Friday, May 27, 2011

The Mayan legend of the farmer who did not believe in Chaak

This legend is very well alive and still told throughout the Mayan population of today.
It is mostly told by j-men (shaman) and meant to demonstrate that it is the energy of the universe that is in charge and not men.
It can be interpreted that only if you believe and trust in theses energies you will be able to succeed.
Just as the farmer in the legend is able to eat only after he started to believe, so will we succeed today in whatever we do if we can connect with and respect the governing forces of nature. 

And the story goes...
A long, long time ago a farmer lived in a little village near the great city of Chichen Itza, where every morning at 4, when the morning star rises in the east he gets up to work his fields.
His wife prepares the corn soup for him and after he eats his breakfast, he fills his gourd with water and leaves on the long and hard way to his cornfield.

The farmer is a very angry man and can't understand why fate has dealt him such a hard life and why there is no rain to water his crop. He can't see the purpose of his labor, nor can he enjoy the fruits it harbors. He is so discontent, that all he can feel is bitterness and rage and every morning on his way to his field he shouts insults at the heavens.

Then, one morning, just as the farmers insults reached its worst, an elderly person appeared in his way and asked: "Son, what it is with you, why are you so upset ?"
The farmer, still angry and defiant answers " I don't know you nor do I know who you are, I only answer to my father."
And the Elder responds: " Look I don't know what you are doing, but every morning when you leave your house you are complaining about your life and this is insulting us" .
"This is insulting you?" the farmer cries out in astonishment. "Why is this insulting you and how many of you are there?" he demands to know.
The Elder looks at him and mildly says "There are four of us."
"Four of us" the farmer mocks the Elder and asks cynically "I don't see anybody else, where would the others be then?"

The Elder then whistles three times and from a little path in the jungle three old men appear. With the aid of their walking sticks they come slowly closer and stand around the farmer. As the Elder points to each one of them he explains to the farmer: "This one to your north is the guardian and in charge of the northern hemisphere and the one opposite of him is guarding the southern hemisphere of the heavens. 
The third one", he continues "is in charge of the west and I am guarding the east and together we help the farmers so that their seeds grow and their harvests are plentiful".
The farmer laughs in their faces and says: " You are crazy, for me you are just a bunch of old and sick men who want to live off the fruits of my labor."

With this said, the sky opens suddenly and a wide path appears before their eyes. It is filled with the brightest light the farmer has ever seen and is leading straight into the skies. "Where does this road lead?" the farmer asks in astonishment and the Elders reply: "Why don't you come with us and we will show you the place where we work and teach you how to water your field"
The farmer does not know how to answer and falls silent as the Elders lead him gently towards the sky.

After a while they reach a wide open space of enormous dimensions. This space is filled with clouds and a well with fresh water.
There, the Elders give the farmer a hollow pumpkin and ask him to fill it with water. The farmer does as he is told and is then handed a stick and instructed to mount one of the clouds.
One of the Elders turns to him and says: "When you hit the cloud with this stick it will move through the sky with you. Go now and see that you can find your field. Once you have reached it, empty the water from your pumpkin until your field and the crop is well soaked."

The farmer does as he is told and as he waves his stick through the air to hit the cloud, lightning strikes his village and as the cloud moves, thunder can be heard.
The farmer moves with his cloud through the sky only rushing from one place to the other without finding his field. He spills the water from his pumpkin and rain falls on the village and the fields of his neighbors but never on his own. After a long time and when all the water is depleted he returns to the four Elders.

"How did it go?" the Elders ask. "Did you find your field and watered it well?"
The farmer answers: "Yes I think so since all the water is gone, I must have put it on my field alright" and without going further into it he turns to the Elders and says: "I am very hungry now, did you eat already?"
"Yes we did" they said "because we were invited and you were not".
"But why wasn't I invited?" the farmer wanted to know.

The Elders sat down with the farmer and explained to him. " While you were gone your family was very worried and afraid that you were lost. They asked the shaman of the village for help and offered food to us and the other Gods. Since you don't believe in that" they explained further "you can not possibly be invited to eat as well. Come with us, back to earth now and we show you the tables they have prepared."
As they reach the site of the offering they show the farmer from table to table and explain: "Look, these are the offerings your neighbors prepared for the Gods of the rain, the forrest, the air, the sun, the seeds and the earth."

While the farmer is beginning to understand, the Elders continue with the lesson and say: "Son, as a farmer you must understand that it is not you who directs the weather. It is you who is planting the seed but it is the God Chaac who moves the clouds with the water they bring and it is the sun that shines on the soil to make your seeds sprout."

The farmer now fully understands the power of the Gods and the need for the ceremonies to ask for their support. As he becomes aware of his bad behavior in the past, he bows his head and says to the Elders: "Dear Gods of the four points of the heavens, I thank you for the lessons you taught me and ask for your forgiveness"

The Gods of the east (fire), the west (night) the north (rain) and the south (abundance) know that now the farmer truly appreciates his place in the universe and send him on his way to his house.

Almost fainting from hunger, but filled with the believe that the Gods are with him, the meals on the offering tables become available to him as well. With great appreciation he eats until he feels no hunger any longer and then falls silent for three days.

After this period of silence and reflection he goes back to his village to reunite with his family and neighbors. And from this time on they celebrate the ceremonies of offering food to the rain God Chaac and the Gods of the four cardinal points for helping them grow their corn.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

On Blogger now

Finally on blogger now.
Having used twitter for awhile I realized that 140 characters are just not enough to express what I find here in the jungle of Yucatan.
I have worked all over the world as a photographer and have decided to live here in Chichen Itza now until at least December 21, 2012.
The last 5 months have been very interesting and I became friends with some of the Maya here and specially with one of the shamans.
Shamans are called j-men (pronounced sh man) and there wisdom and close proximity is just incredible.
Over the next weeks and months I will update these blogs regularly and hope that you enjoy the postings.