Sixty-five million years ago a giant, six-mile wide extinction-level object crossed into the Earth's atmosphere at an incredible high rate of speed. So huge was the object that rather than burn up or disintegrate as it raced toward the Earth's surface it basically held together with no more than a little shedding and dissipation of heat. Within seconds of entering the Earth's thickening lower atmosphere it slammed into a shallow sea in what is now the north coast of the Yucatan, Mexico with a force comparable to 100 million megatons of TNT. The resulting impact created a crater 112 miles across and a tsunami wave two thousand feet high that swept as far north inland as the middle of present day Texas. The results of the impact caused the demise of entire species, including, it is said, the dinosaurs. Ground zero for the asteroid is pretty much considered now days to be centered near the small Yucatan city of Chicxulub, hence the name.
A couple of years out of high school a buddy and I decided to travel a few months throughout Mexico on a road trip. Eventually we drove from California clear through to the Yucatan, and, without realizing it because it was not even known to exist at the time, crossing over the outside perimeter of the then unnamed Chicxulub crater into it's geologically time-masked interior --- ending in, at least for me, startling results.
Although making it to the Yucatan was not originally part of our plans, because originally we had no plans, while driving we made the decision to go as far into Mexico as we could in an effort to see every ancient Aztec and Mayan archaeological sites we could before we ran out of time and money. With that decision in hand we figured if we could make it as far as Chichen Itza it would be as good a goal as any before turning around. Weeks later, after reaching Mexico City and visiting the Aztec pyramids we drove southeast to the Great Pyramid of Cholula, the Mayan site of Palenque, then on to Campeche. From there to the Mayan sites of Labna, Sayil, Uxmal and a few other places. After those sites we drove to Mayapan, said to be the last of the ancient Mayan capitals. That's when the first of two odd things happened. Following those half dozen or so ruins leading up to Uxmal we ended somewhat south of Mayapan and had to turn north to get there. Two or three miles outside and south of Mayapan I was overcome by an all engulfing, continuous series of clear-to-my-bones cold chills rippling across my body, the abeyance of which really did not subside as much as they slowly melded into mild convulsions similar to dry-heaves then fading into a general lasting malaise all the time I was there.
Thirty-plus years passed without ever experiencing anything remotely close to what transpired that day on the road into Mayapan. Then, on one of my travels through Europe many years later, I stopped at the World War II Nazi death camp of Mauthausen. I had been to Europe several times, but I had never gone to such a place before. When I crossed onto the grounds of the camp proper, for the second time in my life, I was overcome, although not nearly as intense, with the same type chills and bodily sensations as I had experienced in the Yucatan.
It was then it dawned on me what happened in the Yucatan those so many years before. Just a short distance before driving into Mayapan, unknown to either my buddy or me we crossed over the outer ring marking the edge of the 112 mile in diameter Chicxulub impact structure created by the giant asteroid mentioned above, that inturn resulted in killing off entire species, including the dinosaurs and millions of other living creatures both great and small.
After leaving Mayapan my buddy and I were well on our way to Chichen Itza, albeit still traveling within the semi-circular string of sink holes that one day would be known collectively as the ring of cenotes, when the second of two odd things happened. We had selected an isolated spot along the road in the middle of nowhere to stop and prepare our evening meal and crash for the night. The weather, as it had been most of the time since leaving the highlands of Mexico City, was and remained, extremely hot and muggy. After eating and cleaning up, my buddy climbed on the top of the truck to try and catch a few Z's and at least some sort of a breeze while he slept. In the meantime, not being able to sleep myself, with no real artifical light nearby or any being produced around the horizon polluting the night sky, I pulled my telescope out of its box and, turning on the headlights for a few minutes so I could see, proceeded to set it up. Then, before shutting off the lights, looked at my circular sky chart I invariably carried with me in those days to find the best time to view M31, otherwise known as the Andromeda Galaxy. Given the right time and conditions I am always able to easily locate Andromeda with my naked eye, with binoculars, much better. However, Andromeda once found, using my inexpensive, that is, cheap, 100 power toy store refractor, which was up to producing a fairly good visual image, did not make it easy to follow the spiral's relative movement produced from the Earth's rotation. Concentrating all my efforts on doing so, especially after installing a Barlow lens to double the scope's power, I completely lost track of time and place when suddenly a chillingly different type of breeze or wind came up returning me to reality. Standing up to straighten my back and get the crick out of my neck as well as relax my eyes for a second, there, right in front of me and seemingly out of nowhere as though she had been swept in by the sudden burst of wind, was an old woman. Short in stature with straight, pulled-back, nearly pure white hair and appearing to be of Mayan extraction, she carried a gunnysack-like shoulder bag slung across her chest and back and under her arm filled with sticks as though she had been out collecting kindling wood or something. We just stood there looking at each other for what seemed the longest time.
Then, in suprisingly good english with a slight-to-heavy accent she asked what I was doing and if I was ill. Thinking, mistakenly, that talking about galaxies was beyond the old woman's comprehension I simply told her that I was looking at other worlds. She said, "Why look up there when you are standing where other worlds came to ours?" Again she asked if I was ill. Not knowing what she meant about other worlds coming to our world and thinking it must be somehow spritual or mystical in nature, I just skipped to telling her in so many words --- and hand gestures --- I had been very queasy over the last couple of days, and unusually so. Reaching into a small waist-level pouch and with her thumb and index finger she pulled out a large pinch of what almost appeared to be pipe tobacco. She put it into the palm of my hand and told me to take it as it would make my stomach feel better. As I put the stuff in my mouth she built a small fire using the some of the sticks she was carrying. After awhile she started poking around the fire with a stick and rolled a dull glowing red stone about the size of a chicken egg out onto the sand.
Delicately picking up the stone by barely touching it she dropped it into the palm of my hand and quickly using her two hands tightly closed mine around the stone. The stone was burning hot and as I leaped back pulling loose from her grip I quickly shook my hand up and down in front of me thinking all the time and yelling, "You stupid, fucking-ass old lady, what the hell are you doing?" I collapsed to my knees dizzy with pain. The stone, fused to my hand-flesh rolled from my palm into the fire taking small pieces of meat and skin with it. All kinds of thoughts were racing through my head: I'm glad it is my left hand; how will I ever get medical help out in the middle of nowhere; how can I kill this lady; am I going to die? I could smell the seared flesh and in the dim light able to see my palm was torn open clear to where I could see the bones that spread out from my wrist reaching toward my fingers. I was falling backwards as though I was passing out, unable to keep myself upright. She put her hand on my shoulder almost as to steady me and said, in so many words and as near as I can remember, that the smell of burning flesh whould wane from my nostrils, the wound would heal as though it never happened and my life and life generally would return better than ever.
I woke up the next morning in the dirt about a half mile from the truck doubled up in the fetal position clutching my hand as tight as I could against my chest. I could see across the scrubbrush my buddy was scrounging around for something to eat, paying no attention to me being gone or my plight. I sat up indian style, at first, afraid to look at my hand. Then I slowly pulled my hand away from my chest to look at it. There were sure signs of circular burn on my palm alright and some pain, but nothing like I experienced the night before. No open wounds or exposed bones. So too, except for the remains of the fire back by the truck and the knocked over telescope I fell into passing out, there was no sign of the woman or of her ever being there. By the time we left Chichen Itza a few days later no physical sign of the burn remained, nor is there such to this day.
AND NOW THIS:
Although the title of this article is The Mayan Shaman and Chicxulub, you may notice nowhere in the text do I call or actually designate anyone specifically as a shaman, Mayan or otherwise. True, the overall implication leans heavily toward that of the the old woman, but in actuality and in real life, for me personally, it was never made clear if she was a shaman, shamaness, curandera, sorceress, diablero, spritual elder, Mayan priest or Mayan priestess. Nothing about her in her appearance revealed any outward shamanistic or Mayan priest accurements, that is, masks, clothing, tatoos, or regalia that most people stereotypically apply to those that are considered such. She may have been nothing more than a crazy old woman.
Any lines or dots that appear to be connecting the old woman and any potential shamanistic skills, abilities, or traits she exhibited stems from a deep innate, personal gut feeling of my own. Those feelings are based on actual experiences under similar or like circumstances that happened to me both prior to our meeting and afterwards. An example of one of those experiences before meeting the old lady can be found in Footnote , A Huge Coyote Cometh, of The Last American Darshan. A second before example can be found at the Sun Dagger site. Both of those examples circulate around my Uncle and myself and Native American cultures of the desert southwest. An example that enjoins myself, shamanic journeying, and Native Americans BUT without any involvement of my uncle can be found at Incident at Supai. A more recent example and well after meeting the old lady, that circulates around the Mayan culture, can be found at Yamil Lu'um.
As for any analogy one may draw between the asteroid and the hot stone the old lady dropped in the palm of my hand: burning flesh, healing with no scar, a return to life, most people who consider themselves in the know conclude the ancient or modern Mayans knew NOTHING about the existence of the asteroid, impact crater, or any results thereof any more so than anybody else did prior to its modern day discovery. Others point out that the word "Chicxulub," in the Mayan language, translates into "tail of the dragon," "tail of the beast," or "fire of the beast." Those who point that out imply that the impactor must have been known to the Mayans to have been known in such a context. For the record there are currently over thirty recognized Mayan languages, each inturn that can be further broken down into a numerous variety of dialects. Which one Chicxulub comes from or if there is a widely dispersed use of the word is not known.
How many fire breathing dragons or dragons specifically were known to exist in the Mayan culture is not known either, especially at the level of naming things after them. Even Quetzalcoatl is known as the feathered-serpent or winged serpent, seeming to indicate for the Aztecs and Mayans, et al, creatures such as serpents were known to exist, but that which a dragon is, wasn't. Dragons, albeit usually considered to be reptilian in nature, except, unusual for a reptile or any other known vertebrae, having six appendages (i.e., four legs and two wings). A winged serpent, sounds more like a snake-like creature with two wings but NO legs.
So too, tail of the dragon or not, when or how the name or word Chicxulub was applied to the specific spot or area it is applied to now and by whom is not known either. No Mayan temples or ruins dedicated to dragons or anything else similar have come to light.
The above not withstanding, the earliest "real" reference or recorded evidence of when the Chicxulub crater truly became known to the world is typically attributed to the insights of oilfield explorer Glen Penfield in 1978. The episode that happend between the old woman and myself that night within the ring of cenotes seems to indicate she not only knew about the crater, but the impact and the results thereof as well. That episode occured in the summer of 1960, eighteen years before Penfields work came to light.
NOTE: If you haven't read the Footnotes, including the last one regarding the old woman, please scroll down the page and do so.
MEDITATION ALONG METEOR CRATER RIM
MAYAN RUINS AND THE SPRING EQUINOX
THE SUN DAGGER
THE BEST OF
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WE DO NOT HAVE SHAMANS
The Case Against "Shamans" In the
North American Indigenous Cultures
The motivation behind the trip to Mexico did not start out with anything to do with meeting Mayan shamans or the extinction of dinosaurs. It just ended up that way.
Mostly I had tired of the day-to-day grind working as a technical illustrator since high school. I had been working on the high altitude breathing equipment for the then super-secret U-2 spy plane, which was exciting work. With the contract nearing an end, my job began to get stale.(see) Adding that to the fact the draft was looming over my head and my longterm semi-on-and-off high school and after girlfriend --- who had gone off to college while I remained home being nothing but a dunce working stiff --- hit me with the fact she had met and fallen in love with some hunkering down stud and they were planning on getting married didn't help. When my buddy, who was in much the same boat I was, suggested an extended, open-ended trip to Mexico I decided to take a never-come-back leave of absence from my job and go for it.
He had shopped around and bought a used six-cylinder 1951 Chevy panel truck just for the trip that was in pretty good shape and over a period of a few months the two of us outfitted it like a camper with fold down bunks, table, sink, stove, and portable toilet. We got a bunch of new fanbelts, radiator hoses, inner tubes and tools, then, early one Saturday morning we crossed into Mexico at the Tijuana border with no idea how long we were going to be gone.
We made our first mistake the same morning we crossed the border by turning east thinking we could get into the main part of Mexico. When we got to Tecate we were told it was, at least in those days, difficult to continue traveling eastward for some reason and to just go back into the States and cross at Nogales. The other suggestion was to go down the Baja peninsula and cross over by ferry to the mainland. We took the second suggestion and turned southwest ending up on the Baja Pacific coast near Ensanada. If it was bum advice to continue east or not I still don't know to this day. In any case, it worked out more than OK for us.(see)
After leaving Ensanada we continued south on some pretty crummy roads eventually turning eastward across the peninsula to the little town of Santa Rosalia, taking a ferry across the Sea of Cortez to Guaymas. Continuing on we passed through Guadalajara turning toward the mysterious ancient ruins of Chicomostoc with an interesting set of results, then back toward Lake Chapala, San Miguel Allende and a bunch of other places ending up seeing the pyramids in Mexico City and Mayan Ruins in the Yucatan. We stopped whenever we wanted and stayed as long as we wanted. Compared to most of the people in the countryside we came across, as well as the locals in the towns we went through, we had all the money we needed to spend on anything we wanted including gas, food, lodging, girls, and beer. A full accounting of the story, from start to finish, can be found by going to:
CARLOS CASTANEDA: DON JUAN MATUS AND THE NOGALES BUS STATION MEETING
What brought me to the vicinity of the Mauthausen death camp in the first place was the remains of a man thought possibly to have been a Shaman that had been frozen over five-thousand years ago high in the Alps along the border between Italy and Austria.
The frozen man, given the name Otzi but sometimes called the Iceman, was nearly perfectly perserved considering he had died 5300 years ago. I had written about him somewhat extensively in POWER OF THE SHAMAN and, while traveling in Europe, included seeing him for myself as well as seek out the location high in the mountains where he was found.
The frozen remains of the nearly intact Iceman is exhibited with all his clothing and equipment at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano, Italy not far into the lower reaches of the Alps from Venice. To see where he was found, however, after visiting Venice, I went around into Austria through Vienna. On the way through Salzburg to Innsbruck to see the site the Iceman was found as well as the Otzi Memorial, I went right by Mauthausen. Although initially I had not even remotely entertained the prospect of going to the death camp, somehow I was drawn to stop there.
OTZI MEMORIAL. 230 FEET (70 METERS) SOUTHWEST FROM THE FIND SPOT
OTZI THE ICEMAN
In 1978 Glen Penfield, an American geophysicist employed by the Western Geophysical Company of Houston, Texas(see), and hired out under contract to the Mexican state-owned oil company PEMEX, discovered what he thought might be an impact crater buried under the northern Yucatan Peninsula. At the time, Penfield was a member of an airborne survey team magnetically imaging the whole of the general area. During a routine examination of the data Penfield noticed what appeared to be a huge underground "arc" in the Caribbean with its ends pointing south that was inconsistent with the region's geology. Curious, Penfield located an old gravity map of the Yucatan from the 1960s and found another arc, only this one was on the Yucatan itself --- and its ends pointed north. He matched the two maps top to bottom and found that the arcs joined in a nearly perfect circle 112 miles in diameter with its center at the village of Puerto Chicxulub.(source)
It was not until eleven or twelve years later that the existence of the crater truly became public knowledge. In 1989 and 1990 Adriana C. Ocampo, Dr. Kevin O. Pope, and Charles Duller were using satellite images to map water resources in the Yucatán. They found a semicircular ring of sinkholes, called "cenotes," that Ocampo recognized as related to the crater. They hypothesized that the crater might be the K/T impact site and published their findings in the journal Nature in May of 1991.(source)
THE OLD WOMAN
Some of you may or may not know that in my youth I had Darshan under the grace and light of the venerated Indian holy man the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. When the Bhagavan was 16 or 17 years old he had what has come to be called a death experience that ended with the young boy Awakening to the Absolute. Not known to most who are familiar with Sri Ramana is that sixteen years after his first death experience he had a second death experience. That second episode cumulated in full and total Enlightenment. Even lesser known, interestingly enough, is that the experience circulated around the meeting of an old woman who was out collecting fuel (i.e., firewood):
There was a time when the Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi would frequently roam the holy hill of Arunachala, as well as climbing to the summit and making Pradakshina (circumambulation), so that in the end, he knew every part of it. And then one day, when he was wandering alone, he passed an old woman gathering fuel on the hillside. She looked like a common outcast woman, but she addressed the young Swami fearlessly, as an equal. Beginning with the rough cursing common to such people, she said: "May you be put on the funeral pyre! Why do you wander about in the sun like that? Why don't you sit quiet?"
"It can have been no ordinary woman," Sri Bhagavan said when he told the devotees about it; "Who knows who she was?" Certainly, no ordinary outcast woman would have dared to speak to a Swami like that. The devotees took it to be a manifestation of Arunagiri Siddha, the Spirit of Arunachala. From that time Sri Bhagavan gave up roaming the hillside.(source)
If you recall in reference to the old Mayan woman I encountered as outlined in the main text above, when I told her that I was looking at other worlds she replied with:
"Why look up there when you are standing where other worlds came to ours?"
Thousands of years before, the 6th century BC philosopher Thales of Miletus, as legend has it, was so involved in observing the stars one night while walking he fell into a ditch. An old woman, seeing Thales fall, taunted him with:
"How can you expect to know all about the heavens, Thales, when you cannot even see what is just before your feet."
Since I've put this article online I have been contacted by a number of people telling me they made the trip east from Tijuana through Tecate and down into central Mexico many times and never once encountered any sort of a reason why it couldn't or shouldn't be done. Actually, in the case of my buddy and me, there was really more to the story than I stated above.
After crossing the border in Tijuana and turning toward the east, we stopped at a small cantina just outside Tecate. While inside the cantina a rather loud discussion between two men degenerated into a fight that ended with one of the men being stabbed. Everybody scrambled to get out. In the ensuing milieu someone in broken english told us we should get out before authorities arrived. Just as we started to move cop types were coming in the front door. Some guy running by motioned us to follow him. We dashed through the kitchen and out into a darkened dirt alley behind the cantina. Someone pulled us through a door of a building across the way that was lit only by a dim lantern --- which was instantly blown out and the door locked behind us from the inside. Before the room went dark I could just barely make out a dozen or more people squatted along the walls and below the windows. As the night wore on some of the people began to leave. A smattering of people stayed and my buddy, who could speak and understand a little spanish, said he had been told it would probably be best if we stuck around a little longer.
Just as the sun started to come up we decided to leave. That is when our plans heading east were changed. A bunch of people warned us that we would have a hard time continuing east and that we should go down the peninsula and cross by ferry. After we decided that was what we would do, the same people conincidently brought forth a strange man, about 45 or 50 years old who just happened to need a ride in that same direction and insisted he join us on our drive to the coast. A couple of hours into our trip we stopped along the road to pee. When we did the strange man just wandered off into the desert and did not come back. My buddy told me while I was dozing off the night before the man had performed some kind of a doctoring or healing ritual over the stabbed man in a room adjacent the room we hid in. In so many words, as best my buddy was able to translate it, the man said he was a Yaqui and a shaman of sorts, who called himself Abeulo Cachora Matorral, abeulo being the spanish word for grandfather --- nowdays a rather funny word to ascribe to oneself when one is only 45 or 50 years old. Although I did not know it at the time, in an interesting turn of fate, the man turned out to be Tezlcazi Guitimea Cachora, Grandfather Cachora, a man thought by many to be the "real" Don Juan Matus the Yaqui Indian shaman sorcerer who became famous in the series of books by Carlos Castaneda. See also Ken Eagle Feather.
About 600 miles south of Guaymas my buddy and I came into the city of Tepic located about 130 miles northwest of Guadalajara. In Tepic we met a proto-hippie American girl around our same age while shopping for fruits and vegetables in an open air market. Making dinner together she stayed the night. She was traveling north by bus alone. We told her we were headed south with our only real goal being to squeeze in as many ancient ruins as possible. She said she had just come from Guadalajara and had heard that northeast of there, near a city called Zacatecas, were some fabulous ruins of an ancient city named Chicomostoc (La Quemada) that nobody even knows who built it. Since we were halfway down Mexico and had not seen one ruin yet, my buddy and I decided to go there. The girl said if we didn't mind, if we going to the ruins, she would like to join us, then continue north from Zacatecas --- besides that she said, she could show us around Guadalajara as she had spent a week or two there.
After a few days in Guadalajara we headed northeast on the road to Zacatecas. No sooner had we got out of the urban area and into the mountains when a beat up pick-up truck with high boards on the sides holding in a ton of junk and coming from the other direction went out of control. It basically crossed the road right in front of us, turned sidways, then smashed into the embankment ending with the hood up, horn blaring and steam coming out all over the place. Our truck ran up our side of the road into the dirt and, except for a series of rough bumps and nearly flipping nothing happened. However, when the dust settled and we got out we could see that three adults and a young boy who had been walking alongside the road had got caught up in the accident and the young boy, around seven or so, had been been hit by the pick-up fairly severely.
We attended to the people hurt as best we could, assessed the damage and backed our truck down onto the road. It was quite clear the boy was hurt pretty bad and needed medical attention. Since we were the only ones left with a vehicle that was drivable we loaded everybody up who wanted to go, including the young boy and his parents, and headed back toward Guadalajara.
As we got into the northern suburbs of Guadalajara called Zapopan a man from the pick-up traveling with us said he had relatives nearby and they could direct us to a doctor. When the lady of the house saw the young boy she insisted the boy stay and have a doctor come to him. Soon a crowd began to gather outside the house, I guess because of the three gringos, our truck with U.S. plates, and an injured boy. A doctor showed up and he and the parents of the boy got into an almost shouting match. Shortly thereafter, for whatever reason a priest arrived. Then a second one, a more of a bigshot one. He told us the boy and his parents were Indians called Huichol and they wanted to take the boy home so he could be dealt with by a traditional healer. The thing is, the priest said, the doctor did not think the boy would survive the trip north into the mountains.
Enter the proto-hippie. She said why don't WE take one of the parents and go get the traditional healer. Everybody heard the suggestion and everybody thought it was a good idea, except maybe my buddy and me. We traveled the rest of the day, all night and the next day, but soon we were back with the healer and his apprentice. By then the boy was doing fairly well on his own and in the end it all turned out OK. My buddy and I never made it to Chicomostoc and the proto-hippie left with the healer. His apprentice, instead of going with them, went with the second priest.
The priest was Father Ernesto Loera Ochoa, a Franciscan from the Basilica of Zapopan. The apprentice healer, Ramón Medina Silva.
THE ANCIENT RUINS OF LA QUEMADA