2012 - Science Or Superstition?/JMJ/13
The Maya have a concept of a sacred tree, or a crossroads. It's basically the cross formed by the Milky Way where it crosses over the ecliptic. The ecliptic is the path followed by the Sun, Moon, and planets. So in the sky you have this cross, also referred to as the sacred tree and it manifests in Mayan symbolism and iconography. For example, at the classic period site of Palenque the great ruler Pacal was buried and his sarcophagus lid has a very famous carving on it, depicting him falling into the underworld at death. He's basically entering the dark rift. So the dark rift is at the centre of the sacred tree formed by the Milky Way and the ecliptic. And it's right there on his sarcophagus lid. The Maya kings were shamanistic. Pacal is seen to be a visionary shaman figure. And the shaman had to journey into the cosmic centre. That's where he was able to retrieve the sacred power of rulership. So that image of Pacal on his sarcophagus lid is not simply an after-death image, it's an image of the shaman journeying into the cosmic center - into the dark rift - to retrieve the sacred, other-worldly powers of rulership.