Exhibit / July 18, 2019
Object Name: Harmonic Convergence
Maker and Year: José Argüelles, 1987
Object Type: Global event
Image Source: Meditation magazine from Living Purpose Institute, UPI map, CBS Sunday Morning
Description: (Michael Grasso)
In August of 1987, thousands of New Age believers, curious skeptics, and others in search of a weekend road trip gathered at dozens of famous destinations across the globe to celebrate the combination of rare astrological alignment and the (purported) end of a Mayan calendrical cycle. The celebration of this “Harmonic Convergence” was meant to usher in a new age of peace and understanding by gathering a suspiciously Christian-eschatological-sounding 144,000 believers worldwide. The actual event ended up penetrating mainstream American culture’s awareness like few other “esoteric” worship events, solidifying the image of the “New Age” for a generation as well as setting the table for a future esoteric apocalypse… in the year 2012.
The August 16 and 17 dates for the Convergence were developed by a pair of New Age writers and speakers who both began investigating Mayan and other Mesoamerican calendrical systems in the late 1960s and early 1970s. A journalist of Lakota descent named Tony Shearer had left his career in journalism in the late ’60s and turned to Native wisdom to answer a spiritual seeking. In 1971, he published Lord of the Dawn: Quetzalcoatl, a book of Mayan and Aztec mythological poetry and prophecy. In these pages, Shearer examines the chaos of the turbulent events in late-’60s American society (the social upheaval over race, the Vietnam War, and the growing awareness of ecological disaster). Shearer’s verse offers lessons for peace from Mesoamerican myth and a simple, startling prophecy: “Will this Hell ever end? Yes! It will end on August 16, 1987.” A devotee of Shearer’s work named José Argüelles would take this prophecy to heart, holding hope that the end of the nine “hell cycles” Shearer had plotted since the arrival of Hernán Cortés on American shores could lead to a literal New Age that left the horrors of European colonization behind. To that end, Argüelles planned a worldwide spiritual experience for the weekend of August 16-17, to be celebrated at the world’s “power centers”: important natural and man-made sites like Mount Fuji, the Great Pyramids, Machu Picchu, Stonehenge, and Central Park in New York City.
Primary among these power centers was the myth-cloaked volcanic Mount Shasta in northern California. Long believed by both natives and settler Europeans to be a locus of great mystic power, Mount Shasta has loomed large in the mythology of several American mystic groups, including the Rosicrucian order AMORC, other believers in the lost continent of Lemuria, and members of the early-20th century “I AM” Activity. During the Harmonic Convergence, a great and mysterious prodigy appeared near the holy mountain: an “angel” trapped in a television set at the home of local Diane Boettcher. The angel took on huge significance for the Shasta-area Convergence, as pilgrims came to witness the bizarre haunted household appliance, and local mystics identified the angel as a harbinger of the Convergence, the “Angel of the Presence,” who announced through the channeler Solara that “I shall be appearing in many third dimensional guises. Look for me on your computer screens, your television sets, and beaming down from your satellites.”
While Harmonic Convergence gathered its devotees through underground New Age and esoteric media—Shearer’s and Argüelles’s books as well as interviews in venues like Meditation magazine—the event itself did end up attracting a great deal of (bemused) mainstream attention from many major press outlets in the West, including CBS’s Sunday Morning program. The event at Mount Shasta was studied by a pair of skeptic academics local to the Mount Shasta area, who recorded much of the weekend’s activity (including some rare footage of the angel-possessed television) for further study. Argüelles’s prophecies would stretch far past the Harmonic Convergence, as his interpretation of Mesoamerican calendar systems would inform and weave together much of the popular belief around a new age dawning in the year 2012, including feeding into counterculture hero Terence McKenna’s prior prophecy of a 2012 “end date” in his and Dennis McKenna’s 1975 book The Invisible Landscape: Mind, Hallucinogens and the I Ching.