Enchanted Rock, the holy mountain of Central Texas, was one of many sacred landmarks around the world where thousands converged to witness the dawn of a new epoch. They arrived to reaffirm the necessity of living in harmony with Earth. They went away as soldiers in the spiritual army of life.
The two-day event, christened the Harmonic Convergence, was soundly ridiculed by many. Their cynicism and pettiness mirrors the darkness of their own hearts and the limits of their awareness. To spitefully mock the religious observance of others is to join hands through space and time with other purveyors of intolerance and hate.
That the Convergence happened at all is a ray of hope in an otherwise very dark world. In a culture conditioned to taking the daily dose of vitamins in a single pill or assimilating the news of the world in a half hour, the difficulty of explaining what it all means is overwhelming.
I was among the 2,883 souls that gathered on the summit of The Rock on Sunday, and the 809 that retuned at sunrise Monday. I certainly cant speak for all of them, but I can tell you why I was there and what I experienced.
THE MODERN DARK AGE
We dont need prophets to tell us we live in perilous times, but we must awaken to the scope of the dilemma. Earth is a living organism nourishing all life on the planet, which in a suicidal frenzy we are murdering.
We have torn gaping holes in the womb of the ozone, polluted the air, brought rains of acid, poisoned the waters, depleted the soil and despoiled thousand of acres with hazardous waste. We have harvested the vast majority of our nonrenewable natural resources with unprecedented greed, robbing the future of hope.
Millions of souls are suffering and dying of famines and plagues. We are locked in a global war where only the continents manufacturing the arms are spared the violence. We stand on the precipice of mass annihilation with atomic warheads poised in every direction.
Behind this madness are two materialistic ideologies, Capitalism and Communism that differ primarily in the manner by which they distribute the products of natural resources they appropriate. Both are intent on maximizing material wealth. To achieve this they must divide the native peoples of the world and fuel the fight for ownership of resources on behalf of a system natives cannot control and seldom comprehend.
THE PRODIGAL WHITE BROTHER
The monumental moments in history are reenactments of myths, the actors fulfilling archetypal roles that sleep between events like giants in the collective unconsciousness. Prophecies herald the coming drama with more inevitability than accuracy. Prophets and false prophets are not the exclusive domain of one culture or age. They are everywhere all the time.
At the mythic core of the harmonic convergence, several American Indian prophecies, which share a common vision, are woven together. That is, the disappearance and promised return of a white brother-hero-god.
To the Hopi he is the lost white brother Pahana, to the Mayans his is called Kukulcan, and to the Toltecs and Aztecs his is known as Quetzalcoatl. As Frank waters wrote in Book of the Hopi, it is "a myth of deep significance to all Americas. It is an unconscious projection of an entire races dream of brotherhood with the races of all continents. It is the unfulfilled longing of all humanity".
Waters succinctly explained why the myth is so compelling to the Indians, who take their name from the Spanish word Indios meaning "in God," The Harmonic Convergence, however, is a predominately white movement, not Indian.
Western culture is unique in its assessment that mankind was born to the task of subjugating and exploiting nature. It is not a harmonious relationship but an adversarial one. The whites mythic beginnings are found in their fall from grace with nature and consequent expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The collective unconsciousness of humanity felt the loss, and now in Earths 11th hour it is prayed that the prodigal white brother return to his rightful place in nature.
The Earth and its cycles are seen by the Indians as a circle, a sacred hoop of four cardinal points, a color signifying each direction and the races of humanity. Black in the west, white in the north, red in the east, yellow in the south. The hoop has been broken and the natural balance disturbed. Unless the whites return the natural balance in harmony with all races this cycle will end in chaos.
Today, most whites see the end of the present world order as Apocalyptic. To the native peoples it is the Great Purification. We are in a time of crisis, chaos and disharmony. The dreams that directed the course of our historyalong which we have gathered for centuries and brought others, through enculturation, to this same stream of consciousness has gone bone dry. Through rituals and myths new to us we must dream ourselves into the future.
BEFORE THE DAWN
As I expected, this was to be the largest religious gathering at Enchanted Rock since the Indians were dispossessed over a century ago. When someone asked me if any of this would change anything I said, "If you gather 1,000 people and ask them to pray for peace and one more person discovers the peacemaker in themselves you can claim success."
Later, after seeing the chalkboard schedule of events drafted by the local organizers, I was interviewed by a reporter from the Austin American-Statesman. I came out like this in the paper:
I had been going to Enchanted Rock for almost three decades. After years of research, several magazine and newspaper articles, and TV appearances I had let my proprietary interest in The Rock get the better of me.
In all fairness to Laura Moore, the Austin organizer, I would have done things differently, but I doubt that I could have done half as well.
At the edge of dawn, with family and friends, I joined hundreds of souls in the procession to the summit. Ahead the trail of lights bent and disappeared over the shadowed hump of the Rock. Below, more lights were coming up the rock, and still more car lights, converging from the east and west.
THE FIRST DAY
As the sun rose on the new epoch, the rejoicing began. It was interesting and entertaining but as we returned to our campsite, I was divided and skeptical. Later that afternoon, as planned, my family and friends left me alone for the remainder of the event. Determined to at least get a story if not a new understanding, I joined the New Age congregation on Little Rock for the sunset ceremony.
The sun set early behind a dark cloud in the west. In the southwest a dark cluster of 40 or more vultures wheeled below us counterclockwise then suddenly disappeared.
"How many people were here today?" Moore asked the group."
"One!" they responded.
"How many at the Harmonic Convergence?"
"One!" Following this they sang, "May the Circle be Unbroken." Its a beautiful song but the idea that there is a better home awaiting in the sky left me a little disenchanted. I was still alienated.
A dilemma surfaced for the group. The difficult terrain, the distance between locations for the ceremonies conspired to complicate the tight time schedule. Several votes were taken on the alternatives. Each time the vote split. I noticed the dark cloud in the west had divided into two equal parts. I thought about what my mentor, the Blackfoot writer Jamake Highwater, said in "The Primal Mind." Indian time was different he said. It was reliant on nature and not on clocks." I can understand being on a mountain," he said. "I can even understand being on television, but I could never understand being on time."
As a lighter pink cloud formed above the darker two in the west, someone said, "Start the ceremony." And the ceremony began. Gradually I began to realize that my attempt to play two parts, reporter and participant, was the source of much of my alienation. By the time Shamaan Ochaum addressed the gathering it was dark all around and I could barely see my notebook let alone anything I wrote.
"We celebrate the return of the light in a way that reflects our Indian ancestry. It holds the fullness of life, the ways of the heart, mind and spirit. It excludes nothing and " my note became illegible scrawls. I persisted for a short while. Finally I gave up and gave in. I lay back on the granite dome. The calm assurance of Shamaan Ochaums voice, the significance of her words carried on the cool breeze beneath the canopy of stars settled peacefully in me. In the northwest lightning flickered.
Ochaum said that Quetzalcoatl was analogous to Jesus. Just as the Prince of Peace gave birth to a calendar so Quetzalcoatl brought the scared calendar to his people. This night was the eve of the return of the light. This is the time of the return of Pahana, the great white brother of the Hopi. This was a time to surrender to the Eartha letting in. The spirit would return not as a person but in each and every individual open to the coming. There are mothers and children here, she said, and on the eve of the new dawn we are all virgins. She invited us to sing "Silent Night."
I felt the song in all its fullness but could not sing. The starry night, the sacred song, the love and hope of all those gathered filled me with an unprecedented joy.
"When you awake in the morning you will have brought back a life," she said. "The light of truth is born in you tonight."
A meteor streaked overhead heralding a meteor shower that would last throughout the night.
"I want to share something special with you," she said producing a crystal bowl. We were instructed to lie on our backs and chant in harmonic resonance while she played the bowl as an instrument. The sound it produced was nothing short of eerie as it wove itself in and above the chant. It seemed to permeate everything reaching to the crystalline stars with harmonic peace.
THE SECOND DAWN
After the ceremony I returned to my campsite. I had some new neighbors whose conversation was as loud as it was vulgar. I gathered up my canteen, blanket and my infant sons pillow and ascended Enchanted Rock for the night.
The summit was covered with bodies, alone and in groups. I found a deep groove in the rock the width of my body. It had been formed over the centuries by the watershed. If something as fluid as water could reshape this granite, I thought, then there was hope the message of peace, which has lived in the hearts of humanity for thousands of years, could reshape the hardened hearts of skeptics.
For a time I counted meteors, then gave that up losing count somewhere in the 50s. As I drifted in and out of sleep vigilant drummers revived a primal rhythm. The drums returned. The prayers returned. The rituals returned to the holy mountain.
Shamaan Ochaum had said that if something is repeated three times it is done. So three times I said a prayer given to me in an earlier dream:
"Thunderbird, carry this our prayer to the sun father that the future may be bright among us. Bright and everlasting as the nourishing waters of the earth mother. May it be bright above us. May it be bright below us. In the daytime may it be bright. In the nighttime may it be bright. May the path that we follow be filled with plenty and our numbers increase with our prayers. Thunderbird, carry this prayer to the sun father. It is finished in beauty. It is finished in beauty."
As the sun peeked over the horizon some 800 people were there to bear witness. The mood was quiet and serene and I no longer felt alone but all one. A watershed of tears streamed down my face. I was moved by the possibilities of what could be, and by regret for what has been. Was the loss of purpose and hope a modern malaise? Would we be able to "dream the myth onward," as Carl Jung said? Or are we trapped in a dreamless state? As Joseph Campbell wrote, " a culture without dreams is finished, it has nothing to motivate it."
The resolution of this dilemma is, I believe, the gift of the American Indians passing through the Harmonic Convergence to the world. We will live in harmony and balance with nature or die in confusion and desperation. The choice is clear and we must attain the clarity to choose correctly.