Mayan Mysteries – In the Jaws of Kukulkan

labna
On La Ruta Puuc I felt like Indiana Jones ( Labna)

Two years ago I took an in depth trip through the Yucatan. At the time I was just getting interested in photography with my canon power shot.  I  never realized how many photos I had till I began to go through them again recently and revisited some of the incredible places I had photographed.

I walked the old Mayan roads like the Sac Be and La Ruta Puuc.  I fell in love with the mysterious cities, cenotes and caves in the jungle and also with the strangely beautiful names, like Ek Balam (Star Jaguar) Chichen Itza (The Mouth of the Wizard’s Well), and the cave of Lol Tun (Stone Flower).  I have long been fascinated with the  amazing and terrifying Mayan civilization, their glyphs, myths and history and this was a fulfillment of a dream.

Mayanketzal

Labnasepia

I’m always struck with the similarities in myth and spirituality, as Jung and Joseph Campbell (author of The Power of Myth)  called it- the universal and collective unconscious.

jaws of Kukulkan
In the Jaws of Kukulkan

In the Christian Orthodox church it is thought that during the ritual celebration (or sacrifice) of the Mass and especially of the Eucharist, the gates of heaven are open – if only briefly.  In Mayan belief the sacred ritual ball game opened the gates to  Xibalba (the underworld), ready to receive the blood sacrifice.  Xibalba meant “place of fear” and it was the place from where both the gods and men had sprung. Cenotes and caves were thought to be gateways to that world and for that reason they were considered sacred.

mayan ball game 3 monoIn Mayan belief there appears to have been both an underworld and, if you could find it, there was also a road to the sky (or heaven) that the spirit could travel, also depicted as the levels of the great tree whose roots were deep in the earth’s center.  I also find it interesting that “fear” and “awe” can actually be interchangeable though the two words seem almost opposite.

This is the side wall of one of the many ball courts with the goal ring at top. The kings and priests would be standing at the arch watching.  I find it hard to imagine punting a ball through it very easily, especially as they did not use hands or feet, only the hip. The pressure would have been intense considering you might be beheaded or have your heart torn out if you lost.

ballcourts
at Chichen Itza

At any rate there is a Cantina in Yucatan called Xibalba,  (I think more than one)  where they serve the best of Mexican beer.

Thy mysterious cities and temples in the Yucatan and Central America

Everyone knows of Chichen Itza and Tulum but there are many lesser known sites that are just as wonderful -and less visited.

Uxmal
Uxmal 
Labna
Xlapak

Caves, Caverns and Cenotes

( I was not skilled at taking dark shots)

 

 

Anyone who might be  interested in more on the Maya I would recommend two videos, Blood Dresden_Codex_p09of Kings and Cracking the Mayan Code.  There are also some wonderful books like The Lost Kingdoms of the Maya andThe Popol Vuh.  Before the Spanish conquest the Mayans had their own sacred writings (called codices and part of the Popol Vuh)but sadly most of these folding books  made of bark were lost, burned by Spanish monks.  Only a few survived.

jungle rain
typical jungle weather – sun mixed with drenching rain

More on the Maya 

and Star Child Musings

73 Comments Add yours

  1. sheldonk2014 says:

    When I went across the US many many years ago I got to see cave dwelling
    It was very interesting and a very high climb
    As always Sheldon

    Liked by 1 person

    1. caves are so interesting as well as deeply symbolic! They were the spiritual gate to another world to Mayans and other cultures too. Us too of course!

      Like

  2. Such beautiful photos!

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    1. It was a wonderful journey!! Thanks Joy!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rob Tobin says:

    That’s a great post – love that first image ( the IJ temple)A lot of people think the Mayans were the only bloodthirsty cult at the time. More than likely, Those poor monks that burned the bark books did so so they didn’t end up being burnt alive themselves – by their own religion.

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    1. thank you Rob- glad you enjoyed the post!

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  4. Mustang.Koji says:

    Touched send by mistake… …touch of color on the first one is just magical!

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  5. Mustang.Koji says:

    Your pictorial here is just wonderful… Loved the monochromes and the touch of color on the first one

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    1. Very pleased that you like them!!

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  6. dbp49 says:

    An absolutely lovely journey with you to places that, unfortunately, I will most likely never get to in this lifetime. Your photos, however, are at least one way for me to experience somewhat of what I would have otherwise have missed altogether, and for that my friend, I send you my deepest regards, and heartfelt appreciation. Thank-you very, very much.

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    1. I am so honoured you feel that way! I’m very glad if I can share some of the mystery of these wonders with others and that they enjoy them!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great photos! All of them would be amazing prompts for mystery stories!

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    1. if you are inspired do write one!! Thanks again Lizzie!! I find the Mayan civilization fascinating!

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  8. Peter Nena says:

    Videos bookmarked. I love the Xibalba part. The Mayans had a rich culture.

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    1. Thank you! You will enjoy those videos Peter. It is such an interesting and mysterious culture. It took a century and a 12 year old boy to crack the code so they could start reading the story!!So much was lost through religious fear etc not to mention greed of the Spanish empire at the time. But such is the history of the world!!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. kazg10 says:

    You’ve given this an eerie and mystical feel.. its wonderful 🙂

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    1. Thank you Kaz!! A lovely comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Oh, I enjoyed this so much. Beautiful images and very informative post.

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    1. thanks Lore! Those places are magical!!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. There is so much history to the Mayan culture. It’s fascinating. Your photos are amazing. I love them all. That first one just struck me as so dreamy. 🙂

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    1. thank you Linda!! There is indeed and we don’t know that much yet!!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. suej says:

    Love these images, Cybele…looks straight from the land of myth. And I love that first cave image….all the better for being dark and mysterious!

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    1. It was a beautiful cave!! Thank you Sue for such a lovely comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. suej says:

        You are most welcome, Cybele!

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  13. Maria F. says:

    Thanks for the tour Cybele, I’ve also read their culture was quite advanced in astronomy also, having one of the most ancient calendars in existence.

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    1. It’s true they were advanced in both astronomy and mathematics!! You are welcome and thank you!

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  14. mithriluna says:

    Beautiful images.

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    1. Thank you Mithri!!!

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  15. RMW says:

    Some years ago I saw a Mayan exhibit in Tijuana… beautiful and interesting artwork and artifacts… which of course all ended when the Spanish arrived and they decimated the culture… the second half of the exhibit was all Spanish art, of course! There was also a good exhibit on the Mayans at the LA County Museum of Art a couple of years back that was fascinating. Thanks for an interesting post.

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    1. Thank you so much for visiting and for your comment!! It’s a fascinating culture and history that they are still unraveling!!!

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  16. What a shame the Spanish monks burned all those writings. Throughout time, so much knowledge, art, and architecture has been destroyed through religious zealots. I guess those monks didn’t want people knowing that the Mayans believed in such things as heaven, hell, and a human spirit, long before the Christian religion was born.
    Those are fabulous pictures, Cybele, and such interesting information to go with them. I love those Mayan names.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comment Sarah! To be fair to the Spanish and the church I think there was no real global knowledge as there is today of the world’s cultures. It must have been totally confusing and terrifying for them too to come into a place where there was a civilization like the Maya and one that used blood sacrifice (of humans) in such a dramatic way!!! Talk about culture shock!! I can understand that it might have seemed demonic at that time!! It was so alien to European culture where people were executed in more perfunctory ways-lol!! How dare these pagans have a civilization with mathematics and astronomy!! We better annihilate it.
      Even just reading about the Mayans there is such a sense of mystery and a touch of terror. The Mayans did convert and one reason was because they could relate to a god who was willing to be a blood sacrifice!! So there is that universal unconscious as Jung put it. Today they have a mix of their own beliefs with Christianity!! Also I should have written that after the initial reaction to Mayan ways there was a far seeing Dominican Friar who did put all the writings together (the mayans also had an oral tradition that was not forgotten!) to save them for posterity. (the Popol Vuh) There was an excellent and thoughtful dialogue from a play many years ago about the “culture and spiritual shock” of two cultures set in the Peru of the Incas. I may have mentioned it before “The Golden Hunt of the Sun.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Fascinating — all of it. You certainly know your Mayans, Cybele!

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      2. wow, that was a long response from me!! lol!! thanks Sarah – I know a little but I love the story!

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  17. sixpixx says:

    Informative, intriguing and mystical as ever. Great pix and post.

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    1. thanks so much Six!!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Roy McCarthy says:

    Fascinating post Cybele. As a non-traveller I rely on others to bring the world to my door. Great job.

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    1. Thanks so much Roy! So glad I was able to whisk you away for a moment!! There is history in the new world after all!!! lol – and a strange one at that!

      Like

  19. Great pictures! Have a wonderful weekend 🙂

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    1. thank you Indah!! You too!

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  20. Norma says:

    What an adventurous journey and thanks for sharing the photos with us. They are marvelous. With your post processing skills they take a mythological charm.

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    1. thanks so much Norma!! I think some are best in mono!

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      1. Norma says:

        I agree 🙂

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  21. Katrina W says:

    Interesting post and images, Cybele!

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    1. thank you Katrina!!!

      Like

  22. sedge808 says:

    very interesting & beautiful.

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    1. thank you Sedge!!! It is that!!

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  23. Fabulous images! They take me right back to my own trip to the Yucatan Peninsula and Chichen Itza. I got goosebumps in the ball field. I can’t imagine too many were able to get the ball through that teenie hole.

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    1. Thank you Circ- a most amazing place Chichen Itza- though rather crowded!! I was glad I got to go to some of the more out of the way places that were quieter. The Mayans were so strange. Brilliant but strange lol!!

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  24. Ann says:

    Gorgeous shots! Your skies… do you have a magic wand or enchantment that calls those dramatic clouds??

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    1. That is how the sky looked when I was there!! Pretty amazing and so matched the mood!! But there was warm sun too! Thanks so much Ann!!

      Like

  25. Gorgeous shots Cybele!

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    1. Hi Michael and thank you so much for commenting!!

      Like

  26. Amy says:

    Love these series. The uxmal is a fantastic shot!

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  27. Amazing pictures Cybele, I particularly love the first one and the cave shots. It must have been an amazing journey.

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    1. It was Andrea!! Thank you!!

      Liked by 1 person

  28. Fine set! I once was there; great memories.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed them Harrie!

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  29. betunada says:

    thanks for your trip down memory lane and concurrently reminding me of my time there. (only one mildly disagreeable comment: “good corona”? — but Yucatan does (or did?) have it’s own local cervaceria — Leon, which should be more widely available in lieu of basura-corona, etc.) YES indeed, the Yuc is it’s own special corner of the whirled, and thanks again for your pixures — even the dark ones are far better than anything i’d attempt!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. haha!! I was using a bit of poetic licence there as I assume everyone knows Corona or Dos Equis. I’m not really a beer drinker lol. but yes I remember Leon now. Thanks for stopping by!!!

      Like

  30. Suzanne says:

    That was very interesting indeed. I love all the dark moody black and white shots yet I also enjoyed the very last colour photo which gave me a sense of what it must be like to visit such places in the 21st century. Thanks very much for sharing your journey and your perceptions with us.

    Like

    1. Glad you enjoyed them Suzanne. They are wonderful sites!! Some are a bit off the beaten track which is great!! Not touristy!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Suzanne says:

        I doubt I will ever get to south America so its great to experience it through your magical photos. 🙂

        Like

      2. thank you Suzanne. I feel the same way about other’s posts. So many places to see but not enough time (or money) to be able to travel there!!

        Liked by 1 person

  31. Great photos. I would love to see those sights for myself some time.

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    1. oh they are well worth it!!! Thanks Laura!

      Like

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