written by Daniel Smith
photo by Sage Thomas
The quest began with a Pirate named Zartan in the parking lot. He was one of the many faces who helped make the whole experience possible. Actual Eyes: Barefoot Farm Quest had its debut September 30th – October 2nd in the beautiful foothills of Red Boiling Springs, Tennessee. The intimate event involved a few hundred attendees. Noisy confusion is a perfect description for the eventful weekend as we all endured the journey literally howling, beatboxing, and making bizarre noises from beginning to end. I experienced many enlightening ideas/concepts and met numerous beautiful souls. My words can only slightly describe what happened at Barefoot Farm.
The Tennessee ride had a scenic backdrop of the Appalachian Mountains. Over the river and through the woods, Red Boiling Springs is a very small remote location just south of the Kentucky border. I made a pit stop about thirty miles from the location to ask directions. The hotel attendant said she had never even heard of Red Boiling Springs. Needless to say the venue was off in the boonies about 20 minutes away from the closest town.
Other events take place at Barefoot Farm throughout the year but this was the first private event held at the location. It was a relatively small venue considering the radius of all the festivities. The main village path was lined with food vendors and shops. From the end of the parking lot to the furthest village was only about two miles. It was a full blown country environment. Plenty of patrons endured the farm’s name as they walked around all weekend barefooted. Outhouses were very much in play for our bathrooms. Creeks, ponds, and waterfalls, were some of the natural attractions surrounding the campgrounds.
Showers were available but some chose to go the natural route and bathed in the creek or waterfall. The water sources not only provided bathing for some but also a source for drinking water if they did not bring enough of their own. It was great to have a strong codependent community as so many people provided help for others. Patrons not affiliated with staff/volunteer were quickly willing to lend a hand. For example, it took team work to bring fire wood and keep the campfires burning. A benevolent gentleman named Michael even constructed a rock bridge crossing over the river between the campsite and the village. So clutch.
Although the entire odyssey was a quest in itself, the theme of the festival was to fulfill a quest of learning, teaching, and regurgitating knowledge to one another. Everyone received a beaded necklace upon entry. The goal was to earn student beads via taking lessons from Masters or Teachers during workshops around the four villages. The four villages were: Flow Arts, Healing Arts, Creation, and Village of the Mind. A brief list of some of the learning opportunities included: Poi, Fire Breathing, Glass Blowing, Jewelry Making, Qi Gong, Sound Therapy, BioDynamic Farming, and Government Transparency.
Quest hours were approximately 12-6 pm Saturday and Sunday. I say approximately because there was no clock-based time utilized only signals and cues. (IE: six conch blows) We had opening and closing ceremonies to describe the quest and recap what we learned together. It was cool to have five or six people evolve from students to masters throughout the course because they successfully completed level 13.
In short to describe the process…after successfully completing a lesson, the Master rewarded you with a student bead. Upon completion, you had to see the Wisdom Keeper at the Wisdom House. You faced bamboo staffed guards (Challengers) before entry. The challenges varied. In honor of Caturday, several people had to perform their best cat impressions. Meow. Or their best upward dog position, best poi moves and so on. After completing the challenge the Wisdom Keeper would present you with an artifact upon answering a question. Afterwards the artifact was taken to the Zero Garden to contribute to the mandala formed by a compilation of artifacts. The artifact was then exchanged with the Keeper of the Zero Garden for another Master bead and then it was off to more questing.
I personally completed five quests, they were all very beneficial. Three stood out to me in particular. The intellectual conversation with Mage (Tha Blackheart) and others at the Infini Tea Lounge. Animal Psychology with James Watson taught me I can get people to follow me without even saying one word. Also Kaleidoscope Community Yoga with Benji Bliss reassured that we are as much a part of the world as the world is also part of us. I experienced the lesson with about ten others. One in particular was Joey Laggis of Hyperbolic Headspace who “loves to smile.” We had a little mimicking dance circle going alongside other practices to help us with our comfort zone as well.
My favorite part about the music was at any given time I could be speaking to or hanging out with someone who performed throughout the weekend. Most of which were more than willing to speak and interact with non-artists. One of the coolest things was late night chillin on GuLlion’s tricked out school bus. Just to name a few artists: Captain EZ, GuLion aka Renegade Jedi Guardian of the Love Revolution, Liam of security who also performed with a Drum Circle, and Sirius Colors. Shanti, Ponder, and Messenger of Secrets are a few other awesome artists performances I remember seeing. Mad props to the zealous Sirius Colors aka Thomas Anderson who possesses many titles; most notably for this event one of the producers of Actual Eyes. Most artists mentioned are on soundcloud.
The one stage had unique visuals. The changing jungle was pretty dope alongside the glowing prisms. It was euphoric taking turns with Mandy swinging on the swing beside the stage while hearing a silly mashup of the Mario theme song. Other impressive performances during music play included: flashy hula hoopers, fire twirling, fire breathing, an extremely fit acrobatic pole performer, painting, infused girls rolling in sync to music, and so on. The music paired with performances provided enthralling entertainment.
Shenanigans with Plank. Shungite, sage/palo santo smudging. Having toasted cinnamon raisin peanut butter jelly bagel time by the campfire while hearing a clown named Eric squealing “The Warriors shot Cyrus.” Seeing familiar faces like Danny Guajardo, Lydia Plantamura, and Maegen Coral. So much love and good vibes in the air. The entire weekend seemed ephemeral. It was all possible largely in part to the fervent hard work from Thomas Anderson (Sirius Colors Media), Sunshine Jupiter (Sunshine Jupiter Productions), and Maegen Coral (Harmonia). Of course others were involved but these three spearheaded the event; and did a fantastic job for its inaugural year. It was new to see creators so accessible and active onsite. The environment was conducive to all people, all ages, introverts and extroverts, and so forth. Keep an eye out for a second year. One love.