Mayan Mysteries – In the Jaws of Kukulkan
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.
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.
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.
In 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.
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.
Caves, Caverns and Cenotes
( I was not skilled at taking dark shots)