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THE EXPLORATION OF TRANSFORMATIONAL EXPERIENCES AT
FESTIVALS







ASHLEY TAYLOR
B.Sc. Biochemistry, University of Lethbridge, 2013












A Thesis
Submitted to the School of Graduate Studies

Of the University of Lethbridge
In Partial Fulfillment of the

Requirements for the Degree




MASTER OF SCIENCE (HEALTH SCIENCES)




Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Lethbridge

LETHBRIDGE, ALBERTA, CANADA








© Ashley Taylor, 2015

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Chapter 4: Thematic Analysis

Introduction

As discussed in the methodology section of this paper, the interview transcripts

were reviewed numerous times to construct and refine the underlying core themes. The

essence of themes resonated throughout the research project, participant interviews, and

my own personal experiences at festivals. These themes were created with an intention of

bringing light to ETF experiences. I have separated these themes into the following three

groups: (1) how ETFs create an environment that is supportive of personal growth and

transformation; (2) how the social and emotional environment manifests in moments of

profound bliss and self-exploration, and (3) personal enlightenment and transformation.



How ETFs Create an Environment That is Supportive of Personal Growth and

Transformation

Going to a festival is more than just leaving your creature comforts of home or life in

the city; it is entering into a “dream world”, a utopic escape from the grind of everyday

normality. Whether or not participants have previously been exposed to this environment

they enter the festival grounds and are swept into an overwhelming atmosphere. The

intense beauty of the natural landscape, the escape from social pressures, and the

abundance of new opportunities are overwhelming. As described in the following section,

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ETFs become safe and sacred spaces for the festivalgoers. The following section of the

analysis focuses on the emotional and social foundation of ETF.

The Freedom of Being Removed From The City.

As previously mentioned, a defining aspect of ETFs is that they are held in

remote, outdoor locations. The analysis of the interviews with the participants clearly

shows why the location is such an important and distinguishing feature of festivals.

Although raves and ETFs have similar history and culture, participants describe ETFs as

being a highly unique experience. How participants were able to experience music or the

festivities was altered by the physical location of the event. In Tim’s experience as a DJ

in the electronic dance music industry “being out in nature versus listening to music in a

club” makes a drastic difference in atmosphere. A participant’s ability to remove

themselves physically and emotionally from the city is one of the major themes of this

study.

Why does location have such a great impact on ETFs? One reason described by

participants is the influence of being in a natural space. For Anna, there is the opportunity

to connect with the life force in the forest. Anna described how she was able to connect

with individuals as well as her natural environment. At one point during her ETF

experience, Anna described being able to visualize the connections between all living

things.

I felt like I actually felt a connection to the forest. I could feel the connection

between everything being alive… the way that everything looked and everything

felt. When I took a breath in the trees took their breath in... Just like everyone was

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Appendix B: Questions for Screening Phone Call


1) Are you 18 years or age or old?
2) Have you had an experience that you would describe as meaningful, spiritual, or

transformational that occurred during an electronic or transformational festival?
3) Briefly summarize this experience? How would you describe this experience?
4) Would you like to share and explore this experience during an in-depth interview?
5) Would you be willing to review the preliminary results of this interview in a

follow up discussion?

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Appendix C: Interview Guide for Open-Ended Interview


1) Briefly describe what was happening in your life before you attended the festival.
2) Which festival did you attend in which you had a spiritual/transformational

experience?
3) Describe how the environment at this festival felt to you?
4) What happened during your spiritual/transformational experience?
5) How did you feel in relation to your body? What did your body feel like?
6) How did you feel in relation to others?
7) Did you have any sense of time? If so, what did you experience?
8) How did you feel in relation to your surrounding/environment?
9) What did you feel immediately after this experience?

10) Overall, how has this experience altered your sense of self or way of living?

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