Rainbow Family of Living Light Glossary
Copyright 1991 by Michael I. Niman - extracted from The Rainbow Family;
An Ethnography From Within, a Ph.D. dissertation currently
archived by and available from University Microfilm International (UMI).
This Glossary will also be included in the forthcoming book from the
same author, People of the Rainbow; A Nomadic Utopia, which is
scheduled for release by December of 1996.
Please direct all questions or comments to the author:
- "A" Camp
- Alcohol Camp. A place where chronic alcohol drinkers congregate
and drink, usually on the perimeter of a Gathering.
- Alcohol Hat
- "A" Camp money collection. Used to buy alcoholic
- All Ways Free
- Rainbow Family Newspaper.
- See Om.
- The world outside of the Gathering. `Mainstream' or `mainline'
society; the `straight' world (From the Book of Revelations,
- Barter Lane
- A place at a Gathering where people congregate to trade crafts,
camping supplies, books, etc. Same as "Trade Circle"
in function, but linear instead of circular in topography.
- Boston Rainbow Family Picnic.
- A person at a Rainbow Gathering who does not contribute much
work; overly spiritual and out of touch with the physical realities
and demands of the environment. (Derogatory).
- Blissing Out
- Sitting around or wandering around, enjoying the Gathering,
in a carefree state.
- Bus Village
- A large camp of live-in vehicles. Usually located a good distance
from the central Gathering area, as Bus Village must be accessible
- Business Council
- A Council convened to deal with Gathering logistics, Family
policy and other organizational concerns.
- (Formerly M.A.S.H.) Center(s) for Alternative Living Medicine.
The Rainbow Healing unit. Formally M.A.S.H. Transformed into C.A.L.M.
as it grew from a first aid station to a comprehensive medical
- To agree by consensus.
- A univalve shell, usually Cassia sp., with a hole cut
in the tip. Blowing through the hole makes a mellow sound to call
people together for Councils, meals, workshops, meetings, etc.
The practice is part of the Family's self-conscious primitivism.
- Council (v)
- To meet as a group with the aim of reaching consensus on a
- Council (n)
- Any group of Rainbows meeting to make a decision. Usually
refers to the Council which meets between July 1 - 7 at N.A. Gatherings.
- Short for Road Dog.
- Dogging It
- Living the life of a Road Dog.
- Rainbow The congested central area of a Rainbow Gathering.
- Dived (a)
- Pertaining to an item retrieved from a garbage dumpster.
- A person who demands a lot from the Gathering and does not
- Unhealthy habit forming substances ranging from sugar to crack.
- Dumpster (v)
- The act of retrieving food or other goods from a garbage dumpster.
- Dumpster Dipping
- Neologism by U.S. National Park Service Ranger Chris
Malanka [3/15/90]. An activity like Dumpster Diving involving
the retrieval of contaminated food. Malanka does not explain why
anyone would want contaminated food.
- Dumpster Diving
- Same as Dumpster (v).
- Dumpster Score
- An item or group of items retrieved from a dumpster.
- Someone who has been to many Gatherings and is supposedly
knowledgeable about the Family.
- To take responsibility for making sure a given task is accomplished.
- A person who has taken responsibility to make sure that a
given task is accomplished.
- A homosexual male Rainbow.
- See Faerie
- The Feather
- A feather or other focal object, passed around a council circle
to identify the person who is speaking.
- To organize a project
- A volunteer responsible to serve as a conduit for Rainbow
Family information to both Family members away from the Gatherings
and to the public; also responsible for overseeing the organization
and publicity for local area Rainbow Family events.
- Focus (v)
- Pay attention to, or respect, the speaker or council procedures.
- Free Box
- An box where Rainbows leave unwanted or surplus possessions
so that those who need them can pick them up gratis.
- Front Gate.
- The main entrance to the Gathering.
- Fuck You
- "A" Camp greeting used like "Hello."
- Full Ride
- Staying at the Gathering from the start of Seed Camp through
the end of Clean-Up.
- Same as `Front Gate.'
- Gate Crew
- The people who work at the Front Gate, welcoming people and
delivering the `Rap 107' spiel.
- A person who stands on the perimeter of the Council circle,
advising late arrivals as to what has been discussed and what
is currently being discussed, what consensus decisions have already
been made, etc.
- Green Energy
- Ground Score
- An item that is found on the ground.
- The Guide
- A printed directory of Rainbow Family members. Also known
as The Rainbow Guide.
- A Rainbow who lives on the road, constantly traveling.
- Habit Hat
- A money collection for purchasing coffee, tobacco, sugar etc.
to satisfy addictions.
- Happy Trails
- A common goodbye to people leaving the Gathering. From the
signature sign-off song of the Roy Rogers/Dale Evans television
"Western" of the 1950's.
- To enter into peaceful harmony with people or the environment.
- Harassment and hassles of Rainbows by government agencies
and the police.
- Personal feelings, emotions, observations and visions as articulated
- Council A meeting to share heartsongs as a group therapy,
and often as an introduction to Business Councils.
- Heil Holys
- A derogatory description of self-righteous Rainbows.
- Type of light refracting quartz crystal generally found near
Herkimer, NY; popular trade item.
- Hey Now
- Greeting, used like "Howdy."
- Collectively told oral history of the Rainbow Family. The
Rainbow Hipstory is recited each year at the North American Gathering.
Anyone is free to join in the telling of the Hipstory.
- One who participates in the telling of the Hipstory.
- High Holy Hippie
- A derogatory description of Rainbows who feel they are part
of a power group, entrenched hierarchy or `old guard' of the counter-cultural
- High Holy
- Rainbow Same as `High Holy Hippie' but is specific to Rainbow
- Descriptive referring to 1960's countercultural lifestyle,
derogatory when used by non-Rainbows, often to anachronize Rainbows.
Also used among Rainbows as familiar greeting or self-descriptive.
- Used in Council to express agreement with the speaker. Also
name of a southeastern United States Rainbow Family publication.
- Someone who lives on the road (see On the Road), has lived
on the road for a while, likes living on the road and intends
to keep living on the road.
- An authentic unpretentious down to earth person.
- At the Gathering.
- Howdy Folks!
- The written announcement of a Rainbow Family Gathering or
- Hug Patrol
- A group of people who wander around Gatherings hugging people.
- Info Center
- An area where information is exchanged. Consists of an information
booth and at least one bulletin board. Information ranges from
news of the outside world, time and place for workshops, maps
of the Gathering site to suggestions for dealing with insects.
- Kiddie City
- A camp for parents, children and expectant parents. Provides
childcare, special activities and special meals for children.
- Kiddie Village
- See Kiddie City.
- Kids' Village
- See Kiddie City.
- Southeastern United States mountain bio-region.
- Free or nice.
- Kind Bud
- Free marijuana.
- Magic Hat
- Money collection for the common coffers. Usually used to fund
- Magic Bedpan
- Money collection for the CALM medical facility.
- Main Circle
- Usually a central area where the Council meets and where the
July 4th (for North American Gatherings, dates differ for regionals)
meditation and prayer celebration occurs. A dinner, prepared by
many different kitchens and carried over in five or six gallon
buckets, is also usually served here.
- Maine Regional Rainbow Gathering.
- Main Trail
- The central, most heavily traveled trail at a Gathering.
- Main Supply
- Distribution center for kitchen supplies.
- Sometimes used interchangeably with C.A.L.M. to refer to the
- Specialty at Taco Mike's kitchen. Formally a living animal
- not necessarily a cow, pig or chicken - now food.
- The spectacle transpiring in front of you at any giving time.
Often refers to ridiculous antics. Most popular movies: `The Gate
Movie,' `The "A" Camp Movie' and `The Cop Movie.' (From
Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters. [Wolfe 1968]).
- Rainbow Coffee. Often made `Field Style' with grounds in the
bottom of the pot. A splash of cold water before serving helps
sink any floating grounds. Grounds often get reincarnated for
- North East (North America) Rainbow Family; formerly, New England
- Rhymes with "sewage." Derogatory description of
a New Ager.
- Om 1)
- The sacred syllable A+U+M, pronounced "ome" as in
"home" or "holy" in the Rig Veda (e.g., the
hymn to Siva [Chan, Ismail Ragi and Raju 1969: 25, 29n79; see
also ibid., 35]). 2) One of the most important mantras in Tantric
(Tibetan) Buddhism [e.g., Evans-Wentz 1960; 1967: 127, 301, 312,
320n2, 340], in which "when the disciple's mind id properly
attuned, the inner vibrations of this word symbol together with
its associations in the consciousness of the initiate ... open
his mind to higher dimensions" [Kapleau 1966: 346]. 3) This
Tantric sense, perhaps via the translations of Evans-Wendt's work
which occurred in the 1960's, seems to inform Rainbow usage, in
which it becomes a somewhat desacralized pacifying syllable that
people chant, typically, before meals, after Councils, during
meditations and prayers, in order to "harmonize" vibrations."
The exact route from Tibet to Rainbow is obscure, however, since
North Americans tend to lump all "Eastern religions"
together in practice [e.g., D. 1966: 261].
- Om Circle
- A circle of people chanting `Om,' usually to harmonize an
up-tight situation, sometimes used for coercive purposes.
- Chanting `Om.'
- On the Land
- At the site of the Gathering.
- On the Road
- Pertaining to a lifestyle whose adherents are on an extended
trip or have no permanent home.
- Refers to anti-marijuana laws.
- Any social-political activity with a goal; e.g., with the
word `Council,' to describe the mechanism by which the Council
- Rail Tramp
- See Tramp.
- Rainbow Dark
- Sundown or thereabouts. Vision Council rules require proceedings
to cease at Rainbow Dark.
- Rainbow Noon
- Roughly, when the sun is high in the sky, usually between
11 a.m. and 2 p.m. depending on season, location and mood of those
who need to know when it's Rainbow Noon.
- Rainbow Time
- A system of keeping time without watches. Rainbow Time is
whenever enough people think it is whatever time it is supposed
to be. Rainbow Time usually runs about an hour behind clock time,
but may be as much as an hour early.
- Rainbow Trail
- An extended trip, taking in numerous Gatherings.
- Rainbow Runs
- Diarrhea contracted at Gatherings, usually attributed to change
in diet or water as well as soapy dishes.
- A cross between a blissninny and a High Holy Rainbow, usually
loud and obnoxious. Often used by "political" Rainbows
to describe "spiritual" ones.
- Rap 107
- A written or oral introduction to the infrastructure of the
- Rap 107 Below
- A written or oral introduction to the infrastructure of a
Winter Rainbow Gathering. Developed by the Great Lakes regional
- Rap 115
- A written or oral request asking people to treat bothersome
drunks at Gatherings with love, not anger. Often described as
the "flip side" to Rap 151 (see below).
- Rap 151
- A written or oral diatribe explaining why alcohol is discouraged
at Gatherings; promotes benefits of an alcohol-free space.
- Rap 701
- A written or oral guide to the etiquette of cleaning up after
a Rainbow Gathering.
- Rap 911
- A written or oral reminder to travelers coming to or leaving
U.S. Gatherings about their rights in regards to searches of vehicles
by the police. Also advises travelers to caravan as protection
against police harassment and to document all instances of police
- Road/The Road
- See On the Road.
- Road Burn
- A state of mind one slips into after being "on the road"
too long, e.g., exhausted and wanting to settle down for a spell.
- Road Dog
- Someone who calls the Road home. c.f. Hobo, `Dog.
- Road Kill
- A dead animal found on the road; dead animals in general.
- Rumor Control
- The act of containing run-away rumors within the Rainbow Family;
- Someone who delivers messages, supplies or food between two
points at a Gathering.
- A plan, sometimes dishonest, for getting something for less
than its value.
- Scattering Time
- when most people are leaving the Gathering and dispersing.
- To obtain something by purchase, trade or chance.
- Shanti Sena
- Peacekeeper. Also group that considers themselves "leaders."
- A vehicle used to move Rainbows back and forth from the parking
area to the trailhead into the Gathering.
- A Rainbow Latrine.
- Sisters' Space
- An area reserved exclusively for women.
- Sisters' Meadow
- A meadow reserved exclusively for women.
- Sisters' Circle
- A place where women council together.
- Six Up
- Slang for gun. A Nevada Forest Ranger noted that he heard
Rainbows say "Six Up" when he entered a camp [Howard
1989]. Chris Malanka, a Park Ranger, wrote, after the Nevada report
was issued, that "Six Up" is a Rainbow warning that
officials are coming [Malanka 3/15/90]. Although Rainbows don't
use the term, Malanka shouted it whenever approaching a camp [Ho!
- See Snifting.
- Looking to meet someone, primarily for sex. Most snifters
are men looking for women.
- Grateful Dead band tour.
- Trade Circle
- Same as `Barter Lane,' only a circle.
- Hobo or Road Dog, who hops trains.
- Frustrated, neurotic.
- Vibe (v)
- To emit a non-verbal or feeling signal to someone else (from
yoga; e.g., [Evans-Wendt 1967]).
- Vibe (n)
- A non-verbal signal or feeling. Also can be used to describe
- A person who has been chosen by the Council to monitor the
Council mood. If the mood is becoming argumentative or in any
other way non-conducive to a healthy Council, the vibeswatcher
momentarily interrupts council for a breather, an Om, a stretch,
jumping jacks or the like.
- A picture of how things should, could or will be.
- Vision Council
- The Council which chooses the general area (state, country,
or region) for the following year's Gathering. Also discusses
direction and goals of Rainbow Family.
- A tasty morsel of food, easy to eat but not a meal; also
not too sweet (From prison slang)
- Weekend Rainbow
- Someone who only participates in Rainbow activities when on
vacation from a job and `mainstream' lifestyle. See Yuppie.
- Weekend Hippie
- Someone who only participates in countercultural activities
when on vacation from a job and `mainstream' lifestyle. See Yuppie.
- We Love You
- Greeting, usually shouted in unison by a group of people.
An unseen group elsewhere in the Gathering usually answers with
another chorus of "we love you," which might be answered
by yet another group.
- Welcome Fire
- A fire kept burning at the `front Gate' to welcome late-night
arrivals, heat coffee for new arrivals, etc.
- Welcome Home!
- Standard Rainbow greeting for someone who is entering the
Gathering from `Babylon.'
- Welcome Soup
- A pot of soup which is always warm at the Front Gate for new
arrivals (Quebec Rainbow tradition).
- Someone with a job.
- Like a wahwah, but very sweet. Usually candy or donuts. (From