Thousands of years ago, great fire temples dotted the hillsides from India to Iraq, all serving a sacred plant mixed with milk and spices as a sacrament and healing medicine. Isn’t it wonderful they handed down a ritual to us used to aid in the healing process?
Someday modern medicine will wise up to the spiritual aspects of healing, and, in fact, that day seems closer all the time. The reason I know our medical establishment needs a huge overhaul is because of the tremendous resistance to using natural cannabis as medicine, while putting the entire country on synthetic drugs, mostly so corporations could make more profits.
Many years ago, a learned scholar from the East informed me there were actually three sounds in an OM. When he told me that, some of my training in theater popped in my head. I’d taken a course to enhance my speaking abilities, and learned something about the mechanics of speech. The OM may be the only healing ritual that works every time, while carrying zero dogma. It’s only role is telepathic harmonization on a vibration of peace. Allen Ginsberg once used it to protect himself and others during a police riot, and Wavy Gravy used it to drive Charlie Manson from his realm.
The OM starts deep in the belly, in your center of energy, and travels through your chest until it resonates your skull structures. The “mmmm” is held out because it’s ringing your bell. You mostly feel this Y-buzz around your nose. If you’re not vibrating your face at the end, the OM doesn’t work properly, so find that frequency, and once you do, you will feel it instantly.
The beauty of the OM is no one is ever off-tune. There are no bad notes. You may understand the connection between music, math and spirituality, but have you ever known a hymn with no bad notes? Before cannabis spirituality fell under intense persecution, there were probably hundreds of thousands of people in and around those giant fire temples doing OM circles and sharing healing energy. And isn’t it amazing they found a way to pass this ceremony down to us 10,000 years later, even if all the books and texts were tampered with to eradicate the identity of the healing plants they once used to cure almost everything.
This story is dedicated to Jan Hutton, whose crossed to the spirit realm on June 27, 2013. Jan was a willing participant in all my improvisational ceremonies, no matter how crazy they seemed at the time, because she had a deep connection with the spiritual vibrations. Her spirit is a good place to be.
By the time I went to my first National Rainbow Gathering, I’d already been hanging out with Garrick Beck in the East Village for over a year, and also attending the Rainbow picnics in Central Park, which I stumbled into by accident one afternoon. So when I arrived at my first gathering, I came well prepared and even carried a bunch of water-based florescent paints so I could make cool signs, paint faces and customize my camp. I built a pretty elaborate scene next to Garrick. This is where I first met the great Fantuzzi, the star of the midnight jam sessions.
Of course, my life turned 180 degrees after that experience. I’d been focused on the garage band scene at the time and leading my band the Soul Assassins to rock’n’roll glory on the Hemp Tour while leading the fight to legalize marijuana, but suddenly I had an urge to put a major effort into spreading Peace Vibe Consciousness. First thing I wanted to do was visit my cousins in Florida. Tom had saved me in 1970 by buying a one-way ticket to Stockholm so I could escape the Vietnam War, an experience both my cousins had been through and neither wanted me anywhere close to that national nightmare.
After Vietnam, my cousins had spent a few years traveling the world. I maintained correspondence with them during this time, and kept everything, including all the Vietnam letters. Someday I’ll put that up on Smashwords, as Tom is a great writer and very funny. They both became anti-war activists right after leaving the service. Eventually, they settled in Delray Beach and got jobs as lifeguards. But they had a secret hideout in the Florida Keys, where they would go on vacations whenever they had time off. I went there to initiate them into the Rainbow Family. My plan was to build a sort of private gathering celebrating the Rainbow spirit, something I thought might convince both my cousins to come and join me at an upcoming regional in Ocala, Florida.
Before my cousins arrived I constructed a giant peace pole and designed some ceremonial spaces.
There were psychedelic signs everywhere. I had a bag of mushrooms and brewed up some mushroom tea, the drinking of which would be our first ritual.
Just to get the right vibe going, after the mushroom tea and ceremonial face-painting, I started reading from the autobiography of Red Cloud.
Most people don’t realize the counterculture came out of Congo Square in New Orleans, and it started as a merger between Black African slaves who had been living in Haiti working the sugar plantations and the local native Americans. You can see the Native influence in the New Orleans ceremonies of today. That influence is huge on hippie culture as well, and it’s a path for all people to experience vibes of Native culture without actually becoming a wannabe because our version is a hybrid of all cultures, which is what Rainbow is really all about. After an OM around the Peace Pole and drumming and chanting, it was time to get into the boats. My cousins had two sailboats at the time, a big one and a little one.
Jerry built the little one himself, as well as the trailer he lugged it around with. It was a masterful craft, very fast and seaworthy. As I recall, there was a race to see which boat would get launched first and Jerry won easily. Once we were out near the Gulfstream, it was time to go snorkeling, one of our favorite things to do in the Keys, and this was before the pollution killed most of the coral.
Then I got the inspiration to do an underwater OM, which actually worked out fantastic since we could all hear each other clearly and it seemed to have a calming effect on the ocean around us.
(I’d later try to do one of these in Jamaica with the High Times staff, but soon discovered they were all wearing life-preservers which made submerging impossible.)
After the underwater OM, I got fascinated by a lonely baby jelly fish and followed the transparent little creature back to his nest, where thousands of relatives were breathing in unison. I was thinking about doing an OM with them, but then suddenly snapped out of my mushroom fog and realized what a dangerous situation I was in. Very suddenly I was swimming full-speed back to the boat.
We loaded up on the big boat and headed back to the safety of our camp. It was a great week, and I had a blast creating my little hippie disneyland, but, in truth, although my cousins went along and joined in on the ceremonies, they didn’t get drawn in enough to want to ever attend a Rainbow Gathering. In fact, Jerry admitted he’d accidentally stumbled into the Ocala Gathering one year and been scared off and freaked out by the sight of some naked hippies. That was the difference between me and my cousins. I had joined the counterculture as a teen while they had joined the army, so going to a gathering for me was like going home. Why it’s so hard for outsiders to get over the nakedness I’ll never know. It’s just another form of freedom, and if you never use it, you aren’t really free.
After serving 22 months in the Army, Hugh Romney attended Boston College on the GI bill and ended up studying the newly emerging improvisational theater movement (created by Viola Spolin). After college, he moved to Greenwich Village to become a comedian and was initially managed by Lenny Bruce while sharing an apartment with Tom Paxton and becoming close friends with Bob Dylan.
Before long, Romney moved to California and joined Ken Kesey and his band of Merry Pranksters. But when Kesey fled to Mexico under threat of arrest, fellow prankster Ken Babbs hijacked the magic bus Further, leaving the rest of the Pranksters stranded in Los Angeles. Romney soon discovered a nearby hog farm in the mountains was looking for a caretaker. In other words, a free place to stay. He set up a commune and called it The Hog Farm, which overnight became one of the most famous of the 1960s hippie communes.
Charles Manson drove out to the Hog Farm one day in the late 1960s. He arrived in his all-black tour bus. Manson had already made contact with one of the Hog Farmers, Shirley Lake, whose daughter Diane would eventually join the Manson family. After arriving at the commune, Manson gave Romney the title to his black bus and then tried to seduce Romney’s wife Bonnie Jean (today known as Jahanara) in a nearby shed. He was undoubtedly planning on merging his family with the Hog Farm and usurping Romney as the leader of the commune. Romney managed to break up the seduction and Manson retired to his black bus with his female followers in tow. Sensing Manson was channeling the wrong vibes, Romney gathered his troops and began an OM circle next to the bus. The OM circle is an ancient ceremony from India that may have originated with the original Soma cults. I believe it’s the best way to harmonize a group of people and ward off negative energy. The OM circle initially became popular with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love in Laguna Beach, and was later taken up by Allen Ginsberg, who used it as a force field to protect himself and others during the riots in Lincoln Park during the Democratic convention in 1968.
Suddenly, Manson burst out of the black bus, holding his throat, choking, followed by his female followers who were quite alarmed. They tried to stop the OM circle, as they believed it was killing their leader. Manson began leading his group in an evil OM to ward off the vibes coming from the Hog Farmers. Eventually, Romney was able to persuade Manson to drive away and not return. The following year, Romney would change his name to Wavy Gravy and become famous as the emcee of the first Woodstock festival. Manson’s family would soon become the most famous serial killers in the world.
Today, Wavy remains a master of improvisational theater, which involves a deep understanding of spirituality (telepathic energy). Improvisation can unblock energy clogs and release deep inner insights. If you ever get a chance to attend a Wavy Gravy improvisational workshop, jump at it. You won’t be sorry.
Manson, meanwhile, died on November 19, 2017, in a maximum security prison after numerous parole hearings refused to release him. When he entered prison, Manson listed his religion as “scientologist.” He kept an E-meter at his ranch. Some believe Scientology was created by military intelligence as a brainwashing and mind control operation.
The British offshoot of Scientology (The Process Church) ran an operation to capture prominent rock bands into their fold and became perhaps the scariest of all the creepy vibe masters that began to infest the counterculture immediately after it took hold of the younger generation, who’d just wiped away years of conditioning and propaganda with just one acid trip.
Ron Stark was affiliated with The Process Church and he went on to become the biggest connection for the Brotherhood of Eternal Love. Ron Stark, the Process Church, the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, these are all fascinating threads I hope to get into in future posts.
Spirituality is just another name for energy, and energy comes in flavors.
You can channel and amplify different energies, depending on what sort of spirituality you’re looking for.
The hippies of the 1960s weren’t called “The Love Generation” for nothing. That was the energy flavor we were seeking to amplify and share, and we learned a lot about how to manifest that energy.
Mainstream culture is dominated by what I call “warrior” energy. The biggest ceremony in the United States is probably the Super Bowl. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking sports isn’t “spiritual.” Everything in life is spiritual.
If you put all the energy flavors together in one big energy stream, that’s god. God is the energy that flows through all things. It’s like an OM circle. When you are chanting an OM, there’s no bad note. You can’t sing off-key. That’s because the OM embraces every note.
Most ceremonies seek to harmonize energy fields. In sports, any team plays better when they are harmonized. And they all have ceremonies to help with that process. When they stand in a circle, put their hands together and chant the team slogan, they are performing a ceremonial ritual designed to harmonize. There’s really little difference between those types of sports ceremonies and an OM circle. (Although I believe the OM circle is actually the fastest and easiest way to harmonize a group of people).