Maya Temple Ceremony

Institute of Maya Studies (IMS-Miami, Florida) Newsletter Feb. 2, 2015 is an Introduction to the Video of the Maya Ceremonies. Click: Feb Exp pgs 3-4 

Next watch the VIDEO of the Maya Temple Ceremony:

Maya 260-Day Count Ceremony is dedicated by the Maya leader Rigoberto Itzep to our Ancestors who dwell in the Underworld,


Tzotzil-Maya Vision of the World image above: the Living are on Earth and the Gods dwell in Heaven (Lowe, Lee, Martinez, 1982).


Maya Elders are dressed in white with red headscarves, red shawls, an apron of black and white with a red sash. They select items for the ceremony. The Ceremony is two-three hours long and is in a chiastic form — the beginning returning at the end (see Chart at the bottom of this page).


 1) Creation of a World Circle is made with dots for the four cardinal directions. 


  2) Copal Incense is added to the circle symbolizing mountains and land on the earty.                                                                                                             3) Liquid (alcohol to help the fire burn) symbolizes water added to the Earth Circle.                                                                                                                 4) Candles are added and lit to give light to the Earth Circle. The smoke from the fire carries our prayers to heaven.


5) Plants and symbols of Earth Life are added to the Earth Circle.


6) Individual blessings were then given to each person surrounding the 12 Maya “Elders” in the circle. Each Maya Elder held a candle (symbolizing light) and a pine branch (symbol of the Tree of LIfe) which they used to touch different parts of the bodies. First they touched and blessed the head, then ears, eyes, nose and mouth. Next they blessed the arms and hands, then the back and front of the person. Finally they blessed the legs and feet, always touching each part with the Candle and Pine Branch.


 7) The evil spirits were cast out by the Leader Rigoberto Itzep so the Ceremony could proceed.


 8) The 12 Maya Elders positioned themselves with 3 on each of the four sides of the “Earth Circle”. We all followed them as they turned East, knelt and prayed. The leader then blew his Conch shell 4 times, we prayed again, then bent down and kissed Mother Earth. This same procedure was repeated three more times facing West, North and South.

15 9) With 3 Mayans on 4 sides of the Earth Circle, the Day Count begins as each Elder (Man and Woman) recite FIVE DAY NAMES. This is done 13 times (5×13=65). When this is done 4 times the total is 260 (4X65=260 symbolic of the 9 month gestation time for a human infant to be created).  In addition to counting, the Elders gave prayers that taught us: 1) A man and a woman should be united as husband and wife. Marriage is like the trunk of the TREE. Ancestors are the roots, our children the branches. Our families will one day be with our ancestral family. 2) We were taught that all plants, animals and humans–all forms of life were created to continue creating. 3) We were taught that all mankind must honor the wisdom and sacrifices of their ancestors.  .  . and we were taught much more about caring for all humans and loving one another. 


Mayas and their friends at Izapa, Mexico 2010 following the Maya Creation Ceremony.

Throughout the Ceremony, the Maya and foreign participants joined with the sacred harmony of nature and the universe and with the impressive volcanic peaks visible from the Izapa Temple Center. When Leader Rigoberto Itzap blew smoke from his incense bowl, it was in similitude of the ancient smoke ritual depicted at the base of the Izapa Stela 5 Tree of Life monument (see top of page) that was represented over 2,500 years ago.  These Maya Elders had returned to the original home of the 260-Day Count Ceremony symbolic of the Creation of the Earth and Creation of Human Life.

Popol Vuh – Sacred book of the Ancient K’iche’ Maya who dwell in the region of the Izapa Temple Center. (Christenson 2003: 70)

“Then came His word, Heart of the Sky arrived here with Sovereign and Quetzal serpent in the Darkness, in the night. He spoke with Sovereign and Quetzal Serpent. They talked together then. They thought and they pondered. They reached an accord, bringing together their words and their thoughts. They gave birth, heartening one another. Beneath the light, they gave birth to humanity. Then they arranged for the germination and creation of the trees and the bushes, the germination of all life and creation in the darkness and in the night, by Heart of Sky, who is called Huracan.”


Chiastic Structure of the Sacred Maya 260-Day Count Ceremony:

A Tree of Life Ceremony dedicated to Ancestors (Roots)

     B Individual Blessings—Head to toe, then incense blessings

          C Individuals Receive Offerings

               D Circle inside Square – Pray E-W-N-S & kiss Mother Earth

                    E Maya Leaders burn Offerings and offer Prayers

                         F Mayas Recite 260 “Birth”- Days of Gestation

                    E’ Maya Leaders burn Offerings and offer Prayers

               D’ Circle inside Square – Pray E-W-N-S & kiss Mother Earth

          C’ Individuals Give Offerings to burning fire

     B’ Individual Mayans conclude by hugging each participant

A’ Tree of Life Ceremony celebrated for Branches (children)

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