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2012 and the Psychedelic Shamans (cont.)
By Thomas Razzeto

The Rebirth Metaphor Carved in Stone in the Maya's Most Sacred Site

According to John Major Jenkins, the purest meaning of 2012 is found by examining the stone monuments and carvings in Izapa, Mexico, the birthplace of the Long Count calendar. This is the most immediate and primary evidence left by the Maya. Here we find that these monuments depict both the astronomy of the triple rebirth of the sun and the general theme of transformation and rebirth. One of the ways that the Maya present the theme of transformation and rebirth is with images and statues of the Bufo toad.

The transformation of the tadpole into the toad makes it a perfect symbol for the concept of transformation. If you did not know any better and someone showed you both a tadpole and a toad, you might think that they were two completely different types of creatures and yet one comes from the other. Amazing! In addition to that, the adult Bufo toad sheds its skin about four times a year. The young ones do it much more often. As they shed their skin, the eat it. It is almost as if they unzip it along their backs and then pull it into their mouths. So the old outer form is consumed in order for it to come forth again, born anew within the body of the toad. This act of consuming its skin is depicted in the stone art of the Maya. While those things are interesting, it is the next piece of the puzzle that is the most important.

It just so happens that the Maya shamans used the psychoactive chemicals excreted from the poison gland of the Bufo toad during their sacred rituals and in this way, each shaman had a direct, personal experience with what they called “the invisible world,” “the unseen world,” or “the underworld” and what we might call the spiritual world.


Stela 6 in Izapa - A shaman in a canoe journeys into the underworld with the help of the 5-MeO-DMT from the Bufo toad. Photo: Garth Norman, Brigham Young University. Click the picture to see it with labels.

The Maya and their ancestors, the Olmec, were very interested in the Bufo toad. The shamans kept them captive as sacred pets and since the toads live to be over thirty years old, some of them would outlive their owners. Thousands of skeletal remains of these toads have been found and it seems as if the Maya and the Olmec created sacred burial sites specifically for these toads. One example of this is located in San Lorenzo and it dates back over 3,000 years.

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