From the time I joined the group of focalisers for this year’s Tasmanian Rainbow Gathering, I’ve been committed to contributing time, energy and materials to the infrastructure that is temporarily built in the Australian bush to welcome all the souls who gather together in temporary intentional community. We’ve driven onto the State Forest site at Tulunpunga before to deliver tarps, poles, food and other materials, but now we’re camped semi-permanently (which means our awning is open and the tent is out) for the next couple of weeks.

Laxmi and Lana painting signs, Tasmanian Rainbow Gathering, January 2014
Laxmi finishes some of the signs that will hang around the site while the girls paint on their own scraps of fabric. We usually hang up signs to designate each space as well as to promote the peaceful principles of harmonious community living.

Olly plays a drum on the first day of the Tasmanian Rainbow Gathering, January 2014
Olly sounds a drum in the morning to call everyone to breakfast food circle. On the day of the opening ceremony, the community refrains from talking (or loudly calling "food circle"!) until after breakfast, which means that we have to use another way of summoning all the Rainbows together.

We’re improvising the opening ceremonies for this gathering, and individuals have volunteered to create activities for the group’s celebrations. We’ve agreed to follow the principles of the four elements: water, earth, fire and air.

First thing this morning, we gathered in a circle in the river and sang together to welcome the morning. We took a leaf from the forest into the water and individually placed positive intentions for Earth into the leaf before releasing it down the river to the ocean. Then we each found a rock and threw them together into the centre of our circle, creating a reverse fountain of splashes. Our cheerful circle soon morphed into a water fight before we swam together in the fresh mountain water and emerged to bask in the sunshine. It was a meaningful ceremony with bonding elements and not very much spiritual pontificating (which always bores me). I’m so glad I woke early to participate in it!

We’re all content to be living in community with our tribe again. Welcome home!

Wooden horse to burn, Tasmanian Rainbow Gathering, January 2014
The evening ceremony involves the official lighting of the "sacred fire". Because today marks the end of the Chinese Year of the Horse, some creative Rainbows have built a wooden horse that will burn first.

Nicole and Yvonne, Tasmanian Rainbow Gathering, January 2014
The best part of Rainbow Gatherings is the time we spend with our beautiful friends like Nicole and Yvonne. Yvonne holds tea parties every afternoon in the shade of a large tree with "naughty", "non-Rainbow" food options (like store-bought biscuits and long-life cow's milk), and they're always well attended.

Circle for the opening of the Tasmanian Rainbow Gathering, January 2014
We're opening the Tasmanian Rainbow Gathering with eighty people — probably an Australian record — and already most of the infrastructure is in place for the kitchen and various workshop areas. It's a beautiful indication of the amount of energy that has been given to the group and creates a natural high that will infect the newcomers to the gathering over the next month.

One of the principles of the Rainbow Gathering is “discreet photography by consent only”, so I’m putting away my camera for a time. It’s wonderful to relax among friends without feeling the need to document it all, and the memories that are made within this group of amazing people are significant enough to stick without photographic evidence.