Celebrating the divinity within and in all that surrounds us with Mark Elmy
Things to do in Guatemala
By Sarine Arslanian, Epicure & Culture Contributor

Needing some time in nature to find peace of mind, I booked a flight to Guatemala. What better destination than the magical Lake Atitlan — a place sacred to the Maya — to do just that?  The lake, a place believed to be a great energy vortex, has become one of my happy places where I can go to seriously unwind.

It’s here where I was rightly reminded, we are human beings — not human doings.

My search for clarity and inner peace led me to Mark Elmy, a healer, astrologist and owner of the Flower House therapy center. At Flower House, located between the towns of San Marcos La Laguna and San Pablo La Laguna, Mark and his partner Nadia offer a variety of services, like Mayan astrology readings and ceremonies.

Though I was unsure what I was going to find, something inside me said to trust my intuition, so I signed up for my own Mayan astrology reading and ceremony.

Months later, I still find an invaluable source of guidance and wisdom in the ancient teachings.

Trying to find #peace and clarity within? Here's why you should head to #Guatemala! #spirituality #travel Share on X
the sunset on Lake Atitlan in San Pablo La Laguna
Watching the sunset on Lake Atitlan in San Pablo La Laguna

Mayan Astrology Readings

Long ago, the Maya devised a calendar system. It integrates all of the heavenly bodies — the heart of heaven, represented by the cycles of the planets; the heart of the earth, represented by the life cycles of the maize; and the human heart, represented by the gestation cycles of human beings.

This sacred calendar is all about our purpose. It doesn’t tell you what you must do; but gives guidance on staying balanced.

“If you choose to live in harmony with the planet and the choice your soul made when you incarnated, this is an option where you will be well supported,” Mark told me when doing my in-depth reading.

A reading reveals information on three layers of your personality: your life path (the underlying drive which motivates you), your emotional direction (the reason why you make a decision), and your surface personality (conveyed through your nawal and number combination derived from your birth date).

Each nawal has its own kind of energy. It’s when you work with that energy that you will be naturally talented at what you do.

My reading gave me the confidence that I was on the right path — working in harmony with my body and soul — and the reassurance to keep going regardless of the hardships in life. It also gave me insights into things I already knew deep inside me, but was not sure what to do with or how to look at.

Learning about mayan astrology with Mark Elmy
Celebrating the divinity within and in all that surrounds us with Mark Elmy


I related to everything Mark said. To my delight, he noted that according to my life path, I am a traveler on the road of life, always learning and discovering, and seeking a degree of novelty in the places I explore.

“Settling back into a static environment is the most difficult thing E’ people can do, unless it’s a library,” he told me. “Just like a travel or information junkie”. Since in my case the E’ was combined to the number 5 which represents work, it also meant that travel and research was the area in which I should be working!

Getting a Mayan astrology reading done can be useful to absolutely everyone and particularly to those who are in a challenging or transition period. It can help in bringing some clarity and guidance, which goes hand in hand with finding more joy, compassion and inner peace in one’s life.

“If your child has an artist spirit, make sure there are plenty of crayons around… creative materials to allow, develop and practice with.”

Mark offers in-depth Mayan astrology readings at his therapy center, as well as over Skype. To book a reading, you need to send him an email with your date of birth at least 48 hours in advance. It takes him around 1.30 hours to take you through your reading. If doing it over Skype, payments can be arranged via Paypal. I can’t stress enough how insightful a reading can be, and I definitely recommend looking into it!

Check out how one traveler used #Mayan #astrology to find her life's purpose in #Guatemala Share on X
Learn about Mayan Astrology with Mark Elmy
Celebrating the divinity within and in all that surrounds us with Mark Elmy

Mark’s Mayan Astrology Journey

As a kid, Mark had always been interested in powers beyond what people could see with their eyes. He had a strong curiosity about UFOs, and would build small pyramids as a young boy. By the time he was 14, he realized he could ease his mom’s contact migraines simply by placing his hands on her head.

Growing up in Ipswich — a conservative British town — didn’t give him anyone to really talk to about spirituality; however, a few years later he began dating a girl whose mother was a psychic.

“You have healing hands,” she told him. “You need to learn how to use them or you’re going to damage yourself.”

Then something happened that made Mark truly re-evaulate his life: a car accident. Questions began floating through his mind.

Who am I?

What am I doing?

Where am I going with it all?

Nudges from the universe didn’t stop there. Soon after, the woman he thought he’d marry broke up with him. She’d read The Celestine Prophecy, a book about an ancient manuscript discovered in Peru. Within it are nine key insights to life, which his love decided she wanted to explore on her own.

Between the car accident and the breakup, Mark felt there was something deeper to be discovered. So, despite his first reaction to completely reject the book that led to his breakup, he read it. Surprising himself, it ended up having a massive impact on him. Immediately he began working his way through the insights. Not only that, but he answered a newspaper ad offering to help seekers find their own healing power. Wildly enough, the ad turned out to be posted by an old friend. Together, they spent 18 evenings working through various spiritual disciplines.

Including the Mayan calendar, which struck Mark deeply. In February 1998, after attending his first Mayan ceremony, he knew he’d found his purpose. So much so that he sold his home and posessions, and flew to Mexico and eventually Guatemala to further immerse himself in the practice.

Through his work with the Mayan calendar, Mark recognized that there is so much more going on behind the scenes than what we’re told. Since then, Mark has used Mayan astrology as a useful tool to help people get back on track and move forward in a way that feels right.

Maya woman Doña Chonita from Santiago, Lake Atitlan
Doña Chonita from Santiago, Lake Atitlan

Spirituality Among The Local Maya Population 

It may be hard to believe, but much of the Maya population doesn’t know how to read the Mayan calendar.

Why? The Maya population today is heavily indoctrinated by right wing evangelical churches. This stems back to the Civil War that ran from 1960 to 1996 when the Catholic church — which the government saw as being against them — was no longer a safe haven. To stay safe, locals switched to American churches. These communities were conservative evangelicals typically seen as politically neutral.

Additionally, until the end of the Civil War in 1996, conducting a Mayan ceremony was illegal and could lead to arrest. Indigenous spirituality was stopped, killed and kicked out of the system.

This means today there are very few who know about Mayan astrology.

The good news is there is an increasing interest in the subject. Not knowing who to trust, people are turning to Mark to help them reclaim their original birthright.

“Look at the calendar system, astronomy, architecture, all the marvels of the Mayan world… your ancestors… Why are you not standing tall and proud about what they did?” he asks. Using his knowledge of the calendar, he wants to help the local people find more prosperity, spirituality and joy in their lives.


Local Maya fair at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
The annual fair comes to the lake

Present Times

The Mayans foretold that 2012 would mark the beginning of the new world. As changes happen over time, it is now that we see it bubbling.

“Society now is like a pressure cooker. It is the end point. It is unsustainable. Something has to give, and birth hurts,” shares Mark. He believes that the fall of the old world is not going to be an easy process. Things like Trump, Brexit and right wing movements are all part of the old world falling.

“How much longer can we put money over lives? The profit of weapon industries over the people being bombed? How much longer can the world stand by with all this going on without some change happening?”

According to Mark, this roller coaster ride we are currently on is not happening because of the Mayan calendar. Instead, the calendar shows us points in time when we might need to choose a quieter place to settle.

The offerings to begin a Maya ceremony
Offerings are ready to start the Maya ceremony

Life In San Marcos La Laguna

San Marcos is a very special place. Everyone brings their own specialty and wisdom to share with one another. This is done with compassion and integrity, in accordance with the energy of the lake. With the very profound feminine energy of the lake and the masculine energy of the volcano, you have to be in balance.

“Issues keeping you off balance start coming up in your face. The energy is so amplified that within a day or so you’re facing your fears, the things that are holding you back. Some people can handle it and go through their process, some can’t and run away. This applies as much to backpackers as to international shamans,” explains Mark.

People move to San Marcos to live a different life; one that is more loving, open and not so focused on a 9 to 5 job or materialistic things. This is the essence of the San Marcos community. You’ll find accountants, lawyers, artists, healers and more who share the sole belief that they want to live where they’re free to make decisions that are in harmony with their soul purpose.

In the Western world, Mark believes many people are interested in change, though don’t have the time to do anything about it. They are so busy with kids, mortgages and cars — just barely keeping their heads above water — that they’ve lost sight of what life is really about.

In San Marcos, they have more time. Or at least, they take the time to enjoy life. There’s an almost Utopian feel about it.

Looking for a place where you are surrounded by dreamers, believers, and #artists? Head to San Marcos #Guatemala on #LakeAtitlan Share on X
A young indigenous girl at the local market
A young indigenous girl at the local market

My experience in San Marcos was one of a kind. Instead of staying a few days I stayed two months, and left promising myself I would return soon. I couldn’t be more grateful for the beautiful human moments, the love and compassion and the powerful teachings I received, as well as for seeing people live their life with such integrity and an openness to embrace their vulnerability. I met so many inspiring people, and Mark is certainly one of them.

When I returned to Belgium, I was fully present, and had an open heart full of joy and gratitude.

What destination has inspired you to be more present?

Further Reading:

The Celestine Prophecy

A Forest of Kings: The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya

Moon Guatemala Handbook

Sarine Arslanian

Sarine Arslanian is a writer, documentary filmmaker, researcher and photographer with a passion for travel, arts and culture, society and development. She graduated from the University of Cambridge with an MPhil in Development Studies.

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