I never saw it coming.
Something magical happened at Lucidity Festival this time, something unexpected and earth shaking…
Maybe I should have known better, Lucidity has always shown up with cutting edge thought and way ahead of the pack projects. But their pre-fest workshop series, this April, was something else altogether. It blew me out of the water.
I thought that I was in for a few fun days of goofing around. I was working in the Media Hub anyway, so why not come early and check out the first ever Courseweek?
As always, their festival activities focus around a theme. This. 2016, is Lucidity’s fifth year – the year of the Crossroads: “This installment of our epic saga brings us to this turbulent moment in space and time—the Now of our socio-cultural evolution. We see our global human family entangled in a liminal, transitional zone between what was and what will be. Crossroads is the place between worlds. It is a limbo zone where many of us are confronted by Shadow and a great fear of the unknown. As the Dreamers of the New Dawn we are here to envision solutions. We resolve to cast light upon the darkness, to dig our hands in the dirt, to sing songs of a peaceful future, and actively sweep away that which no longer serves us. In every moment we are offered many possibilities.”
“At the Crossroads, the choices you make do matter,” I was told.
The stage was set.
Courseweek would run for three days before the festival, offering five tracks that all looked intriguing – Permaculture, Lucid Dreaming, Reiki, Empowerment/Leadership and Art & Creativity. I chose art because the teacher looked cool and I thought it would be fun to mess around with paints and stuff. It’s not something I ever do, and it looked like a great way to spend three days.
It was a little bit eerie to show up on site so early – only a few of the build team disturbed the silence. I could see the gorgeous landscape of the canyon and oak trees dotted all around, both out of sight when the festival is in full swing. There had been a little rain and fields of dense green grasses were swaying in the breeze, a beautiful sight for normally dried up and brown Southern Cali.
We were directed to the University “campus” – a sweet setup with five well decorated big tents facing into a courtyard. Later a labyrinth would be added in the center. There was still some scurrying going on, but all in all they were ready for our early arrival.
We were asked to stay inside the “campus” so that the build crew could bustle about with truckloads of structures and equipment without constantly trying to avoid wandering students. This simple request set the first invisible key in motion.
Jamaica Stevens, founder of Re-Inhabiting the Village and our Courseweek guide, greeted us that Monday morning before the festival. “We’ve come to create a new story together – that’s our whole intention. I want to invoke in you, the sense that we are archetypical creators, and we’ve come on this great adventure – many of you have come from far and wide and heard a call, something that said, “I have to be there”. Some of you came hell or highwater, you have had journeys already, which is part of the initiate path.”
“Things end and things begin, and in between is the pause, the sacred, liminal, pause – lets honor whatever is ending in you so that you can create this new beginning, This is a new day and there’s only the future in front of us. Let’s really be present here, in this now, with these wonderful stewards, who represent with us, here, a mythic journey. ”
“This is the year of the Crossroads,” she continued”, and Lucidity, I don’t think quite knew when we said, the fifth year will be the Crossroads -when we seeded our story arc – how would we have foreseen these very real experiences? Ones that have been felt and tangible and absolutely part of the story.”
“You all are unique reflections of something that can dance and play and live and scream and cry and shout and express itself. And we are here to absolutely join you in that journey; to create something new together. Please know that you are co-creating this with us.”
“So thank you, my majesties, you wonderful beings for showing up! And letting us also play the role we are here to play, lets all have fun being guides and storytellers and mythos makers.”
“This is the heart of everything that will ripple to the thousands of people as they start to arrive. It begins here with our prayer, our action, our play and then it grows – so you all become part of landing something that other people will step into and feel.”
As we divided into our groups and headed to the workshop zones with our instructors, I was still feeling pretty normal, chatting with new and old friends who were also there for Courseweek. The factor that we were to stay inside the campus would lead us to a much deeper bonding than would have happened otherwise. It was a retreat within a retreat, and we, in our small groups of 25 or so, were heading into group cocoons that would reshape us in ways we couldn’t imagine.
“Breathe as though the entire universe
depends on you for life,”
Astarius reminded us.
Dave Zaboski is a wild looking man, with untamed long white hair and an indian kaftan almost to the floor. He has a long history as lead animator at Disney and Sony, and years of spiritual study in India. Definitely a world class player in life. As head of the Art Temple at Lucidity and Courseweek art instructor, he was our guide on the journey ahead and his kindness, his internal peace, were as much a part of the experience as the work we did. He’s also a great storyteller…everything we did was wrapped in story….and always inviting us to rewrite our own.
“What is magical?”, he began. “Where do we stop believing in Magic? Who here has ever used a magic wand, for example – like a REAL magic wand?”
“Let me introduce you to the charcoal pencil. This incredibly magical tool is the same bit of charcoal that our ancestors used to draw on cave walls. We have been using this to phase up our ideas for fifty thousand years!”
“But how do we imagine more perfectly? How do we truly believe in what we are doing? How do we conjure our Thought into a Thing? ”
“It all starts with Belief. In that space between the question and you answering it, is a place where anything is possible. In that space you can invite the inquiry…What is Reality? What is a dream? What am I here to make with my life?”
“We are, as creators, here to bridge the gap between our potential and what’s real. It’s important for us to create powerfully, because the world needs what you have in mind.”
And so it began. We embarked on a quest to discover within ourselves, the creative force of all creation, the creative force that has urged humans to express since the beginning of time. It was no ordinary drawing class. The exercises were targeted and shook me up. All sorts of new parts of me started appearing, and it was the same for everyone around me.
Our first assignment was to remember what happened that has blocked our creativity thus far. Something someone did or said that made it not ok to express ourselves, that shut down the creative urge….and as we each remembered that hurt place, those mean words said to little children long ago, invoking emotional responses that had been stewing and running our lives from a deep hidden place – he asked us to turn the eyes in our memory, to the person who spoke it, and investigate their suffering. Could we see their suffering, the pain beneath their words?
That simple turnaround made all the hurt fall away and lose its impact. Compassion took over and released the binds. Those early urges to paint, to sing, to dance, to be alive in the world….poked their heads back up and took a big breath of fresh air. New life stirred in my belly.
From there we continued to dive in deep and come up for sunshine. We drew and painted and played with clay. We contact danced in silent communication with partners. We learned about the power of haiku and crafted poems describing ourselves in metaphors. We scoured through adjectives to capture the flavors and colors of our quirks and personalities. I got to know myself in ways I never have even looked before. And so much I didn’t need to keep, started falling away.
Everything we did was a dance between letting go and opening. It was a gorgeous rocking back and forth, gently releasing, gently opening. And going through that in an enclosed retreat space, connected us. We held space for each other to go through changes and to open to something greater. We witnessed each other releasing, growing, relaxing, becoming more of our great potential. It was purely magical.
And always, Dave brought us back to wonder. He spoke of the universe, the quantum field, the creative force of all creation, and the energies that rule our health and happiness. He taught some Chi Gung and Tai Chi and some breathing techniques. He taught a little science too. Always with stories, magical wonderful stories that lit up our eyes and invited us to be dreamers, visionaries, people who live through their imagination.
On the last day, we were all given an easel, and a set of watercolor pencils. We were to sketch the model before us and then brush the lines with a little water, to create a pastel watercolor effect. Before this most of what I created was scrap, I’m not one who gets artsy ever really. But after three days of working on art projects, I got serious, knowing it was my final piece.
Pencil in hand, I gave it my all. The watercolor pencils were awesome. The model was beautiful. My heart was shining. But after 15 minutes, the model took a break and Dave changed the game. “Leave your easel and go work on someone else’s piece.” Wow! So much came up! My attachment to my work, my feelings about the new canvas – I don’t like what they’ve done and what if I ruin it? I mean, they’re a real artist and I’m so not! So many feelings! But I had to let go of all of it and be with the dance. And then we changed canvases again. And again, and again…it went on and on and each time I faced more internal judgment, more attachment and more letting go.
I came out of that exercise, like so many before it, a new person each time. Those two hours of changing canvases reshaped me like no other….but I had been primed for it all along. The person I was on Monday was not even remotely like the person I became by Thursday, even before the watercolor class. I was changed, relaxed, opened, renewed and inspired, in so many ways.
And going through changes beside one another, being on intensive retreat together, in an enclosed enchanted garden….was profound. The producers and build crew continually reported that they could feel the presence of our work all over the site, and I knew that the shifts we made and the close relationships we built would impact the several thousand others coming in for the festival.
Jamaica addressed it too, in our closing ceremony: “To this wild, beautiful, open, connected, crazy, loving, divine, playful, real, authentic, transformed human pod of amazing divine beings. Thank you for birthing something that will cast seeds rippling far into the future…of how it is that we come together to learn, to share, to own, to connect – Lucid University has officially been born. Help us carry the buoyancy and the depth of this powerful moment and let it live in your body, your being and root you down onto this precious earth. Let it rise you up to touch the heavens, let your heart be guiding you and realize that you are standing at the Crossroads. You have rippled something that everything else will be built upon.”
“Remember that every moment is a breath in and out, every moment is an ending and a beginning. There are big cycles and small little tiny cycles, but all of them are an opportunity to let go of anything, with full honor, that has served you in the past – to stand in this present, present, present moment and make yet another new choice. Breathe in or breathe out, whatever direction you choose it doesn’t really matter, it all leads you to only one place, but its how you get there that is the great adventure. Let your self expand with this experience and keep expanding as you take it home with you. Walk away strong, ye mighty guardians of co-creation, walking together in that connection between Heaven and Earth, you are the pillars of the new tomorrow.”
We danced, we played, we laughed, we grew. We made new friends, learned new skills and set the stage for a fantastic festival to unfold in the days to follow. It was a landmark experience that has impacted the course of my life, as well as that of many others attending. And I learned a bunch of skills too.
Next year is Eudamonia, a Greek word for the thriving human future that we are all working to co-create together.
Lucidity, I can’t wait to see what you bring to the table.