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Photo + Film: The Maya Path (In Post-Production)

Just like plants, human beings are only as strong as their root system. The Maya Path takes us on a holistic journey to the heart of ancestral wisdom and medicine. It offers us a colourful glimpse into a way of life which is in alignment with who we truly are and encourages us to be the best kind of fractal for humanity. 

Just like plants, human beings are only as strong as their root system. The Maya Path takes us on a holistic journey to the heart of ancestral wisdom and medicine. It offers us a colourful glimpse into a way of life which is in alignment with who we truly are and encourages us to be the best kind of fractal for humanity. 

Medicina Maya © Sarine Arslanian

The maya path: ancient wisdom and medicine (visual anthropology): a film by kairi kivirahk, sarine arslanian, and holden davies. produced by Anu Veermäe-Kaldra.

The Maya path is not a religion. It is a way of living.

There are twenty-one Maya languages in Guatemala alone, and within each linguistic group, there are nine inches of knowledge.

Some of the ancestral wisdom has been lost, but not everything. Today, more than ever, people everywhere are realising the importance of reconnecting with their roots. Because just like plants, we are only as strong as our root system. The Maya path is there to offer us guidance. 

It can be summarised in three words: coexistence, harmony, and respect.

That is to say, we all have our gifts, our role to play, and when we come together, the whole is greater than the parts. 

Then, when we understand our place in society and find harmony within our being, we do not wish to be anyone else anymore. Aware of the perfection of who we are, we start to play our own tune, and it reverberates around us. 

Finally, we begin accepting everyone without judgment, recognising our oneness.

Maya elders remind us that if we learn to keep our body, mind, feelings, and spirit in balance, we become the right kind of fractal for our community, and ultimately for humanity. And we are all responsible for keeping ourselves in balance. This is also how we maintain health. 

Unlike most Western doctors who understand the human body from the perspective of matter only, Maya healers take energy into account. In Maya medicine, wellbeing is as physical as it is emotional, and thus the one suffering is made responsible from the start. He or she becomes an active participant in his or her own healing process. 

The hardest part to grasp for most Westerners is that, unlike oncologists who read many books in order to learn something, Maya elders, healers, and spiritual guides rely on oral traditions and wisdom which have been passed down from one generation to the other, as well as on the universal library they connect to through meditations, ceremonies, intuitions, and dreams. They recognise that the largest amount of knowledge is within, because we carry it in our DNA, and all the knowledge about plants and healing is stored energetically in the universal library.

The Maya remind us that we are now surrounded by an open air, natural pharmacy, especially those living close to nature. Even so, many young people are forgetting the old, holistic ways, which consider energies, time of day, consent, and other secrets important elements when collecting medicinal herbs. 

For those who are keen to learn, the learning phase takes time, but it is empowering, as it gives one the tools to be more independent and connected to the natural and spirit world. And to understand Maya medicine, one needs to understand the cosmovision. 

With the use of the sacred calendar in a Maya astrology reading, a spiritual guide is able to work out one’s life mission and talents, as well as identify the challenges that come with it. Since society has programmed us to accept a set of ideals and careers as what we should be aiming for, not everyone follows their true calling. 

The Maya wisdom reminds us that when we measure our self-worth according to what others say, we lose the meaning of who we really are in relation to who everyone else is. It reminds us that we are unique and valuable, all made from the same particles.

One of the abuelas (grandmothers) has said that when an elder dies, it is like losing the equivalent of the great library of Alexandria, and Guatemala has been through a turbulent time. Starting from the time of the Spanish conquest, there has been 500 years of suppression of indigenous culture, culminating with the genocide during the Guatemalan civil war and the apparition of strict and right wing evangelical churches which quickly gained in popularity. It is only after 1996, when the peace accords were signed, that it became possible to make ceremony freely without the police or the military coming in and taking you away. Even so, many remained scared to practice Maya spirituality. 

Today, we are witnessing a time of growth. People are slowly taking an interest in the indigenous ways and wisdom again. In San Marcos la Laguna, four young day keepers in their twenties have recently been initiated. The first one to be initiated was the first initiation in thirty five years in the village.

And it is not only the Maya being initiated. People from all around the world are moving to Guatemala to take on the path, to listen to the prayers in languages they do not understand, to work with the sacred fire. There, too, there is a learning, and that is to listen with your heart, instead of analysing the words or being frustrated because you do not understand with your conscious mind.

Since the new cycle began in December 2012, the elders have been receiving messages that the time to begin to build bridges to share the knowledge they have been guarding for centuries has arrived. Many cite the Popol Vuh to say that the bridge people coming from all over the world will be the ones that will help the Maya awaken to build the spaces where knowledge can once again be shared with the world.

A great wake up happened, and that is a wake up within the Maya culture, as much as in any other culture, to understand that the only way to go forward is to reconnect with the past, the only way to grow strong is to reconnect with our roots.

The Maya wisdom reconnects us with ourselves first and reminds us that all healing comes from within. Being mindful that everything that comes out of us comes back to us, that is to Maya way of living.