Five days of camping in the desert may seem extreme (unless you’re a Burner), but there was a powerful reason behind the timing and location of Symbiosis Pyramid Eclipse.
On January 1, 1889, Jack Wilson, the renowned prophet known as Wovoka, received the vision of the Ghost Dance during a solar eclipse. Wovoka was a true visionary of the Nevada Paiute tribe, who spoke of creating peace with the invading Europeans and the creation of a new cross-cultural coexistence. According to his prophecy, if the five-day dance was performed in the proper intervals, the performers would secure peace, prosperity, and unity throughout the nation. The basis for the Ghost Dance, the circle dance, is a traditional ritual which has been used by many Native Americans since prehistoric times, but this new form was first practiced among the Nevada Paiute in 1889, following Wovoka’s prophecy.
Its resonance with the timing of Symbiosis (a five-day dance festival during a solar eclipse on sacred Nevada Paiute land), happening in tandem with the cosmic alignment of Earth, Moon, Sun and the Pleiadian star system, is what made this event much more than a party. It was a sacred ceremony, in which the Neo-Tribal dance community re-connected with our roots, and sought to make reparations for the actions of our forefathers by honoring the sanctity of a Native culture and its traditions. Although Symbiosis Events has produced festivals since 2005, the definition of “Symbiosis” was particularly fitting for what occurred at Pyramid Lake, NV, May 17th-21st, 2012.
Symbiosis: 1. Interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both. 2. A mutually beneficial relationship between different people or groups.
In the weeks prior to the festival, some people felt the interaction between the Native Paiute and the festival community would not turn out to be mutually beneficial. A lively debate concerning the possible impact on sacred land climaxed in a very active Facebook thread, initiated by Paiute tribal member Wakan Waci Blindman, stating “What concerns me is that there are spirits out there and when you bring in different substances and people who are partaking of these substances then those spirits that are already there are being disturbed!”
Wakan met with Symbiosis organizer Kevin KoChen to discuss these concerns; the most significant of which was the abuse of substances and alcohol on tribal lands. “The process here is a creative culture clash. The Neo-Tribal dance community, which has an approximately 20-year-old span of development, has long been enamored of a glamorized, idealized tribal existence that nods to the indigenous experience, but doesn’t always have the time or the education to deal with the actual complexities of tribal protocol and history.” [RealitySandwich.com]
Symbiosis did a great deal of service in educating the dance community about the tribal culture we emulate. A group of peacekeepers from a number of tribes and attendees of the festival met daily. At one of these meetings, I was fortunate to hear Carmen Gonzalez (Diné), an Environmental Protection Specialist and Permaculture Designer, speak on her work with the Western Shoshone and Paiute Doi Dicutta Community Project. She implements wide-scale permaculture to help tribes embody sovereignty. Additionally, there were many workshops related to sharing Paiute history, cultural survival, and sensitivity, along with insight into sacred geometry, indigenous medicine, ancestral arts, physics, shamanism, Ayurvedic healing, yoga, vocal alchemy, entheogens, the Akashic field, and many more.
Upon arrival, I was elated by the strong sense of reverence and discretion that hung over the entire festival. From the campsites to the stages, everyone seemed to be walking, talking, dancing, swimming, meditating, singing, and reveling in awe. Every facet of the festival was curated with extraordinary attention to detail, and the clear, pure intention to hold sacred space.
The Eclipse stage featured the largest piece of rose quartz I have ever been blessed to be with, surrounded by offerings such as flowers, incense and smaller crystals. Rose quartz amplifies LOVE, and all of us who were lucky enough to dance at that stage felt the love grow tenfold. It came from above and below, traveling through the top-notch speakers, amplified by the giant quartz; beaming in, through, and around us like a warm, soft, bottomless pool of liquid light.
Especially during the Eclipse. Random Rab – conjurer of the tingly, round, seductive, dreamy sounds so perfectly encapsulating the West Coast – played right before and into the beginning of the cosmic alignment we had all been waiting for. There were two dancers at opposite ends of the stage; a man in white and a woman in black, symbolizing the Sun and Moon. They ever-so-slowly inched closer and closer together, their movements barely perceptible, much like the movement of the Moon through the Sun.
They finally culminated in an embrace, just as the Moon was directly over our beloved blazing ball, creating the beautiful illusion of a “ring of fire.” Once this happened, the entire festival went silent. All sound shut off (an incredibly sacred moment, after 4 days of non-stop booming beats round-the-clock). A ripple of OMs went through the 8,000+ crowd, generating the most powerful, beautiful hum of the universe I have ever experienced. I’m pretty sure they could hear us from Outer Space.
As the Moon gracefully completed her embrace with the Sun, Tipper began playing on the Sun stage. We were able to capture a good amount of this very special downtempo set…
The magic of intention is what made Symbiosis so special on all levels. The thought and care put into each environment, performance, ritual, and ceremony made me finally understand what “magic” is. It’s when someone puts focused attention and intention into an act, object or space, and imbues whatever is focused on with a meaning and power it didn’t have before – physically and energetically altering it. When shared with others, especially those that believe in and therefore contribute to this meaning, this power is amplified and the object is changed forever in the minds of those that perceive it, becoming something different and greater than the original materials. Recyclables become holy shrines, patches of dust the stages of ceremony, a friend’s embrace a conduit to the Universal.
This can be manifested in the genius of design, complex rites of sound, incantations and movements, or in combining basic elements. There are infinite methods, and we all vary in how much we choose to do this and have the ability to effectively alter what we focus on. We all have this potential, and it is expressed in a billion different talents and interests. The more conscious a creator is of this potential, the more practiced in focusing and manipulating energy, the more powerful and noticeable the effect, or magic, becomes. The forgotten arts of alchemy, energy healing, shamanism and ceremony are alive in small pockets, and came out of the woodwork for this gathering.
This was a place of the medicine ways, and we learned much about them there. I have always been intrigued by these traditions, studying and emulating certain aspects, but never truly understood them until now. The medicine ways are about spreading positive energy and purging that which does not serve from individuals, groups and spaces. There is no “negative energy,” just over-concentrated, misdirected and blocked energy that can become toxic and unhealthy. Meditation, prayer, touch, images, sound waves, music, dance, sacraments, crystals, herbs, and words are the tools that medicine traditions use to invoke unity, peace, and greater understanding.
It is about tapping into the One energy, communing with everything; surrendering and listening to the messages of nature and the collective consciousness. Gaining knowledge, learning and teaching, uniting in prayer and dance, and inspiring others by how you live your life. Healing people with your energy and intention; unlocking the body’s natural ability to heal. Being aware of the true properties of food and herbs and using them optimally. Drawing energy and sustenance from all that surrounds you, finding harmony and well-being within, and sharing it.
This type of medicine is very powerful and essential to our bodies and souls, yet impossible to bottle, sell, or scientifically understand. Thus, it has been dismissed and persecuted in modern society. In an era starved for spirituality, community, and something to believe in that awakens the mind and makes you feel something, this Neo-Tribal dance culture has become an oasis of the most rare and sacred types of interaction. It is transcending its roots in the rave scene to become a purposeful engine of enlightenment, evolution and healing.
At such a crucial time in our species’ and planet’s rapid evolution, Symbiosis Events clearly planned a festival meant to be both an incredible celebration and transformative experience. The dust, extreme temperatures, and wind were hard on the body; the terrain was rough for camping and walking; and most had to camp far from their vehicles and carry their gear in and out.
It was surely more of a pilgrimage than a vacation, as many mystical experiences are, but the stouthearted were rewarded with unparalleled artistic performances, a beautiful and unique setting, cosmic convergence, and a pure, vibrant community to connect with. Overcoming adversity makes things more satisfying, and this community loves a challenge, so we know that if we can rage extreme conditions, we can rage anything.
It was like a mini Burning Man without theme camps, explosions, playa bunnies, ravers, and tourists; with better music, shrubbery, and vending… Oh, and THE LAKE, which was freezing but breathtaking.
So it wasn’t much like Burning Man at all, except that it was a long festival in the desert with lots of burners, dust, art, spirituality, and bass music. It was a pinnacle achievement for West Coast festival culture, where many bright talents came out to show what they’ve been working on and what they can do. Although I missed the opening ceremony, a friend still brought me a seed, one of which was given out to everyone at the ceremony; a symbolic token to signify the seed that we are all sowing to bring about a new world, new society, new paradigm, and new way to live.
Birds of Paradise, Bird of Prey‘s collaboration with Tyler Gibson, played a set very appropriate for the windy desert morning, with tracks like “Pathfinder” that have a lonely-cowboy-on-the-range feel. The music was different from other sets I’ve seen, a bit more organic than futuristic, thoughtful and chilled out before cranking it up into ecstatic and purgative climaxes. Passionate shamanic dance broke out in the dust, and the music helped us tell our stories through our bodies. They specialize in healing frequencies, dramatic and inspirational melodies derived from ancient and foreign cultures laid over hard-hitting percussion, creating a compelling balance of beauty and brutality.
Emancipator‘s set was beautiful as always, old songs mixed in with uptempo new tracks and hip hop vocals…
Beats Antique‘s set was also full of new material, highlighted by a new song written by the captivating Zoe Jakes…
The end of Govinda, with some Goddesses gracing the stage…
Oonaslim emitted LA club vibes but was actually quality. It was tribal Earth-trance and midtempo house with fat builds and perfect bass, brought out by the Funktion One speaker setup. Tripswitch was also highly danceable, and a nice treat, as he rarely plays in the US.
Entheogenic‘s sunrise set was the first time most of us had heard the legendary psychedelic downtempo music live, as it was their third show ever in the US. When Aldo Antinori took the stage amid the first rays of sunlight, it was the first time I noticed the golden metal star tetrahedron hanging with grace above the stage, just above the audio alchemist’s lair.
Entheogenic‘s music is versatile, as they produce everything from Eastern sounding world grooves to Euro trancy house beats to film and television soundtracks. Piers uses spiritually meaningful vocal samples and his own beautiful stage presence to get the world moving and grooving in a way that no other producer can.
The man truly understands universal love and knows how to portray it with sound. I am truly thankful that I caught his set, and met him the next night in the Tribe 13 art gallery – a visual spectacle with some of the world’s best artwork, live sets, tea at all hours, and a vibe that is truly unique and magical, even in the art world. If you aren’t familiar, check them out here: tribe13.tribe.net.
Heyoka brought tons of new material, with some old stuff mixed in. It was the freshest set that we’ve heard from him all year, and it left us truly satisfied. Tipper‘s set got me into the Spirit Trance like no other of the weekend. With circus vibes to New Orleans bluesy sounds to glitch madness and zooming bass music, he threw the fuck down. I was so in the zone for the entire set that I couldn’t really talk, but was dancing uncontrollably instead, while stationed behind Michael Heltebrake‘s table, highlighting his artwork with my movement.
One of my favorite moments of the festival happened during this set. I witnessed a Native Paiute man clearly experiencing his first electronic get-down-bang-a-rang-rager. He kept turning around, laughing in astonishment at the pure joy exploding out of everyone in the crowd and their elaborate, high fashion adornments – including those of the girl dancing next to him, clad in the typical Indian-style boots we all love to wear, with feathers in her hair. He started vibing with her flow, copying her dance moves, and I thought it was the most hilarious and beautiful thing – him copying her copying him. True symbiosis.
The non-stop bass assault continued through the night with some crunk styles from PANTyRAiD, Nasty Ways and Lowriderz:
Colorado-based producer Androcell, who rarely plays live, graced us with his best Eastern-influenced psychedelic beats to bring in the final day:
Rena Jones was another striking performer, whose live violin over dark, glitchy beats continued the morning beautifully:
Legendary writer Starhawk, author of “The Fifth Sacred Thing,” certainly understands the changes we are currently experiencing and those that are yet to come. She emphasized that light without dark is the end of the world, and that those who consider themselves lightworkers should keep that in mind. She believes that people everywhere are waking up and have a real spiritual hunger. That is what is bringing us together in greater numbers, and making these gatherings more important than ever.
Shifra Blumenthal‘s workshop, entitled “Kabbalah Cosmology & Merkava Technology,” was all about the ancients’ use of cosmology as their version of technology. The Merkava is the star tetrahedron shape, which some say is the geometric shape of the energetic field that surrounds each of our bodies. It is the “chariot” that takes us to the higher realms when we are grounded physically to the earth.
Shifra emphasized that the body should be a vessel through which we can ascend without actually dying. Humans are the bridge between matter and spirit, and the ultimate goal is to reunite them. We aspire to “ascend” and access the higher light to see that all is connected, which illuminates the world and illuminates the Infinite. Through our actions and intentions, we can pull down the higher light. It is the key to consciousness and the presence that activates our energy field. We can achieve all of this through modalities such as Yoga, Qi Gong, Tai Chi, and simply embracing nature’s rhythms. Combined with some stretching before, during, and after the workshop, Shifra‘s was truly one of my favorite festival workshops ever.
If you’re not from there, and especially if you’re from the East Coast, you need to take a deep breath and relax about the organizational “flexibility” and general pace of NorCal life. It’s not cool for anyone to boss anyone else around or rush them. At peak times there may be close to an hour wait for food, and you’ll be waiting on this long line, starving, and imagining that everyone in front of you is feeling the same way, and that the staff of the booth is hustling their asses off cuz they have a line halfway to the parking lot.
But when you get to the front, you realize that no one is in a hurry, neither the people ordering ahead of you nor the people working. They’ll often be making small talk, asking multiple questions about the origins of the ingredients in the food, which the cashier is happy to answer at length, or inquire about. For a moment you’re like “This is madness, can’t you people see this line, we’re dying here, get the quinoa, have it ready!”
But then you realize how much nicer it is this way, at least when there’s nowhere urgent to go, and how much better your food tastes when you’ve patiently waited for it and someone has taken their time making it with love and care. You make friends on line. There is an equality, a dignity, a relaxation to the service here that is personal, casual and refreshingly old-world. It may honestly take an hour to get a pita, but that pita will be dank as fuck and you’ll have a whole experience obtaining it. The entire festival was kind of that way..
After dinner we saw Bluetech for the millionth time, but this was the bassiest and fastest set of his we’ve seen. With jungle rhythms galore, we posted up in front of the speakers and got down. Kalya Scintilla is an Australian alien glitch producer that is matched by no other in melodic diversity. His music is dark on the surface, but once you explore it you realize that it is really celebratory and exposes true light. With violin and various string samples, tabla and bongo drums, and dripping bass, he got the crowd whipped up and moving.
Next up was Gaudi, the veteran producer and genuinely amazing person whose dub-infused crunkstep has the ability to contort bodies into otherwise unattainable positions. Then Desert Dwellers, a trio of seriously professional musicians who emit an intergalactic stealth message mixed in with tribal drums, haunting vocals and mid-tempo electronic lines.
Gang Gang Dance, a band of Brooklyn hipster weirdo enchanters, put on a spectacle of instrumentation topped with unique, haunting vocals. Their songs patiently build into walls of sound that carry listeners away and challenge all conventions and expectations. Sun:monx was fun as well, composed of Opiuo and guitarist Austero throwing down funky bass burbles…
There was talent everywhere you looked, far too much to mention here! The music schedule went 24 hours for five days straight with quality acts. There were few conflicts at a given time, but few hours to sleep if you didn’t want to miss something sick. Featuring a wealth of live painting by the likes of Mars-1, Damon Soule, Anthony Ward, Xavi and so many others, it was the highest quality live artwork we’ve ever seen. Mindblowing.
The talent discovery of the festival, among so many artists who absolutely killed it new and old, was a band who wasn’t booked or on the lineup. Playing on top of a converted schoolbus, Interstellar Transmissions blew away anyone walking by. Drift Dodgers was parked a few cars down and he grabbed y’all a taste, don’t go tellin’ everyone all at once!
The Goddess Ishani Ishaya travels with the band, dancing and spinning fire. The project is just getting started out of Austin, TX, and they’ve been pulling the bus up to festivals and renegade raging. They don’t even have any music online yet, but we’re looking forward to some fresh gypsy rock from this very talented crew.
It is important that we each come to these places with the intention of giving, without expectations to receive anything but an experience. We need a place where everyone is focused on giving to and loving each other, instead of grappling for position and figuring out how to extract resources. Ironically, we receive infinitely more if we ask for nothing in return, especially when we genuinely need very little. Even if we spent time and resources and endured hardships to get there, if we collectively set our intention to contribute all we can to the community in the faith that it will come back to us, very powerful happenings like this become possible, and give us a glimpse of what could be possible among people everywhere.
Everyone seemed to be working in some capacity, and many were able to leave their ego at the door and do whatever was necessary to help out. Brendan Angelides (Eskmo/Welder) was spotted baling hay, and the same man that had held court in the Tribe 13 art gallery the night before, regally hosting an elaborate and ritualistic tea ceremony, served me a falafel wrap with the same deliberate care and comfortable humility.
Beautiful fire spinning:
Android Jones’ Phadroid:
Symbiosis checked our intentions long before we ever arrived, and continues to do so long after we have left, as we reflect and process our experience. I’ve never heard so much talk and debate about how to appropriately behave, but if we claim to be “expanding consciousness,” what better way than to invoke these types of conversations and conscientiousness? Consciousness is becoming aware of and making informed decisions about what you are doing, why you are doing it, what effect it has on others and the environment, and what the big picture is. I think this whole process got a lot of people talking and thinking in an honest and introspective way.
There was so much questioning of intention, it was refreshing, but at times inhibiting; it made us question our validity, it made us find it. The overriding theme was of respect. Respect for the land, for our hosts, the Paiute Tribe, for the people who have devoted their lives to developing this culture, for ourselves and the people we aspire to be, and for each person’s contribution, regardless of how obvious it is. If you come with respect, you can go almost anywhere.
At this gathering, we learned to pay homage, and that the greatest person bows lowest. We brought many new people into a tight-knit community that has known itself well for years, and naturally we are being checked out; our intentions analyzed to see where, and if, we fit in. May this article and our contributions to the community be a declaration of intent, and an offering of service on behalf of Lost in Sound. Our role is disseminating the messages and developments of this culture. These are ideas and ways of being together that need to spread and help society at large evolve.
We have no business interest in the music industry, other than being a quality, independent publication, no political or financial bias; only a desire to give back to the community that has given us priceless experiences. We make no money from the work we do, promoting and documenting what has brought us all together and taught us so much. It is done out of love. It is an honor and a pleasure to be a part of it, and we try to capture and relay as much as we can, though no multitude of words, pictures, or videos could ever express what goes on at a place like this.
The value of what we just experienced will only become clearer as time passes. Each stage was named for the major players in the planetary dance we witnessed: a spectacular, rare alignment between the Earth, Sun, Moon, and the central star Alcyone of the Pleiades star system. This occurs only once every 26,000 years. The ancient Egyptians personified the Pleiades as a female goddess, most often recognized as Neith, the Divine Mother. Pyramidologists working in Egypt in the last twelve years have found texts that suggest the Egyptians revered the Pleiades as a higher divine star system, especially Alcyone, its brightest star.
The Pleiades have been known since ancient times to cultures all around the world. Early Dakota stories speak of the ancestors as being the Pleiades. The Hopis called the Pleiadians the ‘Chuhukon’, meaning those who cling together. They considered themselves direct descendents of the Pleiadians. The Iroquois pray to them for happiness. The Cree claim to have come to Earth from the stars in spirit form first and then became flesh and blood. Some Native Americans believed that all tribes in North America came from the Pleiades, that they were actually descendants and had been given a task by the Pleiadians to keep the Earth safe.
This eclipse & alignment with Pleiades is said to bring tremendous light into the dark, watery depths of the Unconscious Mind, which usually remains locked and inaccessible. The Unconscious is the deepest part of our mind and is a container for buried thoughts, emotions, sensations and images from our collective human experiences. When triggered, it can bring forward strong emotional responses. On a personal level, I can report that since experiencing the eclipse, the dark, watery depths of my unconscious mind have been unearthed in a big way. I have been going through such a deep, powerful, and intense transformation lately, that I find it hard to even write this article from a journalistic perspective, as my experience of Symbiosis was so deeply personal, so difficult and delicious all at once.
Thank you to Symbiosis Events and everyone who made this possible. Thank you to the community, to the Paiute people for receiving us, to the artists, musicians, and engineers, to the delightful light beings we were so lucky to meet and dance with. Thank you to the Sun, Moon, Earth, Stars and the Source of it all. May we all transition with grace and ease. May we all come to know our true selves, and live in peace.
“Nothing in the universe exists alone. Every drop of water, every human being, all creatures in the web of life, and all ideas in the web of knowledge are part of an immense, evolving, dynamic whole as old, and as young, as the universe itself.” – Symbiosis Film
By: Caeli La, E. Rock Jamwok & Drift Dodgers
Photos by Michelle Grambeau, Kyle Rober & Robbie Wenger