“Straightaway Their Vision Came to Them”: Maya Ancestral Vision and Blood Memory
According to the Popol Vuh, a Maya text compiled soon after the Spanish Conquest in the sixteenth century, the first men created by the gods had the gift of extraordinary vision whereby they could see all things: “Perfect was their sight, and perfect was their knowledge of everything beneath the sky. If they gazed about them, turning their faces around, they beheld that which was in the sky and that which was upon the earth. Instantly, they were able to behold everything. They didn’t have to walk to see all that existed beneath the sky. They merely saw it from wherever they were. Thus, their knowledge became full. Their vision passed beyond the trees and rocks, beyond the lakes and the seas, beyond the mountains and the valleys” (Christenson 2007: 197). Although the creator gods eventually clouded this vision so that men could only see those things which were “nearby,” the progenitors of the Maya and their descendents nevertheless bore within their blood the potential for divine sight, bestowed upon them by their creators. Present-day Maya traditionalist priests in the highlands of Guatemala believe that their divine ancestors, who set the pattern for contemporary rituals, continue to operate through them as conduits at appropriate times and under appropriate circumstances. It is their sacred ancestral vision that allows indigenous priests to “see” beyond the limits of time and distance as the first men once did as they conduct divination ceremonies connected with the ancient Maya calendar.
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