Sym·bi·o·sis (noun): “Interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both.” or “A mutually beneficial relationship between different people or groups.”
As we reluctantly decompress from this past weekend’s revelries at Symbiosis Gathering in Northern California’s Woodward Reservoir, one word lingers persistently on our tongues and in our hearts: symbiosis. But a word so habitually repeated over the course of the four-day festival from September 22nd- September 25th threatens to disappear without the manifestation of intentions set out on the river bank.
We came, we danced, we lost ourselves in dreams. From the unfathomable depths of techno legends Deep Jesus, Lee Reynolds, Marbs, Mikey Lion, and Porkchop of the Desert Hearts Crew at Friday’s Swimbiosis day-party, to the hypnotic performance by Zoe Jakes of Beats Antique at The Fringe, and Seth Troxler‘s unforgettable Sunday evening set, it’s safe to say there was no shortage of talent. As early mornings tiptoed into golden hours, the harmonious bond between music and dance gave way to new awakenings of inner fire through yoga, ritualistic dance, and sound healing. Talks on permaculture, movement arts, and ancient wisdom by visionaries like Vandana Shiva, JP Sears, and Winona LaDuke peppered the grounds while people perused the polychromatic stalls and stands, shedding anxieties of a distant reality.
This majestic alternate existence often seemed to play out with no regard for time or reason: a DeLorean speedboat, a water-gliding mattress, and a glitter fairy gallivanting through the dust exemplifying our predisposition as curious, insightful, creative, and marvelous beings. The founders of Symbiosis Gathering, Bosque Hrbek and Kevin KoChen can attest that these types of festivals aim to blend “different types of subcultures and underground communities”, allowing individuals to “find common ground and that symbiotic relationship.”
Between Swimbiosis, Juke Lagoon, the Grotto, and the Fringe, by shuffling stages through varying music genres and themes, “people are forced to go and see different areas and have different experiences” by exploring the grounds. This dualistic framework sets Symbiosis apart from other music, art, and holistic health festivals because the founders have shied away from defined restrictions and boundaries. The basis of the ethos essentially fuels the dynamic dance between artist and fan, breaking down societal biases and prejudices.
With a festival that emphasizes embracing differences rather than breeding intolerance, you get what you give. There’s something magical about the glimmer reflecting from bright eyes dawning rad costumes, getting lost, making new friends, and dancing their asses off. While the founders themselves have recently ostracized the term “transformative”, we can take these events not only as an escape but also as a treasure trove of wisdom. Much like how artists, DJ’s, and producers pour their heart and soul into creating art with a purpose, we, as sentient beings, can manifest what we learn from festivals into radical collective change.
Symbiosis Gathering doesn’t just end at the gates. Festivals have the power to transform, using music as a threshold between self-discovery and positivity. And while you reel your soul back from its journey, remind yourself this: the world can be as spontaneous and as brilliant as a music festival. Check your ego at the door, embrace perspective, be kind, and live your truth.
We thank Symbiosis for an extravagant weekend with both old and new friends out at the reservoir. Watch this documentary series retrospective that breaks the festival down with interviews with some remarkable humans. We hope to see you all out in Oregon next year for the Global Eclipse Gathering!