This is a collection of encounters and experiences I was very fortunate to document at Shambhala. Everyone's got a story to share about this life-changing experience.
Thanks to everyone involved, enjoy!
I never knew a place on earth could exist with such a profound capacity for love. I could feel it as soon as we turned off the highway. The air is different there. The first time I saw Shambhala light up was at night in the lineup. I drove out with a friend from Calgary and was walking through the gates to meet my friends and family.
The purple and blue glow above the trees and the rhythmic thud of the bass through the forest sparked something inside me that still gives me butterflies. At the moment it was too much for me and I started crying and ran into downtown; I had no idea what I was in for. Shambhala at night can be pretty disorienting at night, especially as a virgin. That first night was anything but that. It was electric. The musical production alone is so immensely impressive let alone the eclectic and beautiful tribe that gathers yearly for this. Every person I met gave me a big hug and welcomed me as if into their own home The energy was overwhelming in the best way. Everyone was (is) so warm and so alive. I had never felt so at home somewhere that I had never been. That is when I understood why people call it "going home". Exploring the farm for the first time was pure magic. Every tree, stone, leaf and corner has something to offer; somehow it all has breath. I embraced my curious faerie roots and dove in headfirst. I met my soul mate, my twin flame that year. At that point in my life I was at the end of my rope.
Emotionally, I was spent and was in a full depressive slump. I went to Shambhala by myself to get away from my situation, to escape, heal, and, of course, to dance. There was such a slim chance that I could make the trip work financially, but I did. I had to. I had no idea that the man I would meet would completely change everything. I had no idea someone like him could possibly exist. What caught me off guard the most was his unyielding passion for the music. That's why he was there; for the fuel of our souls. He came crashing into my life when I least expected it and took every ounce of sadness and worry that I had and turned it into pure joy and adventure.
Falling in love was so easy. It's a funny thing when you meet someone that you were destined to. Things just change. They just fall into place and energetically guide you to where you need to be. That was four years ago. Year after year we go back to the farm, where we met, together. Each year is different, the crew grows, evolves, we meet new artists and grow artistically. Despite the changes within our lives and within our hearts, one thing remains the same: Shambhala changes you. It doesn't matter how many times you have been, where you came from, what you did all year. It gives you what you need. It could be a new perspective, a new friend, reconnection with Gaia, laughter, guidance, or a weekend to dance your ass off. Whatever it is, listen and embrace it. I did, and I changed me. It showed me how to let love in."
Hermano life is amazing to start with! I met Sara Spicer in Mexico many years ago as I was playing music for peyote and ayahuosca ceremonies. When I was 11 years old I started my path of ceremonies in Brazil in the Amazon doing 15 ceremonies over 5 months. Since then, I have been a part of maybe 1000 ceremonies! Playing music for half of them since I was 20 years old. I have been playing music from my childhood with being a healer inside of this.
My hardest moment for Shambs has happened both years coming over customs and having the police break my instruments not caring about what they mean to me and the tribe we are all apart of. Having to fix them over night before my shows with bees wax and glue to hold them in place; always knowing this is unbreakable [laughs]. I am Sioux Lakota and Basque gypsy 50/50. My headdress is from a time in my life in Mexico when I played from Aztec and Maya feather headdress dancers and as I became a part of this tribe. I had to make my own headdress to rep the tribe! We are all part of a tribe; what matters is if you are part of that tribe and become part of it always learning and loving more in your life letting the creator pass through you as you walk the path of life!
The moment that made my Shambhala was when I had a heart to heart with a human whom I was never close with before the festival. We ended up bonding and sharing lots of stories and it brought us so close. Through that bonding experience, he made me realize how much love I need to be expressing to all of my friends and family. Life is fleeting and you need to let EVERYONE know you love them. Life is meaningless, and love gives life meaning.
"The day before Shambhala, a good friend who I haven't seen in quite some time, scored last minute tickets and we were to meet there and share our first festival together. Upon arriving I had no phone reception, which I really appreciated, despite having no means to find my friends. But through our shared love of music, fate, or whatever you believe, we kept finding each other and many more friends in the Forrest. We would dance until a new sun rose, part our weary ways and find each other again the next night. Shambhala binds people."
"Where do I begin? I guess when this photo was taken, the thought going through my head was how utterly happy I was. I was in the hot sun, listening to one of my favorite artists (Stylust Beats) with my wonderful boyfriend and all the amazing people around me. Anywhere you go during Shambhala, whether you're getting food or at the stages or just hanging out on the grass; you rarely see someone unhappy. Which is one of my favorite things about this place. Happiness everywhere you go. It's not like the real world, where you walk down the street or even come into work and you see everyone in a bad mood. Here, Everyone can just leave their problems on the ground and forget about all the ‘shittyness’ that may have happened that year. Cause right in that moment, once you hit that line up. All your issues are gone. We're home. I get goose bumps and start to tear up every time I talk about Shambhala and I've only ever been to this wonderful place twice. But that's the thing, even though I haven't been going that long, this place changed me. I'm not too sure how exactly, but it did. This place changes everyone in some sort of way. Maybe it's the sense of belonging or how literally, nothing matters here; nothing at all. It's just one week of dancing, laughing, smiling, spending time with friends, and listening to some dope ass music. Soaking up all the warm, loving energy and trying to keep it all in because before you know, it. It's Monday morning and we have to go back to reality."
"People say that Shambhala is a magical place. And they're right! Shambhala has so much crazy and wonder to it. I attribute those things to the size of the festival. But size doesn't always bring on the fantastical. Two days after this picture, my contact staff, which I made by hand, was stolen from my camp. That's something that I would never expect to happen at a smaller festival, where the community is much stronger and it's much, much harder to get lost in the sea of people. There's a magic to the mass at Shambhala, but I think that some of the love was lost along the way."
"Shambhala was one of the best experiences of my life. Some of the ways that Shambhala changed me for the better was the fact that it made me an even nicer and friendly person. Before attending the music festival I would say I was already a nice and friendly person but after experiencing a music festival where I met 1000’s of nice and friendly people it actually managed to make me more of an overall amazing individual. During the festival I would have conversations with people super easily and felt a connection with every single person I had the pleasure of talking to. Next year I hope to experience the festival with a friend of mine named Stacey I cant wait to see how Shambhala changes her for the better"
"I learned from last time that, despite the overwhelmingly good music and bass, this festival was built by the individual contributions of the people, whether it is with mind-blowing costumes, a loving and sharing spirit or hilarious banners. I therefore decided to make a funky costume and a staff with a light whose color and blinking pattern was remotely controlled. I had a blast meeting people and letting them interact with it, letting them express themselves by playing with the colors and patterns. The smile on their faces when I handed the staff over was priceless. I spent most of the festival taking some time away from my group to find myself at different stages and for artists I didn't necessary know, seeking for a new, intense and personal exploration. What I found was invaluable discovery of the self that I will never forget. You only really get out of Shambhala as much as you put in. I‘ll try every year to contribute in a bigger way. I love this place and what it brings out of mankind."