A Magical Bus Lights the Way

This 1962 Volkswagen bus is the canvas for an incredible “magic bus” created by artist Dr. Robert Hieronimus.

It is impossible to think about the 1960s without conjuring up images of peace, love and Woodstock. It was a time of reflection, a time of cultural change and a coming together for the good of humanity. It also was a flamboyant time, where vibrantly colored fashion took center stage – not just in clothing but on vehicles.

A symbol-covered time machine known as the LIGHT Bus is the centerpiece vehicle for the “Age of Aquarius: Cars of the Counterculture & Beyond” exhibit on view at the AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, through April 26. This 1962 Volkswagen bus is the canvas for an incredible “magic bus” created by artist Dr. Robert Hieronimus. He designed and painted the original bus in 1968 and completed the recreated bus in 2019 for the 50th Anniversary of Woodstock celebrated in August.

Symbolism of the Art on LIGHT the Woodstock Bus According to Hieronimus, the front of the bus showcases the serpent biting its tail, called an ouroboros, which symbolizes eternity and cyclic renewal. Inside the ouroboros are symbols for the sun (higher or spiritual self), Saturn (karma), Jupiter (expansion of consciousness), Venus (harmony), Mars (activity), Mercury (mind), and the moon (personality). The central circle is the heart, symbolizing the cohesive force of the universe, which is love.

“I chose symbols from the ancient mystery traditions, including the ouroboros or snake biting its tail, astrological symbols, Rosicrucian crosses and alphabets from Atlantis,” said Hieronimus. “Everything from the Egyptian Sphinx to the lotus flowers symbolizing the expansion of the soul is interlocked in intricate waves of vibrating energy to show we are all one and connected with the cosmic creator on a vibrational level.

“I was using my occult training to create a real magical talisman, an object that stores and radiates energy to create change. We are one people, inhabiting one planet.”

History of the LIGHT Bus

In 1968, Bob Grimm (leader of the musical group Light) commissioned Hieronimus to paint his 1963 11-window Volkswagen bus (or Bulli, as it was called in Europe) for $1,000. This decorated bus became known as the LIGHT Bus after the Baltimore-area band that used the van as transportation to their gigs. The group also drove it to Woodstock in the summer of 1969.

It was during Woodstock when this VW bus became famous. The stylized art attracted many photographers from a variety of publications, such as Rolling Stone and Life, as they documented the festival. The Associated Press took the most iconic photo – a head-on shot with Light drummer Rick Peters and Light singer Trudy Morgal sitting barefoot atop the bus.

Jeff Bliemeister

After years of heavy use, the original LIGHT Bus went missing in the 1970s. Given the keen interest in this iconic vehicle, Hieronimus, together with the aid of some Volkswagen and Bulli fans and a Kickstarter campaign, managed to recreate the LIGHT Bus that looks identical to the original. East Coast VW Restorations in St. Augustine, Florida, and Skinner Classics VW Restorations in Vacaville, California, helped restore this incredible rolling time capsule. The second-generation LIGHT Bus was completed in time for the 50th anniversary of Woodstock and was on display at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts.

Visit lightvwbus.com to learn more about the bus. You can ride along on the bus’s fantastic journey from start to finish in CuriosityStream’s original documentary, “The Woodstock Bus.” Visit CuriosityStream.com/LIGHT to watch, and use the promo code LIGHT to explore that and thousands of more documentaries free for 30 days.

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Jeffrey Bliemeister is the Executive Director of the AACA Museum.

See the recreated LIGHT Bus at the AACA Museum as part of a featured “Age of Aquarius: Cars of the Counterculture & Beyond” exhibit, on view through April 26, 2020.