LOS ANGELES (RNS) — This past weekend, a crowd of several thousand people gathered in downtown Los Angeles to meditate. They carried drums and hoops and wore feathers and face paint. A shirtless man spun around, waving a bundle of smoky sage, while another delivered blasts on a huge Tibetan horn. Some lay on their backs, others rocked back and forth, saying silent prayers.
A woman sat in a lotus position on a raised stage, flanked by geodes, offering a bit of instruction. “You are a true love warrior,” she told the gathering.
Then, continuing with a singsong timbre: “Feel the consciousness of humanity evolving, we-evolving together as this beautiful energy grows, creating a giant heart wave that spreads across the planet, inspiring a we-evolution of heart-centered consciousness.
She whispered wordlessly into the microphone, “Shwoo-oooo-shwoo-oooo.”
That ceremony was the centerpiece of an event known as DisclosureFest, an annual one-day gathering at the Los Angeles State Historic Park that came back to life Saturday, June 18 after two years of pandemic breakups. The event is equal parts a musical carnival, a mystical be-in and a meeting of exchange of goods. And, held in this fertile crescent of spiritual curiosity seeking, it offers a pulse on the changing moods and appetites of the freewheeling New Age marketplace.
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At the end of the ritual, a man named Joshua Zain cradled a plastic jar of stones for purchase, labeled as crystals from the lost civilization of Lemuria. “Put your hands on it,” he offered, “and feel what speaks to you.”
Musical performances and DJs performed throughout the day, and themed tents were scattered under which speakers discussed topics such as geodesic domes, medicinal herbs and cosmic stargates. At one o’clock, Eric Rankin, radio host and guest on Ancient Aliens, stood barefoot on stage in front of a Casio keyboard.
He referred to writer Joseph Campbell and the Dolphin Communiques before describing harmonic patterns he says were seeded into the world long ago by extraterrestrials. “These visitors from heaven gave us keys, codes and clues,” he said.
Then he put his hands on the keys. A discordant sound came out. “You have never Heard this chord before.
The main event, billed as the Mass Meditation Initiative, began in the early afternoon heat. Such synchronous rituals, heralded as ushering in demonstrable changes in the world, have many precedents among New Agers and their spiritual ancestors. In the 1930s, the mail-order group New Thought Psychiana recruited members into a campaign to bring about the downfall of Adolf Hitler through daily affirmation and visualization. Transcendental meditation became popular in the 1960s and 1970s and claimed a quantifiable reduction in crime through the recitation of mantras. In 1987, a global campaign called Harmonic Convergence made headlines and drew record crowds to places like Stonehenge and Machu Picchu to usher in a new era of happiness through community sunrise watching.
One of DisclosureFest’s claims to fame, included in video montages of its inaugural meeting, in 2017, is that mysterious lights materialized overhead with the help of a professional UFO summoner. .
Star Sansader, a poet present, recalled this event with emotion. Did he think they would come back this year? “I would like them to land, and I would say, ‘Give me a free ride to a paradise planet. “”
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The festival is the brainchild of a former concert organizer named Adrian Vallera, who says he received heavenly instruction to start the nonprofit that organizes the fairs and which has grown to organize neighborhood clean-ups, soup kitchens and workshops for young people. The group meditation theme varies each year, conveyed via more spiritual inspiration to Vallera. (This season: “Healing all timelines by tapping into our pure inner child.”)
Vallera thinks some of the attendees are metaphysical newbies when they walk through the door, and he’s proud of the reports he receives of transformed lives here. He assessed, “People are really activating their dormant ascension keys.”
The coronavirus years have taken their toll on the New Age circuit. As virus counts increased in the summer of 2020, DisclosureFest closed in-person and held an online version. In 2021, it held a limited-capacity release at a private site. (This year, in a first, the event charged an entry fee starting at $55.) Meanwhile, QAnon and related conspiracy theories have been circulating, blending seamlessly into a medium where claims of esoteric knowledge are the currency of the kingdom. Dozens of wellness influencers and micro-celebrities have urged fans to seek health within and avoid the vaccine at all costs.
The pandemic remained a motif at this year’s DisclosureFest, as presenters incorporated themes about COVID-19 into their discussions.
A speaker named Lori Spagna (references: “Warrior of Consciousness, Bridger of Time-Space-Dimensions-Realities, Connector of All That Is”) stood in a tent and gave a talk, dueling to the sounds of Bob Marley drifting from a nearby dance session.
Spagna moved on about vaccines and testing. She said, “What’s a nose swab for?” DNA harvest.
…don’t worry, for one thing…
“A jab is designed to disrupt your natural immunity,” she continued.
… Every little thing, it will be fine…
“You already have everything you need,” Spagna said, raising his voice. “Only a vibration away.”
Organizers said the number of attendees in recent years had risen to 20,000. This year attracted only a fraction — Vallera estimated between 6,000 and 8,000 — but business was still buzzing. Among the dozens of tables: Etheric Body Work (“2$ minute”); Crystal Enhancements (“crystal energies align with your matrix”); BioHarmonic Technologies (“change your vibe, change your life”); iPyramids (“quantum vortex therapy”); Emerald Orgone (“Protects the aura and subtle bodies”) or Sacred Spirit Services (“channeled oracle readings”).
Greta Foster waited patiently at her booth, labeled Pineal Activation, selling sessions in a pulsed light contraption meant to evoke visionary experiences, including an option called Angelic Bliss Journey. After completing a treatment, a blonde woman named Melissa Hope stood up from the machine and took a hesitant step. She said: “I saw fractals and patterns and it was like I was inside.”
As the sun set, the crowds thinned out and most of the merchants packed their bags. No ships appeared in the darkened sky, but some vendors lit lamps to light the way. Near the exit, a vaudeville number with a rap puppet performed for the stragglers, who danced and twirled to the beat of the music.
“I love consciousness events,” said one artist. “You are on this.”
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