Sacred Maya Cave Was a Secret for 800 Years
When I saw the itinerary for the new tour of Yucatan Body Mind Spirit Journeys is offering, I was very pleased to see that it includes a visit to the Balankanche Cave, as that is a place I immensely enjoyed exploring a few years ago. It was quite an adventure.
As I recall, there were bats flapping overhead as I made my way along the rather steep steps down into the cavern, assisted by a very helpful rope handrail. The air got hotter and steamier as I descended. No wonder the Maya believed caves were the gateway to the Underworld.
The winding trail finally opened into a large chamber and I saw the sacred formation. The stalactites and stalagmites had merged into the shape of a giant tree, and surrounding its limestone trunk were clay pots bearing the eerie face of Tlaloc the rain god. The accompanying photo shows one of those ceremonial vases.
My guide told me that the chamber had been sealed for more than 800 years until 1959 when its cache of Mayan sacrificial offerings was accidentally discovered.
A few days after archaeologists began exploring the cave, a group of Maya appeared and demanded to go in. They said the hiding place of the rain god had been profaned and a ritual had to be performed to purify it again. A shaman conducted an elaborate, 24-hour ceremony, after which the cave was closed. Three days later, they went back in to discover candles on the altar were miraculously still burning. The shaman declared the rain god had been appeased.
The cave is not very far away from Chichen Itza, which, of course, is one of the many Maya temples of transformation included in the December 5 – 13, 2015 group tour.
You can see the complete itinerary, including pricing and how to register at this link: http://bodymindspiritjourneys.com/maya-temples-of-transformation.html
About the author:
Robert Scheer is Communication Director for Body Mind Spirit Journeys.