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Maya Cosmos: Three Thousand Years on the Shaman's Path Paperback – February 27, 1995


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Frequently Bought Together

Maya Cosmos: Three Thousand Years on the Shaman's Path + A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya + Popol Vuh: The Definitive Edition of The Mayan Book of The Dawn of Life and The Glories of Gods and Kings
Price for all three: $50.44

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 544 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; (1st,1993); Reissue edition (February 27, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688140696
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688140694
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 7 x 1.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #888,377 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

In this highly original and politically provocative synthesis, archaeologist Freidel and epigrapher Linda Schele team up with Joy Parker, a popular writer, in an attempt to bridge history and prehistory in the Yucatan peninsula of Guatemala and Mexico. Their device is to apply shamanistic belief and practice among modern Maya to interpretations of hieroglyphics and other archaeological remains. In this captivating thesis, foreshadowed in Dennis Tedlock's Popol Vuh ( LJ 1/85) and their own A Forest of Kings (Morrow, 1990), they argue that the world view of the prehistoric Maya lives on in the language and beliefs of the survivors of the Spanish conquest. While at once compelling and controversial, this book will appeal to everyone interested in the Maya and non-Western religion.
- William S. Dancey, Ohio State Univ., Columbus
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

This is pure pleasure to read--an extraordinary contribution to academic knowledge written like a well-paced novel. Linda Schele, whose Blood of Kings (1986) and earlier collaboration with Freidel, A Forest of Kings (1990), are both well-regarded books on the Maya, goes deeper into the Mayan gestalt in this second collaboration with him and first with new partner Joy Parker. The subject is Mayan cosmology, and interweaving archaeology and anthropology with personal experience, the three authors examine the major religious concepts of the Maya and how those concepts found expression in religious architecture and myth. The Maya, they reveal, were not destroyed by the Spanish invaders. Their religion continues, sometimes under the guise of Christianity, sometimes in folk custom, sometimes in ancient rituals still practiced among the descendants of one of America's premier civilizations--rites informed by the concepts the authors present. The creation myth, the ritual ball games, the pyramidal world-tree--these are examined and fleshed out so substantively that the reader feels truly immersed in Mayan reality. Pat Monaghan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Stars, planets, and the milky way are all actors in creating the Maya cosmos.
Paulo Ramos
If you notice his skull don't it look elongated?This book is one that you will want to read and reference over and over again.
BookReview
My personal awareness is one window through which the Creator experiences the world.
Henry Reed

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 13, 2000
Format: Paperback
As a person who has traveled in places where the modern Maya live--Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico--and who has taken the trouble to get to know what the history and culture of these admirable people is really like, I have always been appalled at the number of books that claim to be about "Maya shamanism," but are really just New Age claptrap. While it is true that MAYA COSMOS does not read like a mass-market paperback, it is one of the most heartfelt, well-researched, and stunning books on the Maya that I have ever read. If you want the REAL story on who the Maya are and how their spiritual and cultural beliefs have evolved over the last 5,000 years, this is the book for you. Yes, there is some scientific data and research here, but I would rather a thousand times read that than the silly cultural misinformation written by dozens of New Age authors who project their own interpretations onto the art and the cities without even being able to read the very texts they are claiming to understand. The late Linda Schele was one of the five major figures who was responsible for cracking the code of the Maya language. As an art historian, she was well versed in the complex and fascinating symbolism of Maya culture. David Freidel has been a brilliant Maya archaeologist for over 25 years, and first became involved with the culture because of his interest in shamanism.Read more ›
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
The authors present Mayan archeoastronomy in a very readable and absorbable form. Compare the astronomy/astrology/ myths and stories of the Maya to other cultures of which you are aware, and you will see that this book presents a valuable contribution to world archeoastonomy.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael Mccormick on September 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
As an amateur interested in ancient Maya who has studied the subject for many years (and traveled extensively to Maya sites in Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, & Honduras) I can say without hesitation this is the best book available for anyone seriously interested in understanding the unique mind and culture of the Maya. Linda Schele had a depth of understanding for the Maya that surpasses that of all other scholars in the field today. She tragically died young in 1998 but thankfully was able to complete this fantastic book. It's probably not the best book for a beginner, but if you already know a little about the Maya and you want to take your understanding to the next level, read this classic book. (If you are a beginner, you might try one of Schele's other wonderful books, Forest of Kings.)
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15 of 20 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 21, 1998
Format: Paperback
The foundation of Maya Cosmos is the re-discovery of the Mayan creation myth in hieroglyphs, art, and modern Mayan daily ceremonial ritual. The creation myth centers around First Father, the Maize god and father of the Twins, famous in the Popul Vuh creation story. First Father is identified with Orion where he is resurrected from the dead from the cleft carapace of a turtle, which are the three stars in Orion's belt. Recent studies in Egyptian archeo-astronomy has identified the constellation Orion with Osiris, the god of resurrection. The lower left star in Orion's belt, Alnitak, has been identified with the Great Pyramid of Giza. First Father emerges out of a cleft mountain and a cleft turtle carapace, the mountain here possibly related to the idea of the pyramid. Maya Cosmos has gathered a creation story that can be placed now in the archeo-astronomical tradition of the world. In like manner, ancient India has the god Vishnu sitting upon Mt. Meru. A serpent is entwined around this mountain and under the mountain is a great turtle. This identifies Vishnu and Osiris with First Father; Mt. Meru and the great pyramid with the Cleft Mountain; the Vishnu turtle with the Mayan constellation of the turtle, the belt of Orion; and the serpent entwined around Mt. Meru with the Mayan double-headed serpent of the Ecliptic. Maya Cosmos is the first book I have read that has looked at the archeo-astronomy of the Maya and the Olmec and has given archeo-astronomers a valuable resource.
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40 of 56 people found the following review helpful By C. Sahu on May 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
I have to admit I didn't get more than halfway through this one - no way is this written for inquiring minds who aren't already versed in Mayan lore.
The book seems to describe the authors' discovery and fleshing-out of a new theory about how the Maya interpreted the stars. Apparently their creation story was all written up in the sky and, as the stars and planets moved, episodes in the creation were cyclically reinacted. This is not described very straight-forwardly, though, and I'm still not sure if I've got it right.
There is an attempt to make the whole thing read like a mystery novel, sort of a la "Celestine Prophesy": the book starts out describing the eager young scientists mixing with the wise tribals in an ancient ceremony. Later, for several chapters, one of the authors is quoted at length about how she discovered some commonality amongst various artifacts and codices which backed up some hypothesis, and which I entirely lost sight of by the end. She kept calling up friends and friends kept calling her up until I thought I was watching a Gidget movie. All the authors come off a little too New-Age loopy for me, adding lots of little asides praising the aboriginal and putting down the modern, and talking about how their life has been changed by their discoveries. But then, my confusion with all that Jaguar-3-Peccary-Holy-Twins-Tree-of-Life stuff may have made me just a bit grouchy.
At any rate, my point is, all the reviews on this page (except the very good Kirkus one) make the book sound like an easy read, which it isn't. It's a delineation of a hypothesis with some adventure stuff thrown in for better surface marketability. The result is, to me, confusing. Granted, it's not an easy subject, but that makes clear writing all the more important, especially if you're writing for mass consumption. Better to start out with one of Michael Coe's books and go from there.
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