188.8.131.52: Yellow Spectral Seed, Kin 24
Who would have thought that much of Nature would be closed to humans on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day!
In celebration of this day, here are some reflections from its birthing in 1970, which Dr. José Arguelles helped kick off with the first Whole Earth Festival in Davis, California. Many prominent people were in attendance, including José’s peace activist friend, John McConnell, who is credited as being the founder of Earth day.
McConnell proposed the idea in 1969 at a UNESCO Conference in San Francisco that Earth day be celebrated every year beginning March 21, 1970, the first day of spring in the northern hemisphere. A month later, the United States Senator Gaylord Nelson and committee changed the official date to April 22, 1970 (Cosmic Wizard), as the day to bring awareness to the environment.https://www.almanac.com/content/earth-day-date-activities-history
In honor of the 50th anniversary, here is an excerpt of how the first celebration of Earth day was birthed in a classroom by Dr. Jose Arguelles and his students at the University of Davis, California. This was the first zero-waste festival in history. Excerpt from 2012: Biography of a Time Traveler.
“… When the school year began in September 1969, José was highly inspired, teaching a year-long sequence of classes in the history of modern art, from the beginning of the industrial age to the present. With more than 180 students enrolled in his main course, History of Modern Art, this was the largest class he’d ever had. The idea of giving them a traditional final exam–asking them to identify artistic styles from slides–seemed tedious. His students were restless.
It was 1969 and revolution was in the air. He wanted to bring the feeling of Woodstock and the whole Earth into his classes, but how?
Two books he was reading at the time gave him the answer. One book, The Twelve Signs of the Zodiac, by Dane Rudhyar, the second, Education for the New Age, by Alice Bailey. While Rudhyar’s book stressed the psychological qualities of the different astrological houses, Bailey’s book emphasized group activity as the key to new education. That settled it. He asked his 180 students to identify their astrological sun signs then form into their twelve zodiacal groups. For their final winter exam, José told his students to do something they “believed in.”
With this freedom, the twelve groups decided to stage a “Believe In.” The students immediately put their creative intelligence to action. They acquired use of the Experimental College Coffee House for four hours one afternoon in December, 1969, just before Christmas. What occurred was a spontaneous mini-Woodstock. Each group designed its own hand-sewn costume to complement its sun sign. There were creative ceremonies, musical demonstrations, artistic food creations and gift-giving events.
After the two-week Christmas vacation in January, 1970, José’s History of Art (which he now deemed History of Media and Visual Perception) class met for the first time. Now there were more than 400 students, with many more wanting to join.
Since the second quarter ended at spring equinox, and the historical frame of his teaching ended at the First World War, he suggested to his class to do a “Rite of Spring” (after Stravinsky’s famous musical performance of 1913).
After several classroom discussions regarding the implications of the whole Earth and human consciousness and the rise of the ecology movement, José’s students determined to prepare the ground for Earth Day and create the First Whole Earth Festival right on the University of California Davis campus!
The 180 core students, veterans of the “Believe In,” organized the new students according to their astrological sun sign groups, and four larger elemental groups: earth, air, fire and water. José’s reputation as a “radical” professor had attracted to his classes all of the most creative and revolutionary students of the campus who went to work right away to make their final exam, the First Whole Earth Festival, a complete success.
This time the students decided their final exam would span the entire week of March 17-21, 1970 (Kin 198-202). The students managed to convince the University officials to use the center of the campus, the Quadrangle, a park-like area of grass and trees with two major walkways. Students spread the word all over California and the West Coast and invitations were sent out to all ecology groups, artists, spiritual groups, and alternative communities.
Other students contacted the organizers of Earth Day, including John McConnell, to invite them to the preliminary Earth Day activities of the First Whole Earth Festival. McConnell attended the Festival, and went on to create the Earth Day Proclamation, which declared the principles and responsibilities required to care for the Earth. It was signed by 36 world leaders, including UN Secretary General U Thant, Margaret Mead, John Gardner and later by Mikhail Gorbachev in 2000.
José, his wife Miriam and eight-month old son, Josh, all dressed in hand-made psychedelic clothing, arrived early to the campus on March 17 for the first day of the First Whole Earth Festival (called “Art Happening” in the first year). Nothing could have prepared him for what he saw: Scattered around the edge of the Quadrangle were teepees, geodesic domes, tents and yurts; a global village seemed to have sprung up over night.
The two main walkways had been transformed, one was now called the “Street of the Mysteries,” the other the “Street of the Magicians.” Tie-dyed banners were stretched between the trees and, in some cases, over the walkways lined with booths.
The Street of Magicians hosted crafts people, musicians, artists and merchants. On the Street of the Mysteries were booths offering tarot and astrology readings, with spiritual groups practicing yoga and meditation, alongside exhibits of alternative energies. Over the next five days was a schedule of ongoing public events, either at the main speakers’ stand or in the Experimental College building and Coffee House. Since the Whole Earth Festival took over the entire central campus, no one attending the University could really avoid the event.
Large Earth flags billowed around the outdoor stage set up for the public events. José initiated the event with a short, opening speech:
We are here today to remember the Earth, to know that the Earth is a living being and that we are the Earth’s spiritual children.
Other speakers included Yogi Bhajan, John McConnell of the Earth Day Committee, Swami Satchinada, representatives of different environmental and ecology groups and members from the United Nations. Also in attendance was Tony Shearer and Sun Bear, a medicine man of Chippewa heritage. (I also later learned that also in attendance was Peter Moon, author of numerous books, including the Montauk series and Transylvania Sunrise)
Alongside the scheduled speakers and events were countless musicians, street theater performers and mimes. There were also many spontaneous artistic “happenings.” On the first afternoon of the Whole Earth Festival, a student called José over to the Experimental College where he said a letter was waiting for him.
José opened the letter. It was from Dane Rudhyar!. For some reason, in reading his books, José had imagined him to be dead or in another world, maybe Europe. The last thing he expected was to hear from him. In his letter, Rudhyar told José that he heard about the Whole Earth Festival from a mutual friend, Stephen Levine. In the letter, Rudhyar congratulated him and his students for fulfilling a vision he’d held since the 1920s: a vision of the “whole Earth celebrated as a work of art.” Rudhyar wrote that the Whole Earth Festival marked the beginning of a new stage of spiritual consciousness, or, what he referred to as the “planetarization of consciousness.”
For José, this confirmed, as well, the notion of a planetary consciousness and the possibility of a truly planetary being. This letter also affirmed the correspondence he had with Buckminster Fuller on this matter. Now, he knew it was real, and that the Whole Earth Festival was more than just a passing scene.
On the last day of the event, spring equinox, a global peace meditation was held, synchronized with spiritual and Earth Day groups all over the planet. The Festival was pivotal and gained much publicity for the launch of the first Earth Day.
The momentum of the First Whole Earth Festival continued and in 1971 came to be known as the Annual Whole Earth Festival and continues through the present, drawing tens of thousands of festival-goers each year (except this year with Covid19!) https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10157668870074262&id=722589261
Also, in honor of Earth Day, please take time to listen to the incredible Dr. Vandana Shiva, with her most important message to make the Earth organic and free of poisons by 2050.