Tuesday, May 25, 2010


Last Sunday we went on a 'school fieldtrip' with my masters program. It was a family trip led by our professor Estuardo Zapeta. Estuardo is a renown journalist/atropologists/linguist/economist he is both brilliant and controversial. The trip included breakfast at El Pedregal, a visit to the Chakchikel city of Iximche, the ruins, the mayan altar and a 10 interview assignment at the Market of Tecpan.

I had been to Iximche several times before but I had not been to this particular place where the Mayan rituals take place. For future reference you need to go all the way to the end of the site past what you think is the last set of pyramids.
There you will find this mound. It is a set of four altars two of them active (what Tom described as with signal -5 strong bars-).

Some of the key points we learned were:
1. The Shamanes (mayan priests) are one because of a calling mostly related to their Nahual -the month, day, year, they were born - It is so that the real Shamanes won´t even charge you for a ceremony. (To find your Nahual click here)
2. The Colors are important the circle is first divided in half and colored with nature elements blue and green symbolizing sky and earth. Around the circle in an outer one for colors are arrange on the cardinal points. According to the petition different color candles or elements are used. The Shaman will always have red in his or her head.
3. There are offering given and burn on the fire also according to the plea. If it is an illness or a course ones wants to get rid off perhaps a chicken will be used to take all the bad in you and then burnt on the fire. The Shaman will also read that fire.
4. Ceremonies will last 4 to 5 hours and are performed in spanish and a mayan dialect.

The ceremony in the picture was to ask for prosperity in business. The family brought as an offering sausages because it was the most expensive item they had at home. The sausages were thrown in the fire. The flowers, candles, sugar an other elements used were also provided by the family asking for the ritual.


Benjamin Barnett said...

Where was this taken?

Guatemalan Genes said...

It was Iximche @ Tecpan.

Unknown said...

Amazing, Cynthia. We've been to Iximche, but not seen this part. Thanks for showing and explaining.

Unknown said...

I love Iximche. Love that it's so close to Guatemala City and that it's a safe place to be out in nature. Love that the Kaqchikel are the ones that patrol and use their own site. Thanks for reminding me of the wonderful times I spent (and hope to spend!) there.

One word on translation: Kaqchikel is a language, not a dialect (although there are local dialects of the Kaqchikel language). Actually this distinction holds in Spanish as well, and "dialecto" is frequently STILL used by ladinos in Guatemala with a negative connotation to disparage Maya languages as "less" than Spanish. The correct reference to the Mayan languages (like K'iché, Mam, etc).