Video: Praying to the Maya Gods for Safe Passage Through an Underwater Cave

The Mayapán Taboo Cenote Project will undertake an extensive exploration of the underwater cave, Cenote Sac Uayum, to document 20+ submerged skeletons and artifacts. Team leader and National Geographic Grantee Bradley Russell will also investigate the modern belief that a supernatural power- a feathered serpent- guards the water within.


Earlier in this series, I posted an account of  a traditional Maya shaman or h’men, Teodormio San Sores who performed a ceremony known as a Jeets’ Lu’um (calming of the earth) in advance of our dive research of sacred cenote Sac Uayum. Local residents asked us to perform the ritual before we began underwater archaeological investigation of the cenote and we were pleased to have an opportunity to gather more ethnographic information about it and the modern beliefs surrounding the feature.  Among those beliefs is the notion that the cenote and its water are “alive” and guarded by a horse-headed, feathered serpent. But, that the cenote and its serpent guardian can be placated by various offerings and prayers.

Since that time, I have been able to edit the video that we recorded of the event.  I think it gives a far more complete picture of the ritual than anything I have space to write up and post here.  I hope you find it as interesting and compelling as I do.

For more information about our ongoing research at the site of ancient Maya city of Mayapán (1100-1450AD) in Mexico’s northern Yucatan Peninsula, please see our project website and this short documentary about the site.

Read the entire blog series



Meet the Author
I am an archaeologist studying the ancient Maya culture. Since 2000 I have been working to expand our understanding of the Late Postclassic political capital of Mayapan, The city of thousands of structures was the dominant center of Maya civilization in the northern Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico for more than three hundred years (1100-1450AD) just prior to the arrival of Spaniards in the New World.