its deep undertones, pitches and wandering riffs, a collective experience is created, shared and remembered.

In Canada we have 2 events in Quebec: Eclipse Festival and Timeless Festival. Both held in beautiful forest campground settings, beside rivers and lakes, where under normal circumstances you would enjoy a magnificent camping experience, let alone one that came with a festival!

In the US, the psytrance festivals are merged in with other genres of music, to produce a more rounded musical experience where a Psytrance stage is just a part of an overall variety of choice. The biggest of these festivals are: Arise (Loveland, Colorado- August), Down To Earth (Ferndale, NY- August), One Love Experience (Lake Perris, California- October) and Symbiosis Gathering (California), which is our personal favorite and the gold standard of music festival experience in North America. This year Symbiosis Gathering is occurring in Oregon as the Oregon Eclipse Gathering in collaboration with 10 other worldwide festivals who will have a curated environment inside the main grounds.

The most famous, and completely Psytrance festival, is Boom Festival (Portugal). In his article for Everfest, Eamon Armstrong writes:

“Boom is known to be a foremost destination for psytrance enthusiasts, but it’s really more of a festival of psychedelic culture. It’s an independent gathering with no sponsorship and is also the largest festival in Portugal, one of the least wealthy of advanced Western economies. As opposed to weekend-long U.S. festivals with high ticket prices, Boom is much more affordable and has a strong social policy on tickets. Travelers from across the globe come for music, workshops, art, activist hubs, family environments, and the incredible atmosphere. Indeed, there are over 150 countries represented in the week-long intentional community. It is a favorite of some of the most popular artists of the visionary genre, with Android Jones, Daniel Popper, Amanda Sage, Carey Thompson, and Chris Dyer creating dynamic pieces specifically for the event. Speakers come from far and wide, including modern technology leaders and venerable wisdom-keepers from indigenous traditions.”

We hope you are encouraged to adventure into the world of psytrance and a psytrance festival near you. It might be the beginning of a truly rewarding and exciting path.

More psytrance festivals can be found in this list here, Popular Psytrance Festivals.

All photography by Mario Miotti

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THE HISTORY OF MUSIC FESTIVALS

by Mario Miotti

THE HISTORY OF MUSIC FESTIVALS

What is a music festival?

Type in Music Festival in Wikipedia and you get this definition, “A music festival is a festival oriented towards music that is sometimes presented with a theme such as musical genre, nationality, locality of musicians, or holiday. They are commonly held outdoors and are often inclusive of other attractions such as food and merchandise vending, performance art, and social activities. Many festivals are annual or repeat at some other interval. Some festivals are organized as for-profit concerts and others are benefits for a specific cause. Another type of music festival is the educative type, organized annually in local communities, regionally, or nationally, for the benefit of amateur musicians of all ages and grades of achievement.”

Type in Transformational Festival in Wikipedia and you get this definition, “A transformational festival is a counterculture festival that espouses a community-building ethic, and a value system that celebrates life, personal growth, social responsibility, healthy living, and creative expression. Transformational alludes both to personal transformation (self-realization) and steering the transformation of culture toward sustainability. Some transformational festivals resemble music festivals but are distinguished by such features as seminars, classes, drum circles, ceremonies, installation art (or other visual art), the availability of whole food and bodywork, and a Leave No Trace policy. Transformational festivals are held outdoors, often in remote locations, and are co-created by the participants. The events are psychedelic inspired, involving visionary art, speakers on topics of entheogenic substances, as well as audio and visual entertainment intended to amplify psychedelic experiences…. Many attendees disengage conservative social norms and identify as an “evolved culture”—a worldview influenced by millenarian archetypes of planetary transcendence and the evolution of consciousness.”

The term “festival” first showed up in the English language in the middle of the 16th century, derived from “feast” and most often centered around the harvest. Throughout history, music has played an important role at these mass cultural gatherings. For example: The Pythian Games at Delphi may be one of the earliest festivals known around 6th century BC, that featured competitions of musical ability in addition to the physical feats for which they are primarily remembered.

Held on a dairy farm in Bethel, NY, 1969’s Woodstock Festival was called “An Aquarian Exposition.” Age of Aquarius (1940) is an astrological epoch that is supposed to have begun in the 1960s, embodying the traits of this sign and characterized by world peace and human brotherhood. The term and the concept probably got a boost in popular culture due it’s use in this festival.

The three-day event featured 32 acts including The Grateful Dead, Canned Heat, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin. Although organizers planned for around 50,000 people, around 200,000 tickets were sold and when over 500,000 people showed up, they were forced to remove the fence and turn it into a free concert. As the most famous festival of all time, it left a legacy that captures the free-love spirit of that decade.

“It could be argued, though, that Woodstock was the moment that “counterculture” became trademarked and entered the mainstream conscious. Corporate interests realized the financial gain presented by festival culture, thus setting off a chain of simulacra that would eventually water down the hippie movement into a caricature of itself. If anything, this should reiterate key lessons set forth in the festival idealism: Everything changes, joy is ephemeral, and we should always live in the moment.” Writes Patrick Chamberlain in A (Brief) 1,000 Year History of Music Festivals for Everfest.

On a beach in San Francisco in 1986, a few friends burned a nine-foot effigy of a man in the name of radical self-expression. They didn’t know it then, but the act set off a chain of events that would change festival culture, even society at large, forever. Four years later, on a dry lake bed in the Black Rock Desert north of Reno, Burning Man was founded as an expression of a “Dadaist temporary autonomous zone,” a free-form expression of community and creativity manifested through music, art, installations, social experiments and good ol’ fashioned revelry.”

So, if the alternative, counterculture spirit of festivals has evolved into more mainstream, all-encompassing events, what were they in the time frame between counterculture and the musical competitions of the Middle Ages? Because clearly, although 1969’s Woodstock may be the most talked-about music festival in history- and its evolutionary successor in Burning man following suit-  those certainly weren’t the first of their kind.

Patrick writes, “Celtic and Gaelic cultures held cultural fairs from as far back as the year 1000 AD, named Mods in Scotland and Feis in Ireland, of which dance competitions were major aspects. People gathered en masse throughout Europe for renditions of classical music, although these events were often reserved for the upper crust.”

The two longest (continuously running) music festivals in the world still in existence are Pinkpop in the Netherlands (1970) and The Oregon County Fair (1969) in the USA. By sheer coincidence they represent the opposite ethos’ of festivals: corporate ‘multi-concert’ music festival and ‘transformational’ non-profit, charitable, educational music festival, respectively. However, neither of those are ‘true’ camping music festivals, nor are they best examples of the ‘transformational music festivals’ that we are interested in here at Sparked.

So, what is a festival to us now? and specifically a modern camping music festival? One brings to mind the music, the dancing, the art, the community, the opening up of your mind to non-conformist views as tools to live your life.

In a book titled ‘Music Festivals and the Politics of Participation,’ Roxy Robinson writes about hundreds of ’boutique’ gatherings that have popped up in the UK and all over the world, drawing hundreds of thousands of festival-goers into the fields. Why has this happened? In her richly detailed study, Dr. Roxy Robinson uncovers the dynamics that have led to the formation and evolution of the modern festival scene. Tracing the history of the culture as far back as the fifties, her book examines the tensions between authenticity and commerce as festivals grew into a widespread, professionalized industry.

At Everfest, they created a Fest Test tool to help them decide if an event is merely that — an event, or if it is something greater: a festival. These are not absolute criteria that would apply in every case, but rather philosophical qualities that are representative in most, and certainly the best, festivals.

The Everfest Fest Test rules are …

1) Festivals have an ethos of discovery and are about having fun.

2) Festivals are multi-dimensional, encourage participation, and offer various types of activities and stimuli.

3) Festivals can include anyone with the means to attend.
They may charge for admission but should not discriminate by race, age, gender, religion, or otherwise be private clubs.

4) Festivals physically occur in the real world.
They remind us that there is a human social network where we meet old and new friends.

5) Festivals should be celebrations worthy of the test of time.
They should recur or intend to recur.

George McKay, Professor of Cultural Studies at Salford University, said, “Festivals are deeply rooted in the carnival tradition, which is to invert everyday expectations of normal behavior. Historically, carnivals would have a ‘lord of misrule’ who oversaw the revelries and subversion of the ordinary rules of life. Music festivals continue to be places where we can escape reality and subvert the rules – whatever age we happen to be.

The best festivals take it to a new level. They are here not just to entertain you, but to heal you, to teach you, to inspire you, to give you the framework to unleash your curiosity and adventure. You can attend numerous workshops and talks by the best gurus in the world. You can learn how to eat better, how to use essential oils, and what organic really means. You can learn about the advances in bio science, spirituality, sex and intimacy. You can work on your physical being and enjoy any one of the amazing disciplines of yoga on offer. And when you want to be the ‘lord of misrule’, no one will say anything about it.

A music festival in the 20th century is a school of life, for young or old, where we learn from each other in a fluid and symbiotic manner. Festival culture is now an integral part of many people’s lives, from the teenagers of the world to the more discerning boutique festival goers. From parties held in the British countryside to raves in Belgium, to gatherings in the desert of Nevada, to concerts held on cruise ships in the Caribbean, the history of the music festivals has really just begun.

By Mario Miotti

Founder of Sparked Magazine

(all photography by Mario Miotti)

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Why Humans Need Festivals

Why Humans Need Festivals

by Valen Lambert

Since the beginning of our evolution, our species has instinctively gathered into groups and villages. There is something in the human psyche that craves connection, something beyond simply grouping up to accomplish tasks and survive. These gatherings have progressed into celebrations of life, love, creativity, and culture that we know as transformational festivals today, and they play a more important role in society than being a place to escape reality and party. 

UNITY

If you haven’t noticed all your friends’ social media posts or all the advertisements online and around town, there’s been a growth in festival culture, and it’s not just the music that is drawing people in. In a time where the environment is decaying, politics are corrupt, life is becoming more industrialized, war and violence are rampant, and societal standards are conforming our souls into a box, we need festivals to reconnect to ourselves and each other. 

Festival-goer Megan Gonsalves couldn’t have put it better: “Though the world seems to be more and more polarized every day, festivals give us a space to be one. It’s a space where you can truly feel like brothers and sisters with your species again as it’s meant to be. No competition, no judgement, just raw uninhibited love and connection. By coming together at times of increased happiness, people are able to set aside differences and find common ground with one another.” 

“By sharing space for a time people are able to connect in a deeper way than is possible through formal meetings” says another festival attendee Moose Martinez. How often do you experience this kind of sensation in the “default world”? Most people are afraid to even make eye contact with each other on the streets let alone start a meaningful conversation with each other while waiting in the check-out line. We are constantly surrounded by people, but mentally, so far away. It’s as if everyone is ignoring the unity that is inherent amongst our species. Our society needs festivals because it reminds us of that unity; so many people in our culture are hesitant to initiate interactions or have substantial conversations, holding them back from building the valuable relationships that are so essential to their well-being. 

In the world’s longest study in happiness lasting nearly 75 years, psychologists found that the most prominent correlation with happiness was meaningful relationships. Feeling such a divine connection with the rest of the human race reinforces the empathy and understanding already present in our soul. Imagine how many powerful seeds would be planted if nobody was afraid to be themselves and acted completely from love. Seeds that could change lives, and if sowed properly, would change the world. 

TRANSFORMATION

Even if you wanted to have awkward small talk, it’d be nearly impossible at a festival. In such an exciting environment filled with bold and unique music, art, and people, you can’t help but be motivated to have intellectual conversation. Transformational festivals are the counterculture of our day, bursting at the seems with liberal ideologies. When you fill a space with so many motivated, like-minded people, they’re bound to start figuring out ways they can conquer the injustices of the world. It is the perfect place to network and build up an artillery of people to help accomplish communal goals and get a momentum going. Groups of eco-warriors have been birthed or reinforced through festival culture. Social reform movements have garnered more attention and following within the scene. 

Whatever justice you want to bring to the world, this is the place to develop it. Throw in some educational workshops and you have a loaded cannon of socio-political reform. Every transformational festival provides a cornucopia of different workshops to inform participants on topics like permaculture, environmental stewardship, relationships, politics, economics, and health, with facilitated discussions that can yield constructive conclusions. Since everyone is feeling the need for change within this counterculture, everyone is willing to work together to kick the ass of today’s issues. 

Artist Lizzy Cook lays it down for us: “Before going to festivals, one can feel alone in a world of problems where nobody has the solutions. Gathering in a community to brainstorm ideas, express frustrations, and celebrate what progress has been made can be a huge weight off the shoulders for anyone who feels the weight of pain this world faces”. 

You may have thought about how you can help solve problems within society, and you’re not alone. Only together can we truly get anything done, and attending festivals can help spark that movement of people towards TRANSFORMATION. 

RECONNECTION WITH SELF

Our modern lives are heavy with distractions. School, work, media, and technology are just a few of the common occurrences in our daily lives that are distancing us from ourselves. There are so many people out there that do not actually understand themselves, and it is because society is diverting them from really feeling and reacting. When your mind is constantly being exposed to repetitive radio music, unoriginal movies, celebrity gossip, lifeless concrete wastelands full of capitalistic traps, social media, and brainwashing television on a day to day basis, you can bet your sweet bippy that it is holding you back from the experiences with depth that really make you FEEL something. 

Life is meant to be lived raw and to the bone, not behind a screen or a desk for several hours a day. Only through feeling can we really get in tune with ourselves, and festivals are the perfect environment for that. Freedom of expression reigns strong at these gatherings, through various forms of art from live painters to interactive installations, mind-blowing music sets complete with face melting visuals and performance artists, people going nuts on the dance floor, and the funkiest outfits you ever did see. Anything is possible. It’s the most organized chaos you will ever be a part of. You will laugh, you will cry. Some of the most powerful emotions you will encounter can go down at a festival because there are no limits. 

There have been multiple times where I have actually started bawling out of pure joy at a festival, because my mind was so overwhelmed with the potential of our species and the orchestrated beauty that we create at these gatherings. From those kinds of feelings, I’ve realized my own potential, giving me the confidence for self-love, which opened up so many avenues of opportunity that I now believe I can pursue. 

You will learn about the harmony of the universe, and the infinite beauty it beholds. You will realize how interconnected you are with the rest of the human race and how in synch our existence is with each other. Ultimately, you will learn a lot about yourself. And that is the most important lesson, because the first step to dealing with anything else is first understanding how you work. Everything starts with you. A life is a waste of time if you are not connected with yourself.

POSITIVE POLLINATION

So there’s all this crazy stuff going on: people running around being the rawest versions of themselves, networking, connecting in the name of love and societal progression, hanging out with each other like they’re family even if they just met that weekend. Some of the most impressive art you’ve ever seen is at every turn, and everyone is having 6 epiphanies a day. Obviously this is a very powerful environment capable of manifesting a lot of positive change in society. The people who attend transformational festivals are often so inspired by their experiences that they then proceed to pollinate the rest of society; leading curious folk to consider attending themselves in search of the magical results. Love is contagious! 

I’m not saying that festivals can save the world, but it is so important for us to have a space of love, freedom, and understanding so that we don’t lose each other and ourselves in today’s construct of society. “People need and deserve the opportunity to retreat from the hardships of a world conceived by the wealthy. People need to experience a world based around unity and love. 

We cannot continue to fuel this system that makes a profit off of our lives. This is why the festival lifestyle simply makes more sense” says attendee Kynen Cauthron, when asked why we need festivals in today’s society.

It is essential to the present and future of our existence that we have a space where we can reconnect to our roots in love and uninhibited connection, because a world without it would not be one worth living in. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go see for yourself.

Valen Lambert @chagurl

BIO- Trash pirate and boogie bunny; I’ll see you on the d-floor my friends 

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6 lessons about Intimacy that you can learn by going to a Transformational Music Festival

6 lessons about Intimacy that you can learn by going to a Transformational Music Festival

Dr Cat Meyer, PsyD, LMFT

Have you ever experienced a meditation in which you gazed into a stranger’s eyes for ten minutes? Initially you may feel awkward, try to avert your gaze, let out a giggle, or tense up. You may feel like you’re intruding on this person’s life. You may even feel shy, as if they will see something that you’ve been trying to hide. How vulnerable it is to be looking deeply into another human being’s eyes. By the end of the ten minutes the two of you are smiling, laughing, crying, hugging, or just feeling deeply connected. If feelings of connection and strong emotional reactions can occur between strangers so quickly, as they do in eye gazing meditations as well as at transformational festival events, how is it that we as a society still struggle with feeling disconnected from each other? One reason may be the collective struggle with intimacy.

Intimacy is the process and act of being able to let your guard down, show up as your authentic self and be met with compassion. It is the act of being vulnerable and trusting that the other person won’t harm you. It is being able to accept and share in another’s inner-world and experiences. We struggle with intimacy for many reasons, one of which I believe is because we were not taught how to be intimate. We’ve been taught to brush our issues under the rug. We’ve been taught to appear “put-together.” We’ve been taught not to bother people with our struggles, not to be a burden, to be self-reliant and take care of ourselves. And we wonder why as a society we are overworked, depressed, anxious, physically ill, lonely, not having good sex, not having any sex, and feeling completely disconnected. We’ve created this fear that if we show up as ourselves then we will not be received positively. Often times because WE don’t receive ourselves positively.

Here are six lessons about strengthening intimacy skills based off my experiences at transformational festivals and my work as a sex therapist.

Be fully present while in the role of listening.

Deep, meaningful conversations can start anywhere while at a festival: food lines, art cars, or while star gazing as the music plays into the night. A single comment is made by one person, which is then picked up by another and then often progresses into life wisdom. People genuinely want to talk, share, and listen to what you have to say. These exchanges occur with intent listening and presence; and you are left feeling ‘heard’. Physically feel in your own body what it’s like to be heard by another human being. Now imagine if we turned off the television when we were listening to our spouse. Imagine if our friend put down their phone and looked us in the eye while we shared our story. It would feel far different.

We can relax into affection that is without agenda.

How many people have you come in physical contact with today? To whom have you given a hug, a kiss, placed a hand on their back or shoulder? How does your body respond when someone is too near to you, or when someone comes to greet you with a hug instead of a handshake? Hugs and cuddle puddles abound at festivals and are usually welcomed from strangers and friends alike. A 20 second hug can release oxytocin in the body which is a feel good hormone associated with bonding. Research suggests it even contributes to feeling deep and meaningful connections with others! We would all like to feel connected with others, yet the benefits cannot be welcomed, or relaxed into if there is an underlying agenda to the touch. For some, touch can be used with the intention for sex, control, or need for validation. These aren’t inherently negative unless that intention or energy is unwanted, in which case the person will find it more difficult to relax into, or receive the touch.

At festivals, many times a touch is a means to connect, with no underlying agenda to take, manipulate, or control. In fact, many of these touch encounters last only a brief moment and then you part ways! On a daily basis, are you using honest intention and energy when approaching physical touch? and how are others reacting? Your intention is often felt by and responded to by others whether they are consciously aware of it or not. Clear your mind, and touch with unconditional intent. 

You can fall in love at first sight.

You look up from your own inner world and make eye contact with the radiant goddess across the way. Instantly you are filled with bright energy and joy. Is this lust? perhaps, but only if your intention is to take something from her. If your intention is to acknowledge and honor her radiance as a human being without the drive to possess, then I would say this is love. Love at first sight can happen again and again and again and not just with someone who is deemed physically attractive, but also with the man whose confidence uplifts others around him, or the girl whose compassion is overflowing. It’s through being able to see beyond the person’s history, behaviors, physical looks, values, culture, clothes, etc. and seeing them for who they are as a fellow being. It’s looking into their eyes and finding yourself reflected back. It’s not needing to own or possess or take anything from them, but rather appreciate them as they truly are: beautiful and divine.

Sometimes you need to give up control.

How hard it can be to loosen the grip we have on specific outcomes. We want this specific body or these specific results and we find ourselves anxious when we can’t keep up with our rigid expectations. In a festival environment, you quickly learn that there is no room for straight-laced personalities or rigid rules. You are required to relax your strict diets and expectations of ‘event outcomes’, because if you do not, then you will be gripping onto unnecessary discomfort and miss out on all the potential joy in the experience.

Shift into a playful mindset.

Many of us go about our days with our heads down: working, producing, accomplishing, then we get anxious when there’s nothing to “do” or we realize we haven’t spent time with friends without the intention of producing or getting something done. When we shift into a playful mindset, we let go of the ‘desired end result’ patter and we are able to be fully in the present moment with the intention to enjoy it. ‘Play’ helps us break tension and awkwardness. ‘Play’ helps us drop our defenses and critical inner-voice so that we can show up and be received as ourselves. ‘Play’ produces laugher, which in turn stimulates bonding. Festivals were created with the intention for us to play and through this we can build that deeper connection.

As a basic human need, we all want to be seen.

It can be difficult for us to recognize the less than desirable qualities about ourselves. We want to appear as our ‘best selves’ and not as someone who sometimes struggles or makes mistake. The problem with this mentality is that it creates an unnecessary separation from others and consequently leaves us with a feeling of being alone. We forget that we all make mistakes and have flaws. That these realities are what connect us: the experience of being human. None of us are perfect, and none of us inwardly or outwardly fit the socially constructed ideal of the “human”. So why not be honest about it, and not pretend otherwise. Festival life embraces imperfection, non-conformity, and self-expression. Through wild and diverse costumes, open expressions of emotion, creative and sexual dancing, openly sharing of life stories, and doing one’s “own thing,” intimacy is built. Festival attendees salute the authenticity of self-expression, thus making it a safe place to practice intimacy. When we show up as ourselves and we are met with kindness and compassion, the experience can be incredibly healing for us all.

So when you are driving away from the colorful banners of your weekend adventure into the festival world, the longing to feel connected and belonging might arise strongly, knowing you are returning to your daily life. Fortunately, we can take these lessons with us. We can continue to practice ‘acceptance’. We can reduce the experiences of loneliness, depression, and anxiety by consciously building a culture of intimacy everywhere we go rather than leaving it for the next time we are in the context of a weekend festival. Let’s be that change together, for ourselves and for all those who we meet.

Dr Cat Meyer

Dr Cat Meyer, PsyD, LMFT is a licensed psychotherapist, sex therapist, yoga instructor, reiki practitioner, and teacher on consciousness dedicated to evolving the relationship we have surrounding sexuality and our bodies. Dr. Cat integrates various schools of thought including science, body movement, psychology, and spirituality in her work for private practice and transformational retreats that are designed to help people create a deeply fulfilling, prosperous relational and sexual life. To learn more about her work, visit her at:

www.CatMeyer.com 

Instagram @sexloveyoga

Music Festivals: More than just ‘sex, drugs, and rock and roll’

Music Festivals: More than just ‘sex, drugs, and rock and roll’

Mario Miotti

Summer music festivals of any description: transformational, mainstream, camping or non camping, electronic or mixed genre, all offer the chance to hear live music, hang out with friends, and enjoy a variety of added entertainment. Festivals draw thousands of people from across the country and the world for multiday events featuring dozens of musical concerts, silent discos, artist performances, varieties of art, merchant squares, interactive activities, and even yoga and spiritual workshops. From festival to festival, the food choices will differ, with some offering mostly junk food, to others offering fully organic and natural food vendors. All told, there is an amazing variety of vision and purpose to festivals; some created to make money, and some created to help you actually become a happier person. 

Whatever festival you choose to attend, it will likely depend on what features listed above you most care to be exposed to. It could very well be that you have no idea what to expect, that this will be your first time, and that the reason for  going is to see your favorite artist. Or perhaps your best friend needs a companion, so you just buy a ticket and take the ride. 

Whatever gets you inside the gates however, will open you up to a world of entertainment and choice-making that you may not ordinarily find in your everyday life, whether in the city or the country. The music festival environment may encourage you to act in ways that you might not otherwise act: both in the positive and the negative. Your attitude, your comfort level, the people you are surrounded by, will all influence your experiences and choices. Getting carried away and saying ‘yes’ can lead to spontaneous and happy outcomes, and generally, this will be the case. Yet decisions may also lead to regret and leave you with a desire to have done things differently. All of this will matter, as you begin to hone your personal balance on how to enjoy a music festival.

A poll run by MSN UK ‘Summer Music Festivals: More About Partying Than Music?‘ asked 2000 British summer music festival goers about why they attended festivals and their behavior whilst there:

             • 47% confessed to doing something at a music festival that they would “never consider doing outside the music festival environment” 

            • 21% reported using illegal drugs while at the festival

            • 10% reported they’d slept with someone they met onsite

            • And only 45% said they attended the festivals specifically to listen to the music

The percentages are just a guideline, the point is… What exactly IS something someone would ‘never consider doing outside the music festival environment’?

Here is a list: Play beer pong, make out with a stranger, not shower for 4 days, join a cuddle puddle, attend a yoga class, buy a colorful and bold garment, wear a bikini all day, have sex in a tent, have sex in a porta-potty, dance, lick someone’s ear, hug someone for 60 seconds, participate in a sacred space ceremony, howl at sunset, stay up all night, flash the band/DJ, take a lot of embarrassing selfies, smile at everyone, say hello to everyone, eat organic, create a piece of art, open yourself up emotionally, crowd surf, watch a sunset, watch a sunrise, pick up a piece of garbage that was not yours, turn off your phone all weekend, turn vegan.

Which would you do or not do? And would that change if you were at a festival?

Music festivals are an explosion of the fantastic, where you will find yourself inspired and motivated to try things you never thought you would want to try. Any choices you do make however, make them with the belief that your freedom to choose is what matters most. Allow yourself to expand your horizons if it feels comfortable, and if it doesn’t, ask yourself, can I do it safely? And how will I know if I never try? Make friends, make connections and be adventurous, you will not regret it. 

Illustration by Claos

If you fall in love, in lust or simply think you want to get sexual, do so safely as you would in any other circumstance. Feel empowered in your choice, and go boldly into the experience. Be prepared. Females should carry condoms too; the more both parties can help with a safe interaction the better. And of course, no one can make you do anything you don’t want to do, consent is sexy and mandatory. Choose because you want it, and speak out if transgressions occur. 

The truth is, you don’t need sex, drugs or alcohol to enjoy a musical festival. Some people even find that music itself provides a natural high for them. And that yoga, platonic human contact, cuddling, and tantric practices all create deep emotional satisfaction. Skeptical? Try it! 

The Enchanted Forest Gathering in California over the 3rd weekend of July, provides and espouses just that. Attend, stay sober, and they will help you get naturally high through exercise, human connection, and nutritious food choices. Zac Krohn writes in an article published on their blog, “With the right stimulus, your body can serve you up a cocktail of its own psychopharmacological delights that evoke emotion and affect the way you process the world around you.” 

Once you have these tools at your disposal, any festival you attend can be enjoyed any way you like, including sober. Read the full article here ‘5 Ways To Get Silly Without the Sauce’. And here are 7 more alcohol free events around the world, including Shambhala in BC, Canada. 

Any party, anywhere on the globe, will likely have attendees consuming drugs or alcohol, or both. The fact is there are plenty of people who go to music festivals of all descriptions and don’t consume any mind-altering substances. They get a good group of friends together, find out where their favorite bands are playing, and go enjoy the live music experience clean as a whistle; then wake up early and go do yoga. I’ve done that myself, it’s awesome.

However should you choose to enhance your festival experience by dabbling in some recreational treats, make sure you do so safely. Sparked Magazine does not encourage, sponsor or endorse the use of any drugs or alcohol, but we fiercely believe in your ability to find education on the subject and to make wise decisions. Nor do we judge your decision-making; we simply want you to be educated and safe. Harm reduction is the key. 

Visit sites like Dance Safe, ANKORS, Bunk Police, and EZTest; read as much as you can about drugs, their effects and safe dosages. Watch this free documentary, ‘What is in my Baggie‘, on the rise of misrepresented substances, as well as a critique of ineffective drug policy . Buy a testing kit and test everything you come into contact with. Often, just mentioning you want to test will keep the supplier honest. If they were planning to scam you, they would likely make an excuse to walk away. 

And remember, abuse of any substance, illegal or not, almost always leads to the worst outcomes, so please, employ moderation at all times. 

Tell us: How do you have fun at music festivals or concerts without using drugs or alcohol? Or if you do use them, how do you feel it makes the festivals more enjoyable? We are interested in sharing both points of view. You may keep the letters anonymous if you wish. Address emails to info@sparkedmag.com, titled “Drugs: My Experience”.

Finally, whatever it is that draws you to music festivals, value the opportunity to be a participant, to learn, to make new friends, to accept differences in lifestyle, to open yourself up to something you may have not thought to try before, to be tolerant, to practice being eco-conscious, to help your neighbors, to share your passions and interests, to be yourself, and to express your personality as brightly as you possibly can. A festival is a place where the fantastic is encouraged, and by being there, you are already fantastic. Stay safe, have fun, dance like crazy and above all else: love yourself, respect your environment and smile at all those around you. Change is you and you are change. 

Illustration by Deemah M

Sparked Magazine will have a full article soon dedicated to exploring all the sides to ‘harm reduction’ projects at festivals, why some festivals use them and some do not, as a matter of policy.

By Mario Miotti

BIO- Mario is a fashion photographer, health nut, avid dancer, and believer in the principles of keeping young by remembering to play. As the founder of Sparked, he seeks to share with you his love of music festivals, what makes them a powerful force of nature, why everyone should go to at least one in their lifetime, and how they can change your life. 

5 TIPS FOR SHOPPING ETHICALLY THIS FESTIVAL SEASON

5 TIPS FOR SHOPPING ETHICALLY THIS FESTIVAL SEASON

Excerpt from Haulternatives by Fashion Revolution

Despite its huge role in our everyday lives, the fashion industry is the second largest polluter in the world. And yet that fact is rarely talked about in the festival community and default world alike.Opening up this conversation is essential if we are going to strive for eco-friendlier and ethical business practices within the fashion industry. At Lightning in a Bottle 2016, the High Love Vitality Elixir Lounge hosted a panel on ethical fashion where I learned some great tips on how to buy more responsibly.

“The only way to change something is to do it from the inside. Everything you consume is a vote,” said Jillian Black of Ritual, a brand dedicated to creating sustainable wearable art.

“The number one thing is awareness. Think about how many people read the ingredients on their food now, but most people don’t think about their clothing at all,” said Cassidy, also of Ritual.

These following brands are just a few examples of companies making a conscious effort to create and source ethical fabrics and materials, while giving back to their communities along the way.

Here are a few ways you can purchase amazing festie (and regular) clothing and accessories that reduce harm to our beautiful planet.

1. Inspect Your Fabric

Be conscious of what fabrics are used to make your garments and be mindful of where they are made. There are now a multitude of brands using P.E.T. fabric made from recycled plastic bottles. The process of making this fabric also uses 90% less water than the creation of polyester fabric. Teeki and  Wolven Threads are just a few of the festival brands utilizing this technology.

“Sustainability has always been our foremost core value. Wolven Threads began as a line of organic cotton, hand-stitched clothing. When we started creating active wear and swimwear, we chose P.E.T. fabric to help keep plastic out of landfills. Beautiful clothing should not be created at the expense of our ecosystem,” said Will Ryan, Designer at Wolven Threads.

The bridge between technology and fashion is an important one. Teeki recently discovered that broken fishing nets can be re-purposed to create new nylon fabric. Lenzing Modal fabrics, made from beach wood tree pulp, save energy by sourcing the raw material and creating the textile fibers at the same site.

Heather from Teeki mentioned that consumers can also look for a Blue Sign certification certification on fabrics to know they are made ethically. Blue Sign’s goal is to link chemical suppliers, textile manufacturers, and brands together to foster a healthy, responsible, and profitable textile industry.

Excerpt from Haulternatives by Fashion Revolution

2. Buy Items Made from Recycled Fabric

Another great way to reduce waste is to purchase and create garments from fabric that already exists. Sahara Rose, founder of Eat Feel Fresh, was inspired to create Saraswati Couture during her travels in India. She came across a young girl who had never gone to school but spoke perfect English, despite being unable to read or write. She spent the day talking to her and her mother, about the danger they are in and how often young girls are kidnapped and sold into prostitution.

She bought some pants this young girl was selling on the beach, took a picture with her and left. The rest of the year, Sahara could not stop thinking about the young girl, her story and her beautiful smile. She felt she had to help this girl somehow, and the many others just like her. She decided to return to India and do whatever it took to find her again.

After showing her picture to hundreds of people, she found the young girl and asked her to take her to her village to see where the pants were made. Turns out, the village was buying unused high-end sari material to create these elegant pants. In that moment, Sahara knew she had to help spread this story, and Saraswati Couture was born.

Noralina Freedom, based in San Francisco, also uses recycled silk saris or surplus fabric to create all of their designs.

Catherine Andersen, designer of Cata’l (formerly Catoure) has created wearable art in the festival scene for years. Inspired by her own roots (part Viking and part Middle Eastern), her love for indigenous and ancestral arts, early 90s hip-hop, and the rave scene, which allowed “the break through of my inner freak at a young age,” her creations are truly one of a kind.

Impressed by the caliber of quality she found in vintage wares and methods that have been lost over time to the hands of mass production and industry-wide cost-cutting, she began selling dead-stock vintage. After attending Burning Man in the late 2000s, she began incorporating indigenous textiles and other components into her re-purposed garments.

 “As much as I respect newly made clothing, I have also seen the effects of globalization and mass production. There’s a documentary, The True Cost, that exhibits this most effectively. Clearly, we have enough “stuff” in the world so recycling and reconstructing vintage has been huge in my art,” said Cat.

Cat was inspired to create drop-crotch pants out of vintage sweaters after jokingly trying on the sweaters upside down with a girlfriend one night. Using old sweaters from the likes of Coogi and Pendleton, these old-man leftovers became dope one-of-a-kind wearable art.

 “I have been modifying the design as well as slowly making time to work my way into crocheting them in their entirety, drop crotch, butt flap, kangaroo pocket onesies, and all things great,” exclaimed Cat (email Catourecollections@gmail.com for custom orders).

3. Look for Ethically Sourced Fur and Leather

If you are going to wear leather or fur, make sure it is being sourced ethically.

Every piece from Ritual  uses natural goat leather that is the byproduct of the meat industry in Indonesia.Every piece of the animal is used. Ritual also has an incredible waste exchange program where they will buy back your jacket (if you ever want to give it up) and give you store credit in return.

Ethical fur is also making waves in the mainstream due to Petite Mort Fur, a company that solely sources its fur from roadkill to make bespoke creations.

You can also always hit up your local thrift store to score vintage furs at deeply discounted prices.

4. Support Brands That Give Back

Companies that support causes in relation to their ethos and vision can really make a difference in the world. For example, it’s hard to go to a festival without spotting a Third Eye Pinecones booth and hundreds of participants sporting their wares. Along with this company’s beautiful designs, its energy and passion for the community runs deep.

Founder Carl Weiseth found a pinecone on a mountain top in Big Sur. That pinecone lived on his windowsill for over a year before he finally cut it open, and discovered the elaborate sacred geometry hidden inside. “The more I learned about the symbolism of pinecones throughout history [and] around the world, the more important it felt to share this offering with the conscious community,” said Carl.

For every pinecone pendant sold, a tree is planted. The company has an ongoing partnership with American Foreststhe oldest tree-planting nonprofit conservation organization in the country. Since 1990, American Forests has planted more than 45 million trees! The nonprofit restores watersheds to help provide clean drinking water, and replants forests destroyed by human action and by natural disasters.

“These guys are highly-rated by all the non-profit watchdog organizations, which makes us feel great about giving to them and confident that each dollar we contribute goes directly to planting a new tree, rather than a bunch of bureaucratic overhead,like some of the other nonprofits we looked into when we were first starting this business,” said Megan, festival leader at Third Eye Pinecones.

Wolven Threads also donates 5% of each sale to UpRising Yoga, an organization that strives to bring yoga teachings to incarcerated youth and underserved communities, as well as young women who have been victims of human sex trafficking and domestic violence.

“The beauty of yoga is that you don’t need anything other than yourself, your mind, and your body to practice. Regardless of whatever painful circumstances life may present, yoga is a tool that will always be there to help you feel at home within yourself,” said Kiran Mukunda, founder and designer at Wolven Threads.

10% of proceeds for each pair of pants from Saraswati Couture go towards helping victims of sex trafficking, sexual abuse and rape in India.

5. Shine Responsibly!

In the last couple months, the use of glitter and face decoration has skyrocketed at festivals. Beautiful as it is, it’s unfortunately a massive problem for our environment, similar to microbeads. Glitter is polyester coated in aluminum with added pigments. Millions of pounds are sold annually and because it’s so fine, there is no way to responsibly dispose of the glitter – until now.

After witnessing the power of glitter brighten people from the inside out, Saba Gray has been on a mission to create biodegradable glitter that doesn’t harm the environment. Three years later, BioGlitz was born.

 “Glitter is all inclusive, it brings people together. Passing the shine on is a beautiful thing. When you catch eyes with a stranger across the dance floor and you’re both wearing Glitz, you’re not strangers at all. You share something without having spoken a word,” said Saba.

Cosmetic BioGlitz is a glitter produced from a special biodegradable film that is certified compostable. The biodegradable element of the glitter is derived from sustainable sources, does not contain materials that are genetically modified, or materials obtained from genetically modified organisms. The trees used to create the biodegradable film are all sourced from The Forest Stewardship Council –certified suppliers.

 “Even if you may not be an outwardly[eclectically dressed] person, you can appreciate some glitz. It could inspire you to dance a little harder, shine a little brighter, become more participatory and less observatory,” said Saba.

Find BioGlitz at Gratitude Migration Beach Festival  in New York offering glitzy demonstrations, a panel on sustainable cosmetics, and BioGlitz products. You can also find the Glitz team at Symbiosis Gathering in “The Movable Boutique” – an Airstream trailer boutique focused on handmade artisan goods, jewelry, amazing one-of-a-kind sequined jackets, and artifacts made by women makers from around the world.

With these tips,dressing ethically this festival season and beyond is a snap.

Article written Tessla Venus Goodwin @glitterspies

Originally published June 8, 2016 on Fest300 

Tessla is Fest300’s Senior Fashion Correspondent, see Fest300 link for more of her writings

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What’s all this Spirituality stuff about, and can I do it too …?

Amy Rose LaPrairie

What’s all this Spirituality stuff about, and can I do it too …?

Photo by Mario Miotti- Envision 2016

An open letter to the straight-laced person who is on the verge of becoming a free-loving, hippie convert … 

You may have noticed a slight change in fashion lately. You may have noticed people wearing crystal necklaces and feather earrings – which you have a feeling they, of course, made themselves or supported a local artist at a grassroots craft fair.  And what’s with the colorful, paisley patterned lounge clothes with tassels and so many guys with long hair and full facial hair? … And gee, those farmer’s markets are starting to look like a lot of fun… And wait, is that a drum circle, too?  And why do they always carry a metal water bottle around with them as if it were a token of membership to their secret club?  Part of you wants to judge them, but another part of you is incredibly INTRIGUED.  Everyone just looks so vibrant, happy and healthy.   Yeah, you’re right, something’s definitely up.  You might even feel a slight change in the air… not quite perceptible.  You just can’t quite put your finger on it…

Well, get used to it.

The hippie trend is back in full force and this time, it’ll go full circle. Like the LOVE movement that started in the 60’s & 70’s, this one has all the same components…. Psychedelic drug use, open expression of love,expressive dancing, long hair, nudity, trippy music, and pssst…. even the 70’s bush is coming back (hallelujah ladies! Sorry Fuzz Wax Bar with your 5 locations, it’s okay, it’ll be a neatly manicured one, so you’ll still remain in business) Though all these similarities exist, this time around, the movement seems more intentional.

This crowd is intelligent, talented and well-informed. They work hard and party smart. Progressive ideas spread like wildfire between them.

This crowd likes to keep it light on the booze … Maybe a little high-end, Reposado tequila, but that’s about it.  After all, too much alcohol dehydrates you and doesn’t help with those challenging yoga poses. It also“lowers your vibration” and “deadens your spirit” as the hippies say. They prefer green juices and well-thought-out virgin drinks when they go out … And they’ll pay a pretty penny for them too, THAT IS, if the bar owners can catch on to this quick enough before they go under, wondering why no one’s ordering$8 vodka sodas anymore. “Too acidic” their conscious consumers will say, and order a $2 bottle of water.  Pay attention fat cats, it’s key to stay on top of the trends here.

Start offering apple cider vinegar, wheat grass and cacao shots, Chagatea, Kombucha on tap, or shots of sour cherry juice which you can buy at ANY health food store and it relieves joint pain naturally and tastes like heaven! (You should just go buy a bottle and see).

Your new hippie haven bar should look like a hybrid between a cozy tea house and night club with colorful, low-light lanterns, comfortable lounging nooks with fun, patterned pillows and psychedelic tapestries. Time to get rid of those sharp, stylish coffee tables and replace them with shabby chic re-purposed, mismatched tables. Basically, you want to encourage a space where they can rest, converse between dancing and maybe have a few bottle-service, I mean blender-service superfood shots.

This crowd prefers to dance hard and not smoke cigarettes. Instead, they bring fresh-cut veggies with them everywhere – cause they’re so damn refreshing after a full day at a festival.

Just look around at ANY vegetarian restaurant … They are‘out-of-their-mind’ busy. Getting a table in there is similar to trying to get likes on Instagram for a duck face pic… It’s just not happening (Full toothy smiles are better, k babes?).

They want good, healthy food choices with lots of greens and vegetables.  Even if they’re not full-blown vegetarians or vegans. They might identify with the trendy term “Reduce-tarian” whereby they eat meat once or twice a week depending on what their body needs.  They are well aware of the environmental impact of factory meat production and they’ve seen those heartbreaking images too… but it’s moved them to change.

These new-agers are even getting serious about supplementing. You’ll hear the phrase, “you know, we’re all deficient in magnesium” echoed among them in excited conversation about what new self-optimization techniques they’ve heard about on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.   After all, if you’re going to survive partying for a week in the desert at Burning Man, you’re going to have to take care of your body… the vessel that allows us to have all this fun.

These non-conformists are also finding great healing and self-awareness from psychedelic drug use. Just make sure not to call them ‘drugs’ around them.   The preferred term is ‘plant medicines’… but they’ll be happy to gently correct you with a smile if you do.  Where pharmaceuticals are failing, psychedelics or plant medicines are swooping in to pick up the slack.  The modern hippies advocate that the introspection that these experiences allow for, has helped them quit tough addictions like smoking, shopping, junk food, excessive drinking and more. They’ve even helped them get over anxiety and depression and release FEAR to live life in a more meaningful way.

Caveat: This crowd, however, knows when to pull the reins in, unlike some of the greats who went a little too far with psychedelics like Jim Morrison or Janis Joplin (RIP).  This new generation is adept at using the knowledge gained from travelling into the realms of the unknown, and applying it in their lives to become the best versions of themselves.  There is so much promising research being done in this field, I believe it’s only a matter of time before these medicines are offered to the masses in a controlled, therapeutic and safe setting with professional therapists.  It is an exciting time to be alive to witness such great healing taking place.

This new generation knows when it’s time to PLAY, time to WORK, time to VOLUNTEER,time to LOVE and time to be a badass ACTIVIST for a worthy cause.

I like to think this is the best trend that could ever happen. It’s cool to be sober, it’s cool to be CONSCIOUS. It’s cool to have meaningful, un-slurred conversation.  It’s cool to be a change-maker.  It’s cool to be yourself.   It’s cool to call it love-making instead off**king. It’s cool to be a bright, positive, contributing part of the Shift that is taking place.

The young ones will catch on fast. They’ll start wearing the crystals,the feather earrings and show up to the conscious parties… not quite understanding everything just yet.  In the beginning, they’ll front… But THEN one day, after a few good book recommendations from the older ones, they’ll get it and learn how wonderful it is to be free.

So, do you have to quit your corporate job, change your name to Rainbow Bear and go dance naked in the forest to reap the benefits of spirituality?  No, definitely not.  You can be a modern hippie and start exploring some of their practices right now while still maintaining your modern life.   Meditation and yoga is a great place to start.  I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t have time to meditate”.  But hang on, before you dismiss this completely because “it doesn’t seem like an effective use of my time”, I invite you to think about it a different way.

Meditation is one of the only activities that actually REFUNDS YOU BACK the time spent doing it in the form of added years onto your life.  We all have a chronological and a biological age. Your chronological age advances once every 12 months and your biological age speeds up or slows down depending on how much stress you have in the body. So using meditation to relieve stress and quiet the mind, keeps you young.  Starting to make sense now, isn’t it?

Another idea would be trying a float session in a sensory deprivation tank instead of watching TV after work to unwind.  There are float studios popping up everywhere nowadays.  Speaking of TV, ponder this…. A desire to watch excessive TV is a signal that you want to avoid feeling your feelings.  It’s like numbing pain. Even something as simple as unplugging and going out for a walk into nature can be highly effective.  It’s also very beneficial to practice gratitude, patience, generosity, and forgiveness whenever possible.  These practices get you in touch with what you truly want, what your body wants and the kind of person you truly want to be.

Meditation or ‘going within’ is like exploring every little dusty corner of your mind and your heart.  It’s like clearing away the cobwebs and turning over empty boxes to see what’s underneath: Is it fear? Is it anger? Is it sadness?  Is it resentment? Is that resentment festering and causing the foundation to mold?  Better address that before the whole house caves in.

This path is definitely not easy… it IS work.  But the work is rewarding.  When you know yourself, and I mean REALLY know yourself, your life becomes the opposite of lackluster.  You’ll find yourself surrounded by friends who are incredibly inspiring and the right opportunities and things will arrive on your doorstep simply because you are constancy aligning your thoughts and actions with your truth.

You’ll also have to become proficient at self-education.  We are blessed to live in an age and country where knowledge is available on the internet and for the most part, is not censored.  So throw out your TV(responsibly) and get out there on the web and start digging. Reset.me is a well-spring of information and it’s exactly where I started 2 years ago.

One final point I’d like you to ponder, is this.  Consider that each and every single thing in our lives can be categorized and compartmentalized into one of the 7 boxes below.  Family, partner, work, hobbies, health, self, and leisure.

If you don’t have a Spirituality box/path, how do you deal with the inevitable existential questions that crop up?   Like ‘why are we here’,or, ‘what does it all mean’ and ‘what is my purpose’?  Adding the ‘Spirituality’box/path can have profound effects on your life.  It can bring balance by acknowledging that we don’t know everything about our existence and that it’s perfectly okay.  It also helps address the question… “Was I really born to work, pay bills and die?”.  Heck no you weren’t.

So why do I think spirituality and the hippie movement is not only around to stay, but about to gain momentum?  Because deep down, we all want to feel free. We are yearning to express ourselves.  We are yearning to be exactly who we ARE and be accepted for it.  I consider myself a modern hippie and am proud to call myself one. I like thinking about the magic of the world and the meaning of life. I feel as though it makes our present world a little easier to live in… and if that means ‘hippie’, then so be it… it’s just a label.  It doesn’t mean, however, that I am apathetic.  I feel deeply for what’s going on in our world and am working to become a contributing member of society by sharing ideas about how we can heal and improve ourselves,by becoming a conscious consumer and by getting involved in worthwhile causes.  Everything we do and say, no matter how small, has a ripple effect and one idea and change millions of lives.

If we have a chance at getting our sh*t together as individuals… Then maybe we have a chance at saving ourselves and the planet.  As many great shave said, change starts with you as an INDIVIDUAL.  Then and only then,can it reverberate out to the rest of the world.

Subscribe to my blog ‘Back to The Ground’ for more content, tips and ideas about how to integrate a spiritual path in your life.  Easy on the ‘woo-woo’ guaranteed.

So get onboard, because…

I believe in the good things coming,

BIO- Amy Rose LaPrairie is a world traveler, yacht-y, scuba diver, musician, flow arts performer, avid festival goer, writer, philosopher and spiritual warrior.  Her self-proclaimed biggest accomplishment thus far, has been crossing the Atlantic ocean with a crew of ten on a 150 foot boat. Favorite mantras include, ‘Everything is in perfect alignment’ & “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for”. Hailing from the quaint lake town of Port Dover, Ontario, Amy is presently living and writing in the thriving, multi-cultural city of Toronto, Canada.  

Check out Amy’s blog, Back to the Ground for tips and content about how to integrate a spiritual path into your life…. And about her personal journey back to love spirit and purpose @amylaaaaaaa 

Here are some helpful links to get you started:

http://reset.me

http://www.collective-evolution.com

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