This weekend, the small town of Tidewater, Oregon will be filled with thousands of passionate music lovers from all corners of the country, and it’s all due to the enrapturing gathering known as Beloved. Priding itself on being one of the most spiritually awakening and transformational gatherings out there, Beloved goes beyond the stretch of an ordinary music festival by indulging its attendees in soul-awakening experiences by providing a world class lineup of musicians, artists, and performers. The devoted and passionate team behind Beloved is what truly keeps this festival a gem in the music community, and we are more than excited to see what 2016 has in store for us. We had the opportunity to delve into the scenes behind Beloved back in 2014 during an interview, and are happy to see his sights are still set on the Beloved experience. Join us as we peek into the wonderful mind of festival producer Elliot Rasenick to see what we can learn about what truly sets Beloved apart from other events.
Dino Durkin: I know that you like to keep Beloved small, at around like 1,111 tickets?
Elliott Rasenick: Yeah it’s a little bigger than that, but yea that’s where it started and you know it’s the perfect size. It feels really epic, when the dance floor’s full, there’s no way you can feel alone. It has that feeling like: “There’s so many people like me”. When I feel so alienated by the world around me, when I live in the city it feels like we’re going to win, you know the forces of good are big enough. And its small enough that you know if you’re really present during the weekend you can make eye contact with pretty much everyone there and you can really feel connected then and like you’re really part of the community. So in that way I feel like it’s the perfect size.
DJD: Beloved quotes Rumi in a passage about “the Beloved”:
“In truth everything and everyone
Is a shadow of the Beloved,
And our seeking is His seeking
And our words are His words…
We search for Him here and there
while looking right at Him.
Sitting by His side, we ask:
“O Beloved, where is the Beloved?”
What does this quote mean to you?
ER: I love this line for a bunch of reasons. On the one hand, this where, as a student of ancient philosophy, I feel like Rumi becomes like a neo-patient describing this world that his world is a shadow of the beloved, so what happens in this world is really important because what happens in this world is a reflection of what happens in the world behind the world, the world that is real, the world that this world sources from. So that is one of the reasons that I love that line. It acknowledges that there is an illusory nature in what happens here, but it’s still really important because it’s connected to the world behind this one. The other thing I love about that line is we can get so caught up when we think of ourselves as ‘spiritual’ or ‘connected to god’ and it can sometimes separate us from everyone else. And this vision of who god is, of who the beloved is, makes it impossible to do that. Because it says that you are thinking of god as anything but everything around you, then you’re lost. So the idea of being spiritual as being different or better; it’s impossible to uphold if you hold that view.
DJD: I completely agree with that view of us all connected and that everyone we meet is a reflection of the Beloved. We all are mirror images of each other and we reflect that which we see and project. Beauty reflects beauty. Love reflects love. How do you feel that Beloved specifically helps to cultivate this awareness within ourselves of the oneness that we all are?
ER: One of the funny things about the music at Beloved is that in a lot of ways, it comes from two completely different worlds. Before Beloved I was organizing two different kinds of events for two different communities. I was doing devotional music concerts in yoga studios where I was like the youngest person there. And then I was organizing all my dance parties in warehouses and renegades out in the forest. Where I was part of these two totally different communities that were also exactly the same. What happened on the dance floor at dawn was like the exact same thing as what happened at 10pm at kirtan at a yoga studio: that we were all looking for that same connection, but we were looking for it in these completely different ways. So the idea of Beloved, is that these people from these different generations, who are all looking for this same thing, can learn from each other in how they are looking for that connection in different ways. So it changes the way that we experience connection on the dance floor at dawn by showing us that the way that we feel connected is not the only way for us to all feel connected. Not only are we all connected, but all these different people are all connected. The idea of beloved as a sacred music festival that can bring together sacred music from around the world, its understanding sacred music as any music that points to the fact that we’re not so separate, and I definitely count conscious dance music as a huge part of sacred music of the world that is telling the story that we are all connected, and then there’s all these different musics that are doing that same thing. Just the music itself is telling the story that we are really all connected. And so the idea that there’s many different ways to say that same thing, to say that we are the same and all connected. It’s like the ultimate expression of music.
DJD: When talking about sacred music on the Beloved website, you mention that “loving mindfulness is the key to the realm of the sacred within the mundane world”. That relates to what you are talking about. The connection between us all and being aware, connected and in with the flow of everything that is around you and then you can feel that connection to what is…
ER: There’s so much confusion about what is really sacred, and what we are really saying there is there’s no fundamental difference between what we call sacred and what we call mundane. The thing that makes something, or an experience, or a thing, sacred is the awareness or the context that we put it in. So that’s one of the main ways Beloved is helping us feel connected. It’s creating a context where everything is connected on one dimension.
DJD: There’s only one stage at beloved so it’s connects everyone in one spot. You consider it to be a mandala and that the area allows for an alchemy of the heart to be performed by the artist on the stage. How do you feel this specifically benefits the community of Beloved, having one stage to focus on?
ER: Thanks. One of the simplest ways is we’ve all worked really hard. Beloved is far away from pretty much anyone who’s goes there has probably worked pretty hard to either afford a ticket or provide some kind of service for this festival or worked really hard to make this journey to get there really. Really brings a sense of being together. So the idea is if we worked so hard to be together, having one stage really actually makes it possible for us to be all together. You know, I talked before about what it looks like to create the context where we feel connected and by having one stage we can’t avoid feeling being connected.
I’ve had some amazing experiences at being at really large festivals and one of the things that’s really cool about that experience is after a day or so you start to feel almost like you’re floating. You know what I mean? You’re moving from one thing that’s pulling you to another and you know trying to see this friend or this artist over here. You don’t feel connected to the ground anymore. And there’s something magic about that but it’s also not the experience I want to offer. The experience that I want to offer is where you actually feel more grounded. Where you can feel more sensitive and you can get into the state where you can feel like you’re outside of your mundane life. But that experience of being outside of our mundane life, more sensitive and more present, which makes you feel really grounded and really connected. So it can serve as a model for when we go back to our mundane life and we remember what it feels like to really be grounded and connected.
DJD: That probably has to something do with the sacred fire that Beloved offers and is the main central point of the festival grounds and which never goes out. Which is a very grounding source since we all share fire within our roots. Can you explain some of that to me?
ER: Yeah thanks. My sense is that one of the reasons that humanity has become so out of balance is because we are no longer connected to the fundamental elements of existence. There’s a real spirit and personality and being in the fire element, just as there is in the water element and the earth element and we’re off and out of whack with earth and air and water and fire. And fire is one of the easiest ones for us to really make a connection with. I think a lot of people have had some moments with fire where they really did feel connected to the element fire. And it’s also one of the ones where there are old, old practices of people dancing and singing around the fire that remind us of the whole thing we’re doing in the music festival context that we’re bringing back to life. So the central fire is designed to be able to harness those old tools to reconnect us with the element of fire. Which we use all the time. Every time we use electricity, or driving a car, or participating accidentally in the incredible violence of war; we’re using fire. And so it’s incredibly important that we learn to reconnect with and remember our real connection to and to repair our relationship with fire. So that is the work that we are doing there.
DJD: So are the events that are occurring at the “Temple Meadow”; are the workshops there meant to reconnect us with the earth, the elements, our roots, and our nature?
ER: Thank you, absolutely! The education program has kind of reached a new level of maturity this year, which I’m really excited about. One of the ways that it has reached its new level of maturity is that there are three workshop spaces that each have a specific thing to offer. So we’re unveiling a brand new stunning extraordinary temple space, which will host during the day, all workshops related to healing our relationships. Healing our relationships with each other, with the earth, with all the elements like we were just talking about. Then in the night, we’ll have this entire temple complex, which will allow us to have ritual adventures and tours through the whole temple complex. We’re going to redefine the ritual of baptism, it will part of reintroducing us to and helping us remember our real relationship with the water. But then also understanding it’s a self baptism, where we’ll be empowering ourselves and help us relate to water in that way. Another thing I’m super excited about this year is the incredible ancestor alter which will help us learn to reconnect with and remember our relationship with our ancestors, which will be another big piece of the temple stage this year. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the Inspired Truth new years event, but we’ve done this secret library ritual experience that a lot of this new offering it the temple stage at Beloved has been inspired by.
DJD: Wow, it really sounds like everything that you have going on is going to be a really beautiful experience. Especially to see it all collaborate and co-create into one experience that we are all sharing; which is going to be a beautiful thing to see and I can’t wait to check it out.
Top 11 Artists Not to Miss at Beloved 2016:
- Ott (Afternoon Bass Sunday Set)
- Ott & the All-Seeing Eye
- Mike Love
- Rising Appalachia
- Trevor Hall
- Youssoupha Sibide