Rainbow Gatherings

Food Circle, Guatemala Gathering 2014

Rainbow Gatherings and the Rainbow Family has been, and is, a really important part of the traveling life for me and I think many other travelers. It's not so much the gatherings itself - I have myself only attended 3 gatherings since my first one in 2009, but the biggest thing, I think, and why I so many times heard the phrase "Rainbow Gatherings changed my life", is the discovery of the family. Of a home. Anywhere.

Welcome Center, Ukraine, European Gathering 2009 

The first thing that will meet a traveler approaching the place of a gathering after many days on the road, is most probably a 'stranger', a person from the gathering you have never seen before, but who at the sight of you will burst into a smile, open his arms and in a hug tell you "welcome home!" as if you were a sister sincerely missed. You arrived! Home!
The second will most probably (depending on the size of the gathering) be the welcome center where a pot of hot food or tea will be ready and you will be welcomed and be told the guidelines of a gathering if you never been to one before.

Roberto, Costa Rica Gathering 2014

Misty morning from my campsite at Ukraine Gathering

The guidelines of a gathering mostly include respect and care for each other and all things. No drugs or alcohol. No violence.

Kitchen to Beach path, Guatemala

A general purpose of the gatherings is also to heal the land and leave the spot the same or better than we found it. In Guatemala the gathering was held on a beach full of plastic bottles and old shoes washed to the shore. A lot of the plastic was collected in piles, but what to do with it was a more difficult question.
Burn it and release toxic fumes into the gathering and atmosphere? Leave it in piles, just to be washed back into the sea? Carry it all somewhere else?
In the end many of the single shoes were collected, fixed and paired for many of the travelers (including me) that didn't have shoes for walking on the spiky grass. Then a lot of the bottles were used for art and for making the border of the path (above) from the kitchen to the beach and main fire.

Main Kitchen, Guatemala

Cooking in a rainbow gathering is done by anyone who feels like. And food is prepared for everyone. Usually one person takes the lead and other people help and if there are not enough hands, the people in the kitchen will shout "HELP IN THE KITCHEN" and anyone in ear sight with time on their hands will come and help.

Food Circle, Ukraine

 Food is then brought to the main fire, the 3rd call of "FOOD CIRCLE" is called and people will gather to hold hands in a circle around the food and sing a couple of songs (anyone can start a song) to bless the meal and then bow to the ground to give thanks to mother earth, and eat together.

Food Circle Guatemala

 The food circle is the heart of the gathering where everybody meets. After the food, announcements are being told by people walking around the circle for everyone to hear. Also the magic hat is going around and people can donate money for food if they have and want. But nobody has to pay. Somehow there is always magically food enough for all.

A dispersing morning food circle, Costa Rica

The magic hat is the only time money is out in the gathering, since one of the other rules of the gathering is no buying or selling of any goods. Only trading, and bigger or smaller trade circles are being held during the gathering where people will trade their handmade stuff, herbs, stones, clothes or anything really.

Ida carrying a palm front to building the gathering space.

 I attended the "Seed Camp" at the Guatemalan Gathering. Seed Camp is the group of people that arrive first and start the gathering. This was a very spontaneous gathering. Normally gatherings are planned months in advance by the local rainbow family with scouts to find the land and so on, but this was just a bunch of travelers who decided to start a rainbow gathering after the festival Cosmic Convergence.

A tarp, a few sticks and some palm leaves is the humble beginning of the Guatemalan gathering

We didn't have a lot to start with, so we just build up the gathering of what we could find and just had to buy some big pots for the kitchen. The site was an open beach with no shade and we had to spend a lot of time in the beginning to build shade from the burning sun.

"Bienvenidos" - the space in Guatemala after a few weeks.
Locals visiting

 The site in Guatemala was very close to a small village - normally gatherings are held further away from towns and villages, so we were very close to the local people. We had to think a lot about how not to take over their space and disturb them. Luckily they were very happy to come and visit and they even showed up to almost all the food circles, carrying their own plates (like the custom in a gathering). One time in the beginning we were only 12 people at the site and more than 30 locals showed up at the food circle. Somehow we managed to feed them all and ourselves!

Other locals visiting

 We also had to deal with the local animals, the cows were pretty friendly, but dogs and pigs were out for our food every night.

Tea Ceremony, Guatemala

Tea parties and workshops of any kinds are what the days in the gathering passes with when the day's job is done.

Me and Roberto watching the sunset

 So after some of all the practical things about a rainbow gathering is said, again, as I started with, the biggest thing about the gatherings is to find a home for a while, between the days on the road.

Pacific sunset

It is a place among people who treats you as family. As a brother or sister. A place where you always have food and a place to sleep -if even just under a tarp on the beach- and feel safe. You are always welcome here (if you don't bring alcohol or violence) and there are always a rainbow gathering going on somewhere! So what meant most to me after attending my first gathering was the knowledge that there is always a place to go, if everything else fails. If you have no money, no friends among you and you've run out of ideas. Everything will be at a rainbow gathering.

Welcome Home!


  1. That´s very inspirational reading...I came to think about, how does one find out when and where, there is a Rainbow Gathering taking place? :o)

    1. Oh yeah I forgot about that :) In the past news about gatherings were only shared by word of mouth and many people still think it should be that way and that a person will come upon a gathering when they need one. I still think it is like this in many situations and most people go there because they have been told by fellow travelers. Most travelers knows about rainbow gatherings. And most directions are still handdrawn maps. But the last few years the word has begun to spread much more especially with the internet, and I've seen many articles also on bigger pages about rainbows! Some people think this is bad, and rainbow is going commercial, but I like more to see it in a way that the world is more ready to include things like this and more people are getting interested in this form of simple living in harmony with nature. And more people get the change to experience a rainbow gathering. So rainbow is now even on facebook and I think facebook pages like the one just called "Rainbow Gatherings" is the best place to get news about gatherings happening. There are also groups on Couchsurfing where people share news about gatherings happening :)

    2. Just adding - every year there is a European gathering being held somewhere in Europe around the full moon in july/august. (a gathering is usually a month long lasting from new moon to new moon with the full moon being the center of the gathering and the big celebration) and the country for the next European gathering is usually decided in the previous one. There is also a global gathering and an American gathering held each year.

    3. -This year the European gathering is in Lithuania as far as I know ;)


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