Spirituality, Culture and Place: The Rainbow Temple in NSW, Australia
This thesis is about the Rainbow Temple in Byron Shire, NSW, Australia. The diverse belief systems and the symbolic behaviours practiced by people who live at the Rainbow Temple constitute a particular identity assigned predominantly with what I call “Rainbow culture”. This culture is derived and constituted from the Rainbow Tribe gatherings practiced all around the world. The Rainbow Tribe (or the Rainbow Family) is an international affiliation of individuals who share common belief and identity systems, who gather periodically and intentionally to practice exclusive rituals and ceremonies. This study shows that the Rainbow Temple functions as a multi-cultural sphere and encapsulates various cultural and religious properties that cohere to and are associated with those exhibited in Rainbow Tribe gatherings. Initially, according to its founder, the Rainbow Temple was not meant to have an affiliation with the Rainbow Tribe, but over time the Temple has evolved an association with Rainbow culture. Participants and informants recognize the Rainbow Temple as a “gathering” sphere or as a “centre” for Rainbow Tribe spirit, and attribute meanings of sacredness and inviolability to the Temple. I will examine these attributes and claim that they are part of a larger context. To portray a viable ontological reality and explain the cultural occurrences in the Rainbow Temple, I have relied on three streams of knowledge. First, I have investigated similar recorded cases and relevant theories about identity systems, new religions and New Age spirituality. Second, I have gathered the descriptions, comments and reflections of the people who live at the Rainbow Temple. And third, I have considered my own experiences with the Rainbow Tribe and my fieldwork at the Rainbow Temple. While on the surface, the cultural occurrences at the Temple seem to be a mishmash of ideas and practices, in this thesis I argue that there is a consistent ideology behind the confusion. I examine the foundations of some of the cultural processes and the symbolic behaviours which constitute Rainbow culture and Rainbow identity.
Advisor: Leckie, Jacqui; Guthrie, Elizabeth; Baffelli, Erica
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Social Anthropology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: Rainbow; New Age; Spirituality; Communes; New Age Religion; Rituals
Research Type: Thesis