Awaken Visionary Leadership Retreat was set deep in the Redwoods of Northern California, at the same site as Enchanted Forest. This Tribal Convergence Network gathering was unlike any I have been to thus far. It had its fair share of wobbly beats as well as a gyrating dance floor you can expect from the most transformational of festivals. However, the container and intention set by this event was looking beyond the temporary summertime festival phenomenon, toward a collaborative platform for sustainable livelihood. With 15 guilds (Councilship, Arts, Media/Communications, Wellness, Village Infrastructure, Learning, Conscious Enterprise, Relations, Guardianship, Science, Earth Stewardship, Spirituality, Conscious Gatherings, Network Weaving, and Whole Systems Design), people were asked to speak up and share larger visions. There was a guild break out session, gender alchemy, as well as Tribe Talks (think tribal-visionary version of TEDtalks), in which individuals and groups presented projects they were working on in the ‘outside world’. Many talks also offered useful tips and information about successfully executing collaborative endeavors.
To get a better feel for the vibes of this event, check out the mission statement put forth by the Tribal Convergence Network:
MISSION – Awaken interweaves the threads of conscious festival, leadership summit, and community retreat into one inspiring event. As a collaboratively produced gathering, we employ the principals of generative practices, land steward partnerships, intergenerational bridge-walking whole systems design, innovative networking, facilitated council sessions, team building, and SEVA conscious service principals, to support local community participation and personal empowerment with emergent systems in order to continue building the world we wish to see.
Amidst social architects, small business owners, community activists, music revolutionaries and peace keepers of all ages and origins, there were leaders stepping up and having conversations addressing how to take the energy that we are creating as a community to empower each other and create meaningful change in the world. So, it seems fitting that I was called to the Awaken Gathering to help document a group called Natural Leaders, a kids organization based out of LA founded by Jon Nash which inspires kids to step up, stay present and be the leaders that they innately are. With tribal body markings, mask making, swimming in the river, yoga, superfood smoothies, art and hiking in the Redwoods, this group of kids had the opportunity to play and lead in a place of limitless creativity.
Now on to the music… Surrounded by ancient trees, the forest played the role of silent Shaman, as audio wizards delighted our senses each night. With mind-altering sets from Dub Kirtan All Stars with David Starfire, The Luminaries, ALIA, Sasha Rose, DJ Dragonfly, Sol Rising, Lux Moderna, Akara, RaBe, and many more.
The Dub Kirtan All Stars featuring David Starfire brought out some enchanting beats that I haven’t heard before. The sound bridges the ancient spirit of mantras with the technology of big bass and synthesized sounds. I watched most of this set from the top of the Om gym, stretching, hanging upside down, practicing my splits and singing along with the call and response mantras that were so delicately woven into the soundscape. Surrounded by this Bollywood wobble, I effortlessly dropped into that yogic place of reverential presence.
The Luminaries performed on Saturday night and brought in a whole other flavor of magic. This was my first time seeing this group perform. Without a doubt the rhymes, rhythms, and words coming out of this trio were a true gift. With streams of pure consciousness and truth coming from their lips, the set was uplifting and all things hype, with a healthy dose of revolution mixed in. They had an effortless way of shining light on some of the more pressing issues affecting the current collective consciousness – free energy technology, to throwing down a big NO to GMO’s, straight into a fluid description of the magic that comes when you say “yes, yes y’all” to the universe. I walked away from their set supremely blessed up from head to toe and can’t wait to see this collaboration again. Visit The Luminaries’ Website for more info.
After The Luminaries’ set, David Block a.k.a. The Human Experience brought the party into the dance hall. Originally, we thought bringing his sounds inside would put a bit of a damper on the outdoor festival vibes. However the exact opposite occurred. It was unlike any dance off I have ever been a part of. With a new album just released, his beats had people bouncing off the walls and dropping deeper into “the dance” more than I had seen all weekend. The vibes couldn’t have been higher. This set was everything you can expect from The Human Experience, taking you from slow and sexy through moments of breath taking rapture, to the juiciest of juicy beats. After finishing an interview in the middle of the Enchanted Forest, I received a copy of his new album Soul Visions (The Human Experience & Rising Appalachia). From start to finish, the new album is a top-notch work of art.
Earlier in the night, Joshua Penman of Akara brought in a supremely smart composition of sounds. As a world traveler and a student of six languages, Akara has found an otherworldly dreamlike sound in a place where classical composition meets the global bass phenomenon. His set certainly represented the name Akara, which finds its roots in the Indonesian words “akar,” meaning root or vine, and “acara,” meaning performance or ritual.
Sasha Rose graced us with her angelic voice, over a luscious soundscape and thick bass lines. Her set and musical gifts seemed to mold perfectly with the backdrop of Redwoods that framed the stage. Lux Moderna, one of my newest musical crushes, brought a new flavor to the mix. This multidimensional, multitalented priestess contributed in a big way to the event, leading yoga workshops, the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as delivering a late night set on Saturday up by the firepit and tea lounge, nestled deep in the forest. Sitting around a fire in silence with a group of infinitely strong souls… It seemed as though our collective prayers were delivered straight to the source. With the perfect mix of mysticism and sacred bass, I was transported to that place where past, present, and future become one.
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The vibrations of this event were clear, powerful and potent. A container was created for participants to share their greatest gifts, aspirations, and the projects that they are manifesting for the betterment of our planet. I am excited to see what continues to evolve, as we move away from a temporary mentality (build it and burn it), toward one that would allow our efforts and energy as a creative community to go directly into secure food systems and sacred commerce, creating some balance in our planet.
We are lucky to be alive at a time when we are recreating our reality, transforming it in a way in which we relate to ourselves, to one another and to the planet.
“In using art as a tool for transformation, we have the opportunity, to create a reality as beautiful, healthy, and strong as our imagination permits.” – Martina Hoffmann