Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

Connecting Earth and Sky

Yax te’: Blue-green tree, ceiba, world tree
For millennia, careful astronomical observations have guided the planting cycles of corn, the Maya staple crop. In much the same way that their ancestors watched the movements of the Sun along the horizon, and watched for the appearance of certain constellations in the east, Maya farmers today use their knowledge of the sky to plan the agricultural cycle of corn, and to plan for the best times to conduct offerings and ceremonies. By observing the natural cycles that link Earth and sky over thousands of years, the Maya have constructed a worldview of the Universe where time is cyclical and all things are interconnected.
My ancestors believed that the ceiba, our Maya tree of life, is the connection between the Earth and the sky. Today, the ceiba is still considered sacred, and it is often planted at the center of our villages.” Alonso Méndez, Tzeltal Maya, Cultural Astronomer