What Mayans Can Teach Us

Tikal, Guatemala

Tikal, Guatemala

With all the talk about the Mayan calendar, I started thinking about our trip to Belize in 2011. We stayed at a resort called Five Sisters Resort overlooking the sparkling Five Sisters waterfalls and nestled in the Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Reserve. Part of our package included guided tours of the area, and a trip to Guatemala. (The resort now has new owners and is now called Gaia Riverlodge)

Cave Canoeing in Belize with our Maya guide.

Cave Canoeing in Belize with our Maya guide.

Our Belizean guide was a Maya named Calbert. Pictured here he is talking to us about the Chicle tree, which was the tree Wrigley originally used to make chewing gum.

Calbert showing us gum tree.

Calbert showing us gum tree.

Calbert was knowledgeable about all the flora and fauna in the area. He may have had more than the average expertise regarding herbal remedies since he spent time with his grandfather who was a medicine man. The Ancient Mayans were known to for the advanced knowledge of science, astronomy and medicine. Many of the common medicinal plants he showed us were; St. John’s Wart used to treat depression, Bugleweed for anxiety, Passion Flower for curing cravings and insomnia, Peppermint tea for relaxation. So much of this knowledge was lost when their culture collapsed.

Ceiba Tree

Ceiba Tree

Their civilization is said to have fallen because their leaders, who were able to reveal the cosmos, build architectural wonders and an empire, failed to consider how they were depleting their non-sustainable resources. They then became victims of drought and famine. That may help explain why the Mayan descendants we spoke to were supportive of any government initiatives to protect their invaluable environment including unique; plants, trees and wildlife.

Morpho peleides

Morpho peleides

My understanding of the detailed workings of the Mayan Calendar are limited. I know they have three inter-connected wheels; The Long Count, The Haab, and the Tzolkin. The Tzolkin calendar uses a 13 day week and a named week of 20 days. The Mayans were better with numbers than I, so I can’t provide anything new there. When I asked Calbert what he thought would happen when the Mayan Calendar ended on 12-21-12, he replied, “We will start a new calendar.”

Green Breasted Mango Hummingbird

Green Breasted Mango Hummingbird

So that’s what I’m doing today. This will be my opportunity to begin again. Looking forward to the opportunity to create some new habits today. In light of that I plan to begin with the idea started by NBC New’s Ann Curry, and do “26 acts of kindness”– one for each of the victims killed last Friday. Now I’m thinking why can’t we do this everyday.

About Babs

I consider myself a narrative artist, fascinated by the uniqueness of our human experience. Sculpture has enabled me to capture endless stories. I’m particularly seduced by the tangible qualities of Clay. Process and product are equally irresistible to me.
This entry was posted in gratitude, Inspiration, life and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to What Mayans Can Teach Us

  1. A beautiful post that reminds us to value life and everything around us. The Mayans taught us something priceless. Something we need to listen. Life is fragile, so is our planet. We need to live our lives in a way that we are always ready. Merry Christmas my friend. I wish you and your family all the love, happiness, peace, great health and many awesome adventures today and everyday.

  2. Thank you. We are all too frequently reminded of the fragility of life, then all too quickly forget to cherish it when the crisis has passed.

    Hope you and your family find time and space to enjoy each other and the best this of our planet and it’s inhabitants in 2013.

  3. How interesting! I wrote a similar post on 12/21/21 Well I didn’t go to Belize. Thanks for armchair trip.

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