Total Eclipse Of The Rational Mind

Now where did that image go?

This is the best picture I have found so far of the eclipse. Notice the pockets of light on both sides…

Bullie was hauling 12 tons of ice in the back of his truck when he picked me up. He had no shoes on, but he had a dandy hat, lots of confidence and a great big laugh under his blond curly locks and impressing nose. I was on my last leg of hitchhiking from Nimbin to the Eclipse 2012 Festival, and Bullie took me all the way with his frozen load – telling me that this festival was literaly going to be hotter than any party I’d ever been to.

As we got closer to the site (and further away from civilization) the road narrowed and the sunlight diminished. “My eyes are going, so from now on you gotta help me look out for cows”, Bullie said. He’d worked on cattle stations since he was a teen, and got his name from riding bulls. If anyone knew the dangers of hitting a cow with 90 km/h, I figured it’d be him, so I glued my eyes to the tarmac. We arrived, however, without sighting a single cow, which prompted Bullie to name me his guardian traffic angel.

For The Love Of A Good Party

Now where did that image go?

A so-called “dust-bow” – truly an amazing sight!

The Eclipse 2012 Festival took place at the Palmer River Gold Field, a 3-hour drive from Cairns into the driest outback I’ve seen so far. “It’s a dustbowl out there”, Bullie told me, and it sure was; instead of rainbows, there were “dustbows”, and between 11 and 4 in the daytime, most people wore scarfs over their mouth if they even dared venturing out into the blistering sun. Most afternoons were spent horizontally in the shade, with temperatures reaching around 40 degrees Celsius and not a drop of rain to cool us down.

At 3am at the main gate, I met up with my dear friends from back home in Christiania, Anton and Tash. They were my main reason for going to this event, and I honestly didn’t know what I had signed up for except that there would be some interesting music and – obviously – a total solar eclipse.

During the next few days, I realised that this was far from the commercial exploit of a natural phenomenon that I had thought; this was a genuine gathering of tribes. The organisers had invited a host of different festival-crews to help them pull this epic and highly challenging event off. “Good job”, is an understatement; they basically accomplished the impossible.

Now where did that image go?

This is the festival site at night. I bet the local wildlife never imagined their habitat so colourful!

8 months prior to the event, site-manager Henry moved his whole family to the site and started shaping the surroundings into a proper festival site with bulldozers and the like. Roads, camping areas, toilets, showers, stages and a huge viewing plateau, all had to be made from scratch, just for this one week of magic and mischief. The logistics involved are incomprehensible for anyone outside the inner circle of organisers…

Volunteer Reputations

We’d all registered as volunteers to avoid the high ticket price, but beyond saving money, that gig turned out to be a bit of a goldmine in terms of making new friends. In fact, everybody knew me before I even got there! This was because of my extravagant name – Cornelius Corneliussen – of which the whole team of organizers had been laughing about for weeks already, wondering what kind of character would carry such a name.

Now where did that image go?

Handsome Anton getting away with it all…

Our trio of friends quickly established our selves as reliable workers and enjoyed a high level of freedom on our shifts. We were all signed up for Artist Services which involved driving around the huge festival site in beat up old cars with other volunteers and beers for the backstage areas. Anton, ever the charmer, even managed to make the team leader laugh when they told him not to drink and drive; “no worries, I only ever do one at a time!” I swear to the Great Mystery, that kid gets away with anything…

Dressing For The Doof

In Australia, a big party with electronic music is called a “doof” (try saying doof doof doof doof, and you will understand why) and this doof was a coming together of doofers from all over the world. There were Austrians and Swiss, Americans and Mexicans, Pacific Islanders and Kiwi’s and a surprisingly high number of Japanese ravers, all clad in the colourful doofer’s uniform which combines all things psychedelic with old school hippie-fashion.

Now where did that image go?

A beautiful “doof” fashionista on the dance floor

Usually a feathered hat and a funky, pocketed belt are standard equipment, but also Asian-style baggy-pants (known as tourist-pants amongst Asians) and miniscule vests are often worn by the regular doof-punter. That said, there was no fashion-police types around, anything goes at a doof it seems.

The first thing you noticed, walking down the dusty outback pathways, was all the wide smiles beaming at you from everyone around you. Needless to say, some of them were partially powered by a range of class A stimulants, but nevertheless, the atmosphere was one of joy and generosity despite the somewhat hostile environment. In the 10 days I spent with my fellow 10.000+ party-heads I didn’t witness a single act of violence or anger. I reckon that says it all…

Faith Based Communications

To get a feel of the kind of people who attended the festival, one had only to take a look at the public notice board. There were handwritten notes in languages from Korean and Russian to Swedish and English, offering and advocating everything from a wedding to co-driving/comedown consultancy.

Now where did that image go?

One of the marvellous installations with an even more marvellous backdrop…

One poetic note was signed by “575”: “We are the flowers. The bloom of a single verse. Bang! Stars, Sun, Moon, Earth.“ Another note desperately read: “Billy! I left my shopping in your car, write here where you are camping”. Then there was the opportunistic: “Dread lock repairs, dexterous dread doctor, good price, great company”, and the hopeful: “Dear people, we are looking for footage of the solar eclipse for our documentary on the aboriginal Wirritjin nation and their land. Please consider donating your video to us”. Not to mention the simple and hopefully effective; “looking for a cheap car!”

Only those who had the top-notch subscription to Australia’s leading mobile phone company had any reception on their phones, so all the notes were based on faith and fate, and reply notes were attached on the original notes in layers and layers. At the professional healing and massage tent, where they were offering 25 free sessions a day, this attitude of hope in human kind(ness) was also apparent as the morning’s queue consisted of a slip of paper you could write your name on so that you could lie down in the shade rather than line up in the sun. It seemed to me that every single person around me was my best friend.

The Festival Community

But still I wondered; “who are these punters? Where did they all suddenly appear from and are they only this alternative and colourful for this one week? Is it really the doof-music that brings them together?” For every day my curiosity increased, but towards the end of the festival, I realised that the music is merely secondary; experiencing the alternative community is what it’s all about.

Now where did that image go?

This is called “Painting” and is oil on canvas believe it or not… This guy is beyond good!

The site consisted of several stages (Sun, Moon, Sky, Earth etc.) spread over a large area with the “Eclipse Village” in the middle. Here one could participate in workshops, visit the art gallery of visionary artists (exhibiting the astonishing and very famous painter Alex Grey amongst others) and listen to talks by prominent characters in the festival community. “Hang on; ‘festival community’ what’s this?”, I wondered when I saw there would be a talk on this topic. I went to hear what Burning Man organizer Charles Shaw had to say about this:

“The festival community exists on the fringes of society, we’re forced to meet in desolate places and the powers that be are having a great time watching us spend all our resources in remote areas only to disappear without a trace after little more than a week”, he said and continued; “me and my family of friends are trying to change that by establishing a permanent community where all our festival experiences can be put to good use”.

According to Shaw, these festivals (which include events like Boom Festival in Portugal, Burning Man in the US and several solar eclipse festivals around the world) are all about coming together as a community and sharing a lifestyle or a vision of the world that goes against the worldwide mainstream culture of consumerism and capitalism. It’s about changing the world, no less.

Despite my apprehension towards Shaw’s Americanisms, I found myself fascinated and surprised by what he was saying. Thinking back to all the festivals I have attended and why, his words rang true and it made a lot of sense to me that these “psychedelic” festivals around the world were interconnected. As my new friend Madeleine told me: “On these festivals we have a chance to try out some of our utopian ideas on large groups of people. They are, in a sense, impermanent laboratories for social experimenting”.

Don’t Go Away!

Now where did that image go?

Three Christianianites watching the sun disappear on the far side of the world…

“So, what about the actual eclipse?” Well, what can I say, except for “THAT WAS F…… AMAZING!!!” I obviously knew it was going to happen, the Sun would disappear and reappear again, but I couldn’t possibly have anticipated the energetic effect it had on all of us Sun-gazers. To me this experience was profound beyond words and explanation.

Everything about that half an hour was so other-worldly, even down to the fact that the woman beside us, knew me from the Rainbow Corroboree that I went to a week into my Australian journey! Here I was on the other side of the world, surrounded by friends – new and old – watching a spectacular phenomenon that only so few people in the world have ever witnessed. I still cannot believe my luck and my fate…

When the last ray of sunlight was cut off by the Moon I spontaneously burst into tears, as did so many others around me. Not tears of sorrow or joy, just an unexplainable feeling of something powerful, something much bigger than the human brain can possibly comprehend. It was one of the most beautiful moments of my life and I heard myself crying out loud with a smile “don’t go away, come back to us, come back!”

What surprised me the most was that there wasn’t a black hole where the Sun should have been. There was a blue hole, and the sky didn’t turn pitch black, more like the colour of late dusk, although we could suddenly see the stars again. On a sensory level, it was a most extraordinary feeling; because it happened just after sunrise, the temperature was simultaneously warming up and cooling down at the same time. All the birds around us started singing their evening songs and every now and then a wave of ooh’s and aah’s would swerve through the crowds.

Now where did that image go?

A funky flower for the festival freaks

I am fairly confident that during the solar eclipse was the only time where one couldn’t hear a distant “doof doof doof”; everything was silent. But as soon as the Moon had again left the Sun to its life-sustaining job of shining its light on us earth-dwellers, the music started up again and the party went on with even more intensity than before. Everyone was smiling (except maybe for those unfortunate few who had crashed out in their tents just before the eclipse) and everybody was everybody’s brother or sister.

Goodbye Goodness – Hello Hope…

The party went on for another 3 days and then suddenly this temporary utopian city of cultural misfits and psychonauts disassembled itself and went home again. Well, that isn’t entirely true. Some of us stayed behind and picked up all the trash. Being, yet again, pretty low on money I instantly jumped on the opportunity of making $15 an hour picking up the debris of more than 10.000 feral festival punters.

Now where did that image go?

More eye-candy… Imagine looking at this with a drop of mind-opener in your system…

It was worth my effort in many more ways than financially. The things you find after a weeklong party! As the days went by, the piles of trash got more and more smelly and our backpacks got heavier and heavier from all the great treasures we looted: Tents, mattresses, solar showers, food, books, clothes, boots, drugs & booze, the list goes on. The evenings were spent binging on all the free beers and snacks and playing music and playing with fire-toys (Aurora you are so much better than you think!).

In the end, though, I was glad that we weren’t staying longer, it would have just gotten weird. I mean, my team-leader (the splendidly humorous Ivan) was wearing a red wig and a matching bra, I was wearing a purple cape under a grimy leather hat and every vehicle, tent and signpost had been decorated with bits of trash we’d found. We were literally talking as much shit as we were collecting, and all around us the construction crew was dismantling the festival’s imaginative structures until we were left with the harsh reality of being in the bare bush under the merciless sun with the biting flies and the looming crocodiles.

Now where did that image go?

The crew had moved about 30 crocs to a nearby location before the festival started. Even so, I was really proud that I dared take a swim…

On the very last day, I finally met the great Bullie again. He gave me a big bear-hug and invited me to visit him in Adelaide any time. In all, I left this festival with countless new contacts and friends who will no doubt provide me with many a good time in the future. It also left me feeling that there is hope for the human race to stop racing along mindlessly and start thinking with their hearts.

For a brief moment our rational minds were totally eclipsed by our love for the Earth as we momentarily lost our Father Sun, and we all knew then in our hearts, that what matters in this life has nothing to do with governments and greed. We are love and we are the light in this great dream of the world. Let’s start living it shall we?!

(Oh, and by the way, the next total solar eclipse will occur on March 20th, 2015 and it can be seen from the arctic islands of Svalbard. See you there? ;-))

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. carolyn
    Nov 24, 2012 @ 15:31:29

    Onya Cornelius! xx Hannibal’s granny 2

    Reply

  2. Georgina Butterwood
    Nov 28, 2012 @ 00:09:31

    Oh my goodness gracious! I literally cried whilst I read this!!

    Your writing is amazing, you captured what was felt, the sense of community in our chosen doof family. I love nothing more than loosing myself in a festival, in this community, embracing the village and coming out the other side a stronger and more fulfilled member.

    Thank you for this! Good luck on your travels! Take Care and hopefully we will meet at a doof again soon!

    Georgina xx

    Reply

  3. Joseph Worthington
    Dec 03, 2012 @ 16:50:57

    some of your quotes have hit the nail on the head bro.

    I’m not a “traditional” hippie and Eclipse was the first big event I’ve been to.It’s sufficient to say it was a life changing experience for alot of the reasons you mentioned.

    Reply

  4. Kelsie Cat
    Dec 06, 2012 @ 18:41:55

    “It seemed to me that every single person around me was my best friend.” – this brought tears to my eyes! what a profound experience to be a part of; thank you for sharing the reminder xx

    Reply

  5. Martin Kargaard Thomsen
    Dec 26, 2012 @ 02:14:05

    Ses på Svalbard!

    Reply

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