As advertised, the Laarkmaa Heart Gathering, held at La Fonda from April 24 to 26, was a weekend retreat for learning nonverbal communication from an interstellar energy force that speaks in heart songs through hosts Pia Smith Orleane and Cullen Baird Smith. The stated goal was to build a “new dimensional” reality and world community of Light Beings. About 30 people of different ages and races, most of whom were not from Santa Fe, congregated in the New Mexico Room for Orleane and Smith’s Friday-night opening remarks and a question-and-answer session with “Laarkmaa,” who apparently lives in the Pleiades star cluster and accesses Orleane and Smith’s stored vocabularies to communicate. Upon my arrival, the blond-haired, bright-eyed couple approached me, arm in arm, for introductions. Because Orleane and Smith knew I was a reporter there to observe the first evening, they stood close as they shook my hand and thanked me for my interest in their work. I took a seat in the back and was immediately struck by a powerful floral smell. Though the event was supposed to be scent-free, there were several pungent pink-and-white bouquets around the dais, on either side of which stood a banner featuring a picture of Orleane and Smith along with the declaration “We bring wisdom from the stars.”
Santa Fe has long had a reputation as a destination for spiritual transformation. It’s the setting for many institutions and schools promulgating meditation, divination, and holistic healing as well as the birthplace of the I AM movement, the original “ascended-master teachings” operation, which was founded in the 1930s and is considered the precursor of many New Age religions. Over the years, I’ve heard various explanations for why Santa Fe attracts these movements, including that the city is built on a shifting crystal bed functioning as a threshold to other dimensions or that those seeking transformation are drawn here by Native American spirituality. When in Santa Fe, Orleane told the eager attendees, she experiences dimensional shifts, time loss, and parallel realities. Because of this instability, though she and Smith met in Santa Fe a decade ago, Orleane refused to move here when they first got married. But last year a voice told her it was time for them to return. In the intervening years, they’ve lived in Oregon and Arizona, among other places. During that time, they began receiving messages from Laarkmaa, first through a radio but now through the atmosphere. For the process to work, the pair must hold hands.
“Star beings hang out in Santa Fe,” Orleane told us. “The energy of the earth is different here. You can shift to something that’s not exactly third-dimensional reality. Everyone in this room has been called here to find a family and a purpose.” She requested questions, and a young woman asked what the communication they are experiencing from Laarkmaa means for the future. “Human communication is going away,” Orleane explained. “People don’t understand each other anymore, but now we are communicating with animals, fairies, and star babies. The veils are coming down.” We were told not to worry if we started to feel sick or strange, if we needed to laugh or cry — that this is a natural reaction to shifting energy. Chronic-pain sufferers in the audience were made aware that their conditions are not sickness: It’s the body’s way of dealing with the transition to a new reality. Orleane and Smith played off each other as they told stories and acknowledged that something different is going on with the earth now, and those who are perceptive can feel it. The audience murmured its appreciation and understanding.
Before beginning communication with Laarkmaa, Orleane and Smith walked slowly around the room, placing a piece of heart-shaped rose quartz into the cupped hands of each participant. We were assured that the crystals had been asked if they could be cut and used in this manner. I began to feel out of place. The couple’s charisma was lost on me; the information they imparted seemed somewhat childlike in its wonder. But I wanted to hear from Laarkmaa. I wanted to try to experience at least a little of the connection shared by the others in the room. Finally, Orleane and Smith held hands and closed their eyes. They jittered and shook a few times, and then Orleane said, “Hello, dear ones, this is Laar-maa.” (As it turned out, the k is silent.) Laarkmaa talked about energy changing the planet, about heat waves in the ocean and wind moving stagnation, about our loving relationship with the cosmos and dropping old patterns and beliefs in favor of the new reality, and about how we can ascend to this reality without death by merging both our light and physical bodies into a rainbow body.
It was quickly clear that whatever it was that called the hearts of the participants to Santa Fe to witness this was not resonating with me. As attractive as it might be to imagine that I am somehow specially connected to the universe, I felt myself growing more and more distant from what was happening, and it no longer seemed right for me to be there, potentially disturbing the energy they were trying to create. I waited for Laarkmaa to finish answering a question about human choice and the collective unconscious — the answer to which was that history creates a cyclical pattern in humanity, and that we need to break this pattern — before slipping out of the overheated, over-scented room and into the busy chatter of dinner and drinks at La Fonda on a Friday night. Out-of-town and local accents blended into a familiar singsong over the clinking of flatware and margarita glasses in the lobby’s sprawling restaurant. I paused to listen and breathed in as deeply as I could.