The Scary Mayan Road To Xibalba
By James Donahue
say the lost Mayan civilization that once dominated Central America maintained frightening rituals dealing with death and
dying. They believed in a place called Xibalba, which translates into “place of fear,” which appears to compare
to the Christian concept of Hell.
only did Mayan mythology include Xibalba as an underworld ruled by the Maya death gods, recent archaeological discoveries
in a labyrinth of 14 caves on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula suggest that high priests and architects within the Mayan culture
went so far as to create an elaborate pathway into Xibalba for those condemned to spend an afterlife in this spooky place.
Located in the caves are huge columns, temples, pyramids and sculptures
of priests, some of them found underwater and others along a winding concrete path. According to Maya myth, the souls of the
dead had to follow a dog through a frightening watery path and endure numerous challenges before they could reach Xibalba,
where they would have afterlife.
Mayan sacred book Popul Vuh describes the journey as leading through oozing blood, bats, scorpions and spiders. The road split
in four directions to confuse and beguile travelers.
The description of Xibalba also is quite frightening. It was supposed to be a great city filed with houses and
buildings containing tests and traps for those who dared to enter. In the city are six “deadly” houses. They are the Dark House, a building that is totally dark on the inside. Then the Rattling
Cold House, the Jaguar House filled with jaguars, the Bat House, the Razor House filled with moving blades and finally the
Hot House filled with heat and fire. Travelers who enter Xibalba must successfully pass through all of these houses without
being killed or humiliated.
Living in the
city are the twelve powerful Lords of Xibalba. The first is Hun-Came (One Death) then Vacub-Came (Seven Death). The other
ten Lords are demons that rule over the agonies of life that include sickness, starvation, fear, destitution, pain and eventually
If we think dying is a frightening
conclusion to life in the Christian world, imagine how the Mayan people thought of impending death if they believed the stories
told to them.