Gemini: The Mayan Hero Twins
Every zodiac sign has an underlying mythology. In astrology today, we tend to rely on Greek and Roman myths for all interpretations, assuming that everyone responds to the stories and archetypes of these European ancestors.
But not all of us are descended from their worlds. These people are not the only ones that created entire mythologies, nor the only ones who developed an understanding of our connection with the cosmos.
The Mayan and Aztec mythologies of Meso-America can be deeply informative for those of us whose ancestors hail from the Cloud Forests of Guatemala, the deep Cenotes of the Yucatan, or the mountain tops of the Andes.
The story of the Hero Twins begins in Xibalba, the place of Fear and Death in the Mayan Mythos. Here lived the Lords of pain, fear, death, and agony, who sent their minions up to the land of the people to torment them.
It was there that the father of the twins had been challenged by the Lords of Xibalba to a sacred ball game, and was killed when he lost to the Gods. His remains were buried in the court, and from that body rose a tree, with his head blossoming from the center.
The daughter of the Lords of Xibalba spoke with this severed head, and was impregnated when it spat in her hand.
Ashamed, and banished from Xibalba, she made her way up to Earth, where she gave birth to Hunaphu and Xbalanque, destined to avenge the death of their father. They found his old ball game gear in the roof of their grandmothers’ house, and trained in the sacred sport, much to the chagrin of the Lords of Xibalba, who were bothered by the pounding feet and roaring joy of the boys.
They challenged the twins to a game in the Underworld. The same challenge their father had lost.
But the twins were determined to defeat the tricks and battles set forth by the minions of Death and Fear. See, on the road to Xibalba there are many challenges set forth to humiliate and demean those who tried to enter.
Going through the trials of the House of Darkness, which was pitch black, the House of Ice, which hailed and set their bones cold, the House of Knives, where blades twitched and danced to their own accord, and the House of Bat, where giant bats threatened to eat them: the twins prevailed.
Reaching the seat of the Lords of Xibalba, they played the sacred ball game and won. They tricked the Gods of Fear into sacrificing themselves, the penalty for losing the Sacred Ball Game.
Thus ended the reign of Fear and Death over the people of Earth.
Rising from the Cenotes of the Underworld as victors, the Hero Twins were elevated into the heavens, to rule as the Sun and Moon over Earth.
And so we have a Gemini tale that is about avenging the spirit of the ancestors, of great strength and determination in the face of impossible odds, and of the power of wit and intelligence over fear. It is no coincidence that Xibalba, the Underworld, was named the Place of Fear in the Mayan Mythos. The true danger to the soul of the Maya was the replacement of the Solar love and nurturance of Earth with the fear and pain of the Underworld.
The tale of the Hero Twins can be seen as a metaphor for the internal battle over the fear and anxiety that can overtake any one of us, should we choose to listen to the din of fear over the message of hope.
For this Gemini season, when all the world emphasizes the wisdom of the western analytical mind, remember the great strength of character and intellect of the Maya. The power of the mind can be used to overcome any obstacle in your way: but your biggest obstacle will always be your own self doubt, fear. Overcome this voice and it’s challenges, and you will rise just as the Hero Twins rose, the ruler of your own destiny.
Watch this video for more information on the Popol Vuh, the Mayan Creation Myth:
And this short on the Meso-American Ball Game and its revival in Modern Mexico: