This past Monday, I had the privilege of taking time away from my day-to-day work with Project Somos to participate in a Mayan ceremony. According to the Mayan calendar, July 11th was a special day for indigenous people this year. It was the day when everyone renewed their energy for the beginning of a new cycle.
The ceremony was held in a Mayan botanical garden that is located in the middle of a forest. After a short hike, we arrived at their sacred site, which consisted of an altar and a fire pit. Before we began the ceremony, Antolin, our foreman for Project Somos as well as a respected Mayan spiritual guide, invited all of us to help decorate the altar. The altar was adorned with pine needles, flowers, candles, fruit, Mayan crosses and a traditional Mayan stick. Afterwards we began preparing the fire pit. Antolin drew the Mayan cross with sugar, then everyone layered it with, chocolate, different types of bark, sesame seeds, incense, basil, dried rosemary, sweet bread, and candles. Finally, we laid four different colored flower petals, red, yellow, purple and white around the fire pit in their respective directions. Every material used for the ceremony had special meaning.
Antolin began the ceremony by lighting the fire pit and invoking the four cardinal points: the sun, moon, air and water. Everyone then walked around the fire pit six times. In the span of four hours the six Mayan priests prayed to the 20 Nahuales (spirits) for protection and guidance and initiated future Mayan spiritual leaders. We then ended the ceremony by walking around the fire pit in the opposite direction seven times.
It was a great honour to have this opportunity to attend a Mayan ceremony normally just open to indigenous people. From this amazing experience, I was reminded of the importance to live life with love, peace and harmony, and that we may have different traditions around the world but there is something about us at our core that is the same no matter where we come from.