Indigenous Prophetic Tradition from Central America and the Caribbean

Sacred Maya Creation Narrative

This ancient legend is the creation story and it carries most of the different concepts and morals in it that define the Mayan belief system.
The story survived to our time in the form of a book which was originally written in the Maya language, in Mayan hieroglyphic writing.
After the Spanish conquered the Mayas they burned many of those old books because they said it was the work of the Devil. This particular book was hidden and later it was rewritten using the letters that we all use now, our A,B,C alphabet. But it was still in the Maya language. An intelligent Spanish priest who had more of a head on his shoulders than most of his fellow Spaniards recognized the value of the book when he discovered it one day and since he knew the Maya language, he translated it into Spanish. That is how we now have this wonderful ancient story. We don't know what this legend was called three thousand years ago when the Maya people began telling it to their children but its present-day version is called the "POPOL VUH".
The story has evolved and become somewhat corrupted over the years so the version that we are going to give you here is an interpretation that Antonio and I have arrived at. It is as close as we can get to the original ancient story before it was changed and corrupted by time. One of the key elements that differ between our present version and the most officialy accepted one published by the brilliant researcher Dennis Tedlock in 1985 is the gender of one of the hero twins whose adventures form the core of this story. In that officially accepted version of the story this twin, Ix BalanQue is a male. In our version, guided by our intuitive divinations and the work of Swiss researcher Raphael Girard in his book ESOTERICISM OF THE POPOL VUH, 1948 , we suggest that this divine indiviual is actually a woman. We also have rearranged certain chronological elements to create a clearer image of the flow of time in the story and have included elements of the story which have been proven through the study of archeology to have existed in ancient relations of the legend but which over time have somehow disappeared from the more recent version copied by Father Ximenes in the fifteen hundreds.

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MAYA CREATION NARRATIVE

 
The legend begins at a time of distress. The Maya believe that at the begining of time the consciousness of the Cosmos was dormant, as in a trance. There was no time. The Sun did not rise or set to mark the cycles of the days and months and years. Without time there could be no creation and no life and so the Cosmos was barren. The dimension of cyclic time was missing from the Cosmos and so there was no sacredness, no evolution.
There was an Upper Realm in the Heavens and there was an Underworld called Xibalba but there was no Middle World, no Earth Plane. In the place where there was supposed to be an Earth Plane there was only an endless expanse of deep water called the Primordial Sea. The Heavens lay heavily and depressingly on the surface of this ocean and needed to be lifted up off of it to create a space for the earth-plane to be formed there.

There were supernatural beings dwelling in both the Upper Realm and in the Underworld. From the bottom of the Primordial Sea at the center of existance there grew a huge tree, the Cosmic Central Tree. It rose from the Underworld where its roots were and its trunk soared right through the surface of the Primordial Sea and into the Heavens.
There were divinities who wished to separate this heaven from the surface of the water to make space for an earth-plane and establish a cyclic rythm in the Cosmos, a cycle of sunrises and sunsets which would awaken the Cosmic Consciousness from its timeless coma and be the genesis of life and creation. But there were also malevolent divinities, Lords of Negativity, who at that time controlled the sacred Underworld of Xibalba. These beings wished for things to remain the same. They sought to keep the Cosmic consciousness in a state of dormancy, unconscious, uncreative. So to avoid the rising of a true Sun they established a false one. They commissioned a vain and foolish being called Wukub Kakix or Seven Macaw to perch at the top branches of the Great Central Tree and pretend to be the Sun. Seven Macaw did not rise or set or keep any kind of cyclical activity as a proper sun does. This being was also known by the name Itzam Yeh in ancient times. He just sat there preening his beautiful feathers and showing off the sumptuous gleaming jewels that the Lords of Negativity had adorned him with. They had adorned him with jewels which they put in his eyes and in his teeth. He smiled a lot and fluttered his eyelids vainly. He stood in the tree and loudly proclaimed that he was the true Sun and that there was no need for any other sun to rise or set. The image of Seven Macaw flying unto the braches of the cosmic tree is seen by the Mayas in the image of the Big Dipper Constellation when it appears in the sky near the northern portion of the Milky Way Galaxy, whose collumn-like appearance represented the trunk of the Great Central Tree. In this same image the ancient Mayas also saw his wife Chimalmat represented by the Little Dipper.  

 

And that's how the Lords of Negativity assured themselves that the Cosmic Consciousness would not stir or awaken, but instead continue numb and insensitive, inactive. no cyclical activity of any kind. Cyclic activity can awaken consciousness it can cause Creation and they did not want that, no repetitive sacred drumming, no repeating melody, no pattern, no sequence.
The Higher Divinities realized that they had to accomplish something extraordinary to defeat the intention of the Lords of Negativityand so they sat in council and decided on a plan. The two most parental of the divinities were a male and a female called Ixpiyaqok and Ixmucane, FIRST FATHER and FIRST MOTHER. These two ancient beings, who were shamanic diviners, were given the responsibility of giving birth to heroic beings who would take on the Lords of Negativity and defeat them so that they could allow for cyclical activity to begin and Creation to emerge. Ixpiyaqok and Ixmucane incarnated so that they could carry on the carnal act of reproduction. They manifested themselves in the form animals, a species of Central American wild boar called "peccaries". In the shape of two peccaries the parental divinities performed the sacred conjugal act of creation and Ixmucane became pregnant with twins. This moment of divine copulation is indicated in the night sky by the constellation of Gemini, which the ancient Mayas interpreted as an image of copulating peccaries.

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 Unlike European heroic mythology in which you usually see only one hero acting alone, the Mayas shunned the concept of the lone hero. It was repulsive to them for anyone to accomplish an important task by themselves and they discouraged their children from being what we now call "rugged individualists". People were always encouraged to do things co-operatively and "going it alone" was not considered virtuous, so the heroic legends always call for at least two heroes working together.
The hero twins were born of Ixmucane but they were flawed. They were unbalanced. They relied exclusively on their male energy, their male attributes and forsook anything of their female side. They were called One Hun-Ahpu and Seven Hun-Ahpu (notice that a lot of names of ancient Mayan charecters had numbers in them. That's because to the Mayas numbers in themselves held powerful magical qualities). Their very names imply pure umbalanced maleness. The word Ahpu means "Shooter/Hunter Lord" or "Marksman Lord" words that in Maya symbology refer to males. They made no effort to connect to the vital female intuitive shamanic side of themselves and so from the very get-go they were doomed to failure.

 

Their names in themselves were symbolic of their inefective nature. Whereas a team that was balanced with both the male and female qualities would have had unity and coherence these two bore the names of the first and last numbers ("one" and "seven") in the sequence of numbers that appear accompanying any given glyph of the Mayan caledndar. This symbolized their lack of coherence, their disunity, a tendency to be scattered and unfocused! Their lives began in dissarray and was fated to end in ignominy.
At first the lives of these twins appeared carefree and happy. Their mother, the old divine matriarch Ixmucane raised them with love and wisdom. Soon they were strong lively youths, full of vigor and energy. They learned a game that would eventually become the sacred sport of the Mayan people. The game was called "Pok Ta Pok". It consisted of two opposing teams vollying a large solid rubber ball between them, attempting to always bounce it back everytime it arrived on their side much like volleyball but without a net. The game was a bit more difficult than volleyball in that the ball could only be struck with certain parts of the body somewhat like soccer, no hands or feet only shoulders back hips and head. The boys got quite good at the game of Pok ta pok and played it almost everyday. Something curious began to happen. Up in the heaven realm the false sun Seven Macaw became more and more silent each day that the boys played their ball game. The arrogant impostor became nervous atop his tree-top perch gazing down with great anxiety at the boys in their joyful fun. Below him the ball bounced off the hips, shoulders and heads of the two boys, as they vollyed it back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, TAP! TAP! TAP! TAP! setting up the unmistakable pattern of cyclical rythm!
Yes, the two youths had unwittingly set in motion the kind of physical activity that the Lords of Negativity had forbidden centuries earlier, and Seven Macaw knew it. The ball game was a kind of cyclical rythm, like a magic percussion instrument the pattern of tapping produced by the ball began to work its magic and the long-slumbering Cosmic Consciousness began to awaken from its magic coma.
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The ball itself, round orb that it was, like the orb of the real sun as it flew high into the air with each energetic smack, awakened in the sleeping Cosmic Consciousness a dream of a true solar cycle. Soon the Lords of Negativity deep in their underworld realm realized what was happening and gathered in alarm. Who was defying the universal authority of the Lords of Xibalba? They asked each other in counsel. It was happening above their heads in the Upper Realm and thus they decided to send their royal emmissaries up there to find out. These emmissaries were the warrior birds of the night, birds of darkness who carried within them spiritual identity of both owls and voltures. These were magical birds who had been forced into the service of the Negative Lords. These birds are identified by the Mayan glyph "Cib", interpreted by some Mayas as "owl", others as "volture".

Up they rose, the warrior messengers until they reached the upper realms. Soon they discovered the two youths playing their cyclical game, their game of cycles and patterns. The messengers spied on the two boys for a while and then returned with the information that their masters required. There were new beings in the Upper Realm and these beings were dangerous. Their activity threatened to overturn the status quo. If they were allowed to complete the reawakening of the Cosmic Consciousness then the Conscousness would demand a true sunrise, a true solar cycle. A true solar cycle would set in motion the magic of TIME itself and within that fourth dimension Creation itself would spontaneously begin. The divine beings would finally be free to co-operate in the sacred act of forging the galaxies.
In the minds of the Lords of Xibalba this whole scenario would be catastrophic and should never be allowed to happen. They devised a plan to stop the two youths. They would have to be eliminated!
The Lords of Negativity sent their messengers back up into the Upper Realm. They went with a message, an invitation. The owls were to invite the twins to come down into Xibalba and play the ball game with the Lords of Negativity. Safely within their own territory the Lords would easily trick, outwit and overcome the divine twins and kill them.
Up they went again, the warrior volture-owls, until they reached the Upper Realm. There they confronted the twins openly and informed them that the Lords of Negativity required their presence in the royal court of Xibalba. It was a command performance. They had no choice but to attend.
In the next installment I will recount what happened to One-Hun-Ahpu and Seven-Hun-Ahpu when they made their perilous journey to Xibalba.

 

One Hun-Ahpu and SevenHun-Ahpu began to make ready for their perilous journey to Xibalba, the underworld realm that was controlled by the Lords of Negativity back then. In the meantime the Evil regents prepared a fitting reception for the unsuspecting twins.
In the mentality of ancient Mayas the most acute form of defeat is defeat that is accompanied by humiliation and degradation especially if that happens in public. It is also an important aspect of the humiliation to make it come about through trickery and by outwitting your adversary. A warrior was admired more for his intelligence in outmanouvering his enemy than for his brute strength. So they prepared cruel tricks for their intended victims which would prove to be the twins' undoing.
Back in the home of Ixmucane the old Mother Spirit was understandibly concerned for her two boys. She wept openly at the prospect of her beloved offsprings having to travel so far into such hostile territory. The youths placed their ball-playing gear, the rubber ball and elbow-pads and knee-pads and ball-playing regalia in a bag. Then they hung the bag from a rafter high under the ceiling of their house in an obscure corner.  
Finally they were off. They travelled very far on the road down to Xibalba before they confronted their first serious obstacle. It was a river. This river flowed with much the same character as the great River Styx of ancient Greek culture, separating the land of the living from the underworld land of the Dead. Here they had their first serious problem. The River Styx of the ancient Mayas was composed of a terrible corrosive liquid with the consistancy of battery acid. The nieve twins waded right into the awful current and were horribly burned as they crossed. They emerged at the other bank quite weakened.
In Xibalba the Lords of Negativity were monitoring the progress of the twins through their scouts and rejoiced at this first defeat.
After allowing for some recuperation time the twins resumed their journey. They prepared their greeting speech so that their arrival in the court of the Negative Lords would be successful. They wanted to make a good first impression on their hosts.
Soon they arrived at the palace and upon entering through the door of the court were awed by the magestic surroundings. They entered a hall and saw a long dias where a row of elegant figures sat side by side semi obscured by the aromatic smoke of copal incense. The twins immediately strode right up to the row of human silhuettes and began to recite their greetings, bowing respectfully before hem Suddenly a peal of laughter rang out from the other end of the hall and the two boys cut short their speech to turn and face the source of the interruption. "Who are you guys bowing at?" came a mocking voice as the Lords of Negativity emerged from behind a wall where they had been hiding. They laughed so hard as they strode into the hall that their sides wanted to split.
The boys stared stupidly at the Lords and then turned to face the row of figures at the dias. Several court attendants walked up to the figures and began to remove them from their seats. They were just a bunch of manikins, large wooden human figures skilfully designed to fool the two boys. The mocking laughter filled the hall. From every corner of the court lords and courtiers doubled over, tears running out of their eyes at the goofy look on the faces of the twins.
After some of the laughter had died down and the Lords had assumed their rightful places on the dias a call arose from the lips of the chief of the Lords, a demon who went by the name "ONE CAME" ( [pronounced Kah-meh] the Quiche dialect version of One Cimi, [pronounced Kee-mee]which means "ONE DEATH"). He called out to the twins saying: "Oh come on, you guys can take a joke can't you?" "Here...." he said pointing at a low stone bench next to him. "Come here and sit next to me in this place of honor."
The twins began to recover from the shock of the humiliation but their personal spiritual energy had been seriously compromised by the experience and they were very weakened. They moved meekly up to the spot that was being indicated by One Came. One Hun-Ahpu took his seat first and planted himself heavily on the smooth stone slab next to One Came. Seven Hu-Ahpu sat next to him, but before he had accomodated himself completely his brother sprang back up in the air howling in pain. Then he also sprang back up as he felt the intense agony of his burning back-side. The two boys rolled on the floor screaming and holding their behinds as smoke rose from their charred buttocks. The stone slab upon which they had just been tricked into sitting was placed over a secret fire which was stoked fom the other side of the wall. Again the hall rang with loud laughter as the Lords of Negativity struggled to stay in their seats, tears rolling down their faces hands slapping on their knees.
"You are much more entertaining than our court jesters!" exclaimed One Came's sidekick ,Seven Came, another vile Lord of the underworld. "It's a shame that we have to kill you two beause I have never laughed so hard!"
The chief Lord confronted his two unfortunate guests as they looked up at him trembling with agony and humiliation. "You had the audacity to challenge our authority. You wanted to play little ball games? well I'll tell you what! You can play your ball game here! Play us! We'll play against you, me and Seven Came here against you two! If you lose, YOU LOSE YOUR HEADS!"
The twins were cornered, no place to escape they had to play. Limping from all of the injuries they had already sustained and spiritually weakened even further by the humiliation, they were led to a room where they suited up for the game of kings. When the twins emerged into the glare of the outdoor ball court the Lords of Negativity awaited them, fresh and energetic, fit and athletic, prancing about in anticipation.
Somehow by sheer determination the two boys managed to play the Lords of Negatovity to a draw and the game was called because it was night. The Lords of Negativity were a little miffed because they had not succeeded in totally defeating the twins in fair play but they had another surprise ready for them.
Politely One Came invited the two boys to stay in one of their guest rooms overnight so that they could resume their ball game in the morning.
The boys accepted gratefully looking foward to a little rest.
They entered the room into which they had been led and heard the door lock behind them when the court attendant closed it. Then when they lit their lamps to ready themselfes for bed they were confronted by a frightful sight. The room was filled with menacing scowling jaguars. The huge spotted cats, larger than leopards and much more muscular, slowly began closing in on the astonished pair from all directions, eyes glowing in the flickering torch light.

 

 

 This is a classic era image of the sacred twins Hun-Ahpu and Ix Balanque

 

Outside the locked chamber, the guards that had been posted to watch for any attempt at escape heard the alarming racket raised within by the large cats and the screaming would-be heroes.
Only the fact that they were divine in nature and possessed endurance that was greater than common mortals preserved the lives of the twins. The following morning the guards opened the door and out stumbled the two children of Ixmucane bloody and covered with hideous wounds. The Lords of Negativity cursed under their breath. Was there nothing that could kill these two pests!
That day's game was a pitiful shadow of a real Pok Ta Pok game. The twins played akwardly and barely managed to keep from being completely overwhelmed by the two evil lords. Soon night was upon them again. Again the Lords of Evil offered a room for the night's sleep but this time they deprived them of lamps. The room was in utter pitch black darkness and no windows.
"Here......" they said ..."Take this torch..." Each twin was handed a small lit torch. "Keep that torch all night long and that will give you light....and for your smoking enjoyment here is a cigar for each of you!"
"A cigar!!!???" The twins were puzzled. Why so much kindness after all of the mean things that had been done to them. They smelled a rat. ad they were right. There was a catch. "Yes you can have a cigar but......"
Yes there was a "but" there's always a "but"
"But you must smoke your cigar here all night until the morning comes. And this is a loan not a gift. In the morning we want our two cigars back, intact, just the way we gave them to you."
"WHAT???.... How can we do that! thats ridiculous! how can anyone smoke a cigar all night and return it in the morning in the same condition in which he received it. Thats absurd!"
"DEAL WITH IT!!!" The Evil Lords retorted rudely. You will be watched all night. You must smoke the cigars. When daylight arrives we want them back intact...if you don't.....". One Came left the sentence unfinished and ran his finger accross his neck in a sign that implied decapitation.
"understand?...... GOOD EVENING!" and they left.
The door was left open this time and two Volture-Owl warriors were placed at the entrance to keep an eye on the twins through the night. To make sure that the twins smoked the cigars.
All through the night the forlorn boys puffed away, knowing full well that they were signing their death warrants in smoke.
Sure enough, in the morning the lords of Negativity arrived and demanded their cigars back. The boys had nothing to offer in return.

 

 The twins are doomed when they smoke the cigars of the Lords of Xibalba

That afternoon they were taken out to the ball playing field with their hands bond behind their backs. In the middle of the field with thousands of Xibalbans cheering and waving in the expecator stands all around them they were both executed.
Their dead bodies were buried right there under the ground of the ball field. One-Hun Ahpu's head was taken out of the imperial city and hung on the branch of a tree that stood on the road out of town. After a period of time his head magically turned into a large gourd like the gourds of the tropical calabash tree. This tree was declared a forbidden place and no one was allowed to go near it.
Through her own magical powers, back in the Upper Realm, the twins' mother, Ixmucane realized that they were dead and that she was never going to see them again. She grieved unconsolably for years.
After some time had passed the infant daughter of one of the  lords of Xibalba grew to become a beautiful young woman. Her name was Ix Qik (Blood Moon Woman). One day Ix Qik happened to be walking along the road and she noticed the calabash tree near the foot path. She knew that it was a forbidden thing but she grew curious as to its nature and so she approached it. When she came very close to the tree she was amazed at the sight of one of the large round hanging orbs as it turned and revealed a skull face on the opposite side.
The skeletized head of One-Hun Ahpu spoke to Ix Qik. "Do not be afraid, I am harmless. I was murdered by your father and here I must hang through eternity without peace. Will you help me? Only a woman can help redeem the evil that was perpetrated upon me."
Ix Qik thought for a moment knowing full well the dangers of going against her father's will, but she was filled with compassion.
"Fine then, what can I do for you." She answered. "You must bear my future generation, those who will redeem me" the skull answered.
"How am I to do that?" she insisted. "Extend your hand toward my mouth." The skull directed her. She put her hand, palm up, very near the neat row of teeth lining the skull's death-grin, and a bit of moisture exhuded from the dead man's mouth and left the palm of her hand all wet.
Quickly before she had a chance to wipe it on her clothing the moisture had been absorbed into her skin.

 Ix Quik is impreganted when moisture from the gourd-head's mouth falls upon the palm of her hand 

"It is done..." the skull exclaimed. "You are now carrying my next generation. Sure enough, Ix Qik soon realized that she was pregnant, with twins. And although she tried to hide her condition from her father, eventually that became a lost cause. The old demon flew into a rage "Whose bastard are you carrying in your womb?" he screamed. I know what you have done! I am an old and wise demon. I know things that others do not! You are carrying the spawn of our enemy.
In a fit of violent anger One Came summoned a warrior Volture-Owl and commanded him to take Ix Qik into the woods and kill her, and bring him back her heart.
The warrior dragged the unfortunate princess into the woods, but her beauty and miserable appearance softened his heart. In a gesture reminnescent to that of the woodsman who was ordered to kill Snow White by the evil queen the warrior Owl released Ix Qik in the woods and decided to decieve his master. In the Snow White tale a wild animal had to be killed and its liver extracted to convince the evil queen that the vile act had been perpetrated, but in this story the peculiarities of Mayan thought make for a curiously different turn of events.
The most important sacrificial offering that an ancient Maya could give to the spirits in ceremony was his own blood. Simple Mayan farmers regularly pricked their ear lobes and made small cuts on the backs of their hands to shed the drops in a bowl to burn with aromatic herbs so that the smoke would rise to the spirits, so that the spirits would bless them with a bountiful harvest. Great Mayan kings cut themselves and bleed in full view of their assembled multitudes and sprinkled their royal blood on crisp white pieces of paper. These would then be burned and the smoke offered up to the spirits as a plea to them for prosperous times for their communities. Even the Mayan queen participated by piercing her tongue and allowing the drops of blood to fall as offerings.
But the blood of a tree, the sap was also considered to have the same qualities. And there was a special tropical tree whose sap was special and considered as valuable as the blood of a king. That tree was the copal tree. The sap of the copal tree was indistinguishable from royal blood to the spirits and that was the fact that the warrior owl decided to exploit. He carefully cut the trunk of a copal tree and gathered the thick sticky sap as it ran out. The stuff oozed forth golden red and he fashioned it into the shape of a human heart. The thing dried solid and became a large chunk of copal incense. He brought it back to One Came as Ix Qik's heart and the old villain never knew the difference.
Ix Qik was now alone and pregnant in the woods outside the great city of the Xibalbans and there were NO seven dwarfs. She began to travel upwards, She crossed the great caustic rivers of Death over a fallen log and emerged in the Upper Realm.

Ix Qik arrived in the Upper Realm carrying in her belly a little baby girl and a little baby boy, twin children of the late One Hun-Ahpu. When she arrived at the home of Ixmucane the old matriarch received her with great suspicion and resentment. After all, this girl's father was the murderer of her children.  Ixmucane did not believe that the young woman's pregnancy represented her own grandchildren so she conceived of a test to discover if she demonstrated the magic qualities that would express divine nature. Ixmucane ordered Ix Qik to grab a sack made of rope netting and carry it to the corn field. She told her to fetch enough corn as was needed for household use. She knew that since her children had left and been killed in Xibalba the corn field had fallen into neglect and there was very little to be gathered there. She was sure that Ix Qik would fail to bring enough corn for the house.

Ix Qik arrived at the corn field and found total devastation. Only one corn plant was actually alive and that one bore only one ear of corn. Ix Qik laid the rope netting sack on the floor and mustered up every bit of  divine energy that she felt within her. It worked. She grasped the ear of corn and laid it in the sack and there was another hanging from the plant. She grasped that one and laid it in the sack next to the first one and when she looked back up. There was another one in its place on the plant. So she took that one, and then another and another. Until finally the sack was filled and laying so heavily on the ground that the rope netting had sunk into the soft soil. When Ix Qik finally picked up the sack and struggled under its weight back to the house, the bag left a criss-cross imppression on the ground where it had lain which clearly showed the rope-netting pattern that it was composed of.

Ixmucane was shocked when she saw what Ix Qik had brought back from her trip to the corn field. She screamed at her. "You found more corn than I expected, and you snatched it all up!. Now we are totally destitute. When this load runs out we will have NOTHING!". She rushed out of the house and ran to the corn field but when she got there she was surprised to find the same little corn plant with the same little ear of corn that had been there before Ix Qik had gathered her miraculous harvest. Then Ixmucane noticed the imprint of the netting-sack on the moist soil. "Netting-sack" (known as "K'at" by the K'iche Maya) happens to be one of the sacred day-signs that make up the oracle tradition of the divining ceremonies that K'iche Maya shaman-priests perform when they provide a consultation for a client. Among other things, it represents legitimate fertility and bountiful plenty. Being a diviner herself, Ixmucane knew very well that this was a sign that the young woman who know was livving at her house was on the level. She was legitimate.

After that the old woman warmed up to Ix Qik and they set about to create the best home that they could for the up-bringing of the old lady's new grandchildren.
When the babies were born one was named after his father, "Hun-Ahpu" (One-Blowgunner Marksman Lord) and the other one was named after her magical powers, "Ix Balan Keh" (She of the intuitive, shamanic jaguar-magic powers).

Before the father of these twins had left on his fatal journey to Xibalba, he had fathered another set of twins with another female divinity of the Upper Realm. These other twins, named One Chuen and One B'atz had been the only grandchildren Ixmucane had known before the birth of Hun-Ahpu and Ix Balan Keh. They were extremely talented artists and craftsmen and were destined to become the patron deities of artisans. One Chuen and One B'atz were spoiled to the only-child existance that they had enjoyed all their lives before the new twins arrived. This made them extremely jealous and they took to tormenting their younger half-brother and half-sister. As Hun-Ahpu and Ix Balan Keh grew up the warm love of their mother was tempred by the bitter treatment of their older half-siblings. Finally one day the youths contrived a plan to free themselves from their cruel treatment. They used their blow guns to shoot some birds and made sure that these got caught in the branches of the trees as they fell dead. Then they approached their cruel half-brothers and begged them to help with the retrieval of the birds. Their mouths watering in anticipation of the roast fowl, Hun Chuen and Hun B'atz climbed up into the branches of the trees where the birds had gotten caught. When they reached the top of the trees Hun Ahpu and Ix Balan Keh demonstrated the divine nature that they had inherited from their mother and father. They spoke magic words that encouraged the trees to grow taller. The trees grew and grew until the older siblings were hoplessly trapped high in the canopy of the forest.   In their desperation the Hun Chuen and Hun B'atz turned into true denizens of the tree-tops. They turned into monkeys. These two talented divinities, symbolically assocaited with monkeys, eventually became the patrons of all talented creative people.

 
Hun Ahpu and Ix Balan Keh spent the rest of their childhood in the healthy nurturing embrace of their mother and grandmother. As they grew to adulthood they became skillful hunters with their blowguns, and accomplished gardeners. Eventually they began to have troubles in their vegetable garden. It seems that by day they would work hard in the fields and the garden prospered but by night the forest animals, rabbits, rats, deer and others would ravage their crops. They began to stay up on the erraticaly scheduled false nights when the sun-impostor Seven Macaw would become tired of his arrogant bragging and close his bright bejeweled eyes and his jewel-teeth-studded mouth, leaving the Cosmos in darkness. In the darkness the twins would take turns lying awake in wait to catch the thieves who were stealing their crops. They chased the animals about trying to catch them but they were generally unsuccessful
.Eventually they caught a rat. The rat begged for its life and assured them that if they spared him he would reveal a valuable secret to them. The twins became curious. The rat led them up into the ceiling of their own house and along the beams of the roof-rafters. "In my nightly travels through these beams I have discovered a secret that will prove very valuable to you two" he assured them. Eventually they arrived at a dark corner of the ceiling where a large sack hung. "I saw your predecessors One Hun Ahpu and Seven Hun Ahpu hang this sack up here as they prepared to leave on their fateful journey to Xibalba. I am sure they would have wanted you two to have whatever is in there now". The rat exclaimed.
The twins lowered the heavy sack from the place where it hung and spread the contents out on the floor. It was the ball-game gear, knee-pads, elbow-pads, thick padded waist-belts, headgear, and of course the black rubber ball. The game came to them instictively because they were destined to play it. Soon they were playing during every bit of spare time that they could find, playing better than their predecessors. They volleyed that ball back and forth with speed and dexterity worthy of divinities.
Eventually Seven Macaw high up in his tree-top perch took notice of the ball-playing and became nervous. His wife noticed his nervousness and tried to confort him but the growing frequency of the rythmic ball-game was already awakening the Cosmic Consciousness from its millenial slumber and Seven Macaw knew it and trembled.
Down below in Xibalba the Evil Lords also noticed a difference in the Universal vibrations and they too became concerned. Someone again had dared to challenge their authority and they were keen to find out who these new upstarts were. again the warrior Volture-Owls were summoned and instructed to fly up and spy on the new offenders. Again the messengers returned with extremely disturbing news. These were also young energetic divine youths, and they had the potential to upset the status quo. They had to be eliminated just like their predecessors!
The warrior Volture-Owls were sent back up with a summons for the new set of twins to descend into the Underworld and confront the angry demons. The youths had no choice but to obey. It was their destiny, and again Ixmucane was faced with the prospect of losing her loved ones. Her daughter-in-law Ix Qik wept also for she knew how dangerous her father could be.
The twins packed their blowguns and their back-packs. They kissed the two women that had nurtured them, and left on their long journey.
Eventually they reached the deadly river that separated the Land of the Living from the Land of the Dead. Instead of diving stupidly into the caustic stream Hun Ahpu divised a plan for them to cross safely. They used Ix Balan Keh's magic to shrink both of them down to the size of ants. They also used the magic to stretch the two blowguns and have them extend from one river bank to the other. They crawled into the weapons and crossed the river in complete safety. They were even safe from getting splashed on. On the other side they grew to full-size again and shrank their weapons to their normal length.
Eventually they realized that they were approaching the great palace of the Lords of Xibalba. They stopped to rest for a moment and to discuss how they should approach the coming challenge. The first thing they thought of was the concept of names. In ancient Mayan tradition (and for that matter the tradition of many Earth-oriented peoples) a person's spirit name is a sacred thing. It represents your true nature and thus it is a manifestation of your true self. In many cutures some aspects of a person's spirit name are kept hidden from one's enemies because knowledge of a person's full spirit name may give his or her enemy power over him or her. It was important for the twins to learn the names of their adversaries.
Ix Balan Keh came up with an idea. She reached down to her brother's leg and plucked out a hair... "OUCH!" Then she used her magic powers to convert the hair into a moskeeto. She then whispered some instructions into the ear of the tiny insect as it buzzed in front of her face and sent it off.
The moskeeto made a bee-line for the royal palace (or should I say, a moskeeto-line). It came in through one of the corbled-arched entrances and flew to the dias where the Lords of Negativity were holding council. Quietly it landed on one of the demons and stung him on the thigh. "AGHHH!" the Lord jumped and smacked at his thigh, but the moskeeto flew away. One of his fellows turned to him and exclaimed: "What is wrong with you, One Came" and at that moment the moskeeto took note of One Came's name. Then he landed on another of the Lords and stung him also. The creature jumped and yelled out. Several of his fellows turned to him and asked anxiously. "What's the matter Seven Came? What ails you?" and at that moment the moskeeto took note of Seven Came's name. And so, one by one he stung each one of the evil lords and thereby learned all of their names. He flew back to the twins and afforded them this valuable bit of information.
It was not long before the twins reached the imposing palace of the Xibalbans. The lords of XIbalba sat on their long dias waiting nervously for the twins to approach. The youths bowed respectfully before the evil Lords and then unexpectedly began to honor each one individually: "We bring greetings from the Upper World my Lord One Came". The demon's eyes widened with alarm as he heard his name on the lips of these young people. "Many respects to you my Lord Seven Came", they bowed as Seven Came heard his own name, blanched, and then felt his heart thumping loudly in his breast.
One by one the twins greeted each demon by name and one by one the shoulders of their adversaries drooped as they felt themselves drained of a portion of their magic power. It was not an auspicious begining to their encounter with these young upstarts and the lords knew it. For the first time in their lives they feared that they might have met their match!

  

Classic era Maya depiction of one of the Xibalban Death Gods 

There was no raccous laughter in the royal hall of Xibalba this time. There was only the silence of people who are very worried. The Lords of Negativity had been tricked into revealing their names to their young foes the Sacred Twins. this was a critical misstep and there was no way of fixing it.
Lord One Came finally recovered from the shock of having some of his magical powers sapped from his soul by a couple of youths. He turned with as much dignity as he could muster and pointed at the stone bench next to him saying: "Please, my friends come and seat yourselves here in this place of honor." But the twins were on to his ruse and responded politely;
"You are so kind my Lord. We are grateful for your offer but if it's all the same to you we prefer to stand. We feel ill-at-ease sitting in the presence of royalty."
One Came huffed in frustration. Then he rose and strode accross the hall. He reached the end of the hall and turned to face the twins. "You are ball players I'm told..."  "Yes". They answered. "Well then, I insist that you honor us with a demonstration of your playing skills by competing against our own local team here, Seven Came and I against you two!"
The twins accepted and both teams withdrew to dressing rooms where they could don the playing gear and prepare for the contest. The twins somehow understood as they walked out into the sunlit field that losing the game would mean their death. They were determined not to lose.
The game was fast and furious. Both teams were exquisitely talented and there were spectacular saves with bodies flinging themselves at the ground in desperate attempts at hitting the ball with shoulders, elbows, knees, head or back before it bounced too many times. As Seven Macaw, the false Sun began to tire high up in his tree-top perch and as his eyes closed slowly, darkness creeped accross the playing field and the game had to be stopped with the score tied.
The Lords of Negativity, even more frustrated by their inability to beat the twins in the game, were certain that a few of their treacherous rooms would finish them off once and for all. That night they led the unsuspecting Hun-Ahpu and Ix Balan Keh to the chamber of jaguars. As soon as the door was slammed shut behind them and they lit their lamps the large spotted cats began to creep toward them menacingly. The eyes of the two youths widened with surprise and alarm but then Ix Balan Keh gained her composture and spoke out to the animals in a clear calm voice: "You great spirit cats, ours is not the flesh for your feast. We are emissaries of the loftiest of divinities and we bring universal redemption!" The cats stopped short and blinked. Ix Balan Keh glowed with the inner mystical light of the jaguar spirit . True to her name "She of the shamanic jaguar's intuitive magic" the heroine's image appeared to the great cats as a primordial deified archetype of all jaguars and in her they saw a kinswoman.


The cats backed down, their eyes lowered. That night was calm and peaceful in the chamber of the jaguars. When Seven Macaw finally opened his eyes and shined his counterfit sunlight upon the world of divinities and demons The Lords of Negativity opened the door to the chamber expecting to find the twins torn to ribbons. Instead they found them snuggled among a veritable soft furry carpet of spotted felines yawning and blinking their eyes at the sudden sunlight.
The evil lords cursed under their breaths as they led the twins up to the playing field to go at the second round of games. They felt more and more powerless to overcome these two powerful magicians.
Again the twins literally played the Lords of Negativity to a draw, and again that night they were confined to one of the chambers of trials. Each youth was handed a torch and each was handed a cigar. "In this dark place your torches shall be your illumination and you must smoke these cigars all night long, relighting them every time they go out" They were told. "In the morning you must return them intact or we will kill you. All pretense at politness was dropped now and in their frustration and rage the evil Lords showed their true faces.
Again they relied on Ix Balan Keh's shamanic skills. This time she summoned up her spirit animals and they flocked to her. A large, brightly-feathered macaw, with long red tail feathers and a couple of tiny lightning bugs appeared out of nowhere. Ix Balan Keh snatched the torch from her brother's hand before he had a chance to light his cigar and dropped both fires on the ground grinding them out with her feet. Then she received from the macaw a handgfull of bright glowing red tail-feathers and handed some of them ti her brother. "Place the cigar in your mouth and pretend to light it with these feathers". She directed him. They both began to perform their ruse, casting side glances at the door on the other end of the chamber where the warrior owls were peeking to see what the twins were up to. From the door the owls could see the two youths lifting what appeared to be long red flames up to their cigars. And predictably enough, when the twins lowered the presumed "flames" the cigars glowed as if lit. But they weren't lit. The two fireflies had flown up and alighted at the tips of the two cigars and there they lit their tiny lights making the ends of the cigars appear to be burning. The guards were satisfied that the twins were smoking the cigars just as their ill-fated predecessors had done.
Imagine the shock and awe in the morning when these same guards pleaded with their masters and assured them. "We saw them with our own eyes, my Lords...I swear, we saw them smoking the cigars. We saw them light the cigars and smoke them all night!!" Imagine the looks of incredulity on the scowling faces of the demon Lords as they held the two perfectly intact cigars in their hands, and gazed on the innocent smiling faces of Hun-Ahpu and Ix Balan Keh.

 

The ancient Maya ball-game 

 

The arrogant Seven Macaw perched in the company of his wife Chimalmat high up at the top of the Cosmic Tree had opened his eyes and the universe was flooded with the brightness of the jewels with which the Lords of Negativity had regailed his teeth and eyes.
In the brightness of morning the divine youths, Hun Ahpu and Ix Balan Keh donned their ball-playing gear, put on their game-faces and charged into the paved arena to the hoots and cat-calls of the hostile assembled home team crowd. Of course the subsequent entrance into the arena of One Came and Seven Came was accompanied by deafening cheering and applause.
As the two oposing teams met in the center of the arena the Lords of Xibalba challenged the sacred twins to raise the stakes. "Why don't we play for something valuable this time?" Lord One came exclaimed. The twins looked at their adversaries with puzzlement on their faces. "I believe we should play for beautiful bouquets of flowers, expensive extravagant flower displays!" The twins looked at each other snd finally agreed. "All right..." they answered. "Whoever looses this particular match will give the other team bowls filled with flowers"

The game began and continued relentlessly till old Seven Macaw became so tired that he could no longer keep his bright Universe-illuminating eyes open. Darkness fell upon the world and the playing stopped. As dusk approached the sacred twins lost the match and were obliged to present the Lords of the Xibalba with the blossoms they had agreed on. They were given all night to collect their bouquets. In the meantime te Lords of Xibalba again offered to house them in one of their unique chambers.
The twins awaited nervously to find out what would be the nature of the demonic chamber in which they would have to spend the night. It was time to take stock of the situation and make some decisions, some choices. The affinity that Ix Balan Keh had with the animals spirits had proven invaluable so far and the twins made a choice of paths at that point. Their path would be a path of reliance on their shamanic affinity with the animal spirits. The animal spirits were to be their ultimate salvation and they were decided at that point that no matter what sort of challenge the Lords of Negativity threw at them they would depend on that magical connection with the spirit realm to haul their butts out of hot water.
As it happened the next chamber would put their connection with the animal spirit realm under very serious strain because it would call on the animal spirits to make a very big sacrifice. The warrior volture-owls led them to a chamber and locked the door behind them. In the darkness the twins heard a strange "Whoosh!" noise and so they lit their lamps.
As soon as the room became illuminated they caught sight of an object rushing at them through the air at a high rate of speed. They both ducked and looked behind them to see what that thing was. They caught the glint of black glass upon the speedng object but then at that very moment Ix Balan Keh fell over and cried out in pain. Something had rushed pass her and slashed her shoulder. blood flowed from the wound as Hun Ahpu ducked another of the deadly missles. He grabbed her and pushed her toward the wall as they both ducked another one of those things. Hun Ahpu then winced and reached for his calf as another "woosh" and another bright red wound apeared there. Then one of the flying things darted right past in front of his face and he got a good look at it. It was an obsidian knife, a shiny blade of volcanic glass, skillfully chipped and magically endowed with lethal self-locomotion. The twins were in great peril as the sharp objects wooshed accross the room criss-crossing paths like huge demonic bullets, rubbing against each other and making the most frightening of noises..
They panted heavily and their hearts thumped loudly in their breasts as they crouched against the cold masonry wall. Ix Balan Keh closed her eyes and appealed to the animal spirits for assistance as her brother attempted to cover her with his own body. SLASH! .....another blade flew past and left a deep painful gash on his back. His scream drowned out the girl's prayer. The animal spirits answered the girl in her mind's eye and responded gravely: "There is no easy solution to this dilema our beloved daughter. Only a great sacrifice on our part will save you now."



The voice of the animal spirits filled the room in the voice of the young girl. As in a trance she rose erect and stood fearless as her brother looked up at her in amazement. From her mouth issued the words of self-sacrifice from the animal world. "Cease! ye hungry blades. Not for you is the flesh of these two children! We offer ourselves as willing victims of sacrifice. In the future, humans shall hunt our animal offsprings and offer their prayers of respect to our animal spirits before consuming the game meat. Then they will use the obsidian blade to cut our flesh and feed their people. That, therefore shall be your due. You knife-blades shall taste of the flesh of hunted animals before the hunter does.
And the blades listened, and the blades were still.

Even though they had survived the knives they still were confronted with the dilema that they needed to collect the blossoms to present to the winners of the previous day's game and they were locked in this chamber with no access to the outside and the flower garden.

They had complained to the Lords of Xibalba: "You are locking us in this chamber and we are not able to go out and get them for you!" the twins complained. "That's YOUR problem!"  One Came had retorted and then he had slammed the door shut behind him. The door was locked and two night birds called "night-hawks" or "night-jars" were posted there to make sure the twins did not have a chance to go out during the night and collect any flowers.
After they had overcome the knife threat Ix Balan Keh again had become the one to get them out of this mess.
Again Ix Balan Keh used her connection with the animal spirits and summoned up an army of leaf-cutter ants. The ants marched out of the locked chamber, beneath the door right under the very noses of the night-jar guards. They marched right out to the fabulous gardens that streched all around the Xibalban palace and got to work cutting and carrying back the lovely blossoms one at a time. The night-jars never knew what happened. One by one the little creatures slipped the colorful flowers right past them, undetected, into the room, under the door all night long. By the time Seven Macaw opened his eyes to illuminate the Universe the twins had both amassed an incredible pile of flowers in their bowls.



The demon lords of Xibalba were again bewildered at the resourcefulness of their enemies. Never had they been confronted with such formidable magicians. In anger at the fact that the night-jar guards had apparently not done their job the Lords of Xibalba smacked the birds accross the mouth so hard that their mouhs became permanently split open into a wide gape and that is why modern night-jars have such wide mouths.

 

In the brightness of the new false day they played again , and again, predictably, the game ended in a draw.

That night the twins were locked up in a dreadful chamber which began to whistle and wail with a most horrible gale-force wind the minute the door was slammed shut. The wind grew frigid and the two youths felt that they would surely freeze to death. They had a lot of trouble doing it, but they managed to build a fire out of a pile of pine-cones that they found scattered all over the floor of the room. This made the freezing experience bearable and allowed them to survive the Chamber of Winds.

There was another day of ball-play and another tie-score. That night the trial turned out to be a room filled with horrific, huge demon-bats who flew around making the most horrid, blood-curdling noise, and snapped at the twins with razer-sharp teeth. It was even harder to dodge these than it was the mirror blades in one of the previous rooms.
Now it was Hun Ahpu's turn to come up with the saving idea. "Into our blowguns, quick! they will not reach us in there." Ix Balan Keh followed his lead. She used her magic swiftly to shrink them both again to the size of ants and they crawled into the long hollow blow-pipes. There they spent the night safely as the bats flew around and shrieked in frustration.
As the first glimmer of morning began to glow outside the tubes the room became quiet. Hun Ahpu listened intently for the slightest sound of a bat outside his hiding place but heard nothing. So, cautiously, he pushed his head out the end of his blowgun to take a peek. With a ferocious whoosh the king of the bats, an enormous monster called "Came Zotz" (Doom Bat) who had been lying in wait very quietly outside the weapon swept past him and snapped his head off. Ix Balan Keh crawled out of her hiding place just in time to see the monster fly out the door of the chamber with her brother's head dangling from its jaws.


Ix balan Keh was traumatized. She sat there staring at the headless corpse of her brother lying on the floor next to her, blood still pumping from the severed neck and the tears streamed from her eyes. This was so unexpected, so sudden! Then she pulled herself together and began to pray. She would not allow these monsters to have the last laugh! Again she pooled her spiritual resources and called upon the power of her animal helpers. A number of different creatures appeared there in the chamber with her. Among them was a rabbit, her totem sprit animal. She sat there in council with the spirits of the forest creatures and finally they came up with a strategy.

Several of the animals left and soon returned with a pumpkin about the size of Hun-Ahpu's head. Ix Balan Keh began to carve this vegetable with a knife and soon she had fashioned it quite skilfully to look just like her brother's face. In the meantime the rabbit ran out the door of the chamber and crossed the playing field before it began to fill with spectators. Eventually he reached a large bush on the sideline. There he hid himself. Her carving job finished, Ix Balan Keh rose from the floor with a grim determined look on her face.

A deafening din arose from the stands on either side of the playing field when One Came emerged into the bright false sunshine emmited by Seven Macaw's jeweled eyes with the head of his foe dangling from his right hand. When Ix Balan Keh heard the cheering she knew it was her cue. She nodded to the animals who carried the carved pumpkin and they rushed out the door. Soon they had secreted the pumpkin behind another bush on the sidelines and then they crept away. Finally she strode out the door of the chamber and headed straight for the changing room. As she donned her ball-playing gear she heard the chants and cheers outside as the blood-thirsty Xibalban crowd smelled victory.

Eventually she emerged to face her opponents. She stood defiantly accross the field from them and stared them down as the two demons scowled right back. Then slowly One Came raised the grisly trophy hanging from his fist high above his head, and the air was filled with a stunning din of thousands of screamng voices. "We will play with this ball!" He shouted at her. She knew exactly want he meant. Intuitively she had predicted that the demons were going to finish the ball game using her brother's head as a ball.

The game began and the girl bravely played on as she saw her brother's remains being desecrated. The rabbit waited quitely in his hiding place. Eventually Ix Balan Keh received the "ball" and skilfully bounced it in the direction of the rabbit's bush. Just as she planned, Hun Ahpu's head rolled into the bush and momentarily out of sight. At that moment the rabbit rushed out the other side of the bush and scrambled as fast as he could toward the other bush. Both One came and Seven Came ran after the rabbit, believing it to be the head rolling away from them. The rabbit jumped into the bush that concealed the carved pumkin and gave the vegetable a great heave. It rolled out of the bush and the Lords of Negativity now ran after that. Unnoticed by anyone Ix Balan Keh dove into the first bush, snatched up her brother's head and rushed away off from the field holding it in a concealing embrace very much like that used by modern football players when they attempt to trick the opponents into thinking someone has the ball when in fact someone else does. The Demons picked up the fake head and stood there watching Ix Balan Keh run off the field. "Where's she going?" Seven Came yelled. "The game's not over yet!" One Came balanced the carved pumpkin on a finger. "AW, let her go and cry a little bit .. boo hoo!! she can't handle watching her brother's head in our hands!" "Yea..." agreed Seven Came. Let her get it out of her system and then we can finish the game, BOO HOO!!!" They both broke down in a riot of laughter, and the multitudes in the stands did also.



Ix Balan Keh rushed back to the chamber where her brother's body lay. As the Lords of Negativity began to scrimmage with the object that they believed was a head she gravely placed the real head upon the neck of the dead youth and prayed. It took a few minutes but eventually the tissues of flesh from the neck began to weave themselves unto the tissues of flesh from the head. Blood vessels became re-joined. Nerves grew back together. Bone and cartilage re-fused. Before long the head was miraculously restored and the eyes of the young man fluttered open.

Juat as Hun Ahpu was being helped up from the floor by the girl they both heard the unmistakable sound of a pumpking breaking against the hard surface of the paved playing field, and then a loud group gasp rose from the stands outside. As they both emerged together into the arena they saw the Lords of Negativity standing in stunned amazement in front of the scattered broken remnants of the carved pumpkin. Seeds lay everywhere as the two demons raised their eyes up just in time to see the boy that they thought was dead striding triumphantly toward them next to his sister. It was too much for Seven Came. He fainted dead away right there in the middle of the field. One Came just stood there staring with his mouth open. a mournful whine rose from the stands.

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At this point in the story the Lords of Negativity felt helpless and desperate. There were no more deadly chambers left in which they could lock up the twins. There was no hope in Xibalba. They brooded in their council chambers as the twins relaxed in a regular room in which they had been lodged. As the Lords of Negativity brooded the twins began to concieve the last stage of their strategy. They had survived every attempt at their defeat but deep inside they knew that ironically the ultimate stage of their victory had to be accompanied by a supreme sacrifice on their part. In a way very similar to the self-sacrificial role of Jesus in Christian tradition, the twins had to go through a auto-immolation process which would carry the story to its logical redemptory conclusion.

They prepared for their death by invoking the presence of two powerful shamanic entities from the spirit realm called Xulu and Pacam. Of these they asked for counsel and advise and then they all concluded that the best course of action to take was to establish what was to be done with their remains after their self-sacrifice. The reason for this was that, as in the case of the Christian crucifixion story there needed to be a resurrection after the sacrifice, and that resurrection could not take place if the twins' remains were not disposed of in the proper manner.
Once they had decided what was to be done with the twins' remains the spiritual shamans were charged with the responsibility of convincing the Lords of Negativity to do what needed to be done with the remains.

The time came and the Lords of Negativity put together one last attempt at the destruction of their two youthful adversaries. They concoted a night-time festival and had a huge bonfire created in the middle of the Xibalban capital city. The twins were invited and arrived ready to make their final appearance. The Lords of Negativity requested them to demonstrate more of their extraordinary athletic ability and physical capacity by jumping over the great fire. They accepted the challenge. In almost a near state of hoplessness the Xibalbans held their breath as the two youths stood face to face to each other next to the fire and embraced. Then holding on to each other, they lept right into the flames and were almost immediately consumed.


At first the Lords of Xibalba just stared at the flames skeptically. They didn't trust their own eyes. They feared that they might be fooled again. But eventually they realized that the game was over. The twins were really, really dead! There was great rejoicing in the underworld realm that night. Eventually as the fire died down and the first light of morning begam to filter through the Xibalban clouds some of the denizens of the netherworld began to pick through the still warm coals and found the charred remains of the youths' bones. The bones were collected and a discussion arose concerning how they were to be disposed of in a way that would prevent any possibility of resurrection. Finally the Lords of Negativity discovered the presence of Xulu amd Pacam in their midst. They exclaimed: "We have not made very good choices lately concerning the disposition of our enemies remains. Perhaps we can learn from these visitors".

Xulu and Pacam advised that the bones should be ground to powder just like corn in preparation for making tortilla shells. Then the bone powder should be poured into the waters of a river. This seemed like a good idea to the Lords of Negativity and so they did it. As the finely ground bone powder sifted through the promordial life-blood of the universe it went through a transformtion. The bone powder re-incarnated in the form of magical fresh water fish, or perhaps somethng fishlike, such as a tadpole or pollywog. Perhaps they were undergoing a form of magical natural evolution, going through the phases that terrestial Life is supposed to have traversed in its journey from simple life-forms to higher life forms. The ancient legend tells us that these amphibian creatures gradually developed into the two youths within the nurturing embrace of the waters of the mountain stream.

When this process was complete they crawled out unto dry land and took on the form of two old beggars. Dressed in ragged clothes and wearing dirt on their faces, they travelled the length and breadth of Xibalba earning their way by playing magic tricks. One of their most popular tricks was to destroy things like houses or even living animals and then bring them back, restore them to their former self! They even did this thing where one of them would actually kill the other one and then bring him back to life. They had trully conquered Death! When word of this reached the court The lords summoned them so that they would perform before the Xibalban royalty and nobility. The twins in their disguise as old raggedy beggars performed their tricks and showed the evil lords their new-found abilities. Finally Lord One Came declared :"I want to do that! I want you to kill me and bring me back to life!" At that moment the twins realized that their mission was almost over.

Lord One Came walked up to the twins and offered himself for sacrifice under their knife. The twins dispatched him in front of the astonished Xibalban crowd. Then they turned to face the populous of the Underworld. and exclaimed in a loud voce holding the obsidian knife high. "Denizens of Xibalba a new time has arrived upon the Universe. No longer shall the might of the Lords of Negativity hold sway over this or any other realm. Xibalba shall from now on be the dwelling place of the souls. No longer shall it be a place of torment, and no longer shall Death be a thing of fear, but simply a transition within the great cycles of transitions for behold, we have arrived to establish the new order. This new order shall be one of continuous cycles. It shall be ruled by pattern and rhythm and as such, existance shall no longer be a lingering Death but an ongoing process of evolution and cyclical growth".

The Xibalbas were transfixed by the momentousness of the event, paralyzed by the importance of the moment. The twins wasted no time. They headed to a place where they could get a clear shot at Seven Macaw and aimed their blowguns at the arrogan false sun. They shot small but destructive pellets of stone right at his bright bejeweled teeth with such force that it broke his jaw. The creature fell from its perch and fluttered momentarily on the ground before them. Then it rose in anger and pain and tore Hun Ahpu's arm off. It flew off to it's home, hung the hero's arm over the smoke fire and spent the rest of the day holding its broken jaw and wailing in pain.

 Ximalmat, his wife was not able to relieve his agony. Then Seven Macaw heard a knock at his door. His wife answered and there she saw two strange visitors who claimed to be accomplished dentists. They said that they had heard of Seven macaw's suffering and had come to offer their services. Seven Macaw invited them into his home and begged them to heal his damaged teeth and jaw. The had him lie down and open his mouth. Then they said: "All of this jewelry has to go! You can't get well with a lot of jade and silver in your mouth!"
Seven Macaw went along with whatever they said because he was desperate with pain. One by one the "dentists" extracted his bejeweled teeth and gradually his magical powers decreased. All of his spiritual power resided in the bewitched jewelry that he had acquired from the Lords of Negativity. At the end of the operation the once mighty and arrogant Seven Macaw was nothing but a wretched demon. He closed his eyes and died.



The "dentists" were, of course, the twins themselves. Once Seven Macaw was dead, Hun Ahpu recovered his arm and they prepared for their final act of redemption.

Seven Macaw had two sons. These enormous giants who had terrorized the Upper Realm boasting their prowess and being very destructive remained at large invoking the memory of their arrogant father with their actions. Hun Ahpu and Ix Balan Keh confronted each one in turn and outwitted them, and defeated them both, ridding the Universe of these last remaining legacy of the tyranical reign 
of Seven Macaw and the Lords of Xibalba.


After defeating the sons of Seven Macaw, the twins proceeded to go to the center of the Xibalban playing field and dug up the remains of their predecessors. Then they went to the calabash tree by the road and pulled down the head of their father, One Hun-Ahpu. They summoned up the spirits of their grandparents the wild boars, (forest peccaries) who, as I mentioned at the beginning, were called Ixmucane and Ixpiyaqok, to aid them in the process of re-incarnation. They placed the remains of their scatter-brained, uncentered, unfocused forbears in a sacrificial platter and laid all of their former jewels, and garments in there with them. Then they asked the grandparent spirits to perform the magical love act one more time. The two forest peccaries crawled up into the great sacrificial platter and, surrounded by the spiritual magic of the sacred bones and sacred regalia, they played out their powerful ritual of Love. As before, this act was a representation of  divine copulation in the constellation of Gemini. Instantly Ixmucane became pregnant with the re-incarnation of the former would-be heroes Hun Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu. But this time the embryo in her womb was a well-developed, fully conscious sacred spirit, unified into one powerful character instead of the two scattered boys from before. This time the entity gestating within her womb was the Creator Spirit ,Hun Nal Yeh, the powerful Maize God.

Ixmucane transformed herself into a huge turtle, an important symbol of creative power, and then invited the twins to perform a kind of caesarean section operation on her shell. The twins requested the aid of the rain spirits, the "Chacs" who used their thunder hatchets to open the hard turtle shell. Out of the crack on the back of the turtle rose the beautiful creator spirit Hun Nal Yeh in full glory like an incarnated maize plant, like the great central Cosmic tree itself. Hun Nal Yeh emmerged from the great wound on the back of the turtle and then Ixmucane crawled away to heal and recover.

Now the task of the divine twins was finished. Their role in the process of redemption was done. Hun Ahpu rose into the sky and transformed into the sun, THE REAL SUN!!! rising every morning to shed light upon gods and mortals. Ix Balan Que rose into the night sky and transformed into the moon, the divine measurer of the twentyeight day cycle of fertility and creativity.

Hun nal Yeh proceeded to invoke the presence of his spirit totem animals, dog, parrot, iguana and others. They boarded a sacred canoe formed in the shape of a great crocodile and propelled by the paddles of an oarsman named Stingray Spine Paddler and another one called Jaguar Paddler. These magical oarsmen paddled the canoe out to the center of the Primordial Sea bearing Hun Nal Yeh with his sacred medicine bag full of magic maize seeds along with his spirit animals. There they tipped the canoe headfirst into the water and the bunch of them dove deep into the depths of the great marine expanse. At the bottom of the sea they reached a dark central place where creation was fated to begin.

 

 The great Central Tree of the Universe was pulled out by the roots and laid down. It represented a former time, a former order. That order had been overthrown and a new order had been instituted. A new tree was about to be erected. The chief creator god, The Maize Deity,Hun Nal Yeh, called together all of the great divinities. Together they held council and planned the creation of the Earth and of animals, plants and humans. The project began with the setting of the three hearth stones for the cetral fireplace. Since every important house-building project in ancient and contemporary Maya tradition begins with the ritual establishment of the central fireplace or hearth, The gods were headed to a place where the central hearth of the cosmic edifice was to be established. Down in the depths of the great underwater Dark Place, The maize deity, Hun Nal Yeh (now known as First Father and identified with Xpiyaqok) had been carried by the divine dragon-shaped or crocodile-shaped canoe that was propelled by the two oarsmen, "Jaguar Paddler" and  "Stingray Paddler". His destination was the central cosmic place of Creation where the gods now gathered and began the communal process that would produce the finished Universe. Down to this same dark underwater meeting place swam the freshly healed grandmother turtle. On it's back she carried the three great boulders that would become the hearth stones. The image of this turtle carrying the three stones strapped to its back was seen by the classic era Maya in the three stars that form the belt of Orion. Ahau Lord Hun Nal Yeh took the stones and wrapped them up in cotton cloth. In the bundles he placed magical objecs and magical herbs. Then he set them in a triangle pattern upon the sea-floor and they became manifested there as a different set of three stars in the constellation of Orion, the last one on the belt and the two at the legs. At the center of this triangle he kindled the first fire of creation. The dark ashes of this primordial flame would manifest itself in the black form of the Orion Nebula with its faint little ember-like stars glowing at its center.

The smoke of this fire rose high through the waters of the Primordial Sea and then broke through the surface ,lifting the dome of the sky up with it, higher and higher far from the surface of the sea where it had lain heavily for eons. The column of smoke solidified and transformed itself into the trunk of the new central Cosmic Tree. The column was shaped like a huge reptilian dragon and became the luminous column we know as the Milky Way Galaxy. First Father, with the help of the sacred divinities, had raised up the new Sky Tree, called by the ancients "Wakah Chan" (Raised-up Sky Tree).

 Then having created the space between the sea and the sky the creator divinities formed the Earth, the common trees, the mountains and everything upon it. Humans were a problem. Four times they attempted to create humans but their efforts were flawed. The fifth and final attempt was successful and they created the humans from corn meal. The use of this blessed food, whose growing period is a sacred time-span of 260 days created the perfect humans

 

Most of the elements of this sacred narration manifest themselves in the astronomical phenomena that play out  in a cyclical manner in the night sky of Central America every year. Much of that astronomical phenomena is expressed in the apparent movements of the Milky Way Galaxy 

Please enjoy this wonderful animated film interpretation of the ancient Maya creation tale produced by  Patricia Amlin in 1988.

 


 

 
 

 
 
 
 

Video of Antonio explicating the 2012 prophecy as it relates to the ancient legend