Manataka American Indian Council






A message from

The International Mayan League
by Elene lxcot

Mayan culture, the Mayan cosmos vision and the respect that exists between Mother Nature, humanity is a delicate balance between all living things. Today people are worried and alarmed by all of the natural disasters that are devastating the world. On the news, we hear more and more about natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, droughts and floods destroying entire communities and killing people in its wake. People are looking for explanation to these natural disasters and especially how it will affect the future of the planet and humanity. In some cases, people are going as far as to believe that the end of the world is coming and even offering heaven as a reward for those who are willing to repent for their sins.

There are many ways of looking at these natural phenomena. Some people look to technology to try to explain and prevent these evils. But they nor others will be able to explain these natural disasters if they do not take the time to study the ancient life of those who originally inhabited these lands and compare their way of life with that of today. I look at the things we have learned from these early civilizations, especially the Mayans.

In the Mayan thought, we are taught at a very young age to live in union with nature and the cosmos. Our history tells us that we were created from corn and that we are people of corn. From white and yellow corn our ancestors were created. It is said four animals: the bobcat, the coyote, the crow and the parrot showed our ancestors where this corn was kept; this place was called Paxil and Cayal. Our sacred book the Pop Wuj, states that for the corn to exist, it needed Grandmother Earth, Grandfather Sky and Grandmother Moon, the stars, the wind and the rain and clouds; elements which are crucial to all living things.

But many ask, well, what does this have to do with what is happening in the world. This is where we find some of these explanations and perhaps, help for the future of the cosmos and Mother Nature to detain these natural phenomena.

The philosophical thoughts of our grandparents have many times been ignored and rejected. Often it has been called pagan, superstitious and witchery, as a way to discredit and put European thought in the front page of many anthropological and archeological books.

We are not saying that the life of our grandparents was the best because they were practicing a way of life in accordance with their time, but we cannot compare it with this life today; the special era or modern life.

From the beginning of our civilization, which dates back more than 100 centuries ago, our grandparents structured a balanced life between humanity and nature. Every boy and girl born was connected to nature and the cosmos. The child was taken to the community elder, expert in reading the Maya calendar, so that the parent's would know the spirit protector of the child. This reading served to mark the future of 'the baby. Every day is important in the calendar of our ancestors. Each day is marked with something special, negative or positive. For example, there is a special day for those who belong to the fauna and flora, animal kingdom, and the mineral kingdom. Therefore, the calendar was used to determine which day belonged to the child. Lets say that the day was marking the day of the pine tree. This meant that when the child grows up, he or she has the task of taking care of the pine trees because the tree is his/her spirit protector; in this way many pine trees are protected. The same goes for the rabbit, many rabbits are protected and the same applies for the water. This way everyone had the task to keep the water, the trees, the animals, and the cosmos clean.

But what happened with the arrival of the Europeans to these lands? Everything changed. A foreign culture was imposed on us. The Catholic Bishop Diego de Landa burned our sacred and scientific books in 1560.

Furthermore, the elders and guides of our people were hung and burned alive, and the survivors were enslaved. The land that was
of communal service became private property of the Spaniard descendants. The invaders profaned the ceremonial centers.



The scientific studies done to protect the cosmos, nature and the earth were cut short. The new people from Europe began to implement a new way of living that was foreign to our way of living and doing things. They began to cut down trees, kill the animals, and contaminate the air and rivers. In the process, the delicate balance between humans, the natural environment and all living things was lost. 



Based on research done by our ancestors, there are certain cosmic changes that take place in space more 'or less every twenty-five thousand years. These changes take place five times within the cosmic cycle of 5,126 years. During these changes, the magnetic field of Father Sun changes direction and it affects the circular motion of Mother Earth. Because of this, floods, storms, fires, earthquakes and hurricanes take place. However, our ancestors knew ways of calming Mother Earth so that she would not suffer because of these cosmic changes. Their method was keeping the water, air and earth clean. Our ancestors believed that if the sun and earth were in crises or suffering, humans should not worsen the situation. On the contrary, it is our responsibility, they would say, as part of that delicate balance to help and maintain that equilibrium so that there would be fewer natural disasters. Along with keeping the earth clean, our ancestors held ceremonies to the creators and makers by fasting, burning incense, and dancing.



Their way of thinking and visualizing the existence of the universe is different from what we see today. You are all witnesses as to what the "civilized" world is doing in the world especially in promoting wars, in which bombs are used. Guatemala, for example, is one of these countries that experienced 36 years of war. In the highlands of the country, Napalm bombs were thrown which sterilized many acres of land, burnt many mountains, contaminated many rivers and killed off many animals. This was an attack that was not only directed at human lives but also at all living things. 



It is unthinkable that humans are attacking the very bases of their existence. Many of us believe that the earth does not feel any thing and that it is not alive. If this is the case, where do the fruits, vegetables and the grains that we consume come from? Even cars and machines run with the blood of the earth in the form of petroleum. 



If we include tons of rubber tires, and plastics burned, and oil spills in the ocean, this has contributed to the contamination of the earth, the water, and the cosmos. This did not exist in the times of our ancestors. But let us not go way back. For example thirty years ago, when we were younger, in our town we did not know plastic bags, because everything that was sold in the market was wrapped in banana leaves, sugar, salt, meet, soap, coffee, rice, beans, chili, etc. Everything was wrapped in a leave called maxan. When the mother arrived home from the market, she used the leaves to cook tamales by wrapping corn dough in the leaves and steam it or give the leaves to the horses to eat. Therefore, nothing was left to dirty the earth, much less to contaminate. But when we went to Guatemala to visit in March and April of 1999, we had a tremendous surprise. We saw mountains of trash in the outskirts of town, and the majority of the trash was plastic. We thought it was only in our town but it was the same in the neighboring towns. 



We saw how the contamination is having a negative effect on the lives of the people, especially on the lives of the children. The children are fragile and are easily exposed to all kinds of hot, it evaporate the contents of the bags and mosquitoes carry germs from the garbage into the homes. The mountains of garbage cause many children die from diarrhea, cholera, fever and many other diseases. 



All of this is called, "modern life " the new ear of technological advances. But the thought of the first habitants of these lands are categorized as a life that is backwards and old. Nevertheless, our ancestors breathed pure air, drank clean water, and ate healthy food. Not like you hear and read in the newspapers that the Japanese have started selling pure air in Mexico. Water has been sold for many years. Now we only have to wait for someone to sell us the sun and moon. 



In "the times of our ancestors, the guides educated the community to take care of everything around them. "They said, everything that happens to Mother Earth, the same will happen to the children of the earth.



That is why in the Mayan vision the prediction of the apocalypse does not exist. The future of our   existence is connected to the care of the environment. That is why it is important to go to the past to understand the present. Those who do not want to go to the past will not have a future because the present that we live in does not offer much for what is to come. It is the present that cut the development of one of the biggest civilizations, of men and women who were scientists. The West brought the present that we live in. 



You will notice all the disasters that we are suffering, happenings of the present brought to us 500 years ago. The humans of today will have the last word, will we continue with the present or will we fight together to save the air, the rivers, the earth, and the trees so as not to hurry the cycle of the cosmos with the contaminations.  



This is what is happening with the universe and the world. The sun for the Mayas is like the cosmic head that goes around guiding the astrals that is why they used it in the ball game. When the ball is in action it means the cosmos in constant movement, at ' the same time it means the movement of the world around the sun. Therefore, all that exits in the world and in the cosmos moves, including humans. The human brain, the heart and all parts of the human body move. This is the greatness of the cosmos the world and life. If there were no movement, there would be no evolution, the world and the cosmos would be paralyzed and humans would not have evolution in life. This is what we have learned from our ancestors.



Translation by Alicia and Marta Ixcot

Photos courtesy of Debra Rueb

Story from International Initiatives Newsletter, Ingeborg Hayes-van Zaten, Editor and International and Cultural Program Director, Office of International Initiatives, University of Houston at Clear Lake,



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