Flower Child Forever
In the early 1950’s my parents used a photo of me for their annual Christmas card: I was about three or four years old, and I was standing in my mother's garden, holding a small bunch of flowers. Years later in the late 1960’s, I joked that I was destined to be a flower child, even at that early age.
I was born in 1947. I grew up near a small Illinois town — safe, protected, completely unaware of the socioeconomic inequities that permeated the United States in the mid-twentieth century. By 1965, when I entered Kalamazoo College in Michigan, the beginnings of social unrest were beginning to appear, and my generation, raised on white bread and Eisenhower, was starting to awaken. The civil rights movement and the antiwar movement (Viet Nam) opened our eyes to injustices, both within this country and outside it. We knew we wanted to live in a world where peace, freedom, and equality for all were basic parts of life. Without a second thought, we stepped forward to speak out for those basics. We went to demonstrations and sit-ins; we organized student strikes and marches on Washington. We grew our hair long, and painted flowers on our bodies. Some of us became political activists, some of us flower children. Some of us were neither. Many were just trying to survive. Yet all of our generation, the baby boomers, were affected one way or another by the turbulent 60’s.
In 1967 I lived in Washington DC, Michigan, and France, but always I was dreaming of California as I stayed up all night to paint psychedelic posters and listen to “Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band” (Beatles), “Blonde on Blonde” (Bob Dylan), and “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme” (Simon & Garfunkel). Scott MacKenzie's song "If You're Going to San Francisco" became my mantra; I wanted to be a flower child, and where else would I go but California? Finally, in the spring of 1968, I moved to San Diego to live with an eclectic group of friends in a small duplex on Ocean Beach; in the fall I transferred to San Diego State University. Did California live up to my expectations? Absolutely.
At San Diego State, I participated in student protests and alternative education projects like the Experimental College (no grades). The first Black, Chicano, and Women's Studies classes were offered, and I was fortunate to be able to take some. I read A.S. Neill's Summerhill, Malcolm X’s The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Carlos Castaneda's Teachings of Don Juan, and Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex, all of which had a great impact on me. I went to encounter groups, "be-ins," peace marches and student rights rallies. I also attended poetry readings by Alan Ginsberg (Howl) and Lawrence Ferlinghetti (A Coney Island of the Mind) and concerts by folk singers such as Buffy St. Marie ("Now That the Buffalo's Gone") and Donovan ("Sunshine Superman"). The poets and musicians provided the orchestrations of our changes. Often the songs and the experiences themselves were indistinguishable (think: Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit" or the Beatles' "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds").
I spent the summer of 1969 in San Francisco, the city of my dreams. It was a magical time and a magical place. The San Francisco Mime Troupe performed political theater in Golden Gate Park, and street artists of all kinds were everywhere. Beads, bell-bottoms, Indian fabric dresses. Rallies against the war. Woodstock summer — it was happening everywhere. It was a state of mind. And our minds were being blown open — if not by marijuana or LSD, then by the sheer power of the collective energy, the collective awakening. Joni Mitchell wrote about Woodstock: "Maybe it is the time of year/or maybe it is the time of man/I feel to be a cog in something turning?" It was so much bigger than any of us knew then, even those who wrote or sang about it with such eloquence.
I carried the spirit of the 60’s within me in the years to come. After I graduated from college, I lived in San Francisco for a couple of years, traveled through Europe for five months, and eventually moved to Massachusetts to attend graduate school in women's studies. In the Boston area, I became deeply involved in the feminist movement in the 1970’s, living and working in women's collectives and writing for various publications on anarchist feminism and women's spirituality, among other things. In the ideals of feminism, I found an alignment with my earlier 60’s beliefs. We were working together for an egalitarian, nonhierarchical society, based in freedom for people of all races, ages, sexes, and sexual orientations. Our personal lives were the revolution.
As the 80’s became the 90’s, I found myself embarking on a personal quest for the meaning of life. My interest in spiritual/metaphysical matters had always run like a thread through my life, but it was around 1990 that it became the major focus. I attended seminars at Interface, Omega, Rowe, and Kripalu and went on retreats with various teachers whose work I was drawn to. I swam with wild dolphins and humpback whales and discovered that animals were great teaching masters as well. Many pieces fell into place, and my life changed irrevocably. As the new millennium approached, I found that the wisdom I had gathered from so many sources was all interwoven. The poets, the mystics, the indigenous elders and the quantum physicists were all saying similar things: This is a time of tremendous change, foretold in many ancient traditions, and we are all here to move that change forward. We are here to awaken.
Awakening. Yes, that's what it's always been about. We are not here by chance. We chose to be on this planet at this time. Our emerging beliefs about society and the world in the 1960’s formed the groundwork for who we are today. There are flower children all over the planet still living toward an ideal that we began to articulate 30+ years ago. You can't tell who we are by our beads or bell-bottoms anymore, but we didn't all give up and accept the status quo, as the media has claimed. We are still around, moving each in his/her own way into the Age of Aquarius. And there are more and more people awakening, recognizing the significance of this time.
Current visionary writers such as Ken Carey and Steve Rother have published channeled material about the last half of the twentieth century. From Rother's Re-membering: "This resurgence of light began during the time you have labeled the Baby Boom era….For the past fifty-three years you have been accumulating seeds [activation codes] in your biology that are now beginning to sprout." From Carey's The Third Millennium: "When several waves of arriving spirit beings converged in the late 1940’s, the influx of new consciousness into this Earth system encountered — thanks to the success of those who had come before — a new and unprecedented buoyancy of the human spirit…a window of opportunity….These are the Awakened Ones, appearing in every village, every marketplace, every university, every community and city on Earth…creating islands of the future wherever there are those who deliberately invoke the energies of the emerging consciousness and demonstrate willingness to live their lives in love…. They are united in a veritable continent of rising awareness."
The magnitude of the transformation we are involved in is beyond our wildest 60’s dreams. Yet on some level we knew back then. We were moved by something within, by what are now being recognized as sacred codes of light and sound — energetic impulses connecting us to the cosmos in a gigantic geometric grid of creation. In 1969 Joni Mitchell wrote, "We are stardust, billion-year-old carbon." At the 2001 Victoria Prophets Conference, astronaut Edgar Mitchell (no relation) spoke of realizing, as he hurtled through space from the moon to Earth, that every particle in the universe is connected to every other particle and that we are made of the same matter as the stars. Many indigenous peoples have said the same thing — that we came from the stars. Ancient and modern cosmology is coming together in an explosion of awareness about the nature of the universe and our place in it.
We may not have known all the ramifications in the 60’s, but we knew that "something" was "happening here." Something huge. We believed in the possibility of Utopia, of heaven on Earth. Today, as we face the tumultuous changes occurring in this new millennium, we flower children are still holding to that belief. Wherever we are, we are remembering the days of peace, love and flower power, as we walk with conscious intent into a new age of enlightenment and universal harmony.
- Awakening to Zero Point: The Collective Initiation, Gregg Braden, Radio Bookstore Press, 1997.
- The Third Millennium: Living in the Posthistoric World, Ken Carey, HarperCollins, 1996.
- Re-member: A Handbook for Human Evolution, Steve Rother & The Group, Lightworker Publications, 2000.
Peggy Kornegger is a Boston-area writer, editor and lightworker.