“The circus is no more, yes that was once said, the rebirth shall only come after the dead…”
-What’s Become of The Circus?
I was a pretty average kid, growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, skateboarding, playing sports and doing the things most kids do. My Dad liked The Grateful Dead, I didn’t. Once, he talked me into joining him for a show. I remember vividly the first time I saw the hippie buses, the colorful tie-dye sea of people with dread-locks, selling their crafts, wearing hand-made clothes, playing music and dancing to wild African Drums in the parking lot. During my college years I loved the music and the colorful scene that had grown up around it. Traveling around the country, seeing different states, camping in beautiful forests, and meeting others who were also doing the same thing was very inspiring and it changed the course of my life forever. I guess my Dad was right after all.
Jerry Garcia, once said in an interview, “Before The Grateful Dead, kids used to run off and join the circus.” I wondered if maybe thats what people would do again after The Grateful Dead stopped touring. What would it look like to take the positive aspects, evolve them, and create something that took the inspiration a little further?
I then visited my first Rainbow Gathering and saw the common theme of community, creativity, art, love for nature, and social responsibility being expressed in a more organic way. I realized that what I was drawn to was something ancient, something that our modern world had forgotten, something that was tribal, yet contemporary. This is when I first started dreaming about a healing circus, and I wasn’t alone…
Music, dance, drum rhythms, colorful clothing, juggling and many other forms of expression are so healing to individuals and help to define our shared community. This is something that is missing in our modern world where people are taught to be consumers of art and culture rather than creators of it. Circus arts, carnival culture, seasonal gatherings of renewal, planting, harvesting and storytelling have existed all over the world for as long as humans have been alive.
So I started writing about an imaginary circus that traveled the land as if it really existed. I published the stories in my own little newspaper rag called “The Ancient News Update”, and distributed it at Rainbow Gatherings and Grateful Dead parking lots. I also printed up bright orange stickers that said “It’s Somewhere on Tour?” and gave them to my friends to stick everywhere as they traveled. It became fun to make up stories about the circus, and soon others joined in talking about it as if it had happened long ago. And, well maybe it did?
I was living in a small mountain town in Northern Arizona the day Jerry Garcia died. One afternoon while walking home I heard the familiar sound of drums in the distance. As I got closer to my house, I noticed a bunch of colorful school buses parked on my street. To my complete shock and surprise I realized that they were all parked at my house. I didn’t know any of them so I asked what the heck they were doing in Prescott. The response was that they had heard at The Florida Rainbow Gathering that since Jerry Garcia had died, everyone was going to Prescott to make The Mother Earth’s Healing Circus come alive. Blessing or curse?
With so many creative minds all working together, we created something truly epic and legendary. The Mother Earth’s Healing Circus, with all its mayhem, dysfunction and absurdity put on an amazing tour and each show was mythic and beautiful. At the end of its maiden tour, at a place called Valhalla in the desert outside of Tucson, our show was attended by elders from The Hopi Tribe. This is where the dreams of a bunch of crazy and inspired youth collided with the ancient tribal wisdom of the oldest living culture in North America (more on this later).
Though we were all talented and well-intentioned, we were also quite immature, financially inept and completely disorganized. The different factions within the circus split and went on to collaborate with others and grow the dream bigger. There are many mysteries to explore when one ponders “What’s Become of The Circus?” Though some say it never existed, and some say it died long ago, this website will unveil the roots and the story that continues to unfold around the inspired notion of a healing circus.
This is how it started for me, and I know there are many others with stories of their own journey of discovering possibilities beyond their wildest dreams and I can’t wait to read/hear them. This website is a call to gather, to reflect, and a sharing of wisdom, memories, and future collaborations between the friends and friends of friends who dare to dream of a better future and make it real through their life work.
I would have never expected that Berkana would dig these stories out of our attic all of these years later and cause the dream to bloom again in all new colors with an all new cast of characters across generations. Giggle Bubble Dreams is a wonderful book, but for the sake of good storytelling, I was made out to be a lot grumpier than I am in real life 😉
Once we had a dream and now we find that the dream has us. A circus of dreams, a mission from an imaginary king named Beeblebooble in the clouds, artists of all sorts with a common vision of spreading beauty through art and culture and bringing healing to a planet we love with all of our hearts.
It’s great to see that people are taking interest in all of this again. The dream circus of healing is alive in the hearts of the people…
Enjoy the journey!
“We each hold a piece to the puzzle this time. The story is yours, the story is mine.”
-What’s Become of The Circus?