The Maya Cosmos, Friedel, Schele and Parker

This book was another recommendation from Jim at Alla in Santa Fe.

The book is a bit of a mixed bag. It is very long on details related to inscriptions which makes for some tedious reading. There are a lot of illustrations that go with these and I had a hard time relating the two. I assume that an expert in the field can readily recognize the characters and persons and other items in the drawings, but let me tell you, these are some very confusing engraving and it is very difficult to see what the authors are talking about. It would have been very helpful if there had been some highlighting of the item they were speaking to. A typical example is an engraving that includes a snake or a tree. Frankly, these can be very hard to locate. I have seen cases where such drawings were enhanced so that the tree or snake was made visible. Frankly, this was a shame because the illustrations are numerous and very detailed. But, even with a magnifying glass, it was hard to recognize some of the key features.

There are a number of “personal experience” sections that seemed to be more oriented to showing how committed to their field the authors are. That’s nice, and sometimes informative but felt self-serving.

Now, I put the bad news first and there are some very good things here. For one, the unraveling of the real spiritual context of the Maya and the connection to the night sky was extraordinary. This really struck home. Fact is that I found that this made enormous sense and resonated in me. I’ve determined that it is necessary, really imperative that I find a way to observe the night sky where it is really clear and watch it for a night or 2. This is strong stuff. The image of the founding of the Earth, the placing of the base stones and the rising of the Tree is a wonderful way of looking at creation. I like this a lot. I like it enough that I have initiated my own personal ritual on both my jobs sites to conduct a similar ritual.

A few quotes:

“The most important premise is that the spiritual force that every human being has personally experienced is ambient, of the world, of the cosmos and everything in it.”

“We in the West tell Creation stories that show our reverence for science: the Big Bang, the General relativity Theory, the Theory of Chaos.”

“In the Royal capitals, these festivals expressed the universal understanding of the Maya people that nothing important is just made. It also has to be born.”

When I finally have the opportunity to see the sky thru eyes that understand something of what the Maya were thinking and believing, I will have to revisit this page. But for now, that small understanding that I gained is a very precious gift.

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