Astro-Tourism Hits Pyramid Lake

By: Kyril (Ky) Plaskon Email
By: Kyril (Ky) Plaskon Email

(RENO, NV)-The planets are literally aligning this weekend over a crowd of 8,000 people who will be on Native American lands that have been closed to crowds like this for more than two decades.

“It is a significant moment, it is the alignment of the three heavenly bodies that sustain our life,” said Paul West of Symbiosis, a 6-day music festival that will rock and sway the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribal lands starting Wednesday.

Symbiosis is a festival that moves and according to celestial and other epic scenic locations. This time, that celestial scene appearing in the Reno area is the position of the moon in front of the sun, an eclipse that begins shortly after 5 p.m., Sunday. Only a few places are graced with being able to take advantage of this astro-tourism.

The Reno area is one of only four places in the nation where this eclipse, called an “annular eclipse” will be fully visible.

The annular eclipse is different than a regular eclipse. In a regular eclipse, the moon covers the sun so that only the corona of the sun is revealed. But in an annular eclipse, the moon is farther away from the earth. So, the moon appears smaller and doesn’t cover the whole sun. That means the corona and a thin ring of the sun will be visible around the moon.

“What you get is a brilliant fiery ring around the moon,” West said. Combine that with previously closed tribal lands, a dramatic massive desert-terminus lake, and a huge volcanic pyramid in the background and they hope this could be the site of a life-changing vision for thousands.

“Our thing is we want to give people a transformational experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives,” West says. During the actual eclipse, the festival will be silent, it is the moments leading up to that silence which could truly change lives with knowledge that one can bring home and apply.

The number of events, musicians and classes that will be offered over the six days is too extensive to cover in this short article, and you can get most of the information at

But, here are some of the highlights:

A lot of the visitors are going for the music, which aside from the hour or so of the eclipse will run 24-hours a day the entire 6 days. According to West, more than 1,000 musicians applied to play and they were very selective. The bands and artists includes local Reno musicians as well as musicians from 40 different countries. So you could say it has close to every kind of music under the sun.

Those musicians will be getting their electricity from a pretty unique source: “All the power on site, triple-hybrid mobile power stations, wind, solar and biofuels,” West says, with the exception of a few vendors who might not follow that protocol.

Speaking of vendors, there will be a kind of green shopping mall, and that isn’t the only family-activity. There will be a kids biosphere with activities for youngsters. No festival is complete without a plan for trash. In this case it involves dish washing.

“We have refillable hydration stations. No disposable eating ware,” West says. He added that a group called “Wastebusters” is setting up dish washing stations with dishes that you borrow for a deposit and then people wash them for you.

They also have trash reduction strategies. “A massive army of volunteers that make this happen,” West says. Unlike most volunteer events, “We have way more than we need,” he said, how many? 1500-2,000 volunteers.

Among these volunteers are experts in what is called “permaculture.” Briefly, West described it as strategies to leave the land better than when they got there behind. For instance, greening the desert strategies. One example of that is digging small trenches to collect rainwater that allows water to soak into the ground instead of evaporating. That re-charges the groundwater and feeds plants.

“In this (permaculture) case we will be leaving the tribe with a recycling and composting system,” he says.

This event is quite a shift for the tribe. The area had been closed because during a previous festival, visitors left behind something very unwanted: vandalism.

The gift that the Symbiosis organizers plan to leave behind is already making waves in the Nevada tribal community. It is called “protocol,” according to Rachel Mosley, a member of the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe and Director at KOLO-TV. “My dad noticed that when he started giving gifts to others it really opened up more doors. These new-agers are picking up on this and it is a huge sign of respect,” she said.

This means that Symbiosis and its “protocol” is even opening up doors for Mosley who will be attending the festival.

“I think its cool because it (the area) was closed even to tribal members like me,” she said. “I have never been in that area because it has been closed for so long. It’s nice to see the tribe is opening up to complete strangers.”

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