The Rainbow Light Show
Story by Mary Ellen Bickford

It was a magical place and a magical time. It was 1981 and Norman Miller and I had rented a beautiful home in Santa Rosa, California where we would carry out the work of Rainbow Research, Inc. and present our increasingly popular multi-image shows. We called our new home the Lighthouse. For the shows, we hung a 9' x 9' rear projection screen in the archway between the living room and dinning room and created a theater environment with lots of chairs, pillows, and walls that were covered with original paintings and prints by the artists whose work we used in the shows.

"Path to the Mountain Top" by Joseph Parker

Every day we offered some kind of event for the public. These events were listed in our monthly newsletter, mailed to over 1,000 people. The newsletter also contained articles about the effects of color, light, and music. The highlight of our work at the Lighthouse took place five evenings a week when we presented the Rainbow Light Show — a 1-hour multiple-image show in seven sections, each focusing on one of the seven colors of the rainbow.

by Mary Ellen Bickford

Still image from the video "Illumination"  
by Ken Jenkins

Each audio-visual section was focused on one of the seven energy centers of one's physical body which are known to those who have explored their inner worlds as chakras. The music that we used along with the visuals "did the talking." For music we used Pachabel's canon in D, angelic music from our friend Iasos, Don Robertson, Manuel Gφttsching, Vangelis, Jon Anderson, and Alan Parson's Project. The amazing visuals were created by our visionary artist friends and these were mixed with photographs of nature. Except for the song "Amazing Grace" that we used for the opening of the 5th (throat) chakra, all the music was instrumental. Since this energy center is located in the throat chakra, we asked people sing along to activate that center. The mix of music, light, color and images was an experience that assisted people to transcend into altered states of consciousness. Norman coined the term Electronic Alchemy for the experience, and it certainly was an alchemical experience for everyone. 

"Elysium" by Jeffrey K Bedrick

Seminars were held on the weekends and usually included the Rainbow Light Show. Presenters included many of the artists shown on this web page — talking about art as a form of healing and transformation. Many other authoritative people contributed to the seminars and work of Rainbow Research, Inc.  We heard from Don Robertson, Iasos, Kip Sketcho, Constance Demby, Rowena Pattee Kryder, Peter Cady of Findhorn, Zenon, Peter Phelp, Marcel Vogel, Dale Walker, herbalist Charmoon Richardson, Christine Covington, artists Arwin and Wendy, Shivini Brun, John Hills, Steve Mangold, and more. 

Subjects that were covered in the educational and experiential presentations included music, light, color, sacred symbology, sacred geometry, crystals, subtle forms of electromagnetic energy, and healing through the arts — It was all about how all of this effected humans, plants, and the environment.

People who attended the shows and seminars came back again and again and usually brought several friends. Comments from attendees included a wide variety of positive experiences such as: they were more inspired, less stressed, happier, more motivated, and on and on. 

Norman was reluctant to expose the behind-the-screens workings of what they saw until after the show. We didn't want people to be in their minds during the show — it was truly an experience for the soul. But, everyone asked — how'd you do that?

"Gondola of Time"  
by Brian McGovern

"Angel Falls"  
by Gilbert Williams

Norman had begun his work with light in the '60s when he worked with the Garden of Delights light show. They were one of two major "in house" light shows at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, and toured extensively with a number of rock groups from the bay area. Taking what he had learned from this work, he developed a show called The Evolution of the Mandala that mixed visionary art with visionary music, and literally took people on a new journey into the world of archetypes, sacred symbolism, and transformative cutting edge music. The Evolution of the Mandala was a forerunner to the Rainbow Light Show.

Plugged into a mixing board specially designed by Norman and built by Harry Sitham (Neil Young's engineer), the show was performed by hand to create a unique show each night. This real time symphony of light and color created an animated vision with images dissolving one into the other in a symphonic dance with the music.

"God and Goddess Meru" by Richard Fields

The Rainbow Light Show was filled with hundreds of beautiful images that drew the viewer into their inner selves where, as in a dream, the combination of images and music took everyone on their own individual journey. People reported that after coming back to see the show for the tenth time, they were still seeing something different every time. And they continued to bring in more people to share the unusual and inspiring experience.

Rose Window from Notre-Dame, Paris, France  

"Burning of Darkness" by Nicholas Roerich 

I witnessed the repeat attendees growing spiritually and having life-changing experiences. I too was going through amazing changes. Because I was there for all the shows, every day, I was beginning to see so far beyond the everyday physical reality of Earth — and my heart had become so open from the repeated experience of the shows that love continually poured from me. My crown chakra was so open that I was filled with unlimited information, and I was glowing like a star. It wasn't easy for me — coming from a practical and common-sense upbringing. Fear, doubt, excitement and fascination consumed me constantly. I didn't understand, and my mind couldn't explain the experiences I was having. I found myself leaving my body and seeing auras, light beings and the future. I began having visions that included a communication in moving light forms. Norman and I later wrote a book about all of this and we called the book The Language of Light. I did adjust to my new and broader state of consciousness, and today I continue to require beauty, art, music and love to surround me all the time. Sometimes its a challenge, but I always find something good about everything.

"Sunflower" by Norman Miller

Children of today are the leaders of the future of our world. I believe that if you want to make healthy changes in the world, you must teach the children about the arts and how important music and positive imagery are in forming the consciousness of humanity and healing traumas of the past. 

I had a dream while living at the Lighthouse, where I was teaching children about all the power of the arts, and saw them producing a multi-image show. The dream effected me so that I ran an ad in the newspaper inviting kids to produce their own show. The ad soon attracted a class of eager students. Using Rainbow Research's extensive slide library, studio, and Norman's coaching, I helped the kids focus on a subject for their show. They chose from several nominated ideas and we produced I Want to Live — in Peace, a show that featured the music of John Denver. What a show! This three-minute piece was added to the beginning of the Rainbow Light Show and it always brought our audiences to tears. With their emotions opened, people were hugging and crying and clapping. Wow! Leave it to the kids! Now we all were seeing the show through the eyes of the child!   

by Geoffrey Chandler

"The Return of the Golden Mean"
 by Barbara Faulkner and
Bernard Xolotl

"Milky Way Overview"  
by Don Davis

Over a two-year period we grew rapidly. It is hard to count the number of people who attended since so many were repeat viewers, but I think it is safe to say that some 10,000 people flowed through our doors. The shows grew out of the theater room in our home and into rented auditoriums, and that grew too. Norman and I realized that the show needed to find a home where it could run on the hour and perhaps even in multiple locations. We met with a planetarium director in Denver, Colorado who loved the idea of presenting the Rainbow Light Show in his space, but he said it would work best in the IMAX film format and introduced us to MacGillivray Freeman Films

Next we met with Greg MacGillivray in Laguna Beach, California. He too loved the ideas, and off we went to bring together the people and resources to produce a film we decided to call Future Quest. Imagine all this beautiful art work on the IMAX screen! We were excited! 

Walt Disney had been our inspiration. His 1939 film Fantasia was to us the best example of mixing music and beautiful images in perfect timing. Being the visionaries that we are, Norman and I could see the potential of opening people to the experience of beauty through the advanced technology of the day. Never before had all the technologies been brought together to furnish a mass audience with a consciousness-expanding motion picture such as we knew we could produce. 

I started bringing people together who were interested in our new IMAX film project (working title: Future Quest). We met with Academy Award winner, special-effects wizard Richard Edlund, Hugo Zuccarelli who is the inventor of holophonic sound, the award-winning sound-effects expert Frank Serafine, and we explored the then new science of Motion Capture Technology, and many others — taking Walt Disney's ideas into the future. Everyone was excited and ready to come on board when we were ready. 

As fate would have it — I was in the fast lane on my way to one of our meetings with film industry people when a front tire flew off my car. My injuries left me in a struggle for my own survival. After a long fight to overcome the pain from a fractured neck, I surrendered and bowed out of the project. Now, a few decades later, I can still see the potential of our dreams — not yet achieved or attempted by anyone. I have adjusted to my limitations, and continue to develop projects that integrate what I have learned into today's media. 

Now, more than ever, the world needs healing and the children need the tools to survive the future on our planet. I believe that the best tools we can have in our bag of resources are strong spirits and open hearts. Everyone needs to have a dream and the motivation and support to fulfill their purpose for being. God bless the world! 

"Moon Temple" by Gilbert Williams

Mary Ellen Bickford, Norman Miller and Lorene (Mary Ellen's daughter)
showing the Mandala of Meta Religion design for a newspaper article about Rainbow Research, Inc.