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  • Sara

Mayan or prehispanic ceremony?

Once mayan ceremonies weren’t so popular, but nowadays more and more people are interested in them. So how you should recognize a real mayan ceremony from a fake one? Are there really fake ceremonies?

After 10 years of researching culture and tradition of Mexico, I can say that the way to represent it, depends on interpretation, knowledge and conscience of the people sharing the ceremonies.

During spanish invasion most of books were burned and in the centuries afterwards all native cultures in Mexico were pushed to forget their traditions; it was forbidden for so much time to realize these ceremonies in public, or even to speak their native language, that each family, each community kept this knowledge between them in order not to be persecuted. After many centuries certainly there is not anymore just an original way (and maybe there wasn’t), but different interpretations.

A mayan ceremony might be shared for blessings, for welcoming, for being thankful, to honor the guardians of the place, etc: in mayan world everything is a ceremony as their attention is on the present moment.

A mayan traditional wedding ceremony is held all in mayan language: you will have the altar on a table and an arch decoration on top, to represent the 3 levels of the world and 5 containers for the offerings that symbolize the 4 directions and the center. In different communities they can use different offerings and in some communities the altar is on the floor, that is as well the prehispanic way (they call it Tlalmanalli).

We have the opportunity nowadays to have the ceremony translated into other languages. What you will always find in every altar of every tradition is a reference to the 4 elements and the center: you can find different elements and colours to represent them, depending on the celebrant understanding of the cosmos.

In some communities they mix mayan and catholicism in their ceremonies, would it be less mayan in this case? The people helding it are born maya, so should we call it an interfaith ceremony?

Traditional ceremonies in other communities lasts up to 3 hours, for this reason it's quite difficult that you will be able to assist, as people that aren't from these communities or close to these cultures can't focus the attention on these kind of ceremonies for so long.

A prehispanic way to celebrate marriage in the center of Mexico will include 3 days of ceremonies, among them a Temazcal. Temazcal is believed to come from the city of Temazcalapa in the center of Mexico, so it seems not to be originally a mayan tradition, but many mayan communities learned this ceremony and now they are sharing it as well. Can we call the Temazcal an interfaith prehispanic – mayan ceremony then?

We use the word prehispanic to refer to the culture before spanish invasion. There are many indigenous tribes in Mexico (Wirrarika – Huichol -, Tarahumara, Miztec, Zapotec, Chichimecas etc) but nowadays in Riviera Maya we use the word prehispanic to refer to an attire of feathers, leather, colours. This culture is originally from the center of Mexico but has spread through out it. You can refer this way of dressing to the Aztec, Mexica, Toltec community and you can find this culture organized in Calpullis through out Mexico, from Tijuana in the north to Cancun in the south. The language they share in Nahuatl, that seems to be the original language that unites Anahuac.

Again, representations and beliefs are very different from north to south.

You can find people originally from Mexico City that have been living in mayan region for 20 years and they mix beliefs and rituals to deliver the most connecting and meaningful ceremony. So this should maybe be a prehispanic/mayan way of sharing.

Then we have as well some cases when somebody from a mayan community like to wear a prehispanic attire, so here we have a mayan prehispanic ceremony, we ask permissions to the elements in mayan language but in a prehispanic attire.

One of my dearest teacher from who I’ve learned so much about herbs and ceremonies follow mayan tradition as she lived here for 30 years, but she was originally born in Spain. However she heals mayan people and she even gives ceremonies for other celebrants that were born in Mexico, as her way to understand spirituality is unique.

So are you looking for a traditional ceremony from a community or a spiritual ceremony to connect your soul? Or both?

The sense of our ceremonies is very similar, they can be mayan or prehispanic, but our celebrants will always use the knowledge of tradition to share a spiritual experience according to their beliefs: the purpose is to connect you with your soul and make you listen to the voice of your heart.

In order to share a deep spiritual experience our celebrants are open to share ceremonies with other cultures, as in the world of the spirit we cannot assume that we know everything, our way may be better if we add your way too. So, our way to share the tradition is an interpretation and you can choose the one you prefer. I guess it all depends on what we believe, that could be different, so our suggestion is to find the perfect celebrant for you.

Stay tuned and we will present them all in our next newsletter. If you want to share something or you think that something I wrote is not proper said, please contact me. We are all still learning.


Blessings and thank you... en Maya

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