Posts Tagged With: Maya

Film Review – The Red Queen: A Mayan Mystery

In 1994 a tomb was excavated in Temple XIII in the main plaza of Palenque, the large Maya ruin complex in Chiapas, Mexico. It was the finest thus far uncovered, even more so than the great ruler Pakal II’s in the Temple of the Inscriptions just a couple of doors down. The quantity of jadeite, sacred objects and two skeletons on either side of the sarcophagus indicated someone of the highest standing. And a very curious thing: The remains were completely covered in a powdery red substance that turned out to be cinnabar.

A physical anthropologist determined the remains to be female. The temple richness  pointed to the final resting place of an esteemed ruler. But for women to attain such a capacity was unusual. Thus began The Red Queen. And then it immediately garnered my attention when archaeologist David Friedal took the screen saying, “The history of the past is not the history of men but men and women together. And at times women change the course of history. Not men.”

The Red Queen is not a boring historical documentary. Rather it entertains the question: Who was the Red Queen? She was nicknamed so because of the cinnabar. Attendants carefully covered her in the toxic powder at burial. It made its way into her very bones. We’re on board as the film tracks the mysteries, technical methods and data that lead to a conclusion from the three likeliest candidates.

  • Was it Yohl Ik’nal, the grandmother of Pakal? As far as we know she was the first Maya female to rule on her own…for 21 years.
  • Was it Sak K’uk, who took over the throne when her brother was killed? She held rule until she was able to put her son Pakal on the throne when he turned twelve. Likely she guided him from behind for some time after that.
  • Or was it Tz’akbu Ajaw, the wife of Pakal? And sometimes called Lady Conjurer as noted in Carol Karasik’s book The Drum Wars where she devoted a chapter to the Red Queen.

Those who know me are well acquainted with my love for Palenque, having been drawn back regularly since 1995 when I first had the pleasure. So the story of the Red Queen was an interest on that level. But more so, I found it heartening to have women recognized for who they are, their accomplishments and learn something of their story—not quietly influencing behind the scenes but front stage center.

Produced by the Discovery Channel, 2005. Watch it free on You Tube.

The Red Queen 1

Part One: View it here. 1 hour, 9 minutes.

Red Queen-2

Part Two: View it here. 24 minutes.

*****

For more information on our next scheduled Maya Mysteries spiritual travel program in Chiapas…where we visit Palenque and pay respects to the Red Queen, go here.

 

Categories: cultural interests, Film, Maya | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

Spiritual Integrity and Preservation

In 2009 an important tradition began, first started by Hopi elder Harold Joseph who accepted an invitation to accompany me on my spiritual travel program Entering the Maya Mysteries. As his religious leader’s emissary, the purpose was to reconnect with relations, those from Hopi migration paths. When I make these invitations on behalf of Kenosis Spirit Keepers, it’s without expectation of outcome. I’ve come to know that as long as we within the circle hold the container sacred…what fills it is rich, often with significance I never could have predicted.

The effect Harold had on Don Antonio Martinez, the last Lacandón Maya elder maintaining his timeless traditions, during a very vulnerable time is well documented in my article The Last Spirit Keeper available for download here. Equally significant are the indications Harold saw during our travels through Mayalands that validated his people’s oral history and common thread with these relations of the south. At certain sites he made offerings and prayers. Over these years several other Hopi Spirit Keepers have replicated what Harold started.

Don Antonio Martinez and Harold Joseph

Don Antonio Martinez and Harold Joseph at the Lacandón Maya village of Najá in 2009. Photo credit: Darlene Dunning

This coming January, Merle Namoki, Sun Forehead Clan, from Shungopavi, Second Mesa will continue the tradition, strengthening the bridge of relationship and respect, laying down prayers. A few years ago, Merle said to me, “…We all need to pray to keep our Mother Earth and Father Sky in balance…”

Mike Weddle is a member of the Kenosis Spirit Keepers’ board who, for more than twenty years, has immersed himself in the sacred ways of the Maya of Guatemala. In his essay Are the Maya and the Hopi Two Branches of the Same Ancestral Tree, he compiled examples of common practices linking the two. He also talked about the protectiveness that Hopi people have over their sacred traditions—in order to preserve them.

The intent I hold for spiritual travel has remained the same from the start. It is not to co-opt Indigenous traditions. It is to offer respect through our presence and to hold space that these sacred ways continue. Merle stated the need so well. If in the process we visitors are deeply touched—and we are—we bring this difference home. Who we are in the world is influenced…and felt by our families, friends and communities. Core spiritual elements are strengthened.

The anniversary of an important date is coming up for me. In late Spring 2008 I held my breath as I opened an envelope from the IRS…and exhaled with great relief to see that Kenosis Spirit Keepers was given status as a charitable organization, our nonprofit extension. It was signed and dated October 15, 2007.

Kenosis Spirit Keepers logo

In this post about the continuity of traditions, I also want to express much appreciation to those who have made donations over the years, and certainly to those who have traveled with me…holding reverence, making the circles and sponsorships possible. Through your spiritual integrity, this work continues. Last but certainly not least, the folks who have served on the board since the inception of Kenosis Spirit Keepers, worked hard and assisted with direction and decisions…I have gratitude.

*******************

If you are drawn to support connections between the Hopi and Maya peoples, join us January 18-28, 2015 in Chiapas, Mexico for Entering the Maya Mysteries. A portion of tuition is tax-deductible to support the travel of Hopi Merle Namoki and the humanitarian healing work of Don Sergio Castro in impoverished Maya communities.

To read more about the unusual occurrence that inspired the founding of Kenosis Spirit Keepers see The Ninth Evolution of the Spirit Keepers Journey (with video).

To learn more about the Maya worldview, listen to an excerpt of my interview with Tat Apab’yan Tew, K’iche Maya Daykeeper, who is part of the Maya spiritual travel program.

 

Categories: Gratitude, Hopi, Indigenous Wisdom, Lacandón Maya, Maya, Sacred Reciprocity, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lifepath Dialogues Interview with Maya Daykeeper Apab’yan Tew

Apab’yan Tew is an Ajq’ij, a Day Keeper, spiritual guide, dancer and musician, of the K’iche’ Maya tradition from the village of Nawalja’ in Sololá of the Guatemalan highlands. He approaches his sacred calling with humility and passion. I am honored that he’s part of my spiritual travel program in Mayalands during which he shares openly and holds a fire ceremony to send prayers and call upon the ancestors.

In November 2012 I interviewed Tat Apab’yan on the subject of Maya worldview, farming practices and the GMO issue. I included many of his words in Seed Intelligence: Indigenous Perspectives and Our Collective Birthright published in the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) Farming Curriculum developed by Honor the Earth Foundation for Tribal Community Colleges.

His words are so important for our understanding of the integrative way traditional Maya people live, as well as other Indigenous peoples. I’m sharing an excerpt of our two-hour conversation with you here with his complete permission.

In just this short excerpt Tat Apab’yan covers a lot of ground. He chuckles over the wave of ‘organic’ farming in the West—as though it’s something new—when his people have had such practices for time immemorial. He puzzles over the Western way, now predominant, of dividing land into property when “…the Sky has no conditions…the rains are for everything…” and discusses the sacred sense of reciprocity in everyday Maya lifeways. “…We plant five seeds…only one is for us…”

I hope you enjoy the excerpt and take his words to heart as I did.

To learn more about Spiritual Travel to Chiapas, Mexico: Entering the Maya Mysteries in February 2016, go here. Join us and experience Tat Apab’yan’s teachings in person, along with those of other Maya spiritual leaders and healers who serve their communities. A warning though: It’s life-changing. Tuitions support the continuation of Indigenous traditions and help the spiritual leaders, their families and communities. A portion is tax-deductible through Kenosis Spirit Keepers, the nonprofit extension of Kenosis.

Categories: cultural interests, Gratitude, Indigenous Wisdom, Interview, Maya, Sacred Reciprocity, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

New Book Release: Portals to the Vision Serpent

Portals to the Vision SerpentI am pleased to announce that my latest book has been released and is now available in trade paperback and/or Kindle versions in North America,  Europe and the UK. The Kindle version is also available in Japan, Brazil and India.

As with all my books, I’m donating 10% of profits from book sales to Kenosis Spirit Keepers, the nonprofit I founded to help preserve Indigenous wisdom traditions—like those featured in the novel. Know that if you’re drawn to read the book, you’re also supporting these important projects.

Description

Preston Johns Cadell is tormented. He attempts to outrun discontent and the void in his heart. His mother is hardly around. His father’s origins and disappearance are shrouded by family secrets. His sole remembrance of his father is flying through the stars nestled in his arms.

Any comfort Preston derives is from an unseen advisor who teaches him of the invisible world. Now he is coming of age. Memories arrive from long ago when a brown-skinned woman cared for him. But she, too, vanished. Finding the buried remains of his father’s altar, Preston must answer the draw to his destiny, to discover his lineage—even though he has no idea how or where it will lead him.

Portals to the Vision Serpent is a Hero’s Journey into the realms of shamanism and the Maya world. Interwoven are the struggles of indigenous peoples to preserve their way of life and tragedies that often come from misunderstandings. Through a family saga of dark wounds and mystery, spiritual healing unfolds.

Editorial Reviews

The search to find one’s True Self is a journey that often challenges cultural preconceptions and assumptions. Portals to the Vision Serpent takes this journey deep into the heart of the True People, delivering a story of longing and mystery woven like a story cloth between two worlds.

—Sharon Brown, Publisher, Sacred Fire Magazine

Bloodlines are story lines. In Portals to the Vision Serpent, Carla Woody invites the reader to explore the mysterious, ever-unfolding tale that each one must tell with our lives…one chapter at a time. Step into these pages. Invoke your true name. Re-member who you have always been.

—Jamie K. Reaser, author of Sacred Reciprocity: Courting the Beloved in Everyday Life and Note to Self: Poems for Changing the World from the Inside Out

Portals to the Vision Serpent is a transcendent spiritual adventure of a soul’s inner and outer journey into the rainforests of Guatemala and Mexico and brings awareness to the struggles of native people amidst the onslaught of cultural genocide.

—Matthew Pallamary, author of Land Without Evil

Other Books

Standing Stark Cover Trade paperback currently available in North America. (Watch for wider distribution soon.) Kindle ebook available in North America, Europe, Japan, India and Brazil.

Calling Our Spirits HomeCurrently available in trade paperback in North America. Wider distribution coming soon.

Categories: cultural interests, Healing, Lacandón Maya, Maya, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

March 27 Lifepath Dialogues Gathering: The Question of Spiritual Responsibilty

Lifepath Dialogue Gathering

Exploring the many threads that weave together an expressive, celebrated life.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR AND JOIN US FOR DIALOGUE THAT MATTERS

You are invited! Please pass to friends and family.

MARCH 27, 6:30-8 PM

FREE Gathering

Creekside Center, 337 N. Rush Street, Prescott, Arizona

March topic:

“The Question of Spiritual Responsibility”

Based on the post: “Spiritual Responsibilty? Duty? Cargo?
By CARLA WOODY
Author of Calling Our Spirits Home and Standing Stark
Founder, Kenosis and Kenosis Spirit Keepers

SPECIAL MARCH GUEST:

Filmer Kewanyama Photo
FILMER KEWANYAMA

Filmer Kewanyama is an award-winning Hopi artist from Shungopavi, Second Mesa, Arizona, whose work depicts the sacred Hopi way of life. He learned the ceremonies that his ancestors passed on to him. Such knowledge comes with its own set of responsibilities, complicated by modern life.

Email: info@kenosis.net or call 928.778.1058

Categories: cultural interests, Hopi, Maya, Sacred Reciprocity, Spiritual Evolution | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Book Review – The Drum Wars: A Modern Maya Story

The Drum Wars: A Modern Maya Story

By Carol Karasik

Drum Wars Cover ImageIn the 1990s, a friend and I were walking on the road to the Palenque ruins. We noticed a narrow dirt road that led into the rainforest. Curious, we followed it and came to an enclave containing ramshackle treehouses—one with a sign that said “Yoga”—and a camping area. We looked at each other and said, “What is this place?” We had stumbled upon El Panchan in its beginnings. Since then it’s grown considerably to a mishmash of cabanas, camping, a couple of competing open-air restaurants with live music, culminating with late-night fire dancers and drumming.

Now all these years later, as part of our annual “Entering Maya Mysteries” pilgrimage, lodging at the Panchan has become a tradition for its close proximity to the ruins—but maybe even more so for its out-of-time, otherworldly value all its own. A year ago, my group sat in Don Mucho’s Restaurant eating tasty cuisine, watching odd characters wander by, listening to live Salsa music, when one of the travelers turned to me and said, “This is like being in a movie!” He had a look of wonder on his face. Just this past January, another traveler looked around and pronounced, “Surreal!” That said even though the day was still quite young.

Carol Karasik has written a historical adventure, an enthralling ride, about a dysfunctional family dynasty, seekers of the unknown and unknowable, and the ancient land and people who issued a calling card to the crossroads called El Panchan. The Drums Wars is an entertaining story that is stranger-than-life, but true. With wry humor, Karasik recounts the origins and intrigues of the residents and transients of this jungle community, grown up near the Maya ruin of Palenque. The gritty, often tedious work, of archeologists, and those of similar eke, are chronicled aptly, adding a bit of mysticism, romance and education along the way.  I was particularly taken with the discovery of the Red Queen’s remains, later to be identified as Lady “Conjurer” who was Pakal the Great’s wife—and the important role played by women at Palenque, the place of transformation.

As I read this crazy backstory it occurred to me that by virtue of its proximity to Palenque that, of course, the Ancient Maya world had to inform it. The planets of the Panchan are in continual alignment, merely a mirror, to create a container. Those drawn there are acting out their fantastic journeys into the Underworld, catapult to the Upperworld, and manifest delivery into the bohemian Middleworld called El Panchan.

Howler Photo

Howler Monkey

Whether you’ve been a traveler in my Maya Mysteries programs, or want to enter this curiosity of human condition—taken to the extreme on your own—reading The Drum Wars may point to some explanation of your own journey…or, at the very least, you’ll find it a fascinating read. Available through Amazon.

Categories: Book Review, Maya, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , | 1 Comment

A Hopi Spirit Keeper’s Travels in Mayalands

Note from Carla Woody: In December 2012, I offered a special Winter Solstice “Entering the Maya Mysteries” program. Kenosis Spirit Keepers sponsored Charlene Joseph, a Hopi Spirit Keeper from Moencopi, on this journey as a part of ongoing efforts to bring together Indigenous Wisdom Holders for mutual spiritual support. Char’s presence, and the heartfelt connections she made with her Maya relations, brought even greater depth to our shared experiences. Truly, it was a gift to have her with us. Below she has generously shared her journey and what it meant to her.

My Mexico/Guatemala  Spiritual Adventure

By Charlene Joseph

What an adventure!  I traveled to Peru in 2009 and had a very rich cultural and spiritual experience.  Knowing the Hopi ancient history and growing up in the traditional Hopi way, I was able to connect to the indigenous people and their way of life.  My travel to Mexico and Guatemala in December 2012 was just as spiritual and the connection to the people culturally and traditionally was immense, just as it was when I went to Peru.

Charlene Joseph and Carla Woody departing for Chiapas, Mexico.

Charlene Joseph and Carla Woody
departing for Chiapas, Mexico.

I spent one week in Tucson with my daughter’s and son’s families the week before my trip. The day before we were to fly out of Phoenix, I left Tucson for Phoenix to meet up with Carla Woody, the organizer of the trip, and spend the night.  Not only did I have trouble finding my way to the hotel, but the next morning as I was reorganizing my luggage, I discovered that I didn’t have my passport! I had left it in Tucson.

It was still early enough to drive back to Tucson and be back before our plane left at 3:00 p.m. so I called my daughter.  Even while studying for her final exams at University of Arizona, it was very thoughtful of her to bring my passport halfway to meet me at Casa Grande. So now, I’m set with my passport and ready to board the plane to Mexico, wondering what laid ahead for me.

San Cristóbal de las Casas


As we were driving to San Cristóbal from Tuxtla after spending the night, I thought about my family back home, the upcoming Hopi New Year and prayers that I will miss for the first time in years, my father who taught me about the Hopi migration from the South. At the same time, I was enjoying the beautiful scenery.

Arriving in the colonial town of San Cristóbal and checking into our hotel felt to me like we were in seclusion.  It was chilly in the hotel lobby and I was wondering why the heater was not on. Once we got checked in and made our way to the room, I found it was just as cold there.  Soon found out that there are no heaters.  We had to dress warm at night or even wear our jackets to bed.  During the day the weather got very warm so we soaked in as much sun and warmth to our liking.

Processional during Festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe.©2012 Carla Woody.

Processional during Festival of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
©2012 Carla Woody.

It was lively day and night in downtown San Cristóbal with fireworks, parades honoring the Lady of Guadalupe, locals selling their art and craft work, food, and even fresh boiled corn, which was my favorite! Also many tourists walked the streets looking, eating, buying from locals, and just enjoying their time.

Family kitchen.©2012 Carla Woody.

Family kitchen.
©2012 Carla Woody.

One evening we drove about twenty minutes up to the indigenous village of Chamula to participate in ceremony with Don Xun Calixto.  As we were driving through the village, I saw ladies and young girls washing clothes at the water spring, just like we used to when I was growing up.  That scene took me way back to my childhood days. I felt at home seeing the people working in their gardens, fields, drying their harvest, carrying water from the water spring to their homes, and firewood for the evening loaded on the person’s back and everyone working in harmony, it seemed.

We stopped at the bottom of a hill and walked up the steps to Don Xun’s family home, a traditional brick home with an outside shed-like kitchen where they also kept their harvest of corn, beans, squash, variety of melon, and cauliflower stored. On the open fire-pit was a pot of boiling stew being prepared for our meal with the family.  In the yard chickens were being fed, and the group gathered talking and admiring the craft work the family had for sale.

Don Xun Calixto, Spiritual leader of San Juan Chamula, and Charlene Joseph.©2012 Carla Woody.

Don Xun Calixto, Spiritual leader of San Juan Chamula, and Charlene Joseph.
©2012 Carla Woody.

Don Xun  started the ceremony in the main house in front of the altar as we sat around him on wooden benches or chairs.  We sat quietly and watched while one group member did the interpretation.  After ceremony was over, I gave a talk and encouraged Don Xun to continue his and his people’s way of life,  that it is good to find that they are still growing their own food and eating off of the land.  I shared with him that my people, the Hopi, live that way also but that we are slowly forgetting.  I told Don Xun that what I shared are my father’s words that he had wanted me to tell our people from the South and that we are connected.  We are brothers and sisters.  Don Xun was happy to hear this.

I presented him with a katsina rain spirit doll (Corn Boy) and asked him to remember my people on Hopi when he is doing his prayers because we need rain for our corn to grow. I asked him to send the rain clouds to Hopi with his prayers because we have been getting little moisture and we need it for our corn to grow.  Don Xun chuckled and said that they did not get enough rain this year either.

Southern Guatemala

Charlene Joseph and Don Nicholas, who attends San Maximón, in Santiago Atitlán.©2012 Carla Woody.

Charlene Joseph and Don Nicholas, who attends San Maximón, in Santiago Atitlán.
©2012 Carla Woody.

A few days later, we left for Guatemala and were on the road all day.  On the way down to Lake Atitlán, Guatemala, there were cornfields everywhere, all the way from San Cristóbal, Mexico to Guatemala.  I was happy because this made the connection for Hopi, and me personally, even more significant.  Corn is very important to Hopi just as it is to the Maya people in the South.

Lake Atitlán is very beautiful, especially at sunset and sunrise.  The weather was much warmer at night which made it very comfy to sleep.  In the morning, after a night’s rest, we got on the boat to take a 40-minute ride across the lake to Santiago Atitlán, below a volcanic mountain.  There we participated in ceremony with Don Nicholas honoring San Maximón.   After ceremony, we headed back to our hotel to board our private bus for Antigua.  It was a 3-hour ride and we got there around 8 p.m.

Ajq'ij Felipe Mejia (Maya Daykeeper) at Iximche.©2012 Carla Woody

Ajq’ij Felipe Mejia (Maya Daykeeper) at Iximche.
©2012 Carla Woody

Ajq'ij Apab'yan Tew (Maya Daykeeper) at Iximche.©2012 Carla Woody

Ajq’ij Apab’yan Tew (Maya Daykeeper) at Iximche.
©2012 Carla Woody

This time we checked into our hotel for three nights.  On December 15, we drove to Iximche for a fire ceremony with Maya Daykeepers Felipe Mejia and Apab’yan Tew at a sacred place where there are pyramids.  It felt very welcoming to see school children playing games and having a cookout.  It was very lively!  The ceremony was interesting and was very colorful.  Again, I felt a strong connection to the Mayas when offerings were made to the fire with food.  I shared with them that Hopi does the same thing.  We also feed the fire and make food offering to the sun.  There were other similarities that I observed that reaffirmed the history of the Hopi to the Mayas of the South.

Palenque

Temple of the Sun at Palenque, Winter Solstice 2012.©2012 Carla Woody.

Temple of the Sun at Palenque,
Winter Solstice 2012.
©2012 Carla Woody.

Nearing the end of our travels and looking forward to Palenque in the jungle.  We left Antigua, went through border checkpoint, and got back into Mexico on December 17th.  Took the whole day to get back to San Cristóbal where we spent two more nights before heading to Palenque where the great pyramids are in the jungle.

It was amazing!  I can’t even begin to express how I felt when we went to the pyramids in Palenque.  Magazines, movies, and pictures are never the same as experiencing the real thing.  Driving to Palenque through the mountains was awesome, too.  All of a sudden a person or people will come out of the forest, people walking along the road with hoes, wood, carrying traditional pottery filled with water.  Wow!

We visited the pyramids on December 20th.  We did a great amount of walking and climbing at the pyramids.  I managed to climb up several with the help of my group members, and especially Ed from Prescott, Arizona who pulled me up and helped me down.  It was interesting to find that the temples are named for the sun, moon, snake, corn, and others I can’t quite remember.  Hopis honor those same things.  There was a ballcourt and a shrine representing the Twin Warriors and the Grandmother which Hopi includes in the Hopi Way of Life ceremonies today.

December 21st was the day of Winter Solstice in Mayaland.   On Hopi, Winter Solstice is also happening at this same time when the men are in the kiva praying and preparing for the New Year.  A time of sacrifice without sleep, praying and working hard so life can continue. They do this for, not only the Hopi, but for all life on earth including animals, plants, sun, moon, water, Mother Earth and all humankind.

On this Winter Solstice Day, the rain was coming down hard and it had started the night before.  Hoping that the rain would subside, we left at seven in the morning for the pyramids to observe Winter Solstice. Sitting on the steps of the Temple of the Sun waiting and getting drenched, after a couple of hours, some of us decided to go back to our cabanas to dry,   We didn’t get to observe the Solstice because the rain took over until five in the afternoon.  As I always say, things happen for a reason!

This journey to Mexico and Guatemala reaffirmed the Hopi migration and some history from the South for me and the Hopis.  My father talked about Palatqwapi , the Snake Serpent, the Twin Warriors and their Grandmother, and more that they brought with them when migrating from the South.  These are all still very much alive today in the Hopi Way of Life.

My father always emphasized that we need to keep faith and continue the Hopi Way to keep the world evolving. I feel very humbled to have participated in this journey and to be able to honor my father and his knowledge and wisdom in this way.

Categories: cultural interests, Hopi, Indigenous Wisdom, Maya, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

February 27 Lifepath Dialogues Gathering: The Spiritual Meaning of Lineage

Lifepath Dialogue Gathering

Exploring the many threads that weave together an expressive, celebrated life.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR AND JOIN US FOR DIALOGUE THAT MATTERS

You are invited! Please pass to friends and family.

FEBRUARY 27, 6:30-8 PM

FREE Monthly Gathering on Fourth Wednesdays

Creekside Center, 337 N. Rush Street, Prescott, Arizona

February’s topic:

“The Spiritual Meaning of Lineage”

Based on the post: “Lineage: Calling on the Ancestors
By CARLA WOODY
Author of Calling Our Spirits Home and Standing Stark
Founder, Kenosis and Kenosis Spirit Keepers

SPECIAL FEBRUARY GUEST:

TERRI HANAUER-BRAHM

Terri Hanauer-Brahm wondered why her father refused to discuss his past and why her relatives were the same way. She uncovered a family secret that sent her on an odyssey of discovery. Out of her quest came a book: “The Hanauer Family: Before, During and After the Holocaust.” She will share with us what this journey has meant to her.

Email: info@kenosis.net or call 928.778.1058

Categories: Healing, Healthy Living, Maya, Personal Growth, Spiritual Evolution, Travel Experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What 12-21-12 Meant to Me by Lori Clarke, Guest Blogger

Note from Carla Woody: Lori Clarke is a Canadian who traveled with us on the Winter Solstice 2012 program. She has generously offered impressions of her travels and a day she’d been anticipating for many years.

***

The anticipated climax of my trip was to be the day of the end of the Mayan calendar, December 21, 2012.  I have been following this day since my mid 20’s, copying the date into each new years calendar.   In my 20’s, the date seemed a life time away but now in my mid 50’s, the date is actually here… right now…

I decided several years ago that when this date arrived, I didn’t want to be home.  I wanted to be able to say where I was on that date, when whatever happened…or didn’t happen…on the Winter Solstice of 2012.  The end of the Mayan calendar and by some peoples’ interpretation, an accurate prediction of ‘the end of the world.’

Maya Relief

Maya Relief
©2012 Lori Clarke

I left Canada on Dec 8. Our ambitious itinerary kept us busy traveling and participating in healing and fire ceremonies, dinners with traditional families, textile and art gallery tours with our guides, visiting churches, museums and sacred sites.  Meeting our guides, hearing their stories and feeling their passion was inspiring, lifting.  It is very encouraging to learn that there is quite a collective movement cultivating the Mayan culture–the archaeological and historical richness, and striving to find the balance between maintaining tradition and economic growth in an increasingly modern world.  Pride in their ancestral lineage, increased understanding between the many language dialects and unity are essential components for their future.  The Maya were not defeated but very much alive.  Coming together.

Our group of 12 arrive in Palenque on Dec 19.  We spent the day touring the ruins and hear about Maya cosmology.  Upon returning to our lodging after a long, hot and humid day, I laid down before having dinner.  I increasingly didn‘t feel well and ended up vomiting.  After all these years of anticipating this date, how could I be sick and miss Dec 21, 2012.  I didn’t eat dinner that night.    Then, as night fell upon us, it began to rain.  We have not seen any rain on our trip and now, on the eve of Dec 21, it is not only raining but we are having a torrential downpour.   I began to worry if we were even going to the site in the morning if this rain continues.

Temple of the Foliated Cross

Scene from the Temple of the Sun toward the Temple of the Foliated Cross.
©2012 Lori Clarke.

To my astonishment, I woke up in the morning feeling fine.  It was a one-time appellation, no diarrhea, no headache.  Very strange.  But it does continue to rain.  We gather, eat breakfast and catch a cab to the Palenque ruins.    Along the road we pass a large group of walkers.  Maybe a 100 people, all soaking wet, singing and dancing on their way to the site.  Mostly young people, long hair, oddly dressed and obviously free-spirited.  At the gate, we are the first people in line and wait to get our tickets.  While we are waiting, we notice that the rain has stopped.  How timely.  The large group of walkers then arrive and fill up the entrance area.  Moments later, our group was allowed in 15 minutes before the park was officially open.  We quickly walk to the selected area and climb the steps up to the temple (The Temple of the Sun).  To our amazement, we have the place to ourselves, only one security person and us.  The rain has stopped but the grounds are wet and slippery making the climb rather tricky.   We look out over the jungle canopy and observe the low level of clouds, hanging heavy and providing a misty, mysterious mood to the morning.   We had a beautiful period alone on top of the temple looking down at the altar and up over the treetops.  It was a sacred moment.  The rain began again and groups of people started to arrive on site.  How truly special it was to experience this quiet and private time alone in the heart of Palenque.  No distractions from completely being present and absorbing all of its splendour.

However breathtaking this moment was in space and time, it wasn’t what we were expecting.  It had been our plan to see the sun rise above the jungle canopy at 8:36am.  The anticipation of being there to see the first peak of the rising sun on Dec 21, 2012 was exhilarating.  As much as it was disappointing that it didn‘t happen that way, it had to be realized that, unseen to us, the sun certainly did rise that morning.  A very powerful acknowledgement.

It continued to pour.  We all were varying degrees of wet and a little annoyed with all this rain.  But then I had another realization.  Water is life.  The rain is cleansing and water inspires growth, like the planted seed.

My eyes were then attracted to the altar in the centre of this area.  It was great to see it this morning without people sitting on or hanging around it, as was the case yesterday.  The altar is stone in the shape of a cross.  The centre of the cross is also marked, marked with another raised stone.  To me, this represents the heart.  From the heart, energy flows out in all four directions.  Each direction having it’s own strength and character.  Standing at the top, I could see it clearly.

I decided to go down to the altar and stopped for a moment at each of the four directions.  I then noticed that the rain falling on the temple steps was pooling and then cascaded over and down the stairs creating the flow of a waterfall.  I had glad I decided to wear my sandals this morning so I didn’t have to worry about my shoes getting wet.  I chose to be childlike and walked through the puddles.  I intentionally walked up the steps of the highest temple, following the cascading waterfall.  I imagined, feeling like a spawning salmon climbing upwards against the flow.   Reaching the top, I noticed my heavy breath.  After a few moments, I made my decent following the same path down.

As I left this area, and walked between the two sets of major ruins, I felt a strong wind.  As I learned in Peru, I stopped, opened my arms and greeted the energy.  I stood still for a moment breathing in the breath.

Dec 21, 2012  is the beginning of a new era.  What was profound to me on this date is what I already know to be true.  Believe in the unseen.   I saw very clearly, that when we are aligned with a higher power, and are connected at the heart, we will be nurtured and guided so our energy will flow outward in love and be of service to the universe.   Through our own free will, each one of us as individuals will live our life and learn the lessons through our authentic souls.

©2012 Lori Clarke. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Rain at Palenque

Rain cascading over the steps leading to the ball court,
Dec. 21, 2012.
©2012 Carla Woody.

Categories: cultural interests, Healing, Indigenous Wisdom, Maya, Spiritual Evolution, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Lineage: Calling on the Ancestors

January 2012

The nondescript address promised little from the street. I opened the old wooden door to slip through the walled entryway and found otherwise. Carol Karasik and I had arranged with the group to meet at Laughlin House, one of the oldest houses in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, then owned by anthropologist Robert Laughlin and his wife Mimi. Carol had been staying at the venerable hacienda—and, with all its rustic charm and lush garden, it seemed the perfect place for our evening gathering.

Dusk was coming quickly. I wandered through the narrow, uneven paths admiring the beauty of the garden, down to the small greenhouse at the far end. As I passed by the main house I noticed a woman kneeling in the grass separating the dwelling from the garden. She was carefully digging a shallow circle, exposing the dirt, already preparing the space. Copal smoke rose from the pedestal burner.

Floridalma (Flori) Pérez González, a traditional  Ajq’ij, a Maya Daykeeper from a Mam village in the mountains of northern Guatemala, was there to offer us a fire ceremony, so sacred to her people. As the rest of the group drifted in, she invited us to join her and sit in circle. We watched in silence as the altar grew on the bare dirt: sugar drawn in a symbol reflecting the day in the Maya calendar, fist-sized balls of resin mixed with shredded wood, candles laid in a circle as offerings to the Nawals, Day-Spirits of the calendar, and Four Directions, sticks of pine pitch, rose petals around the perimeter.

Fire Ceremony Altar

Fire Ceremony Altar

By this time it was dark, just the glow from the incense burner reflecting on our faces; we were cocooned, a timeless place separate from the everyday world. Flori spoke softly and asked me to express the collective intent of the group, then invited each one in the circle to offer their individual words. She lit the fire and invoked the presence of the spirits, praying intermittently in her Maya dialect and Spanish.

Floridalma Pérez González

Floridalma Pérez González

The fire’s flame rose. She called on the Nawals and Ancestors, Grandmothers-Grandfathers, inviting them to accept our petitions and blessings through the smoke. Every now and then she reached her hand into a bag and threw herbs upon the flames. The fire changed shape, moving against the light breeze, not with it. Flori told us the meaning and said it was a good sign. We were drawn into her soft prayers, the flames and, otherwise, the stillness.

After a time, she passed thin, white tallow candles asking us each to take eight, then instructing us to separately approach the fire and, as we settled the candles one by one into the fire, call out the names of those who have gone ahead of us, our Ancestors, to welcome them to our circle, to bless them, as they who are part of who we are, to hear our prayers.

I started. In that moment, I realized that I knew so little about my own family line—but a few names, not nearly enough for the candles I held in my hand. I attempted to sweep the corners of memory to see if anything arose. It didn’t. And when it came my turn to kneel at the fire, beyond three names I could name no more. I placed the remaining tapers, intending they would find their match.

But sadness arose; a hole was uncovered. I didn’t know My People.

I recognized then one of the reasons I’m so drawn to Indigenous traditions. Upon introduction, a number of Wisdom Keepers I’d met would identify their villages and clans going back a few generations. I’d been told that the purpose was to offer any mutual connections. But it’s also a clear statement of identity, place in the world. Those who maintain their traditions are grounded through lineage, lending spiritual strength. Hearing these pronouncements always stirred something poignant in me, as though I was attempting to reach out, to find my own conscious grounding. But I had none in that way, not of the blood that ran in my veins, the places My People had walked, or what aspects of them resonated through time to find residence within me—beyond my own mother and father. I discovered I wasn’t alone. Several of the members of the group struggled in their own way. It was a powerful ceremony.

Fire Photo

It is said that the fire works on you over time.

Its work with me began immediately. I emailed my folks the next morning mentioning the intent of the fire ceremony and my sadness for lack of knowledge of the family line. My mother wrote back saying, “It’s strange you should mention this because yesterday we started cleaning out old boxes…and found papers tracing your father’s family tree!” One of his distant cousin’s had undertaken the search years ago. The papers had been forgotten. We were both astounded at the timing of their urge to clean. I asked my mom if she’d begin looking into her line; she had little knowledge either. She promised she would.

Tracking genealogy is something of an art, sometimes an endless maze with dead-ends, particularly if you have little information at the outset, or experience. My mother got discouraged, having come up with few leads, after much time spent. The project stalled.

December 2012-January 2013

When I visited my folks over Thanksgiving, we talked of family line again. Don Boyd is an old family friend who has become something of an expert in tracing genealogy. I contacted him to see if he would be willing to give my mom some pointers. I then left for my Maya spiritual travel programs over the next two months.

Immediately, there was a flurry of emails between my mom and Don, with copies to me in Mexico and Guatemala. In no time flat, Don was able to produce information that led to a fairly extensive maternal family tree. Although some of the data petered out, thanks to Don and my dad’s distant cousin, I now know most of my lineage.

We still don’t know anything about my dad’s maternal line. But, for the rest, My People were all from the South. My paternal grandfather’s line traces back to 1724 England—and, a curious aside, includes Arthur Woody, the “legendary barefoot forest ranger” one of the first pioneering forest stewards in the US. My maternal grandfather’s people go back to 1766 Ireland. Cherokee lineage exists on both my maternal grandparents’ sides, for sure one documented to 1867 North Carolina. There’s a possible trace of another Cherokee ancestor as far back as 1797 Tennessee, but that one is difficult to prove.

Sunset over San Cristóbal de Las Casas.

Sunset over San Cristóbal de Las Casas.

Less than a week ago we met Flori at dusk. The fiery sunset announced the fire that would be lit in ceremony on the ground, perhaps already mirroring back to us our prayers that would rise. And when it came my time to approach the fire and lay the tapers, I called on my Ancestors, My People, clearly by name. I’ll never know all their stories but I can now intuit their lives—and feel their influence on me, rising up through time, running in my blood, to my place in the world.

I am grateful to the fire.

Fire Ceremony Photo

Categories: cultural interests, Healing, Indigenous Wisdom, Maya, Spiritual Evolution, Spiritual Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

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