luminosity festival: fires burning

I picked up my helper and two of her friends at the Crofton ferry to head to Luminosity Gathering on the Sunshine Coast. We had to coordinate three ferries to get to a night market in Gibsons, a town close to the festival, the day before Luminosity began.

The first ferry was full, second was late, third was a different time than we thought- which got us to Gibsons three hours later than anticipated, but my new crew was in high spirits and unpacked my set up in lightning time.

The market was small but successful. Since it was opening night of the market there was a band and curious folk from town.

All packed up in the morning, my van wouldn't start. It was the fourth time that summer that I had to get a jump, all at inconvenient times (but when is it convenient to have to wave down a stranger on the road and tinker around with spark plugs?).

Nervous about my battery or alternator, neither I could afford to replace, we drove down a long, dusty road and arrived at the festival grounds to set up.

The vending area by the pond was full by the time we got there, so we set up by the stage, where there were workshops during the day, and music 5pm onwards. I was happy that I would be where the action was, until it began.

In the early evening there was a crowd hoola hooping, painting each others' bodies, playing with giant soapy bubbles- but not shopping. Getting more used to the flow of festivals I brushed it off as the first day of people getting settled. The next day was workshops and that would bring in the crowds.

Luminosity Gathering is an electronic festival, with a focus on sustainability. There was an opening ceremony that invited the elements of fire and water into our space, and we whispered words with intention to be carried off by the wind. I was concerned summoning fire into the space- there was word of forest fires not too far away.

There were only 444 tickets sold, so the intimate gathering encouraged the obscure in people in a safe space. I noticed a difference between festivals. People at Tall Tree were escaping their daily grind and letting loose for the weekend with hard drugs and alcohol, and mostly the people at Luminosity were living the freedom that festivals allowed in their daily lives and it acted as a place to connect with other traveling souls. Tall Tree had a bar by the stage, Luminosity had a no alcohol policy (which people bent discretely). I noticed people on uppers at one and more psychedelics on the other - both giving freedom to experimentation.

Camping was in an old growth forest, and again people created their own little world of tapestries, prayer flags, cooking stoves, and mosquito nets in this beautiful setting. I was sleeping in my van on the road, which I tested as dead for the weekend.

The next day started with yoga in the space and continued with various workshops on sustainability, cob houses, community, fermentation, drama, kundalini chakra healing (which involved a lot of huffing out negative energy like a dragon and eye contact). I quietly watched the workshops from my stall. One or two people would walk past and whisper a few things, trying not to disturb the silence given to the transformational workshops they were witnessing. One thing I realised by listening to the talks, is that I already am putting into practice many of the topics. They mentioned the very community I'm living in a few times, for an example of sustainable living. They encouraged people to start their own eco-friendly company, to grow their own food, to live in a tiny home. I was outside the talks in a way, but completely inside at the same time.

The hours ticked away with no lull between workshops where people could browse with ease, try my natural sunscreen or deodorant. I took a break, frustrated, to the pond- where it was jam packed with half naked, instrument playing, vendor browsing festival goers. It was a euphoric atmosphere crawling with blissed-out people chatting and indulging. My heart sank as I plunged into the cool water and lay down for a while in the sun. I listened to people wish there was soap to clean themselves in the water, or lip balm to sooth their chapped lips. I sighed, and returned back to my quiet stall.

My friend brought Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards to attract people to the stand. Three times that weekend I pulled the Abundantia card about prosperity. "The universe is pouring its abundance out to you. Be open to receiving." I would take a breath and try to list what I was grateful for and open myself to the abundance. It's tricky to fully ease into it when there are cheques to clear and possible alternators to fix to make this festival trip even possible.

Later that evening once I had closed up shop, I met a young man who had just arrived from a small town outside of Mumbai, India. He had met a guy on the plane to Vancouver who had told him about this festival in the woods. I looked around in eyes that had been accustom to Indian culture. So much skin, so much freedom. I told him, he probably already knew this, but it's not in our culture to stare at bare breasted women, or men only wearing thongs, even if they're plated in glitter.

I drank hot cacao, danced and let loose. I was tired but made it to 1:30am before retiring to my bed.

I woke up to ash falling on my van and the sky a thick grey, the sun a fiery ball of haze. All day I nervously gazed up into the heavy sky with a scarf hovering over my mouth and nose and tried to hold space for the peaceful workshops being held in front of my stall.

I pulled one of my helpers aside. His eyes red and squinty, pupils large. "Okay. In case of evacuation. We need to push my van out of the bush, find someone to boost it, drive up here, pack up all my stuff, then get out of here before the flames envelope us."

He nodded slowly and smiled. Not trusting him, I scanned the crowd for a more sober character. Everyone seemed gleefully unaware of the impending doom. I asked someone the status of the forest fire close by to which they replied, "They'll let us know if it's a real problem."

"Who!?" I wanted to scream. "Who will let us know? The forest is burning!"

We made it through to the Monday alive. I had gone to bed early to find the crowd still dancing 12 hours later. With only a few more sales I tallied it up to at least cover the costs of being there and to make it back to Salt Spring.

We caught every ferry with ease and a little prayer my van would start up again in the line ups.

Back on Salt Spring I replaced the battery, by borrowing money from a friend with promises of riches from the upcoming Vancouver Folk Fest the following weekend.

Happy to be back in my comfy bed and cabin on Salt Spring, the blackberries bursting, sun shining and lakes beckoning for a swim. After Vancouver Folk Fest I would embark on the next month-long journey around B.C.

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