Cosmic Convergence Festival is an annual gathering incorporating art, music, education for conscious living, and Mayan culture & traditions. It is a convergence of past, present, and future, envisioning the new paradigm of a technological-tribal society that is becoming more tangible each day.
The objective is to expose the attendees to ancestral and post-industrial ways of living in order to provoke a shift in consciousness to rethink what lifestyles are possible in post-2012 reality. The gathering forms part of an ongoing international tribal revival.
The event is 100% non-profit and all proceeds go towards supporting social projects on Lake Atitlan, where we work with indigenous communities to grow a greener future.
Keyframe caught up with Cosmic Convergence founder and co-producer David Casey to discuss festival history, music and upcoming projects.
Keyframe: Tell us about how Cosmic Convergence came to be.
David Casey: Cosmic Convergence began six years ago as “Universal Dance Guatemala.” It was a gathering between friends in a very special place – Lake Atitlan. We came together to celebrate the turning of the calendar year, and honor the ancestral Mayan culture that thrives in this sacred land even today. Slowly the event grew, and on the eve of December 2012, we decided to give it a new name – the Cosmic Convergence, to symbolize the turning of the Mayan calendar and the encounter of so many different elements of past, present, and future.
Today, Cosmic Convergence is a collaborative effort of a number of different organizations, including Conscious Convergence, Nutricosmica, Maya Cosmos, CONSORCIO de Mujeres de Santiago Atitlan, ImagineX Productions, Chichicaste, and more.
The festival is located in Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan. How does that impact the whole experience? How might it differ if the location were to change?
Lake Atitlan contains the spirit of the festival. Atitlan is a volcanic crater lake. In other words, it is an imploded volcano that became a lake, and today it is surrounded by three young volcanoes. It is a surreal site. It has been inhabited by a fiercely independent Mayan people for centuries, and they have successfully resisted Spanish colonial rule and modern-day CIA-backed Guatemalan government invasions. The spirit and feeling of Lake Atitlan is unique on this earth, and there could not be a Cosmic Convergence separate from this Lake.
Paint a picture for us of what a day at the festival might be like. What might attendees experience?
The festival is a mix of international and local culture, of past and future elements. The activities are as diverse as kirtan sound healing, sacred fire ceremonies and medicinal plant walks with Mayan elders, workshops on permaculture and appropriate technology, networking sessions with local social enterprises and non-profits, an art gallery with many local and international visionary artists represented, a visually mapped temple where Mayan patterns are projected, and live and electronic music from around the world.
The nature is absolutely stunning, and many attendees spend time in silent witness of the surrounding volcanic beauty.
Tell us about the Transformational Journeys.
The Transformational Journeys are a series of tours, retreats, workshops, and other opportunities to continue and deepen in the journey of transformation. The journeys are themed, and include visits to Mayan archeological ruins, personal development retreats, and a permaculture immersion in the Maya heartland (https://www.facebook.com/events/788108384649759/). This event is featured in a current crowdfunding campaign of my other project – NuMundo (http://igg.me/at/numundo). The Transformational Journeys are produced by Cosmic Convergence staff and community. Guatemala is an incredibly rich place, both culturally and ecologically, and we really want to share this richness with those visiting from outside the country.
What inspires your booking programming?
We look for artists whose music connects to ancestral and ethnic musical traditions. We go for organic and tribal sounds, and like to work with artists who really understand and connect to our vision – experimenting and celebrating a future tribal society.
We try to focus our booking on local and regional artists to support the local scene. The majority of our artists come from Guatemala, Mexico, and Costa Rica, as well as the majority of our attendees.
We try to mix up the lineup and keep it fresh, so we’re always looking for (and discovering) new acts that most people haven’t heard of.
What is the music represented at Cosmic Convergence or how would you describe the music range of the festival?
We have a very wide range of music at Cosmic Convergence, and it is ever-expanding. We have local Mayan traditional marimba music, kirtan singing, reggae, ska, cumbia, as well as various forms of electronic music such as sacred/global bass, downtempo. In general, the music is psychedelic and integrates ethnic and ancestral vibrations. The artists we book are focused on raising consciousness through sound. The primary musical offering is psychedelic trance, a modern version of an ancient tribal ritual of communal celebration and ego-dissolution through all-night ceremonies revolving around a repetitive drum beat to induce individuals into a frenzied trance.
What do you look for in potential performers? Any advice on what can enhance the chance of being booked?
Versatility – artists that can play a set on the psytrance stage and another one on the bass/downtempo stage.
Vision – artists who use music as a tool to reconnect us to our ancestral roots, and who connect to our social mission of creating positive social impact on the local community level through a festival and through service.
Humility – artists who are human being first, and artists second. We have dealt with a few artists who think they’re amazing, so we no longer have the stomach to work with these kinds of celebrities, even if they have a large following.
Which artists are performing for the first time this year? Why? (What prompted you to book them?)
Hedflux is playing for his first time. We’ve wanted to book him for a long time and now he lives locally so it worked out! He can play two great sets, one on the trance stage and the other on the bass/downtempo stage, so this is always something we look for in an artist!
Living Light is playing for her first time this year. We are very excited about her music because it weaves ancestral sounds from India and the Middle East beautifully, and she has a following in the yoga community who make up a good proportion of our attendees. She’s teaching a yoga class, playing the sunrise set on January 1st, and opening the psytrance stage with a deep trance set!
Merkaba/Kalya Scintilla – We booked him last year, but international visa issues prevented him from playing. He is the perfect act since his music is the epitome of the ancient future sound (he even uses those terms himself), he has an international following among the psychedelic trance community, and the West Coast bass folks are more familiar with his downtempo act – Kalya Scintilla. So he can rock both of the main stages, something that is rare for an artist.
How has the festival changed since its inception?
The festival has grown in numbers and it has grown in diversity. It started with only one stage, and 24 hours of nonstop trance music. Now we have so many different genres of music, different kinds of folks who show up from rainbow family to punk and goth to circus folk to shanti yogis and meditators to Burners and techies and all different sorts of people who appreciate arts and culture.
The social mission has become more clear, and the festival has expanded its local work in the community that hosts us. We now have Mayan community partners who provide food for the festival staff and volunteers through a traditional Mayan kitchen with ancestral cuisine.
Although I’ve yet to make the pilgrimage to Boom Festival, I’ve been told it’s like a mini-version of that event.
Which artists would you like to see booked in the future?
Shpongle/Hallucinogen, Hilight Tribe, Beatfarmer, Ekoplex, Nickodemus, Yage, Whitebear, Grouch, Matanza, Ana Tijoux, Rising Appalachia, Lulacruza, Ovnimoon, Nicola Cruz.
What do you envision the future of the festival to be?
The festival will continue to diversify and grow, while retaining its core roots and vision. We are working with more and more production teams from across Latin America (shout out to Ometeotl – Mexico, Kupuri – Mexico Geoparadise Tribal Gathering – Panama, Festival de la Tierra – Colombia), and the festival is becoming a place where the Latin American festival community comes together to create and network.
We plan to connect with new subcultures in Guatemala and in the region, such as the circus & performing arts community and the startup technology scene.
We plan to expand our social impact projects in the Atitlan communities, and further integrate the festival with Mayan culture, ceremony, and tradition while finding more ways that the festival can directly benefit the local community financially.
What are some of your ongoing and/or upcoming projects?
Right now, my big focus is NuMundo (www.numundo.org). We’ve launched a platform to connect people to transformational experiences all over the world, including many experiences in Guatemala. It’s like a global digitalized version of the Transformational Journeys series. NuMundo’s network is made up of indigenous communities, ecovillages, and permaculture education centers – where past and future meet to seed a regenerative culture.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Cosmic Convergence is looking for more international involvement from Europe and Latin America, so connect with us!
Get your Cosmic Convergence tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cosmic-convergence-2015-tickets-17596229797
Browse the website: http://cosmicconvergencefestival.org/home-eng/
David Casey – NuMundo Indiegogo campaign: http://igg.me/at/numundo/