|Calista Gabriel, one of 3000 shamans in Guatemala|
"World To End on December 21, 2012" should be a headline reserved for the National Enquirer at check-out stands in your favorite grocery store but this story has been covered by serious news outlets. The excitement comes from the accurate Maya Calendar begun over 5,000 years ago and still in use by the Maya people of Guatemala and Mexico.
As the end of this 5 millennial calendar cycle approached, much attention has been given to the event. Yet, it’s really just a reset of the calendar for another 5,126 years. There will be celebrating on December 21st as a rebirth of their civilization but no preparations for the apocalypse.
|Ceramic Pot Used in Maya Fire Ceremony|
Calista was a political refugee in the United States during the Guatemalan internal war in the 1980s. She returned and is part of the Maya artist movement. With three university degrees and three languages, the diminutive native was knowledgeable and self-assured.
From her we learned the Sacred Fire is over 5000 years old. Each is different. Some burn large. Others burn out. With the Mayas, a fire may last three or four hours and include much crying, laughing, and dancing. Petitions are very personal such as “My husband won’t give me enough money.”
|Xalista Gabriel prepares fire for Maya Fire Ceremony|
As she swept our bodies, Calista noted we were part of the creation but have become artificial. In villages, there is more connection among neighborhoods. In the city, we are as she said “more weak” because of the disconnect. As the plant crossed our heads, she talked of cleaning our “corona”, our antenna, and purifying our energies. A sprinkling of flower water on us was the final preparation for the calling of the four directions.
|Candles used in Maya Fire Ceremony|
At the end, Calista made the sign of the Maya cross, different than that of our Catholic brethren, indicating the balance of nature. A final traditional embrace began with Calista hugging each of us as we individually followed her around the circle.
|Calista Gabriel After the Ceremony|
This is not a conversion opportunity. No one wants you to change religions. You are either Maya or not - like being Jewish. Yet it is a recognition that we are all spiritual beings and it can be a cleansing ceremony allowing participants to release petitions up to creation through nature’s fire and smoke. My guess is that there will be many of these ceremonies on December 21st as the Mayas give thanks and celebrate their rebirth.