​We Asked the Hippies at Lightning in a Bottle What Being a Hippie Is All About

All photos by Jamie Rosenberg.


This story is over 5 years old.


​We Asked the Hippies at Lightning in a Bottle What Being a Hippie Is All About

An anthropological study from the heart of the transformational festival scene

All photos by Jamie Rosenberg.

Lightning in a Bottle went down this past weekend in Bradley, California, and with it came 20,000 bright-eyed idealists, burners, ravers, hippies, hipsters, outsiders, and generalist weirdos alike. It is one of the most unique festivals in the world, in everything from the stage production to the expert booking in house, techno, bass, and indie-pop, to the myriad wacky experiential installations that dot LIB's dusty vistas. But more than anything, it's the people of LIB that make it what it is. It's like the 60s all over again, just with iPhones and lasers.


The left-leaning, transformational community that populates this scene is often opposed to simplifying identities down to a single label, but it's hard to express the bricolage, intersecting, multifarious characters they project without at least leaning on labels a little. With that in mind, we got in and amongst the beautiful weirdos of Lightning in a Bottle to ask just what it means to be a hippie, and what the heck the term even means anymore.


Do you identify as a hippie?
Yeah, sometimes. We're bringing [it] back, continuing on the seeds that were planted in the 60s and 70s. This is very reminiscent of that and an evolution of that. This is North American culture. This is North American healing culture.

What are the key themes of this culture?
The ecological movement, this is our center. People are here working towards something, to build community, to build healing networks. It is integrative of all these other indigenous systems. I would say now, hippie, means to honor that and bring that forth, everyone attempting to be on an equal playing field. Not a person here doesn't say "I love you," or hear "I love you" at some point in the weekend.

How did you end up here?
This is my second festival! My first was Lucidity. I think this a movement, the seeds and sprouting of a movement. I came here because beautiful women called me on a Tuesday night and asked me to use my herbalist and occult knowledge to assist them in this hut. And I was like, 'Well, how can I refuse?"



Would you identify as hippies?
We identify as hipsies! It's a hippie and a gypsy combined. We are flower children.

What does all this entail?
Gypsies go with the flow, have awareness, are always colorful––rainbow therapy! If you eat lots of colors and you wear lots of colors and you think lots of colors, you'll be happy! And you will enlighten your chakras!

What's the trippiest thing you've seen here?
Bubbles at sunrise! We were running and skipping through the bubbles with our flowers at sunrise!


So Asher is your name, but Compashion is your alter-ego?
Yeah. Compashion comes out at festivals. I was named Compashion at Burning Man last year. It's also my artist name, like a way to tap into that next carnation [sic] or that next evolution.

So what does all this entail?
My alter-ego allows me to see into my third eye. The third eye is a reflection of the infinite, and the infinite is also a materialization of the finite, and that finite is my own universe inside of my soul. It's the innerverse, and it's the innerverse that is actually reciprocating: it's a reciprocity of my inner standing.

Do you identify as a hippie?
Well, actually, I identify as a lot of things. I'm a little part hippie, a little part gangster, a little part hipster. I incorporate lots of cultures into my own credo. I am definitely a hippie; I'm a flower child. The movement is kind of like "treat your body right," only eat and do stuff that's healthy for your soul. You nourish your soul and feed your spirit as much as you can, so your spirit can incarnate into a reflection of the soul.



Do you identify as a hippie?
No! I'm not lazy or stinky.

Why are you here?
I love life. I love variety. I love people's sparkling souls and letting them be themselves, finding themselves, expanding.

What's the weirdest thing you've seen here?
Those guys with the tiny hands on their fingers. Get those things away from me!


Do you identify as a hippie?

What does being a hippie mean?
I dunno, just the hippie lifestyle, like, festivals, smoking weed, dabs. You know: partying. Stuff like that.

What's special about this festival?
LIB is definitely my favorite. The vibes: everyone treats each other like family. There's no other festival that has vibes like this. It's a bunch of chill hippies and gypsies.

What's the trippiest thing you've seen here?
The visual setups, all the lasers—everything. The production was very well done this year, the Thunder Stage and The Woogie in particular. I like how they changed it.


Do you identify as a hippie?
Yeah. A hippie is someone who cares about the Earth and cares about other people and has empathy, likes to help and be helped, give and return. I was born and raised in the redwoods and grew up in a hippie commune. I was a festie baby. You see those kids walking around? That was me! I'm in my element here.

What's your favorite thing about the community at transformational fests?
I think the good thing about this community is that there's no judgment, ever. You're welcome to be whoever the fuck you want to be, and you have the time to self-discover. People are there to look out for other people. At huge, commercialized festivals, people are kind of in their own zone. Here, you can approach anybody, and I don't think you'd have anyone tell you to fuck off.


What's the trippiest thing you've seen here?
I've seen some pretty trippy stuff. Actually, dude, I was tripping and watched this guy, butt naked, showering, from one of the drinking water faucets, washing his ass and everything.


Tell us about your weekend.
This whole experience has definitely been a journey. I was meant to come to this festival for a reason. It's been beautiful, so eye-opening, so life-changing. You can't get anymore natural than this. Everyone's auras and vibes are just so powerful. It's kinda hard to accept going back to reality after this! I'm gonna take a bit of everyone I've met and everything they've given to me home, and hopefully I can share with everyone. I'm so excited for next year already and this one isn't even over yet!

How is LIB different from other festivals?
This one's different because, at this festival, you're more free; you don't feel like you have to put on a front. If you want to walk outside with no shirt and you're usually insecure about yourself, it's no problem. No one's gonna judge you. If I was to do that at Coachella, I would probably get stares. I wouldn't be nearly as comfortable.

Do you identify as a hippie?
Oh yeah! All around. I definitely classify myself as a hippie. I love it. It means being able to be free, be caring, be loving—what a human being is supposed to be. Just a human being! With love for the world and our human species.



How did you end up here?
I missed the 60s, which I resonated with. I grew up in the 70s and 80s. In the 90s, during the rave period, I was trying to get a professional life going. I was trying to do the established thing, the career path. I missed all of it. In my 40s, I came back to it, and I've loved it ever since.

What were you looking for?
The feeling of community here. In my younger days, I experimented with psychedelics, and came back looking for it again. I found that experience here, and for me, that is something that is a useful tool in my life. It's not like I'm crazy every day, but that's what these festivals are for me: a space place to experience that without fear of judgment, without the potential legal issues. You can dress funny, look a little weird, maybe get a download.

Would you identify as a hippie?
Sure, yeah. I'm troubled by labels in general, because it makes it easy to dismiss a person based on a label. It's a nice general term that can also be used against us as well. I consider myself a human and an artist. Those are labels that I'm comfortable wearing.

Jemayel Khawaja is Editor-at-Large of THUMP, founder of Black Circle Media, and identifies as a hippie - @JemayelK