Tag: mexico sacred sites

How To Find Yourself In The Mexican Desert

During most of the 80s and 90s, Daniel Stone travelled the world in search of answers.

He visited Aboriginal communities in the Australian outback and spent months learning about Bon Shamanism in Tibetan temples. He explored the truths hidden within the walls of the Egyptian pyramids and spoke to Toltec wisemen in Central America. He even searched for answers in art and psychotherapeutic theories.

daniel stone

The information he was looking for would answer a question that had been following him for years: Why were his dreams more real than his daily life?

It was in the Mexican desert, after reflecting on his journeys with a Toltec shaman, that Daniel found an answer to his question, finding himself in the process.

The answer came in the form of a language that would forever bridge the gap between day and night: Life as dream.

Upon his discovery, Daniel began devoting his life to sharing its wisdom with others. In 2000, he founded the Centre of the Conscious Dream, a centre located in the middle of Mexico’s San Luis Potosí desert. Since then, hundreds of dreamers from around the world have travelled to the Centre, going on retreats that have been described by many as life changing.

We sat down with Daniel to discuss his journey through the conscious dream and to learn about the teaching that pilgrims from around the world experience when they visit his centre.

Read on to find out more about his life’s work, and to learn what you can find yourself in a Mexican desert.

(NOTE: The interview has been edited for clarity and length)

SEJ: We wanted to start out by asking you about the Centre of the Conscious Dream, which you have mentioned is located in an extraordinary multi-dimensional field of energy that drew you in. Can you talk a little about that process? How did you know this place was “the one”? 

Daniel: I had spent a decade visiting the power points on the planet.  Some well-known, such as the pyramids in Egypt, Uluru, Mount Shasta, Lake Titicaca, Glastonbury, and some not so well known in South America, Asia, Australia and Europe.  I was travelling the globe trying to listen to the planetary body, and learning how it moved, and how each power point related to the others. The context of its discovery was the journey of listening to power points.  This particular power point is the most powerful I have come across, with the exception of Uluru in Australia.  However, Uluru is unworkable, for me, for various reasons, and the land allowed me to visit but not to stay.

In Mexico, the land gave me a huge yes, and this affirmation has given me the strength to overcome the many obstacles that come your way when trying to build a centre with very little money.  I would say that this land invited me to work with it.  We have a relation, and by living here, I build this relation.

centre of conscious dream circle

SEJ: Besides this affirmation, you say you got from the land, what drove you to actually build a centre in the middle of the desert in San Luis Potosí?

Daniel: I began living in Mexico in 1997, and started building the centre in 2000.  During those first three years I worked with all the major indigenous groups in the country, and my experience taught me that there was a need for someone to come in and make a coherent bridge between the indigenous experience and the lifestyle and values of the other people who may be interested in those teachings.

At that point it became clear to me that my goal was to act as a signpost and give tools to enable the participants to communicate with the really big and important teachers of the land, such as the mountain, the planet earth, the sun, the moon, the stars, etc.

SEJ: What can this place teach other people?

Daniel: For me, the mountain is the greatest teacher here.  Every time I wake up and feel it, every time it teaches me in my dreams at night, every time I climb it, even to the foot hills, I am astounded by the depth of its wisdom.  I actually believe that everything I do here, all of the seminars, ceremonies, walks of power, visits to sacred sites, exercises with the dreaming body, they are all so that each human being who visits here has at least a chance of listening and understanding the wisdom of the mountain.

La pyramide de la lune

SEJ: If the mountain is the biggest teacher at the Centre, what is your role as a guide?

Daniel: I see myself as someone who makes spaces – the physical space of the centre for example, and spaces with sound, spaces with colour, ceremonial spaces.  In those spaces, I attempt to create the context in which it is possible for the participant to contact their deepest authentic teacher inside of them.  Once they have that contact, they can develop their profound intuitive wisdom.  It is all there already – everyone is a master teacher whose book is waiting to be read.

SEJ: What do you think participants take away when they come to the Centre?

Daniel: Coming to the centre is a chance for people to let go of their everyday life for two or three weeks and open up to a wider sense of who they are and why they are here.  It is our intent that people return to their daily lives with essential tools that will help them in their own road to consciousness, self-healing and creativity, as well as essential tools in the healing or helping of their families, friends, or in a professional capacity.

SEJ: What does a typical day look like when based in the desert in Mexico?

Daniel: There isn’t a typical day as all days are different.  However, in general, we try and find a balance between the participant working on their own with specific tools to enable them to develop relation with the big teachers – the elements, trees, rocks, animals, the desert in general, the mountain, the planet earth and the sky, and then the ceremonies and seminars in group settings.

SEJ: Who is this journey most likely to appeal to and do participants need any former experience or knowledge in the field?

Daniel: The retreat is relevant and very useful for anyone who needs to clarify their vision for their work, their relations, their living situation, and their sense of purpose on this planet.  It would be very powerful for anyone involved in creative artistic processes, and anyone who is involved in a self-healing or professional healing path.  These retreats typically attract people from different countries from all walks of life, from healers and artists, to business people and professionals. The retreat is in English and Spanish.

SEJ: How can we all benefit from being more conscious/aware of our dreaming selves?

Daniel: Let’s say you are looking at a life size human adult sculpture from the front.  You get a certain perspective.  You go to the back of the sculpture, and get another perspective.  Then the two sides, two more perspectives.  In an ordinary gallery room, it may be difficult for you to get the perspective from above, and even more difficult to get the perspective from below.  What would it be like if you had access to all of the possible perspectives AT THE SAME TIME.  This is possible through the dreaming body.  Unless you know all the possible perspectives of your times and spaces, how can you make informed decisions?  Most of the important decisions we make in our lives are based on a small percentage of the information available.

centre of conscious dream yellow

Find yourself at the Centre of Conscious Dream

Join Daniel Stone and Toltec teachers at the Centre of the Conscious Dream for a practical shamanic initiation and profound healing retreat that will rekindle your creative fires.

The retreat explores the indigenous traditions of Mexico and Central America, and integrates shamanic teachings learned by Daniel from Inca, Australian Aboriginals and Bon Shamanism (Tibetan Buddhism) wisepeople.

Daniel and his team have been receiving groups at the Centre for nearly 20 years, and will provide you with the teachings and initiations needed for your own internal transformation. There’s probably no one out there more capable to give you the tools to make this trip, and the rest of your life, truly special.

Learn more about this journey, which runs from March 24 and April 14, 2018.

The Mayan Mysteries of Palenque

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

mayan ruler pakal
The Mayan ruler Pakal was buried with richly ornamented and highly symbolic finery (Bob Sessions photo)

Striking, isn’t it?

And maybe a bit unsettling?

I came upon this figure at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. Bob and I and our friend Brian spent several days in Mexico City before starting our Maya Temples of Transformation tour with Sacred Earth Journeys. Our time at this museum—one of the world’s greatest—gave us an invaluable background for what we would later see on our Maya trip.

Of all the marvels we saw at the museum, the figure pictured above most intrigued me. The jade mask and jewelry were found on the body of a Mayan leader named Pakal, who ruled the city-state of Palenque for almost 70 years in the seventh century. Every part of his elaborate burial finery had symbolic significance, from the number of strands in his necklace to those peculiar ear pieces that jut out from his head. Note, too, that the mask has crossed eyes, which were considered beautiful in Mayan culture.

I stood transfixed by this mask for quite some time, though I wasn’t sure why. Maybe it was the sheer weirdness of it, as well as the beauty of its craftsmanship. There was a haunting quality about it as well, something that seemed to speak in words I couldn’t understand about a culture very different from my own.

A few days later, I stood in front of Palenque’s Temple of Inscriptions, the place where this mask was found.

temple of inscriptions at palenque
The Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque is one of the masterpieces of Mayan architecture (Bob Sessions photo)

Located in the Mexican state of Chiapas, Palenque was founded around the year 100 BCE. It reached its height between 600-800 CE, and then declined in the early 10th century, for unknown reasons. Today it’s one of the most studied of all the Mayan sites. Though smaller in size than Chichen Itza or Tikal, it has exquisite architecture and carvings. Only a small fraction of Palenque has been excavated, but what’s there is marvelous indeed.

As at all Mayan sites, the temples here were likely built to align with astronomical phenomena. Working without telescopes, the Mayan nevertheless had an amazingly sophisticated knowledge of astronomy and mapped the movements of the stars and planets with great accuracy. They also kept multiple calendars geared to various celestial cycles and developed complex writing and mathematical notation systems.

As soon as I entered Palenque, the Temple of the Inscriptions immediately drew my gaze. It’s the largest of the many buildings at the site, with steps arranged in nine levels. Built during Pakal’s reign, it’s named after the hundreds of glyphs located on the temple walls at its top. Originally it was painted red, with its carvings detailed in bright colors. But even with its present appearance of weathered, gray limestone, it’s a exquisite building, perfectly proportioned, beautifully designed.

In 1952, Alberto Ruz Lhuillier made a remarkable discovery atop this temple: he uncovered the beginnings of a stairway that led down through the center of the structure. After four years of excavation, he at last came to Pakal’s tomb, one of the greatest treasures of pre-Columbian archeology. This is the New World equivalent of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb in Egypt.

And while the jade mask in the museum was stunning, I was even more amazed when I learned what covered Pakal’s sarcophagus (see below).

pakal sarcophagus
The sarcophagus of the ruler Pakal is a roadmap to the complexities of Mayan spirituality (Wikimedia Commons image)

This massive lid of limestone, 12 x 7 feet in size, is covered with an intricate, carved design that people have been trying to interpret ever since it was discovered. The image shows a man either descending or ascending a World Tree, a symbol that has roots in the underworld, a trunk in this world, and its branches in paradise. The man is wearing garments similar to those of the Mayan Maize God, and surrounding him are sacred symbols of many kinds.

If this all looks vaguely familiar, it’s because you might have seen it on a late-night TV program on ancient aliens. The craze started with a 1968 book by Erich von Daniken called Chariots of the Gods. When he looked at this image, he saw a space man being propelled by a rocket ship, a theory that’s been giving anthropologists headaches ever since. “No! No! Don’t believe him!” they collectively say, pointing out that Mayan culture was perfectly capable of creating its many wonders all on its own without the help of overlords from the stars.

Thankfully, you don’t have to buy the ancient aliens thesis to appreciate this remarkable work of art (which we saw only in pictures, since you can’t get inside the tomb without special permission). But there is indeed something otherworldly about this image, which shows a spiritual transformation of some sort, a movement between realms.

Today Pakal’s body rests underneath the Temple of Inscriptions, while most of the items found in his tomb are safely ensconced in the Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. I felt fortunate to have seen those treasures, because it made me fully experience what I experienced at Palenque.

palenque palace reliefs
Reliefs in the Palace courtyard at Palenque bring us face to face with the Mayan world (Bob Sessions photo)

On our tour of Palenque, I also greatly appreciated the fact that we were given time simply to be. Too often tours try to cover so much information and territory that you’re left exhausted. But if you’re going to truly experience a sacred site, you need some time to settle in. I was grateful to spend much of the afternoon wandering on my own amid the temples, climbing up steep steps to perch on platforms overlooking the green lushness of the surrounding jungle, drinking in the vistas.

Here’s a curious thing, one that I’m a little embarrassed to admit. Our group had arranged to meet back at the entrance gate late in the afternoon, and I stretched out my time at Palenque as long as I could. Nearing the departure time, I realized I needed to hurry.

A shortcut led through a dimly lit tunnel that we’d walked through before as a group, a passageway that wound through the ruins of the palace. I started to enter it, and then stopped.

The light had shifted from earlier in the day, and it seemed darker than I remembered. There were no people around, not even voices in the distance. And I realized that I was scared to go into the passageway. I didn’t fear other humans, but instead I wasn’t entirely sure that spirits weren’t hovering around. Something about the way the walls loomed high around me, perhaps. Or maybe it was just an over-active imagination. But I took the long way back to the entrance, even though it entailed much more walking.

I smile when I think back to that moment now, because it sums up to me the essence of Palenque. This is a place that exudes the Mysteries of the Maya. Palenque is both dead and alive. No one lives there, and yet perhaps they do.

Next post: Yachxilan, where I learn about Mayan ceremonies.

~ Lori Erickson

Other blog posts in this series:

The Splendor of Tikal
A Ceremony Amid Sun-Dappled Mayan Ruins
Exploring Sacred Mayan Sites in Mexico and Guatemala
Finding the Holy in a Tradition Not My Own

This blog was first published on www.patheos.com

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/holyrover/2017/02/14/the-mayan-mysteries-of-palenque/

 

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