August 4th, 2008


(no subject)

from the lonely planet: "On a hilltop south of the town, Pascual Abaj (Sacrifice Stone) is a shrine to the Mayan earth god Huyup Tak'ah. Said to be hundreds - perhaps thousands - of years old, the stone-faced idol is revered by locals who come to offer incense, cigarettes, flowers, liquor and perhaps even sacrifice a chicken, in thanks for the Earth's continuing fertility."

i climbed up this morning and witnessed one ceremony with a shaman/curandero. it was similar to, if more elaborate than the one jane and i had performed in honduras. as it was happening, three other groups came up to have their own. out of respect, i took no pictures. the stone itself is nondescript, having most of its features broken off over the years by people with less respect than i. it is surrounded, more or less, by crude stone crosses propped up by piles of rocks.

the petitioners (for want of a better term), arrive laden with bags and boxes of offerings. first they sweep their area with what i am sure are specific plants, then mark out a design in dyed flour. the one i saw was a flower. then, various offerings are arranged symmetrically on top. the ones i saw consisted of dried plants, certain unidentified liquids which were usually used to wash the hands above the offering. atop this are arranged numerous candles, lying down with their wicks towards the center, in two concentric circles.

the ceremony i watched, began with a long prayer at the altar, where there was a small fire burning. it invoked every saint you can imagine, including the non-saint san simon (maximon), and , i am sure, numerous mayan deities. then, the petitioner walked on his knees several times from different directions towards the altar while the shaman, continuously chanting, lit the candles. when he was done with his bit, the petitioner leaned against a tree for a while, as the shaman continued to evoke the saints and deities (i heard amidst the various saints, "el presidente del mundo, el general de mundo, la reina del mundo", and a few others.) then the shaman took out a bag of what i believe was frankincense, and poured half in the petitioners hands, having him stand facing away from the fire as the shaman poured the rest into it and chanted still more. in the middle of this part, the shaman got a call on his cell phone, which he answered. after a few minutes of innocuous conversation with the caller, he hung up and had the petitioner throw his incense on the fire. then he and the petitioner went back to the altar and lit two bunches of candles, and prayed some more.

the shaman continued to chant until the fire was almost out, and then extinguished it with two liquids, one of which he poured over the hands of the petitioner, and both of which he made small offerings of at the altar. then the two of them walked a ways down the path for a private conversation.

i put on my hat and left at that point. if there hadn´t been three more groups waiting for the half hour ceremony, i might have waited to take pictures.