Esotericism of the Popol Vuh — Raphael Girard


Ahau "Lord." The reigning Regent of a Maya calendric cycle; the final day of the month. The Fourth Regent is equated with Hunahpú.

Ajbit Singular of Bitol, a class of "builder" gods; in Quiché-Maya theogony, Ajbit is associated with Ajtzak.

Ajtzak Singular of Tzakol, a class of "builder" gods in Quiché-Maya theogony; associated with Ajbit.

Alom One of six hypostases of Cabahuil or god-Seven. Especially associated with the three other hypostases: Tzakol, Bitol, and Cajolom; these four are regent gods of the 4 cosmic angles. Their mediation produces light.

Bacabs The four cosmic bearers of the Mayas. The four "world pillars" whose foundations are in the underworld. During the Third Age, the four primeval giants (Vukup Cakix, his wife, and their two sons) are transformed into these "world pillars."

Bitol One of six hypostases of Cabahuil or god-Seven. More especially associated with the three other hypostases: Tzakol, Alom, and Cajolom; these four are regent gods of the 4 cosmic angles; their mediation produces light. A class of "builder" gods.

Bolón ti kú The god-Nine, the Nine Lords of the Night, who cooperate with god-Thirteen (Oxlahunoc) in cosmic work. The Nine Lords of the Night are headed by the old Fire god, the oldest in the Maya pantheon, who is the divine nahual of Vucup Hunahpú, or the Seven Ahpú.

Brujo Spanish, the "black magician," doomed to hell in Xibalbá, the underworld. His nahual is the culebra. The elder of an earlier cycle of Maya prehistory. Cabahuil "Heart of Heaven (and of Earth)"; god-Seven or the Creator deity, having six hypostases; integrated by the three suns of the line of parallel (rising, at zenith, setting). Equated with god B of the Mayan codices. Corresponds to the sun at zenith. (See Gucumatz.)

Caban Earth. As a goddess, a hypostasis of Hunrakán; as a cosmic plane, an unfoldment or reflection of the celestial or heavenly plane. The fertility of, likened to human fecundation. The four giants of the Popol Vuh personify the forces of Earth.

Cajolom One of six hypostases of Cabahuil, or god-Seven. Especially associated with the three other hypostases: Tzakol, Bitol, and Alom; these four are regent gods of the 4 cosmic angles; their mediation produces light.

Camé, Vukup "Seven Death." A sevenfold entity (Hun Camé) of false gods, Lords of Xibalbá, the underworld. Antagonists of Vucup Hunahpú, the true gods, whom the Camé challenge to a ball game in Xibalbá where they defeat the Seven Ahpú and behead them. The Camé are later vanquished by Hunahpú and Ixbalamqué, the divine twins who are the offspring of the Seven Ahpú, for the deliverance of mankind from thralldom.

Camé, Hun "One Death." Lord of Xibalbá, the equivalent of Cimi, the Second Regent in the Maya primary calendric series of regents or Ahau; assumes the regency from Ixmucané. God of Death.

Caprakán "He of two feet." The theogonic antithesis of Hunrakán, son of Vukup Cakix and his wife, Chimalmat, and brother of Zipacná. With these three, one of the four primeval giants of the Popol Vuh who are vanquished by Hunahpú and Ixbalamqué in the Third Age and become transformed into the four "world pillars." God of earthquakes, associated with his brother, Zipacná.

Cerbatana "Blowgun." The divine weapon of Hunahpú; emblem of the solar ray. It operates magically for Hunahpú.

Chac Of Maya mythology; the four Chac are the equivalent of Tzakol, Bitol, Alom, and Cajolom of the Popol Vuh; the gods of the four sectors of heaven. The Chac are the owners of the wild plant and animal life of the earth.

Chan "Serpent." The name the Chortí Maya apply to themselves: "people of the serpent," whose chief is called Hor chan (head of the serpent). The generic name of the Maya as a whole, whose cultural totem is the serpent, as a divine nahual. The equivalent of the Quiché word cumatz.

Chilam Balam, Books of Manuscripts written in the Mayan language but in Roman letters by native Mayans during the late 17th and early 18th centuries, after Spanish conquest of the Yucatán Peninsula and suppression of the native religion. The principal ones among these manuscripts, the Chumayel, Tizimin, and Maní, are named after the towns in Yucatán where they were found. About nine other manuscripts are known at the present time; it is likely that more are preserved in secrecy. The so-called Books of Chilam Balam are the sacred books of the Yucatán Mayas, and probably very many of them existed in towns and villages during the Colonial period.

Chimalmat Wife of Vukup Cakix, and mother of Zipacná and Caprakán. Together, these are the four giants of Quiché-Maya theogony.

Chortí A Maya people, direct descendants of the builders of classical Copán, the apogee of Maya culture. The Chortí now live in a number of villages and hamlets on the border territory of Honduras and Guatemala, not far from the ruins of Copán.

Chuen Third in the Maya primary calendric series of regents or Ahau, equated with Hun Chouén of the Popol Vuh; god C of the Maya codices, who symbolizes the Third Regent, and has the face of a monkey. Associated with the sign Chuen and the Third Age of the Popol Vuh.

Cib "Light, torch." Fourth in the Maya primary calendric series of regents or Ahau, equated with Hunahpú of the Popol Vuh as Regent of the Fourth Age or Age of Quiché-Maya culture.

Cimi Second in the Maya primary calendric series of regents or Ahau, equated with the Camé of the Popol Vuh.

Copal The sap from various Central American trees which is used by Mayan natives for incense for purificative and other purposes. Equated with blood and rain as a divine substance or exudation in nature.

Culebra Spanish, "snake," a pejorative term for the Seven Camé, their hellish nahuals, and the brujos or black magicians who represent them on earth (see Sierpe).

Guacamayo Spanish, "macaw." Six macaws, with the game ball, compose the symbol of the god-Seven (Cabahuil), the disguise or nahual of the Solar deity.

Guaman Poma de Ayala, Felipe "Falcon Puma." An Andean Indian nobleman of the Inca caste, the author of the Nueva Corónica y Buen Gobierno, an illustrated codex or manuscript describing the origins of the Incas, the four ages of mankind, and related matters from indigenous Andean pre-Conquest belief. The manuscript severely indicts Spanish treatment of the native Andean peoples. Prepared sometime between 1567 and 1615, it was directed to King Philip III of Spain, but somehow found its way to the Royal Library in Copenhagen, where it lay untouched for 300 years, until 1908, when European scholars interested in the early New World brought it to light.

Gucumatz "Serpent-bird" or "Feathered Serpent." One of six hypostases of Cabahuil, it is especially associated with Cabahuil itself and another hypostasis, Tepeü, as the three suns of the line of parallel (rising, at zenith, setting). Corresponds to the sun at setting. Identical with the Quetzalcoatl of Toltec tradition. Stands also for the class of creative gods as a whole.

Hor chan "Head of the serpent." The Chortí Maya caste of elder-chiefs, equated with Gucumatz, the Agrarian deity of which they are the earthly representatives. This elder caste is of divine origin, but the individual born into it must win the right to exercise of the post through his or her personal merit and exemplary conduct.

Hunab ku The Supreme Being of the Maya; also called Hun Itzamná. Equated with the Quiché's Cabahuil, the god-Seven of the Popol Vuh.

Hunahpú "One Blowgunner." The Quiché name of the Maya savior deity that incarnates to enlighten mankind and show the way to divinity; born immaculately at dawn on the winter solstice. With Ixbalamqué, the civilizing hero of Quiché-Maya culture; god-Five, the young Solar and Maize god, in Chortí imagery symbolized by a cross (four points plus the central point); son of the Supreme Being, and alter ego of Hunrakán. A hypostasis of the Agrarian deity (god-Seven); as the young Maize god, is born from the foot of Cabahuil in the bowels of the earth. A twin of Ixbalamqué, grandchild of Ixpiyacoc and Ixmucané. God B of the Maya codices; god of Dawn; compared with Osiris; symbol of chronological unity; apotheosized with Ixbalamqué at the end of the Third Age in the Popol Vuh; the Fourth Regent or Ahau; god of the Woods; one of his zoological nahuals is the fish.

Hun Bátz "One Big Monkey." A son of one of the Seven Ahpú, he is a hero and great sage, singer, orator, engraver, sculptor, etc., of the Third Age of the Popol Vuh. A cousin or older brother of Hunahpú and Ixbalamqué and Regent of the Third Age. Together with his brother, Hun Chouén, transformed into a monkey at the end of the Third Age. The monkeys of the forests are the only record of his existence.

Hun Chouén "One Monkey." Like his brother Hun Bátz, a son of one of the Seven Ahpú and sage and hero of the Third Age, sharing its regency. Transformed into a monkey with Hun Bátz at the end of their regency, or the Third Age.

Hunrakán "He of the single foot." A variant of Cabahuil, having a precise functional meaning. A nahual of Hunahpú and Ixbalamqué. Identified with the constellation Ursa Major.

Imix First in the Maya primary series of regents or Ahau. Associated with Ixmucané, and the First Age of the Popol Vuh.

Ixbalamqué With Hunahpú, her inseparable "twin," the hero god of the Quiché-Maya. The feminine aspect of god-Five; new-moon goddess. Grandchild of Ixpiyacoc and Ixmucané. Her nahual is the jaguar. With Hunahpú, apotheosized at the end of the Third Age of the Popol Vuh.

Ixcanleos The Maya equivalent of the Quiché Ixmucané, "the mother of the gods."

Ixmucané With Ixpiyacoc, the Supreme Pair of Quiché-Maya theogony, grandparents of the Mayas and of humanity as a whole. A feminine deity, the old lunar-earth goddess. Identical with the Maya Ixcanleos.

Ixpiyacoc The equivalent of Hunab ku, the Supreme Being of Maya tradition. With Ixmucané, the Supreme Pair of Quiché-Maya theogony, and grandparents of humanity. A masculine deity, the father of the Seven Ahpú.

Ixquic The mother of Hunahpú and Ixbalamqué in the Popol Vuh; a lunar goddess and earth goddess, associated with the four cosmic bearers. Immaculately fertilized by the Seven Ahpú, she bears their offspring, the twin savior deity. Her nahual is the jaguar.

Milpa Spanish, "seed field." The native maize planting field. The symbolic equivalent of the altar table, the sacred ball court, the plane of the Earth.

Nahual An alter ego of a person, of vegetable, animal, human or godlike nature. An inner relationship, fully defined, exists between the person and his or her nahual(s) from birth to death: e.g., a nahual of Hunahpú is the fish; of Ixbalamqué, the jaguar; of both as the divine twins, Hunrakán itself. Nahualism as a belief continues among today's Indians.

Oxlahun-oc "Having thirteen feet." The god-Thirteen; the Solar deity in its zenith position, with its twelve stellar companions.

Popol Vuh A document written down in the Quiché-Maya language but in Latin letters by a Quiché Indian shortly after the Spanish Conquest. It contains the Quiché rendition of Maya cosmogony, theogony, and sacred history, as well as a history of the Quiché-Maya peoples themselves down to the year 1550. Hidden from Europeans for 150 years, it somehow was discovered at the end of the 17th century by Father Francisco Ximénez, a learned priest of the Dominican Order, in his parish at Santo Tomás Chichicastenango, located north of Lake Atitlán in Guatemala's highlands. Ximénez transcribed the original Quiché text and translated it into Spanish. His manuscript was found in 1854, in the library of the University of San Carlos, the city of Guatemala, by the European, Carl Scherzer. The original Quiché document has never been found, and was perhaps returned to the Indian donor by Ximénez after he had copied it.

Pucbal-chaj The place where the Camé buried the Seven Ahpú after beheading them in Xibalbá.

Quiché-Maya At the time of the Conquest, the principal Maya people living in the highlands of what is now Guatemala, north of Lake Atitlán. Its chiefs claimed descent from ruling families in Tula, Mexico. Like all Maya tribes, the Quiché-Maya regarded themselves as the direct descendants of the Supreme Being and the creator and builder gods.

Sacerdote Spanish, "elder" or "white magician." The elder defends the community against the brujo, and represents the true gods. His nahual is the sierpe.

Sierpe Spanish, "serpent." A sacred term for the Seven Ahpú, the serpent being their divine nahual. It is also the totem of the Mayas (chan). The sierpes are in eternal opposition to the culebras.

Tamoanchan "Place of the Hawk and the Serpent." The ancestral homeland of the Mayas, which was the Pacific coast of Guatemala. The mythological place of origin of the Mayas, where the hawk brought the blood of the serpent from the sea, to knead with the maize which entered into the formation of man of the Fourth Age.

Tepeü One of six hypostases of Cabahuil. Especially associated with Cabahuil itself and with another hypostasis, Gucumatz, as the three suns of the line of parallel (rising, at zenith, setting). Corresponds to the sun at rising.

Tepexpan The site in Mexico where in 1947 a human skull and a considerable part of the skeleton were unearthed in association with bones of extinct mammoths and bone and stone artifacts. Tepexpan man is given a geological horizon of 11-12,000 years before the present.

Tzakol One of six hypostases of Cabahuil. Especially associated with three other hypostases: Bitol, Alom, and Cajolom; these four are regent gods of the 4 cosmic angles. Their mediation produces light.

Tzolkín A sacred 260-day period, the Maya ritual calendar, called cholquih in Quiché. This 260-day count, calculated as 13 times the 20-day month, was intricately connected with other time-reckoning cycles, and applied to all important acts in life.

Uuc-cheknal The god-Seven of Maya mythology, identical with the Seven Ahpú or god-Seven of Quiché myth.

Vukup Cakix "Seven Macaw," or "Seven Feathers of Fire." A false creator deity of the First Age in the Popol Vuh who, while the world was still enveloped in semi-obscurity, pretended to be the true solar or illuminating deity. After being vanquished by Hunahpú and Ixbalamqué, he and his wife Chimalmat and two sons, Zipacná and Caprakán, four giants, were transformed into four cosmic bearers.

Vucup Hunahpú The god-Seven of Quiché myth, identical with Uuc-cheknal of the Mayas. The Seven Ahpú, produced by the Supreme Pair, Ixpiyacoc and Ixmucané. Hypostases of the Supreme Being (Ixpiyacoc). Their nahual is the old Fire god, oldest in the Maya pantheon, who is the father of the Maize god (Hunahpú). Their celestial ideogram is the constellations Orion and Ursa Major. Identical with Heart of Heaven (Cabahuil) and the Agrarian or Creative deity (Hunrakán). "The Descendant of Seven Generations."

Xibalbá The underworld, as a locale and an inferior cosmic plane, but having additional meanings. The abode of the Lords of Death (Camé). In Maya cosmogony, it appears later than the time of creation of the universe, at an interval of eight stages or epochs removed from that of formation of heaven and earth.

Zipacná Son of Vukup Cakix, brother of Caprakán. His mother is Chimalmat. These four are the primeval giants of the Popol Vuh, transformed into the four cosmic bearers after being vanquished by Hunahpú and Ixbalamqué. Zipacná causes the death of the Four Hundred Boys (associated with the Pleiades), who are resuscitated by the divine twins.

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