Mayan Day Of
By: Keneth Johnson
Mexico, the Days of the Dead are celebrated at
the beginning of November. So popular has this ceremony
become that it is now common in North America as well,
especially in Florida, Texas,
and California. During this time, we
honor our ancestors and departed relatives with food and
In Mexico, people have picnics
in cemeteries, bake little
cakes in the form of skeletons, build living room altars to their
ancestors, and lay paths of marigold flowers from the.
to the home
to help the guide the spirits of the departed back
to the altars erected in their honor.
But where did these customs originate?
While it is true that the Spanish who came to the New
World brought with them many Pagan folkways honoring the
dead, and that a number of these traditions have found their
way into the present-day ceremonies, there are also many
aspects of the Days of the Dead that have their roots in the ancient
civilizations of Mexico.
Mayan peoples perceived the universe as a great tree
with its roots in the Underworld and its crown in the world
the gods. After death, the souls
of the departed traveled to the
"pool of souls" that lay at the base of the great World Tree.
sacred well that forms part
of the ceremonial complex at
Chichen ltza was regarded as an earthly manifestation of this
pool of souls. Many Mayan rituals from the ancient days were
designed to call forth the spirits of the ancestors from the
of souls so that they
could speak to their descendants and pro-
vide wisdom for the living.
In those days, a king was called
an ahau or "lord," and a departed ancestor was referred to in the
same way, as an ahau. The rituals that brought the lords back
to the land of the living were performed on special days of
Calendar, called Ahau Days. Even now, some
traditional Mayan people visit
cemeteries to pay their respects to
the dead on Ahau Days. We celebrate the Days of the Dead at
the beginning of November because this is the Christian All
Souls' Day, which in turn has its roots in the Samhain
Pagan Celtic times.
The original Mexican Days of the Dead
were celebrated several times a year on Ahau Days, and in
communities they still are.
When souls were ready to reincarnate into the human
world again, they blossomed as flowers on the upper or
heavenly part of the World Tree. The marigolds that are set out as a
path for the dead to follow are a symbolic remembrance of
these soul flowers.
the Maya, the souls of the ancestors are everywhere.
They especially like to manifest themselves in the form of
If you ever have the chance to
visit Yucatan or some
Mayan region, make a trip to the local cemetery.
Chances are good you will discover that the place is just
~TITLE~ "MIDNIGHT GARDEN"