The Mayan Culture
With the hullabaloo being created due to the fact the Mayan calendar ends in 2012, there is much interest concerning the Mayan culture, Mayan religion, and Mayan symbols. Existing mainly in Central America, Belize, and Mexico, they have a varied and interesting history.
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The 2012 Mayan Calendar does not signify the end of the world, it only signifies the beginning of a new era or age, a new level of consciousness and time.
The Maya believe the cycles are approximately 5,000 years in duration and the year 2012 only signifies the end of a particular era, as that era ends, a new cycle will begin, a change most humans won’t even notice.
According to Mayan belief the Cosmos was made up by nine underworlds, this belief was expressed very powerfully in their pyramids, which were all built based on nine different stories.
The traditional Mayas believe in the existence, within each individual,of various sub souls, usually described in quasi-material terms(such as ‘shadow’, ‘breath’, ‘blood’, and ‘bone’). The loss of one or more sub souls results in specific diseases ( such as heart disease, cancer, etc.) They were very adept at natural healing, using herbs and plants from the surrounding jungle to heal and nourish their bodies.This art is still evident today, although it is dying out as the old medicine men pass on.
The Mayas accomplished a lot of “firsts” in this era. Not only did they build a lot of pyramids and temples, they were experts on building roads and also knew how to make rubber. Thus, they built the most advanced road system of their time.
They had the first advanced system of writing in the western hemisphere and had two calendars, one with 365 days.They used their system of writing, (hieroglyphics), to record information in books made from the bark of fig trees.
They developed a mathematical system based on the number 20 and were the first to use the number 0.
It wasn’t a life of all work and no play. They had developed a form of the modern day game of basketball, where a gourd or other round object was attempted to pass through a hoop high on the wall. They took this game very seriously, as the losers were often sacrificed to the Gods. In some instances, the victors were sacrificed as a way of appeasing the Gods for some ill conceived misfortune that had befallen the tribe. In this circumstance it was an honor to be chosen as a sacrifice and most athletes willingly volunteered.
Astronomy was very much a part of their life as was the calendar, and mathematics.. Social class was determined by economics, religious beliefs and politics. As evidenced still today in the beautiful art work displayed throughout Central America and Mexico, there were many talented potters, sculptors and artists with abilities in carving jade and other semi precious stones. The Mayans were intelligent farmers and architects as well.
The earliest evidence of the Mayan existence was in A.D. 250.Geographers soon found that in A.D. 900 the Mayan had abandoned their cities and thus their civilization slowly vanished.
His travels have taken him to most of the United States, as well as Australia, Belize, Egypt and the Canary Islands.
He has studied the Mayan culture of Central America as well as the aborigines of Australia. Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in various parts of the world.
He has published several books about his adventures.
For more information, please consult his website,www.journeysthrulife.com.
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It doesn’t take long to discover that Belize is a land of contrasts. From the poverty and disarray of the cities to the quiet countryside, many differences are soon found. With poverty and crime running rampant in cities such as Belize City and Belmopan, the traveler has to be constantly aware of his surroundings and protect whatever is being carried. Remember,that camera hanging around your neck is worth more than the average Belizean earns in a year. All that aside, the Mayan people are wonderfully warm people many of whom go out of their way to please visitors. Traveling into the countryside one discovers thatch roof homes with no doors or windows. Because of the warm climate , they can live comfortably all year with a gentle breeze flowing through the open windows and doors. I was struck with the concept that although no utility lines were visible, a lot of homes had a satellite dish in the front yard