Ancient Origins Iraq tour

Ancestor Veneration

Maya Shaman's Light and Darkness Worlds

The word shaman for most people, carries an aura of mystery and perplexity. Yet, it is a spiritual practice that began with early human societies. For people unfamiliar with at times perplexing practices, shamanism is often veiled in an obscure and foreign domain.  Contemporary respected priest-shamans Tat Rigoberto, Tat Antolin and Tat Nicolasa, from Momostenango in the highlands of Guatemala, explore the ancient origins of this domain and lift its veil of mystery. The qualifier Tat is affectionately granted to highly respected lifetime priest-shamans in Maya-K’iche’ and Tzutu’jil communities, the bearers of rituals that may affect their people’s well-being and economic security.

The study of ancient religious practices reveals common attributes in terms of beliefs and other fundamentals. Most rituals, ancient and historic, affirm the mythical existence of another “side” of life at the end of our days, as mythical as that “other side” may be. The fundamentals of shamanism rest on the nature-culture dichotomy, a duality correlated with the “field of opposites” in literature. Shamanic rituals are found in traditional communities throughout the world, but we will focus here on those of the Mayas in Guatemala’s highlands. 

Ring Of Fire

Let us first briefly look back in time when humankind, over 100,000 years before present (BP), had to compete for survival with the claws, teeth, speed and power of the animal world. Humans' defenses were restricted to a powerful brain and the nascent kinship of peers. For the sake of survival, cooperation was crucial, especially for the protection of mothers and infants for, during the last months of pregnancy and after delivery, females could not fend for themselves. Millions of generations ago, the ring of fire was the first awakening of hunter-gatherers to a world beyond their awareness. In the dark of night, the fire lit a circle beyond which everything was threatening.

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Ancient Origins Quotations