Dispatch from Maya Land #3
We’ve had a busy time since the last dispatch. Last weekend, Lina, Yamanik and their friend, another young lady that is also an Ajq’ij came to visit. We had a good conversation, and made some plans for a ceremony and to conduct an interview exploring the role and life as female Ajq’ij’ab in the Maya culture. The next day we met with Denise and were joined by Juan and Miguel, twin brothers who are both Ajq’ij and artists. We had some fascinating discussions and were able to capture quite a bit on film. This included discussions about Xibalba, the underworld as seen from a place of balance that predates the injection of catholic ideas of hell, and Juan’s initiation into its path and how it helps with curing. We also discussed the work they are doing with Kiche youth to keep the tradition alive, the development of their meditation space at their gallery, Casa de Los Nawales, and the role that Saq’ Be’ may play in supporting their efforts. We plan on seeing them again soon, and you’ll get a video before too long!
We then joined Carlos, Roberto and Denise on a journey up to Momostenango to celebrate the Maya New Year, 8 B’atz’. We had a fairly successful journey up the winding road from Attitlan to Momo, with just one child getting car sick :-0 We traveled to the altar of Paclom, considered to be the naval of the world. It is also the home of grandmother Ixmukane, where a thread was cast, and it was determined to be the center of the world. It is one of the oldest altars here, a key part of the origin story in the Pop Wuj. We knew there was a pilgramage walk the night before, with Paclom being the 4th altar in the 4 directions around Momostenango, where people were traveling by foot throughout the night and making offerings at each of the altars to arrive at Paclom in the dawn hours. We arrived at the altar towards the late afternoon, and purchased our materials for the ceremony just outside. It was quite a scene with more than a dozen fires going at once, the local Maya radio station blasting music full tilt, and at least a hundred people either participating in ceremonies or hanging out. There are some places where you can feel the ancientness, where the wisdom of elders has been imbued into the altars over millennia, and this was certainly one of those places. We had an amazing fire, setting up on a corner of the lower altar, along side other friendly and welcoming ajq’ij’ab and families. It was interesting to note as well several young Maya folk come up to Carlos out of respect for his work in supporting the rescue of the tradition. Even through the strong presence of Catholicism and synchretism, Evangelism, alcoholism, etc., it is clear that there remains a vibrancy to the tradition here in the homelands!
We were again joined by Lina and her daughter, Yamanik, for a ceremony at an altar on the other side of the lake in Cerro de Oro. As you can see in the pictures, this was quite an impressive and ancient place, where we had an amazing ceremony that went into the night.
Coming up, we plan to do a couple of interviews with Roberto, one where we ask him to draw upon his deep experience with Andean cultures and work with UNESCO to discuss the relevancy of traditional knowledge in modern times, and another where he dialogues with Carlos comparing Andean and Maya wisdom and cosmology. We also plan on meeting with Domingo, Mariano and Don Pedro before long, traveling to meet hueseras and learn about plant medicines around the lake, as well as more journeys, more ceremonies and more wisdom.