For centuries, the ancient Mayans made an annual pilgrimage from the seaport settlement of Pole on Yucatan to the nearby island of Cozumel. It was a somewhat dangerous cross channel journey in canoes, which were nothing more than hollowed out tree trunks.
Their goal was to worship the goddess of fertility, Ixchel, consult the goddess’s oracle and bring a new era of balance to the natural world.
One of the most ancient traditions in Mayan culture, the pilgrimages came to a stop with the Spanish conquest and lay dormant for more than 500 years.
Six years ago, the custom was revived at Xcaret (pronounced esh-ka-ret), a 200-acre eco-park located about 37 miles south of Cancun close to where Pole once stood.
Among its many attractions, Xcaret is also the home of the Yuri Knorozov Center, named after the Russian linguist and ethnographer who’s known for his pivotal role in deciphering the Mayan script.
Research into Mayan culture continues at the Center to this day, which helps verify the authenticity of events such as "the Sacred Mayan Journey."
In the late afternoon on the day before the pilgrimage, I entered Xcaret’s Mayan Market and saw a modern day shaman holding a cup of burning copal incense as a blessing to those arriving.
With my bag of cocoa beans clutched in my hand as the currency I’d use in the outdoor market to purchase everything from leather goods and clay whistles shaped like animals to gourds and atole (a hot beverage made from corn), ominous-looking Mayan skeleton men, a.k.a. "lords of death," wordlessly milled through the crowd.
The cocoa tree had deep meaning for the Mayans, and the foamy chocolate made from its beans was considered "the food of the gods." Common folks like myself are able to purchase the traditional beverage for a mere pittance of a few cocoa beans at the marketplace.
For the Mayan, cocoa was so prized a commodity that its beans were used for the exchange of goods.
Unable to speak one another’s language, we bartered over prices and communicated back and forth by holding up an appropriate number of fingers.
Three beans for a clay whistle, five for a cup of chocolate made from ground beans boiled with milk in a large black kettle over an open fire.
As men grilled skewers of meat over a pit and woman, dressed in the traditional white cotton garb of their ancestors, used mortal and pestle to grind corn for making Mayan traditional tortillas, a group of traditional dancers performed a nearby.
If Someone Secretly Controlled What You Say, Would Anyone Notice? 2014 10 01
The subject enters a room in which a 12-year-old boy is seated. A 20-minute conversation ensues. The subject quizzes the boy about current events and other topics to get a sense of his intelligence and personality. But the boy is not what he appears to be.
Unbeknownst to the subject, the boy is wearing a radio receiver in his ear, and ...
Can holding a magnet against your head help defeat depression? 2014 10 01
Former GP Sue Mildred suffered from crippling depression and anxiety for 20 years.
On two occasions it was so severe that she ended up in hospital, and for 15 years she was unable to work.
Sue, 51, has tried antidepressants, talking therapies and, out of desperation, even ECT (electro-convulsive therapy), where an electric current is passed through the brain.
This did ...
Extremists to have Facebook and Twitter vetted by anti-terror police 2014 09 30 Theresa May to announce new Extremist Disruption Orders to strengthen counter-terrorism if the Tories win the next general election
Extremists will have to get posts on Facebook and Twitter approved in advance by the police under sweeping rules planned by the Conservatives.
They will also be barred from speaking at public events if they represent a threat to “the functioning of democracy”, ...
Scottish Independence: Protesters demand revote 2014 09 30
Pro-independence campaigners gathered outside the Scottish Parliament for the second day in a row, this time to demand a revote of the September 18 referendum.
While yesterday’s “Rally For A Revote” saw the return of Saltires and Yes banners to Holyrood, it did not match the turnout for the “Voice Of The People” rally held on Saturday, when up 3000 people ...