We visited El Castillo in Chichén Itza in 2012 during the craze of ‘Mayan Calendar ending’ people from the western cultures generally thought the world would be coming to an end, after visiting the Mayan culture their beliefs on it was very different, they believed that the calendar coming to its end meant that the world would become more of a spiritual place and people would start to become a lot more spiritual in their beliefs., The world didn’t end and I have to say since 2012, I have become more spiritual.
Tomorrow people in Mexico will be celebrating their Solstice also. Thousands will come to witness a phenomenon that our ancestors carefully mapped out specifically to celebrate the solstice. El Castillo is aligned so that the spring or autumn equinoxes create an optical illusion. As the sun sets, the north western corner of the terraces cast a shadow on the northern stairway, creating a diamond pattern representing a snake’s body. The effect is enhanced by the huge snake heads carved at the bottom of the stairs.
Why did they do this?
The Mayans worshiped Kukulan who is a feathered snake god, similar to Quetzalcoatl and this pyramid was dedicated to him. Quite amazing eh….that all them years ago they set to achieved this optical illusion for their god, when they had no machinery or anything, i can only think it must have took them years to get it perfectly right!
The pyramid also was designed to be a calendar.
The four sided pyramid has staircases on each face, each of which has 91 steps. Combined with the platform, this totals the 365 days of the solar year.
There are 18 terraces on each side of the stairways, equating to the number of months in the Mayan religious calendar.
Perpendicular to the terraces are the 52 vertical panels, representing the 52-year cycle of the solar and religious calendars.
There would have been many spiritual practices done here. On the northern side a small passageway leads inside to sacrificial altar – a red jaguar that sadly got stolen. The jaguar originally had jade eyes and teeth and sacrifices would have been done as offerings to Kukulan.