In the Sacred Fire: A Reflection on My Journey to the Guatemala Highlands by Crystal Hawks
The fire's flames rise and fall with the waves of the shining lake behind us. I blink open my eyes to see my husband's shadow overlapping mine on the ground beneath my exposed feet. We left our home in the United States only a short time ago, but the frenetic buzz of city life, deadlines, and to-do lists already feel like a lifetime away. This isn't just a vacation to another country; this is an immersion into a completely different reality-a reality steeped in ancient Mayan fire ceremonies and the rhythms of the sacred Mayan calendar. It's here where fire communicates and heals, a single day stretches into weeks, and boundaries across space and time blur. I ask myself once again the same question I have asked every day since I arrived, "Is this a dream?"
I scan the group of travelers encircling the fire that flashes wildly in the center. We chose to embark on this journey into the Guatemala Highlands together-a journey into the mystery of time outside of time and magical rituals passed down for thousands of years. I've only just met these people, but we've quickly plunged past the superficial minutiae that infuses most early encounters. In fact, we're beyond words at this point. There's no need for stories or opinions anymore. We can simply be together in the eternal present, surrounded by the magnificent energy of Lake Atitlan-an energy that is alive and in deep relationship with all of us. We communicate with one another and with the spirits of this place in a language only understood by the heart. Everything feels the connection to everything else.
Each of us hold a colorful assortment of candles close to our chest and watch the fire's hypnotic dance. A choir of birds sing piercing tunes that reverberate off of the towering volcano that looms in the distance. The Mayan elders chant, lift their gazes to the sun, stretch their arms wide, and then pour forward to feed the fire. I begin to weep. I used to try to fabricate otherworldly experiences like this with mind-bending substances that sent me spinning into altered states. For years, I sought a connection to myself and a greater power, chasing one fleeting experience after another and turning up empty handed every time. Here I am now, years into my healing journey, and I find myself recovering pieces that were lost in the wreckage of my past. Like tectonic plates fusing back together after a thousand years apart, I'm starting to feel my totality-the wholeness of myself and of Spirit.
I walk toward the fire to offer it the bundle of candles that represent all of my fear and pain. The fire doesn't judge the offering. It welcomes everything. A cloud of smoke builds around my body before feathering into tendrils that slowly disappear. Clarity crawls in to illuminate undiscovered corners of my awareness. Restrictive delusions I've held as truths begin to fade, burned by flames and transformed into dissipating smoke. My old lens of seeing the world shatters, and I truly open my eyes for the first time as the smoke clears. When I return to my place in the circle for the final cleansing, the smell of ambrosial incense greets me-signaling that a new beginning has come.
And indeed, a new beginning has come, not just for me, but for all of us. Since the world was set ablaze with the loss, economic uncertainty, and fear of sickness from the COVID-19 Pandemic, we've been in the fire. The time for transmutation has come. The past is behind us. Life will not be the same. We offer the flames our fears, our old and harmful patterns, our hope for a better future. And as the fire casts shadows against the backdrop of a setting sun and purifies past realities, may we embrace the heat and expand.
I invite you to take time to explore how OMEC can support you to transform and expand through programs, books, and projects. We have already accomplished so much in 2020.
The book by Pacific Northwest tribal master-storyteller, Johnny Moses - The Medicine Clothes that Look at the People - listed as #1 New Release in Native American Religion on amazon, is out in August. Pre-order the book now!
Our most recent project contributes to the purchase of fire ceremony supplies for Maya spiritual guides in four distinct regions in the Guatemalan Highlands.
Thank you for supporting The Mayan Sacred Fire Fund.
Your donations help keep the Maya sacred fires burning. Contribute now so OMEC can send funds to purchase supplies for June Solstice Fire Ceremonies in Guatemala.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your interest and, importantly, for your financial support!
From my heart to yours,
Crystal Hawks, OMEC Board Member