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Harmonic Convergence at Mt. Shasta : New Age Dawning on Fewer Than Expected

Times Staff Writer

The early turnout was lighter than expected as New Age celebrants gathered to resonate and meditate here as part of the worldwide Harmonic Convergence that was to begin at sunrise today.

The two-day happening has been hailed as everything from “the dawn of a new age” as foreseen by the Mayans and other ancient cultures to “typical summer madness.” It is supposed to be the first time in 23,412 years that the planets are so aligned as to produce a cleansing energy. Believers say that humanity’s failure to seize this cosmic opportunity would be catastrophic.

Towering Mt. Shasta, in Northern California’s lightly populated Siskiyou County, is regarded by believers as a “power point” for the cosmic event. Celebrants on the mountain, and at other similarly designated sites around the world, were expected to hold hands and hum as they contemplate the long-awaited planetary purification.

Other Convergence Spots

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Other gathering spots, described as the equivalent of earthly acupuncture points, include New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon; the Grand Canyon; Haleakala, Hawaii; Machu Picchu, Peru; the Pyramids of Egypt; Mt. Olympus in Greece and Mt. Fuji in Japan. They were expected to attract hundreds of thousands of participants.

About 1,000 people were scattered among five major camps and smaller encampments on Mt. Shasta’s slopes Friday night, and another 1,000 packed the mountain area’s 15 hotels, lodges and private campgrounds, officials said. Initial reports said that as many as 150,000 were expected, said Ron Otrin, a Forest Service reserve officer.

The turnout was similar in Chaco Canyon, N.M., where organizers said thousands of people were expected to show up today but the park service estimated Saturday afternoon that just 800 had gathered.

Rumors that Mt. Shasta was to be closed to celebrants may have contributed to a smaller-than-expected turnout, Otrin said. He denied assertions by celebrants that the Forest Service had deliberately circulated reports that the mountain would be closed from sundown to sunup.

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“I’m not sure how that rumor got out,” he said. “If we’re at fault, we certainly didn’t put it out on purpose.”

Rangers Relieved

Still, he acknowledged, the rangers were relieved by the light turnout. If nighttime crowds had exceeded 5,000, the Forest Service probably would have closed the road to the mountaintop to protect delicate plant life in the higher meadows, he said.

Expresses Pleasure

Nevertheless, Daniel Zelinger, a volunteer at the Harmonic Convergence office in town, could barely keep up with the constantly ringing telephone and a steady stream of visitors asking about weekend events. He expressed delight at the turnout.

Volunteers working in the month-old office held no expectations about crowd size, he said. They were perfectly content, he said, with the numbers of participants.

But A.M.S. Health Food owner Pat, who declined to give her last name, said her overstocked shelves of organic fruits and vegetables may rot before the week is out. The rumors had diverted people to other holy sites or had convinced them to converge in their own backyards, she said.

Still, she said, “business is pretty darned good.”

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