Magic In the Trees Part 2: Deep Magical Roots in Tikal and Lake Peten Itza
My trip to Guatemala in the first two weeks of June of this year was very special for me. It was my first opportunity to visit the ancient Mayan ruins in Tikal and Lake Peten Itza, home to the Itza people, the last of the Mayan ethnic groups to be conquered by the Spanish. Itza means something like "magic water" and the Itza were know as water wizards who knew the laws of nature and how to use them in "magical" ways" . Sounds like the perfect stop on my next destination of the Pilgrimage to the Sea.
The Itza migrated from Chichen Itza and Uxmal in the Yucatan to Peten and established their city on an island in the lake where Flores currently stands. The Itza are followers and descendants of the great demigod Itzamna and the seven sages who came to the Yucatan from the seas to the east after their island civilization was lost to the rising seas of cataclysm ,to re-esestablish human civilization after a great flood.
Itzamna is amongst the oldest and most important gods in the Mayan world view. He is the son of the creator god Hunab Ku ("One Diversity of Heart") and, he was associated with the sun god Kinich Ahau as well as the goddess Ix Chel. There are many stories and myths about Itzamna since he was considered a cultural hero by the Maya.
Those of you who've followed my story over the years, have heard me often reference my "Pilgrimage to the Sea", a personal journey of the heart combining travel, art, and spirituality inspired by water. What started as a personal art pilgrimage inspired by the element of water, has lead me to discover many deeper truths about my own "hidden" abilities, healing, and my own true spirituality, founded i the ancestral wisdom of the Maya. Arriving in the land of the Itza and discovering the sweet magical healing of Lake Peten Itza has been an important step on my spiritual path.
I traveled to Peten with my dearest of friends. Denise Barrios, daughter of Carlos, Felipe Feldmar who I met at my lakeside restaurant, Cafe La Puerta, on Lake Atitlan in 2009, and Juan and Miguel Leon Cortez, my teachers who are guiding me on the path of Ajq'ij, a Mayan daykeeper, commonly referred to as a "shaman". We enjoyed a relaxing and empowering trip to this peaceful lake and the majestic towering monuments of Tikal nearby. We travelled here not only to experience the sites and splendor of the jungle, we came to make and offering and fire ceremony, lead by Miguel and Juan, on the Main Plaza as part of my training or "actualizing" of the special abilities that encompass this path. You can only imagine the ceremony was nothing short of incredible, and indescribable in is power. Not only the ceremony was powerful, but the whole place emanated mystery and ancient wisdom there in that ancient "place of voices", a place where sounds echo across the plaza and intense currents of energy are channeled through time and space.
Tikal was every bit as magical as I expected. Upon entering the archeological zone, we first came to a giant tree, a Ceiba, with its sinuous, massive roots extending from the main trunk like points on a star. I learned on this trip that Itzamná was also connected with the sacred World Tree (ceiba), which for the Maya linked together the sky, earth, and Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. We all took the opportunity to pose with the enormous tree; you can hardly see us in its wide, splayed roots. And so here I was, discovering some very deep roots indeed! Deep roots to the great medicine man, Itzamna.
As we made our way into the park the first day, a Toucan led us up the last little incline to the Main Plaza where the biggest monuments are clustered. Toucan is the spirit animal associated with Tijax, the energy of healing. Little did I know I was about to be healed in ways had yet to imagine.
Arriving at the main plaza I was startled by two things. First, the swallows. Dancing overhead in big groups, these playful sky dancers had been "with me" since I left McCall, arriving there at the onset of spring, the week before I left for this trip.
I'd first noticed the swallows swarming over my head as I waited at the security gate of the entrance to Kay's home back in Idaho, where I'd just delivered the two mosaic Ponderosa Pine panels. I noticed them again the morning I left McCall to travel to Guatemala. "Joyful bringers of spring" I thought. But sensing a deeper message from the swallows, I researched a bit and discovered a message of flexibility and renewal that resonated with me. Swallow comes to help with understanding the self, finding our core values, and encouraging us to seek out sympathetic friends for happy social occasions. Well, given that I'd arrived here with some of my most "sympathetic" of friends to renew my path of personal discovery, the welcome that the swallows gave me in Tikal was exquisitely perfect!
Second, upon arriving at that ancient civic space, I was overwhelmed by the sudden apparent "arrival" of what felt like a busload of old people on a tour coming up behind me as I gazed at the Temple of the Grand Jaguar and the ancient, sacred space laid out in magnificent architecture before me. The feeling of a tour group approaching me was really the collective presence of my family on the other side of life. My eyes immediately filled with tears, knowing that the "people" behind me were my grandparents and stepparents, who grasped in collective amazement and appreciation, thanking me for bringing them here with me! What an incredibly powerful feeling of gratitude--not only my own, but that of all of my ancestors as well.
After the ceremony, we explored with park with a guide, Danilo, who happened to know Juan and Miguel, as well as Carlos, Denise's father. He showed us around much of the park, exploring the area and reimagining it in its glory, before the centuries of jungle growth covered over the ancient temples.
Climbing to the top of the Sun Pyramid, the oldest, and Temple 4, the tallest of all the Mayan pyramids, I was struck by a certain truth about these "temples": To me, they felt like energy generators, power plants, with so much energy rising up through them, I felt that I would "lift off" at any moment. Unnerving for sure, but this afforded me with the opportunity to interact with and ground so much energy as I have never felt before. My friends thought it was vertigo, but I had no fear of falling. Rather, I feared flying, flying off into the skies. I relaxed and breathed into all that energy and reached down, deep below the pyramids for my grounding.
"What's beneath all of this mountain of stone?" I asked Danilo as we sat looking out over Tikal from the peak of Temple 4.
A few years ago, he had the opportunity to descend into a shaft at the base of the pyramid with archeologists doing research, going some 20 meters below the foundations where he discovered that a whole world of architecture lies buried beneath these monuments leading us to wonder how long have humans been developing his area? The architecture we see today dates from 400BC to the 9th century AD. How old is that which lies below? And what purpose would that architecture have served?
Imagining the pyramids conducting earth and cosmic energies with a cord of energy running from the heavens to middle earth and vice-versa, my attention focussed on the Mayan view of the world, with 13 cosmic dimensions above, and 9 levels of the underworld below this plane of existence we call life or reality. I could not help but be aware of the great powers of Uk'ux Kaj (Heart of Heaven) and Uk'ux Ulew (Heart of the Earth), which I pray to and work with every day since I began my healing path many years ago. No other living creature so beautifully describes this connection between heaven and earth--and the magic that is produced in between the two--than the Giant Trees.
This visit to Peten and Tikal is making me feel very powerful and connected indeed!
How much my perspective changed in this trip, which I noticed when I was drawn to this sculpture in the Houston International Airport : World Tree