We are pleased to participate in the A to Z Blog Challenge (http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/). The Story Crossroads theme for this year is Beating the Odds…Lucky Folktales Around the World to Brighten Your Day. Each post highlights that the stars aligned and what would have normally been…bad…turned out after all. Considering what we – as humankind – have experienced the past year, how nice is it to remember that all of us can “beat the odds” to some level in our lives.
And we’ll admit now…some are actually myths, legends, or epics rather than only limited to folktales. So is that a type of “loading the dice”? Ah, but the stories were too wonderful to pass by.
From the Mayans (Ancient Mexico)
The Mayans have many names and places starting with the letter “X.” The story featured here focuses on Xbalanque and his twin, Hunahpu. What was not shared in the summary were the names “Xibalba,” which is the underworld where the Lords of Death reside. Later on, the twins involve two prophets, one of whom was named “Xulu.” The prophets said that the twins were destined to die. The Mayans used hieroglyphs. The Spanish colonists noticed and used “X” to be either an “h” or “sh” sound. Yet, to the Spanish, an “X” could be more like “j.” You can noticed this for “Texas” versus “Tejas.” Then, for tourism marketing, many places in Mexico continued using “X” when naming things.
What makes Xbalanque dangerous?
Xbalanque is one half of “The Hero Twins.” He and his twin could play a “mean” game of pohatok. How do you play? It feels a lot like soccer and basketball combined. That ball and what you are allowed to do with it was crucial. The twins made so much ruckus that perturbed the Lords of Death had to summoned them…and later played the game with them. The Lords of Death could testify that Xbalanque and his twin were annoying beyond compare. So…maybe as dangerous as an intense headache. You really will want to find the book to read the entire story.
Xbalanque and twin summoned by Lords of Death. Twins learned names of Lords through hair-turned-mosquito. Three tests by Lords. Twins succeeded. Later Twin lost head-still lived. Xbalanque carved twin’s head on squash to fool Lords when challenging them to pohatok. Twins rescue uncle and father. Become sun and moon.
Those twins were lucky to succeed against those Lords of Death when their ancestors always failed. Then they recovered their father and uncle and were honored as the sun and moon. This is not bad considering that their loud playing of a game was the catalyst for all these adventures.
Finding the Story “The Hero Twins”:
Mayan and Aztec Mythology by Michael A. Schuman – https://www.amazon.com/Mayan-Aztec-Mythology-Michael-Schuman/dp/0766014096
Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind. While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings with virtual as well as proper-distanced/masked/outdoors.
We are excited for the monthly All Things Story virtual workshop series as well as the hybrid Story Crossroads Festival on May 10-13, 2021 (then viewing beyond the event to June 15, 2021). Interested in deeper articles and e-workbooks plus stories, activities, and recipes? Then pursue Story Crossroads Memberships.
From the Story Crossroads Academy, enjoy the free “Storytelling Basics in 8 Hours” that includes American Sign Language.