There's a new free-spirit movement afoot, and it has more to do with meditation, yoga, fellowship, good vibes, communal celebration, and a search for the divine than it does with the mind-altering substances of its 60s predecessor. In Bliss: Transformational Festivals & the Neo Hippie (powerHouse Books
, October 2015), Steve Schapiro, an internationally renowned photographer famous for his photographs of the original hippie era in San Francisco and beyond, follows his son on his journey for enlightenment at "transformational festivals" held throughout the country: music festivals in Washington, peace gatherings in Oregon, sacred meetings in California, weekend and weeklong happenings in Lincoln Park and in Black Rock Desert. Here multitudes come to commune with nature, other like-minded souls, and with all that is divine and inspirational in the wide, multi-hued spectrum of human spirituality.
In Bliss, Schapiro focuses on a subculture of the current hippie counterculture known as "Bliss Ninnies" -- individuals focused on meditation and dancing as a way to reach ecstatic states of joy. The book features images from festivals across the country and provides an overview of a new contemporary hippie life within America.
In his introduction, Theophilus Donoghue writes that "many people think that hippies were a phenomena of the 60's/early 70's, the movement never ended; it simply vacated the cities in order to live in eco-villages (hundreds throughout the States) and has congregated for annual festivals, most notably 'The Rainbow Gathering.'"
He continues: "The current hippie generation definitely still has a strong political awareness and activist spirit, but the 'blessed out' portion of this 'family' that these photos document are primarily concerned about spirituality as opposed to politics as being a means of improving the world."
Bliss takes the viewer on a visual journey with these ecstatic bliss ninnies as they eye-gaze (a liberating form of open eye meditation), dance and revel in the divine in these compelling photographs. Their beliefs and way of life spark the question: "is the search for pure joy a search for God?" These never-before depicted scenes may indeed just answer that. The 60s are still here. You just have to find where.
Bliss is interspersed with the colorful, personal writings of followers of "bliss." Andreanna Tera Naratatma describes it as "a simple and beautiful way to be happy. It is truly living for love, what inspires us and makes us feel most alive. In Bliss, there is no thinking, analyzing, planning, reminiscing. The fabricated realms of 'past' and 'future' dissolve, and there is only the luminous lucidity of NOW. This is where magic happens, spirit and matter meet and true living creation happens."
"I am a teacher during the school year, so I get to be a free, hippy gypsy every summer. I try to infuse my life with the hippy philosophies I value most: be kind to each other and the earth, live simply, share generously, and above all enjoy life to the fullest!" --Lara