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Sewickley native participates in world event in Mexico

| Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, 8:59 p.m.
Sewickley native Judy Merrick poses in front of a Mayan temple in December.
Sewickley native Judy Merrick poses in front of a Mayan temple in December. Submitted
Judy Merrick
Judy Merrick

Judy Merrick said every moment of her experiences at the three-day AscenDance/Synthesis 2012 event in Mexico was well worth the rehearsals she missed for her new New York play.

The event, a global gathering, world music festival and spiritual celebration hosted by Mayan elders, wisdom keepers and event producers, was held in Piste Pueblo, near the Mayan ruins of the sacred grounds of Chichén Itzá in the Yucatan Peninsula.

Thousands of people gathered to celebrate the winter solstice, Dec. 21, when the Earth, the sun, and the solar system came into alignment with the exact centerline of the Milky Way, the galactic equator.

This galactic alignment occurs only once every 26,000 years, and is what the ancient Maya were pointing to with their 2012 end date of the Long Count calendar, according to the website,

Merrick, 31, a Quaker Valley graduate who has been a member of The Amoralists theater group in New York City for seven years, said the belief that the Mayans were predicting the end of the world in 2012 is not true.

Dec. 21, 2012, was the end of the Mayan's calendar, when a new age and a new level of consciousness begins.

“It marks the end of the non-time and the beginning of time. It is the end of selfishness and the beginning of brotherhood. It is the end of individualism and the beginning of collectivism…the end of hatred and the beginning of love. The end of lies and the beginning of truth. It is the end of sadness and the beginning of joy. It is the end of division and the beginning of unity…” Merrick said, reading part of President Evo Morales of Bolivia's speech to the United Nations in September.

While at the event, Merrick participated in a candlelighting ceremony just before sunrise to synchronize with winter solstice and the galactic alignment. At the same time, others around the world also lit candles with the unified intention to “illuminate the world with the light of unity.”

Merrick said events were held at the same time at Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England, and at the Egypt Giza pyramids.

While at the festival, Merrick visited the Chichen Itza complex, a popular archeological site in Mexico and the epicenter of Mayan cosmology, and The Kukulkan Pyramid in Chichen-Itza, known as “El Castillo” (the castle). Merrick also went to the event to visit her brother, George Wesley, 43, known as Neptune, who lives in San Francisco. He was a disc jockey for the event and has done similar work for “love” festivals all over the world. In Mexico, he, along with other musicians, was featured at a replica of the Mayan pyramid.

Builders created the AscenDance Pyramid to give participants the opportunity to ascend the pyramid, to step through two portals “to release stagnant energy constructs that will no longer serve their higher purpose in the new paradigm” and to dance.

“It was once in a thousand lifetimes to be in the spot at that time with those people,” Merrick said.

“I was affected tremendously. The energy and love and freedom was everywhere around me and within me. I let go of my selfishness and embraced oneness,” she said.

“And the love that was felt and given to me is something I will hold with and take back to New York and funnel it into my art and my friends and my life. I feel revitalized and blessed.”

After the festival, Merrick, a 2007 American Academy of Dramatic Arts graduate and 2004 University of Southern California graduate with a bachelor's degree in theater, went home to Sewickley to visit her parents, George and Holland Merrick, for Christmas. She ended up missing another day of rehearsal because a snowstorm had canceled buses, trains and planes, she said.

But after her parents agreed to drive her back to New York, she was back the next day as stage manager for Lyle Kessler's “Collision,” which is scheduled to open Jan. 10 in Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.

Because The Amoralists is a self-funded theater company that depends on the generosity of contributors, Merrick, who also has performed in plays in San Francisco, London and Edinburgh, Scotland, said members have to serve in different roles.

So, in addition to acting and stage managing in some of the shows, she also helps with props, directs, produces and is helping to fundraise for the company.

Merrick said she believes the festival has helped her with her work.

“This experience in Mexico only made me grow as an artist with the love and creativeness we as human beings all possess,” she said.

Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or

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