What is a "cenote"?
Cenotes are surface connections to subterranean bodies of water or springs. Most "cenotes" or sink-holes are underground in caves, but many like the Sacred Cenote of Chichen Itza are open-air sink holes with a fully collapsed roof and great deep limestone wall reaching many feet in depth. Most cave cenotes have clear fresh water with great visibility, while open-air cenotes generally have large blue green algae build up due to the exposure to constant sunlight. Such blue-green algae is rich in nutrients and an excellent source of minerals, vitamins, and proteins that nourish the body as food and as skin cells protection. To read more about this blue-green algae & its skincare properties, please click here.
How are cenotes formed?
Cenotes are springs found in natural sinkholes that formed as natural acidic ground water seeping through the limestone bedrock’s cracks; thus, the softer rock beneath erodes creating a dome. Over hundred of years, cenotes normal water flow gets obstructed due to organic and mineral built-up; then the area becomes a dry shallow basin, which supports trees and other vegetations’ growth, these dried-stage of a cenote is known, in Yucatan, as a “Rejoyada” and houses a rich diversity of flora and fauna. Yucatan's wildlife: mammals, birds and other reptiles, butterflies and other creatures find in cenotes and rejoyadas the perfect habitat.
What was the significance of the cenote to the ancient Maya and what role did it play in ancient Maya healing?
The Spanish term "cenote" is derived from the Yucatec Mayan word "dz'onot", which refers to any location where ground water is accessible; in fact, no other Mayan language has a comparable term as cenotes are exclusive to the Yucatan Peninsula. Yucatan's cenotes were the main source of fresh water for the ancient Mayans in the Lowlands and had a great significance in their religious beliefs. Not only were cenotes associated with the Maya Underworld due to being underground to some degree or another, they were connected to the goddess Ixchel and the moon. The blessing of cenote water during full moon ceremonies or in anticipation of a wedding are still practiced to this day by many Maya X-men, of female senior Maya healers.
This blog's content was provided partly by the Yucatan Adventure volunteer team.
Yaxkin Spa is a Holistic Maya Wellness Center dedicated to perserving ancient Maya healing techniques & helping you gain your own optimal wellness & balance.