Honoring nature: Manitou hosts Mayan fire ceremony

Tuesday November 27, 2012

WILLIAMSVILLE -- This year is an important one in the Mayan calendar.

A fire ceremony is lined up for the first week of December to discuss 2012, pray and make offerings.

"It's a unique experience," said Wendy Redlinger, a supporter of the event. "You tap into the spiritual energy of the Mayan tradition in a very visceral way. The antiquity of this gives you a sense of being in touch and being in sync with nature."

On Dec. 2, the Manitou Project will host revered elder Mayan Nana Mercedes Longfellow, teacher and healer, who will lead a Mayan Fire Ceremony, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. She travels throughout the world, teaching workshops and giving spiritual counsel.

People will sit around a fire circle led by Longfellow. It will include an honoring of the quality of the days of the Mayan Calendar and it involves offerings to the fire.

"She's a very special being, and it's always a privilege to be in her presence," said Redlinger.

This year is particularly interesting, as it is the year the Mayans predicted would be the end of an era. Longfellow will discuss what the year was like for her and what she thinks about the predictions for 2012 made by her ancestors from ancient Mayan civilization.

"This ceremony is unchanged for centuries," Redlinger said. "So there's a lot of energy in it. And Mercedes is a wonderful interpreter of this tradition."

A group prayer will occur and the event will happen, rain, snow or shine. There also will be a potluck dinner.

Redlinger has been involved in ceremonies like this for about 25 years. She said the first one was in 1991. Longfellow has been to Manitou several times before this year.

There have been three in Guilford and a few in Massachusetts and Redlinger has even gone to Guatemala to join Longfellow in the ancient Tikal.

"It's obviously something very deep," Redlinger said. "It's a very, very basic honoring of nature and Mother Earth and that's very important to me."

Redlinger used to be on the board at Manitou, which works on projects based on the theme "Community with Nature," on a 300-acre preserve at 300 Sunset Lake Rd.

The ceremony will begin with a meeting at the Manitou parking lot at 10 a.m. and there is a suggested donation of $20.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com.


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