Each age of the world has had its own Sun. To become the Sun of the Age, one must prove oneself with the harshest of tests, for the Sun rules the world with great power. It would not do for just anyone to become the Sun.
In one of the ages before ours, while the Heart of the Sky was still trying to make humans, but had not yet succeeded, Seven Macaw put himself forward, vain-gloriously, and became the False Sun.
His teeth and face were jeweled. His nest was metal and lit up the face of the Earth. And when he came forth from his nest, he shone like the sun and moon together.
“I am the foothold of the people,” he said. “My place is higher than the designing of humans. I am their light and their sun, their months and their days.” And his feathers glowed around him.
All beings and creatures who lived listened to the False Sun. Or else they were destroyed.
It is said that, during that age of the world, the Heart of the Sky formed people who were made of wood. Although they had the shape of humans and human intelligence and skill, they were made of wood. They had no hearts.
These wooden people refused to acknowledge the months and the days of their Maker and Molder. It is sometimes said that they were the people who were swept away by the flood.
While Seven Macaw was Sun, our father and mother could not be made.
In those days, before humans had successfully been made, the Grandfather and Grandmother had two sons- One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu. One Hunahpu had had a wife, before she died. His younger brother, Seven Hunahpu, lived with the family, unmarried. The two were playing the ritual game, the ball game, together. They were dressed in their yokes and arm guards. They used their rubber ball for the game, and the Hawk, the Messenger of the Heart of the Sky, sat and watched.
One Hunahpu had fathered two children. Their names were One Artisan and One Monkey. One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu were great knowers, midmost seers of the earth, and One Artisan and One Monkey were like them. They were clever in every way. They were Flutists, Singers, Writers, Jewelers, and Metal Workers.
One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu were playing the ritual ball game on the road that led to Xibalba. This is the Land of the Rivers, the Land of the Dead.
The Lords of Xibalba are named One Death and Seven Death. They are the Lawgivers.
The other Lords of Xibalba are named House Corner and Blood Gatherer, Pus Master and Jaundice Master. They are named Bone Scepter and Skull Scepter. They are named Stab Master and Trash Master. They are named Wing Death and Pack Strap.
The Lords of Xibalba heard the sounds of One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu- playing the ritual game on the road to Xibalba- at the ball court called the Great Abyss. They looked at each other and smiled.
Where One and Seven Hunahpu were playing, the Hawk, the Messenger of the Heart of the Sky, sat and watched. And now the Owls, Messengers of Xibalba, flew up and watched as well.
“Therefore, you must come.” said the Owls. “You must bring your playthings, your yokes and your arm guards, your rubber ball. You must come and play with the Lords of Night.”
“Very well,” said the two. “But first we must bid farewell to our Mother.”
Because, in the age of the False Sun, the Grandfather was dead.
One and Seven Hunahpu returned to their Mother’s house. They tied their rubber ball in the rafters and bid their Mother farewell. One Hunahpu instructed his sons to care for her and to turn their whole hearts towards reading and writing and singing, to cheer her and keep her heart from being heavy while he was gone.
The world’s Grandmother started sobbing.
“Don’t be sad.” the boys told their mother. “We’re going to visit Xibulba, not dying! We’re going to come back.”
And they left.
Xibalba is full of tests. It is heaped and piled with tests.
One and Seven Hunahpu descended into a deep canyon. The canyon sank deeper and deeper until they were cut off from the sky. They came to the first river- the River of Churning Spikes. Because of their seeing, those midmost seers passed unharmed through the spikes. They did not drink of that river.
They came to the second river, the river of blood. They passed through unharmed. They did not drink of that river.
They came to the third river, the river of pus. They passed through, unharmed. They did not drink of that river.
They came to a crossroads. The roads there were red and black, white and yellow.
And their seeing failed them.
The black road spoke to them.
“I am the road you are taking,” it said. “I am the Lord’s road.” So they took the black road. But it was the Road of the Dead.
They reached the council place of the Lords of Xibalba. The Lords of Xibalba were there and One Death and Seven Death were siting there, each one in his place, still as wood. One Hunahpu and Seven Hunapu greeted them.
“Goodmorning, One Death. Goodmorning, Seven Death”
The Lords of Xibalba began laughing. They were shouting with laughter. In their hearts they knew they had won. One and Seven Hunahpu had greeted wooden mankins. Their seeing had failed them.
The Lords of Xibalba laughed until the real One Death and Seven Death stood up.
“It is good that you’ve come.” One Death told them. ” Tomorrow you must put on your yokes and arm guards and play a ball game with us.”
He gestured to a bench.
One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu sat down. They began to squirm. They jumped up, burnt, holding on to their butts. The bench was a red hot stone.
The Lords of Xibalba shrieked with laughter. The laughter moved like a serpent through them, and, though One and Seven Hunahpu could not understand, they were saying,
“We should just sacrifice them. They wont be able to play against us. They wont be able to play against our ball, the White Dagger. There will be no game at all.”
So One Death had them put inside the Dark House. The only thing inside that house is Darkness.
The names of the other houses of Xibalba are Shiver House and Jaguar House, Bat House and Razor House and Flame House. One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu never saw those houses.
“Here is where you will spend the night. In the morning, you will play the game against us.”
And he had one lit torch brought to them.
“I will lend you my torch for the night,” he told them. “But you must return it to me by morning, just as it is, or your lives will be forfeit.”
One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu held on to the torch, cowering inside the Dark House.
The next morning, the torch was burned up. Nothing was left. They could not return it. One Hunahpu and Seven Hunahpu were brought out to the ball court. There they were sacrificed.
The Lords of Xibalba had Seven Hunahpu buried in their garden, under a tree. They had One Hunahpu’s head cut off. They buried his body under the tree as well and wedged his head into the fork of the tree, to decorate their garden.
A strange thing happened after that. Till that day, that tree bore no fruit. The day that the head of One Hunahpu was wedged in its fork, the tree began to fill with fruit. The fruits were round and hollow like skulls. Today they are called Calabashes. The tree is called the Calabash Tree.
The Lords of Xibalba wondered at the tree, that had never born fruit before, and they became afraid. They forbid any of the people of Xibalba from going beneath the branches of the Tree, or eating any of its fruit.
But Lord Blood Gatherer had a daughter, named Blood Woman.