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Forests think in decades, not hours. Beloved Festival, the annual gathering uniting eclectic music and ecstatic experience, thinks similarly, building community and building soil in the middle of the boreal rainforests of Oregon. Every year, the festival seeks out artists and movement teachers from around the world whose work speaks across boundaries, who can bridge broad divides yet keep an incisive edge. It hosts art that reveals all we have to learn from one another, in a space that mixes playfulness and thoughtfulness.
Past acts have included everything from Sufi devotional music to deep house, from West African desert blues to alt-Latin or Yemeni indie rock, all performing on a single stage to ensure focus and foster a unifying experience.Highlights include artists as diverse as Odesza, Beats Antique, Karshe Kale, Rising Appalachia, Les Nubians, Amadou & Miriam, Bombino, Vieux Farka Toure, DakhaBrakha, and King Sunny Ade.
“Beloved stands in between spirit and soul,” explains festival founder and artistic director Elliot Rasenick. “We try to create space for ecstatic, spiritual connection. We want to make this experience open for everyone, no matter where you’re from, and a festival setting is a great way to give people this opportunity.”
The festival stays true to this original mission, with substantial yoga and other spirit-centering practices and with electronic dance and world music designed to take listeners higher. Beloved also hosts nationally and internationally renowned yoga teachers and other revered teachers of other spiritual disciplines and practices. They conduct workshops and sessions in stunning custom tents with a top-notch production and live music or DJ sets. All serves to elevate and expand, to heal and connect via the spirit.
Yet exploration of spiritual heights is insufficient on its own. For Beloved and the community it has fostered over more than ten years have realized they need to address the soul, the deeper core of each person must be in contact with the depths of the struggles of humanity. “In its earlier years, Beloved focused explicitly on spirit, on ecstasy. However, as the festival has matured, it has been asked to be made whole and to get in touch with soul,” Rasenick says. “We’re choosing to go deeper, to be willing to have difficult conversations and to be engaged in the world. Spirit may not talk about rape or about gender and sexual violence. There is a spiritual plane where white supremacy and the painful inequities of a racist country get overlooked; and to make things whole in the world or in our own lives, we have to be in touch with soul, and to face the pain in the world..”