Aerial video: Just in time for the end of the world, it’s a maze of maize in York

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EVEN by British standards, 2012 has so far been a wash-out. But according to the ancient South American Mayan civilisation, there could be much worse on the horizon.

The Maya Long Count calendar, which began in 3113BC and progresses in 394 year cycles, runs out on December 21 this year, with legend saying a fearsome Maya god of war and creation will descend from the sky marking the apocalypse.

Dechen Chodron and Vikki Cunningham perform a Mayan ceremony to bless the York Maze. Picture by Gerard Binks

Dechen Chodron and Vikki Cunningham perform a Mayan ceremony to bless the York Maze. Picture by Gerard Binks

The 2012 theory has inspired a Hollywood blockbuster and hundreds of books, meanwhile the American space agency NASA has published a section on its website debunking the theory.

Now one North Yorkshire farmer has created the image of Yum Kaax, the Maya god of maize, out of an 18-acre field containing more than one million maize plants, as an “offering to the gods” to watch over the planet.

Tom Pearcy, 41, has been creating giant works of art at his maze, near York, for the past 11 years after setting up the tourist attraction as a way of keeping his farm alive.

He says he decided to create the latest image after researching archaeologists’ findings into Maya legend, and claims it is the most important image he has ever finished.

An ancient ritual launches the York maize maze season

An ancient ritual launches the York maize maze season

Yesterday, a Master Shaman called LionFire flew in from America to perform a traditional Maya ceremony to bless the image.

“It was quite an impressive ceremony,” said Mr Pearcy, who started work on the maze at around Christmas time and invited the shaman to York after tracking him down on the internet.

“The Maya calendar runs out in 2012 and there has been a lot of speculation among archaeologists and academics as to what that means.

“Some doomsday predictions claim it is the end of the world, others foretell of a great change.

“I’ve created the giant maze in the image of the god of maize as an offering to the gods, to ask them to watch over the earth in this time of change.

The image of Yum Kaz measures more than 300m (1000ft) long, and is believed to be the largest image of the God every created.

The design features him sitting above the Maya Long Count calendar.

Mr Pearcy says he planned the design on his computer before growing the maize using a hand-held GPS system to make sure it was in the right pattern.

“In the past we have grown the Statue of Liberty and Flying Scotsman but this is definitely a different subject,” he said.

“Every year we ask people to guess what image we are going to choose for the maze, but nobody got this one.”

The blessing of the maze included burning white sage, corn meal, tobacco, incenses, chocolate and other sacred items as offerings and prayers into the spirit world.

Following the ceremony, Master Shaman LionFire said: “For thousands of years the Maya worshipped the maize god.

“Maize was a vital crop for the Maya as it still is in much of South America today.

“The Maya believed that their ancestors were created by the god of maize and made from maize dough.

“The Maya were amazing astronomers and looked to the stars to predict the future.

“Their Long Count calendar was based on the movement of the earth and the stars. It started in 3113BC and ran for 5,125 years meaning it runs out on the winter solstice in December this year.

“There has been a lot of controversy about the meaning of this with various doomsday predictions about the end of the world. Others say that it heralds a time of change and the start of a new phase.”

The York maze opens to visitors on Saturday until September 2.

• Video by Peter McNerney