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Ancient Sacred Mayan Journey: History

The Sacred Mayan Journey pays tribute to the ancient ritual that took place every year, where an offering was placed at the sanctuary of one of the Mayan goddess of love, Ixchel.

A journey back in time

About a thousand years ago, once a year took place a Maya ritual that started in the market which was called Kii’wik. In here, many goods were traded, and some of them were part of the offering to the Mayan goddess Ixchel.

Market days marked the moment where the oarsmen were ready to embark on the journey across the sea to the island of Cozumel and visit the oracle of the fertility goddess.

The goddess Ixchel

Ixchel is a Mayan goddess also known as Ixchebelyax, Ix Hunic, and Ix Huinieta. This deity is related to fertility, health, vegetation, and water. She is represented in different ways, evoking the moon phases. Like a full moon, it is described as a young woman, while displayed as an old lady matches to a moon at last quarter phase; the deity portrayed dead or with an eye shut, is related to the new moon.

The religious importance of the Caribbean Sea in the Sacred Mayan Journey

The Caribbean Sea had a special meaning among the ancient Mayans. It was a food source, transportation, and points the entrance to the underworld or Xibalbá (just as the cenotes). The Sacred Mayan Journey was a transition to the beyond, featuring two places as departure and arrival points: Polé (nowadays Xcaret) and the island of Cozumel.

The importance of Xcaret (Polé)

Among the ancient Mayans, Xcaret was known as Polé. Its name comes from the Yucatecan Maya word Polé, as a derivation of p’ol, that implies “merchandise” and “treat between merchants”.

Polé is described in the Chilam Balam of Chumayel as a departure point for the Itzaes. This ethnic group features great priests and merchants that used the ocean as a commercial route. The famous archaeologist and ethnohistorian, Eric Thompson, named them “the Phoenicians of the New World” due to the intensive trade along the Mayan commercial routes.

Polé was also a port of shelter, as well a boarding point for the pilgrimage of the Messengers of the Moon to attend the ceremony to the Ixchel goddess oracle at Cozumel.

The importance of Cozumel

Cozumel was known among the ancient Mayans as Kuzamil. It was a remarkable pilgrimage point where merchants and travelers arrived to tribute Ixchel, the Mayan goddess of fertility, the moon, and the weaving, among other attributes.

At Kuzamil (the former name for Cozumel) lived the Itzaes, Tantunes or Mactunes (those of the prophecy's door). They took their name due to the clay statue of Ixchel which had a secret backdoor where the priest or Chilam entered to dictate the goddess oracle.

The importance of Playa del Carmen (Xamanhá)

During the pre-Hispanic era, Xamanhá was a departure point for Mayan pilgrims for more than a thousand years. When the Mayan culture declined, on the same spot was founded Playa del Carmen as a fishermen village at the beginning of the 20th century.