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A" in Maya is radical of many words conveying the idea
of humidity, generation, reviviscence.
Aakal, a pond; humidity; as a verb, to become green, as the plants after the first showers.
Aakil, to revivify; to spring back to life, as does nature after its apparent death during winter, when it lies dormant.
is the breath; the respiration; vapor.
to prepare for cultivation dried-up swamps; population; people.
This last sign is perhaps the most comprehensive, and therefore the most interesting.
As an alphabetical sign, it is the X of the Maya alphabet, pronounced as the English sh. As prefix to a noun, it indicates the feminine gender, being a contraction of ix, the feminine article. In the inscription under consideration, it represents the female forces of nature, as , component part of the Maya letter corresponding to our H, stands
for ah, the masculine article, the male forces.
the signs that in
to letter N in ours. four times only in the part ii.).
is composed of two
the Maya alphabet is equivalent As a distinct symbol it is found Troano MS. (plates xx., xxi., xxiii.,
This sign has been mistaken by the learned Dr. Henry Schliemann for a svastica. Quoting my name in his work Troja (p. 122), he says it was discovered by me in the mural inscriptions of the Mayas. This is an error, so far as the meaning of the sign is concerned. Neither in the monumental inscriptions nor in the Maya books known to-day have I ever found a svastica. I am not aware that such symbol was used by the ancient Maya sages. It may have existed among them, however. All I can assert is that I have met with no proof of it.
The author of this most interesting work informs his readers that it represents the "boundaries of the two inclosed basins or seas; "that is, the two American mediterraneans, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea a fact easily verified by tracing a general outline of the shores of the Gulf of Mexico from Cape Sable, the southernmost point of Florida, to Cape Catoche, the northernmost end of Yucatan; then continuing the drawing to Cape San Antonio, the westernmost extremity of the island of Cuba, thence following the general contour of the western shores of the West India Islands to Grenada. The curved line thus obtained will be precisely the sign S, N, initial letter of the ancient names Nen-ha of the Mexican Gulf, and Nau of the Caribbean Sea.
Does not this sign recall that over which stands the serpent
with inflated breast, emblem of Lower Egypt? Under it is the image of a sieve, symbol of lordship and dominion. The sieve in Maya is called Mayab, one of the ancient names of Yucatan.
The character X, the female principle, the matrix, is the initial letter of many words relating both to water and to generation.
The ancient philosophers held, and modern physiologists teach, that all living things had their origin in water. It would appear that the Maya sages, in remote times, had discovered this scientific truth, and adapted their language to this, as to many other of their scientific discoveries, so as to express them in as concise a manner as possible. So, for instance:
Xaa, to flow.
Xaan, to flow slowly. It becomes, by permutation,
to shine in the darkness, as fire; the divine spirit floating on the surface of the waters; or the phosphorescence of the water in tropical seas.
Xaab, the abyss of water in which took place the generation xab. This may be one of the reasons why the wise Maya priests selected as emblem for god of the ocean the mastodon, that, like the elephant, could propagate only in water.
Now, if we consider the by two, its meaning
2 as sign
as a composite sign formed
dom," "knowledge," since it gives us the word ca-n, which, as we have seen (p. 95), is always significant of might, power, intelligence, as all vocables allied to it. Such, for instance, as:
The doctrine contained in the three signs that form the inscription can therefore be epitomized in the following words: “In water, by fire the vivifying power of the universe, were created the male and female forces of nature, and they produced all things."
A glance at the sculpture of the dying warrior that adorned Prince Coh's mausoleum 1 suffices for us to see that the ancient
Mayas, like the Egyptians, Greeks, Chaldeans, Hindoos, and other civilized nations of antiquity, held that the vital principle, the soul, in man and animals, was an igneous fluid that escaped as a blue flame through the mouth at the death of the material body. "This blue flame," says Baron Charles von Reichenbach, in his work " Physico-physiological Researches in the Dynamics of Magnetism, Electricity, etc.," is "often seen escaping from dying persons, by sensitives."
We learn from the Hermetic books the ideas of the Egyptians regarding the composition of the soul. Fire, a constituent part of divine intelligence, becomes a soul when immersed in organic water, and a body when it enters into organic clay, hence the old philosophic saying, "Corpus est terra, anima est ignis." Hermes Trimegistus teaches that "at the moment of death, our intelligence, one of God's subtle thoughts, escapes the body's dross, puts on its fiery tunic again, and floats henceforth in space, leaving the soul to await judgment."
Among the prayers and hymns of the Yajur Veda, there are passages in which the unity of God is taught. One of said prayers begins thus: "Fire is the original cause; the sun is that; so is the air; so is the moon; such, too, is that pure Brahm, and those waters, and that Lord of creatures." (Asiatic Researches, vol. viii., p. 431.)
Macrobius in his work "Somnium Scipionis" (cap. xiv.), resumes the doctrine thus: "There is a fluid luminous, igneous, very subtle, called ether, spiritus, that fills the whole universe. The substance of the sun, of the stars, is composed of it. It is the principle, the essential agent, of all motion, of all life. It is, in fact, the Deity. When a body is about to become animated on earth, a globular molecule of said fluid gravitates through the milky way toward the moon. There it combines with
grosser air, thus becoming fit to associate with matter. It then enters the body that is forming; fills it completely, animates it, grows, suffers, expands, contracts with it. When this body perishes and its material elements dissolve, this incorruptible molecule escapes from it. It would return immediately to the great ocean of ether were it not detained by its association with lunar air. It is the latter that, preserving the shape of the body, remains in the condition of shadow or ghost, a perfect image of the deceased. The Greeks called that shadow the image or idol of the soul. The Pythagoreans said it was its vehicle or envelope. The rabbinical school regarded it as its vessel or boat. If the individual had lived a righteous life, his whole soul that is, his vehicle and his ether-ascended back immediately to the moon, where their separation took place. The vehicle remained in the lunar elysium; the ether returned to God. If, on the other hand, he had lived an unrighteous life, his soul remained on earth until it became purified, wandering here and there in the fashion of Homer's shadows."
While in Asia, Homer had become acquainted with this doctrine, three centuries before its introduction into Greece, according to Cicero (Tuscul., lib. i., § 16), by Pherecides and his pupil Pythagoras, who pretended to be the inventors of it, if we believe Herodotus. He positively asserts that the story of the soul and its transmigrations had been invented by the Egyptians. Did these receive it from the Mayas?
Kak is the Maya word for "fire."
is the Egyptian for the double; the astral shape; existence; individuality.
is the Maya for the Divine Essence; the God-head.
1 Herodotus, Hist., lib. ii., cxxiii.