Updated (June 19, 11:40 a.m.)
Taos County is about to receive an onslaught of nomadic new-agers as the 50th Annual Rainbow Family Gathering plans to descend upon the Pot Creek area for their "Spring Counsel" beginning June 21, followed to the official gathering at to-be-determined site from July 1 - 7.
The Rainbow Gathering occurring in Taos County is actually one of four smaller "prism gatherings" – or regional gatherings that are happening across the country this year due to continued fallout from the pandemic (others will be held in Idaho, Pennsylvania and South Carolina).
This year's "prism gathering" will see less than the usual 10,000 plus that annual gatherings muster, and the numbers are estimated to be around several thousand.
Rainbow Gatherings started in 1972 as an offshoot from the early Woodstock ideals, and have happened every year since in a different location. Held in National Forests around the country, the Gatherings bring anywhere from 8,000 and 20,000 people.
The Gathering was going to be held in either Arizona or New Mexico, and eventually they opted for the Land of Enchantment, and settled on the the Ojo Sarco Canyon by Forest Road 439, just off State Road 518 in Taos County for their "holding camp". The location of the official gathering will be determined during their Spring Counsel.
The Taos area is no stranger to Rainbow Gatherings. In 1995, an estimated 10-15,000 people swarmed the Tres Piedras area of the Carson National Forest, much to the displeasure of many locals (some even protested the event). In 2009, the gathering almost took place there again, but concern among some locals and permitting problems saw the event moved to the Santa Fe National Forest near Cuba.
The Rainbow Family refer to themselves as a loose-knit group with no leader, and "the largest non-organization of non-members in the world," according to their website. The stated goal of the gathering is to celebrate the Fourth of July with a "prayer for world peace," which the site says "has managed to happen every year since 1972 without interruption despite many hurdles and is the main focus of our family gatherings."
The prayer lasts from the early morning of July 4 for several hours until noon, when "the air fills with loud rejoicing, affirmations of love echoing across the meadow and many hugs being shared."
Though the intention of the community is a good one, Rainbow Gatherings have gotten negative publicity in the past due to the nature of the crowd that they attract - the event is free and open to everyone. Headlines like "From Peace And Love To Murder And Drugs - The Story Of The Rainbow Family" and "The Dark Side of the Rainbow Gathering" dominate search results, and speak of the seedier side of the gatherings.
Taos residents should begin to see the first trickle of the Rainbow Family this weekend, and it will continue until the main weeklong event from July 1-7.
Look for an extended article in Tempo, July 1.