Life and death in the “bone pit”.
Here in a cave that we visited last weekend Greg examines a root – some distance beneath the earth.
Beneath the surface mythology and spirituality feel closer – is it in any way surprising that ritual and ceremony were so closely tied to caves by early man?
There is of course the old connection between life and death – closer to reality when crawling underground. As mentioned we frequently find bones and the remains of the forest creatures. A carcass is a living forest of fungus, its nutrient being a valuable source of food to the underground creatures. And in death new life is usually born.
The Mayans had an interesting view of the world – they saw their universe as existing on several levels, the surface of the earth being just one plane of that universe. With 190 gods that we know of several were assigned to the planes beneath the surface. The sun – bringer of life was swallowed each evening by “Xibalba” (shee – bal – bah) one of the underworld gods. As a jaguar the sun travel through the inky underworld – (caves and cenotes beneath the Yucatan Peninsula) to re-emerge at dawn as the sun again.
In the Mayan culture there is a strong belief in duality – of good countered by evil, life balanced by death, the surface and the underwold etc. etc.
This root that we found – protruding down into the bottom of the bone pit seemed especially significant – its living presence representing the duality that is the underworld – death bringing life. Maybe it is this proximity to the natural processes and the recognition of the unknown and superstition mixed with awe and wonder that brings on that feeling of spiritual connection.