Tag: Maya Temples

Maya Temples of Transformation: Watch our favourite moments from our recent journey

Earlier this year, our founder, Helen Tomei, accompanied our group on the journey: “Maya Temples of Transformation with Freddy Silva & Miguel Angel Vergara: A Sacred Journey from Palenque to Tikal”. She took several videos during the journey on her iPhone that nicely reflect the spirit of this tour.

Maya temples Mexico Guatemala
Helen Tomei (front, 2nd from left) with tour leaders Freddy Silva & Miguel Angel Vergara and our group on our journey to Mexico and Guatemala

It was a journey where participants experienced the timeless Maya knowledge of sacred geometry, number, cosmic correspondence, and ritual encoded in the temples and pyramids of Palenque, Yaxchilan, and Tikal. A sacred sites tour that elevated the seeker to discover their inner temple: the place of the soul.

We are excited to share some of our favourite moments of this transformative journey with you. If you have travelled with us, we hope these videos will bring back wonderful memories of your time in Mexico and Guatemala. If you’re coming here because you’re curious about what a spiritual pilgrimage is really like, or want to know more about Mayan spirituality, these videos will give you an insight into the experience of group travel with such knowledgeable and connected tour leaders as Freddy Silva and Miguel Angel Vergara – and hopefully inspire you to join us on future spiritual journeys.

1. Maya Temples & Temple Building, Palenque, Mexico

“We will go on building temples until people realize they are the temple.” In this video taken at Palenque, Mexico, our tour leader and best-selling author Freddy Silva discusses temple building, the geometry of perfection, and the location of temples as markers of the original energy hot spots.

2. Meditation at Tikal, Guatemala

This video was taken at the Mundo Perdido, “Lost World” ceremonial centre in Tikal – notice the blue light orb, or guardian, visiting us during our meditation here. If you were with us and noticed the orb, or if you’re watching for the first time, we’d love to hear your thoughts on it!

Tikal is a university that reflects the architecture of the cosmos, a ceremonial centre where the ancient Maya teachers captured the sounds from other realities. The shapes of the pyramids and temples reflect the thorough understanding of mathematics, geometry, and cosmic calendars. They are also designed to act as needles, capturing the telluric energy of the Earth and of the sky, acupuncturing the ground and the human body.

3. Yaxchilan Sounds

We were also interested in capturing sounds while in this sacred land – can you guess (or do you know!) what the sound is in this video taken at the sacred site of Yaxchilan, Mexico? What are your thoughts on it – is it a sound you would be happy waking up to every day or one you’d rather keep a distance from? We’d love to hear from you!

4. Freddy Silva: Power of Stone

In this video you’ll see Freddy Silva discussing the conductive power of the sacred stones near Yaxchilan, and then dowsing for the energy fields that surround them. Learn about energy hot spots, the wisdom of the ancients, and the conscious process of working with intent. Whether you “believe” in dowsing or not, you’ll see that this is a very powerful experience.

5. Miguel Angel Vergara leads a tranquil meditation

Maya Master Teacher Miguel Angel Vergara leads our group in tranquil meditation overlooking the sacred site of Tikal in Guatemala. Imagine a blue stone, the colour of turquoise, listen to the sounds of a jungle meditation and let yourself be transported to this sacred land of Mayan temples…

We hope you enjoyed these 5 videos from our sacred journey to the Maya temples of Mexico and Guatemala. We have published more on our Sacred Earth Journeys YouTube channel, and will continue to upload more over the next little while! If you travelled with us on this journey we’d love to know your own favourite moments!

~ Sacred Earth Journeys

A Ceremony Amid Sun-Dappled Mayan Ruins

Read Sacred Earth Journeys’ participant and travel writer Lori Erickson’s third instalment about her journey to Mexico & Guatemala in this week’s feature guest blog.

When you visit a sacred site, how can you figure out what makes it holy? This challenge is doubly difficult, of course, if the people who built the holy site lived hundreds of years ago.

Mexico tour leader Miguel Angel Vergara
Miguel Angel Vergara leads a prayer at one of the Mayan sites on our tour with Sacred Earth Journeys. (Bob Sessions photo)

On our Maya Temples of Transformation tour with Sacred Earth Journeys (see my previous posts on Palenque and Exploring Sacred Mayan Sites), we were fortunate to have Miguel Angel Vergara and Freddy Silva as our guides. I especially appreciated how Miguel–who is a living link to ancient Maya traditions–led ceremonies at each of the sites we visited. He helped us enter a very different spiritual world.

Of the three major Mayan sites we visited, Yaxchilan was the smallest, but in some ways it was my favorite. This was partly because of the Indiana-Jones-style in which we traveled to it: a 45-minute boat ride on the Usamacinta River on the border between Mexico and Guatemala. Along the way we passed mile after mile of dense rainforest, with occasional crocodiles sunning themselves on the river banks. At the end of our river trip, we hiked up a steep hill and then walked down a winding forest path until we finally arrived at the archeological site.

It was worth the effort.

boat ride in Mexico
The Mexican archeological site of Yaxchilan is accessible only by boat or airplane. (Bob Sessions photo)

Yaxchilan was the capital of a jungle kingdom that reached its height during the reigns of Lord Shield Jaguar and his son Bird Jaguar, two evocatively named Mayan leaders of the eighth century. More than 120 structures were built here, though only a small fraction have been excavated. Surrounded by forest, the site has a central plaza area flanked by a mixture of ruins and partially reconstructed buildings.

As we approached the entrance to Yaxchilan, Miguel gathered our group of 15 people into a circle and filled our cupped hands with a small amount of scented water. As we splashed the water over our heads, I recognized a classic rite of purification, a common feature of nearly all religions. Next Miguel gave us a few drops of an aromatic oil, which we used to anoint our foreheads–again, something I was familiar with in my own Christian tradition.

Yaxchillan in Mexico
Temple 33 at Yaxchilan is reached by climbing a steep flight of narrow stairs. (Bob Sessions photo)

Miguel then directed us to put out our hands once again. “We will make an offering to the spirits of this place as we enter their home,” he said, going around the circle to pour a small mound of corn kernels into our hands “As you walk into Yaxchilan, you can honor them by the throwing the kernels along the path.”

Then we filed, one by one, into a shadowed passageway of stone, which wound around in the darkness for a number of yards before we climbed a small flight of steps. As we ascended, I could see the brilliant green of the jungle framed by a doorway ahead of us. The transition from darkness into light felt mythic and ancient.

At last we emerged into the full expanse of Yaxchilan. Though much smaller in size than Palenque, it nevertheless had a similar air of grandeur. With each step we took, the sounds of the forest became louder: the shrill caws and melodic twittering of birds and the rasp of insects. The greenery pressed close to the buildings, as if it was eager to overtake them once again.

After passing by several sets of low-lying ruins, we saw a temple on a hill above us, a landmark reached by a set of narrow, steep steps.

“Before we explore, let us gather together for a ceremony,” Miguel said.

stone mayan tablet
Elaborately carved stone tablets hint of the complex society that created Yaxchilan. (Bob Sessions photo)

We formed a circle around him, close to the base of the large temple, and watched as he took out the elements of the ritual–small wooden bowls that he filled with water, a drum, incense, pieces of brightly patterned cloth. He invited us to place our own sacred offerings in the center of the circle. People came forward with stones, crystals, and other symbolic items.

I looked around at my fellow travelers, most dressed in the white clothing that Miguel had suggested we wear that day. I could see how seriously people were taking this ritual, though for many of us it was likely a departure from our own traditions. I was struck, too, by the silence that had fallen upon us–a sure sign of the holy approaching.

And then–I kid you not–the howler monkeys began a chorus. From the treetops nearby they began to vocalize, a primal and wild sound unlike any I’d heard before. I don’t know about you, but I think a lot of church services would be greatly enhanced by the addition of some howler monkeys in the choir.

During the next half hour, Miguel led us in a ceremony that had echoes of shamanic ceremonies from around the world. He invoked the four directions and then the power of sky and earth. He led us in prayers and chanting, our songs accompanied by the rhythmic beat of the drum, which formed a hypnotic counterpoint to the sounds of the monkeys and the other forest creatures. He invited us to enter into the spirit of the place with our hearts, not just with our minds.

It was one of the most powerful ceremonies I’ve ever attended (and I’ve been part of a lot of rituals). It made me think, too, of the many holy sites I’ve been to where the sacred takes a back seat to tourism. It was a rare privilege to be led by Miguel into a deeper experience in this isolated forest oasis. His quiet wisdom helped us see that while Yaxchilan’s glory has faded, it is still a living spiritual site.

sacred site of Yaxchillan Mexico
The sun-dappled ruins of Yaxchilan are surrounded by dense jungle. (photo by Bob Sessions)

For the rest of the afternoon as I wandered amid the ruins of Yaxchilan, the ceremony led by Miguel framed my experience. It gave me a glimpse of why the Mayans created these remarkable landmarks of stone, here in this forest inhabited by creatures seen and unseen.

~ Lori Erickson

This blog was first published on www.patheos.com

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/holyrover/2017/02/22/12517/

 

Exploring Sacred Mayan Sites in Mexico and Guatemala

Sacred Earth Journeys’ participant and travel writer Lori Erickson shares her recent experience of travelling to Mexico & Guatemala in this week’s feature guest blog.

palenque mexico
Tour Leader Freddy Silva exploring sacred Mayan sites with the Sacred Earth Journeys group

For years I’ve been getting press releases from Sacred Earth Journeys, a company that specializes in trips to spiritual sites around the world. So much about the company appealed to me—its focus on spirituality, its expert guides, and the locations of its trips. But the timing was never right and there was always a good reason I couldn’t go.

mexico guatemala tour
Bob and I spent a week on a Sacred Earth Journeys tour of Mayan sites in Mexico and Guatemala

But last month, I finally got the chance to travel with Sacred Earth Journeys—and the experience more than lived up to my expectations. A tour called Maya Temples of Transformation immersed me in the culture and spirituality of pre-Columbian Mexico and Guatemala. During the week we visited three major Mayan sites: Palenque, Yachxilan, and Tikal. Along the way we trekked through jungles, took part in ceremonies with ancient roots, and listened to howler monkeys in the treetops above. It was a marvellous trip! And over the next posts I’ll be telling you about what I experienced.

I was accompanied on the tour by my intrepid husband, Bob, and our equally intrepid friend Brian. But during the week I also got to know our fellow travelers, who hailed from Australia, England, and Canada as well as the U.S. Some had been part of Sacred Earth Journeys before; others were newbies. All of us shared an interest in the spiritual side of travel, and all of us wanted to truly experience the places we were seeing, not just skip across the surface.

misol ha mexico
Misol Ha Waterfall in Mexico (image by Cronoser, Wikimedia Commons)

My week with these people made me realize that in all my years of spiritual journeying, I’ve missed one of the classic elements of pilgrimage: being put together in a group with complete strangers, fellow pilgrims who during the course of the journey become friends. Though we hailed from far-flung corners of the globe, we quickly formed bonds. During conversations over breakfasts and dinners, on bus rides, and walking down forest paths, I heard their personal stories and learned from their insights and wisdom. It was a little like Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, a moveable feast of spirituality and camaraderie.

Bringing like-minded pilgrims together is one of the missions of Sacred Earth Journeys, according to its founder and owner, Helen Tomei, who also was part of our group. “Traveling solo can be wonderful,” she told me. “But there are things that happen in groups that you can’t get when you travel on your own. When you travel to sacred places together, you benefit from hearing about other people’s experiences, and they can help you process your own experiences. You learn from each other.”

Helen sees many transformations among the groups she coordinates. “Most of us live in a world of endless distractions, especially because of the overwhelming presence of technology,” she told me. “On trips like this, we’re given the chance to disconnect, slow down, and look inward. I think that’s one of the reasons why interest in spiritual travel is growing. My hope is that people will come home from a journey with us changed in some way, and that their lives will be better once they return to their ordinary routines.”

tour leader freddy silva
Freddy Silva (Photo: Lori Erickson)

During our week together, we were fortunate to have two leaders with great experience in guiding people through spiritual transformations. Freddy Silva is one of the world’s leading researchers of sacred sites, ancient systems of knowledge, and the interaction between temples and consciousness. His books include First Templar Nation and The Divine Blueprint. And Miguel Angel Vergara is a native of Mexico who studied for 17 years with Mayan elder and wisdom keeper Don Vincente Martin. Today Miguel teaches seminars in Mexico and abroad on Mayan shamanism, traditions, and culture and is also the author of The Sacred Knowledge of the Maya.

The two were a powerful combination. Miguel led us in ceremonies and provided a deep background in the spirituality of the places we were seeing. And Freddy was our trickster teacher, making us laugh, inviting us to consider new possibilities, and sharing his knowledge of similarities between sacred sites around the world.

As the week went on, I especially appreciated Miguel’s deep kindness and his unassuming way of teaching profound truths. One day as we entered the jungle on our way to the Guatemalan site of Tikal, for example, he made an off-hand comment that is one of the most profound pieces of spiritual wisdom I’ve ever heard. “You know, the most important part of a ceremony is the love in your heart,” he said. “If you don’t have that, it doesn’t make any difference what rituals you do. And if you have that love, all the rituals will work, no matter how you do them.”

During our trip, Miguel did a masterful job of leading us in rituals designed to open our hearts to the spirit of the sacred places we toured. On our first day, for example, we visited Misol Ha Waterfall, a gorgeous cataract in the forest near the Mayan site of Palenque. On the bus ride there, he told us that many sacred sites have a cave of some sort associated with them. They provide a direct connection to the divine spirit of the earth, the mother who sustains us all.

“Surrender your ego and be humble,” he told us, echoing the message that spiritual teachers of many traditions give. “Ask yourself: what do I need to give up? What do I need to heal?” At the site, we got out of the bus and walked down a slippery path leading to the waterfall, then passed behind its torrent on our way to the cave itself. In darkness lit only by a few flashlights, we made our way into an inner chamber, where another, smaller waterfall cascaded into a pool.

“Water is a connection to the Spirit,” Miguel told us. “Enter the water if you’d like. Ask for healing for yourself and for others.”

I watched as most members of our group slid into the water. Fighting a cold, I felt it would be unwise to join them, because as much as I believe in the power of the Spirit, I’m also a believer in the power of a virus to make a trip miserable. So I sat there with my feet in the pool, savouring the sounds of the waterfall, watching as my fellow pilgrims immersed themselves in holy waters that have drawn seekers for millennia.

Palenque in Mexico
Miguel Angel Vergara is a master teacher of Mayan spirituality.

It was one of my favourite moments of the trip. And if I’d had some paint supplies with me, I’d have drawn animals on the walls, just like in those French caves covered with prehistoric paintings. It was that kind of moment, a time-out-of-time when I felt I could have channelled something wild and mysterious.

In my next post I’ll take you to Palenque, one of the greatest of the ancient Mayan sites. But let me leave you with another comment made by Miguel, one that summarizes much of his perspective on the world. He told us that the traditional greeting exchanged by the Maya translates as, “How is your sacred path today?”

That’s a question we all can ask, whether we’re in a sacred cave in the middle of a jungle, or sitting at a desk in Iowa.

~ Lori Erickson

This blog was first published at www.patheos.com

Discover the best Mayan temple sites in Mexico & Guatemala

Chichen Itza usually tops the list of the best temples or sacred sites to visit in Mexico and with good reason. But, there are other equally impressive temples in both Mexico and Guatemala that are definitely worth visiting. Some of them are off the usual tourist trails and take a little more effort to reach, but the views and spiritual experiences are well worth the journey!

Here is a round-up of some are our top Mayan temple sites in Mexico and Guatemala that you’re not going to want to miss.

Palenque, Mexico

“The House of the Serpent in the Infinite” is a Maya ceremonial centre possessing one of the highest spiritual frequencies. Its sacred architecture is exemplary and unique, a poem in stone. Surrounded by the rivers Lakam-Ha and Otulum, Palenque is the home of many of the classic Maya teachers, such as Kinich-Hanab-Pakal (“Great Teacher with the Shield of the Sun”). The carved lid of his sarcophagus is one of the ancient world’s most profound works of art, depicting as it does Pakal as the intermediary between worlds. The great teacher and Maya priestess, Lady Zac Kuuk (“White Quetzal”), also lived here; she represented the wisdom and the sacred knowledge that descends like the sacred Quetzal bird to illuminate our seventh Chakra – a component of the Maya initiatory path towards self-realization.

Temple of Inscriptions
The Temple of Inscriptions, Palenque, Mexico

Tikal, Guatemala

“The Place with the Sacred Voices” is a university that reflects the architecture of the cosmos, a ceremonial centre where the ancient Maya teachers captured the sounds from other realities. The shapes of the pyramids and temples reflect the thorough understanding of mathematics, geometry, and cosmic calendars. They are also designed to act as needles, capturing the telluric energy of the Earth and of the sky, acupuncturing the ground and the human body.

The highest pyramid in the Maya world can also be found here, a cosmic antenna that allows you to touch the stars and become attuned with the cosmos. Great teachers such as Kinich-Muwaj Chak-Tok-Ich-Aak and Ix’Kalom-Te give us an idea of the extraordinary era when Tikal united science, art, philosophy, and religion as one, reflecting the sacred name of the Creator Hunab-Ku, giver of movement and measurement in the universe.

Tikal in Guatemala
Tikal in Guatemala, uniting science, art, philosophy, and religion

Yaxchilan, Mexico

Yaxchilan means “City of the First Prophets”. Here, secret rituals were conducted allowing initiates to travel through time and space to return with specialized information. No wonder they were referred to as Architects of the Sky!

Teachers such as Itzamnaj-Balam II, Jaguar-Bird IV, Lady Kabal-Xook, and Lady Sak’biyaan (“Precious Crystal Skull”) were versed in the Mysteries by travelling to parallel universes and recording the information in the stelas and lintels at this very special, and often overlooked, site. Yaxchilan is reached by boat through a slow moving river straddling Mexico and Guatemala, bordered by pristine jungle. A worthwhile and quite stunning journey in itself!

Yaxchilan in Mexico
The sacred temple site of Yaxchilan – well worth the boat ride!

Misol Ha Falls, Mexico

Behind the waterfalls, just 20km from Palenque, lies a powerful cave with a pool of water, a seat of power that can transform your life. This power is reflected in Grandmother Ix’mukane, “Heart of the Earth”, who lives spiritually in this sacred site waiting for you to let go of your past wounds and begin a new life of love, light, balance, and prosperity, which is realized through the purification of the water, the earth, and the sun, accompanied by the spirit of the great Jaguar. While Misol Ha may not have physical temple ruins, we’re including it on our list of temple sites due to its powerful spiritual energy – the water, rather than stone or other material, acting as an organic conduit to transformation.

Misol Ha Falls in Mexico
Capturing the powerful energy at the Misol Ha Falls

Is your favourite Mayan site on our list? We’d love to hear which sites make your top list!

If you’d like to visit these powerful temple sites where you can reconnect with the tune of the cosmos, join us for our journey: “Maya Temples of Transformation with Freddy Silva & Miguel Angel Vergara: A Sacred Journey from Palenque to Tikal, January 28 – February 5, 2017”. A full itinerary and tour description can be found on our website.

~ Sacred Earth Journeys, with material from Freddy Silva and Miguel Angel Vergara