Monday, August 3, 2015

A Mayan Ceremony

On Saturday morning we loaded up onto the bus for the drive to our friend Yanira's house. Her father is a Mayan Aj Q’ij (priest/spiritual leader) and we were lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to visit is home and learn a bit more about the Mayan culture and partake in a deconstructed Mayan ceremony.

Before the ceremony, we were giving a bit of a lesson in the importance of the Mayan calendar and every student was given their Mayan Nahual, which for lack of a better description is a person's Mayan spirit guide/totem. Your nahual is assigned to you at birth and has a heavy influence on your character and misdemeanor much the same way the zodiac does, although much more specific to a person because it's based on your date of birth, not just month. 

Each nahual is associated with an animal of importance to the Maya as well as associated traits, qualities and tendencies. A person's nahual is determined by their date of birth based on the Tzolk'in

Typically a traditional Mayan ceremony can last for 2-4 hours, but for our students, while it may have felt like 2-4 hours for some of them, the ceremony was shortened.

For the ceremony, a circle  is created out of natural materials. First, sugar is used to draw the circle, and then ensarte (made from parts of trees dipped in resin) are placed on top of the sugar to create the foundation for the fire. Then, herbs such as cedar, sage, rosemary, tobacco, lavender, and flower petals are placed on top of the ensarte.

The other main components of the fire are candles in the colors of the six directions (red, black, white, yellow, blue, and green). Chocolate, cinnamon and honey are also put into the circle to bring sweetness and give thanks for the blessings in our lives.

During the ceremony we gave thanks to our ancestors and a blessing was said for each student and for Hoops Sagrado.

Following the ceremony we shared a small meal and then most of us hiked through the cornfields and woods to meet the bus.

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