The Maya Emergence Myth

This is from the Sacred Book of the Maya Quiche called the Popol Vuh.

In the darkness, in the night, before the sun and the moon existed, and before man was created Hun Hunahpu’s and Wukub Hunahpu were engendered by Xmucane and Xpiyakok, both are the diviners, the day keepers, the grandfather of the day and the grandmother of the moon, the ones who helped to create humanity from corn.

Hun Hunahpu and Wukub Hunahpu one day were playing ball on the ball court on a road along the path to Xilbaba, or the underworld. The lords of Xilbabad started to be angry because they could hear their feet making so much noise, so they summoned the brothers to go down to Xilbabad and challenge them to a ball game.

The Lords send an owl as a messenger.

When Hun Hunahpu and Wukub Hunahpu received the message, they went to their Mother Xmucane to let her know they must attend the call, she was worried and she advised the brothers to deny the call as they could die. But the brothers assure her that that won’t happen.

In Xibalba, each of the Lords had a job such as: sickening the blood of people, swelling, making pus, and making people die suddenly. That was their job.

Hun Hunahpu and Wukub Hunahpu arrive at the cave that leads to the Xilbaba, where a river of white water flows, it was a river up pus, they cross it and survived, when they arrive at shore another river was awaiting, this time the waters where read, it was a river of blood, they passed the river of blood without touching it or drinking the bad waters.  At last, they came to a crossing of four roads: one was red, another was black, another was white and the other was yellow.

“Which one should we follow?” They asked. At this moment, the black road spoke to them: “I will take you to Xibalba”, so they took the black road.

The brothers were tricked by the Xibalba lords as this road led to their death.

Once on that road, they pass through several trails such as the Dark House, where everything was dark, the Ice House, where everything was cold, the Jaguar House, the Bat House, and the Knife House… Each house was a test, a tribulation, a danger. But Hun Hunajpu and Wuqub Hunajpu were brave.

The journey to the world of the dead was very long.  And it was in the last house, the house of the knives where they were defeated and killed by the lords of the Xilbaba. They cut Hun Hunahpu’s head and only buried his body with the body of Wukub Hunahpu.

Hun-Hunahpu’s head was placed on a crossroads on a tree, and soon after, this tree started to grow leaves and it grew heavy with fruits called gourds or calabash, and all of them were in the form of Hun-Hunahpu’s head.

– Story adapted by Marcela Enriquez Wakeham

This part of the story initiates the cycle of death and renewal from the first father, Hun-Hunahpu, who is the son of the day-keepers, and the day keepers from Hun-Hunahpu’s body (Maze) create humans.

Our ancestors by observing nature understood that from everything placed on the Earth life will grow, relating to the planting of the corn seeds, the growth of the plant, and the eventual harvesting of the ears of corn, or other fruits

Our grandfathers and grandmothers as they held the Sacred Count in their ceremonies in Mexico say that Xmucane, Mother of Hun Hunahpu being instructed by B’tol the Creator and Tz’aqol the Founder made humans from corn. They say in their ceremonies:

From white corn, was created our bones and teeth

From yellow corn our skin

From purple and red corn our blood and muscles and

From black corn, our hair.

The emergence myth shows us that we come from under the earth and how we are made, from the plants we ingest, the tradition teaches us that our spirit grows from the physical expression of our sacred bodies, woven together with the Land we inhabit, nurtured by the sacred count of time of agricultural cycles, established by their Sacred calendar called Tzolk’in

As a result, all plants, including medicinal plants, represent death, life, and rebirth…

Extract from Codex Borgia: Mexihka tradition, referring to Centeotl (Maze) … “and from his hair emerged cotton, and from an eye a very good seed which they eat gladly, called cacatzli… from the nose, another seed called chia… from the fingers came a fruit called camotli… from the fingernails a seed called pozol. And from the rest of the body emerged many other fruits, which the men gathered and saw.

Cacao was one of the first trees grown from Hun Hunahpu’s dead body, representing our undying spirit

As a ritualistic beverage, enjoying a cacao cup is a celebration to commemorate death, life, and complete union with all our relations.


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