Shamanic Rituals and the Power of Belief

“Roads to Adventure” text and photos by Thor Janson (fb.com/nubliselva) The fabric of Mayan life is embedded with a vibrational tonality unique to its culture. Mayan America exists as a parallel reality alongside and surrounded by Latin America, it is a realm where magic and the supernatural thrive as a part of everyday life. Everywhere, just beneath the surface of […]

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Smilax

Smilax

An ethnobotanical with interesting properties Smilax is a crucial ingredient in Mayan ethnobotanical recipes, both from Guatemala and Mexico. However, it is notable that, in general, Mayanists know very little about this seemingly bizarre plant. I have studied plants of the Maya since the 1970s, and I must admit I never heard of this plant until four years ago. And […]

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Rab’inal Achí

Cosmic Dance of the Ancient Maya The Rab’inal Achí dance-drama traces its roots to pre-Columbian times and is probably the best-preserved, authentic Mayan cultural event in Mesoamerica. The choreographed dance/play depicts creation myths, dynastic political rivalries and even predicted the Spanish conquest of the land of the Maya centuries before it occurred. Since remote times the Maya used musical theater […]

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Q & A with Dr. Marion Popenoe Hatch

Parque Nacional Tak’alik Ab’aj by Tomas Cernikovsky Parque Nacional Tak’alik Ab’aj (TA), a Mayan site on the South Coast of Guatemala, is unusual in two ways. It is the only site in the Mayan world that displays both Olmec and Mayan monuments concurrently and it has been continuously under exploration by Guatemalan archaeologists. At a well-reported press conference in October, […]

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Yaxhá and Topoxte

Land of the Blue Green Water and Ramon Seed in El Petén Here we are, December 2012, the end of the great Mayan calendar cycle, known as 13 Baktun. Many people will be visiting Guatemala this month to make the pilgrimage to Tikal in El Petén to celebrate the actual day on Dec. 21, the winter solstice. However, I would […]

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Paab’ Ank

The Traditional Mayan Feast Central to the life of each and every Mayan community in Guatemala are the activities of the cofradía, the traditional religious-political brotherhood, which is in reality a parallel government with its own elected officials and mayors. In many respects the cofradía has more authority than the “official” federal government. It is the cofradía that organizes and […]

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Shamans, Witches and Maya Priests

As the end of the Mayan long count calendar, 2012 has received much recent media attention. Is it receiving the same degree of attention from today’s Maya priests? An emphatic “no” is the answer from Krystyna Deuss, author of Shamans, Witches and Maya Priests. Deuss has spent much of the past 30 years observing and befriending today’s practitioners of Mayan […]

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Weaving a History

The weaving tradition expresses that past and the world view, full of symbolism which connects the Maya to all of creation. (photo by Rudy A. Girón)

At the beginning of time, according to ancient Mayan legend, the gods from their center spun out the cosmos, setting in place the universe. The corn god laid out the four corners and erected the World Tree in the center, from whose branches grew one of everything to come. When they became too full, the ‘fruit’ fell, scattering seeds. The […]

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Apocalypse Not

The 2012 phenomenon by Kevin García On December 21st, 2012 the ancient Mayan Long Count Calendar will complete a 5,125-year cycle. A New Age interpretation of this transition posits that during this time Earth and its inhabitants may undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation, and that 2012 may mark the beginning of a new era. Others suggest that the […]

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Maximón

Maximón ceremony in San Lucas Tolimán by Thor Janson

Mayan Patron Saint is an enigma text and photos by Thor Janson www.bushmanollie.com There is not a town or village in the entire Mayan Highlands where the presence of Maximón is not being asserted. Although the guide books for many years have only listed three Maximón shrines—San Andrés Itzapa, Zunil and Santiago Atitlán—there are literally thousands of Maximón temples and […]

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Guatemala’s Unique Chachales

Red beads have long held a certain fascination not just here but around the world.

A second word is chachal, Quiché for necklace. The evolution of chachales in Guatemala is a fascinating tale of history, economics and anthropology. At the time of the Conquest, Guatemala’s indigenous prized red coral as component in necklaces. As easily recoverable near-shore coral became scarce, sharp traders, chiefly in Europe, manufactured substitutes and introduced them into Guatemala as trade goods. These were almost but not always red, apparently to satisfy taste here and elsewhere.

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Adopt-a-Village in Guatemala

The Mayan Center, a residential high school being built on a mountaintop in the rainforest of northwest Guatemala, will serve two dozen villages.

Adopt-a-Village in Guatemala partners with Mayan villages in the remote northwest corner of the country, where there are virtually no public services, secondary schools or other aid organizations providing consistent support. At the urging of village leaders, AAV focuses primarily on orphans and the children of widows who have few resources to support their families. Mission: To empower the Mayan […]

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La Profecía Maya 2012

Ballet Folklórico dancers perform a dance of symbolic rebirth (photo: Georgeann Johnson)

Written by Elizabeth Hart – photos: Georgeann Johnson It may be difficult to find friends and family outside of Guatemala who know much about the Mayan calendar. But here, the calendar—and especially the significance of its end date in 2012—are regular topics of conversation, as Guatemala’s ancient history was likely a part of the original intrigue for many of us. […]

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