What Mayans Think of the End of the World Prophecies

Priscila Torres

Priscila Torres studies at the National School of Music in Mexico City, where she is specializing in the harpsichord. She grew up in Merida, and volunteers for an NGO that provides free music lessons to rural communities in Yucatan.

"Everyone out there is talking about the end of the world, but in Yucatan no one is talking about that," Priscilla said. "People in the small towns don't even follow the Mayan calendar anymore because, since the Spanish came, the 'normal' calendar was imposed."

"I think that this 21 of December [doomsday theory] is just a myth," she added. "When we were at school, they taught us about the Mayan calendar and all that, but they also told us that the Mayans saw much further into the future [than December 21]."

Mario Itzep

Mario Itzep directs the Indigenous Observatory, a think tank in Guatemala City. "In the Mayan [view of the cosmos], there is no end of the world," he said.

Itzep also pointed out that that the end of the 13th Baktun, will simply be followed by the start of the 14 Baktun, much like the end of the 20st century, led to the beginning of the 21st century.

"Here in Guatemala, we hope that the new Baktun will be the era in which we eliminate poverty and racism, that is what we want for the new Baktun," argued Itzep, who is a native speaker of the Mayan Kiche language.

The Guatemalan government is celebrating the end of the 13th Baktun by backing large celebrations in several archeological sites around the country, including the ancient city of Tikal.

These celebrations are intended to attract tourists, but Itzep said that indigenous youth groups will place observers in these archeological spots, which are considered by the Mayans to be holy sites.

"We want to make sure that they let our spiritual leaders into those sites, that they are allowed to practice their rites, and that they are not charged an entrance fee," Itzep said.

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