An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of December 20, 2015
Issued from Hacienda Chichen adjacent to Chichén Itzá Ruins, Yucatán, MÉXICO

WINTER SOLSTICE, 2015

With less humidity in the air during these early days of the dry season, sunlight stings more -- even though the sun is lower now -- and during my predawn jogs stars are particularly bright. Sometimes during these runs I don't think of anything, the body and mind go on autopilot, but other times the sky's starry patterns set my mind to thinking.

For example, during these pre-Solstice mornings when I step from the hut, the sky overhead is dominated by brilliant Jupiter. During the eastward part of my run, Venus, like Jupiter also named after a Roman god, dominates the horizon, and in fact is the brightest object in the morning sky. When I turn around at the end of the road, the constellation Auriga The Charioteer dominates my westward view. The whole run is an exercise in extinct ancient mythologies.

Last week, with these morning sky-gazings setting the tone for my days, I was celestially primed to experience the week's fervent celebrations. For, here in Mexico, last week was one of the most important of all holidays, the one celebrating the dark-skinned Virgin of Guadelupe. All week, all through each day, even at this distance from the highway, sirens of police cars could be heard warning traffic that runners carrying Olympic-type torches were on the road. I'm told that the runners were fulfilling promises they'd made to the Virgin -- "Help me pass this test, and I'll run from Valladolid to Pisté for you... " Pisté's celebrations were heartfelt and rambunctious, with bullfights of the kind where the bull dies, bars staying open all night, family gatherings with meals featuring special dishes, and much church-going.

So, last week, the morning sky with its mythologies spread across it, and the big celebrations in Pisté, got me to thinking about belief systems in general. And this led to reflecting on the fact that less than 500 years ago Spanish forces in the name of God and King invaded the Yucatán and through slavery, mass brutality and church building extinguished ancient Mayan beliefs, replacing them with their own. And now beliefs of the conquerors are honestly and fervently embraced by the conquered.

Just what does it mean that the human condition is structured so that sheer violence driven by greed, lust for power, and lack of empathy for one's fellow man can exterminate a whole belief system as if it were a living thing -- can make it as forgotten and irrelevant as the ancient mythologies coldly alluded to by stars in the early-morning sky?

I couldn't find any meaning in it all, other than that during confrontations generally it's the stronger who wins, but who wants to dwell on that?

So, despite all the influences of these recent nights and days, which included looking over an insightful page on "Religion and Mythology" you can review at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_and_mythology, I've come up with no great insights to pass along now, except perhaps this:

That I should wish you a healthy and happy New Year, and remind you that the real New Year, the Natural New Year of Earth's Northern Hemisphere and the New Year I'm going to celebrate, begins in the most natural and self-evident way, on what the Western, Christian calendar refers to as Monday night, December 21st, at 10:49 PM CST.