We said good-bye to Guatemala the next day. As the plane took off from Guatemala City, my mind reflected on the country that was known as “the soul of the Americas.” This was the land where the Maya civilization was on display in its customs, traditions, and beliefs. This was the land where the Maya gods (of nature, of life and death, and of the cosmos) called home. And Lake Atitlan was now the Heart Center of the Earth, the place where the hearth stones of creation (the three volcanoes) reflected the cosmic Orion Nebula, where creation was in continuous emanation.
Images of Lake Atitlan stayed for a long time in my mind’s eye. I can still see the Rainbow Lady and the boat ride across the waters of the sacred lake.
If there was one theme that could epitomize the entire pilgrimage for me, it would be the union of the sun and moon, with the plumed serpent (the quetzal) at the center. This was the wood carving that I bought. It symbolized the story of the Hero Twins (sun and moon) in the Popol Vuh, and it personified the shaman’s quest to unify the masculine (solar) and feminine (lunar) currents within the inner kingdom of heaven (God).
The other part of the pilgrimage was the initiation into the Mysteries of the Maya, which was a journey through the underworld of Xibalba, through the various “Houses” that were like centers of consciousness within the human psyche. Connecting with each of these centers brought me to a realization that the past is ever present with us, the Maya civilization is alive and well in the Americas, the Land of the Feathered Plumed Serpent.
I had asked my daughter, Susie, on her previous trip to Guatemala to find me something about the Popol Vuh and the Maya gods, and she brought back a present for me that hangs to this day in a beautiful frame in my house. The tapestry represents to me the central pyramid-temple that ascends through the seven chakras in the human body, and the two quetzal birds with their deities represent the two currents that bring human consciousness up through the spinal tree of life to higher consciousness of divine celestial realms in the cosmos. The Maya underworld, human world, and celestial world were the three levels of their cosmology.
When Susie made her trip through Mexico, she managed to stop at Palenque, and she sent me a note and some pictures on Father’s Day: “Happy Father’s Day! Here’s a sneak peek at another great Mayan city (Palenque). Thanks for being such an adventurous Dad and fellow journeyer through this cosmic land. Love, Susie.”
The pictures of Palenque made me feel that I was enjoying the sacred place through the eyes of my daughter. I felt that I had made a positive influence in her life to appreciate the sacred places on our planet earth.
Susie had enticed me and my wife to travel to Costa Rica on her first excursion into the Land of the Plumed Serpent. That was when she studied in Costa Rica for a year, and we visited her at the end of her studies. That was also when I saw the mystical quetzal bird in the cloud forest of Monteverde. The heavenly bird was the representation of the god-like Quetzalcoatl and the spiritual emblem of the Maya creator, Heart of Sky.
Deep in my heart I knew that I would return to this Land of the Plumed Serpent many times. I looked at the sacred places that were scattered like jewels across the landscape of Mexico and Central America, and I visualized what other seers had seen: the Land of the Plumed Serpent is like the Ceiba tree (the World Tree), whose branches reach into North America, its roots into South America, and the sacred sap of the trunk of the tree flows through Mexico and Central America.
When Susie finally returned from Mexico, she was healthy and wise. She was wise in the ways of the world traveler, and she was healthy after getting her penicillin shot to get rid of the nasal infection that she acquired at Lake Atitlan. She needed a well deserved rest – in a hammock that was hung between two sturdy trees in our backyard.
As I end my story of the Maya pilgrimage, I reflect on my first visit to Mexico back in 1988. That was when I was first introduced to the awesome civilization that flourished on the soil of the Americas. I don’t know what it was, but something attracted me to a rug in a small village near Oaxaca. At the time, I wasn’t aware that I had bought a rug that represented the Maize God. To me it was just a Maya deity. Now, I understand that the substance of life itself is what the Maize God is all about. It is the substance that is deified when it brings life to life, when it ascends into consciousness and comes forth as the plumed serpent. This rug of the Maize God hangs in my house.
The journey of life is a pilgrimage through many symbolical houses, through many experiences and adventures. The great journey as the Maya saw it takes place through "Xibalbe be," the Milky Way. Each time I look into the sky and see the grand galaxy within which our journey takes place, I remember the cosmic journey in the cosmic canoe. What a journey through time and space it is – through light years of travel in a Cyclic Universe!
2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, Daniel Pinchbeck
Apocalypto, Mel Gibson's (Movie), Gerardo Taracena
Art and Society in a Highland Maya Community: The Altarpiece of Santiago Atitlán (The Linda Schele Series in Maya and Pre-Columbian Studies) Allen J. Christenson
Breaking the Maya Code, Michael D. Coe
Complete Illustrated History of the Aztec and Maya, Charles Phillips
Edgar Cayce on Atlantis, Edgar Evans Cayce
Esotericism of the Popol Vuh, Raphael Girard
Journey to Xibalba, Edward F. Topa
Journey to Xibalba: A Life in Archaeology, Don Patterson
Maya Cosmos, David Freidel
Monuments of Civilization, text by Pierre Ivanoff
Popol Vuh (Ancient Stories of the Quiche Indians of Guatemala), Albertina Sarovia E.
Popol Vuh: The Definitive Edition of the Mayan Book of the Dawn of Life and the Glories of Gods and Kings, Dennis Tedlock
Popol Vuh: The Mythic and Heroic Sagas of the Kiches of Central America, Lewis Spence
Popol Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Ancient Quiche Maya (Civilization of the American Indian Series) Adrian Recinos
Popol Vuh: The Sacred Book of the Maya, Allen J. Christenson
Rituals of Sacrifice: Walking the Face of the Earth on the Sacred Path of the Sun, Vincent Stanzione
Sacred Mysteries Among the Mayas and the Quiches, Augustus Le Plongeon
Scandals in the House of Birds: Shamans and Priests on Lake Atitlan, Nathaniel Tarn, Martin Prechtel
Star Gods of the Maya: Astronomy in Art, Folklore, and Calendars (The Linda Schele Series in Maya and Pre-Columbian Studies) Susan Milbrath
The Ancient Maya, Robert J. Sharer, Sylvanus Griswold Morley
The Aztecs, Maya, and Their Predecessors, Third Edition: Archaeology of Mesoamerica (v. 1), Muriel Porter Weaver
The Book of the Azure Veil, by James M. Pryse, Printed in Lucifer - A Theosophical Magazine, September 1894 to January 1895
The Code of Kings: The Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs Linda Schele
The Dawn of Civilization and the Giving of Fire According to the Popol Vuh, Kenneth Sylvan Guthrie
The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell
The Masks of God, Vol. 1: Primitive Mythology, Joseph Campbell
The Mayan Prophecy 2012: The Mayan calendar and the end of time, David Douglas
The Mystery of 2012: Predictions, Prophecies, and Possibilities, Gregg Braden
The Mythology of Mexico and Central America, John Bierhorst
The Return of the Serpents of Wisdom, Mark Amaru Pinkham
The Rough Guide to Guatemala 3 (Rough Guide Travel Guides), Iain Stewart
Tikal, a handbook of the Ancient Maya Ruins, William R. Coe
The Secret Teachings of All Ages, Manly P. Hall
Time for Change (Music), Apache Indian
World Mythology: An Anthology of the Great Myths and Epics, Donna Rosenberg
A Lucky Find - that's what I call it when I located a copy of the Dresden Codex (Kumatzim Wuh Jun) from a bookseller online (Motte & Bailey). The publisher of the book (one long folding accordian-like sheet printed on both sides) - which I had seen at the Popol Vuh museum in Guatemala City - was Chokamaj, Guatemala (1998).
I couldn't find any adequate pictures of the Dresden Codex in book shape (accordian-style) that I had seen in the Popol Vuh museum. There was one image, but it was for pay.
So, as my final tribute to the Maya Pilgrimage, and my intense interest in the Popol Vuh, I took several pictures of the book when I received it. I provide the pictures (free of charge) for educational purposes.
Actual page by page images of the Dresden Codex are found at FAMSI (Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc.):
Dresden Codex at FAMSI