Weaving my way through a crowd of beautiful, unique, and culturally diverse souls, I felt in awe of the unconditional love and acceptance I felt from so many complete strangers. As the clock struck midnight, I emerged from the crowd just in time to watch fireworks explode over a group of fire performers with the silhouette of the majestic Volcán San Pedro in the background. Welcome to a new decade. ¡Bienvenidos a 2020!
Cosmic Convergence is an annual gathering of creatives, healers, and conscious community, to celebrate the New Year in picturesque Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. Offering a platform for people of various cultures to exchange ideas, the Convergence aims to leave a positive social and local impact. In fact, all of the festival’s proceeds are donated to initiatives directly benefitting the impoverished communities around the Lake. The festival holds space for musicians, visual artists, and presenters from around the world, but specifically for those based in Central America. Nearly half of the workshops this year were offered in Spanish, and ceremonies and workshops throughout the festival were facilitated by Mayan elders.
Certain aspects of this festival were familiar to me: the yoga classes, chill “tea lounge” spaces, and various stages offering all night dance parties. In the Red Tent, I enjoyed attending a workshop in English about Natural Gynecology, and a workshop in Spanish about Natural Birth Control methods. This sacred space for women was especially nice, as it was equipped with a private area for people who menstruate to offer their blood back to the Earth. There was also a White Tent nearby holding sacred space and workshops for men. In between was a Rainbow Tent, which I had not seen before at a festival, holding sacred space and workshops for queer folks. Other workshop highlights included a discussion of the potential benefits of using psychedelic mushrooms in mental health clinics by Fungi Academy founder Oliver Merivee, and a lecture on the principles of permaculture by experienced herbalist Sarah Wu.
One aspect of this festival that was new and exciting for me was the opportunity to engage authentically with Mayan culture through ceremony. I attended a Ceremonia de la Luna, or moon ceremony, which involved making offerings of tobacco, cedar wood, and candles to a sacred fire. The Mayan elder, called the abuelita, first instructed participants to call in the elements of earth, water, wind, and fire, in the four directions. Then she guided us through a meditation to connect with our personal ancestry and heal our family karma as we made the offerings and prayed. Many participants had profound emotional releases during the ceremony, and one man nearly fainted and then received a healing from the abuelita!
On New Years Eve, I was honored to attend a temezcal ceremony with the same abuelita. Temezcal is a traditional Mayan sweat lodge, intended to cleanse the body of old fears and stagnant energy. About fifty participants squeezed elbow-to-elbow into the tiny earthen structure, which was heated inside by coals transported from a large sacred fire. The abuelita periodically poured water on the coals to create steam as she led us through a guided meditation to balance our chakras. When we emerged from the temezcal after about an hour, it felt like being reborn, covered in the muddy fluids of Madre Tierra’s womb. A beautiful way to honor the new decade, indeed.
For my first festival abroad, Cosmic Convergence certainly exceeded my expectations! It was easily the most international festival I’ve ever attended; nearly every person I met seemed to be from a different country, and many were amid extended travels. With an abundance of opportunities to suit a wide range of preferences and interests, I would highly recommend this festival to anyone looking for a unique, educational, and expansive experience!