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NOTE XIX. (Page 139.)
(1) The acceptance, by a young girl, of a fruit sent by her lover constituted betrothal among the ancient Mayas, as it does in our day among their descendants. In Yucatan, if a young man wishes to propose marriage to a girl, he sends by a friend, as a present, a fruit, a flower, or some sweetmeat. The acceptance of it is a sign that the proposal of the suitor is admitted. From that moment they are betrothed. The refusal of the present means that he is rejected. A similar custom exists in Japan. When a young lady expects a proposal of marriage, a flower-pot is placed in a convenient position on the window-sill. The lover plants a flower in it. If next morning the flower is watered, he can present himself to his lady-love, knowing that he is welcome. If, on the contrary, the flower has been uprooted and thrown on the sidewalk, he understands that he is not wanted.
In Egypt the eating of a quince by two young people, together, constituted betrothal. So also in Greece, where the custom was introduced from Egypt. In this custom we find a natural explanation of the first seven verses of the third chapter of Genesis, and why the serpent was said to have offered a fruit to the woman.
NOTE XX. (Pages 15, 155.)
(1) The Mayas held Fire to be the breath, the direct emanation of Ku, the Supreme Intelligence; its immediate agent through which all things were produced, and the whole creation kept alive. Therefore they worshipped it as deity itself. To it, in high places, they raised altars, on which a perpetual fire, rekindled once a year, was watched by priestesses whose special duty was to see that it never became extinguished. These were recruited from among the daughters of priests and nobles. They were called Zuhuy Kak, “Virgins of the Fire." 1 At their head was a Lady Superior, whose title, Ix naacan-katun,' meant "She who is forever exalted."
They procured the new fire either directly from the rays of the sun, or from the shock of two hard stones, or by rubbing two pieces of wood together.
Among the symbols sculptured on the mastodon trunks that, at a very remote period of Maya history, embellished the façades of all sacred and public edifices, these signs are occasionally seen: Taken collectively they read "thunder," hence, "fire."
Far deeper, however, is their esoteric meaning. The interpretation of each individual sign reveals the fact that they form a cosmological pandect, or treatise, on the creation of the
'Cogolludo, Hist. de Yucathan, lib. iv., cap. ii., p. 177.
world. They thus afford us a glimpse of some of the scientific attainments of the learned Maya priesthood. Their knowledge they communicated in the mysterious recesses of the tem
ples, where the profane never penetrated, to initiates only. These were bound by the most solemn oaths never to make known the sacred mysteries there taught, except to those rightly entitled to receive them.
Science was then, as it is even to-day, the privilege of the few. In those remote ages the sacerdotal class and the nobility claimed it as their own; now it is that of the wealthy. True, in our times, knowledge is denied to none, provided the applicant can pay for it, and no one is under oath not to divulge what he has learned; but its acquirement is costly, and beyond reach of the majority.
The temples of the Maya sages are in ruins, slowly but surely crumbling to dust, gnawed by the relentless tooth of time; and, what is worse, recklessly destroyed by the iconoclastic hand of ignorance and avarice. Sanctuaries have become