A Journal from the End of Times
In this article Grant J Riley, author of ‘A Journal from the End of Times’ touches on his journey and journal.
First of all, thank you to Giles Hutchins for posting this article about my book. I met Giles a few years back at Schumacher College, a place where many common loves and apprehensions are shared for the future of humanity and its host planet. We have stayed in touch ever since. I was studying a Master’s degree in Holistic Science at the time and writing ‘A Journal from the End of Times’. It was shortly after my return from Central America, where I had spent much time with, and had been greatly influenced by, the resident Maya peoples.
However, let’s go back to the summer of 2010, and a conversation I had with a good, old friend of mine who was living in Chiapas, Mexico. She had been witnessing a flurry of interest in the so-called Mayan prophecies for the approaching year 2012. I was travelling back from Africa overland at this time and was increasingly being struck by climatic calamity (floods in particular) and as an ecologist was increasingly concerned about the state of the world. We both met back in England that summer. My friend explained that many Western and New-Age followers were flocking to Mesoamerica to discuss these ‘end of the world’ predications, yet none of these numerous conferences, and huge amount of books and websites being created, seemed to have any genuine connection with the actual contemporary Maya. There are currently over 7 million Maya living in Mesoamerica today. To cut this long story short, she asked me if I would accompany her on her latest film project to ask the Maya what they thought about the 2012 prophecies.
So she bought an old truck, I drove it. We made a film the ‘Mayan Word’ (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwvpsVsawMg) and I wrote a book about it all. Simple as that… well, no, actually none of it was that simple.
Our route took us from the heart of the Zapatista territories in Mexico, along the Pan-American Highway to the Mayan regions of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Belize. On our journey we discovered the resurgent voice of the Maya following decades of civil war and centuries of persecution.
The story is told through encounters with spiritual guides, environmental activists, day keepers, Zapatistas and an intriguing assemblage of characters from modern indigenous life; from hip-hop artists to permaculturists. Our exploration culminates at the COP 16 climate conference in Cancun, Mexico, with the attendance of Bolivia’s indigenous president Evo Morales speaking to the grassroots movement ‘Via Campesino’.
The Maya came to receive global attention with their 2012 prophecies, yet at the time of embarking on our journey little opportunity had been given for these people to be heard.
We found the Maya to have a lot to share with us, with many similar concerns as our own. Environmental degradation, climate change, social injustice, imperialism, neoliberalism and so much more, oh – and a little bit was said about those prophecies. However, a deeper association and respect was held for their ancestors… it’s all there in the book!
I would just like to close this blog with a few quotes from some good friends, who encapsulate my book better than I ever could…
From Melissa Gunasena (Director of the Mayan Word):
Weaving together personal reflection with social, historical, environmental narrative and extensive research this book is important for anyone interested in the fight for contemporary Mayans to save both their culture and the environment from destruction.
From Ramor Ryan (Author of Zapatista Spring and Clandestines):
At once a journey through the Mayan heartlands and a philosophical reverie on the end of the world, A Journal from the End of Times offers a unique insight into the mysterious Mesoamerican underworld. From the scalding fires of experience, Grant Riley’s on-the-road tales are both hilarious and thoughtful. An epic read.
The book is available in paperback from:
Please feel free to email for any other enquiries firstname.lastname@example.org
…and thanks again Giles!
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