Several times within a solar cycle the residents of Aurora co-create a Grand Picnic in the Upper Echadon Valley. Everyone is invited. Most people come. Who does not like a picnic?
Imagine the biggest and best party you have ever attended. Guests are festively dressed (we dress that way usually, so imagine “especially festively dressed.”) Everyone brings food and delicious beverages, although a multitude of fruits, berries, seeds, mushrooms, grasses and unlimited pure water is always available in the Echadon Valley for everyone anytime. Imagine musicians, singers, dancers and artists sharing their creative expressions without limitation for the sole (soul) delight of all the guests. See happy children running everywhere, laughing and making up their wonderful imaginative games wherever they go, wherever they are. Imagine each person fully relaxed, basking in the warm sunshine, swimming in the singing waters of the Great River, visiting with family and friends in the harmony and beauty of this natural world with no thought of any care or concern coming close to crossing their minds for the entire day. This is a day of pure pleasure and enjoyment, shared by All, with All.
NOW, imagine animals and birds as participants at this event?! What?! How did they get here? Well, they LIVE here — it’s their home, this luscious valley. They are the HOSTS of this party and as such, they are honored and revered by all the humans who enter their home world on these Grand Picnic days. We all take “hostess” gifts for our animal friends — mostly fruits and vegetable treats that we know they especially love. However, sometimes groups of us will create sculptures or small monuments that will enhance the beauty of their meadows, forests and caves. These friends love the artistic creations of their human counterparts as much as we do. It brings all parties great joy whenever such an enhancement is dedicated in its new location on these celebratory occasions.
Although we could travel the two miles or so from the heart of Aurora to the Upper Echadon by hovercraft or bi-location, we choose to make the journey on foot — in procession. We LOVE ceremony, you see, and never miss an opportunity to include this kind of ritual activity, especially on festival days. So we begin mid morning, flowing out of the city and onto the pathways through the luscious grasslands, following the course of The Great River upstream toward its source.
It is a marvelous sight to behold — 50,000 residents and visitors moving in serpentine fashion toward a common destination, in harmony and joy. For those who leave later and have the opportunity to watch from the mid or upper levels of Aurora, it is an almost unbelievable sight. For us, getting there is at least half the fun.
There are many children among us and as they tend to tire of walking, the animals come forward quickly to offer their services to carry them. The children can choose from ponies and zebras to tigers, giraffes (or even magical animals such as unicorns) to carry them to the picnic grounds alongside the adults. Thus begins a most delightful day of collective celebration.
The entrance to the Upper Echadon Valley is marked by the Water Temple. It is made of Light, using sacred geometry and therefore makes no negative impact on the environment. Once we move through the columns, the land spreads out into a huge grassy meadow that furnishes all the space we need for our grand gathering.
There is no agenda for this day; the picnic begins with the procession which takes several hours for everyone to arrive. However, there is no waiting; those who arrive first begin their celebration in any manner that appeals to them in the moment and as more guests arrive, more and more activities are generated. Relaxation and connecting with friends and loved ones is the order of the day. Enjoyment and creative expression are primary. Swimming and floating on the river are favorite pastimes for families with children. Often the animals will jump into the water with us, letting the young ones ride on their backs or hold onto them as rafts. There is much shrieking and laughter.
Throughout the day troupes of actors entertain with dramatic stories and reciting of poems, classics or those composed extemporaneously. And remember, we have the whole galaxy to draw upon for material, as we have acquired the true history of our planet and its relationship to all the other celestial bodies. The groups of actors circulate through the crowd performing short vignettes and then move on to entertain the guests in the next sector. Groups of dancers do the same. Audience participation is frequently required.
Music is a huge part of this day, as no procession can proceed without it. As the procession lasts for hours and extends for miles, there are many musicians needed to accompany each of the many segments of humans and animals as they leave Aurora and journey up the valley. Once the musicians arrive at the picnic grounds, they continue to mingle with the guests providing spontaneous entertainment, as soloists or in small ensembles. Larger groups such as bands and orchestras give concerts in the shady groves at the edge of the meadow. Singing is a favored expression on Picnic Day and many times the audience is encouraged to join in. Perhaps you would think that all these performances would just topple over one another creating a dissonance unsuited to a day of celebration. Nothing could be further from the truth. The size of the field and the essential harmony of the natural setting, the humans and the animal guests create a space of resonance that allows for each and every contribution to be expressed and received uniquely and as one harmonious whole.
Before I discuss the artists let me share something about the children. There are hundreds of children — people in small bodies. In addition to playing in the river, the children delight in running about in large and small groups raising the spirits of all the guests. I say “running” but they also skip, hop, jump, chase, dance and some even fly. Yes, flying is a common sight in Aurora — even many adults fly, or at least levitate on a rather regular basis.
There are two amazing structures for the children to play in, on and around. One is a castle and the other is a tree. Both are in constant use during the picnic days, and once a child involves him or herself in either of these activities, it is very difficult for the parents to get them to come back out, or down, as the case may be.
The castle is about 50 or 60 feet tall, 100 feet in diameter at the base and features a moat, a bridge, grand, sweeping staircases and winding stairways up into the towers and turrets. However, the most popular aspect of the castle is the underground tunnels that provide passage out to the river and up into the forests on the southern boundary of Echadon where it interfaces with the Southern Desert. These tunnels are all lit by a phosphorescent mineral material that covers the walls, so no one is ever lost in the dark. The children spend endless NOWs running through the tunnels, playing hide and seek in the many corners and crevices, shrieking with delight when being caught or found. Although the castle and its attractions are open all year and anyone can play there at anytime, it is so much more fun and engaging to be part of a large “herd” than to have the place all to oneself. While the children are thus occupied, the adults visit and enjoy the creative offerings of the actors and musicians. There is no fear or concern about the safety of the young ones, as they are always in the company of their guardians — the animals. In fact, the animals are the most reliable means of bringing the children back out of the underground labyrinth in time for the highlight of the evening — the artists’ Light Painting. After several unsuccessful attempts by parents attempting to bring this form of play to a peaceful conclusion through coaxing and cajoling, we finally learned to send the animals as our emissaries to bring the children out. The animal posse works every time. The children cannot resist the requests of their beloved animal friends and within a very short span of moments, the young ones are escorted into the very circles in which their parents await them. Exhilarated from their intense activity, the children infuse the circle with abundant spirited energy, bringing much laughter and wide smiles to everyone. Only then do the young ones realize they are famished and thirsty. We are prepared for this and offer them treats and delicious fizzy drinks in fun colors that they love. The animals also join the circles. This is a common occurrence; the animals are our equals and often sit in circle for council meetings and certainly on celebration days.
The Climbing Tree is the other major attraction for children in the Upper Echadon. It is a group of trees actually, that have agreed to support a play structure of ramps, stairways and play spaces for any of Aurora’s citizens and guests. Quite the opposite environment from the castle and its network of underground tunnels, the Climbing Tree is in the open air, featuring canopies of verdant foliage often enhanced with fragrant flowers of every hue. This unique and exquisite play structure was designed and brought forth in partnership with the trees, the children and a small panel of adults, acting as mentors or advisers. So the children have been involved with this project from its inception and perhaps that is one reason it has won the hearts of everyone who sees it and accepts the invitation to climb into it and feel themselves held and cherished within the soul of this tree community. Each platform, walkway and level was designed to create zero stress on the tree bodies. The ropes and swings are rigged in ways that even adults can use them without causing injury to the limbs of our tree friends. People are encouraged to climb up into the higher branches and feel the embrace of the trees, their peaceful, nurturing love. On one end there is a slide that is a favorite exit strategy for the younger ones among us. And, of course there are hammocks for afternoon naps but these don’t get much use amid the amplified activity of a Grand Picnic Day. A special attraction of the Climbing Tree is an enchanted tea house. There is just enough room for six to eight friends to sit for tea which is served on special occasions, such as birthdays and anniversaries. Reservations are recommended.
Besides swimming in the river, chasing one another through the castle and tunnels and climbing up into the uppermost branches of the Climbing Tree, there is one other popular activity of Picnic Day that our children look forward to at each event: finger painting. This is NOT your grandmother’s kind of finger painting with messy paints squirting from tubes and smeared about with little hands and fingers. No, this is a much more magical activity that involves some training and development on the part of the youngsters. There is a way that one can learn to emit colored light from one’s fingers. When one become adept, one can direct a different color of light to come forth from each finger. Very advanced finger painting artists can even blend colors to make infinite combinations. The children learn the basics fairly quickly and by the time they are four or five solar cycles in age they usually have a fair command of this art. Then the fun begins. Some of the children form groups and work on murals. Others decorate each other with face and body painting.
The adults often become eager volunteers for this kind of artwork. Even some of the animals will let the children “decorate” them. After they get warmed up, these young artists progress to painting flowers on the grass, or in people’s hair, murals on the base of the castle, beautiful patterns on fabrics for the dancers. Gleefully, they will add color to anything they can find that “needs enhancing.” All picnic goers know that they will return to Aurora looking even more festive than when they left, compliments of the children’s finger painting.
The Grand Finale of every Picnic Day in Echadon is the Aurora Fantasia that can only be displayed after the sun has set and the sky is dark. Imagine for a moment beams of colored light projected holographically into the night sky in continuously moving and evolving patterns and designs, sometimes so intricate that you could only gasp in awe and wonder! Part fireworks, part aurora borealis, part crop circle and part pure fantasy, the Aurora Fantasia production is the climax of every Picnic Day in Echadon. It shouldn’t surprise you that some of the best “Light Painting” artists began to hone their craft and art as young finger painters. As these young color and light artists gained mastery regarding the blending of subtle combinations of hues, they naturally extend their growing passion into the holographic technologies of light projection and theater. I choose to remain ignorant (and thus spellbound) about the science behind this technology; I feel the magic more strongly this way. However, the ones for whom this form of art is true passion continue to dazzle us more with each performance. As the beams of light dance across the night’s velvet blue backdrop, the audience experiences such breathtaking beauty, such majestic patterns and sequences, such graceful nuances of color, sound and light that tears of joy are often the only possible response. Sometimes, there is complete silence, so deep you would think no audience was there at all. But the next moment there will be a burst of applause, a spontaneous, collective gasp or sharp intake of breath that assures you that we are all feeling together these wondrous projections of imagination into the night. The Fantasia is accompanied by music, both instrumental and choral that inflects an emotional quality into the production. Thus, the audience is moved on a spiritual journey in Oneness while receiving this feast for the eyes.
And then . . . reluctantly. . . it’s time to return home.
Slowly, overflowing with the joy and peace of the day, the celebrants begin to gather their belongings and children and move toward the paths that will lead them down the valley. Just below the Water Temple the hover crafts await those who choose not to participate in the Recessional that will extend the celebration into the depth of the night. The animals make themselves available to carry the children, especially the sleeping ones. The musicians lead the first parties of guests out of the meadow toward the path beside the Great River. The moon and stars overhead shine their love and light on the departing crowd. And then, as if from nowhere, the Lighted Ones come: the fairies, the angels, the fireflies and other insects that carry enough light within their bodies to guide our way home.
Continued . . . “Governance in Aurora”
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