I think we all put a lot of pressure on the Dec 21, 2012. But, nevertheless, I decided to dive into the wave of making sure the 21st was the best day of my 3D existence, preparing myself for aliens and angels to penetrate the veil with all their trumpets and what not.
2012, while one of the best years of my life, was a gauntlet of challenge, growth and surrender, so why should the solstice be any different?
And so, earlier in the year, I signed up for a pilgrimage through Guatemala with 200 people from all over this world, and about 40 elders from different traditions, including some hard core Mayans. The finale was to be a ceremony at the Temple One Pyramid of Tikal, Peten. I had my doubts from the beginning about the trip, primarily because the group I was going with was part of a spiritual tradition I don’t really resonate with and it just felt off for me. But for some reason I was invited to go, and for some reason I decided to go.
Through the doubts, there was also that calm feeling inside that comes with knowing there are some circumstances in life you can't control, that we always attract the vibration we are putting out, and I honestly don't know what else I would have done, because when I tried to get out of the trip several months before, I was not able to get my money back.
Years ago, I traveled with Drunvalo and Don Alejandro through the Mayalands, the trip he wrote about in Ouroboros. That trip was the best sacred journey of my life, highlighted by a double rainbow that surrounded our plane from Guatemala City to Tikal and culminating in one of the biggest healings of my life. Traveling with Drunvalo was always magical, no matter what we were doing, but that trip was the ultimate for me, and I have true soft spot for Guatemala, the Mayans, the jungle and the culture around Lake Atitlan.
So, f**k it, I thought, I'm going to Guatemala with a bunch of people I don't know, who practice an esoteric system I don't resonate with because I would rather be there than in New York wondering if I should have gone. (Disclaimer: this spiritual system is profound and beautiful, just not for me.)
From the second we landed in Guatemala City I knew my instincts were right, there would be no double rainbows around private planes. After waiting for almost two hours for a bus that never showed, a few of us jumped into a taxi to our hotel which was situated close to the old plaza, but also in one of the more dangerous areas of the city.
I am a seasoned traveler in Latin America, having lived in Ecuador as a teenager, and having spent a lot of time in Central and South America as an adult. Anyone who travels to Guatemala knows, you do not linger in Guatemala City. But apparently on this trip we were to spend half of it in this dangerous area. You have to figure that there is a reason for everything, but I was never really given one.
Some people said our light was needed, the first of many “spiritual” answers I got for very impractical and dangerous situations. That night one person was mugged, and another had her earrings torn out of her ears. Let us not ever think because we are spiritual we are not in the world, dealing with the same stuff that everyone else deals with as human beings.
What was interesting is that the two other times I traveled to Guatemala I never felt unsafe for a second, I didn’t even know the country was one of the more dangerous places to be because of the protected way we traveled….and the rainbows.
This trip was like wearing an outfit that didn't fit for a week, which, if you really think about it, is a powerful experience. In that outfit I was given the task to remember who I was, and to love myself, even if I was different. I stared Heyoka in the face and said, “OK bro, bring it on.” For me, this was, a journey of self-love, as all great teachings are.
CEREMONY 1, Kaminaljuyú
On our first morning, we awoke and got to prayin' at the first Mayan city, Kaminaljuyú. I felt the magic. The energy was powerful and I was receiving download after download of amazing material for my courses for the year. Tata (Mayan medicine man) filled the circle with love, as he pronounced that he was not indigenous, or ethnic, we could no longer use those words. They separated us. He was Mayan, and we were all family. People from all over the world spoke and prayed in the circle. In traditional Mayan form, we prayed into small candles of many colors and threw them into the fire. BURN! The copal, pounds of copal, filled the altar circle, and the flames got hot and smelled amazing. Our pain, our prayers for humanity, were all burned and sent to spirit.
Five hours later, with only one elder collapsing, we got on the bus to go eat. After standing in line for an hour, they ran out of food. An hour after that, they gave the remaining 40 people who hadn’t eaten a little bit of salad. Delicious. There was lots of spiritual suck it up talk. In a stroke of genius, I had packed a box of powerbars, which I would find, saved my life just about every day.
After that, we drove to a beautiful spot for a sweatlodge, which was shut down after just one round due to the buses having nowhere safe to park. I think we were all relieved.
HEALING THE PAST
I couldn’t help but compare this very intense week to the year I spent in a uniform in Catholic school in Cuenca, Ecuador when I was 14-- very much against my will. To say I went kicking and screaming would be an understatement.
The agitated feeling of Latin American city life with it's church bells all morning long, constant inhalation of diesel, getting hit on by every single man that sees you and bombardment of child salespeople can be overwhelming, especially as a teenager. When you are blonde and towering over everyone, you kinda stick out. As a New Yorker I know what to do in a city, but it’s different ballgame in Latin America. Whatever level of awareness you have in New York, it’s multiplied by at least 10 in these cities.
The hardest part of that year was the emotional terror of being isolated from my community (it was 1988 there was no internet and phones barely worked down there), the separation from my father who stayed in New York, and the heartbreak of my mother. My parents were divorcing, our family life had crumbled, and I was in the middle of nowhere. It was a year of extreme emotional difficulty that imprinted on my hormonal system at the onset of puberty. Throw in culture shock, Catholic school and a language barrier and you have a Molotov cocktail for teenage angst.
It was THE major defining point of my development as a human being, and it can creep up on me at very inconvenient times to teach me where I need to grow.
After two nights in the city, we got on our five buses and went to Quetzaltenango, the second biggest shit-hole in Guatemala. Now, I had been to all these places before, so when they said Guatemala City, and then Quetzaltenango, I actually just didn't believe them, because who would do that if people paid real money to come on this trip? It's like when my parent's told me we were moving to Ecuador so I could learn Spanish. “Haha! Good one!” Because who would do that?
Heyoka, that's who!
Here I was in Guatemala, almost 30 years later and I started to go into a panic. I was stuck in Latin America in an overcrowded hotel lobby, the organizers had lost their minds, whoever they were, everyone I loved was back home and I was being asked to pray, ALL THE TIME. The uniform was back on. And I couldn’t get out. There was nowhere to go.
“What am I doing here, what is the point?” These questions were on repeat in my head as I jumped timelines. We waited for nearly three hours to check into the hotel. I started shaking, and melted down in the arms of my dear friend Shola, the painful emotions of being trapped in Latin America against my will started to move through my energy field. With nowhere to run, and no parent to get mad at, the only place I could go was into my true feelings.
I was so grateful because Shola knows me well, and just let me cry until I was done without judgment, and with full faith in my healing process. Love, hugs and understanding are always enough, spirit takes care of the rest. The pain and terror worked its way out of my emotional body, another layer released, my frustration and anger dissolved.
I slept like a baby that night…for the four hours they let us sleep.
CEREMONY 2, Takalik Abaj
I felt calm and peaceful (and hungry) as we entered into the sacred Mayan site, Takalik Abaj, an hour or so outside of Quetzaltenango. Our breakfasts had been given away to some people (that’s as much as I know) so we were fasting. There the Mayans were waiting for us to enter ceremony with them. We learned about the Mayan calendar, and they used their mega phone so we all could hear. This ceremony was serious.
I was on my cycle so, to be honest, I couldn't even be near the fire. I sat in meditation on the outside of the circle, on the ground to be with the Mother. This was heaven to me, as I was able to take in the beautiful surroundings and make contact with the Earth. The ceremony went on for I don't know, six hours.
At one point I entered the circle to bring in the energy of my tradition. The energy was so strong. These Mayans could pray like nobody’s business, and all of the elders of this group were extraordinary. I felt great actually, even though I had no food and barely slept. But it took about two minutes before my lip unexplainably started to bleed. I ran out of the circle back to my bag to grab some tissue.
A river of unstoppable blood was pouring out of my lip. It looked like an old injury from childhood had mysteriously re-opened. I’ve been on a lot of sacred trips, and truth be told, I am usually the person that has something physically weird happen to them. It’s par for the course. I’m very empathic.
Shola, jazzed by the ceremonial energy and the power of the fire, went into medicine woman mode, and quickly returned to me with the leaves from the black pepper tree, to cauterize the wound. Then, a kind doctor appeared and told me to put pressure on it. As I sat there, a large, white spider skeleton fell on me. Shola got very excited and ran to Tata, asking him what it meant! He said, “white spider brings emotional stability in relationships and protection!” SCORE!
She brought candles to me, and I prayed into them, and she brought them to the fire with the spider, BURN! The fire went crazy as the women danced around it, it became like a controlled serpent, dancing with the women. These ladies were powerhouses, welcome to the New World!
We returned to our beloved Guatemala City that night for dinner, and were greeted by nice gentlemen with machine guns at the restaurant. While standing on the dinner line, my lip exploded again. This time the kind doctor had more time with me and was able to explain what was going on. There was a broken vein and I should probably get surgery, but for now just keep putting pressure on it for 30 minutes and I should be fine. Cool. After dinner, we went back to the same hotel in the same dangerous neighborhood, and had to re-check in to different rooms, and the whole process had to happen again. 240 exhausted people trying to get rooms, one by one, passport by passport.
After a few hours of sleep, we woke up to Dec 20th and hopped on the buses for our 10 hr drive to the jungle. As we collectively threw out our boxed breakfasts of Wonderbread with butter and American cheese (prison food, as one student called it), I gratefully chowed on my powerbar. The bus ride was fun, filled with songs and laughter and even a little bit of sleeping.
CEREMONY 3, Quiriguá
On our way to Flores, the town closest to Tikal, we stopped at the ancient city of Quiriguá for ceremony. This one was only two hours long and included Aztec dancing and a pipe ceremony. It was really beautiful. While consciously I didn’t always know what was going on during these ceremonies, I could feel our karma being burned out on all levels. These ceremonies work deep on the ancestral levels. The elders didn’t miss a beat with their dedication, and the group was focused and devoted. I felt a lot of gratitude for everyone, despite the organizational debacle that was every other moment.
On our way out, the band of starving pilgrims noticed that there were several local food vendors. Was it a mirage? There were fresh tortillas, beans, avocados and juices! The group ate and ate. I bought extra empanadas for my secret food stash.
Right after the whole group stuffed themselves, we drove a little further to a beautiful spot right on a lake in a four star hotel…for dinner.
We were then informed, through the grapevine, that we would not be stopping in Flores to go to our hotels and rest, but we would go immediately to Tikal (about three hours away), and wait in the bus for hours instead to enter the park at three AM - and from this point on we would be fasting again. We needed to pack a small bag for Tikal because we would be in ceremony inside the pyramid for an undetermined amount of time, perhaps for more than a day. I allowed myself a small freak out, and then just laughed as I packed my bag, knowing Great Spirit would be taking care of me, and that I would get a good article out of this.
I tried unsuccessfully to sleep on the bus. I suppose there was some nervous anticipation for this grand event. I also was hoping to meet up with my two dear brothers (spiritual family, affectionately called “the bros”) who had ninjad their way to Tikal on public buses from Mexico and Costa Rica so we could all be together for the 21st. In fact, I was really most excited about seeing them because one look at them and I would be home.
CEREMONY 4, Tikal:
We arrived at Tikal, ready for spiritual action. My heart was beating fast. We walked into the park in silence, women on the left, men on the right. It was pitch black, and I felt the sacred energies flowing through our dedicated group. After 20 minutes we arrived at the great plaza. I was looking for the bros, but what I saw was what looked like a party on the lawn. There were red lights shining on Temple One, the largest pyramid. Marimbas were playing, alcohol was being served, trash was on the ground, generators had been brought in, and tents were everywhere. We kept walking. We were supposed to go into the pyramid, we had an appointment and everything! But we kept walking, slowly.
While everyone was partying, we were taking ourselves very seriously. We stood out like sore thumbs as all 240 of us walked in procession to our unknown destination. I thought for sure the bros would see us, but they were nowhere to be found. I was a little crestfallen.
Another 20 minutes of walking slowly and we arrived at our destination in the Lost Worlds, the oldest part of the park with very pristine energy. We gathered in a circle around a Mayan altar and began a fire ceremony.
This was it. It was December 21st, 2012. It had been one of the craziest weeks of my life, where I completely surrendered my personal will and stayed in connection with myself. I thought I had done an amazing job. I was going to make this ceremony count. As I sat down, I was ready for anything. We called in the directions. I sat down to pray with the best intentions, but instead completely passed out on the ground!
Three hours later I was awakened by a Mayan stepping on me, who was not a part of our group. He was frantically looking for something. I realized I had been sleeping and the sun was about to rise. The ceremony was still in full force, but where were my friends? I had to find them!
I started walking, and went to the top of a nearby temple and sat in meditation. I wanted a chance to feel, I was so tired and I wanted to be held. I wanted my bros, my family. I wanted to feel our group heart. I felt gratitude that I even had such a thing. I knew that I would find them, I just needed the space to feel.
At that point the Mayan that stepped on me came over. I asked him if he found what he was looking for.
He replied, “What I am looking for are people who still believe. People who know that a new world is here, that love is the way. I am looking for people who understand that the Maya did not disappear, but we are alive. I am looking for people who see through the illusion.”
I replied, “I understand.”
“Here is the place where medicine men have done their prayers for thousands of years, where you are sitting. And so I have found what I am looking for.”
Then he walked away.
I was grateful for this one moment of sacred magic I experienced during the one moment I had alone all week. I finished my prayers and returned to the ceremonial circle. When I looked to the right, my bro Truth was standing next to me. I have never been so happy to see anyone in my life. We hugged and laughed and took a walk so we could swap stories and find Apollo, my other bro-loved. Apollo had gotten lost a few hours earlier, so we used our hearts to find him.
We found him at the great plaza, surrounded by marimba music and dance. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone happier to see me! We all hugged for a long time. Then we went to the top of another temple and shared stories while we ate my empanadas. The uniform started coming off.
Apollo was in shock from coming all this way from Costa Rica to arrive at a party at the plaza. The scene there was nothing like what we had talked about. We wanted to be in this ecstatic, meditative bliss where we felt the veils lift and the angels sing in international and multidimensional communion, but people were drunk!
Instead of the upper worlds coming down in a crash to enlighten us, the lower worlds came up and partied! They say Temple 1 is the gateway to the underworld, it might be true. We found out later that the president of Guatemala had decided to throw a party at the last minute! He knew full well why people from all over the world were going there and changed the game. Well played Presidente Otto Perez Molina, well played.
This was one of the biggest Cosmic Jokes, or COJOs, we had ever experienced. I’m not sure we were ready to laugh quite yet. I knew, sitting there on top of this ancient temple, feeling a little torn apart and beaten down, that it was all perfect. Because here we were being with all of it: the desire and connection to spirit, the reality of humanity, and the love in our hearts for each other.
We rejoined the group, and after several more hours, loaded up the buses to go to Flores. The bros took a public bus and got there in 40 minutes. I took the group bus and arrived three hours later. Our wonderful and patient bus driver dropped me in the little island town of Flores having no idea where my hotel was. I asked four people and got four different answers that all led to nowhere.
It was getting dark, I was in the middle of this town with my bags having no idea where to go. Once again I needed to find my bros. I went into my heart and started walking. At that moment they were doing the same thing. We practically walked right into each to each other. They told me they found out my hotel was in the neighboring town, aka, the ghetto, which we had driven through on the way there.
No way was I going there, and who knows if it was actually there anyway. The uniform was off, and I had had enough. The bros told me there were no rooms available in all of Flores. Bullshit. I walked into a hotel and got a room immediately for 12 dollars. We went out to dinner and our dear Shola walked by. I asked her to tell the New York leaders that I would be with the bros from now on, we only had one more night anyway. I would have told them myself but I had no idea where they were.
After the best night of sleep of my entire life, we took a bus back down to Guatemala City. On those ten wild hours on the overstuffed, public Guatemalan bus, we shared everything and started laughing, admitting we were being hazed, initiated, and most definitely we would be better people because of it.
When we arrived in Guatemala City, we were very close to the group’s hotel, I shuddered as I looked around at the neighborhood. The taxi driver told us it wasn’t safe for us to be there and drove us an hour away to magical Antigua, where he personally found us a great hotel for practically nothing. We had picked up some amazing, angelic brothers on the bus ride so they were with us too.
SAN MARCOS, LAKE ATITLAN
I still had another week in Guatemala in the spiritual community of San Marcos on Lake Atitlan, Apollo was coming with me, and Truth would be in Panajachel across the lake, working to set up for a music festival. After a wonderful morning in Antigua we took the bus to San Marcos, three hours away.
I heard later that the New York leaders were unhappy with me, and this was very painful for me as I felt I wasn’t being taken care of and did the best for myself. Maybe this went against their code of conduct, but it became the theme of what I worked on for the week: How can I love myself through my choices of self-care, even if I let others down? I had never walked off a trip before, and I have to say, as an adult, it was extremely empowering to do so. As a teenager I didn’t have that power. I changed the game and it felt good.
From that point forward, I was in integration mode. I worked with an amazing psycho-spiritual counselor named Keith, the Cacao Shaman, who leads cacao ceremonies with therapeutic group process work, much like I did in my training. It was amazing, the deepest work of the whole trip. I am still receiving benefits from what I got from his ceremony and learning to love myself more. The world, culture, family, and spiritual traditions can all teach you that your physical needs are unimportant. I disagree. Safety, practicality, sleep, and healthy food whenever possible, are all very important.
Of course, even though I booked a week alone in San Marcos, I ended up there with Apollo, and 30 or so members of the group who found their way there as well. In the new world, we don’t do things alone! We all had a good time laughing and decompressing.
GOOD BYE GUATEMAYA
I had a beautiful week in San Marcos, and I couldn’t have been more excited to get home to my beautiful life in New York. I returned to a peaceful, quiet, snowy landscape as my close friends and I shared the Gregorian New Year by the woodstove in Woodstock, NY.
I was so grateful for the work that was done on our behalf by the elders as well as the focused dedication of the group. 2012 seemed like a distant memory as so much density was burned out through the fires, leaving us free and clear to live our passions. The Mayans and elders left us with a message. They told us that we have the keys to the new ceremonies, to keep doing what we are doing. Everything was new, and to trust ourselves. These elders were truly the best.
2013 so far feels integrated and grounded, not at all what I thought. I feel more present than ever, more excited than ever and more able to be in life, with all its ups and downs, than ever. As I talk to many they are feeling the same way. Living in our hearts at the beginning of this baktun means being able to experience the upper and lower worlds in harmony in the center of our being, to make sure we laugh, and to love each other through it all.
(c) CC Treadway, 2013. All rights reserved.