Sacred Cenotes and the Chicxulub meteorite

MayaJourney                                                                                                   Spanish Version

 Lak'ech Ala K'in  "I am you, and you are me." Maya Greeting

Sacred Cenotes - Dzonot
"The sacred door to the underworld" 
   The Maya Motul Dictionary of Hieroglyphics defines "dzonot" as abysmal and deep These magical bodies of water are connected underground, sometimes creating caves, open wells like in Dzibilchaltún and ponds in Chichén Itzá. 
There are two kinds of Cenotes; the young ones with rapid moving water and the old ones, with slower flow due to sediments or/and collapse. 
  • Two hundred and fifty million years of dramatic changes in sea level formed spectacular caves and caverns. Many were created by a meteorite impact.
  • Because of their alignment with the rim of the Impact Crater, many of the Cenotes, are being linked to the Chicxulub meteorite impact (65 million years ago). 
  • This meteorite impact is associated with 75% of the mass extinction of the dinosaurs. 
  •  The impact crater (110 miles diameter) is buried underneath the Yucatán Peninsula with its center near the small town of Chicxulub, "the tail of the devil".
  • México is home of the 5 biggest caves registered in the world. 
  • The Yucatan Peninsula has over 7,000 cenotes; less than half being studied. 
  • Some of the Cenotes and caves in the Yucatan Peninsula have ancient Maya glyphs, paintings, ceramics and burials. In many of them we still can see the offerings from the Maya to their Gods. Please respect them. If you swim, do not use sunscreen, do not eat and do not be loud. Still the Maya (not the tourist) revere them.
The Cenotes still provide a source of fresh water in the rural communities. In some of them, you can see bubbles from the fresh water spring underneath. 
Some of them are accessible for swimming, snorkeling and cave diving. If you are going to cave dive, you have to be an experience scuba diver and have a guide.  

Chaman - Scha - Knowledge
Individual that has the capacity to modify reality or collective perception of the reality. Healing, communicating with soul, visionaries and foretelling the future and knowing the past of someone, are some of the attributes that they have. 

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Images Reveal Submerged Pleistocene Fauna 
   For the first time, the INAH, National Institute of Archaeology and History of Mexico, presented to the public in video images inside a submerged cave Yucatan, where underwater archaeologists have uncovered important archaeological sites of the Age Ice; 12,000 years old.

Cenote - 'dzonot' - "ts'onot" - well

Cenotes - U'kux Xibalbá - The Maya sacred underworld
With a porous limestone shelf and no lakes or rivers on its surface, the Yucatán Peninsula has underground rivers, sometimes forming Cenotes (sinkholes), caves or lakes.
The Yucatán is divided into three states: Campeche, Yucatán and the newly formed state of Quintana Roo on October 8, 1974.
The Cenotes were regarded as the "Gateway to the Maya Sacred Underworld or Xibalbá," and in this mythological places were the only entrance or "gate of hell" - U'kux Xibalbá; the only way to enter the underworld.
The U'kux Xibalbá had 9 levels, according to the belief of the Maya and the Lords of Xibalbá ruled. According to the Popol Vuh, Maya sacred book, religious ceremonies were held in caves and Cenotes.
Balankanché, México © María O. Baum - Photo taken from a picture at the local museum.
Caves and Cenotes were also used to gather material to make arrows, limestone, ceramics and construction, and to obtain fresh water. 
Currently, in many places, are the main source of water.

Lámina número 20 - Catherwood
    Swimming, diving and snorkeling
    Several Cenotes and caves are accessible for swimming, diving and snorkeling.
    Cave diving is a dangerous sport and should only be performed by advanced divers and should be done always accompanied by a guide.

    In some sites there is a charge for the right of entry and services. There are some sites where you can enjoy an adventure inside tire tubes as is the case of  Xel Ha.

    • Cenote del Jaguar - Pac Chen - and in Aktun Chen admire the wonderful stalagmites and stalactites.
    • Akumal is in the midst of one of the best regions for cave and cavern diving.
    • Cenote Dos Ojos - IMAX "Hidden Worlds" - This Cenote became famous in 2002 in an IMAX movie, Journey Into Amazing Caves. In 2006 the BBC-Discovery Channel made ​​in the series Planet Earth in this Cenote. The water temperature is 25 degrees Celsius during the year. The water is exceptionally clear, as a result of the rainwater seeping through limestone. Two Eyes is part of the cave system Nohochná Nah Chich. This cave system is popular for diving and snorkeling and it passes between wonderful stalactites and stalagmites. Please do not touch them because they are fragile. Two Cenotes are connected to the great cavern. Dos Ojos is a flooded cave system and connected that are located north of Tulúm, Quintana Roo. The cave system was first explored in 1986 and so far more than 80 km. were discovered.  Connected with at least 28 sinkholes (Cenotes) there are more to be discovered. The extent of the cave system is 51 miles / 82 Km. It is parallel to the Nohochná System Nah Chich  - the Sac Actun cave system. It is one of the longest cave systems in the world, large volumes of groundwater flow towards Caleta Xel-Há; a lagoon near coastal base. WC and the Restaurant. $ $ And $ $ $ for snorkeling excursions. 48 km south of Playa Del Carmen - 3 Km south of Xel-Há - right side - 4 km by dirt road.
    • XTacunbilxunana, Bolonche'en - Nine Wells Bolonchenticul de Rejón - The name "Rejón" was added to commemorate Manuel Crescencio Rejón, a local attorney who helped draft the 1917 Constitution. Bolonchenticul, was the only city that escaped the cholera epidemic. North of the city is an ancient Maya city that was destroyed by the Spanish using the materials in their buildings and destroying Mayan sacred sites. There are some sculptures and hieroglyphic texts that can be visited. South of Bolonchén the X'tacunbilxunan Caves can be visited. 75 miles/120 km east of Campeche.
    • Calcehtok Caves - Actun Spukil - CAL (neck), CEH (deer), and TOK (stone) - A carved deer was found on the site hence the name Cal'ceh'tok. This is the largest cave system after Loltún. With pre-Hispanic findings like intact plates, arrowheads, hammers quartz, sculptures, idols, obsidian knives, several Chultunes (stone cisterns) and human burials, is a wonderful set of huge caves with stalactites and stalagmites. Over 30 connected caves have been explored and many more have only been assigned a number or name. Due to the complexity of the site and ancient relics it can only be explored with a guide. The guides charge about $$ for about an hour but there are many different routes and travel time so the price varies depending on the length and route. Good footwear is necessary. Mérida - 43 miles away. A visit to the nearby archaeological site of Oxkintoc is recommended.
    • Chac Mo'ol - Jaguar Claw - Large cavern with views of the rainforest from inside the cave. Diving and swimming. 22 km south Playa Del Carmen - Opposite of Puerto Aventuras.
    • The Eden - Ponderosa - Coral Cenote with a large island in the center. Access for swimming is easy, it has a slope where you enter to the site. There is a tree that is used to jump into the Cenote. Excellent for snorkeling because of its unlimited visibility: fish, eels and turtles. - 3 km south of Puerto Aventuras. $
    • Chikin 'Ha - Many fossils in one of the Cenotes that is almost dry, otherwise, you can swim through a tunnel that goes to an underground air chamber. 5 km south of Puerto Aventuras, before reaching X'pu Ha and opposite the Hotel Barceló Maya
    • Kantun Chi -  Four Cenotes joined and most of them collapsed forming a half-dome. The Cenotes of Kantun Chi, Zaskaleen, Uchil Zazil Ha and Ha are along jungle trails. The furthest, has a small Maya temple next door. Restaurant, bicycle rental, horseback riding, petting zoo. Snorkeling equipment rental. Kantun Chi is located as you pass the Cenote Chikin Ha. 
    • Cristalino - This primitive cenote is beautiful. There are very few tourists but no facilities. You can dive in the Cenote from a 3.5 meters ledge. Nearby motorway as soon as you pass Kantun Chi.
    • AzulThis Cenote is in the middle of the jungle, is more open and has more algae when it doesn't get sun. Site is near the road as soon as you pass Cristalino.
    • Taj Mahal - Four interconnected sinkholes. Snorkel for advanced swimmers. You have to dive 5 meters underwater until you get into a cave that has a light that shines from the ceiling. 26 km south of Playa Del Carmen - S. 5 kilometers from Puerto Aventuras - South Xpu-Ha.
    • Templo de la Perdición - Skull - Temple of Doom -   Three opened Cenotes formed three small holes. One is about 9 meters and two of them 1.21 meters in diameter. This creates a form of skull. The cenotes are under the thick shade of the forest and they are ideal for swimming. There is a rope swing and ladder. 2 km from Tulúm on road to Cobá - right side of the road. Rocky road in the jungle. 120 skeletons of the ancient Maya were discovered.
    • Gran Sac Aktun - Agua Blanca - White Water Steps lead to the Cenote, popular for being shallow on one side and deep on the other. Decorations and clear waters. Ideal for snorkeling and swimming. 5 km from Tulúm via Cobá.
    • Aktun Ha - Car Wash
    • Locals used the Cenote for washing vehicles, access is very easy, it's like a small lake. Snorkeling is good in winter, in the summer there is algae. 8 km road Tulúm - Cobá - 4 kilometers after passing the Grand Cenote, left side.
    • Cristal - Naharon - Excellent for swimming and snorkeling. The entry ticket includes entrance to the nearby Cenote Escondido. 4 kilometers south of Tulúm on the right side of the road.
    • Escondido - Azul Maya -
    • 2 km walk in the jungle. Plans to make a road were made. Described by locals as Tarzan and Jane (and advertised). Good swimming and snorkeling. Some formations. 4 kilometers south of Tulúm on the left - against Cristal cenote.

    Sacred Ceiba Tree or Tree of Life

    The Tree of Life, as it is known, represents the connection between the Celestial deities or Cosmos (branches),  Xibalbá or "underworld" (roots) and the trunk represents the human life. 
    For the Maya, there was a direct relationship between the Cosmos and the humans. Everyone, depending on the time and date when they were born, were told by the priest what was their place in this world. To accomplish this, the priests used astronomy and their sacred calendar.
    México©María O. Baum

    Popol-Vuh - The Sacred Maya Book 

        The Popol-Vuh describes the creation of the earth by the forces of sea and sky. According to this book, the earth was created and destroyed three times before this world was made.
        First the Mother Earth had animals, then wet clay, after the clay the wood came to the earth. 
       The creation of the first ancestors made of clay didn't last long. 
       Then the men were created made of wood; it didn't work, they didn't praise the deities. (The word god came when the Spanish invasion).
       The creators got very angry at their own creation and cut off the head. They sent a terrible flood to Mother Earth that destroyed all their creation. 
       Then men made from maize dough were created: the man of corn. The wise ones were happy with their creation.

        The first father of men was Hu'Nal'Ye. He was killed by the "lords of Xibalbá." They buried him under a ball game, which is the representation of death and re-birth.
       Hu'Nal'ye had twin sons: H'unah'Pu and X'balanque. These two semi-deities were very smart. They went into the underworld and took out their father's head. 
       He resuscitated from the crack of a turtle when his sons brought him back from Xibalbá, the Maya underworld. He was the one that created our world. The date of the creation was Day 4 Ahau 8 Kumku which corresponds to the date of August 13, 3114 B.C. This date is very important to Mother Earth. Light didn't exist until this day, then; he organized the stars and wrote in them everything he did, so that in the future, man could read it.

    Chilam Balam of Chumayel 

       The Sacred Maya Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel relates the collapse of the sky and the erection of the five World Trees. Four world trees in the corners and a main one in the center of the Earth. 
       The murals in San Bartolo have a Principal Bird Deity seated on top of each of four world trees, recalling the four world trees which, according to the Chilam Balam books, were re-erected after the collapse of the sky. These world trees were associated with specific birds. Four world trees also appear in the Mexican Borgia Codex. 
       The shooting of the Principal Bird deity is one of the main episodes of the Hero Twins myth. 
    The main characters, the twins H'unah'pu and X'balanque, defeated a bird demon and won many battles with tricks not with violence. 

    Caste War of Yucatán (1847-1901) - Casta - Latin - "pure"     

       The Caste War was a social movement in which the Maya of Yucatán rebelled against the white population, Spanish, mulatos, criollos and mestizos, to end the exploitation they faced in the henequén haciendas where they worked
       They were considered "less than human," as they did not believe the Spanish god and were treated as animals. They were subjugated intellectually and paid in coupons that were only exchanged in the hacienda store, this way the owners controlled every aspect of their lives. In 1901 the Caste War ended when the Mexican Army troops occupied the capital of Chan Santa Cruz Maya
    • It is estimated that the death toll was more than a quarter million of Maya. 
    • In the Caste War the Maya used caves as shelters and to get water.

    Jijijapa or Panama Hats 

       The Cenotes and caves are still used to manufacture the famous straw hats known as the Panama hat.  
       The plant fiber Jipijapa or guano palm, with which the hats are made, is so fragile that artisans have to weave them inside the caves to keep moisture and ideal temperatures. 
       In the village of Becal, in Campeche, hats are woven inside caves and almost every house has a cave in their backyards.

    The Three Planes of Maya Existence:
    • Kaj'  - Cosmic force with thirteen levels
    • U'kux U'lew ', Earth with four elemental forces
    • U'kux Xibalbá - underworld with nine levels - The Cenotes and caves were the entrance to this underworld
    Temples were also divided:
    • Tolán Kaj' - Cosmic Temples
    • Tolánes - Maya Pyramids
    • Tolán Ku - Underground Temple

    Master Calendar.
       The "Tzolk'in" or Master Calendar is an energy tracking device that describes the energies of Creation. The calendar has cycles within cycles, in it, each day is unique, each person is unique, and each era is unique. 
    When a child was born, the priest used (and some still do), the calendar to decide the N'awal or spirit that the child would have. N'awal is a sacred energy, a transparent aura in form of an egg that surrounds all living things. Rocks are considered living things too. Depending on the kind of energy and its force, the person will be weak or strong, healthy or sick, alive or dying. 
    A sick person has a weak N'awal. Once the N'awal was decided, the priest will advise the family of the "job" that had to be accomplished by that child; their element; Fire (spirit), Earth (body), Air (mind), Water (emotion) and their positive and negative aspects. 
    Also, the priest would advise what aptitudes had to be developed to accomplish what was expected from the child. Character, things to overcome, etc., was foretold. He/she had no choice. Everything was decided there. The priests ruled in every aspect of their lives.


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