“Let’s get as many like-minded people together as possible.”

-Kevin Kochen, founder of Symbiosis gathering.

Just one week before Burning Man, 30,000 international enthusiasts representing over 70 nationalities made the great migration towards the path of totality to witness a truly out-of-this-world spectacle. One part math, one part spiritual, one part mystery, a total solar eclipse is a phenomenon you’d be lucky to witness once in your lifetime. For the first time in nearly half a century, the path of totality beamed through the continental United States once again, which conveniently took place only a few hundred miles from my doorstep. To even further my convenience, 13 international gatherings collided to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for humans from around the world to witness the power of a total solar eclipse. 

 

The idea began to marinate almost 5 years ago, when eclipse chasers and festival organizers from around the world gathered to discuss a fantasy that seemed nearly impossible; a one-time event in a brand-new location for one of this world’s most intriguing natural spectacle. What started as an idea grew into a reality, and now, a community. The Global Eclipse Gathering, hosted by 13 international festivals including Bass Coast (Canada), Envision (Costa Rica), Noisly (UK), Re:Birth (Japan), Origin (South Africa), Ometeotl (Mexico), Rainbow Serpent (Australia), Universo Parallelo (Brazil), and California’s favorite Symbiosis gathering.

Held on the breathtaking Big Summit Prairie in the Ochoco National Forest, the area was surrounded by immense views of forest and wide open fields. One of the main attractions was the reservoir and their ability to use the element of water as much as they could to their advantage. Many of the main stages take a break during the day, leaving plenty of time to catch some rays and take a dip. The Symbiosis festival holds a strong connection to water as a key element to their gatherings. I’m positive that in the search for land, a body of water was not only preferred but required. The reservoir didn’t serve as just a swimming hole, but a part of the immersive environment as well, which included a number of art boats, rafts, and float toys that wadded in the water for all attendee’s to climb aboard and enjoy.

While the gathering invited over 400 international musical acts to serenade our ears, the music was not even half of the experience. The most important part of these ‘transformational’ gatherings is not the music, the stages, or the art, but the people. Sure, you can have the most amazing line-up and sound-system, but if you’re not surrounded by a supportive, accepting, like-minded community, then it’s just another concert that won’t leave a lasting impression on you. The organizers of this festival created a foundation for like-minded people to gather, and love did the rest. Walking around the grounds, you see people gifting jewelry, serving tea, storytelling, which, technically has nothing to do with the festival itself. These ‘random’ acts of kindness make me, and many others, interpret this experience as so much more than a music festival. You find people and forms of expression that corporate events like Coachella have pushed away.

Many attendee’s, myself included, were too eager to sleep the night prior to the eclipse, so we stayed up and enjoyed the some of the best music and art of the entire weekend. From live painting by Alex Gray to the eclectic sounds of Patrice Baumel at the Sky stage, Sunday night had top-tier entertainment for all. After an intimate sunrise RY-X serenade, our spirits were cosmically aligned for the great migration to the eclipse viewing area. It took almost an hour for the moon to eclipse the sun. Moments before totality, a chill ran through the valley and the lights began to dim. Before we knew it, day turned into night and stars began to pop out. A 360 degree sunset surrounded us as the most magnificent orb hailed above our heads. Many cheered, but many, myself included, were too stunned by its beauty to do anything but cry. In the shortest two minutes of my life, the eclipse felt like a dream I’m still waiting to wake up from.

Memorable moments and contributions:

Sun Stage:

Hands down the most important and influential stage to the entire gathering. Previous total solar eclipse gatherings, and practically any other festival outside of the United States, prioritize the heart-wrenching sounds of psychedelic trance. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the genre, it’s because you’ve been living under a rock known as the United States of America. Almost all ‘transformational’ festivals in Europe and Australia place psy-trance on the main-stage. In America, you’d be lucky to hear a handful of acts over a weekend. However, being partnered with 12 of the world’s most renowned international gatherings, psy-trance made a big name for itself in Big Summit Prairie last week. Legendary names like Treavor Moontribe helped curate the stage with stacked international talent including Grouch, Ace Ventura, and 1200 mics, to name a few.

Like many of the artists booked for the gathering, female french producer Clozee was aligned to play two sets at two different stages. Thousands waited in anticipation for her first set at the Earth stage and were saddened to hear that she hadn’t made it in time to play. The next night almost double the amount of people stampeded the moon stage for one of the dirtiest bass sets I’ve ever seen. As dust flied into to the air, love and support came from all around for another magical moment on the Big Summit Prairie.


One unique factor of the Global Eclipse Gathering was inviting First Nations to host their own camp where hundreds gathered to observe and participate in ceremonies, chants, and workshops promoting Native American and Indigenous rights. In a time where there is continuous war over necessary resources like water, the First Nation camp reminded attendees of mother nature’s blessing and those who continue to threat its existence.

Needless to say this experience was unlike anything else. Surrounding this festival around the eclipse is not only unique but genius. If you’ve turned into an eclipse chaser like me, you can mark your calendar for “PATAGOA 2020”, Global Eclipse Gathering’s next project set to take place in the mountains of Patagonia, Chile for the next total solar eclipse to hit land. Stay tuned for more information!

Photography Credit: Get Tiny Photography

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