Anticipation. Hype. Tall tales. LORE! The feelings proceeding the total solar eclipse of 2017 were a dense potion of all the above, plus a dusting of mystery induced anxiety. Was it going to be like what we read? Or just like what others said? Could we really see the sun's explosive, life-spawning nuclear energy with our naked eyes? Would the animals really shift their behavior out of acute nocturnal confusion? A celestial event like none of us had experienced before, the eclipse had blossomed into a legend before it had even happened.
After five consecutive years we decided to forego our pilgrimage to Black Rock City and the dust of Burning Man for a different adventure. Something that is experienced oh so rarely, a total solar eclipse. For the first time in nearly 100 years a total solar eclipse was to be visible across the entire US. And while the whole US could see the eclipse, only a small percentage could actually EXPERIENCE the eclipse and witness totality. A tiny band of land merely 70 miles wide known as the path of totality is the only place where you can view the "total" portion of the eclipse, the part where the moon blocks out the sun in ENTIRETY. Thanks to a collaboration between dozens of international festival organizers, The Global Eclipse Gathering had been in planning for years and their mission was to create a monumental gathering, directly in the path of totality. Tucked away deep in the remote high plains of Central Oregon, they had found a way to place us directly within the path of totality. Oh how lucky we were for their efforts...
The festival stew had been simmering and all the ingredients were just right.
Remote location, ground rumbling stages, large interactive art, and hoards of people from all over the globe. Australia, London, New Zealand, all converging to witness something that defied explanation and reality. Together. Estimates were in the 35k realm and yet the crowd still felt intimate. Aiding to the potency of the week was no cell service. No excuses or easy way outs from interacting with your fellow human, it was blissfully beautiful.
With the festival beginning on Wednesday and the eclipse happening Monday morning, pacing and preparation were vital. Sunday night meant no sleep, I couldn't take the chance of a poorly timed nap ruining the main act. With the cumulative festival energy buzzing at an 11 Sunday night, there was no excuse not to be wiggling and grooving away those late night hours anyway. For the duration of the night I hauled my gear, packed food, and heckled friends about making camp runs. We were committed to sunrise and rode the wave of anticipation into the eclipse.
As the eclipse approached, the migration began to the Sun Temple and the high hill top viewing zone. In droves we marched to the area designated to view and experience the celestial dance together. It was here that we experienced not just the eclipse, but were privileged to part of an indigenous ceremony. Native tribes from all over the world were taking turns on the microphone sharing stories of what an eclipse meant to their people while offering prayers, songs, gifts, and blessings. With chills of joy running down our spine and tears of gratitude caressing our face, it became crystal clear we were bearing witness to something so much larger than we could understand.
Once the moon covers more than half of the sun, the temperature starts dropping, and keeps dropping. Alien ambient light is accompanied by temperatures nearly 20 degrees less than just moments before. There's no denying the mounting energy happening overhead. In every direction the horizon deepens in unfamiliar pigments and hues. With proper eye-wear you can see the moon swallowing the sun by the minute.
Words for this ripple in time are still sparse as it was an experience of pure, raw emotion. An hour of building anticipation finally climaxes as the sun is instantly reduced to a glowing ring. The "snap" into totality is so abrupt that you're instantly rocketed out of the reality you knew. Your naked eye is rewarded with a sensation that is nothing short of primal. Gasps, tears, shouts, unabashed exhalations filled the air. Pure magic that had taken over the earth.
In a quest to better understand what happened that week, I asked my dear friend Eliana Shapiro to help decode the messages unveiled in the shadows. Here are her words -
"The Global Eclipse Gathering was medicine: pure, euphoric, medicine.
It was a pivotal offering of sacred divinity to unsheathe the shrouded, and transmute the infinite. A potent soufflé of tangible and intangible energies that gently permeated our monkey minds and corporeal hides: allowing for big momma magic to engage the spirit and transform the soul. And we called it in: that cosmic, persuasive, power which transpired on those holy Oregon lands. It was alive in our commitments to ascend on the unknown, it was vibrant in our gatherings and preparation, and it was pulsating amid the collaboration of communal exhibition. We were in: all in, and our efforts produced value that monetary confinements could never contain. We departed on a robustly energetic ricochet that fiercely propelled each of us onward, and we carried with us freshly uncovered tools and illuminated lessons to unravel on top of our own summits. And while it is true that the dichotomy of the moon eclipsing the sun resulted in ecstatic bliss, it would be more accurate to illustrate the whole gathering as an all-inclusive retreat of integrated blessedness. Whilst the assertive solar flares were held with love by the lucid contemplation of our moon, we too felt the calling. We sensed the energetic summoning to embrace the healed divine masculine in all of us, as our divergent feminine tenderly snakes itself to center stage. What we felt in that moment was completeness, oneness. We were one with our universe, one with each other, and one with ourselves. Wholly aligned. Undoubtedly united. Certifiably eclipsed."