By Caeli La – Photography by Michelle Grambeau
In the weeks leading up to Enchanted Forest, I found myself in a whirlwind of work; going harder than I ever had before and sleeping less, caught up in the brainstorm of San Francisco’s downtown financial district. Completely unprepared, I packed with no plan, throwing everything in at the last minute and trusting my outfits would magically come together, the tent wouldn’t get wet, and there’d be enough food and water available all weekend. As we made our way up the winding roads to legendary Mendocino County, my hyperspeed momentum began to melt into stunning ocean views, rolling green hills, and vibrant redwoods sheltering the path. The drive was so beautiful that by the time we arrived, it felt like we had already entered the alternate reality one seeks out at these gatherings. We wiggled our way into the perfect parking spot, walked on over to a redwood grove, and settled between three giant trees guarding a flat, comfortable triangle of earth. The soft, ethereal energy of the forest soon guided us into a deep sleep… and as we drifted off, we willed our bodies to wake up in time for the sunrise set. And they did, rising and shining just as a girl breezed by our tent calling out “Random Rab!” Conjuring his gently seductive, dreamy sounds, so full of yum, Random Rab blessed the day awake. It was during his set that I experienced the first of many a deep healing that weekend. My friend pointed out a beautiful girl dancing front and center, and said she was going through a very similar process as I am. Her name, Shakti, means the force of divine, creative, feminine power. I shimmied over and we began to mirror each other… syncing, sharing, exchanging and rearranging the flow. In the palpable space between us, we moved through eons of woes, simmering and surrendering.
Sunrise sets are always the most bewitching; everyone’s skyrocketed, swaying gracefully, spinning out into the twinkly hour. It was great fun to be wide awake and sober in the midst of the night creatures. Showering Rab with hugs and kisses at the end of his set, then skipping off to take pictures in the golden morning light, we landed in the open arms of the Healing Sanctuary of Squish. Which was, indeed, the squishiest, most delicious place, full of bean bags, blankets and pillows, padded mats and acro yoga swings, a stunning altar, giant snakes lounging in aquariums under heat lamps, and life-size visionary artwork with ever-changing colored lights illuminating its many dimensions. I loved the circular simplicity of the festival’s layout (sold out at 600 people) with the Sanctuary next to the food area, next to the medical booth (offering free water and earplugs), next to the vendors, next to the stage, circling back around to the Sanctuary, which graced the short path back to our campsite. Outside this blissful circle, there were a few different trails going down to the creek, with gorgeous swimming holes and not-too-freezing cold water, and paths leading higher up into the forest, where a stunning garden of polished wooden goddesses stood tall amongst sacred altars in hollowed-out redwood trees. We ate breakfast at the sole food vendor, Lydia’s Organics, which offered more than enough options to delight your palate for an entire weekend. Everything they make is of the headiest quality, and so full of love, you can taste it. While eating breakfast, a saucer-eyed guy ignited a dynamic conversation which struck something deep in all three of us, elucidating reflections from the dark watery depths of our souls. We decided to go jump in the creek together and cool off. As soon as we reached the riverbed, Shakti waded in naked, golden morning light illuminating her silvery body, enchanting us to join her… and one by one, we all did. The best part about this whole experience, beyond the limitless freedom and absolute soul-baring exposure to others and the Sun, was the man camped on the hill above us. Full of intense, heavy-metal energy, roaring and raging, hurtling baby wipes at my head as a gift to “clean off from the creek” – it was clearly his first time at this rodeo. He later said Enchanted Forest was the first time in his life he’d ever felt completely open and free.
As we circled in the water, one of the boys said:
“Lets play a game. Name 10 things we love about this spot, right here, right now.”
“What if they’re all so interconnected, we can’t separate them into 10?”
“Then we’ll love the oneness, and multiply it by 10.”
…”Alright, so we’re at level eleven hippie. How can we bring it all the way up to West Coast Hippie?”
“Let’s have a prayer circle.”
So we stood on the riverbed and set intentions, declared what we wished to invoke, gave thanks, and harmonized OM. Refreshed and renewed, we ventured back towards the stage, which hosted a giant Flower of Life floating above the dancefloor, lighting up in all different colors and patterns. Said to depict the fundamental form of space and time, this sacred geometric shape was omnipresent in the Forest – rocked by many an attendee, printed on stickers and water bottles, painted in the visionary art and on bathroom stalls. There was a beautiful, decked-out lounge adjacent to the bomb-ass sound system, so you could lay back on giant pillows, cuddle puddling, and still see the stage and feel the bass vibrating your bones. I ventured out into the vending area, buying a stick of Palo Santo and a handmade dreamcatcher earring. Ah, the dreamcatchers… the entire festival was filled with gigantic, intricately decorated dreamcatchers hanging from the trees. Apropos, as we were all existing in the dream-like state of wildly awake. This was truly a gathering for dancers and visionaries, by dancers and visionaries, with a lineup curated by the likes of Kaminanda and Dragonfly, two of the Bay Area’s favorite producer/DJs. I encountered Kaminanda giving electronic sound healings in the Healing Sanctuary of Squish (making music on the fly above a man’s head who was getting “buffed”- a super massage by what is actually a car buffer, which one must experience to believe). Kaminanda, his stunning wife Eliza Moon, and their beautiful little alien child, Atreyu, held court at this gathering, setting a prime example of what family life looks like in the new world. It is community-based, strengthened by the freedom and safety of tribe. Atreyu ran freely throughout the festival; loved and looked after by all. There were many children and families there, and my imagination ran wild with the world these cosmic kids will know.
The little ones ran around laughing and tumbling during the yoga classes – during the most memorable of which, Kalya Scintilla played a live set. If you don’t know, now you know: Kalya Scintilla is the cat’s pajamas, the bomb diggity, the bee’s knees. I mean, Wow. His music is at the cutting edge of the evolution of sound, evolving towards the fusion of old and new, global and local, me and you. His dripping bass love drops melt into ancient chants, tribal rhythms, and planetary frequencies – evoking emotional oceans of deep, watery, shape-shifting sounds. I spent the first part of his yoga set partaking in the class, then got on the massage table to receive bodywork – and his set was so good, in fact, that my bodyworker had to stop twice: once to go find out what his name was, and twice to go give him a present for being so astoundingly wonderful. My bodyworker was, of course, the fabulous Fernando Bright Feathers – a founding performer in the famous traveling circus Lucent Dossier. The work he did on my body-mind-soul was the deepest I’ve ever received. He moved so powerfully through my body-mind blocks that by the time it was over, all I could do was curl up inside the hollowed-out trunk of a redwood tree and sob. Letting go of such deeply held tension and purging so much pain allowed me the greatest cry of all time. I felt perfectly reborn afterwards – fully alive; present, real, awake. Which means being happy… so happy. Dancing became loose and graceful again, easy and free. My mindset shifted completely into relaxation and receptivity. We began to sink into the music, just as “Goddess Sunday” went into full effect – a lineup of some of the West Coast’s most prolific female performers, including ALIA, Jillian Ann, Sasha Rose, and Kyrstyn Pixton. Their angelic vocals and dirty bass womps elevated the crowd, inspiring the Shakti in everyone.
At Enchanted Forest, as well as every other West Coast festival I’ve been to, there is no backstage; no “pit” separating the artist from the crowd; no barriers or VIP sections, no difference between the treatment of artist and attendee. Here, everyone is an artist, and everyone is equal. We come to these gatherings to share the talents we’ve been cultivating, dress to express our creative souls, and revel in the brilliance of each other. This is a family affair, and we are here to support each other in healing ourselves and the planet. Through music, art, dance, yoga, bodywork, and an array of workshops offering incredible knowledge and skill building, we heal and grow, transforming at an accelerated, intensive pace. Sometimes it can be scary to embark on such a departure from the programmed reality many of us are coming from; sometimes its painful and challenging to dissolve your walls and open up again. Enchanted Forest made the whole process as easy as possible. Like I said before, you could taste the love. Infinite gratitude to Tulku and Surya of Sacred Sound Systems, the powerhouse production team behind this divine event. For creating the space in which I found myself whole, Lost in Sound salutes you. In Lak’Ech ~ Caeli La
The Enchanted Forest
Reveling Under the Flower of Life
Smiles for Miles and Fabulous Facial Hair
Kalya Scintilla Enchanting the Audience
Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy
Kaminanda, King of the Forest
“Joy is fascinating. Love is an act of heroic genius. Pleasure is our birthright.”