As Tourists Stream In, Mayan Leaders Barred From Sacred Sites

December 21st, 2012. That’s the date when the Mesoamerican/Maya Long Count calendar is supposed to end, and a new era begin. Various New Age and “end-of-days” doomsday peddlers have created a cocktail of various belief systems to invest this date with some looming significance, either for a new dawn, or an end-times scenario. This is despite the fact that actual Mayan spiritual leaders (and the academics who study Mayan culture) have long disputed the pop-cultural consensus, and the appropriation of their cultural heritage for profit.

“Guatemala’s Mayan people accused the government and tour groups on Wednesday of perpetuating the myth that their calendar foresees the imminent end of the world for monetary gain. “We are speaking out against deceit, lies and twisting of the truth, and turning us into folklore-for-profit.

2012 Predictions: The Year of Oya

The beginning of a new calendar year usually means a flurry of predictions. These prognostications can be educated guesses, fervent hopes, pessimistic fears, or, in some cases, spiritual messages via divination, omens, or other supernatural methods. One widely reported instance of a yearly divination tradition is the Ifá predictions from Cuba’s Santeria priests, who’ve been gathering for 26 years to make predictions and recommendations. Last year they were eerily accurate in their readings, predicting “abrupt changes in political systems”, intense drought, and “dangers of war and conflicts.” This year the reigning deity is Oya, and they are predicting a year of “war and confrontation, social, political, and economic change, and a dangerous increase in temperature.” However, the mainstream press seems to have positioned this as a Babalawos vs Mayas prophesy-off thanks to the ubiquity of New Age “Mayan Prophesy” books that predict a great ending/beginning in 2012.

Bush’s Bad Vibes

I know this was blogged by Boing Boing yesterday, but I can’t help but mention the story of how Mayan priests are planning to purify the holy site of Iximche in Guatemala after a visit from US President George W. Bush.”Mayan priests will purify a sacred archaeological site to eliminate “bad spirits” after President Bush visits next week, an official with close ties to the group said Thursday … [Juan] Tiney said the “spirit guides of the Mayan community” decided it would be necessary to cleanse the sacred site of “bad spirits” after Bush’s visit so that their ancestors could rest in peace.”Looks like Bush’s visit there to prove he isn’t ignoring Latin America is already starting to backfire. Even the spirits are giving him the cold shoulder.

The Mayans and The Christians

Can a conservative Catholic accurately portray pre-Christian Mayan culture in film? Can you make a film that honestly portrays their society while trying to use that culture as a metaphorical critique on your own? While Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto” has been getting some good reviews, academics with knowledge of Mayan history, and the current descendants of the Maya are speaking out about the supposed “accuracy” that the film portrays. Anthropologist Traci Ardren, writing for Archeology magazine, thinks the film borders on the pornographic.”I am not a compulsively politically correct type who sees the Maya as the epitome of goodness and light. I know the Maya practiced brutal violence upon one another, and I have studied child sacrifice during the Classic period.