Elizabeth Araujo, a Mayan Elder, says that like India’s Vedic traditions, the Mayan tradition is believed to exist from the beginning of time and is transmitted orally.
The Maya Nation covers an area from the South and the Caribbean side of Mexico and extends through all Guatemala, Belice, and parts of Honduras and El Salvador. “The Maya is a tradition not a religion, it comes from the beginnings of time and has been transmitted orally. The Mayas have always honored and respect Mother Earth and all if nature. In the Sacred Mayan Calendar there is a day dedicated to the Earth, it is called IX. Likewise there are days dedicated to air, fire and water, the four elements that support all life,” says Elizabeth, who will be participating in Srishti Sambhrama.
She says that in Guatemala there are more than 5,000 altars, made by nature, and most of them are in the mountains.
How is nature worshipped in the Mayan Calender?
IX in the Mayan calendar is the day of the earth and represents the mountains, temples and sacred sites, the animals who live in the mountains and the woman. In this day of IX the Mayans celebrate with ceremonies where they express love and gratitude to Mother Earth, they also pray for the well-being of the earth, for the animals, those who are dying in the fires or at the hands of unscrupulous hunters for pleasure, and for the animals used for entertainment like bullfights. We pray for man to stop deforestation, as every time a tree is cut down an entire community is gone, all those beings who live on the trees loose their home; we pray for the rivers. We pray for an awakening of consciousness of those who reap the heart of Mother Earth, looking for minerals, oil, etc. to convert into money. The Ceremony is central to the Maya tradition, it is our connection with the Creator.
What is the connection of Mayan traditions to India’s Vedic traditions especially with regard to the centrality of fire?
One of the similarities with other ancient cultures is that the fire is always present. For the Mayas the Fire is the Spirit of the Ceremony. It is through the fire and the smoke that prayers elevate towards the heavens to our Creator, Great Spirit, the one and only for all. The fire is alive. During a ceremony the fire speaks, gives messages and direction. Focusing on the fire in ceremony unifies us. The fire also purifies.
Are all the Mayan communities in Guatemala similar?
In Guatemala there are 23 different Mayan ethnic groups and each one has their own language. They live in determined regions of the country but the spirituality and their practices are the same, minimal differences may be present among some of the groups but of little significance.
Within the offerings there are four types of incenses that are always used by every one in all ceremonies, those are the same incenses that were used in the very first ceremony done when the sun was seen for the first time, thousands of years ago. The ceremonies are based in the Mayan Calendar which is the same for all Mayan groups, the only difference may be in the language.
How have these communities changed over time?
The concept of sin did not exist among the Mayas, this concept was brought by the Europeans during the European Invasion. Before the coming of this invasion people here lived in harmony and peace, there was respect for one another, for the animals, for Nature and respect for everything. Nowadays much of that respect has been lost. In the Sacred Mayan Calendar The Zolq’ij, the calendar of 260 days there is a day called TZI, or Oc in the Yucatec language from Mexico, this is the day of the law and justice, the divine justice with its two laws: the spiritual law and the material law. The material law can be manipulated by men, but the divine or spiritual law is that which can not be bought nor sold, this is the one to fear. This day teaches us that if we sow correctly we will harvest well, but if we do wrong we will receive wrongs and it will be multiplied. The purpose of TZI is to bring order for us to live in peace.
What is the message for future generations?
We need to educate our children the new generations, they are our hope. Ancestral education has been lost, now there is no respect for life. Outside the Mayan communities the elders are considered useless, nonproductive, our society has become too materialistic, the governments and those people in power their interest is to make money. The majority of Mayas live in the highlands and work in agriculture, they love and honor the land, they do all that is possible to protect the earth, they speak on their behalf even when they risk their lives. At this moment there are several Mayan women and men who are in jail for speaking or acting in defense of Nature, for protecting the rivers, the forests.
Back in June 2020, just a few months ago, a Mayan Elder was set afire alive, he was burnt to death by three evangelical people, the perpetrators accused the Mayan elder of doing witchcraft for practicing his tradition - he was a man of wisdom, highly knowledgeable in plants. This horrendous act shows us the ignorance and the lack of respect that is supported by organized religions. Other things that influence this behavior of disrespect are the easy access to drugs, liquor, weapons, cellulars, and poverty to a great extent.
By keeping our Mayan calendars alive and using them in our daily life we can live in tune with the rhythms of Mother Earth and find some peace, harmony and direction in these turbulent times. The calendar is our guide in our daily life, it teach us to be respectful to all forms of life, that we are interconnected with everything and that we are here to take care of the earth, to see her as our mother and to protect the animals they are here with a purpose.
How has the pandemic emphasized the importance of these early teachings?
This pandemic has come to teach us many things. It said STOP to a humanity that has been going too fast. It is time to slow dawn, time to reflect, time to care for ourselves and the loved ones. These tiny invisible being shows us how fragile life is. It shows us that we all are equally vulnerable, that there are no borders and no discrimination, this is an opportunity for us to learn to stay home and be patient, is a time for creativity. We are in the process of moving to higher levels of consciousness, we have entered the new era, the era of peace, love and unity.
This gathering is an example, why are we doing this? It is not for money we are doing it for love. Many other events are going on by virtual means, and many more people are attending to the call, they are being involved, this is a sign that we are going toward oneness. Education is the key, the new generations are our hope. Many young people are speaking aloud and acting in defense of Mother Nature.
Let’s support women too, Dalai Lama says they will be the leaders of the world; the Maya Prophecy says women will govern. Women approach things differently, they do it through the heart. The woman knows what suffering is, by nature we are connected to Mother Earth. If Mother Earth suffers we all suffer too, what we do to her we do it to ourselves. When the Virus put the world on a stop mode, in very short time there was a revival of life in nature. Animals experienced freedom, they came out. That shows us that the Earth, in a short time and without us, can regenerate. We are here temporarily, we need Mother Earth not the other way round. She can do without us, so lets take good care of her and let the animals who live on earth live.