Sunday, August 16, 2009

Keep on Truckin'



I was sixteen years old, living in Kansas City, Missouri in 1969. For many reasons I was not in any position to go to Woodstock, which was fine by me. Frankly, the idea of being among all those people, in the mud, with no privacy, everyone high on something or another, gives me the willies. It would have creeped me out even then, though at age sixteen I was a lot more interested in trying to appear cool than I am now.

As a shaman, though, I wonder what it felt like, I wonder about an energy field so powerful that it could bring all those people together under such trying circumstances, in perfect peace. Wow. I'm sure it's not possible to name a single factor that made Woodstock possible, no, it was a very elaborate confluence, no doubt, that included the position of the planets, the welcoming nature of the land spirits of Bethel, NY, and of course the mood of the folks who attended. Oh yeah, and the MUSIC. Yes, I'm sure the music had something to do with it, too!

There was a piercing energy that attended the late 60's, early 70's in America. It was almost possible to hear the cracking sound of old paradigms and thought forms as they shattered and were rendered obsolete overnight. If you listen to the music of Jimi Hendrix or Janis Joplin (just two examples in a field of many), the piercing, slicing quality of the energy of that moment in history is easily identifiable. The two of them were so central to that energy, they could not survive it - at least according to the cosmology of Reya. Jimi and Janis (and others) stood at the very heart of the vortex of that big societal shift. It was too much for them. In addition to being great shamans, they were flesh and blood. For heaven's sake.

Hallucinogens were a big part of the sudden change in the way we thought about the world, too. Are you experienced? If you've ever dropped, you never really see the world in the same way ever again. There are so many factors I can name - the beat poets, the social movements, etc. - and certainly many more I have no clue about, that changed America at that moment in history.

My personal experience of the sixties was one of bewilderment. I grew up with images of Doris Day on the big screen, Leave It to Beaver on the small screen. My idea of happiness, up until I was sixteen, revolved around the picket fence domesticity of the nuclear family. But then suddenly in 1969, everything changed. Suddenly I was supposed to embrace liberated, strident, independent images of womanhood and free love, as we called it. Forget marriage! I was supposed to trade in the iconic image of Doris Day for Betty Friedan, Mrs. Cleaver for Gloria Steinem. I was supposed to throw my bra on a bonfire and stop shaving my legs, I was supposed to tune in, turn on, and drop out. And I wonder why I spent so many years in therapy! Yikes!

If I could travel back in time, though, I would love to go stand on that field in Bethel just before the throngs arrived forty years ago this weekend, and just feel the energy for awhile. I wonder what it felt like. Don't you?

26 comments:

debra said...

I was in high school, working at a drug store. The delivery guy, a cool hippy named Ray---who had long hair and wore bell bottoms-- and who put Lay Lady Lay on the radio in the store--went. He came back afterwards, but didn't stay long. His life, already acute, was changed. And so were the lives of the rest of us.
The energy of the time was palpable; I imagine the energy of the place was
limitless.

Merle Sneed said...

Reya, I was busy in august, 1969 dodging the draft and trying to find my way in life. I was pretty much oblivious to the whole thing.

The Bug said...

I was too young (5) & never did get the whole experience. I went to college in the "gimme" 80s - I spent a lot of energy trying to buck that trend. I still have a love/hate relationship with my possessions...

John Hayes said...

I was 13 in 1969--really can't recall now what I thought about Woodstock, tho I was a pretty conscious little fellow in my own way. That Joplin video is soooo amazing!

Meri said...

I do wonder what the energy was like and whether I could have maintained my psychic boundaries. I am so sensitive to energies. I agree with you on Janis and Jimi's departure not being accidental. And I'm so grateful I saw her live. The raw energy was so supercharged that I ended up with a whopper of a migraine.

ellen abbott said...

I was 19 that summer and Texas was a long way from upstate NY. Although the new paradigm had my mind, the old one had a firm grip on my ankle.

I did 'drop', was dropping, and true, I never saw the world the same again.

Margaret Gosden said...

Thanks for Janis and that mesmerizing slide photo - those and the recap - wow!

Ronda Laveen said...

I believe you are right about that vortex. We felt the high vibration of the energy all the way out here in California, the Summer of Love in SF, the Monterey Pop Festival. The world did shift then.

It seems like another vortex is open now with so much celestial and planetary and humans leaving.

tut-tut said...

I was in that field, earlier this summer. The power is still there, though muted.

Reya Mellicker said...

Meri - psychic boundaries? I think Woodstock dissolved all boundaries for the people who were there. At least that's what it felt like, a huge ole merge.

Ronda, something is definitely happening right now/this year. I wonder what it will look like in 40 years?

Tut I would love to hear what you felt when you walked in the field this summer. Was it harmonious or trippy or focused or spiraling? Or none of the above??

Mary said...

I feel like the fisherman talking about the "one that go away" ...but in truth - I was going to be there. At the last minute my father planned a summer vacation and insisted I go along. On the plus side ....my friends who went on w/out me are the ones in the movie who are skinny dipping and interviewed on camera in the buff....so luckily I don't have to explain THAT to my kids....HA.

steven said...

hi reya, in 1969 i was in grade 6. everyone heard about woodstock and of course there were so many parallel outpourings of the same energy through toronto. it was impossible not to feel it washing through everything and everyone. in the world i was immersed in at that time, the energy was magnetic and i could feel myself being drawn into a way of perceiving and relating to the world that was completely new. my own intuitive connection fought face-to-face with my parent's need to protect their world. i imagine there were a lot of kids in the same space as me. what's interesting is how the isle of wight festival which had the same musicians and was much larger doesn't have the same resonance for people all these years later. have a peaceful evening. steven

Reya Mellicker said...

Mary how cool is THAT?? Wow!! Hope your family vacation was at least kind of fun. Was it?

Steven did you notice that the Janis vid was filmed in Toronto?

Brenda said...

I was graduating high school and many of my friends went off to Vietnam. I was really into the music but never even considered going to Woodstock. Too far away, although hitchhiking in those days was not the same as today...maybe? Never really tried it then or now. I think after JFK's assassination and then Bobby's and Martin Luther Kings and then Nixon....the drugs and peace rallies where just what was supposed to occur. Instead of anger and revenge the young people had had enough and wanted to chill.

Barbara Martin said...

I was in southern California with my mother in 1969 on vacation, staying at a motel that turned out to be about eight blocks from where the LoBiancos' were murdered by Manson's followers. The nights then were charged with vibrations, not of the friendly kind.

When Woodstock rolled around I wasn't too concerned with it as I lived in the west, in a decidedly conservative lifestyle. Though I think it was a time when women began to look for their freedom from the constraints of society.

As times changed for women, I began to change with them. Today, I'm fairly independent with an open mind for just about anything.

Now there's another change of the vibrations in the air which has been going on for the last ten years or so. It's getting stronger each year to culminate in ??? I'm not sure yet though I have a couple of ideas. All we can do is to keep on truckin'.

steven said...

did too reya and then i remembered after reading your comment to actually play the vid. she was so powerful. so full of power and it's just skitter scattering all over here. so good! steven

Dan Gurney said...

Awesome performance by Janis. She WAS really something special. Wow. I noticed that in this video she mentions a place very near and dear to my heart, Olema, California which is a small town just south of Tomales Bay. Sits right on top of the San Andreas Fault. These times do feel something like the sixties, the early sixties. We shall see what emerges from the restive energy that is humming in the background...hopefully more Woodstock than Altamount. Do you remember Altamount a year later?

karen said...

I was barely born, but in later years always felt I would have fitted in better with that Woodstock generation!

Pauline said...

you could go there now and still feel it I'll bet, much like one can feel the horrors in the ground at Gettysburg...

By the time Woodstock happened, I had three children 3 and under. I loved the music though and that surge of energy that shaped the 60s and 70s. The only argument I ever had with my dad was about the Vietnam War in which several of my friends and high school classmates died. I looked the hippie (long hair, bell bottoms, John Lennon rimless glasses) but with three small kids, who needed drugs? I was high on their energy alone ;)

Reya Mellicker said...

Pauline you're funny! And Karen, you can definitely be one of us, even though you're younger in years. I love that.

I've watched the Janis vid two or three times. You can see her, even in the first few moments, kicking a hole in the old paradigms. The energy comes through her so strongly. Wow.

Tut did a great post about Woodstock. (Her blog is called Under the Shell, in my link list.) Excellent pics of the landscape where it happened.

And yes Dan I was thinking about Altamount when I was wondering what came together to make Woodstock so peaceful. Oh yeah. I remember.

Reya Mellicker said...

I mean INSIDE the Shell. Here's the link.

Steve said...

As you know, I've always been fascinated by the '60s and those touchstone events like Woodstock. I love the idealism, the feeling that so much was possible and so much was changing for the better. It's what's bound to happen to a society where there's an immense bubble of educated young people with money and influence -- they burst the seams of all that was acceptable before. It's too bad that the idealism faded, as idealism often does, into the pessimism of the '70s.

Steve said...

Oh, and as Pauline said, visiting the site now still gives you a sense of that energy. I went there with Ched and Lettuce last year, and I definitely got a vibe. (Even though now there's a big modern performing arts facility on the property.)

glnroz said...

that was a unique time, eventhough I didnt go to Woodstock, I was involved in music. That summer was working to make money for school.. havent stopped,, lol,, i am fortunate,(but havnt made a lot of money,lol)

janis said...

I was only 7 years old. But my folks were a bit of hippies and I remember them talking aobut it along with my uncle. My father was handicapped and I think that if he had not been, they would have gone!
I too have been thinking about Woodstock. With my daughters 18 & 20 I wonder if they would try to go to such an event. The youngest is such a fan of msic. she def. would have tried to go!
Love the post!

Madtexter said...

I'm so glad I missed the 60's. It must have been a crazy world during that decade, with so many contradictions going on all over the place.

I was a little kid in the 70's, so I kinda missed that too, that whole disco thing.

As a Gen-Xer, I was fortunate to really not have experienced 'war' growing up, and understand that my generation was somewhat coddled. But I really fear for our future with the Millennials, who find it 'normal' to have their parents go with them on job interviews, and help them negotiate salaries (and companies accepting this behavior).

We've got a whole generation on the market now who have an uber sense of entitlement, who don't want expect everything to be handed to them, and they've got parents who are doing just that.