Oregon Solar Eclipse
Written By: Ashton Hill
Art by: Kettle Head Art (Ashton Hill)
Travel was tedious in Oregon during the event with nearly 1 million extra people surging the area, all celebrating the rare astrological occurrence within the path of totality.
Day 1 of Travel Journal Entry
When we arrived to the back of the line that had already formed on Wednesday, the ever increasing energy filled the air as patrons smiled and greeted each other like old friends. The wait to enter the festival ended up taking us 15 hours, producing 2 horrible car wrecks along the way. The line was anxious with anticipation, leading many folks to start partying long before ever reaching the gate.
15 Hour Line
Due to such things, a few car accidents and a lot of obnoxiously long gaps occurred in 30 mile long line we found ourselves in, but at sunrise with the gates in sight, my friend and I finally began to celebrate ourselves. The wait was over and we were at the edge of the world as we knew it. The dawn air was frigid, but the sun was threatening. The dust swarmed our noses and lungs like mosquitos around a fat pig in a Florida swamp, and within a few hours of the sunrise, the heat was dry and unyielding. But we were in, building our camp in the shade of a few RV’s and a tree.
We camped beside the Village Witches, a crew of powerful goddesses who create and teach about conscious elixirs and self betterment. There was a built bar/stage location at Oregon Eclipse that was to host a diverse educational series of clinicians, alchemists, activists, conservationists, botanists, medicine makers, green witches, and musical entertainment.Village Witches Stage
I found myself drawn by the melodic harmonies ringing gently through the campground, originating from the Village Witches campsite next to us. Two young girls sang and strummed on their instruments, soulfully, with smiles upon their lips. Anna Clare, a mother of 3 that I met while camped next to the Village Witches was so kind and welcoming that I ended up speaking with her for a while. As part of the Envision crew, Anna travels to build art structures with their team and here, she said, they had come months earlier to help plan the infrastructure of The Solar Eclipse Event. Her Daughter accompanied her and also began to help with all the work that would be done to create the venue. After talking with Anna for a while, she indicated that I should go talk to her daughters, the source of the angelic choir rocking my spirit to contentment. Braillyn, age 16, and Piper, age 12, brought their most recent song to close and warmly greeted me, welcoming the conversation. These sisters, though young seemed incredibly conscious of themselves, and empathetic to the secrets of the universe around them. After a pleasant talk with these little souls and a hot cup of chai tea offered by Anna, I left them to continue their music making… but not before getting their performance name, Prai. Keep your eyes and ears open for these young ones. I have a feeling we’ll see them again.
Annie Kyla Bee of Spectrum Geometry and her two Artners were there in full force, and I found myself spending the majority of my time in their presence. Jack Henry, Annie Bee, and Dillon Endico were working on yet another beautiful community themed mural, in which the hauntingly surreal characters in various poses throughout the piece. The dust from the foot traffic was thick and layered on the painting like a glaze, only to be disturbed by the intentional stroke of a cloth over the face to cleanse an area for more painting. Their booth was thriving, in and out with folks dressed in all the craziest patterns from all the farthest reaches of the world. There were representatives there from South America, Australia, Israel, Japan, Canada, Iceland, and so many more. The eclectic love was electric in the dusty air.
Spectrum Geometry at Work
One of the mornings, my campmate and I meandered our way towards the main festival area. Along the path we were drawn toward the lake, across a bridge, and found ourselves in the First Nation’s Earth Camp just before a ceremony. The elders of the first nations came together in harmony as a message to the world, to spread such unity through the people who would come into contact with them. As Chief Black Fox and many other stood up, calling the attention of all that were near, tears dripped from my eyes at the power of each message. In such a time as this, as humanity rips itself and it’s mother earth apart, the nations of the first tribes stand firm in the conviction that we are one. We are the children of the earth, and if we hear her calling to us, we are part of their great nation. The message of the elders was clear. They saw no color nor race nor religious divide between the upturned faces there that day. They saw no difference in creed or clothes, and no “cultural appropriation,” in the many Caucasian souls who gathered there displaying feathers and face-paint. They saw the children of the people who once murdered and persecuted them, and they saw them as their future. “We are one tribe called HUMAN,” they said, with love pouring from their mouths and hearts. Their message was, “we see you desire the peace we have with the Spirit and therefore you are part of our family.” The desire to live for unity and to honor the earth among ALL PEOPLE is what lifts the tribes’ strength from near extinction to sudden flourishing.
First Nation Prayer Ceremony
In such a time as this, when humans slay one another for concepts they’ve never known, the strength of the First Nations gain with each heart that turns toward the Spirit. I found myself sobbing, refilled with peace and anxious to carry such a message forward to the world.
Not long after the experience at the First Nation, I crossed paths with my friend, Jo-seph “Sunflower” Keys. Knowing that he had spent the winter at Standing Rock, I was anxious to chat with him about his experience. I sat with him as he had his hair worked on in the back of a vending booth and talked with him deeply about the state of affairs and our roles in them. Holding the line at Standing Rock from the month of August through December, then spending the rest of the season in Rapid City sawing firewood for Unkitawa (the basecamp of the NoDAPL movement,) Sunflower had a full view of the situation. I remember particularly when he elaborated that the Elders had called for a peaceful resistance and had prayed that with such an approach the Spirit would protect and defend them and their cause. He said that weapons were available and the warrior within all present was strong, but with the respected call for peace by the wisdom of the tribes, they were able to hold on without bringing the full destructive force of the U.S. Govt down on them. As we spoke, I continued to commit to my role as a peacemaker, the reason why I cannot call for bloodshed between the people in my nation, no matter their twisted worldview. He became resolute in the role he plays, as outspoken and a soldier for Mother Earth. Could it be (we concluded) that each of us has a role to play in the spiritual and earthly wars ahead? Not all of us were made for violence and retaliation just as not all of us are capable to forgive or see with empathy.
As I stumble onward with my Solar Eclipse Adventure, I came across a large bell tent, drawn by the peaceful energy it exuded. As I stepped within its walls, my attention was drank up by a man who was also calling the attention of everyone else under the canvas. His name was Dave Zaboski. As a professional artist on another tier than I had ever expected to meet, he was holding a discussion/workshop with anyone who was willing to listen. I sat down with my sketchbook and absorbed the moment. Dave had worked at Disney on many of the films that had in fact inspired my own art career. An animator for some of the last hand drawn works of art such as Beauty and the Beast, the Hunchback of Notre Dam and the Lion King, Dave had gathered such experiences that I could never imagine. The humbleness of his kind face was also not what I would expect from such a character, but his message quickly filled in all the inconsistencies I had assumed.
Dave Zaboski Lecture
“The fasted accelerant to being a great, GREAT artist, is generous collaboration.” As a Disney animator, he had stood for many hours watching the talented creators at their tables, working endless on some of the greatest animated hand-drawn works to exist. He said “Art has been too well kept of a secret, we must collaborate and share it, or else it will die at our hands.”
And speaking of generous collaboration, our old friend Jarred Trantham and his booth, Lost Sailor Designs Leather Art, showed me just that. Jarred had set up right next to Spectrum Geometry, making a home strip for us at the Eclipse. Between the booths, loads of people from all over the world as well as the east coast gathered to gawk at the artwork and creations of the two booths. I entered the tent and gave my friend a hug. While catching up, I told him of this article I was working on and in a moment of impulse, Jarred offered that I pick any journal on his shelves to use as my new journalism tool. The honor floored me. With hungry and grateful eyes, I landed on a beautiful leather-bound journal with natural patterns creating the mandala in the center. Each indent was carefully hand stamped into the skin and dyed with care. A unique treasure to be used for many years to come. Jarred’s gesture was just the tip of the iceberg. While many other booths feared the repercussions of the vending agreements and refused to share vending space, Jarred opened his arms and welcomed not 1, not 2, but at least 6 other artists to display in his space. As a living collaboration, Lost Sailor Designs thrives through sharing and Jarred thrives by giving. I cannot stress how honored I was to become closer to such a character.
Lost Sailor Designs Journal
Among the beautifully constructed artwork and architecture there were numerous stages to tickle every fancy. I found myself hanging around the Earth Stage, where the majority of live painters had gathered to display and engage their masterpieces. I was happy to find my friends, Andy Reed, Emily Kell and Dela Art all in the same area for most of the nights, and though I was not there as a live painter, I sat myself down among them and sketched the familiar scene in front of me.
Artist – Dela Painting on painter row
On our last morning, I accompanied my musically inclined friends (DJ’s you should look up, hint hint) Mr. Jennings and Illexxandra, towards the main gathering. The anticipation was as thick as the dust in the air as we passed the great number of costumed attendees marching cheerfully to the lake. It was almost time. We decided to post up on the opposite side of the lake from the 30,000 strong surging ocean of activity by the Solar Eclipse stage.
Around us, tall pines stood unaffected by the astronomical event about to take place and the lake teamed with art-boats and floaties covered in sun-glassed onlookers. The First Nation had a small section in the pamphlet that had asked for 1 minute of silence during totality to honor the moment but, as you could imagine, silencing a crowd of Americans is a feat for any occurrence. As the sun slid behind the moon and the light of day turned eerily into dusk, my friends stood yards in front of me looking upward into space. I found myself sitting beside a new friend, a fellow who worked at one of the stages who peacefully observed the surroundings. “Do you have a pair of glasses?” I asked. “No, but it’s ok.”
“Share mine!” I said, and handed them over. We sat together in the awe of the moment, easily going back and forth between staring into the sun and staring across the venue. Behind us, the tipis of the First Nation grounded the attitude of spiritual importance. We watched. The sun slipped farther and father behind the moon, until finally we were in totality. The yipping and howling of 30,000 human animals erupted from the Solar Stage, ringing across the lake and filling the darkness with triumph and praise. The strong solace of the First Nation stood firm in quiet honor of our universe and the feeling of being a tiny molecule in the greatness became nearly overwhelming. I couldn’t help but think, “How beautiful this creation… How honored I am to be a part of it… How strongly I feel my purpose now, to be a creator of beauty as a reflection of What Is.”
Solar Eclipse by Ashton Hill
The environment I had just experienced, the security I felt among the tribe of humans that came together under that dimmed sun, has refilled me with purpose and drive to share my life and love with the world around me and to reflect the greatness of our universe in each brush stroke.
I’ll never forget that epic week.
View of the Lake
“The difference between a Great Artist and a good one is, the novice will often lay down his tool or brush, then pick up an invisible club on the mind’s table and helplessly smash the easels and jade. Whereas the vintage man no longer hurts himself or anyone and keeps on sculpting light.” – Hafiz