Stelea in the Land of Eternal Spring
By Jheri St. James
of Guatemala is the northernmost republic of Central America,
bordered by Mexico on the north and west, Belize and the Caribbean
Sea on the east, Honduras and El Salvador on the southeast,
and the Pacific Ocean on the southwest.
The capital is Guatemala City.
The Mayas ruled the area for over 1,000 years from
about A.D. 300, but they were unable to offer much resistance
to the invading Spaniards in1524.
The name “Goathemala” was given by the Spanish conquistadors
and derives from indigenous words that mean “Land of Many
Trees”. The town of Alta Verapaz is known for the fact that, after failing
to conquer it by the sword, the Spanish entered by the Church—with
missionaries who defended the Indians from the cruel treatments
of the Spanish army. Many
Pre-Columbian Mayan books were lost due to the policy of the
Spanish military occupiers during the colonial period of burning
them. However, several
survive, including: The Popol Vuh, Anales de los Kakchiqueles,
and Chilam Balam, books that were discovered and preserved
by Spanish missionary friars.
in whose dim shadow
priest doth reign,
who slew the slayer,
himself be slain.
became independent in 1821 and subsequently was a member of
the Central American Federation (1824-1839).
Post-World War II governments had socialist leanings. Guatemalan history is marked by the Cold War
tensions between the USA and the USSR.
It was the Central Intelligence Agency, supported by
a small group of Guatemalan citizens, which orchestrated the
overthrow of the democratic socialist Guatemalan government
in 1954, which then led to over 30 years of unrest in the
nation, plagued by political violence and coups. In 1985 Marco Vinicio Cerezo Arévalo became
the first civilian to be elected president of Guatemala in
15 years. In 1996, the government signed a peace agreement
formally ending the conflict, which had left more than 100,000
people (mostly native Mayans) dead and had created some one
million refugees. Guatemala was the site of “one of the worst
ethnic cleansings in modern times” (Wikipedia).
is a mountainous country composed largely of volcanic highland. The eastern and western highlands are not very
fertile. To the north
is the petén, a rain forest plateau with areas of savanna,
covering a third of the country.
The climate varies from the tropical petén and
coastal areas to the subtropical and temperate highlands.
the “Land of Eternal Springtime”, the Passion Week rites of
spring and the Catholic observance of Semana Santa, the celebration
of life—the cycle of death to rebirth in this country of Spanish-Mayan
culture—combine in a colorful dance to life in this green,
fertile land. Starting
in Guatamala City on the eve of Palm Sunday, vendors prepare
for parishioners who will purchase coconut palm fronds to
be used as royal fans or brooms.
This ritual dates back 2,000 years as symbolic of the
use of palm fronds waved in the air and used to sweep the
route taken by Jesus as he entered the gates of Jerusalem. The fronds are made using techniques similar
to both Mexican paper cutting and Japanese origami,
and are then embellished with flowers, the final bouquet a
work of native art. Taken from inside giant dried brown pea pods,
cracked open to reveal feathery ruffles, they are called corozo
by locals. It is said
the Mayas used to bury their dead inside their homes, beneath
the dining table, where they could continue to dine with their
(mixed Amerindian-Spanish; locally called Ladino) and
Europeans (primarily Spanish, German, English, Italian and
Scandinavian) comprise 60% of the population and Amerindians
comprise approximately 40%. The official language is Spanish, but many
Native American languages are also spoken.
The main religion was Roman Catholicism during colonial
times, but Protestant denominations have swept the nation.
Indigenous beliefs are on a decline.
The Jewish population hovers around the 1,000 mark.
of the Maya and Spanish colonists are strong throughout Guatemala. In the cities, European influence (especially
German) is well evidenced.
Much of the clothing and food is still made in the
traditional Mayan way in small villages in the highlands,
and many Mayan ruins can be found. Along the small Caribbean coast there are influences
of African culture in the religious ceremonial songs, dances
and food. Although crime is epidemic in Guatemala City, smaller
towns in Guatemala blessed with steady tourism, such as the
towns around Lago Atitlan. There is a measure of increasing prosperity
and decreasing interference from the army.
* * *
“Tree: a woody perennial plant with a well-defined
main stem, or trunk, that either dominates the form throughout
the life cycle (giving a pyramidal shape) or is dominant only
in the early stages, later forking to form a number of equally
important branches (giving a rounded or flattened form to
the tree). The trunk
of a tree consists almost wholly of thick-walled water-conducting
cells (xylem) that are renewed every year, giving rise to
annual rings. The older wood in the center of the tree (the
heartwood) is much denser and harder than the younger, outer
sapwood. The outer skin, or bark, insulates and protects
the trunk and often shows characteristic cracks or falls off,
leaving a smooth skin. Trees
belong to the two most advanced group of plants” (Webster’s
* * *
Guatemala’s name and Guatemala’s history, the inner heartwood
of the Mayan culture surrounded by the rings of Spanish domination
and current conflicts and resolutions.
The xylem of the Guatemala “tree” still conducts living
water to the branches, through its stelae, “the central core
of vascular tissue in a plant stem or root” (American Heritage
collector, Betty Marchorro chose the base of a tree at Tikal,
Petén for her site and wrote, “Tikal in Peten is a great city
of the Mayan civilization; it’s considered a Power Spot.
Symbols are important, powerful!
What a nice Symbol [Common Ground 191].
Thank you. Blessings and best wishes for you and your
project.” Betty read
of the Common Ground 191 project through Doreen Virtue’s online
angel newsletter (one of approximately 20 collections that
seem to have come from the direct angelic intervention of
this planetary service worker; thank you, Doreen). She is a healer in Asuncion Mita, working with
Reiki, massage, nutrition and rebirthing techniques to help
people resolve illness. For
her soil collection, she was joined by two gentlemen, Mario
Salguero and Jorge Juarez who were busy healing the rainforest
through Probopeten, a reforestation and sustainable management
project sponsored by the Guatemalan Ministry of Agriculture. An additional important tree projects is going on in Ixtahuacan,
Trees for Life. One hears so much about the loss of rainforests,
it is deeply meaningful to hear about the active healing of
the “lungs of the world” through the commonground efforts
of these good men.
site of her collection, is located in El Petén, just a few
hours through the jungle from Belize.
Tikal is the most impressive and magnificent Mayan
ruin in Central America. Believed to have been one of the most powerful
cities in the ancient Mayan world, Tikal was inhabited between
roughly 800 B.C. and 900 A.D., and was home to 100,000 people
at its height. Today a wildlife preserve covering 220 square
miles of lush rainforest and ruins, visitors commonly see
monkeys and several species of tropical birds that inhabit
the trees around the ancient city.
The city and surrounding areas are believed to have
once spanned an area of 23 square miles. The temples are mainly constructed out of limestone,
which was very important because it also provided lime for
stucco and plaster. Pyramids
represent the sacred mountains from where it was believed
maize came. The temples used to be covered in rich color
patterns and some temples were even painted completely red.
plaza was the main plaza in the Classic era, although today
the Great Plaza is the center of the site.
Seventy stelae (upright stones or slabs with inscribed
or sculptured surfaces), originally painted red, have been
located around this run. These stelae, each of which once had an altar beside it, commemorate
the rulers of Tikal and their faces can still be seen today
carved on one side of the large stone monuments.
The nearby Temple of the Giant Jaguar is a 100-foot
high pyramid concealing the tomb of Ahau Cacau, the divine
ruler of Tikal. Other noteworthy temples and plazas: the Temple of the Maska, Temple of the Jaguar
Priest, the North Acropolis, and to the south of the great
plaza complex, the Central Acropolis.
Here there are 42 palaces, all excellent examples of
Overview of a Portion of Tikal
by the national park and protected areas, the wildlife is
vibrant in Tikal. One
hears the sounds of the jungle at all times.
of the Guatemala story is that we got to meet Betty when she
was coming to Los Angeles to attend a Doreen Virtue seminar.
She came to Laguna Beach on a Saturday afternoon to
meet with us, bringing many pictures, video clips and information
about her country and her soil.
We so rarely get to meet the collectors in person that
this was such a special event with a remarkable lady.
Marchorro, our “CG191 Angel” above Tikal-- peeking up
above the forest in the background.
site in Guatemala is the colonial city of Antigua, noted for
its magnificent churches.
Many shamans make their home around the area of Atitlan,
which is the home of the volcanic mountain which has been
likened to Mt. Fuji.
* * *
Señor de Esquipulas
In the small
town of Esquipulas, an important religious icon is said to
have miraculous healing powers.
The “Cristo Negro” is a 400-year-old sculpture that
draws millions of pilgrims each year.
Also known as El Señor de Esquipulas, the feastday
for this saint falls on January 15th, the birthday
of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
A copy of this revered statue was recently installed
in St. Patrick’s church in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A. through
the actions of parishioner Delfina Pereda, a Guatemalan native,
who spearheaded the effort to bring the Cristo Negro to Baltimore.
“The hope is that people get closer, that there is
more community, that there would be more effort due to our
love for El Señor,” she says. It appears that healing angel ladies are working in many places
in the world: Doreen
Virtue internationally, Betty Marchorro in Guatemala, and
Delfina Pereda in Baltimore, Maryland.
“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby
some have entertained angels unawares” (King James Bible)
Sacred Ceiba Tree in Guatemala
in trees and the stelae in Tikal are conduits for waters of
life, in one instance H2O, in the other spiritual waters,
nourishing our sense of connectedness with the long fascinating
history of the human race. Gary Simpson and the Common Ground 191 art
project also remind us of the connectedness of the human race,
through the fusion of all the soils on earth, which are the
platform upon which all this history has evolved, always silently
embracing the unity of mankind on this planet.
The soil and spiritual stelae of the Land of Eternal
Spring bless our project.
I think that
I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose
hungry mouth is prest against the sweet earth’s flowing breast.
A tree that
looks at God all day, and lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that
may in summer wear a nest of robins in her hair.
bosom snow has lain, who intimately lives with rain.
made by fools like me, but only God can make a tree.
Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918)
* * *