Perhaps the most imaginative theme that emerges from the cornucopia of bliss and excitement that music festivals create can be found in the humble outskirts of Santa Barbara at Lucidity Festival.
Even though the 5,000-ish person show has hosted tastemaking sensations like Emancipator, Christian Martin, Tipper, Elephant Revival, Random Rab, and Dirtwire, the music never fully stole the stage. In fact, where other events in Southern California and elsewhere dedicate their focus to big acts on stages, the cozy charm of Lucidity Festival sets itself apart each year with a number of participatory experiences driven by central characters in a grandiose, interconnected set of tales.
The best part? You're the star of the story!
It’s the sort of "choose your own adventure" that puts together all the finest ingredients one will find among the top orators and storytellers of the day. In fact, if you ask its creators they'll tell you the narrative stands on par with those told of Narnia and Middle Earth. As the legend in the making complete its third trilogy - aptly titled for the time, Regeneration Earth - we near the end of the story with so many questions.
To learn more about the Lucidity mythos and all the interweaving threads that combine to make this experiential tapestry, we sat down with Lucidity Festival Co-Founder and Marketing Director Jonah Haas. Read on to see what he had to say.
EDM: What’s the genesis of the Lucidity story?
Jonah Haas: The concept to organize our event into chapters of a larger story came in a dream after year one, in 2012. Quite appropriate, given the first chapter name was "Awake in your Dreams." The first six years of our story literally awoke within a dream of mine. I jumped up and scribbled as much as I could remember into a dream journal and then promptly went to share with our Creative Director, Luke Holden. We had a quick whiteboard session and within 30 minutes had scripted the major arcs to the next six years of our life as festival producers and storytellers. Chapters seven through nine came to us just before year six, and Chapters 10-12 only revealed themselves to us a few months ago. It's been a truly emergent storytelling process that has been more about listening for the story that wants to be told and less about exerting our will.
EDM: Who are its protagonists and antagonists?
The primary protagonist of this story is Luci. Luci is simultaneously the elemental avatar of Spirit, and she represents the dreamer within all of us, and in the character-driven narrative that we are just beginning to write, she is a young archaeologist unearthing mysteries of our past, following in the footsteps of her grandmother, navigating back and forth between a rich dream life and an exciting waking reality. The antagonist of the story is The Fog. The Fog is the faceless force of fear that is creeping across the lucid multiverse, clouding the dreams of the dreamers. It is the manifestation of humanity's collective fears, uncertainties, doubts, and traumas.
Beyond Luci and The Fog, there is a whole pantheon of characters: Guardian Spirit Animals, Elemental Avatars, and Archetypal Villagers.
Key point: Just like in a dream, all the characters of our story are meant to represent some aspect of YOU and ME! The true protagonists and antagonists of this story are therefore the people who choose to come to Lucidity Festival and participate deeply in the interactive play space we provide.
EDM: How are the realms organized? How do they interact with each other?
JH: Our first six years were organized into villages that revolved around Archetypes, each of which was watched over by an Animal Guardian - like the Wild Monkeys of the Nomads' Nook, or the Humble Tigers of the Warriors' Way, the Loving Doves of the Lovers' Nest, the Vivacious Jaguars of the Goddess Grove, the Wise Owls of the Healers' Sanctuary, the Playful Coyotes of the Trixsters Playground, and the Courageous Dragons of the Family Garden. However, in year seven we introduced a new concept of Elemental Realms. This broke our festival map up into five areas, The Realms of Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Spirit.
Each realm is watched over by an Elemental Avatar, a character embodying the purest essence of each element: Leaf, River, Dawn, Zephyr, and Luci respectively.
EDM: Why is it important for fans of Lucidity to understand the story behind it?
The story is an allegory, mapping the expansion of human consciousness from the individual I, to the collective We, to the all-inclusive All of Us, to the nondual All that Is. This is important because it provides a blueprint or a roadmap for those who are engaged in their own self-expansion and Heros' and Heroines' Quests. On a practical level, it's important for us as producers, because it gives us clear, thematic direction for each year that then informs our art, workshop content, messaging, music curation, and an array of other creative choices.
EDM: I’m new, what are some of the quests I can experience at Lucidity?
We do try to create a gameified way for participants to experience our mythos at each year's event. In the past we've had scavenger hunts, interactive ritual performance, oracle readings, processions, mask making, and a variety of other ways for participants to tap in to the Lucidity story. There is something special in the works for this year, but it's not yet fully developed, so I cannot disclose it. What's for sure is that when participants treat our festival like a gameboard to live out some epic quest that they've dreamed up for themselves, they have profound experiences of synchronicity and magic. Lucidity is truly like a living lucid dream in that way.
EDM: How should I start a quest at Lucidity 2020?
There is no one answer to this question. Find the Oracle Tent. Consult one of the seers. Ask for direction. Or ask your dreams for a sacred purpose before you embark to the festival grounds. Meet strangers and make new friends and allow for a quest to emerge from your interactions. Keep your eyes out of the Elemental Avatars, approach them and offer yourself in service. Stay Lucid and Present! Say Yes! Follow the coincidences!
EDM: What do those who complete them gain? What’s at stake?
Also not any clear answer here. People engaged in their own quests may find deeper clarity and understanding. Epiphany. Peace. A sense of purpose. Participants who engage in our games and quests might win Lucidity artifacts, patches, pendants, or special items. All are sure to make new friends and awesome memories.
EDM: What’s the most exciting part about the theme this year to you?
JH: I love that our theme of Regeneration Earth, which we wrote into our story three years ago, is aligning with a dominant public discourse around the global climate crisis. The call for Regeneration has overcome the call for sustainability. If we are going to reverse the deleterious impacts of mankind on our environment, we cannot just be sustainable, we need to take intentional action toward regenerating our forests, oceans, and human settlements. This is another example of how our yearly theme has lined up magically with dominant themes and experiences within our waking reality.
To learn more read about the overarching narrative at Lucidity Festival read about it on their blog. Discover the chapters year by year, and decode the mysteries of Lucidity Festival and life with the enchanting Lucidity Mythos Oracle Dream Deck.