Totality awaits no longer. Totality occurred. Symbiosis was the home to 30,000 people from all over the world, and the creators of Symbiosis brought with them the conscious collective of the global festival community. LIB (California), Hadra (France), Envision (Costa Rica), Re:Birth (Japan), Origin (South Africa), Rainbow Serpent (Australia), Ometeotl (Mexico), Universo Paralello (Brazil) to name a few. Big Summit Prairie was home to Symbiosis this year and it took place the week of Aug. 17-23. The 55,000-acre ranch that was the home to a logging industry and is now a grassland area with ankle breaking rocks which was turned into an oasis filled with colorful creative outlets of thought, earth shaking music, mind bending forms of art, and guided spiritual workshops, with insightful delicious nutrition talks sprinkled throughout the days.
Each of the main stages were named after the players of the cosmic event. The Eclipse stage was nothing short of a transformation, a giant multi colored-fractal tent that covered enough ground to catch the hundreds of people smoking weed, DMT, chaga and whatever else before it escaped with its own exhale into the spirit of the cosmos. The stage was home to acts like Polish Ambassador, Emancipator, Beats Antique, STS9, Troyboi, Glitch Mob, Basctar, G Jones, String Cheese Incident, Minnesota, RY X, Dirtwire, and much more. This main stage was the largest main stage I have ever been a part of alongside a community of familiar tastes, and thoughts. I spent the night before the Totality of the Eclipse dancing among Untamed Spirits here for hours and as the night sky began to glow a purple hue we migrated to the Earth Stage to dance in the violence of the Sun rise with Emancipator.
The Yoga Shala become a home away from home after multiple sun rise sets. The Yoga shala invited thousands daily to feel deeper into their connections through shared breath work, asana flows, and hands on partner yoga. Individuals where challenged to embrace themselves and others during partner yoga as well as allowing one’s own mind to connect with it’s deepest chakra. Shout outs to Kate Swam & Gordon Ogden/ DJ Hyfi for showing me the grace of sharing myself with another for partner yoga. The Shala provided multiple forms and schools of thought of Yoga, along with power twerking classes.
The Silk Road held such a variety of spaces for healing, whether it be sound healing, mantra chanting, workshops that revealed or released trauma and or live music. The Silk Road yurts spanned in different sizes and functions for healers to diver deeper into delivering their visitors what they needed. It was here and at the Yoga Shala that felt the presence of energy shifting transformations.
Symbioians had seven days of camping, more than 8 music stages, multiple pop-up shala’s for workshops and everything or anything else eclipse celebrators created for themselves. This 200-acre section of the ranch included a 45-acre man-made lake that blessed naked bodies practicing yoga on floating rafters, skinny dipping lovers that jumped off of the “cultural bridge” for all to witness, beginners taking their first swim lessons, and party goers with their inflatable yachts with inflatable giraffes attached at the tail. The lake provided endless joy and a giant splash from the top of Sym-bi-oat, a haunted steamboat art exhibit with a lot to offer and a slippery slip into a dark unknown abyss.
As the eclipse began the 30,000 thousand Eclipse celebrators sprawled out on the other side of the lake in the “Eclipse viewing area”, as groups settled in the Sun slowly was being swallowed by the Moon. The land became still and quiet, voices silenced in awe of the cosmic event while totality became everything and as the daylight sky became dark, stars emerged shining behind the Sun while the Yin manifested and her emotion engulfed viewers as they watched her pass in front of her Yang. I joined thousands in crying happy tears and howling to the complete cosmic link that we felt and shared. The Eclipse transformed my intentions of the week into a reality and I’m still riding the energy of the Yin to fulfill my goals and promises.
Symbiosis is more than just a festival, it is a gathering of minds and souls that want more out of themselves and others. It is a sanctuary.
Much love to the Untamed Spirits group and all others who made this Festival a Totality of an experience.
As a final note.
Going into this event I was challenged to expose the lack of diversity and issues of privilege that exists in its many forms throughout the festival, as well as the loads of cultural appropriation that in many ways disrespects the core of spiritual and cultural movements. As a person of color I did have my moments of meditation where I was surrounded by over hundreds of white people either in others cultural clothes or even with exposed Sanskrit tattoos that matched my own. I don't believe it is my place to hold judgement but I would ask readers to be mindful when deciding if something maybe defined as cultural appropriation to wear and also what to ink on your body, as it holds a much larger meaning than what you may intend for it to mean for you.
I would like to challenge the conscious festival coordinators to try and involve or even invite as many people of color as possible and to invite spiritual community leaders of color. My heart bleeds to see more diversity at these events because without it, it can come off as empty.
That being said, the festival is grounds for transformative change that can and does invoke challenge thoughts to occur, it is a space for defending our creative minds and our species ability to feel exposure of our souls. Mix all this with the single greatest cosmic event in our Cosmos which is a Solar Eclipse. You get to experience magic while being magic.
Life is Love and Love is Life.
- Hemal Lalabhai