Subcultures are thriving in the face of modern life with its pressures and grind. This became abundantly clear as we drove into the desert in the midst of LA’s sprawl to join the practitioners of primitive skills at Elements Gathering. Based at the Firestone Campground in Brea, California, this unique assembly brought together instructors in peaceful skills of foraging, basket weaving, felting, stone pennant carving – a different kind of grind. Tracking and bow hunting were favorites among the kids. Buckskin was the attire of choice by the organizers, giving a sense of origin and tribal culture.
Here are some insights from the welcome by a local teacher, Dr. Paul Astin. He aptly expressed the idea of being aware of the miracles around us just in our every day life.
Lots of music was played – from kirtans to world rock. Getting back to the earth included learning how to recognize poisonous flora, fauna, snakes, scorpions and spiders – hand sized Wolf Spiders proliferate – though I avoided encountering even the one the boys had captured in a cereal box. I decided since I was camping alone I would rather not know what creatures I was sharing the ground with.
Though the first night’s potluck featured organic, veggie, vegan fare, I laughed when the food truck showed up the next day featured organic beef burgers, along with salted carmel bacon brownies. And I loved that the assembled were not extremists in their views and embraced the beef eaters along with the vegans.
My haunt for the two days I attended the week long festivities was the Woman’s Lodge. It was a beautiful tipi filled with sacred objects, crystals, books, drums and other feminine comforts. It was a great space for ceremonies and healing.