The Seattle Hempfest is grounded in the principles of the 1960s counterculture. Founder Vivian McPeak came to adulthood just as this hippie counterculture was in late-blooming stage. Soon, propaganda efforts pretty much extinguished this culture, except for isolated pockets on the West Coast and a few other places, like Summertown, Tennessee. Peace culture didn’t disappear off the face of the earth, but the media certainly began pushing the meme it was no longer in fashion and never had a positive word for it. Peace in an era of gangsta rap was easy to ridicule and didn’t inspire much respect from some youth, especially those raised on violence pornography, synthetic pills and self-gratification above all else.
Before Vivian assembled his tribe, he got a copy of Hey Beatnik, Stephen Gaskin’s guide to counterculture thinking and that document had an influence on the activism that soon followed. The counterculture likes ceremonies free and inclusive and filled with fun, improvisational energy, and Vivian has certainly embraced that spirit. Working for Hempfest is not a chore, but a sacred honor that provides a great sense of accomplishment and tribal inclusion. Some of the steady crew over the years remind me of intense spiritual fervor that manifested around Johnny Griggs, founder of the Brotherhood of Eternal Love, who would have become the hippie messiah had he not been killed by synthetic drugs in 1969.
Not too long ago, a media company asked me who the counterculture messiah figure of today was and I replied it was probably Vivian. The fact the Seattle police have such fun twittering jokes and handing out Doritos is due in part to the compassionate dialogue Vivian established with that force early on.
When you hear people talking about the pigs and spewing hatred at all law enforcement, you might want to remind them of these great Seattle cops, who have actually earned the right to use the motto: “protect and serve” in terms of the population at large and not just the political bigwigs and major corporations.
Another thing that bugs me is when people claim hippies were invented by the CIA. That is nonsense. The CIA fed tons of dangerous synthetic drugs into the culture, but they did not create the Zeitgeist. The control of religion is one of the oldest hoodwinks, and my generation slipped off the programming and started searching for new spiritual paradigms. To aid in this quest, we turned to ceremonial substances that can lead into the spirit world. Over time, we soon realized natural plants have a long history of ceremonial use are much better safer than the synthetics the CIA is so fond of.
There’s a post-hippie tribal culture emerging, and it’s located primarily on the West Coast. I hope Vivian can help lead this tribe to great future ceremonies. Really, the sky is the limit. Of course, my dream has always been the establishment of a series of campgrounds and festival sites that run up and down the West Coast so we can re-establish a migratory culture that manages a series of three or four huge communal outdoor gardens. All food for the tribe would be grown and prepared and served for free by volunteers and we would also produce a lot of medicine, most of which could be donated to patients in the form of high quality oil. One weekend is just far too brief of time to step into New Jerusalem. We need to step into that world and never return to Babylon. We have a crisis amongst baby boomers who have no money for retirement and can’t afford their current lifestyles. The Rainbow Gatherings have shown how easily thousands can be fed on vegetarian food for pennies per person. Why stay in Babylon when the cost of living is so ridiculously high?
Here’s hoping the spirit of the Seattle Hempfest can grow and other events will emerge to channel the deep spiritual vibrations that have always run through the cannabis societies of the world.