The pyramid of Kukulkan, ancient, feathered serpent god of the Maya, loomed above us, intimidating despite the modern crowd gathered at its base. It was the fall equinox, and many had journeyed far to see the decent of the god to earth on the side of the stepped temple.
It was late afternoon, and the sun was following its course back down to earth. The sky had been flitting with clouds all day and we wondered if we would be able to clearly see the astrological event. We sat in the shade of a huge banyan tree, some of us on blankets, some on benches. The shade from that one tree was vast enough to be shared by our entire group of eight seekers and still have shade to share.
It was hot and humid. The air was heavy and still. We waited in the heat, thankful for the arching branches of the tree. And then it began. Warm light fell on the pyramid and a shadow began to creep up from the steps. As the sun fell lower on the horizon, the shadow grew, defining the undulating shape of a serpent.
Dark clouds began to gather. The wind picked up as the apparition grew. I could feel the power of the feathered serpent god grow in intensity. A Maya shaman of slight build with a red cloth wrapped around his head began the sing-song chanting of an incantation in Yucatec Mayan. Tree began to bend in strong gusts and dust devils formed, demi-god sized tornadoes made from the red clay in the ruins, and swept across the ground, confused and scattered and throwing their powered earth back into the wind.
Then the thunder started. It rumbled around, as if it were a growling dragon encircling the sacred area. The energy was electric.
The serpent became more defined, its radiant body of light crawling down the pyramid to join with it’s now illuminated carved head. The sun was low in the sky and the energy of the descent of the god was tangible. The thunder grew louder and the shaman declared, “Kukulkan is here!”
We were ushered out of the ruin site as the day came to an end, all of those gathered leaving reluctantly, the energy of the event was still strong, but the park was closing.
I wonder what happened after we left. I doubt such a god, so ancient and powerful, would care if we were there upon his full arrival. The presence seemed to dwarf everything, connecting to the earth itself in a bi-yearly ritual that it shared with the pre-Columbian edifice. For over a thousand years the sun and shadow had been playing its game with the stone steps. For a thousand more it may continue.
I came to Chichen Itza on the fall equinox expecting a lovely event. But the ancient power I felt that day was much more than I expected. I believe in the veracity of Kukulkan, the descending god that comes to visit humankind.