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. 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