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Soul/Kambak 1

Chapter 1
Mayab Forest

“Hurry . . . Jules!”
I desperately cut my way through the dark-green jungle
undergrowth with a machete to reach anthropology professor
James Hornsby. A merciless demonical wind battered the
rainforest canopy above me. A bolt of lightning flashed
above me striking the top of a tree bursting into a ball of
fiery sparks. Smoldering branches rained down upon me.
An instantaneous clap of thunder slapped up against my
eardrums. The deafening explosion rattled every nerve in
my body.
Then the thick low cover of dark clouds unleashed a
torrential down pour that turned the rotting vegetation
beneath my feet into slippery mud-sucking gunk. I choked
to catch my breath in the blinding deluge upon Mexico’s
Yucatan peninsula.
Only month’s earlier, former Cambridge University
anthropologist James Hornsby and I set out in search for a
lost temple of the Mayan civilization in the southern Mexico
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region called Chiapas. He was now calling to me above the

howling winds in enthusiastic valor. I was desperate to reach
him, but with each agonizing foothold on the steep slope, I
slipped on the jungle mud falling face first into the slippery
I lay there exhausted wondering if getting back up was
worth the effort. My shirt and shorts were all but shredded
rags draped over my bony skin. My flesh was scabbed from
insect bites and lacerated by the prickly thorns of the
underbrush. Worse yet, the skin on my feet had turned
yellowish-green from jungle rot. The ragging storm just
added to my pitiful misery.
“Cauac,” I thought to myself. “The Mayan god of rain
was my tormentor now.”
I reached out to grab some dangling vines in an effort to
pull myself up the steep hillside, but my numb fingers
slipped away. Resolute, I clung to what little life was
pumping through my veins. The feeling of utter
vulnerability to the forces of this savage wilderness
overwhelmed my senses. I choked on my fears of an
inevitable death, the final reckoning for disturbing the graves
of its Mayan ancestors.
Our search for the existence of a Holy Grail-type artifact
rumored to exist from Mayan’s mythology took Hornsby and
me into the inhospitable jungle of the Mayab Forest where
no indigenous would have ventured. Along the way, we had
avoided the sinister military ambushes on the Guatemalan
and Mexican border, survived the pestilence of the jungle’s
hostile environment, and lived off the land on a diet of palm
trunks, tarpon and snook fish, grub-worms, snakes, lizards
and beetles or whatever else we deemed edible to keep from
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“Esta tempo . . . Yaxkin.” Hornsby flung out the words

echoing above me in boisterous jubilation between gusts of
howling wind.
I surmised that this man could muster such vain
enthusiasm under these harsh conditions because his
ancestry’s bloodline was more primordial than mine.
Hornsby’s force of character contained an infinite source of
indestructible vitality that pulsed through his blood.
Moreover, Hornsby had no patience with feebleness.
“Pain is inefficiency,” Hornsby scolded me with brute
frankness weeks earlier. The incident flashed across my
mind, but quickly diminished when I recalled that our
discovery of an ancient subterranean cryptic vault had
inspired us with an iridescent ray of optimism to keep on
looking for this location, the lost ruin called Yaxkin.
Hornsby pushed on with a vision that at times was as
despairing and sometimes frantic. Steaming in perspiration,
his tall thick figure would forge on with eyeballs glistening
in a fiery sharp sparkle, shouting out a tenacious natural
cadence. But the rest of the members of the expedition had
long since abandoned us. They either fell victim to jungle
illness or growing concerned for their safety from politically
motivated anti-communist campaigns enforced by roaming
military death squads upon the indigenous communities.
That is, all except for a medical intern from Oxford
University, Dr. Cassarina Deakin. She stayed on enduring
the journey’s hardships with Hornsby and I. Haunted by her
own sizzling feelings about the outcome of the expedition,
the doctor made best to keep our spirits up, and at times
leaned on us for her own emotional stability.
Cassarina was waiting for us at a nomadic indigenous
refugee camp we came upon a few days before near the Rio
San Pedro. She had remained behind to assist a French
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doctor with ailing and starving refugees instead of

accompanying Hornsby and I on the last leg of our journey.
As I endured Hornsby’s stormy countenance and the tropical
deluge, my only motivation by now was to make it back
alive was to return to Cassarina.
“Jules! Get your bloody ass up here,” Hornsby cried
As much as I knew that I needed to respond to
Hornsby’s beckoned call, I found a deserved respite lying in
a muck hole on the jungle-shrouded slop of the Yaxkin
temple and thought of Cassarina’s words.
“No one had respected the depth or contemplated the
mystery of this ancient sophisticated civilization until Dr.
James Hornsby came along,” Cassarina told me while she
nursed me back to health from a severe bout of malaria a
month ago.
“Dr. Hornsby is destined to find the answer, enough so
that the obstacles we encountered won’t deter Hornsby.
Come hell or high water he would seek his fruits from
laborious research into deciphering the Mayan codices,” she
added as a sentimental whim.
The warm gaze of her rich green eyes was the best tonic
I had ever ingested, if not the touch of her silky soft skin as I
lay feverish in a hammock.
“And the cyclic numerical matrix of the Mayan “day
keepers” almanac known as the ch’olk’ ij in the northern
Guatemalan language, tonalpohauli in Mexica or more
commonly referred to in the literal transliteration of Yucatec
as Tzolk’in, the count of days,” I had added deliriously,
burning with fever.
Cassarina reached over to stroke my face with a
consoling touch.
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“Don’t let your mind be swarming. You’ve been

through enough.”
A bolt of lightning and a crack of thunder slapped me
back to my bleak situation. What an idiot I was to be lying
in that jungle muck groping for some validation of some hair
brained thousands of years old Maya myth. I was caught in
the torments of life, absorbed in the distant view of it all
through an occidental perspective, attempting to prove
credibility that only threw me further into a vacuum of a
spitefulness that sicken me.
I taunted myself in a contrived consolation that neither
was I a hero or worthy man that could become anything.
Given my condition, to live any longer, I thought, would
have been morally vulgar. But perhaps, it is because when
one is on the edge of utter hopelessness, the earnest intensity
pushes us into a surreal enjoyment. If I can revenge myself,
then I can stand up for myself.
In that moment, I felt the liveliest gratitude awaken in
me from the sheer slog, disillusion and exasperation of my
plight. To relinquish this unrest in my heart, I would write
with both hands at once, if necessary, about the prophetic
significance of the Mayan cyclic almanac; the haab or
xiuhpohualli twenty-emblem hieroglyphs that rotated as a
mechanized wheel to the Tzolk’in and the Mayan Long
Count. I would write about it all.
The Mayans had inextricably woven together these three
cyclic systems into a matrix that allowed them to perform
modern day mathematical calculations, moreover the
evolution of human conscience. The pivotal point of
discovery was an analysis by Roso de Luna in 1911,
deducted from the Cortes codex permutations present in a
cyclic-arithmetical progression by constant difference in a
close cycle.
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The PreClassic civilization of Mesoamerica had

developed matrix calculus several millennia before the
Western world. The oldest known calendrical signs were
inscribed at Monte Alban, Oaxaca, Mexico between five
hundred to two hundred fifty B.C. If one could imagine, the
Mayan had already set up the baseline mathematical formula
to discover the parameters and variables of any terrestrial or
cosmic phenomenon. And this raised the issue promptly
enough in a direction that we had not yet calculated. The
reality of these facts made Western mathematical science
look like a stray dog sniffing at its tail.
Hornsby made a leap from the prevailing theory of the
Maya’s demise as a barbaric culture. He constructed from
the data that the Maya’s predecessor were navigators of the
galaxies, maintaining that there existed a missing link.
Enlightened, he published an academic paper based upon his
own intuitive belief that this missing link was buried in the
Mayab Forest that shaped the origin and evolution of human
consciousness as a portal between the earth and the universe.
His interpretations made for a startling revelation --the
Maya knew that the cosmic cycles directly affected human
evolution. His peers discounted him as making outrageous
claims. However, against the odds of the murmuring stir of
adversarial voices, here we were on the verge of resolute
discovery deep in the Mayab Forest.
“Straight away, Jules,” Hornsby hollered.
“I’m coming,” I yelled back over the hurricane wind,
doubting that he heard me.
Unable to get my body to respond I resigned myself to
continued with my introspection of how I had gotten myself
in such a desperate situation.
The majority of anthropologists of the day held onto the
belief that the Mayan despotic rulers were overthrown by a
Soul/Kambak 7

slave revolt after their natural resources had become

exhausted. The conflict climaxed into total anarchy and
eventual end. Was it their prejudice or condescending
impatience in not wanting to wrestle with the mystery of the
Maya civilization’s true reality that caused his critics to
reject Hornsby theory? Hornsby wholeheartedly argued that
the very essence of consciousness was in direct relationship
with a universal code both mathematically and
astronomically interpreted by the Mayan.
Even though he was expulsed by the disbelief of his
peers, they quailed before him. Hornsby had the power to
sustain his means from the faculty of his adversaries as if
their indifference provided him some divine empowerment.
Yet, Hornsby had to land his theory with factual evidence.
And for me, who was equally invested in this expedition’s
success, an inconclusive outcome would be a disgraceful
failure. I had been willing to rest such importance on the
tutelage of one individual. I did not want to have believed in
Hornsby called out to me again, yelling impatiently
“temple” in Spanish. The invading overgrown roots of a
bulky mangrove tree protruded like tentacles from the
ground, embracing me. I sat there shivering and hungry,
staring vacantly out at the jungle. The whole of the ordeal
was welling up indifferences that fragmented my conscience.
The price I had paid for my thirst to be quenched by
some great truth anchored in the Mayan legend was reaching
its limit. I wanted my just reward or enough was enough. I
started to believe that Hornsby’s adversaries were right.
This was nature’s deliberate torture, a sacrifice of my soul to
pass into a long painful understanding whose truth could be
more of a burden then freedom.
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“This must prove to be what we’re looking for,” I

muttered under my breath, determined to see it through. It
was Hornsby’s unconquerable will power that seized me
with an untamable passion and made that word “pain” erased
from my mind.
Rising back to my feet I took a whack with the
glistening steel blade machete at the over growth, venting
my revenge at the boiling tempest all about me. The
pestilence of the jungle, the fatigue from living in the steamy
tropical heat, and witnessing the atrocities of the infamous
death squads crawled beneath my flesh. Undoubtedly,
Hornsby had become marooned by his private delusions. If
so, I was close behind. Or was this our sanity and the world
we had left was insane?
When another bolt of lightning streaked across the sky
and deafening thunder slapped my eardrums, I imagine
myself a corpse. Here lies the skeleton of my bones buried
under epochs of time to be found some day by archeologists
who would prove I was an inferior species during the past
millennium age. This would be a fitting end to mingle my
remains with the fragmentized detritus traces of past eras that
have vanished off the face of the earth.
“Menhir,” Hornsby shouted again above the howling
hurricane wind.
I took a deep breath and resumed my climb clenching
tangled vines with numb fingers. My legs trembled. I felt
light headed from near-starvation. Worse yet, my soul
shuddered. This intolerable man that was beckoning me
with utter impatience was over thirty years my senior.
Yet, he had more dynamism than a hundred stampeding
horses. A stout Australian who could adapt so easily to these
stifling conditions, Hornsby demonstrated with each step
forward into the unknown that he could exceed the same
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hearty stamina of those Spanish conquistadors who suffered

in these tropics over five hundred years ago. He was so
obsessed to find the grail of his quest that at times I asked
myself if I was being lead by an incarnation of Cortez
Buried in his conviction was a subtle urgency of
discovering a necessary truth that would redeem him.
Enough was the potent essence surging through the
underlying command in Hornsby’s vigor that it penetrated
my heart, enslaving me of its desires. I could not deny that
the journey was involuntary, but forced by an intangible
power pulling me out of a deprived life.
Hornsby knew how to clearly combined his conscious
and subconscious thinking, willfully, into a second sight. I
could see it in his squinted up eyes and knitted eyebrows,
silently asking something of the primitive world.
“When will you learn to respond to the law of nature?”
Hornsby tersely whispered in a deep sigh to me the night
before. It was one of his acutely conscious moments that
slapped me across the face like an insult.
I had no answer for him, only to look about me in the
starlight darkness for a clue, an omen, a nudge toward an
answer in an infinite galaxy of explanations. This was his
same preference of means that guided him and whom luck
always followed because he never took time to doubt his
choices on the way toward manifesting his rumination. And
that realization awakened my soul as my life was left
dangling in the turbulent hungry beast of a tropical
“We must be on the right track,” I thought to myself.
“We have to be on the right path.”
“Jules, the Soul Chamber,” Hornsby cried out.
Soul/Kambak 10

Chapter 2
Count of Days

Four months earlier, my journey with Professor James

Hornsby started out innocent enough. As an impressionable
university graduate student studying archetype psychology, I
was eager to follow the world-renowned anthropologist on
an expedition into the jungles of Central America. The
opportunity was timely because I had just finished my
undergraduate studies in psychology at the University of
California, Berkeley. During that time, I was drawn to the
symbolism and the mythology of the Pre-Columbian period.
I focused on the writings about the Nahua and Maya
tribes of Mexico and Guatemala respectively. My nights
were spent pouring over the incredible Mayan ruin
exploration discoveries written about by lawyer John Lloyd
Stephens, Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas
and the Yucatan, and drawn in detail by his colleague
architect, Fredrick Catherwood, in 1839. During the day, I
meticulously studied diagrams and photographs of ancient
temple sites, the monumental stone stele and the temple
sculptures of hieroglyphics that showed a great dexterity
with an interpretive iconic language.
In my daydreams, I wished that something recognizable
would leap off the pages. But the more I read, the less I
understood. Still, the essence of the Mayan epoch felt
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hauntingly familiar within my own psyche. Though I never

could see myself as an acclaimed expert, because of my
Indo-European heritage, my chimera was to emerge with a
new awareness about the Maya heritage.
The fact that few cultures of human antiquity with
comparably primitive features had focused to such a degree
of possibilities in interrelating the phenomenal reality of the
universe to their daily lives astonished me. The symbol-
woven matrix of the Maya philosophy had perplexed
archeologist, anthropologists, paleontologists, astronomers,
historians and many other scientific researchers for decades
if not centuries.
It was John Lloyd Steven’s century old question that
burned inside of me to be answered: “One thing I believe,
that its history is graven on its monuments. Who shall read
The prospect excited me in solving the riddle in my
Masters thesis based upon the archetypal consciousness of
the Mesoamerican indigenous. I was hopeful of capturing
for myself some prestigious academic stature if Hornsby
proved his theory correct. This is how I met the renowned
anthropologist, Professor James Hornsby.

One day there was a bulletin posted in the psychology

library announcing Hornsby’s guest appearance lecture on
deciphering the Mayan Mystery. I was thrilled at the
opportunity to hear him speak, so I immediately searched for
anything he had written in the university library archives.
Hornsby was an acclaimed scholar in the field of social
indigenous anthropology for the past twenty years. He had
made his anthropological mark with the Australian
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Aborigines. Breaking away from the functionalist approach

of the physical kin-ship based research model, Hornsby
devised a method of recording Aboriginal data relating to
their social life, material culture and environmental
relationships, “before this observable data would be
irretrievably lost through domination of a homogenized
Western influenced socialized community,” he wrote.
To his credit, he had proven himself as an exemplary
“salvage ethnographer,” producing exceptional
interpretations of the sacred “dreamtime” rock art in
Australia “made when the rocks were still soft” according to
Aboriginal legends. He wrote:
Aboriginal dreamtime, or
tjukurpa, was communing with
their spirit ancestors who
instructed them on the
development of their social
structure. This was a ritual that
had gone on for over 18,000

I had read magazine interview articles about his

harrowing adventures that took him to the edge of perishing
while trekking the outback of Australia’s barren wilderness.
In one instance, Hornsby claimed to have been miraculously
cured by an Aboriginal shaman after falling off a cliff and
breaking his back. The experience was in one of his
published diaries covering a two-year span of living with a
wide cross section of Aboriginal tribes.

I lay there all alone, paralyzed

from the waist down, no hope of
rescue. I had resigned myself to
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becoming a feast for the dingo

dogs when an Aboriginal
tribesman appeared long enough
to observe that I was injured.
He quickly disappeared back
into the bush. Moments later he
returned with their tribal
medicine man. The frail aged
man made two small slits in my
lower back and then put his
mouth about the bleeding
wound. I could feel an
extraordinary sensation as he
sucked for what seemed an
eternity. Fiery warmth radiated
from the site of my injury down
my legs. The shaman kept on
sucking harder till the sensation
of a cool rushing surge ran
though my blood. I suddenly felt
a warm tingling in my legs and
feet. I could flex my leg muscles
and wiggle my toes where
moments before I had no sense
of them at all. The shaman
then got up and staggered a few
feet before collapsing on the
ground in a prostrate position
convulsing in what resembled
an epileptic fit. He spewed out a
grotesque reddish-brown mucus
substance from his mouth and
Soul/Kambak 14

nose, while moaning a nasalized

melodic prayer. I took pity
upon him, as he seemed
powerless in controlling
whatever it was that possessed
him, or for that matter what vile
essence had possessed me in
relation to my broken back. The
ordeal was over in about an
hour. Miraculously I could
walk, though I was still wobbly
for hours afterward and needed
assistance. The shaman
appeared healthy and recovered.
Later, as I became more
acquainted with this tribe’s
mystical healing practices, I
learned that he had sucked the
evil out of my body, in which he
had taken within himself and
purged so he would recover as

To prove his claim, x-ray pictures of Hornsby’s

fractured spine were printed next to the text. He had his
back examined upon his return to Cambridge University in
England where he held tenure. There were obvious fractures
that had healed in three of his lumbar vertebrae,
substantiated by expert medical opinion that indeed the
vertebrae had been fractured.
Within a year of this return to Cambridge University,
Hornsby deviated from the academic norm, alienating
Soul/Kambak 15

himself more and more with radical claims of a pivotal

galactic event in the evolution of humankind that was
calculated and recorded by Mayan descendents. In the 1972
January issue of The Mesoamerican Review Hornsby spelled
out his theory.

Consciousness is a timeless
cosmic record that permeates
our daily lives. Proof lives in
the fact that when the global
collective consciousness struck
the same hour, various
indigenous cultures around the
world made a dramatic shift in
their consciousness. The same
has been true for Western
civilization. There is too much
scientific documentation to
believe that these were
coincidental hallucinations.
This is proof that there is a
cosmic primordial universe
maker that accounts for our
biological evolution out there
somewhere in the vastness of
space. The Mayan knew this
fact. Science has taught us the
alphabet of nature. It is up to
our intuition to discover her
Soul/Kambak 16

Hornsby came upon the conclusion that the Maya

established a sort-of Rosetta stone or mystical code that
divulged the secrets of the archetypal nature of
consciousness. But stylistic perceptions prevail when the
academic norm support one-way of thinking. His colleagues
found it difficult to be patient with Hornsby, taking on a
vagary opinion.
In a rebuff, Hornsby voluntarily resigned from teaching
to devote his remaining days to Mayan research. Financially
strapped, he came to America to raise money for his next
expedition by giving talks about the Mayan Mystery at
various universities and simultaneously recruiting a small
group of assistants to accompany him into the Mayab Forest
of Central America. I was anxious with excitement about
meeting Dr. Hornsby. But what was masked and I was too
naïve to recognize, was the Maya’s atavistic beckoning for
my soul to come to Central America.
Even though I arrived early, the university lecture hall
was already filled to overflowing capacity. Students,
teachers and the general public packed the 500-seat lecture
theater. There was a great curiosity about Hornsby because
his Mayan interpretations paralleled Eastern philosophies
and spiritual mysticism that captured our Western
imaginations at the time.
It was no wonder that Hornsby fit right into the current
milieu of new age truth seekers. Youthful university
students perceived his sage-like persona as resembling a
spiritual artisan for a new era based upon mystical
indigenous awareness of the occult. But for Hornsby, it was
entirely a different matter.
When he entered the lecture hall, several people rose in
their seats to applaud him. He responded humbly as he
approached the podium. The anthropologist scholar was of
Soul/Kambak 17

average height. His neck held a handsome face. His athletic

symmetry projected a commanding mien. A ruddy tan
complexion endowed him with an unbending stature.
Though he was balding with little gray hair cut short on
the sides, Dr. Hornsby appeared youthful and vibrant with a
straightforward persona that always rewarded him with
success of his endeavors. In his opening statement he
addressed what he called an underlying issue that “cosmic
time” was running out for Western civilization.
“There has to be a source for the wisdom needed to keep
a peaceful order on the planet intact,” he said in a rather
incongruous appearance. “And the solution lies in the Maya
Hornsby adjusted his notes in front of him to make a
dramatic pause. Then he peered out at the audience looking
at the faces of youth, university professors, alumni and just
about every diversified entity that was woven into our
diverse social fabric of the early seventies.
“How can archeologists discount the Maya civilization
as if they were a blissful enigmatic anomaly of the Stone
Age? The Maya managed to create a science of astronomical
comprehension and architecture of a proportional harmonic
beauty equal to none on the face of the earth,” he said from
the podium.
“Think about it, the Maya possessed a brilliantly simple
and sophisticated enigmatic know-how of reality. They had
defined the mysterious elements of consciousness to make us
aware of the order of the universe and the natural law of
existence. This is the period that archeologists call the Stone
Age. I think my opponents are a bit ‘stoned’ themselves.”
Hornsby’s comment brought the audience to laughter.
Without missing a beat he continued.
Soul/Kambak 18

“My critics say that this extraordinary Neolithic

civilization of Mesoamerica involved pedantries and warfare
cruelties. It is alleged that the Mayan high priests disposed
of their surplus population with sacrificial slaughter
unparalleled in history of human atrocities. Perhaps solving
the mystery is just too abstruse for them or my colleagues
have blinded themselves in Gestalt European Paleolithic
Hornsby was referring to the same shortsightedness
inflicted upon Don Marcelion Sanz de Sautuola in the 19th
Century. He re-discovered the Paleolithic Altamira cave art,
of stampeding horse pictures, located in Spain. The cave had
been sealed off under force in 1458 by Pope Calixtus III to
put an end to pagan religious ceremonies held in the cave.
Because the knowledge of these ancient cave iconographies
had been forgotten, archeologists initially rejected that they
“Scholars have been so heavily influenced by the
Anthropogenic rock art that they unconsciously project these
as visual templates upon Mayan hieroglyphics. But, I ask
myself, if the Maya were so murderously barbaric, how
could they be so advanced intellectually? From what source
did their understanding come from? Is there a genetic
blueprint imbedded in all of us that taps into the archetypal
consciousness of the Maya?”
Hornsby held everyone’s attention with his roaming
gaze, daring anyone to rebuke him. None did. Content to
move on, Hornsby stood back from the podium taking a
pointer stick in hand.
“Let me show you some startling evidence so that you
may decide for yourself. Lights, please.”
The lecture hall lights dimmed. We were cast into pitch
darkness for a moment. Then projected upon the screen
Soul/Kambak 19

behind Hornsby appeared two graphic figures. The one

image was wall etchings in black and white. The other was
the photograph of the same form sculpted on the face of a
stone slab.
“I present the drawings from two institutionalized
mental patients,” Hornsby continued. “One patient was in
England and the other in America. You will see an
extraordinarily parallel in their designs and quality with the
Maya inscriptions I discovered on Monte Alban, a
mountaintop ceremonial center located near Oaxaca, in
southern Mexico.
“A mental patient made the drawing on the right in his
room at a mental institution during a manic episode. The
Mayan hieroglyphic on the left is one of four from the
Danzante sculptures that existed on Monte Alban. These
were the ancestors of the Zapotecs or Cloud People that
inhabited Monte Alban around 900 A.D.”
I was startled to see that the images were nearly
identical. Both the figures were of a naked woman in an
anatomical stance. Her face was profiled from the left side
and had the simple outline of ovaries drawn in her pelvis
region. Next to the figure on the left side were a series of
dots, lines and half moon shapes in a vertical progression.
“Notice these symbols here.” Hornsby pointed to the
row of dots and lines. “This is the earliest example of the
Maya numerical system. We know that a dot equals one
unit, a bar is five units, and the stylized seashell is zero.
From these units of numbers the Maya developed the most
sophisticated mathematical concept of a ceaseless
permutation of thirteen and twenty directional positions that
make up the three cyclic wheels for the counting of days.”
Soul/Kambak 20

“A continuous stream of calculations that creates a

prophetic interest,” I thought to myself while peering down
from the lecture hall balcony.
“This ladies and gentlemen was the means to recorded
time, at the peak of the high civilization of the Olmec’s or
rubber people who invented the ritual ball game later
adapted by the Maya, and worshiped the Jaguar called Nama,
which the Maya later called Balam, or high priest.”
Hornsby deciphered the symbols as a calibration of
cosmic cycles recorded by the civilizations of Mesoamerica.
He emphasized that we must understand the concept of time
as being independent of the movement of physical bodies.
“The Maya had no implicit word for time. Instead they
spoke of things in kinetic movement, such as Uchmal ‘from
here to there’ or Alcabil ‘velocity’,” Hornsby pointed out.
Going back to his example of the rows of bars and dots
he said, “Here we have the number six that relates to the
Baktun solar year period measuring the six to four hundred
year cycles that have transpired since the beginning date of
the Julian calendar 3113 B.C., the same time that Stonehenge
was constructed by the Druids.
“Second, these two straight lines that parallel each other
signify the position known as the Katun or the number ten.
Katun is approximately nineteen solar years in our Gregorian
calendar. In the third position we have a shell drawing that
signifies zero relating to the tun period signifying one solar
year, and in the forth position another zero relating to the
Uinal period or twenty day cycle and finally in the fifth
position that is the day count called kin with another zero.
“This recorded date translates to our
Gregorian calendar year of 550 B.C. The means employed at
arriving at this date conversion is used by the astronomical
Julian date of five hundred eighty four thousand, two
Soul/Kambak 21

hundred and eight three as our coefficient. The Great Solar

Cycle began on about August 11th, 3114 B.C. with an
ending date of, some five thousand one hundred
and twenty five years later, at about December 21st, 2012
I looked about me to see faces with glazed over eyes,
some furiously scribbling notes, and others scratching their
heads, furrowing eyebrows or whispering to their neighbor to
clarify what Hornsby just said.
All of what Hornsby related had taken over a hundred
years to decipher, yet the audience got the pleasure of a one-
minute explanation. Hornsby continued, ignoring the fact
that he had lost half of his audience already in
comprehending the Mayan’s mathematical formula for the
count of days.
“The hieroglyphics I’ve shown you were sculpted at the
‘coming of the Nine Lords of Time’ that symbolically
represent a pivotal point of the evolution of our ancestor’s
consciousness in regards to numerical measurement and
philosophical teachings on earth. If one can recall ancient
world history, the date I just gave correlated to the historical
period of Pythagoras, Plato, Confucius, and Aristotle.
“Buddha emerged along with the wisdom writings of
Lao Tzu. All of them accepted a doctrine of harmonic
existence as diviners of harmony.”
Hornsby’s words, “diviners of harmony” shot through
me like an electrical charge. That was it. That was what was
seeping into my thoughts, my perceptions of life, and
nagging urge to unravel something within my own confused
state of mind about life on this earth.
Hornsby presented the next slide of another drawing by
an English mental patient that was nearly identical to another
Mayan hieroglyphic from the same Danzante period located
Soul/Kambak 22

on Monte Alban on southern Mexico. This was of a standing

naked figure, with similar facial features with exposed
testicles and penis. His headdress was ornamental with hair
cut at the shoulders. Another mysterious like drawing was
placed just in front of his mouth.
“The smaller figure here to the left of this figure is a
radiant energy source. The Mayan inscribed these symbols
as spirit beings or guides, which the Olmec, a predecessor
civilization of the Maya, believed these to be sacred
entities,” the anthropologist explained.
The figure looked like the head of a thunderbird. The
interpretation that Hornsby made from these images is that
energy and information are one of the same. In its real
meaning, this was the Mayan mysticism that was draped
about the remains of their ruins like a gauze-like veil. What
was concealed as a code was a competent design for
understanding our direct relationship with the earth and the
universe. With reassurance we could gaze upon their secrets
with impunity.
I pondered his statement, ‘gaze upon their secrets with
impunity’ to mean that there would be no apparitional
retribution for disturbing the Mayan graves, the sacred
temples, unlike the reports of such fatalistic curses to befall
academic scientists unearthing the great tombs of Egypt.
Hornsby pontificated his knowledge in an elegant manner,
captivating and enthralling.
“Is it a coincidence that these two mental patients could
have known about the significance of their drawings? Are
they lunatics? Or were the Mayan lunatics to chisel these
glyphs into stone thousands of years ago? How could two
people separated not only by the neurological fragmentation
of a mental disorder, but geographically in time and space by
an ocean, could have known about the esoteric Danzante
Soul/Kambak 23

hieroglyphics on Monte Alban? Does it mean their

coexistence in the archetypal dimensional world of the
Mayan consciousness could be perceived by modern
psychology as providing a vital link to our archetypal
This man who stood before us, in all his vulnerability,
pierced the air with revelations, unheard of at the time. No
doubt, Carl Jung, the founder of symbolic psychoanalysis,
would have loved to hear Dr. Hornsby’s evidence of the
universal consciousness, and the fact that people lived their
lives ignorant of the deeper symbolic natures of their
motivations. The visually symbolic power of the Mayan, as
presented by Hornsby, was becoming a transforming
experience in the darken lecture hall.
“What we have here is the simple evidence of our origin
of a collective consciousness, the same type of link that
Darwin discovered in the origin of species from his life long
investigations of nature. The Maya origin of consciousness
is the construct of a mathematical equation combined with
glyph symbolism that defines our purpose on earth. It would
seem reasonable that two people activated their subconscious
awareness of an atavistic blueprint that is imbedded in our
Finished with that thought, Hornsby requested the next
slide to be shown. It was a human hand, palm facing out.
“The Mayan devised the greatest common measure --
twenty -- with the smallest common multiple two.
Mathematical counting systems started with the fingers of
the hand. This is why the decimal system goes by tens with
a possible ten digits for each placeholder, as shown here in
this graphic of a posterior hand position. The Mayan’s
vigesimal system goes by twenties giving each placeholder a
possible twenty digits. This established an infinitesimal
Soul/Kambak 24

binary harmonic that recapitulates in universal binary

progression. Similar to the Fibonacci summation series that
relates to the segments of the fingers, the Mayan vigesimal
system exponentially moves forward. This is the same as
Benjamin Franklin’s Magic Square of 8.” Having said that,
Hornsby requested the next slide.
“Here is an example of the vigesimal counting system
written in Mayan with the positional alignment values as
they appear in the codices and stele.

Vigesimal System

What the Maya were not recording is time on earth, but

terrestrial cycles of the earth moving through the galaxy.
Considering this fact, their mathematical precision of
interpreting the galactic world far exceeds our modern day
understandings. How was this possible? Simple.”
Hornsby went on to elucidate that the Mayans devised a
calculator from three different calendar rounds centuries
before we devised a complexity theory in mathematics. The
first is the Tzolk’in or Sacred Calendar, initially used by the
Olmec civilization that predated the Mayans. This was a
“short count” matrix in design utilizing the numbers thirteen
and twenty to establish two hundred and sixty days; the haab
almanac or Vague Year with its cycle of three hundred and
sixty days plus five more.
Soul/Kambak 25

The haab almanac consists of eighteen months with

twenty days each and is counted from zero to nineteen and
then repeated. The Tzolk’in and haab almanacs are
combined to produce a cycle of eighteen thousand, nine
hundred and eighty days that takes a little less than fifty-two
solar years to complete one cycle.
Because there would be repetitions of similar dates
within this formula the Mayan perfected their counting of
days with a third calculating system by incorporating the
vigesimal place-value method that allowed them to identify a
day uniquely within a period of one million eight hundred
seventy-two thousand days or the Great Cycle that equals
five thousand, two hundred solar years. This was the Long
Count that made up one hundred forty-four thousand days or
approximately four hundred years called a Baktun.
After taking a sip of water, Hornsby requested that the
next slide be shown. On the left were the twenty emblem
glyphs of the Tzolk’in calendar and on the right were the
nineteen emblem glyphs of the haab calendar.

Tzolk’in Glyphs
Soul/Kambak 26

Haab Glyphs

“As I mentioned earlier, the Tzolk’in calendar calculated

with the numbers thirteen and twenty when multiplied equals
two hundred sixty. Shown here are the twenty emblem
glyphs or ‘faces of creation’ and their relationship to the
count of days. The baseline of the Tzolk’in was
astronomically determined by the sun’s zenith during the
first passage, verified by the position of Pleiades in the
Constellation Taurus, which was fabled as the four hundred
youth in the Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel.
“The cycle of Pleiades takes twenty-six thousand years.
Consequently, the Mayan reduced this to two hundred sixty
days. The Tzolk’in is combined into a lunisolar computation
the baseline formula, representing the thirteen moon phases
in a solar year.”
I recalled reading about one story of the invention of the
number twenty described in the Book of Chilam Balam of
Chumayel. The four Regents “went to the middle of the sky
and took each other’s hands…” the days said, “thirteen and
seven in a group.”
Hornsby’s thorough research surpassed my expectations.
Soul/Kambak 27

“Consequently, the Mayan’s broke down a solar year

into twenty and thirteen day periods that could be connected
to the configuration of the Mars; eclipse of the seasons and
most importantly the appearance of Venus. The lunar
calendar called the Tun-Uc or Moon Calendar consists of
twenty-eight days multiplied by the thirteen moon cycles.
This was a minor calendar that was later abandoned. With
the installation of the Tzolk’in, the Mayan had a complete
exactitude to perform the necessary agrarian operations of
cultivating their milpa.”
The reference to agrarian ritual, the planting of corn,
was a slight deviation, though valid in respect to
anthropological thinking and the corner stone to Maya
cultural heritage.
“Initially this time-recording device was conceived as
closed cycles that had apocalyptic endings. The Mayan
Priests freed themselves from this fear by establishing an
infinite cycle with the Long Count that was used in 355 B.C.
All three calendars have been internally consistent with
unbroken sequence since their conceptions.” By now,
Hornsby was thoroughly engrossed in his subject matter.
In the next slide Hornsby showed the combination of the
three calendars. He explained that the inside wheel was the
haab calendar. The Tzolk’in was the second largest wheel
and the Long Count was the largest.

Mayan Calendar Rounds

Soul/Kambak 28

“Even though it is a commonly held belief that the

Mayan calendars are astronomically based, human beings
have anatomical correlations with these numeric sequences
as I demonstrated earlier with the fingers of the hand. We
have thirteen major joints in the body and twenty digits.
There is also the 260-day gestation period for humans. Next
slide please.”

Tzolk’in Matrix

“Here is the Tzolk’in matrix. Along the bottom are the

twenty emblem glyphs. You can count thirteen squares up
the side. The whole of it makes for a system of divination.
Each of the units signifies a resonant function in relationship
to a frequency of cosmic magnitude. The Tzolk’in matrix is
the spiritual link to Oxlahuntiku, the thirteen gods of the
Upper World. Any use of the Tzolk’in is an invocation for
assistance from these thirteen gods just as one would use the
I Ching to evoke Confucianism or the Catholic mass that
induces Christ’s spirit.” Hornsby adjusted his notes on the
podium then spoke directly to the audience.
Soul/Kambak 29

“Based upon my deciphering of the Australian

Aborigine’s dreamtime mysticism, the Tzolk’in was meant to
keep the Mayan’s consciousness coherent and in line with a
collective harmonic progression teleologically intune with
our celestial environment. You see, the Mayan have a
holistic perception of our relationship to each other. They
say, ‘In Lake’ch’ – which means, ‘I am another yourself.’
What is conceptualized here is something beyond the four-
dimensional space-time continuum. It is the Maya’s explicit
understanding of the universal archetype of the Self.”
The audience stirred. Hornsby was unrelenting.
“It seems self evident from the comparison of these
drawings I’ve presented here today,” Hornsby continued in a
manner of profundity, “that the ouroboros Carl Jung
described in his research of symbolic psychology and
Nietzsche wrote about as the eternal return, shows that
buried in the primal genetic code of all of us is the
remembrances of an underlying archetypal infrastructure or
what philosopher Immanuel Kant called, a priori. We live in
a closed cyclic system of galactic proportions based on a
preset formula.” Hornsby’s analogical ingenuity was
“Could it be?” I wondered.
I had read through over a hundred and fifty years of
published transcripts produced by the pioneers of Mayan
glyph decipherment. There was Abbe Charles Etienne
Brasseur who found Friar Diego de Landa’s four hundred
year old A,B,C, Mayan alphabet that was discarded by the
Catholic Church as insufficient in learning the Mayan
language; Alfred Percival Maudslay who published the first
Mayan inscriptions, and Sylvanus Griswold Morley’s The
Ancient Maya.
Soul/Kambak 30

But interpretations had not been without scandal and

controversy over the decades. Such was a critical argument
between Sir J. Eric S. Thompson and Yuri Valentinovich
Knorosov about the significance of the glyph’s linguistic
Knorosov, shut away behind the Iron Curtain in his
native country of socialist Russia, had never set foot in the
jungles of Central America to have seen first hand the ruins
of temples, pyramids and ball courts. But as a Russian
soldier, who participated in the siege of Berlin in 1945, fate
fell into his hands.
When searching for Nazis in a vacated government
building, Knorosov stumbled upon parchments similar to
Friar Diego de Landa’s A, B, C Mayan alphabet. Taking his
small treasure back to Russia, Knorosov had a template to
work from in deciphering the symbolic glyphs.
Knorosov believed as a scholar of Egyptian, Chinese
and Japanese writings that the Mayan hieroglyphics were
phonetically an idea-based language. Thompson, who wrote
Maya Hieroglyphic Writing, A Catalog of Mayan
Hieroglyphs and The Rise and Fall of Mayan Civilization,
was convinced that the Mayan hieroglyphics was something
entirely different.
Unlike Knorosov, Thompson’s paradigm was based on
European perceptions of the Paleocene interpretations of
cave drawings. Thompson did perceive the Mayan’s record
of time “as something without beginning or end” and the
passage of time was recorded on erected stele to register
dates significant to them, but he still projected his own
modern thoughts on the interpretation of the Mayan
hieroglyphics by discounting Knorosov’s theory. Like so
many misguided theories, this argument stunted the process
Soul/Kambak 31

of deciphering the glyphs until another Russian came along

to prove Thompson’s misperceptions.
Tatiana Proskouriakoff was a Russian born emigrant to
the United States. Unable to find work in her profession as
an architect, Proskouriakoff signed with an expedition into
the Chiapas region of southern Mexico to make surveys and
restoration drawings of the Mayan ruin Piedras Negras along
the Rio Usumacinta, commissioned by the University of
Pennsylvania in 1936.
From her notes she hypothesized three clues: each group
of contemporary dates began with a specific glyph that she
nicknamed the “upended frog” followed by another glyph
nicknamed, “toothache grin”. These two glyphs were always
the same within any given group of monuments and sets of
dates and varied from one group to the next. In her third
clue the initial “upended frog” referred to birth and the
“toothache grin” referred to a rite of passage into adult
Inspired, Proskouriakoff traveled up the Rio Usumacinta
to the Maya city ruins of the island ruin of Yaxchilan where
she identified a “Shield Jaguar” and “Bird Jaguar” glyph in
addition to identifying the emblem glyph “capture” of enemy
warriors and the emblem glyphs for a rulers age and death.
Her groundwork proved Knorosov’s theory correct and
opened the door for further interpretations of the densely
symbolic glyphs.
I watched Hornsby standing with a straight back,
speaking with the presentation of a polished academic
lecturer, but an adventurous character contrasted his
presence. He resumed in his customary vein to drive his
point home to us.
“I have hypothesized that the Nine Lords of Time were
like extraterrestrial envoys who integrated into the ancient
Soul/Kambak 32

Olmec culture, whose sanctified foundation had grown out of

the Neolithic shaman culture centered around the nagual or
spirit of the Jaguar. From Monte Alban, where we have the
Danzante glyphs, the Mesoamerican culture spread out as
thirteen tribes, seven of which settled in Guatemala, the
lowland jungle and basin plains reaching into Honduras. At
this point in time, the great city center of Teotihuacan was
built in Mexico and of course, many more later, such as Tikal
and Palenque in Guatemala.
“Teotihuacan means, ‘Place Where the Gods Touched
The Earth’ and commemorates the primal origin of the
Mayan birthplace known as Tulan, the place of entry into
this world, unrelated to the actual ruin site of the same name
in Mexico. At the core of Teotihuacan’s civilization was the
Pyramid of the Sun, the foundation measurement is exactly
the same as the Great Cheops Pyramid in Egypt, built
between 2718 B.C. and 2324 B.C.
“Like the Egyptians, Teotihuacan blossomed into an
intensely spiritualized and artistically inclined heliocentric
civilization of abundance and beauty. These were the
Toltecs, lead by the great ruler, Quetzalcoatl. The Maya
named him Kukulkan.”
A slide of the Feathered Serpent ruler appeared behind
Hornsby on the projection screen.

Soul/Kambak 33

Hornsby paused to reflect for a moment. The lecture

hall was silent. I could see all eyes were glued on the
charismatic balding gray haired man. No doubt Hornsby
held the audience in a spell. His piercing blue eyes sparkled
as he searched the individual faces of hundreds of listeners.
“It is now 1973. We entered the final four hundred-year
Baktun cycle in 1618, otherwise known as the adjustment of
material essence into its final expertise by Mayan
calculations. Not only has America put a man on the moon,
but NASA has completed six lunar landings since that
historic event in July of 1969. As we continue with our
fascination of space travel and UFO sightings, the author
Erich Von Daniken has recently published his belief that the
Mayan’s were in contact with extraterrestrials.”
Behind Hornsby another slide was projected. This was
the funerary crypt sarcophagus lid of the Mayan priest Pacal
Votan, which was found in Palenque by archeologist Albert
Lluillier in 1952.

Pacal Votan Sarcophagus Lid

Soul/Kambak 34

“Daniken thinks the same way Soviet scientist

Alexander Kazantev hypothesized that the portal to our
connection lies in Pacal Votan’s tomb hieroglyphic as
pictorial evidence that ancient gods were actually astronauts
coming to earth from distant galaxies. Is he a charlatan?
Who’s to say? Our understanding of the cosmos is just
beginning. We are naïve compared to the Maya who were
steeped in cosmology aptitude and their ability to transcend
the subjectivity of verbal experience. Pacal Votan, proves
this for according to the Telektonon, mathematics is Hunab
Ku or God and God is all.”
The lecture hall lights gradually illuminated the room to
“As I have shown with these brief examples, the
celestial, anatomical and psychological structures of our
existence are inseparable from a cosmic mechanism. This is
profoundly evidenced in the foundations of the Maya
calendar round and emblem hieroglyphics. Mesoamerican
culture knew that cosmic harmony is reigns within our
consciousness. To remain connected they had to maintain a
coherent perception of their metaphysical position in relation
with a galactic code, just as the children of Israel did with the
Arc of the Covenant. The Maya concept of the natural world
and of celestial existence made it possible for a
consummating stewardship that benefited all people. This
was the era of Quetzalcoatl.
“The organization of their understanding of cosmogony,
in which the forces of the earth are directly linked, was
achieved through their techniques of spiritual craftsmanship
combined with methods for a natural progressive evolution
of culture. All of this is given to us in an allegorical form
that culminates when we have gained full knowledge of the
Soul/Kambak 35

archetypal configuration or what I hypothesize as the origin

of consciousness.
“According to the sacred Mayan calendar round we are
entering a phase of dramatic change, the final stage of a
materialistic age that will end in the year 2012, baring any
unforeseen discoveries of anomalies in our deciphering of
the Mayan code. If this is true, and I believe it is, then we
have thirty-nine years left to transform our global civilization
from one of an ecocide economy to one of a harmonic co-
Behind Hornsby the final slide appeared.

Six Sky Smoke from Tonina

“This graphic was uncovered by archeologists while

clearing vegetation at the ball court at the Tonina pyramid
ruin, in the Chiapas region of southern Mexico. It depicts
Six Sky Smoke, who died on September 5, 775 A.D. having
reined over the highest Classic Mayan pyramids ever built.
He was reputed to have passed through this soul tube, he
holds in his arms, to the upper world.
“This scepter is of great interest to me. It evolved as a
symbol of one’s soul flight into the next world, the origin of
which symbolizes Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent. Six
Sky Smoke’s serpent bar or soul tube has lily-white flowers
Soul/Kambak 36

on either end. The lily flowers are interpreted as ideograms

for rebirth in the upper world. In short, the soul tube was the
portal to travel between the underworld and upper world.
“As an anthropologist, I am not content to be a
spectator, essayist or to be in awe of the Pre Columbian
legacy. I prefer further investigation between the Maya’s
form and function that is neither obvious nor familiar, as an
open-ended process of discovery, forcing us to shrug off our
own Eurocentric’s ignorance. Up till now Western science
has been happenstance in their expeditions, stumbling upon
ruins shrouded in the jungle overgrowth without knowing
why or what they are looking for.
“I feel that we must search for this vehicle, the spiritual
rite of passage, the initiator of the Divine Spirit, the Tulan,
the equivalent of the Holy of Holies, the footstool of God’s
throne, the Star Chambers of Ireland and Europe, the place
between Mankind and God or what is known as the Soul
Chamber. Why?
“Because the secret to the mystery, ladies and
gentlemen, is always the deepest at the gateway of its
origin… where in this case, the Maya, the cosmic navigators
who used this mystical portal to travel through the galaxy. I
hypothesize that there is a lost temple waiting to be
discovered in the jungles of Central America, which contains
the secret of Quetzalcoatl and our salvation.”
Hornsby punctuated his speech. “Know this;
Stonehenge was constructed at the beginning of the zero date
in the beginning of the Maya thirteen Baktun cycle in the
year 3113 B.C. At the same time, Gilgamesh was king of
Babylonia, the earliest form of writing, cuneiform, was
created by the Sumerians.
“All were recording their lives, their relationship to the
heavens and earth and most importantly, an evolving
Soul/Kambak 37

consciousness at the same time but geographically cut off

from each other. Therefore, there must be a record inscribed
or sculpted in stone by the Mayan ancestors who knew of
this phenomenon through the proper means of harmonic
navigation that goes till the end of this cycle and into the
next five thousand two hundred-tun cycle.
“Everywhere among the early Mesoamerica cultures the
importance of correct living and thinking was held up as an
indispensable requisite to all true expansion of consciousness
or initiation. It is the remembrance of this intrinsically
accepted wisdom that will get our occidental society back on
track. To prove my theory, I will venture my life and
academic credibility upon it. Thank you for your time and
The audience rose in a thunderous applause. He had
won over their hearts and minds, as well as my own. I, too,
agreed with Hornsby that something was amiss in the
seemingly shortsighted patent scientific interpretations of the
Maya. There had to be a crusader, a visionary to pull back
the veil of mystery to this complex civilization.
Had not Columbus sailed across a waste of water in
what was perceived as a hopeless cause to find a short cut to
India? I contemplated. Wasn’t Columbus a seeker for a
solution to the great questions of his time? Wasn’t the ocean
a vastness of space similar in our perception of the frontier
of the universe? To prove the earth was not flat?
Inspired by my own longing to immerse myself in the
adventure to know if this mythical Soul Chamber truly
existed, I plunged perhaps too romantically, head long when
Hornsby mentioned he had a few openings left for his
expedition team during the brief question and answer period
following his lecture.
Soul/Kambak 38

Anyone interested in joining the expedition was required

to write a letter of intent and available time commitment to
be seriously considered. The opportunity to flesh out and
expand my own comprehension of the Prehispanic epoch in
Mesoamerica had presented itself. I wrote to Hornsby
explaining my reasons to be considered to join his
expedition, primarily for research on my Masters thesis in
archetypal psychology of indigenous cultures.
I added that I had studied linguistics, Spanish as a
second language, and could provide my own travel and
living expenses for half a year if need be. Hornsby
immediately replied with a letter of acceptance. Posted with
the acceptance letter was an itinerary, a four-page
bibliography of required reading, a Spartan provision’s list of
camping gear and jungle clothing, and requesting me to
come to San Cristobal De Las Casas in Mexico in two
Soul/Kambak 39

Chapter 3
San Cristobal De Las Casas

I departed from the ubiquitous Mexican chicken bus the

day after my twenty-fourth birthday. The hot dusty trip of
eighty-three kilometers from Tuxtla Gutierrez, the capital
city of Chiapas, took me high into the Sierra de Chiapas
mountain range. Tuxtla is a Spanish Hispanicized word
taken from the Aztec name Tochtlan, who raided this former
Zoque Indian region between 1486 and 1505.
Tochtlan was the Nahuatl word for Coyatoc. The Zogue
Indians called this region the “land of the rabbits” or
Coyatoc. Gutierrez was added in remembrance of Joaquin
Miguel Gutierrez, who advocated independence in 1848.
Prior to this time, San Cristobal De Las Casas, my
destination, had been the capital city of Chiapas in which
many still consider it to be.
I was awe struck by the vice regal atmosphere of this
colonial town. Buried in the Valley of Jovel, San Cristobal
De Las Casas bears the luxuriant beauty of old world
antiquity commingled in the colonial and indigenous
traditions through the centuries with its city squares, ornate
churches with colorful facades, cobble-stone streets, red-tiled
roofs, and colorful patio gardens that were constructed as far
back as the Sixteenth Century.
Soul/Kambak 40

Diego Mazariego founded the city in 1528. Later the

name, “Royal City” was changed to honor the harsh critic of
Spanish colonialism and an indefatigable champion for the
human rights of the local indigenous, Fr. Bartolome de las
Casas. This was my starting point into the enchanting world
of Prehispanic legends, imbued in mysticism and a
fascinating complex spectacle of multi-ethnic traditions and
Making my way through the crowded open markets
along busy streets, I encountered the Tzotzil and Tzeltal
indigenous, recognizable by their sleeveless tunics of coarse
cotton shirts with pink adornments. Seated about displays of
handmade ceramic pots and woven baskets were woman
wearing colorful embroidered skirts and silk blouses.
Encircling their hips were dark blue ribbons.
Most noticeable was the blue lacework of the Mame
women adorning their thick black hair buns with woven
palm hats that had embroidered huilpils hatbands. And most
striking was the sight of a few Lacandones, wearing their
traditional broad white cotton tunics with long black hair
falling almost down to their waists and bangs cut at the
The refined beauty and celebration of Mexican life was
contrasted by the Western attire of tourists mingling in jeans,
Bermuda shorts, loose shirts and tire-tread sandals; taking
Kodak moment photographs of the stunning colonial
architecture while others bartered with vendors selling
textiles. Some tourists posed in front of the historical civil
buildings decorated in elaborate primitive facades making
for a vibrant picturesque scene. All of it, combined with the
smoky smells of sidewalk cuisine created an intoxicating
blend of sounds and sights.
Soul/Kambak 41

When I came across the exquisite architecture of the

colonial El Carmen Church, stopping to admire its Mudejar
tower, an attractive Caucasian woman emerge followed by a
Catholic priest from the church front entrance. Her mature
countenance commanded my attention.
She had a sun tan matronly face, a slender figure under a
long flowery dress of light cotton, and a long profusion of
wavy raven hair falling about her shoulders. The Catholic
priest with slicked jet-black hair and square rim spectacles
had a dour look upon his face. Solidly standing in his black
tunic he humbly imposed his sacrosanct presence so readily
in front of the church. The two of them were intently
discussing something.
Suddenly, several local children came rushing toward
the church. The woman, from where I could see, was
fascinated by the unexpected attention afforded the priest.
Nothing could exceed the simple suavity of his company as
the children greeted him. But there was another reason the
children surrounded him. Something the woman realized by
the concerned look on her face, as the priest, in a very civil
manner, encouraged her immediate departure. Civil in what
I observed seemed to be a sense of apprehension between
them. He waved her off and quickly turned his attention
upon the children, pulling out handfuls of candy from the
pockets of his long black robe. The young woman quickly
strolled out of my line of sight, darting glances over her
shoulder as if hoping not to have been seen.
I would had otherwise put the whole event out of my
mind, but a military jeep loaded with heavily armed soldiers
came careening around a street corner seconds later, driving
directly to the church, than slowly cruising to observe the
priest. The priest refused to acknowledge their presence,
focusing on to the children. The soldier’s presence reminded
Soul/Kambak 42

me that Mexico was still in a state of social discord and

political repression.
“Halcones.” A Mexican man muttered under his breath,
eyeing the spectacle behind me.
The utterance of the word made my skin crawl. This
was the name of a special paramilitary squad instilled by
Mexican President Luis Echeverria, of the PAN or National
Action Party.
Echeverria espoused social economic reform after
breaking the seventy-one year rule of the PRI or Institutional
Revolutionary Party by open democratic elections. But
instead, Echeverria mired Mexico in social tyranny and
unemployment for millions. With growing civil unrest and
fundamentalist anti-communist movements the Mexican
army had become heavily involved in policing and
prosecuting so called political activists; branded most likely
for speaking out against human rights violations and severe
economic disparity of the masses and ruling elite.
It was clear to me that President Echeverria was a
despotic leader ordering the repression of alleged
“guerrillas” by force from a covert military force. Fresh in
my mind was the United States Embassy’s report of the
unarmed student massacres in Mexico City’s Plaza de las
Tres Culturas in 1968 and 1971 by the Mexican military.
The death toll was well over 300 people. The Halcones were
the hired thugs of Echeverria’s political authority. Now I
knew why the priest sent the woman on her way, and
crowded the children about him. For hers and his own
protection from the Halcones.
Any bystander interest given the menacing soldiers in
the jeep seemed to gratify them of their tyrannical power
over this remote colonial city. I swayed for a moment under
the weight of their malevolence, and then went on my way,
Soul/Kambak 43

leaving the sidewalk street to walk out of their line of sight.

I did not want to become passive prey of Mexico’s gun
barrel politics. The thought of it sunk me into a sullen
resistance toward occidental corruption. I quickly walked out
of their sight.
The political turmoil of this third world country was
soon put behind me when I came upon the two-story colonial
built hotel called Anahuac Hacienda, my destination to meet
up with Dr. Hornsby and his expedition party.
My Moorish designed lodging appropriately named, “the
land between the waters,” instantly felt like a safe refuge
when I crossed its threshold. The authentic Hispanic
ambiance and genial hospitality I received transformed my
concerns about the political dangers lurking about us in this
ancient provincial city. Emanating all about the hotel
structure and courtyard garden with flowing water fountain
was a nurturing ambience that captured the aspirations of the
Mesoamerican culture.
I found my accommodations richly embellished with
tasseled wool rugs of primary color zigzag patterns covering
the hardwood floors. Richly colored textured fabrics neatly
laid out across the simple wooden framed beds. An adobe
fireplace with neatly stacked wood had a mantel filled with
clay figures of birds and animals. Black and white
photographs of the Lacandones in poses of daily life tasks
were set on the wall. The tranquility engulfed me, and a
wave of fatigue washed over me. Settling on the bed to take
a short siesta, I discovered a small brochure about Anahuac
on the nightstand.
Anahuac was a renovated hacienda and coffee mill,
having been purchased by Gustav and Sarina Albrecht in
1951. Gustav, an archeologist employed by an oil company
came to Mexico in the early Twentieth Century. He had
Soul/Kambak 44

passed away ten years ago. Swiss born Sarina, now a

widower, had been jailed in Germany and imprisoned at a
Nazi concentration camp for her anti-fascist campaigning.
Once released, she fled Europe to Mexico just before the
outbreak of WWII. Sarina had hoped to put a safe distance
between her and further political issues. But a few years
later, while she accompanied an expedition into the Sierras
de Chiapas highlands, she encountered the Lacandones, the
last living vestige to the Maya dynasty. Witnessing the
blatant exploitation of the Lacandones’ lands by the
government and industrial corporations ignited Sarina’s
humanitarian passion. Not only that, she met her future
husband, Gustav, who was among the expedition’s members.
At the time of our expedition’s arrival, Sarina was
gaining international recognition for her ardent defense of
the Lacandones and the Lacandon Rainforest: The centuries
old home of the Lacandones. As part of her campaign,
Sarina cataloged volumes of black and white photographs of
the Lacandones and the horrific scorched earth landscapes
from clear-cut deforestation of the rainforest’s ancient cedar
and mahogany trees within their territory. She cultivated an
intensively personal relationship with the Lacandones, which
Hornsby respected and vitally needed to accomplish his goal.
Her conviction for their human rights was something that
Hornsby was prudently in line with and expected us to be
equally respectful when living in the various villages he had
assigned us for the coming months.
I arrived late for Hornsby’s briefing at the Anahuac
cultural center’s bibliotheca. I had overslept, exhausted
from the sleepless two-day bus journey from Mexico City.
Hornsby gave me a scornful look as I took an empty seat
among the others at a long rectangular rough-hewn wooden
table. Looking about the table of the six chosen expedition
Soul/Kambak 45

members I discovered the raven-haired woman I had

observed earlier in the day, coming out of the church with
the priest. She was seated directly across from me, eyeing
me with a perturbed glance.
Initially there were six of us accompanying Hornsby, all
noticeably in our twentieth decade of age. Sarina was seated
off to one side, remaining reserved and observant of us.
Hornsby had set up a large topographical map of the
southern Mexico region on an easel behind him. He was one
not to waste time with my tardiness. Dressed in khaki attire,
he continued with his orientation.
“The Spanish conquest marked the beginning of the end
for Mesoamerican cultures. One who perpetuated this
diabolical desecration was a Catholic missionary named
Friar Diego de Landa. He arrived here in 1547 determined
to convert Yucatan Mayan’s by destroying invaluable
transcripts and inscribed records of their traditional beliefs
and rituals. Landa boasted that he destroyed over 5,000 idols
and 27 hieroglyphic parchments up until the time he was
promoted bishop of the Yucatan region and continued the
destruction of invaluable relics until his death,” Hornsby
Ironically, to defend himself against charges of despotic
mismanagement by the Spanish Inquisition, and teach the
Mayan language to priests, he commissioned a Mayan to
write a phonetic alphabet that remains the only significant
account of the early post-Conquest era of this region. The
manuscript was discarded by the Catholic Church as
nonsense and lay hidden until discovered in Madrid and
published in 1864 as Relacion de las cosas de Yucatan (An
Account of the Things of Yucatan).
Landa destroyed the very essence of what would have
given us the key to unlock the Mayan Code. However, at the
Soul/Kambak 46

same time he left behind ninety-nine percent of what

archeologist, anthropologist, paleontologists and astronomers
have been left to draw information from about the Mayan
activities, history, ceremonial festivals, social and communal
functions, rituals, sacrifices, indigenous architecture, and
most importantly the phonogram writings of the emblem
glyphs on stone blocks, massive boulders and wall murals.
“The first English translation was titled, Yucatan Before
and After the Conquest, which I hope you took time to read
before coming here,” Hornsby said. There was a general
acknowledgement around the table of nods. Hornsby
“Evading the Spanish Conquest and religious zealots, a
faction of Mayan fled into the unoccupied regions of the
Yucatan jungle. Though their exact origins are not known
some claim the Lacandones are most likely descendants of
classical civilizations of Palenque, Yaxchilan and Bonampak
which are not far from here or,” and Hornsby stressed this,
“their ancestors came to the Chiapas region in the
Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries fleeing Spanish
colonial authority in the Yucatan. They dispersed into small
clans to avoid detection and contact maintaining themselves
as the Hach Winik or in English translation, “true men” of La
Selva Lacandona.” Hornsby paused for a moment to shift
his train of thought.
“You will be respectful. Respectful means, for example,
not indulging yourself in consumption of their alcoholic
drink of balche, and if necessary, only at times for ritual
participation if so invited by the village chief.”
There was a general moan of being deprived the
enjoyment of the native libation. Hornsby continued without
acknowledging our displeasure.
Soul/Kambak 47

“The Spanish knew that they were hiding here, but the
hostile environment of the rainforest kept them from
pursuing the Hach Winik. It wasn’t until earlier this century
that the Hach Winik had any contact with the outside world.
Christian influences were still held at bay in the 1940’s. The
Lacandones have continued to preserve their traditional
beliefs, religious ceremonies and common language.
“Then the Mexican government opened up this area for
land settlement, oil drilling and logging. There are no more
than 500 living today, having suffered the unprecedented
encroachment of modern industrialized colonization that
started in the 1950’s causing them to be forcefully relocated
by the Mexican government.
“Still, the Lacandones remain virtually unpolluted by
our occidental paradigm. This makes for the last opportunity
to cultivate from their consciousness gleams of insight in
how their ancestors interpreted reality and quite possible
clues of this lost city.”
True to form, Hornsby was incorporating his research
approach with the Australian Aborigines to this project.
“The last vestiges of authentic indigenous life would be
at my fingertips,” I thought.
“Our objective is to collect a comprehensive record of
the Lacandones oral history. Our collection will be stored
here in the Anahuac library for prosperity to complement the
works of other scientists such as Jack Roberts, author of The
Lords of Mesoamerica. As you are collecting this data, I will
be deciphering the contents, in hopes of uncovering some
clues to the mysterious Soul Chamber, which is our ultimate
objective on this expedition.”
Hornsby pointed out that as much as Sarina would love
to take part in our project, she had more pressing duties in
managing the cultural center. However, she would act as
Soul/Kambak 48

consultant to our interpretations and coordinate our guides

assignments. Mr. Roberts, an equally close ally of the
Lacandones was not available at this time since he was at the
Archeological Museum in Mexico City, obligated with other
duties. Hornsby said that it might be possible he would join
us later.
“Jack has a tremendous insight to their way of life and
can open up windows of perception that would take us years
to achieve. And that is another matter I want to address.
The last word was punctuated with deliberate
pontification to catch our attention. Hornsby was
orchestrating an unmatched anthropological study. We were
not looking for remnant artifacts buried beneath the jungle
soil, but for Mayan relics buried in the psyche of the
“The men are always consulting their ancestors,”
Hornsby said. “They are always talking in reference to the
past, present and future. You must cut the wires of your
Western thinking… to understand them.”
The mysterious woman I had seen leaving the church
earlier that afternoon spoke up.
“What do you mean, ‘cut the wires’, Dr. Hornsby?
Wouldn’t that make us all brain dead?”
Her comment was disarming. All of us were
competitively intense about the undertaking, not unusual for
university graduate students, so her off-handed comment
caused the group to burst out in nervous laughter. Hornsby
wasn’t amused.
“The construct of the Western language is one of cause
and effect. Just as you expressed yourself, Dr. Cassarina
Deakin, you used a noun as a subject to combine with a verb
Soul/Kambak 49

as a means to impose your will on a nominal object,”

Hornsby explained.
He was right. People, animals and objects in our
Western language are treated as grammatical objects and
recipients of the actions of verbs chosen by the grammatical
“The Lacandones speak in terms of resonating their
consciousness with objects of nature defined in metaphorical
constructs. It is similar to an agglutinant language that
reflects the visual and verbal communication of the
phonogram language we find inscribed by ancient Maya
emblem glyphs.”
“And so, Dr. Hornsby,” Cassarina said with a slight
smirk on her face, “Western society acts in the same literate
manner based on their perception of their reality, however
erroneous it might be.”
“The Eurocentrics act accordingly, as the Lacandon act
according to their spoken language or literacy,” I boldly
“Correct Mr. Cole. Can anyone give me an example?”
All of us shrugged.
“I’m not surprised. This is a valuable lesson that you
can only come to appreciate after living with indigenous
people,” Hornsby said with profundity.
“If… for example, you were to ask a woman how she is
doing, and she replies her husband is working in the field…
do you know what this would be interpreted to mean?”
There was an awkward moment.
“It means her life is good. And, if she would reply in
her native tongue that he was not in the field working. . . . ”
“It would mean she is in dire straits,” Cassarina said,
cutting off Hornsby.
Soul/Kambak 50

“Quite, right, Ms Deakin,” Hornsby retorted, “though

maybe not that extreme. To achieve an exact study of a
ancient civilization, the exact understanding of the language
is necessary first.”
“And that is the problem they are facing as most of them
are no longer living in the fields of their ancestors,” Sarina
said, standing up.
A tallish modest woman with shoulder length curly hair
streaked with gray strands made for a solid pose in front of
us. The years of battling with the Mexican government for
Lacandon homeland protection from deforestation and
frontier homesteading had taken its toll on her physical
stamina. She looked bodily worn down, but there was a
determined spark of perseverance in her eyes. She modestly
moved toward the easel map. Hornsby graciously obliged
her to continue. While waiting for Sarina, I glanced over at
Ms Deakin, who seemed to becoming my marked enmity.
I noticed hanging on the wall a 1900’s sepia print of
Adela Breton, seated sidesaddle on a horse peering over Ms
Deakin’s shoulder directly at me. Breton’s Mexican
compensino attendant held the reins of the horse in one hand
and his sombrero dutifully held in the other, stoically posing
for the camera. Breton was a leather tough turn-of-the-
century Englishwomen, who dressed in full Edwardian
regalia despite the tropical heat, while painstaking painting
exact recordings of the frescoes and sculptures of various
Mayan ruins.
Breton’s prolific work of meticulously painted
watercolors, initiated at the request of British archeologist
Alfred P. Maudsley, documented invaluable emblematic
glyph decoding evidence that has since deteriorated at the
actual sites. Ms Breton broke out of her Victoria cocoon to
travel to Mexico 13 times. I was beginning to wonder if Ms
Soul/Kambak 51

Deakin, a Brit herself, would be a match for Breton’s

Edwardian stalwart expedition discipline.
Sarina explained that in 1971, the Mexican government
started the Zona Lacandona, a consolidation of the remote
Lacandon tribes to be moved into three principle
resettlement camps. Pointing to the map she showed us the
Lacandones territory known as the Lacanj Chansayab in the
south and Naja and Metzabok in the north of the Lacandon
Rainforest. There was another community being established
by some northern Lacandones who have moved south,
called, Bethel.
Both southern settlements are on the edge of the Monte
Azules Biosphere Reserve located near the ruins of
Bonampak, located here. The evangelists were finding it
easier to pursue Lacandones with their revivalist’s adaptation
to Christianity in this region.
Logging roads were opening up the way for easier
access for outside influences that further encroached upon
their natural habitat. The northern tribes eschewed
Christianity and outside influences. There was a noticeable
small migration south by some northern families, most likely
because the Lacandones have special permission to hunt the
abundant fauna in the reserve. The land was considered
more fertile for growing maize.
More Lacandones were crossing over to the evangelist’s
religion as it is filling in a devastating spiritual void that
came about from a yellow fever epidemic in the last century,
whipping out the prominent spiritual elders and their
authority. The yellow fever epidemic disrupted the passing
on of the traditional rituals and religious ceremonies that was
the lifeblood for their continued existence. But for the most
part, Jesus Christ or Hesuklistos is considered a minor god,
though the Lacandon hold Christ as a paramount god of
Soul/Kambak 52

importance for foreigners, who is the son of ‘kyantho the god

of foreign people and objects.
“Metzabok is the smallest of the Lacandon villages lying
at the foot of the Sierra Piedron to the northeast. It was
located near Lago Metzabok that provides fish as a staple to
their maize diet. This village is more remote and with less
economic accessibility. The Lacanja Chansayab preserves
much of the traditional Lacandon values by keeping the
evangelists away,” Sarina said, informing us that we would
find some families living further out in isolated pockets, still
practicing the sustainable agricultural system of planting
milpa fields amid the rainforest.
The most traditional of the three settlements is Naja that
overlooks the Laguna Naja. This village lies near Monte
Azules northeast of Monte Libano. Cultural life survives
here, such as polygamy, the god-house or yatoch k'un where
ceremonies of myths and rituals to supplicate the gods are
conducted. This includes the offering of balche that is
brewed from honey and the bark from the balche tree.
Sarina pointed out that some of us might meet the
Lacandon chief t ‘o’ ohil, Chan K’in Viejo, who has been the
primary sustainer of their traditional lifestyle for the past
three generations. Chan K’in Viejo is highly regarded as the
last surviving t ‘o’ ohil by the Naja. He was nearly a century
Hornsby interjected.
“There are still cultural and linguistic differences
between the northern and southern tribes though their
common language is Yucatec Maya believed to have been
spoken primarily by the Chol, though this is a term used by
the Spanish to mean one who speaks an unintelligible
tongue. This might explain the differences between the
north and south tribes. The Lacandon descendants could
Soul/Kambak 53

have migrated from the El Peten region a few hundred

kilometers east of Chiapas in Guatemala. Those who
migrated north came in contact with the Chol who were
forced out of the Yucatan region during the Spanish
Conquest, fleeing into the isolated jungle around the Rio
Ucumacinta basin. Mr. Robert’s, who painstakingly
authored, The Nican Tlaca of Mesoamerica, might disagree
with me on this theory.”
“Nican Tlaca means, “We people here” in the Nahuatl
language,” Sarina interjected.
She explained that the people here, in hopes of
reclaiming their indigenous nation, Anahuac, the true
Mesoamerican cultures, Olmec, Zapoteca, Toltec, Maya and
Mexica that existed in Cemanahuac, called the Western
hemisphere by the occidentals.
“Quite so,” Hornsby acknowledged. “Anahuac or
Mesoamerica is the civilization of corn. In the Middle East,
Sumeria was the civilization of wheat, and East Asia was the
rice civilization.”
“Then, what we are looking for, Dr. Hornsby, is the
archetypal code of these indigenous people,” I said.
“Could you define your concept of archetype for us, Mr.
Cole,” Hornsby riposted.
“It is a resonant structure that is made tangible from a
conscious interpretation of one’s symbolic reality,” I said.
“How bloody esoteric,” Cassarina said. “Archetype is
an original mathematical formula. A prototype.”
“Esoteric? Perhaps, Ms Deakin. But what lies beneath
our consciousness is the core of the Self that we cannot
escape from. Mr. Cole is correct in his definition.” Hornsby
“But considering that the human genius of the Maya is
radically different from our own, it would seem we are
Soul/Kambak 54

incapable of fully understanding it,” Cassarina countered in a

hardened scientific voice.
“Radically different?” I protested.
“The common thread is the calendrical and numerical
system found in distinctive emblem glyph forms from the
central Mexican plateau, across the lowland Yucatan Mayas
and the southern Maya highland tribes in Guatemala,”
Hornsby said trying to quell our arguing.
“We are talking about a civilization that established an
incredibly sophisticated system of knowledge in science and
math and most importantly the collective destiny of man,” I
retorted, glaring at Cassarina. “The differences in meaning
are but the reflection of different perspectives, which do not
alter or subdivide the phenomenon.”
“I commend both of you for your firmly grounded
insistence for accuracy, but I don’t want you editorializing
each other’s impressions without scientific fact to prove your
point.” Hornsby was noticeably anxious.
Sarina retreated back to her seat.
“Any conceivable knowledge that we attain comes from
cumulative scientific observation,” Hornsby said.
“About this mythical place that represents our origin of
consciousness, as you hypothesize, Dr. Hornsby,”
interrupted a young man I would soon learn was Garthwaite
Hawker, another member of our expedition.
Hawker was a graduate student representing the Corpus
of Mesoamerican Hieroglyphic Writing project at Harvard
University. The bearded and brownish bushy haired
anthropologist scholar was well versed with the PreHispanic
era of Mesoamerica.
“I am curious as to why you are ignoring the Olmec,”
Hawker said leaning back in his chair rather pompously.
Soul/Kambak 55

“All the remains of the ancient Mesoamerican

civilizations, the Toltecs, Aztecs, Zapotecs, Otomi and Maya
indicate that the Olmec culture was their point of origin.
Consider the laying of foundations of La Venta on the
Isthmus of Tehuantepec to the two oldest Mayan objects
found in Veracruz with the inscribed dates corresponding to
the Gregorian calendar of 31 B.C. Both of these inscriptions
bear Classic Maya writing and both . . . are Olmec,” Hawker
said with a haughty look on his face.
“It’s a question of the chicken and the egg, isn’t Dr.
“It bears in mind, at least in my mind, my good Mr.
Hawker,” Hornsby countered, “that we are in the heart of the
“mother culture” the “land between the waters” or more
specifically the Anahuac. So it is inevitable we’ll see the
commingling of these plus many more cultures including the
Toltecs. All we have are sculptured stone carvings
embedded on stele, palaces and temples, a calendar system,
astronomical observatories, and architectural achievements
to guide us along. Maybe purposely left behind to remind
us of this ‘esoteric’ knowledge that Ms Deakin so tactfully
clarified earlier,” Hornsby said, holding his own ground.
Hawker’s question did raise the matter of why Hornsby
chose the Lacandones, besides being isolated from Western
civilization influences since the Spanish Conquest. Hornsby
explained that we are seeing a living existence of
PreHispanic Mesoamerica. I became more impressed with
Hornsby’s breath of knowledge about this culture as he
delved into further details.
“The origin of the name “Lacandon” is based upon the
Maya plural form “ah akan-tun-obb.” The agentive ah
means “the” or “they.” Akan means “standing” or “set up”
and tun is translated as “precious stone.” Put this together
Soul/Kambak 56

and you have “they who set up precious stone” or

allegorically translated, those who build temples. The
Lacandon’s ancestors quite possibly were masons in the
PreHispanic era. When the Spanish encountered these
Yucatan Maya, they called them Acantunes or wild Indians
and the jungle they lived in as El Acantunes. Over time
Acantunes was misheard as El Lacantun and then distorted
even more to Lacantones.”
Hornsby expertly peeled back the layers of the
anthropological onion in regard to uncovering the reality of
their ancestral link. Just as he had amassed oral histories
from Aboriginal tribes about “dreamtime” he believed we
would accomplish the same from the final living link to the
ancient Yucatan Maya.
“It is my unwavering belief that we will discover that the
Lacandon ancestor’s built a temple to show observance to
the mystical phenomenon of the Soul Chamber in the
PreClassic Period of Mayan culture.”
“Time in relation to reality is buried in the thoughts of
humankind,” I added, “and psychological time is
“You are a bit of an archaic person, yourself,” Cassarina
slung at me. “I suggest you stick with paranormal
Garthwaite glanced at Cassarina, rolling his eyes in
mordant agreement.
Soul/Kambak 57

Chapter 4
The Village of Metzabok

The next morning our group gathered around the water

fountain in the courtyard of the Anahuac Hotel. After a
satiating breakfast of fried eggs and beans graced with
homemade marmalade and hearty fresh baked bread, we
rummaged up our backpacks and anxiously waited for
Hornsby to appear with our settlement assignments. Milling
about the courtyard we took on a travel club appearance,
clinging to our Westernized fashionable lifestyle obvious
from our sanitized recreational outfitting.
There were three Mexican Indians loitering nearby
casually talking among themselves. Other guests of the hotel
passed by either on their way to explore the city or tour the
artifact museum that Gustav had installed at Anahuac before
his passing. As I sat on the edge of the water fountain’s
pool, a little girl that was with one of the men wondered over
to me. Her elfin round face outlined by jet-black hair and
saucer-like brownish eyes peered at me. Innocently she
stood there with an outstretched right hand palm up and an
orange card in the left hand signifying that she was deaf.
“She’s a Tzeltal. You see she’s wearing a huilpil,”
Helen Wordsworth said, a graduate student in Mesoamerican
art from the University of Pennsylvania and member of our
expedition team.
Helen had been unusually reserved during our briefing
the evening before, consistently shying away from any of our
Soul/Kambak 58

group discussions. Now, she spoke with authoritative

enthusiasm as the deaf Tzeltal girl stood before us begging
for money.
“If you look closely you can see the Dog’s Paw textile
design brocaded into the fabric.”
“What does it mean?” I said as I kneeled down at the
girl’s eye level to get a closer look at the colorful huilpil.
“Here’s the Dog Paw.” Helen pointed at the huilpil out
lining the geometric design. “The dog takes one soul to the
Giving it little thought, I put a few pesos into the Tzeltal
girl’s hand and in return took the orange wallet-sized Sign
Language card with gestures printed on it in black ink.
“You never know, it might come in handy someday,”
Helen said to me.
The little girl darted back out of the courtyard when she
saw Hornsby and Sarina making their way down the second
story staircase.
“Adios,” I said calling after her. Helen had retreated
back into the group, leaving me standing alone. Hornsby
called out to me to come join the group that had gathered on
the other side of the fountain.
Hornsby briefly introduced us to our Mexican guides
who had filed in on Sarina’s beckon. Without ceremony he
gave us our assignments. Cassarina and I were partnered and
assigned to the Metzabok settlement, the smallest of the
three Lacandon relocation zones. Because there were some
Lacandones still knowledgeable about botanical medicines in
this settlement, Cassarina was given preference as she was
collecting samples for pharmacological development back at
As much as I wanted to meet the last living t ‘o’ ohil,
Chan K’in Viejo, of the Naja settlement, Garthwaite got that
Soul/Kambak 59

assignment. I resigned to being aced out, concluding that

Roberts had cultivated enough of K’in Viejo’s knowledge to
make Garthwaite’s research redundant.
After packing up my gear along with Cassarina’s in our
antique 4x4 Land Rover, we left San Cristobal del Casas, not
knowing exactly what to expect in the coming months of
field research at Metzabok. It wasn’t long till we were being
swallowed up in the Chiapas Mountains. The grandeur of
the terrain was breathtaking, until we came upon the remains
of forest clear cutting. Sarina’s photographs of the industrial
greed for cedar and mahogany trees couldn’t have prepared
me for the magnitude of this disastrous logging operation. It
was appalling.
Cassarina chose this time to informed me of the
Lacandones present health status. She rode in the front seat,
talking a sterile clinical tone of voice, seeming to pay little
attention to the horrific deforestation. Our guide, Montero
was seated next to me mindlessly looking out the window.
“Most of them suffer from gastrointestinal illnesses,
because of ineffective hygiene campaigns. Few of the
settlements have latrines. Decades of tribal inter-breeding
have resulted in birth-defeats, congenital deformities and
infant mortality. But the inappropriate application of DDT
and agro-chemical fumigations is causing them more health
problems with toxic chemical run off into the regional
streams and rivers.
“The destruction of this species rich evergreen rainforest
is spreading more infectious diseases as the biodiversified
ecosystem is being severely thrown out of balance,”
Cassarina said.
She turned around in her seat, directly facing me. I
realized she was fully aware of the deforestation outside our
car window. The woman had punctuated the incident of
Soul/Kambak 60

deforestation with the deleterious effects upon the human

and animal populations.
By mid afternoon our driver brought us to the end of a
rutted road in the thick rainforest. He quickly removed our
gear, jumped back in the Land Rover and sped off in a cloud
of dust. Montero said it was necessary to move quickly so as
not to alert illegal loggers that we were here.
Nervous about illegally cutting down mahogany in the
area, they wouldn’t hesitate to shoot anyone coming across
their path, especially gringos. Looking around as Cassarina
and I gathered our gear, I noticed the vibrant morning sun
was clouded over by large billowy white clouds that filled
the western skies, building up for the usual afternoon rain
shower. Cassarina and I followed Montero off into the
jungle along a barely visible trail.
Raindrops started to pelt down on me as I set foot into
the warm humid climate of the tropical rainforest that once
formed a continuous corridor in the states of the Yucatan
Peninsula, Chiapas, Tabasco, Oaxaca, Veracruz and Pueblo.
More than half of the rainforest had been destroyed by oil
exploration and clear-cut lumbering and cattle-ranching
operations by 1950.
The largest remaining segment of tropical forest is the
Selva Lacandona, delineated by the Lower Rio Usumacinta
and eastern Tabasco’s savannas and wetlands. This region to
some extent continues south into Guatemala and is
delineated to the west by predominate highlands and narrow
intermountain valleys of Chiapas.
We made our way through the thick brush, Montero
hacking a passage through the foliage that had overgrown on
a faint trail. Five Mesoamerican indigenous groups lived in
this region. They were the Tojolobals, Chols, Tzeltals and
Tzotzils, which included descendents of the PreHispanic era
Soul/Kambak 61

and specifically the Lacandones. The Lacandones practiced

the cultivation of milpa, their main food staple, as a highly
diverse sustainable agricultural system integrated into the
rainforest ecosystem, staying true to their ancestral methods.
“It mimics the forest dynamics,” Cassarina informed me
as we hiked in the misty rain.
The Lacandones were proficient with farming
techniques that surpassed any modern day forest
regeneration management knowledge. This agrarian
knowledge was the same as the Classic Maya civilization
practiced two thousand years ago. Cassarina walked along
and lectured as if we were touring a botanical garden,
oblivious to the slight rain shower and distant rumbles of
“The true tropical rain forest only occurs in a few
locations in the upper drainage region of the Rio
Usumacinta. This is multistoried with several species
covering the second canopy level and under stories. In the
lower mountain rain forest they are lianas and epiphytes trees
with dense shrub layers that are well developed.”
She was not kidding about “well developed.” I was
surrounded by gigantic leaves of plants that were larger than
my body spewing out of the earth like green fountains.
“However the Selva Lacandona has not been thoroughly
researched to catalog the abundance of species which are
threatened by the land exploitation. The compositions of
floristic associations of the Selva Lacandona and the
Guatemalan Peten region are poorly understood. This will
be the focus of my field work and I am counting on you,
Jules, to assist me,” Cassarina said without reservation.
We moved on. The rain stopped. Montero continued to
hack away at the overgrowth with his machete. I thought to
myself that the existence of a living organism in this
Soul/Kambak 62

wilderness was a battle for life. That was the first thing that
impressed me as I saw an abundance of bird life flying
through the canopy above us. This was just a small example
of the viable populations of fauna that inhabited Middle
America. The rainforest’s truths suited the indigenous that
inhabited this region. Taken in whole the rainforest was
their link between nature and the universe.
But the affliction of man-made destruction threw out of
balance the function of a natural course of existence. I had
read about it, sensed it, but never came directly into the heart
of the savagery. Feeling the impact upon my senses made
me think that ministrations of this passionate tropical life, the
splendor of its ritual and the functions that suited their
consciousness, which secured for us on earth some
adumbration of an ineffable glory, perpetually guarded over
by the mythological deities of divine intercession was being
blindly ravaged by First World economies.
The great exploit of natural resources by the industrial
world knew no restraints or adherence toward this human
and nature link. Instead, any natural truth for existence that
came into collision with industrial greed was immediately
annihilated through political inventions.
“This is one species of economic importance to this
area,” Cassarina said pointing to a large tree. “It is the
Castilla elastica or more commonly known as sapodilla.
The sap is extracted and made into chicle’s gum.”
“Its latex was the source of rubber for the Mayan,” I
“You are a promising colleague,” Cassarina said
impressed with my quickness. Cassarina mentioned that the
tree had recently been cut to draw the sap out. I saw a long
machete cut from the top of the tree trunk all the way down
to the root base. The length of it was over 15 meters.
Soul/Kambak 63

“The chicleroes put a bucket at the bottom to collect the

sap then cook it into cubes to haul out on their horses,” she
said stopping for a moment to look at a flowering plant off
the trail. “I must have a sample of this.” Cassarina left our
trail to enter into the dense shrubbery. Montero continued on
unaware that we had stopped. I started to question her but
she waved me off.
“Cymbopetalum penduliflorum,” she announced
unloading her backpack to get a clear plastic bag out. “It is
used for food flavoring and medicine.” She carefully
severed the stem with her pocketknife and gently placed the
flower into the plastic bag. Then she pressed the bag between
the pages of one of her leather-bound journals.
“When we make it to the settlement I’ll show you how I
want these cataloged,” Cassarina said off-handedly as she
gathered up her backpack to set out on the trail again.
The reference to me cataloging her plants and flowers
was the first time I had heard of this. A pall fell over me,
wondering if Hornsby had just enlisted me as an over-
educated laborer enslaved to her work. He had seemed
indifferent to my presence at Anahuac, not the kind of
convivial reception I expected. I wrote off his aloofness
towards me because of my late arrival to the briefing session.
Maybe he was avoiding me for this reason, fearing I’d
abandoned the expedition, costing him a valuable body.
But moreover, I was beginning to wonder who Dr.
Cassarina Deakin really was. As mysterious as she appeared
outside of the church, the more intellectual and academically
astute she showed herself to be. This was an uncommon trait
that I didn’t feel comfortable interrogating. At least for the
time being I would oblige her wishes.
We soon caught up with Montero, lounging by a large
mangrove tree. The rain had stopped. Shafts of sunlight
Soul/Kambak 64

pierced through the forest canopy, glistening sparkles of light

off the wet foliage around us. With his machete draped over
his lap, he smiled pleasantly at us as we approached, content
with the rest while leisurely smoking a cigarette. Snuffing
out the butt under his boot, he stood and turned to lead the
Coming to the boundaries of the settlement was the next
surprise for me. I had imagined we would enter Metzabok
by breaking through the foliage at some point, opening up to
a vast cleared area occupied with crudely constructed huts.
But instead, the boundaries of the Lacandones settlement
showed their demarcation in an unusual manner. At first
there appeared a white tunic clad Lacandon standing erect
amid the huge roots of a mangrove tree.
Silently watching us with mixed awe and wonder,
Montero didn’t acknowledge the figure that seemed to be
suspended in air, standing motionless, as an all too familiar
occurrence. As we made our way further, more Lacandones
appeared in the same manner, like a traditional means of
greeting their new guests. Through their long black strands
of hair cut at the forehead to expose their eyes, I could make
out a few smiles, though they preferred to keep their heads
bowed down, as if too shy to look you straight in the eye.
Soon a young Lacandon man met us along the trail. He
was wearing a torn wool sweater over his white tunic and
Nike running shoes. After a hurried conversation in his
native tongue, Montero introduced us to Jorge, our Lacandon
translator and guide during our stay at the settlement. I
suspected what had been communicated by them was the
arrangement for our living quarters to be apprized when we
entered the encampment. But I was wrong.
When we entered Metzabok’s caribal we discovered
amid the scattered huts four saddled horses idly standing
Soul/Kambak 65

near four men dressed like cowboys talking urgently with

one of the older Lacandon men of the settlement. Dogs were
barking incessantly as we came into view. The men were
wearing high-laced shirts, boots with spars and straw hats.
On their hips were holstered revolvers. Strapped to their
saddles were large cubes of sapodilla sap, large coiled rope
and machetes. Two saddles had rifles wedged in under the
leather stirrup straps.
“Chicleroes,” Montero said, waving us to hold still.
There seemed to be a disagreement between them and
the elder Lacandon man. They took little notice of us at first
as we paused behind Montero. Then the barking dogs turned
their attention on us. And that brought the gaze the Mexican
cowboys that caught a glimpse of Cassarina.
Ignoring the elder Lacandon, they openly made
malicious lewd sexual gestures toward Cassarina. Montero
quickly walked over to them, muttering something under his
breath, welding his machete with a tight grip. Jorge was
right behind him. I imagine they were hoping to thwart an
unpleasant scene.
The sun was lowering in the sky by now. Daylight was
running out for us to set up our camp. I had been looking
forward to getting things squared away before nightfall. But
this inconvenience would have to be resolved. A hostile
confrontation was not something I was up to, especially after
the hike in the humid jungle. I saw Cassarina to be more
delicate and fragile in stature, contrary to her attitude.
Moreover, she was an unlikely warrior of her own birthright.
But she proved me to be a bad judge of character.
“Of all the dangerous places I’ve been, I’ve yet to find a
dangerous place,” Cassarina said to me. “You can write that
on my heart.”
Soul/Kambak 66

In the spirit from another world, she majestically moved

with prowess, charging triumphantly to confront the rough
looking Mexican cowboys. Dumping her backpack along
the way, Cassarina marched crossed the settlement making it
clear she wasn’t going to show any fear toward these armed
chicleroes. If there was going to be a showdown she was
going to meet it in full glory. All the men’s eyes were fixed
upon her countenance fastened to her commanding voice.
“Que es problema?” she demanded, standing in warrior
poise. Her sudden forcefulness perplexed them. Montero
stood behind her, and Jorge behind him. The elder Lacandon
moved toward the horses, carefully gathering the reins. A
crowd of villagers started to circle showing solidarity for
Cassarina. Unwilling to make a scene with this feisty
woman the chicleroes relented. In short haste, they silently
mounted their horses and trotted off, disappearing into the
surrounding jungle.
Cassarina made an impression on the Lacandones. From
that moment on they carried a confidence and respect toward
us that months of habitation couldn’t have done.

We had entered the Lacandon’s life during a transitional

period. Up till now the Lacandones had guarded themselves
from the corruption and abuses of Western religion and
industry. I don’t want to bother about the details of our first
few months at Metzabok. You can find the documentation
of our labors in the bibliotheca at Anahuac, if the documents
have not already been seized by the Mexican Instituto
Nacional de Antropología e Historia.
As I mentioned before, these direct descendants of the
Maya were now surrounded by the sordid selfishness of
Soul/Kambak 67

industrial consumerism, the violent passions of economic

greed for the forest and land that had been their sanctuary for
centuries. The Maya had predicted this industrial era as the
last four hundred year Baktun cycle. The scourge of
humanity was inevitable, marked by the arrival of the
Spanish Conquest lead by Hernan Cortez on their shores in
Ironically, Cortez arrived exactly on the cyclic
completion predicted for Quetzalcoatl’s return. This caused
ruling Montezuma II so much distress and confusion he
allowed Cortez to quickly gain dominance over the Aztec
empire. What followed was the annihilation of the Mayan
cosmological knowledge, the grand temple monuments that
became hidden to the jungle growth, and the flesh of their
souls spent from bloodshed by vainglorious foreigners.
History, biology and psychology can tell us why they were,
but these things cannot keep them alive. The tropical forest
has proven to be their sustaining life force and that was
quickly being extinguished.
One morning, I sat on the perimeter of the caribal
reflecting on the daily life of the Lacandones. I had just
finished bathing in an open communal roof enclave hut.
Washing water came from a nearby well, but drinking water
was collected from gutters that run along the thatched palm
leaf roofed huts into huge oilcans. This was the only
engineered plumbing I had seen in the settlement. Amid the
morning bird songs, the noisy static of a radio came from
one of the huts.
Jorge, our guide, owned a small short wave radio
charged by a hand generator. It was only good for listening
as the microphone cord had been cut off. He liked to try and
tune in some distant culture’s music in the morning to
entertain the children. The radio was the only modern
Soul/Kambak 68

convenience in the settlement, though the men were eager to

obtain more. I would try to tell them that these material
things didn’t embellish life, but a sense of depravation. They
would laugh with gapped tooth grins and puff on their huge
hand-made cigars.
All the huts were made of log poles and cane, lashed
together. Machetes, the only carpenter tool used by the men,
formed all the furniture, beds and benches. Each household
was complete with a well-organized kitchen. Cooking
utensils were hung above a counter-type basin with a table
top for grinding and preparing food. Within the hut was a
round clay wood-burning fireplace about one meter in
diameter. A black kettle sat atop this fireplace simmering
with beans and rice all day.
There is an opening for the smoke to flow out in the
roofs, and cracks in the walls to allow enough breeze to flow
through to keep the air fresh. The floor of the huts was
typically covered with hand woven mats. I was particularly
surprised to find that the Lacandon don’t use mosquito nets
while sleeping in their hammocks or upon their burlap beds.
They rely on the fireplace smoke as a natural deterrent.
Clay pots, baskets, copal incense bowls and dried balche
bark littered the hut’s porches. The space in one wall that
acted as a swinging door, pivoted on either a clay or glass
hinge. Strung on the inside walls of the hut were hunting
bows, arrows and machetes along with brightly colored
feathers of Macaws and Quetzal birds. The bows and arrows
were similar to the ones housed in Anahuac’s museum,
collected by the late Dr. Albrecht.
The shafts of the arrows were tipped with broken glass
or obsidian flint. The brilliantly colored red and blue
feathers of the Quetzal bird were embedded in the opposite
end of the 4-meter long shafts. Sometimes these highly
Soul/Kambak 69

revered feathers were braided into their hair for ceremonial

The sum total of life here was far removed from the
Western world. I had lost my sense of it as even existing.
That is until Jorge started cranking the battery charger on his
short-wave radio. But even the static radio signals seemed to
fit in with the chorus of jungle life around us. Paradise?
Perhaps, it was to some degree but not for long. The short-
wave transmissions of military coded screeches and global
news broadcasts in a dozen different languages were like a
warning of hubris to come.
When I first arrived, I’d ask Jorge to tune in Radio Free
whatever, or the BBC for updates on world events. But my
interest diminished in a few weeks. Hornsby said we had to
cut the wires of our Western thinking. Listening to the BBC
wasn’t helping me accomplish this. Immersing myself in the
jungle life was my obligation.
The morning stirred with a slight breeze. A multitude of
colorful mariposa’s flew about in the rays of the bright
morning sunlight filtering through the tree canopy. Macaws
and toucans sang out with songbird dawn chorus. There was
an occasional rustle of howler monkeys leaping from one
tree branch to another. The day felt drowsy and peaceful and
so was my pang of hunger.
The Lacandon women, whose ages ranged from
youngster to elderly, were going about cooking tortillas for
the day. Mashing the cooked cornmeal into pliable dough on
their stone piedra de molers, they sang an extraordinary
song. I could observe the women moving in a slow
measured pace, their voices rising in intonation and pitch,
then pausing for a period of time, only to repeat the process
again in fairly regular intervals.
Soul/Kambak 70

The corn dough was formed into small balls and rolled
out and flattened like a crepe. Then the tortillas would be
cooked upon an open fire, toasted lightly. Soon we would be
having a feast of rice, beans, eggs with hot peppers and salt.
The Lacandones understood the first principle of nature, its
aim entirely on gratifying the stomach.
The primitive appearance of these people causes one’s
perception of them as being impoverished and meek.
Nothing could have been further from the truth. Their gentle
dignity displayed what is called in Mayan -- Yacunah -- an
indisputable poignancy of being, which paradoxically causes
them suffering when dealing with occidental society.
Living in the lavish beauty of the pluvisela obviates
one’s concept of material depravations. The men lounge in
their hammocks, smoking tobacco, taking rest from their
intensely laborious hunts. The women go about the daily
chores of the household. The children play. All of it is in
As I looked at each of the settlement’s chibrams’ log
pole thatched roof huts, it was evident there were no
constraints of occidental socialization for the Lacandones to
abide by. They live harmoniously sequestered in the
rainforest, poised with an austere countenance that was
admirable. Impoverished? The wealth of their divine heart
was a priceless treasure to behold, but you could not possess.
And the children, potbellied nakedness, played about on
the dirt floors of their thatched roof huts, mature in their
independence. I marveled at how they would use their
imaginations using simple rocks and sticks. These children,
surrounded by deadly insects, snakes, caimans, ocelots, and
jaguars, go about their business with reckless abandonment.
Their parents appear to be casual with the children’s freedom
to roam, but I sense their peripheral vision is always
Soul/Kambak 71

watchful and alert. And parental instruction teaches them at

an early age about the potential dangers around them and
how to use their instincts to protect themselves.
The longer I lived with the Hach Winik in this remote
jungle settlement, the less I felt being on the fringe of their
existence. At times I was not so self-assured in joining the
effort of Hornsby to find the mythological Soul Chamber.
Perhaps it was buried in the intrinsic consciousness of the
Lacandon, like the ‘dreamtime’ that the professor was so
skilled at interpreting. Hornsby had written:
Dreamtime reveals the common
law that binds our biological
selves to the ethereal cosmos, a
multidimensional appearance
pointed directed at a place in time
to give the vision of destiny that is
impossible for us to consciously
manifest. Dreamtime is the secret
doctrine of the indigenous, the
origin of their strange
mythological narrations that
Western humankind has ignored
with veracity. Dreamtime is
meant to nurture humankind to
be creator of their destiny, at the
same time showing how the
inevitable fatalisms that burden
life must be overcome with heroic
effort. Dreamtime is the voice of
the ancestors.
I know why. Once the ancestors target your soul, you
feel invisible footsteps following you, the whisper of voices
Soul/Kambak 72

always upon your thoughts. A lunacy creeps into your sense

of being that makes your sense of time and space
otherworldly. The thought of it caused a chill to run through
me like an apparition’s spirit passing through the body.
The reason was that I had dreamed about the maelstrom
of an earthquake destruction bursting through the pristine
rainforest, striking down and mangling the sweet beautiful
flesh of human souls. The fierce mysterious image of a sun
blackened had been haunting me ever since.
And now, this nightmarish dream made me feel like a
man pursued, looking back over his shoulder, at a truth that
was too dangerous to pronounce. Its stark images murmured
into my every daily thought now. I kept brushing it aside,
burying it in hopes that the trouble it foretold would fade,
through the course of daily distractions.
One way was to assist Cassarina in cataloging her
collections of foliage and medicinal plants. At times, I
would make subtle inquiries in trying to inadvertently coax
from her any evidence of a similar experience, but I only was
paid with shrugs of indifference and silence. Her interest
was of the original motive, the treasures of the jungle,
conveyed in her inherent behavior.
The work was monotonous but not unpleasant, though I
found being around Cassarina challenging. She was
absolutely pragmatic about her ethnobotany collection at the
settlement, taking these matters in utmost significance.
Cassarina emphasized how important it was for me not to
make mistakes, following her instructions explicitly in
cataloging the various species. Other than that, she hung
back about her intimate appreciations of life.
“You’re more of a ‘nature’ type, rather than a ‘nurture’
type,” I ventured one day to break the dull moments standing
Soul/Kambak 73

in the stuffy hot research tent, pressing leaves between

journal pages.
“Rather an off-handed observation, Jules,” Cassarina
“Nature versus nurture, the age old debate.”
“Such matters are for psychological babble.”
“One is scientific dominance of perception, the other is
humanistic. Look around you Cassarina. There are people
to be observed, their lives following an excited sense of
purpose in this out-of-the way corner of the world.”
“Bloody extrinsic theory.”
“Nature mingles in the state of ecstasy, melted into the
silence of an even deeper import, the . . .”
“Be careful with that,” Cassarina cut me off, deliberately
grabbing my wrist for a moment. “Lay them flat first.” I
was about to press a page that would crease a leaf.
“Dreams of acquisitions.” I finished my sentence.
I looked at the doctor next to me, realizing that I had
scarcely known the importance of the contact between us.
Perhaps it was her touch that triggered the actual impression
of her leading me to take things as they came. The light of
the fact was she didn’t have any idea of what I was thinking.
What I sensed was Cassarina joined the expedition based on
harder terms, maybe a consequence of things that pushed her
convictions to prove self-worth. Maybe it was some kind of
truth that I was too stupid to penetrate.
“The relations I am only concerned about are cultures,
plants, and diseases derived from phylogenetic foliage where
feasible. This is a method of confirming that the plants have
biologically active compounds in them. I want to use a
much more efficient means to analyze and compare herbal
remedies for diseases such as diabetes, diarrhea, and malaria
Soul/Kambak 74

used in traditional cultures.” She never looked up at me

while she dictated her thoughts.
One day I tried to make a remarkable portrait of charm
for her by telling a few jokes. Unimpressed and a bit miffed,
she took a needling stab at my archetypal research of the
Lacandones psyche in a querulous declaration that my
research was a “frivolous voyeuristic escapade.”
“You can never fully understand human nature through a
test tube,” I argued.
“Oh, how insightful, Jules,” she retorted. “Is that what
they taught you at Berkeley?”
Cassarina was one to turn her opinion into
sledgehammer directness.
“Psychology makes science into the mythical quest for
the Holy Grail. Your scientific discipline turns chemistry
into alchemy. Psychologists mistake their own shadows as
A tense silence fell between us, but she didn’t let up
ribbing me.
“The physical health of a culture is the evidence of its
consciousness, not the other way around,” the mistress of
wisdom said.
I had become exasperated like a parent tolerating a
bickering child, suffering the deluge of her antagonistic
“Your version is completely forged, Cassarina. It is not
so appealing for me to seek the meaning of life in such a
manner that follows the constraints of a Draconian mindset,
as it is to understand the phenomenology of human nature
controlled by time and space,” I said heatedly.
She stood before me with a British stiff upper lip, but I
could see the lower one quivering. I took the opportunity to
make my strike.
Soul/Kambak 75

“Look about you, the pestilence of our degenerating

society is right here draining these indigenous people of their
existence. Is this baseline normal mental health? I believe
you’re on your own quest to find the divine cure for
corporate pharmacology to patent and profit at the expense
of the afflicted masses! You just as well should be
exploiting the knowledge of these people for commercial
gain, while they pay the price of extinction.” I glared at her.
Cassarina looked pained and disqualified. I had struck
upon the very cause for the dwindling numbers of
Lacandones remaining alive, putting her at the center of the
“That’s not true,” Cassarina fiercely riposted.
“It’s a fact,” I said.
“What is the test of truth?” Cassarina furiously said.
“Time,” I quickly replied in retaliation.
“Then so long as we have the test of time, we can see
how the puzzle is solved,” she said vociferously, turning and
stomping out of our tarpaulin roofed field station as if she
preserved her cocksureness. I starred after her, watching the
gait of her lissome body tramp off. Her anger made her even
more beautiful.
“But will you trust your life journey over to it?” I
muttered while resuming my tedious sorting of flora on the
Soul/Kambak 76

Chapter 5
Baltazar’s Tale

We were two months into our research project when

Hornsby made his fourth bi-weekly visit to the Metzabok
settlement along with Montero; replenishing our supplies and
collecting our tapes, rolls of black and white film, and two
hundred-page leather bond journals that were meticulously
written to follow his field research format.
Hornsby had explicitly instructed us to use the left page
for our observations from the day including logging of our
photographs and audiotaping. These entries must be
concluded each evening before retiring. Any corrections or
additions that were made went on the right page the
following morning after we had time to sleep on what we
had written.
With each visit, Hornsby was becoming visibly more
anxious. He spent little effort to report any progress from
the other members of the research group, though he did
mentioned that Helen Wordsworth had fallen ill with malaria
and returned to America to recover.
Cassarina, however, didn’t seem concerned, dominating
our debriefings about the progress of her botanical medicine
work. Hornsby listened intently. In this regard, I felt a
growing skepticism about him and the expedition’s ultimate
purpose. With Hornsby you could never tell. But I did have
Soul/Kambak 77

some news, as I debriefed Hornsby of my last two weeks of

In an authoritative manner I said, “I have a roll of film
taken of some rock art we found along a cliff next to Laguna
Metzabok. Unfortunately, we didn’t spend much time at this
site because it started to rain.” Hornsby pointed to the micro
cassette tape next to my journals.
“Here is a recording of Baltazar. He lives isolated with
his wife and children on the other side of Lago Metzabok.
“He practices traditional sustainable farming.
Amazingly, he is intercropping about 60 different kinds of
fiber foods and edible plants,” Cassarina interjected.
“Baltazar does seem to be able to remember his father’s
stories vividly,” I continued, trying to keep Hornsby’s
attention focused on me.
“Go on, Jules,” Hornsby said, shifting his glance at me.
Cassarina sat back, looking a bit rejected.
“Thank you,” I said, opening up my journal.
I reiterated that a week ago Cassarina and I had ventured
out to interview Baltazar. He was one Lacandon we had
been waiting to get permission to visit since we first arrived
at the settlement because of his isolated encampment.
“The isolation of this particular Lacandon could be
advantageous in uncovering any clues about the Soul
Chamber,” Hornsby said. I nodded in agreement and
continued to inform Hornsby of my findings.
We were guided and assisted by our Lacandon
translator, Jorge, a resident Lacandon at the Metzabok
village. Baltazar’s hut was designed with a much lower
rounded roof then those constructed at Metzabok, causing
one to stoop down to enter. A continuous smoldering fire
had blackened the interior but the fumes were a natural
Soul/Kambak 78

deterrent for mosquitoes. Chickens roamed free and stray

dogs pestered us, begging for scraps of food.
Cassarina, who had since retired for the evening, and I
had spent the day collecting various plants including a prime
specimen of the plumeria rubra flower, known by the
Lacandon as the bak nikte, which created the first god,
Sukunkyum, older brother of Hach’ kyum. Sukunkyum is
chief lord of the underworld and judge’s souls.
Late in the second evening, Baltazar unexpectedly
opened up to me. I was sitting on a bench near Baltazar,
who was lying in his hammock. He started talking in earnest
with Jorge, who in turned translated for me.
“The thirteen parts of the soul must remain whole or one
will be possessed by evil. This will bring illness and death.
Even if one part splits off, witches can put curses on you,
causing you death. One day a thundering metallic bird flew
over the village. We had never seen such bird. The sight
and sound caused my people’s souls to become split off.”
Baltazar arms were animated as he talked.
A wide-eyed crazed look transformed his face. One of
his infant children started to cry. Baltazar’s wife quickly
came over picking up the naked infant in her arms to comfort
him. Baltazar continued slightly amused but unconcerned.
“Everyone was running around, crazy. Falling on the
ground. Falling all over each other. The t ‘o’ ohil was busy
for many weeks, healing everyone.”
Then Baltazar, taking a long drag off his cigar size
cigarette, turned to look directly into my eyes.
“Ki’ wenen tech. Ki’ I ba’ wilik,” he said.
“Sleep you well. Be careful what you see in your
dreams,” Jorge interpreted.
Soul/Kambak 79

I pronounced Baltazar’s words phonetically to Hornsby.

I had yet to fully grasp the rudiments of guttural intonations
imbedded in their Lacandon tongue.
Hornsby for the first time, didn’t fidget with impatience
or interrupt with a sidebar conversation with Cassarina. No,
I had caught his undivided attention. I read my subjective
First, I must make a footnote
about the major Maya deity,
Sukunkyum. Sukunkyum
determines if a person was
honest or not, if they lied, or
committed a heinous crime,
incest or theft. If so, their soul
is given to the Mayan deity,
Kisin, who will punish them by
alternately burning and freezing
their soul. Kisin is the Mayan
deity of earthquakes and death.
In regard to the incident that
Baltazar related, I was struck by
the fact that the Lacandon are
conscious of a whole self, and
that the introduction of the
technological world, in this case
the airplane, caused them to
collectively sense an immediate
split to their homeostatic
psyche. They acted as if the
sight of the airplane was a
fatalistic event. The t ‘o’ ohil in
this manner, acted as a
Soul/Kambak 80

psychoanalyst in managing to
bring their sense of reality back
to homeostasis, thus avoiding
traumatic ill effects resulting
from the experience of the
unexplainable aircraft. I am left
to speculate: Is it that a
technological entity can have
such a detrimental effect upon
our consciousness? Is it for this
reason their Yucatan Maya
ancestors eluded the invasion of
the Spanish by fleeing deep into
the jungle?
“You’ve touched upon something,” Hornsby said,
tapping his fingers together.
His sentiment was unusual. Most of the time he was
indifferent with my reports, and took little time to discuss
any matters or details. But this time he sat contemplating my
last note, cross-legged on our research tent floor, rubbing his
chin with his right hand, staring absentmindedly into space.
Something I had said was significant enough to trigger a
deep memory in him. Cassarina couldn’t bear the silence.
She opened up her journal, as Hornsby collected his
thoughts, flipping the pages to a large fold-out map she had
“And so, Dr. Hornsby, here is a detailed layout of
Baltazar’s intercropping system.” Hornsby waved her off.
“Sleep, you well . . . careful what you see in your
dreams,” he said softly. Standing up, he paced about the
tented shelter to pontificate.
“Must continue to purify our understanding of the
dialect of these people. Dream interpretation for the
Soul/Kambak 81

Lacandon is a unique blend of paradoxical metaphysics.

Jack has written that the Lacandon seemed to be only
concerned about negative dreams, as they are premonitory in
nature. Who needs to know about a kismet?” Hornsby said,
throwing up his arms in the air.
He was acting as animated as Baltazar had when telling
me about the airplane incident.
“Life is basically good. They interpret unpleasant
dreams to avoid impending misfortune. My sense of it is
that Baltazar’s last comment to you was an allusion.”
“Que, socaste, Jules?” Cassarina said in an indifferent
tone of voice. By now she had accepted Hornsby’s full
attention with my report.
“Yes, Jules. Have you had any dreams?” Hornsby
stopped dead in his pacing tracks and looked directly at me,
eyes bulging, keyed up with intense interest.
I shook my head.
“No. None that I can recall.” I dutifully gathered up my
journal, audiotapes and canisters of exposed film, putting
them into Hornsby’s pack that lay on the table next to us.
“But you’re so bloody, Jungian. How could you not
have any interest in your dreamscape?” Cassarina moved
over to the research table collecting her materials as well.
“None,” I said.
“Well, you’ll be sure to write any down,” Hornsby
concluded. “I can pass on your dreams to Garthwaite for
interpretation by chief Chan K’in Viejo at the Naha
“Yes, of course.” I was slow to answer, avoiding eye
contact. I could palpate the weight of their stares on me.
The tension came to a head. “I think that would be a waste
of time, Dr. Hornsby.”
Hornsby was surprised. “Why?”
Soul/Kambak 82

“How can you expect Chan K’in to relate to our Western

symbol-drenched images like Noah’s Ark or a winged
Nordic helmet? These things would have a different
meaning to the Lacandon,” I reasoned.
“But there are similarities. Water represents human
tears, which is emotional purging in Western description,”
Hornsby offered.
“I can only agree that dreams are the bridge between the
waking and sleeping life. What they represent can be
entirely individual with some common occurrences
foretelling future events. However, there is a striking
parallel between modern psychiatry and Chan K’in’s general
classifications.” I related to Hornsby and Cassarina what
had been deciphered about Chan K’in’s dream interpretation.
What I was getting at was the first aspect of Freudian
psychiatry dream interpretation known as “reversal” or in
Lacandon ba’ik u tus . . . a kind of lie. The second Freudian
based principal was “metaphor” or in Lacandon u k’in . . . its
prophecy. The third aspect was “direct representation” or in
Lacandon hach u pixan . . . its soul.
I wanted to illustrate the disadvantages to fixed symbolic
dream elucidations as a diversion to conceal my own
nightmarish dream.
“Dream images are too ambiguous of representations for
self-referencing. The self referentially recognizes the
information provided, but it can’t be conceptualized properly
in our consciousness. Co-mingling an occidental’s dream
with an indigenous paradigm only makes for a cinematic
diversion. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy in a visual and
verbal context.” I spoke with finality.
I knew that what I said was so much nonsense that it
nonplussed Hornsby into silence. I was postulating with the
expert on the phenomenology of aboriginal dreamtime. I
Soul/Kambak 83

could feel the stir of air from his heated breath against my
“It’s late, I must get an early start,” the professor
solemnly remarked.
Dr. Hornsby was insulted by my earnestness in resisting
his sincere inquiry. He quickly picked up his pack and left
the tent not saying a word more in response to my rebuff. I
wanted to say something, but was immobilized by the way
Hornsby’s piercing eyes sized me up.
“You’ve overlooked something,” Hornsby said, turning
away in haste.
The moment Hornsby was out of sight, Cassarina turned
to me with a look of disdain.
“Was that necessary? Such bloody rigmarole.”
“You think so?” I said.
“Without a doubt.” Cassarina left me standing alone in
the tent without saying good night.
The night ended on a sour note. I had thoughtlessly
forgotten that this man had survived far more in the essential
desolate wonderings of his beliefs for decades. Gallantly, by
virtue of his pure spirit, he was dispatched to take the
greatest possible risks in the spirit of adventure that were
inconceivable to me in my youth. Hornsby was consumed
by such modesty that you would forget that standing before
you, this man had survived near fatalistic events. He had
ascended the fears of civilized man to venture into the
unknown wilderness of the indigenous world no matter how
remote it would be.
I stood in the open night air of Metzabok, deep in the
jungle. The magnificence of the whole celestial arch of the
Milky Way made me feel like a pitiful spec on the
windshield of life. I cursed myself for having allowed such
intercourse to come between us. Hornsby was right; there
Soul/Kambak 84

was another aspect to dream analysis that I had overlooked --

Soul/Kambak 85

Chapter 6

Early the next morning, Hornsby promptly informed me

that I would have two more weeks at this settlement at which
point I would return to San Cristobal de las Casa for further
“Every time I visit this settlement,” Hornsby
complained, “you’ve been ill prepared. You have an
obligation to produce something more sufficient to at least
validate your graduate work, which I might add, I’ve signed
on as your advisor. I am beginning to wonder what you are
doing here?” Hornsby was indignant.
“Yes, of course,” I sheepishly replied.
I wanted to counter with complaint about Cassarina
taking up my time, cataloging her plants, but I could see
Hornsby had a short fuse to a big stick of explosives.
“To speak plainly, Jules, I can’t afford your tone with
me.” Hornsby turned and marched off.
I stood there swaying in perplexed emotions, feeling that
the man wanted to shoot me, but I didn’t want to judge him
that harshly.
“What can he expect from me?” I thought.
For the most part, Cassarina had over heard our
conversation from the field station tent. She was unusually
silent the rest of the day, keeping her distance. I emotionally
Soul/Kambak 86

withdrew. I kept out of her way. Why is it that those who

have suffered much, cause others to suffer? Even the
villagers sensed my compunction and kept their distance.
Later in the evening, as Cassarina and I ate our meal of
paella and tortillas, she broke the daylong silence.
“Don’t be so penny wise and pound foolish. You ought
to apologize.”
“It’s not my style.” I didn’t want to dare hint at the very
thing that had caused the riff between Hornsby and I.
“He’s a bit mad, you know.” Cassarina set down her
empty bowl on the table before her and leaned back against
her camp chair, relaxed and cross-legged in the lantern light.
“He’s not mad.” I protested.
For a few moments, she twirled a long curl of her long
dark hair, contemplating her thoughts. My colleague spoke
frankly with me with a pose of magnificent eloquence.
“You could have looked through your analysis
microscope to see it. But then again, you’re in the petri dish
along with him, so how could you?” Cassarina fell silent for
a moment then said with frankness.
“He really can’t go back.”
“The university -- Cambridge and his tenure. It’s much
too desolate for him. This is where he belongs.”
Cassarina words dissipated the blinders about my eyes.
She was absolutely right. Hornsby had crossed over. How
could one expect him to re-adapt to the occidental milieu
after immersing oneself in the aboriginal world. And more
so, as Cassarina pointed out, he is a solitary man.
“I can see it in his eyes, Jules. During our meetings, he
was always looking hopefully at you, like you were his
protégée. His tough exterior is just ornamental.”
Soul/Kambak 87

I had no conception of this. Her counsel fascinated me

and echoed within me the truth of Hornsby’s aching solitude.
At the core of it, his wilderness was my wilderness.
“The two of you are like two ships rafted together in a
becalmed sea, impatiently waiting for a stiff breeze to fill
your sails,” Cassarina philosophized.
I put down my bowl, wondering if she wasn’t just
patronizing me. Cassarina reassured me that not all was lost.
She dared to say that she would advocate for my continuance
with her, as I had proven to be a reliable assistant for her
“Cassarina, how can you compare me to him?” I
ventured to understand her motivation for talking with me in
such context. “I don’t have the same abilities as him.”
“You both are insurgents to social change. However,
one is more seasoned than the other. But each of you keep
each other alive, that’s enough.” Cassarina turned to look
out at the shadowy jungle brush about the field station tent
where an uncommon rustling was heard. “I’d hate to see
him abandoned. A man with such ideas, vision,
he needs you like an antidote for poison.”
Lost for a thoughtful reply I excused myself for the
evening, retiring in my hammock under the lean-to I had
constructed. I didn’t sleep, but lay awake fidgeting in
restlessness, watching the passing of a golden slice of moon
augmented by glittering stars moving across eternity. The
luster of the celestial sky, the Milky Way, was crowded out
by the long shadow of gloom pressing upon my heart.
All the while that Cassarina had been talking, I was
slipping down a steep emotional ravine. The dream, that
confounded dream that I had for several nights in a row, I
couldn’t belie its existence. I forced myself not to talk about
it. I was fearful that it would prove prophetic. I knew this
Soul/Kambak 88

without a doubt. But the more I tried to keep its secret the
more it tried to creep into my conscious reality.
Its phantom presence was now overshadowing my every
daily thought and action. I could hear the dream’s voice
whispering when the Lacandon starred into my eyes, tacitly
knowing. I sensed that their telepathic powers slipped
through my mental shield of denial.
These indigenous people didn’t tolerate lies. No, such
cunning was considered dishonorable. One must shoulder
the burden of their vicissitudes no matter how bitter the taste
of its truth. Least of all, I would get no absolution from them
if I continued to harbor the danger to my situation because
they would consider my silence as bringing ill will upon
them. By daybreak, I had had the fill of my distraught
emotions that conflicted with my inscrutable purpose to be
honest with myself. I was desperate to find a resolve to this
I left the settlement in the chilly pre-dawn morning,
heading blindly out into the mist shrouded highland jungle. I
thought that a brisk hike would help me gain my composure
and face the fact of my inevitable expulsion from the
I hadn’t gone far when a distinct rustle in the bush
stopped me dead in my tracks. “Jaguar,” I thought as
my heart skipped a beat.
Having come to the edge of a stream, I could have
inadvertently come upon its watering hole. I froze, scanning
the stream’s lush green embankment. From the corner of
my eye, I caught a glimpse of a fleeting dim glow through a
thick tree stand. Squinting up my eyes, I tried to see what
was lurking there.
Another rustle and the distant growl of a jaguar caused
me to run into a waist-deep grass meadow behind me. The
Soul/Kambak 89

mist filled emptiness about me bore an enchanting landscape

of a dark-faced pensive jungle. Suddenly, several glowing
spheres of various sizes appeared, floating in mid-air. I
stood transfixed with immobility. The thick mist faded as
the iridescent geometrical orbs sharpen in form. There was a
momentary blinding flash. When I could see again, a short
old man stood before me in statuesque repose.
The grass blades dew glistened as the sunlight broke
through the fog, a beam of its rays surrounding his
appearance. I curiously eyed him, composed of pulsating
luminous ethereal spheres that held his holographic
existence. A hush had fallen about the whole jungle as if it
was held in suspense of uncertainty.
The light about him was most intense at a yard’s length
from his upper body. He glanced about the grass meadow
filled with what seemed like billions of energy fields in the
form of shimmering filaments. The luminous spheres
expanded, engulfing me, as he pointed in a deliberate
direction for me to follow him. I felt a rush of electrical
current through my body. The dense fog that had retreated
toward the edges of the jungle about us was surrounding us.
The luminosity of the sphere engulfed him that contained an
electromagnetic force I couldn’t resist.
At first, I trembled with every step I took, trying to keep
up as he moved stealthy through what had become a dense
fog. Such an impossible phenomenon was thrust upon me
so unexpectedly. I was caught in terror of what had
possessed me. The shape of impending danger was all about
me as I moved into a territory I was unfamiliar with. This
mysterious man’s presence was overpowering any of my
Every distinct odor of the jungle filled my nostrils. My
eyesight became crystal clear taking in a full 180-degree
Soul/Kambak 90

peripheral range. Each sound I heard about me, resonated as

a voice speaking to me. My body felt electrified with
sensory awareness. I wanted to get a sense of my location,
but he showed no concern to stop. All I could tell was that
we were climbing up a steep craggy mountainside in a thick
vapor exhaled by the forest itself.
I was acutely aware of an earth breathing beneath my
feet. With each step, I realized my movements were
effortless. No longer was my heart pounding from
exhaustion. No longer did I feel the fatigue in my muscles or
gasping out-of-breath. His supernatural spell gave my body
the ability to nimbly race. But the aboriginal sorcerer eluded
me with the quickness of a cat, slowing just enough for me to
catch up. It became a cat and mouse game.
As soon as I got with a few feet of him, he would shape
shift in a bright blur spinning out of sight and reappearing a
few hundred yards in front of me. I jumped after him. The
sensation was incredible when I moved. Electrifying
impulses surged through every muscle fiber, giving me the
strength and agility beyond comprehension. On and on we
went like this until we arrived at the entrance of a cave. It
was then he stopped and turned to face me.
Finally, I got my first close look at him. He stood no
higher than my breast. His piteous sight repulsed me. My
blood ran cold as I realized his flesh was a mottled melanin
and the irises of his eyes were clouded blind. A swarthy,
withered face that hid behind dangling strands of long
bleached matted hair enhanced his demur appearance. He
appeared like a pathetic beast, an unlawful soul of the earth
rather than the admirable sage I had witnessed in the grass
meadow. He stood in a disguising pose, his murky eyes
starring at me.
Soul/Kambak 91

The old barefoot aborigine was perched on top of a heap

of bones, fragments of which were strewed all about the
darken cave’s entrance. Along one wall of the rock entrance
was a row of human skulls. Their cranial foreheads were
more flattened than modern skulls. Broken shards of clay
incense burners were mixed about the debris making this an
obvious ceremonial chamber. I was convinced I had been
lead to the edge of my own destiny, whose passions appeared
pitiless in the face of this abnormal entity standing before
Was I lost in the suggestiveness of my own dream, the
nightmare of my own soul to be sacrificed by a wild savage
tribe lost in the Maya Forest? I was not prepared for what
came next. Out of the cave tramped a wretched looking
mangy dog. It roamed around me uninhibited, its bony
frame protruded through its skin, sniffing me as if approving
my existence.
Believe me or not, I stood there in shock, as it completed
its task, growling momentarily before giving an approving
“yelp” and trotted off. You might think me mad at this
point, but by heavens, I am telling you the ordeal that
followed lead me to the inconceivable mysticism that
Hornsby knew about.
The mangled bony white-flesh hand of the blind
aborigine grasped my arm. His grip pulled on me. As I said
before, my sensory awareness was acute. I felt I was moving
outside of my body as we entered the limestone cavern, lit by
the flicking flame of a small terracotta pot he mysteriously
acquired in his hand.
At the grotto’s entrance sat five puma’s. I suspected
them to be the guardians keeping vigil for intruders. They
all roared at my presence, then went silent by the wave of my
guide’s hand. We continued downward along a long
Soul/Kambak 92

corridor inside the cave. The air was filled with the smoke
of copal incense. I noticed numerous tunnels leading off into
shadowed darkness on either side of me. The sound of
trickling water infiltrated the damp air. Deeper we went
with only the flickering flame of his lamp to see by.
Eventually we came to a large grotto with a large stone
alter in the center. He motioned me to sit down on piles of
fresh water shells and terrestrial snails. Obedient, I did what
I was told.
In the flickering shadows about me, I noticed the
grotesque shapes of Mayan deity faces sculptured on what
Lacandones called, lak-il k’uh or copal incense burners.
More than that, I noticed anthropomorphic art on the walls of
the cavern becoming animated.
“La’in ka, Moise,” the old aborigine said with sincerity,
squatting across from me. He was speaking a different
tongue than Hach Wink. I surmised he was telling me his
name. My whole perception was a pulsating field of
panchromatic molecular energy. A thousand eyes
surrounded me, peering out from the darkness of the
“Xibalba,” Moise said. “Aqui.” He was telling me I
had entered the Underworld of Mayan mythology.
Moise reached out quickly to grab my hands. He
inspected the fingertips of each hand delicately touching the
contours of my fingernails like reading brail.
“Chal balum.”
This time I could make sense of what he was saying. He
spoke the Hach Winik word for “jaguar” releasing my hands.
I realized that he was determining my onen, the particular
animal ancestry I was related to, necessary in interpretation
of dreams. The shape and texture of the fingernails was the
Soul/Kambak 93

“Que socaste?” Moise asked me. He spoke perfect

Spanish. How I found the words or even the ability to
communicate with him, I don’t recall. The moment after he
asked me about my dreams, a jolt of energy ran from the
bottom of my spine up through my body and out of my head.
I felt the emission of a warm surging vortex type beam just
above the brow of my eyes.
My nightmarish dream played out like a holographic
projection within the cave. There was the beginning scene of
the sun rising in the eastern horizon, illuminating the jungle
canopy. The landscape opened up in a vast distance, almost
as if I could see the breath of the Maya Forest that covered
southern Mexico, the Yucatan Peninsula and northern
Guatemala spanning off to the shores of the Caribbean.
As the sunlight became more pronounced, the luxuriant
jungle vegetation was dotted with pinnacles of magnificent
stone temples and acropolis palaces. Shafts of radiant golden
morning light prompted Moise to say, “Ah kin” the Mayan
name for Sun Day or loosely translated by the Lacandon as
The celestial night slowly became extinguished by the
vibrancy of the sun’s crimson rays illuminating against
towering white clouds about the skyline. As the sun rose
further in the sky, the vast openness of the jungle became
visible. All was extraordinarily peaceful.
There appeared a long ornate stone causeway running
through the jungle’s vast expanse. The causeway connected
three major temples that were separated by hundreds of miles
in direct alignment. Here was the colossal wonderment of
the Maya dynasty as it appeared over a thousand years ago.
As I looked closer at the causeway, I saw the busy activity of
a populated civilization.
Soul/Kambak 94

“Yaxbe,” Moise said, pointing to the stone causeway’s

image suspended in mid-air before me.
He had spoken the Yucatec Maya word for “green
passage.” Moise’s crooked index finger stretched out from
his hand. When the tip of his finger touched the image, it
rippled momentarily, liked the surface of still water when
disturbed by a gentle breeze. Turning to smile at me, Moise
glanced over at a specific location. There was a large river
basin closest to the temple near me at the base of a mountain
range. The farthest temple seemed to be located on the
Yucatan peninsula and the nearest by the Chiapas Highlands.
“Yaxchilan,” Moise pointed to the nearest temple to the
south. Then he directed my attention to the furthest temple
and said, “Calakmul.”
Below Calakmul, among the temples directly to the
south he pointed one out as, “Masuul.”
Then directing my attention toward what would be north
central Guatemala his elongated finger pointed to a temple
called, “Cancuen.”
But what caught my eye was a prominent temple
situated midway in a direct line between what Moise had
pointed as Palenque and Calakmul. It was engulfed in a
purplish color. The whole structure was transparent with
three glowing geometrical orbs contained inside of the
“Yaxkin,” Moise said pointing to this middle temple of
pulsating light that shot a beam of radiance straight up into
the heavens.
But at that second the sky dimmed. The sun was being
eclipsed. Then, I heard a large rumbling sound deep within
the earth. The causeway shook. The people wavered, trying
to steady themselves. Than they ran scared as the causeway
stone crumbled from the shifting earth beneath them. Some
Soul/Kambak 95

of the temples fell to ruin, while the jungle accelerated in

tropical growth. The three-orbed illuminated temple
I could see many people falling between gapping
crevasses. Others tried to save them but it was in vain. A
vicious upheaval knocked them back. Lightning bolted from
the darkening sky. Thunderclaps echoed against the very
walls of the alter chamber. Some of the natives struggled to
their feet only to fall again from the earth’s violent tremors.
The causeway buckled and broke apart like dried sticks
being snapped in half and then the ruinous rubble was
swallowed in a terrible convulsion of a natural disaster. The
day turned into a pitch-black night.
“Kisin,” Moise muttered.
He was referring to the Lord of Death. Moise was right.
I knew from Lacandon dream interpretation that the eclipse
of the sun meant the death of someone. But here my dream

In an instant I found myself lying faced down in a

shallow stream. Soaked and cold, I choked on gulps of
water, reviving me from unconsciousness. The experience
of my encounter with Moise was still vivid in my mind, but
for the most part I wasn’t able to determine if it had been real
or not. I pulled my stiff body out of the chilly stream waters.
It was a laborious task. The gravity of the earth was
My head throbbed. Each step I took was a complete
effort because my muscles were rigid. I still found strength
to stagger in the shallow stream, coming upon a gap in the
foliage. I hoped it was the trail to the settlement. The waist-
Soul/Kambak 96

high grassy meadow I stood in before was nowhere to be

seen so I was completely disoriented. The day had filtered
into the crepuscular of dusk.
With no other sense of a route to take, I instinctively
followed on the path eventually recognizing the way by the
familiar arrangement of the foliage about me. Eased by
familiar territory, I tried to sort out what had just happened.
If in fact this was an indigenous dreamtime experience, and
the mysterious Moise explained my dream as the means to
find the lost Mayan temple that contains the Soul Chamber,
to go there would mean the price of human life.
Was I divining my own end? What could I tell Hornsby
or for that matter confide in Cassarina? As much as there
was a startling revelation, understand that I was even more
confused and unsettled by Moise.
Montezuma, the Aztec priest of Mexico-Tenochtitlan,
had several boding evil omens appear about a decade before
the arrival of Cortez. It was recorded that fire shot out like a
huge spurt from the sun; a divine temple burned down; a
mysterious lightning bolt was seen devoid of a thunderclap
that caused another temple to be consumed by fire; water
boiled by a fierce wind that flooded villages; an unseen
woman cried out at night with a lamenting song for the
people; a strange bird with mirror-like plume was caught in
the fishing nets that made Montezuma see a war in the
future, and then two-headed deformed men started appearing
before the people, only to disappear when brought before
When the first Spanish Conquistadors arrived in the
beginning of the Sixteenth Century, Montezuma sent his
magicians and wizards to put curses on them to no avail.
Thinking they must be deities from the heavens he sent
captives to be sacrificed as an attempt to appease the
Soul/Kambak 97

supernatural gods. This only repulsed the Spanish further.

Just as Montezuma was overwhelmed by doubts and
indecision to the foreboding doom of an invading danger, I
as well, was stuck in a cauldron of perplexity. It was dark by
the time I arrived back at the settlement.
Cassarina confronted me as I entered our campsite,
shining a bright flashlight in my face. She was livid with a
mix of anger and worry.
“I hope that something deathly important caused you to
wonder off for three days!”
“I’m surprised you noticed,” I said cynically. Then it
dawned on me that she had said “three days.”
“I started to go looking for you but Jorge wouldn’t allow
me. There was a jaguar prowling outside the settlement.
Besides, Dr. Hornsby is probably right. You’re becoming
I would have been more grateful for some supportive
words, but instead, Cassarina was back to her ridiculing self.
“Put a cork in it,” I spewed out at her, taking refuge in
my hammock under my lean-too, draping the mosquito net
about me. I was famished, light headed and so physically
exhausted, I fell fast asleep in my hammock.
For the ten days that followed, awaiting Dr. Hornsby’s
return, little was spoken between Cassarina and I. I
continued to document her plant collections, dutifully so as
not to interrupt her progress. During my idle time, I
stretched out in my hammock meditating on the sound of
raindrops during passing cloudbursts or playing with the
Lacandon children in the warm sunlight.
It seem that she had abandoned any respect for me,
feeling betrayed by my silence about my unusual
disappearance. Certainly our working arrangement was
strained, as I had taken off without prior word to her. The
Soul/Kambak 98

longer I kept silent and resigned the more convinced she

became that my expulsion from the settlement was best.
Never did she suspect that I was in shock from an
unbelievable experience that did not contrast with anything I
had ever known.
To even find the words to explain the appearance of
Moise would most likely cause Cassarina to suspect that I
was taking some of the hallucinogenic Datura inoxia she had
collected. And after my denouncement of any credibility of
dream interpretations it would be hypocritical to try and
retract my position. Anything I would say that looked like I
was trying to reinstate myself would be seen as a far-fetched
attempt to cover up my foolishness. I had plunged myself
into a self-incriminating pit by not telling the truth.
I couldn’t see my way out, except to leave the
expedition. Cassarina found it best not to voice her righteous
thoughts on the matter of my disappearance. She recognized
it would have been impossible to open me up as I avoided
her like the plague around the settlement.
Regardless, she couldn’t confirm the reality of my
dreamtime experience being a medical doctor and not a
psychologist. That was the crux of the conflict that built up
an animosity between us over the past two months. I was
kept at bay, silent and guarded. The days dragged on into an
eternity of monotonous waiting for Hornsby.
Soul/Kambak 99

Chapter 7
Rock Art

“G-day, mates!” Dr. Hornsby pierced the morning air

with an eager shout.
He was habitually right on schedule. Montero trailed
close behind as they entered the settlement. Hornsby was
robust. Montero was sweating profusely, obviously
exhausted in trying to keep up. Behind Montero were two
pack mules, a new addition to our expedition.
Cassarina was the first to meet them. Behind her,
Lacandon children ran to hug Hornsby about his legs, while
some of the adults mingled to cordially greet his arrival.
Hornsby met them with exuberant warmth, but was quick to
move on.
“Where the hell is, Jules?” Hornsby asked Cassarina.
“He’s at his lean two . . . packing,” Cassarina answered.
I was rummaging up my things, preparing to leave.
Hearing Hornsby call out for me caused my blood to boil.
How could he be so excited about making haste with my
departure? The man gallantly tromped through the caribal,
to my lean-to, a stone’s throw from the encampment but in
line of sight of the whole cluster of Lacandon huts.
“There you are,” Hornsby said slapping me on the back
like a jolly good fellow.
“I’ll be packed soon,” I replied while getting a bit fed up
with British eccentricity.
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“Good.” Hornsby looked me straight in the eye with a

broad smile.
“Good? You seem pretty eager for me to leave, Dr.
“By Jove, old man, you’re a genius,” he said, patting me
on the back again.
Cassarina, standing akimbo, flanked Hornsby.
“Dr. Hornsby, I must tell you . . .”
“Later. I’ve got something to show the both of you.”
Grabbing me by the arm Hornsby headed to our research
tent, vigorously undoing his backpack along the way.
Cassarina caught up with us.
“Jules took off. He disappeared for three days putting
this expedition in jeopardy.” She insisted he listen to her.
He ignored her.
The expedition leader was preoccupied with a large
envelope that he pulled out of his pack. Opening up the
contents encased in a protective plastic bag, a bundle of 8 x
10 black and white photographic prints fell out on the table.
“There was a jaguar roaming about the settlement. Jorge
sang the song of the Jaguar to protect us.” Cassarina
continued raising her voice.
“Did you record it?” Hornsby said, sorting through the
photographic prints spread out on the table.
“Ah, no. I didn’t think . . .” Cassarina was caught off
“That was a mistake Ms Deakin.”
“But Jules usually handles the recordings. Besides I
didn’t know where the recorder was.”
“You mean you didn’t think of it,” Hornsby countered.
Cassarina looked flustered from his reprimand. He was
right. The tape recorder was stationed on our research table
Soul/Kambak 101

available at a moments notice for any spontaneous

Lacandones audio events we might find significant evidence.
“Never mind that now, go get Jorge.” Hornsby spoke in
an abrupt tone. Cassarina’s cheeks quivered slightly. She
tossed me a sully glance as she exited the tent.
“Took off, eh?” Hornsby had a sly grin on his face. “I
don’t suppose you were off checking out the rock art you
found on your way to Baltazar?”
“But, Dr. Hornsby I thought you wanted me . . .” I cut
myself short, not wanting to divulge or even hint at the
prospect of my mystical experience.
“Look here, Jules.” Hornsby had laid out an array of
photographs of the pictographs I had taken. A small crowd
of Lacandones had gathered outside the research tent.
Curious as to what Hornsby was so excited about, they
leaned awkwardly, peering through the tent flap.
“There’s no time to lose now. Rainy season is starting.
We must get to these.” Hornsby punctuated “these” by
planting his index finger directly on one of my close up
photographs of some zoomorphic rock art.
“Do you know what you’ve found, Jules?” Hornsby
inquired staring at me. He knew that I didn’t exactly
understand the extent of my findings.
“You probably didn’t notice it. These series of
photographs show a progression of rock art that goes from a
Paleolithic period to a Neolithic period. I suspect there is
more that has not been lost to the taphonomic epochs.”
Jorge, in his white tunic and white Nike running shoes,
arrived breathless at the entrance of the tent. Cassarina was
right behind him.
“Don Hornsby,” Jorge said, looking like he had been
rudely awoken from a siesta. Hornsby launched into a litany
of instructions for Jorge, spoken in Spanish.
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“Unpack the provisions loaded on the mules. I want

everything unpacked by late morning. Montero will help
you to re-pack our things. We must make haste now.”
“Si, Don Hornsby,” Jorge replied and turned around to
get busy with his assigned tasks.
Hornsby took a topographical map out of his pack.
“We’re pretty much in the middle ground between
Palenque and Yaxchilan,” Hornsby said while he unfolded
the chart of the Chiapas region.
“The rock art near Laguna Metzabok proves this area
was inhabited 10,000 years ago. We may get lucky and find
a cave with wall paintings.”
Cassarina stood off to one side like a piece of broken
plaster. Had I stolen the limelight at the peak of her self-
admiration for the exhaustive work she was doing in
preserving endangered flora species and gathering valuable
botanical plants? Or was she just down right jealous of the
sudden shift of attention from Hornsby? Regardless, she had
confided her intuitive feelings about how Hornsby truly
regarded me. Maybe she hadn’t expected to be so right
about something that couldn’t be scientifically proven.
“Cassarina, please pack your things,” Hornsby said to
her without even turning around to acknowledge her
Obediently she left to gather her personal belongings. I
excused myself as well, to gather my things. As I rummaged
through my clothes, the orange sign language card I had
gotten from the Tzeltal deaf girl in San Cristobal de las Casas
fell out of a shirt pocket.
I recalled her wearing the huilpil with the dog’s paw
brocaded into it. Picking it up an image of that mangy dog at
the cave’s entrance flash before me. Helen Wordsworth
words about the dog taking one into the underworld struck
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me with the memory of the mangy dog at the cave entrance

with Moise. I spun for a moment uttering an exclamation at
the prospect that it had been an omen.
“Damn you’re a fool. This whole place is enchanted.”
Having said that, I tucked the card into a plastic bag for
Cassarina expedited herself. A world traveler, she
knows exactly what is needed, discarding anything that
didn’t serve a purpose. The manner in which she showed
herself to be competent was in how she packed. And it was
Spartan. Speaking for myself, I was a novice, but learning
quickly, since weight played a vital factor in maintaining
stamina. We had the mules, but Hornsby wanted room for
any artifacts we might discover. Provisions were the second
priority with clothes and camping gear last.
“I expect us to be out at least a week. Enough time to
do a thorough search of the area,” he shouted out to us.
By mid day we had torn down our lean two’s and
gathered our things to be loaded onto the mules. Jorge and
Montero were busy lashing down the gear and food sacks,
while the three of us took down the research tent. Cassarina
was unusually quiet, only speaking when directly spoken to.
But there were moments when I caught her eyes making
a stealthy glance towards me. I knew I would receive no
reassurances or offers of apology. Cassarina was loyal to
Hornsby so she avoided interfering anymore in the matter of
my insubordination, but that was a course of action adopted
only to maintain a sense of harmony among us. Beneath the
surface, she was still my nemesis.
After finishing his instructions for Montero to deliver
Cassarina’s latest collections of plants, Hornsby, Cassarina,
Jorge and I hiked out of the peace and comfort of Metzabok.
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“Que le vaya bien,” Montero said to us, waving

goodbye as we disappeared into the rainforest.
Surrounding him were the Lacandon villagers looking
cheerfully sublime. It dawned on me that I had
metamorphosed into one of them, instinctively sensing their
civilized world as less idiotic, less tangled and less violent
than the one I was born into. To the outside world they may
look unsightly, but to me gloriously beautiful. As I took a
glimpse of my friends -- the indisputable poignancy of being
-- over my shoulder -- I realized that I was indebted to them
for hosting me into one of the last vestiges of prehistoric
Hornsby was enthusiastic as we headed into the
mountainous rain forest of the Sierra Norte De Chiapas,
Cassarina harboring indifference, Jorge blissfully unaware of
any controversy between us, and me dragging along in
somewhat of a cowardly action because I refused to divulge
the evidence of my dreamtime experience, the prick of
Along the way to Lago Metzabok, Hornsby informed
Cassarina and I that the two researchers at the southern
Lacandon settlement had quit. Ever since the 1971 massacre
of Mexican students, there were reports of military Civil
Defense Squads or ‘death squads’ coming across the
Guatemalan border invading Quiche villages, not far from
the southern Lacandon settlements. The alarm of military
incursions was becoming palpable.
“Garthwaite has decided,” Hornsby related, “to go off on
his own to Tenejapa, the Window to the Universe, where the
Tzotzil and Tzeltal live.”
I wasn’t surprised with this news about Garthwaite.
Being a maverick in his own right, he would take advantage
Soul/Kambak 105

of his time, having been adequately introduced to the region,

to do some of his own exploring.
“He’s more interested in Nahuatl and the tomb of Pacal
Votan at Palenque rather than the Lacandon,” Hornsby said
keeping a brisk stride in front of us.
Cassarina had kept some correspondence with
Garthwaite. At times, I had observed her reading his letters
in seclusion at Metzabok. It seemed she was reciprocating
responses to his letters to her, handing sealed envelopes for
Hornsby to deliver at his bi-weekly visits. I didn’t pry into
their affair, whether it was romantic or plutonic, but I did
notice a look of disappointment on her face with the recent
news about Garthwaite. Not surprised, just disappointed.
“That leaves the three of us,” Cassarina said resigned to
the depleted numbers of our expedition’s group.
“Quite so,” Hornsby answered impartially.
Hornsby kept up a jaunty pace. The afternoon heat
didn’t slow him, in fact, I wondered if it invigorated him.
“Rock art is the largest body of evidence we have of
humanity’s cognitive beginnings. What is so engaging about
deciphering these images is that they open a window into the
identity and meaning of the past. The amazing thing is that
throughout the world, Paleolithic rock art is surprisingly
consistent in uniformity. Its as if there was a universal
language among Homo sapiens. I’ve often wondered if the
geometrical art form is based upon a genetic mathematical
formula, but this is the argument, isn’t it?”
Hornsby paused for a moment pondering the facts of his
statement, while keeping a brisk pace. Cassarina and I were
trailing close behind.
“Conclusively, the argument is Style versus Function.”
“Instinct versus Reason,” I added.
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“Nature versus Nurture,” Cassarina said in an acidic tone

of voice. I knew she was making a deliberate dig at me.
Hornsby remained oblivious to our quarrel and I imagined he
didn’t care to understand her intentions.
“Apart from petroglyphs, pre-historic rock art is the first
evidence we have of how pre-humans became human and
eventually developed complex social systems. Here is the
heart of the evidence. Rock art is Dreamtime, which is to
mean that its symbolisms are the access to the inference of
the origin of consciousness. We want to trace its archetypal
structure, wouldn’t you agree, Jules?”
It was at that moment, Jorge, just up ahead of Hornsby,
froze. Hornsby was startled at his abrupt stop.
“What is it?” Hornsby was impatient having his train of
thought interrupted.
“Jaguar, agui,” Jorge said. He pointed to the tree trunk
of an evergreen tree. The bark had been deeply scratched.
We gathered around as he nervously explained that these
were the claw marks of a jaguar warning us to stay away.
Undaunted, Hornsby told Jorge to move on.
“Pero, Jorge protested in Spanish. “The jaguar seeks it
prey,” I interpreted Jorge saying.
Hornsby immediately displayed a large six-chambered
revolver from his backpack to reassure Jorge that we could
protect ourselves in case of an attack. Not convinced, Jorge
was forced to push on under Hornsby’s command. But the
mules, which I had been leading, dug in their hoofs.
Hornsby’s revolver didn’t convince them.
I tugged at their reins, without success. Hornsby made
a switch with a tree branch and vigorously whipped at the
hindquarters of the mules. They too were going to press on
regardless of their instincts about an impending danger.
Jorge and Cassarina offered assistance by pushing on the
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rumps of the mules. Straining against the massive weight of

the burros, Jorge seemed to be pushing against the very
difficulties of social change.
During the time I spent with Jorge I noticed that he was
more conflicted internally about his place among his people
and the outside world. Born in the onen of Ma ax, the
Monkey, during his adolescence he wondered into an
evangelistic camp of Christians where he learned to read and
write Spanish. The injection of a Western religious
education caused his natural Lacandon instincts to be
discontented with his ancestral existence. While he was
shedding new light to scientific researchers as a translator,
such as our selves about his heritage, at the same time I
could sense a split to his character manifesting itself in his
At times I thought he was on a road to his own abyss
because every indigenous tribe relies on their traditions to
sustain them. If they lose their traditions they float in a
space-time limbo. It’s that mysterious impulse of nature that
they can’t afford to be disconnected. Jorge was caught in the
current of social change that brought economic enticements.
The Mexican government was hopeful in winning over
the Lacandon by starting a program of issuing biannual
payments as compensation for the loss of their land under
encroachment of homestead and evergreen rainforest clear-
cut logging. Though the program was promoted as a
sweeping abundance of opportunity, all it accomplished was
raising more suspicion of the government’s inscrutable
Jorge referred to the Mexican humanitarian aid program
as winik ku sihi t’a k’in or “the men who give money away.”
One of the men at the Metzabok settlement told me that t’a
Soul/Kambak 108

k’in literally means, “shit-of-the-sun” which summed up

their general attitude toward the Mexican government.
Jorge complained that the free handout was making the
Lacandon lazy about planting milpas, and more dependent as
consumers, buying their food at a community store. Money
was also spent on accumulating battery-operated radios and
phonographs. The fact was they were never really interested
in using them. The electronic devises were used as
decorative ornaments for the walls of their huts.
Three hours later we made camp within a kilometer of
the rock art site. It was dusk by the time we had gotten that
far. But Hornsby was pleased with our progress so he could
get an early start exploring the area. We set camp, ate a meal
of rice, beans and tortillas then retired in our hammocks
exhausted from the day’s hike.
Hornsby stayed up, diligently plotting our location in
relationship to Palenque and Yaxchilan by lantern light.
Before I closed up for the night, I penned some annotations
in my journal. Habitually, I made bullet-point notes on the
left page, covering the pertinent events of the day, and then
moved onto the right page to write my inner most thoughts.
The darkness of the night in this
primitive forest doesn’t change
one’s sense of things. Good and
evil seems to co-exist all about
you. Whether you inhabit the
confines of the inner city or
outback of some remote
wilderness, the same is true. It
comes down to survival by
keeping your wits about you.
For the Lacandon, who had
inhabited this region for
Soul/Kambak 109

centuries, they have recently

been given marching orders to
disperse eastward into the
rainforest, causing them to settle
at Lago Metzabok and Lago
Tz’ibahnah. They were literally
forced from their ancestral lands
in the region of Monte Libano,
because these lands were taken
over by a foreign lumber
company that logged over
15,000 mahogany and cedar
trees. To compound this
invasion, the Mexican
government opened
homesteading rights for the
Tzeltals, who moved into the
area from the Ocosingo valley.
The continuity of their heritage
is that they are migrating once
again, as I suspect they had done
before. In piecing together the
puzzle of their ancestral
existence, the Lacandones could
very well have been linked to
the El Peten region during the
pre-classical and classical
periods. But what is more
important is that they are
obviously not akin to the
customary Mayan colorful
brocaded dress. In fact, it was
Soul/Kambak 110

this very depiction of the

individual indigenous tribes of
Guatemala that allowed the
Spanish to divide up the vast
rich country into twenty-seven
regional areas, the territorial
boundaries designated by the
designs of each individual tribe.
The Lacandon’s plain white
tunics attest to the fact that their
ancestors were separate for
some reason since they don’t
believe in weaving into the
loom of the Maya their ancestral
zoomorphic symbolism. I had
only seen one tunic that had red
markings on it, like stars
forming a constellation. There
were two pronounced red circles
on the left and right side of the
breast, but other than that, it
was pure white. It was used for
ceremonial purposes only. How
could the Lacandones keep
themselves removed from the
rich artistic clothing attire of
their indigenous neighbors such
as the Tzeltals? What is most
important to these people are
their copal incense burners, of
which are ceremoniously
renewed every eight years, in
Soul/Kambak 111

accordance to Venus’ completed

orbital cycle just as their
ancestors did thousand of years
before. The designs of which
depict the faces of various
deities from their rich Yucatec
Mayan ancestry sculpted on one
side of the clay bowl. I was
often taken back by how the
Naja t ‘o’ ohil Chan K’in Viejo’s
face resembled the sculptured
god-like images of the icon
glyphs of the Mayan temples
and wall murals for that matter.
Even Jorge’s facial features in
the proper light resembled the
Olmec sculptures. The mixture
of Olmec and Mayan, plus the
fact that the Lacandon have
been relocated as a result of
trying to preserve their way of
life, make me think more of
them as a semi-nomadic people
now. And it might have been
this way for them even a
thousand years before.
Having closed my journal I stretched out in my
hammock, reflecting on my concerns about my encounter
with Moise. I had decided to keep it an absolute secret, my
own hidden reality for the time being. Whether it was true or
not, I didn’t want to alter the course of Dr. Hornsby’s own
enthusiastic journey. He seemed content enough about my
Soul/Kambak 112

discovery of the prehistoric rock art. That was a redeeming

diversion I couldn’t have planned.
Besides I may have had a metaphorical dream meant
only for my purpose. I reasoned that Dr. Hornsby was onto
the trail of something, which could very well lead us to solid
clues about the lost temple containing the Soul Chamber.
Hornsby was an expert at deciphering prehistoric rock
art. He had cultivated from the psyche of the Australian
aborigines a wealth of information regarding this mysterious
but vital part of their ancestry and culture. I didn’t want to
distract him for this was his true passion. And, having found
favor with him again, I preferred to relish this feeling for the
moment. In a few days we would have an answer.
The next morning, Hornsby roused us up at first light of
dawn. Breaking camp without breakfast, we covered the last
leg of the trek in brisk tempo. We had scarcely located the
rock art among the craggy out cropping of rocks when
Hornsby was immediately drawn to the first reddish mauve
geometric human-like pictographs. His eyes roamed about
the face of the boulder. His rugged hands searched each
crevasse and bump, inspecting the texture of the surface to
see if there were any signs of petroglyphs which had since
been worn down by centuries of wind and rain.
Cassarina and I moved about silently behind him. I
carried the camera strapped about my neck. Cassarina held a
fresh journal, ready to jot down any notes that Hornsby
might dictate. Jorge stayed with the mules, a bit further
down the trail. He was still nervous about the presence of
the Jaguar, and complained that we must take care. To
reassure him, Hornsby visibly loaded his revolver and
secured it in its leather holster, strapped about his waist. We
didn’t want to think of the danger. The weapon’s holster
caused Hornsby to move clumsily about.
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“Do you know what day it is?” Hornsby said to us as he

sat down for a moment to unbuckle the revolver’s holster,
then handing it to me.
“July twenty-fifth,” Cassarina offered.
“Saturday,” I added.
“It’s the last day of the thirteenth cycle in the Mayan
calendar. The moon is in the cosmic turtle phase. We are
concluding the twenty-day cycle of the mystic column of the
Mayan Tzolk’in.”
The significance of this, Hornsby pointed out, was that
we would be coming to the “Zero based day”, when the Sun
is conjunct with the Dog Star, Sirius.
“You might call it “Yaxkin” in Mayan or “tender sun”
symbolic of the Meal of Corn and Bean.
“Yaxkin,” I thought to myself. The word shot through
me like a bolt of lightning. It was the name of the temple in
my dreamtime experience. I bit my lip as Hornsby
Translated into English it means “green day” because it
doesn’t belong to the four times seven days of the moon or
the four weeks encoded according to the four compass
directions of red for east; white for north; blue for west, and
yellow for south as determined by the Mayan calendar. This
is the day of the earth, meant for renewal of your spirit and
the earth’s resources.”
Hornsby stood up and walked over to the boulder where
he keenly inspected a pictograph.
“See this animal figure here. It’s a turtle.”
Cassarina and I obediently walked over to where he was
pointing. Painted on the rock surface in an ocher color was a
crude replication of a turtle about ten centimeters wide and
Soul/Kambak 114

“Notice the thirteen segments on the carapace. Count

‘em,” Hornsby subtly commanded.
I inspected the image, barely seeing the faded outline of
the segments that Hornsby was talking about. Cassarina
took the camera from me and started taking photographs. He
was right. The segments were identifiable.
“Thirteen segments on the turtle shell, thirteen cycles in
the Mayan calendar.” Hornsby looked about the terrain. He
noticed that the boulders lead off toward a ravine overgrown
with shrubs. It dropped off into a deep valley about two
hundred meters below us, covered in dense jungle foliage.
“I suspect these pictographs are just the tip of the
iceberg. If there’s more, it’s down there. Jules, go help
Jorge set up camp. I want to explore that gully tomorrow.”
Hornsby instructed Cassarina to start drawing each
individual figure painted on the rock’s surface as he dictated
notes into his tape recorder. Curious, I climbed upon a
boulder to peer over at the gully. It looked simple enough
for a day hike. I then headed back to Jorge and the mules.
As I made my way back I felt a pang of pain on the
inside of my right thigh. The discomfort started about a
week before, but I shrugged it off as a nasty mosquito bite.
A small hard spot had formed beneath the skin turning into a
small oozing sore. Again, a sharp pain shot out like a large
jabbing sewing needle into my thigh. By the time I got to
Jorge, who was attending the mules, I was limping.
“Que, pasa?” Jorge said noticing my infirmity.
I waved off his concern instructing him to unpack the
“Montar el campamento,” I said to him, looking about
the trail area for a good place to pitch our hammocks.
That evening, after the four of us finished our meal, the
pain in my leg had become insufferable. I couldn’t hide it
Soul/Kambak 115

anymore. I looked pathetically weakened, lying back against

a tree trunk. Cassarina noticed I was pale. She came to see
if I was coming down with malaria. I told her it wasn’t
malaria. I pulled up my short’s leg to reveal the oozing
“You’ve got a tarsal infection,” she said without
hesitation. She lightly pinched the wound, sending me into
utter agony.
“Dermatoid hominids, or more commonly known as
“bot-fly” maggot infestation, she informed me. “Feels like
you got two in there.”
“Drat,” Hornsby exclaimed, moving over to us to double
check Cassarina’s prognosis. He inspected the swollen red
area of my thigh that was about two centimeters in diameter.
When he lightly pressed the infected area, pus trickled out of
the sore. I shouted out in pain.
“She’s right. Nasty warble maggots.” There was no
reassurance in his words.
“Que malo,” Jorge chimed in after Hornsby, peering
over his shoulder. He puffed on his hand-rolled cigar-sized
cigarette, displaying a decayed tooth grin.
“Right about what?” My discomfort was increasing.
“Meiosis parasite. See this tiny hole here in your skin
surface?” Cassarina pointed with her finger to the center of
the boil-like swelling on my thigh.
I looked down to see a white pinhole opening in the
center of the reddish ooze.
“That’s the maggot’s breathing hole.”
Again I winced in pain.
“The maggot’s spines are cutting into your subcutaneous
tissue. It’s their defense mechanism to keep you from
extracting them. Most likely the eggs dropped off from the
Soul/Kambak 116

belly of a female mosquito when it bit you,” Cassarina said

sitting back.
“Oh, fantastic,” I moaned. “Am I going to die?”
“Only if you let your fear get the best of you.”
Cassarina chuckled. “They’re harmless enough. If you can
stand the painful sensation of them growing in your body
over the next six weeks, they’ll leave as mature flies.”
“That would bring Jules some notoriety among
ethnologists, but I can’t afford to have Jules laid up.”
Hornsby looked earnestly over at Cassarina. “Well, doc?”
“I’d hate to deprive Jules of his houseguests, but if you
insist Dr. Hornsby.”
“Under the circumstance -- I insist, Cassarina.”
The two of them had smirks on their faces. I was not
“Right. A Vaseline compress ought to do the trick. I
can make a tight bandage about the site. The enclosure will
cause them to rise up out of the skin and into the Vaseline
searching for air. We just need to suffocate them.”
Cassarina set about her treatment plan. And for once, I
saw a different side of her. The doctor, the healer, the
caretaker contrasted her sterile persona.
I moaned in pain. The thought of these maggots
creeping under my skin made me nauseated.
“Oh, stop being so squeamish, Jules.” Cassarina said
off-handedly as she got up to get her medical kit.
“Asia stand las cosas,” Jorge said to Hornsby. Hornsby
nodded in agreement.
“It is the little things that will get you in the jungle,”
Cassarina translated as she prepared to apply the Vaseline
soaked gauze dressing to my thigh.
Soul/Kambak 117

“ I must have gotten infected when I took off . . .” but I

didn’t finish my sentence because Cassarina was tying off
the bandage.
“That’s god awful tight,” I said riveted in pain.
“Chin up, Jules,” Hornsby quipped.
The worst of it was over, at least for the night.
Cassarina and Hornsby helped me into my hammock, tenting
me with mosquito netting.
“Try and get some sleep,” Cassarina consoled. It was
the kindest words I had heard from her since we first met.
Soul/Kambak 118

Chapter 8
The Cryptic Vault

The next morning we woke up at sunrise to a light

drizzle, tempering the summer heat of the Tropic of Cancer.
We quickly broke camp. Hornsby wanted us to move the
mules up to the rock outcroppings as a base camp. He had
spent the better part of yesterday afternoon sizing up the
situation. Along with Cassarina they had uncovered a
succession of pictographs, leading in the direction of the
“An outstanding progression of anthropomorphic to
celestial depictions,” he announced upon his return to our
There was conclusive evidence of continuity between
the rock art and pictograph formations.
“This area could have been a cultural crossroads for
thousand of years,” Hornsby said.
He expected we would spend the first part of the day
working our way down the ravine and into the gully.
The damp weather wasn’t going to slow us down. The
Vaseline dressing, tightly woven about my right leg, did little
to dispel the occasional shooting pain of the bot-fly maggots
going through their metamorphosis. Hornsby didn’t ask
about my condition, but Cassarina inspected the dressing
Soul/Kambak 119

before we set off. She told me it might take a day before we

see any results. My right leg was sore, but after moving
about I got used to the discomfort. By the time we reached
the location of the rock art, the pesky maggots had settled
down. I hoped they had suffocated.
Much to our surprise, perched on top of the boulder
where we had found the rock art was Baltazar. The
Lacandon man, dressed only in his tunic, puffed on a
cigarette, as if he had not a care in the world. Jorge, glad to
see Baltazar, exchanged words in their native tongue as
Baltazar made his way quickly down the face of the boulder
displaying an unusual agile strength. The three of us stood
silently perplexed at Baltazar’s charming but unexpected
“Who’s this?” Hornsby said. I moved toward Baltazar
to greet him, in the customary grip of each other’s forearms.
“Meet Baltazar,” I said.
“Está Dr. Hornsby,” Cassarina added.
Hornsby cordially greeted Baltazar. The two of them
sized each other up for a moment, as if two lone sages of the
wilderness had just encountered their counterpart. Jorge
informed us that Baltazar knew the way into the gully and
would stay with the mules. Baltazar turned while beckoning
us to follow him, heading off toward the ravine.
“We go!” he said with his native guttural intonation,
surprising me that he knew some English.
Seeing that we would be left behind, the three of us
immediately followed Baltazar, blitzing a trail by thrashing
his machete widely at the shrubs, wading through overgrown
thorny shrubs and dense foliage. He paid little attention to
his companions, occupied with the task at hand with
impeccable attention.
Soul/Kambak 120

The ravine route led through two huge boulders that

converged before us. Cassarina remarked that the two
rounded boulders that formed a symmetrical juncture, where
we happened to be swathing a path, reminded her of the
Vesica Piscis. Hornsby was quick to pick up on her
“Quite so.”
“What is a Vesica Piscis?” I inquired.
Hornsby explained that the literature translation literally
means, ‘fish bladder,’ but symbolically it is the entrance to
the Divine Feminine.”
“Two circles are brought together horizontally to their
inner outside edges to form an almond shaped center.”
Cassarina interjected.
“When the two circles are placed vertically it forms a
center that the Greeks called, ichthys, which is an acronym
for Jesus Christ, Son of God, Our Savior. Early Christians
used this symbol as a secret code among themselves, to
avoid detection and persecution. The almond center is
known as the mandorla.”
“The glorious birth passage,” Hornsby said.
“Or the passageway between heaven and earth,”
Cassarina continued.
The two of them seemed to delight each other by
impressing me with their knowledge of sacred geometric
“You can see these sheila-na-gig images on Irish
churches,” Cassarina added.
“And in the squatting figures of the Hindu goddess
Kali,” Hornsby was quick to report. Amused, I hacked a
clear path with my machete into what Cassarina said was the
“the little fish in the Virgin’s fountain.”
Soul/Kambak 121

After an hour of tediously slow progress we finally came

to an unexpected abrupt end of the ravine. We stood on the
ledge of a steep cliff that plunged at least two hundred
meters straight down. The gully below was a lush green
forest shrouded in mist.
“Aqui,” Baltazar said pointing toward the rock faced
The trail picked up off to our left. It was a small ledge
less than a foot wide and appeared to have been chiseled into
the vertical bald face of a gigantic boulder making a gradual
descent about thirty meters. The precipitous ledge
disappeared into what looked like another cove in the rock
wall. From there it appeared that the trail picked up again on
solid earth.
Without concern of the considerable peril and laborious
task to transverse, Baltazar motioned to us to follow him out
on the rock ledge. He pinched out his hand-rolled cigarette,
tucking it behind his ear under his long black hair, handed
his machete to Hornsby and stepped out on the ledge with
the agility of a cat.
Hornsby dutifully followed, stuffing the machete in his
pack, being quick to make his way along the ledge. I, on the
other hand, inched out onto the ledge, my chest pressed close
to the rocky wall, my fingers finding supportive cracks to
hold my weight as I shifted each leg, one by one, creeping
sideways like a crab. The morning drizzle hadn’t let up
making the rock surface slippery. One misplaced step and
anyone of us could have plunged to our death. I dared not
look down. Cassarina edged out after I made a few meters
It would have been rather easy to traverse this precarious
part of the trail except I was carrying the revolver and holster
that Hornsby had entrusted to me the day before in my
Soul/Kambak 122

backpack. The weight was countering my ability to keep

close to the rock face.
There was an occasional gust of wind blowing up from
the gully below us. It sprayed drizzle upon my face blurring
my vision. Unable to wipe my eyes, I blindly made my way,
inch by inch, until what I had hoped wouldn’t happen,
happened. Those pesky bot-fly maggots decided to dig a
little further into my leg.
A piercing sharp pain shot up and down my leg, like an
electrical spasm, causing me to grimace in pain. The whole
of my thigh was on fire. The microscopic spines of the
maggots were making carnage of my flesh. I could feel them
squirming beneath the skin like carnivorous savages eating
away my flesh. My right leg twitched horribly as I tried to
keep my nausea from overwhelming me, then I lost my
footing. My right leg slipped from the ledge dangling in mid
air. Looking over to Cassarina, I could see she was
helplessly observing my predicament.
“Fight it, Jules,” she called out.
I wavered. The sharp pain subsided, momentarily. I
caught my breath. I was halfway out, about fourteen meters
left to go, but at that moment it looked like fourteen
kilometers. Off to my right, I could see Hornsby
disappearing into the darken area where the jungle covered
the trail ledge. Then, another bolt of pain ran through my
body like an electric shock.
In the final moment s of my desperate situation, I
wondered if the parasites were getting their revenge for
cutting off their oxygen supply. I imagined them breaking
through the surface of my skin, finding no escape from the
smothering Vaseline dressing. I held on, frozen.
My fingers were weakening from their grip. Even
though I still had my footing with my left leg, the weight of
Soul/Kambak 123

the revolver in my backpack accentuated the earth’s gravity,

pulling me backwards. Cassarina was desperate to reach me,
but then what could she do? Hornsby, by now, had made it
to the end of the trail ledge.
“Jules!” Cassarina yelled. Her shout alerted Baltazar
and Hornsby that I was in danger.
I hung there, desperately by my finger’s tips hooked into
cracks in the rock wall and one foot on the ledge. As hard as
I tried, I couldn’t bring up my right leg high enough to get a
foothold because of the stabbing pain in my thigh muscles.
“For chrissakes, somebody do something,” I desperately
The next moment a hand gripped my right wrist. I
turned my head to see the bloodshot black eyes of Baltazar.
He had come back for me so quickly that I hadn’t notice his
approach. Grabbing my belt, he yanked me up with one
heave so I could get my right foot on the ledge.
“Despascio,” Baltazar calmly said, staring directly into
my eyes, telling me to move slowly.
The Hach Winik, in his rain soaked white tunic was my
savior. Now I knew why these indigenous were called, “true
men.” He grasped me solidly about the waist without any
effort, seeming to get some personal gratification for saving
my life. I never realized how strong this man was until now.
He was no taller than my shoulder, and certainly didn’t look
muscular. But he had the strength of a dozen elephants, or
so it seemed at the time, because I barely had to put any
weight on my legs. I felt like I was levitating.
Despite the pulsing leg pain, I found the courage and
strength to move on with Baltazar’s assistance. Gradually
the two of us made it to Hornsby, where upon I collapsed in
a heap. Hornsby, concerned about me being able to move on,
Soul/Kambak 124

paced for a few moments then turned to me with a short

“Pain is inefficiency,” he said as if I was acting
“Pain? I just about got killed out there?” I shouted trying
to stand on my feet infuriated by such an accusation.
Cassarina arrived just before I was about to pounce on
Hornsby with my fists flying.
“James!” she reprimanded. Hornsby retreated.
“Jules!” she scolded and immediately forced me to lie
down on my back so she could inspect my wound.
Fuming, I obliged. As she unwrapped the bandage, I
hardly wanted to see what grotesque creature might be
protruding from my leg.
“Well, they’re trying to make their way out.” Cassarina
One maggot was clearly visible, wiggling half way out
of my thigh, smeared in Vaseline. It had a white body about
a quarter of a centimeter thick with three dark strips. In the
strips were symmetrically placed spiny hooks. At its mouth
were two little pincers.
“Best to get this over with,” Cassarina said taking
charge of the situation. For the first time I noticed that
Hornsby was beside himself.
“What will you do?” he said acquiescing to her
authoritative aplomb.
Cassarina ignored Hornsby, concentrating at the task at hand.
“Jules, I need to squeeze them out. It’s going to hurt a
“Just get the bastards out of my leg,” I pleaded.
Cassarina rummaged through her pack to pull out a
small first aid kit that contained some antiseptic. After
liberally pouring it over my wound she went to work. The
Soul/Kambak 125

pain I had experienced before was like a pinprick compared

to what Cassarina put me through.
“Baltazar, aqui,” Cassarina said instructing him to take
grab my wrists behind my head.
“Ready, steady. . . .” She didn’t prepare me for what
would come next. I reared back in utter agony from her vice
grip. She squeezed so tightly that I thought I would pass out
from the pain. Then, she released.
“There’s one,” she said breathless.
I rose up to look down at my leg to see a grotesque
maggot worm laying on the surface of my thigh. Hornsby
peered over her shoulder, intrigued.
“Not bad. About one centimeter long,” he quipped.
“Might make for a tasty meal,” he said trying to humor me,
feeling embarrassed about his pejorative comment earlier.
I brushed the maggot off my leg, cursing it for nearly
causing me to fall to my death.
“Dr. Hornsby, I need you to try for the other one. My
hand cramped up.” Cassarina was visibly worn out from all
the excitement.
Hornsby eagerly took on the challenge. His grip was
brutally painful, more so then Cassarina’s. The harder he
squeezed the more the maggot tried to dig itself back down
into my thigh. Seeing that Hornsby was unable to budge it,
Baltazar placed his fingers next to Hornsby’s and pinched
even harder. The larva gave up the struggle and squirted out,
flying a few meters into the air disappearing in the jungle
foliage. I nearly fainted.
“Oops, sorry to let that one go, Jules,” Hornsby quipped.
Baltazar laughed at the sight. I nearly passed out.
Cassarina poured some more anti-septic on my wound and
bandaged it with fresh sterile gauze dressing. Other then my
leg feeling like it got kicked by a mule, the fact that those
Soul/Kambak 126

parasites were no longer harboring in my body was relief

enough for me. It was mid-day by the time we finished with
the extraction.
The drizzle had stopped, but the sun hadn’t burned off
the cloud cover. We moved on, cutting our way through the
rainforest with Baltazar leading into the depths of the gully.
After about an hour of swathing a path through the tangles of
dangling vines in the forest jungle, we came to an unusual
small clearing that appeared to be manmade.
The clearing was in flowery bloom, normal for the
summer rainy season in Chiapas. Thirsty, we stopped to rest
in the shade. Baltazar foraged some vines to extract the
water by filtering it through his tunic, pouring the resin water
into our cupped hands. One by one, he quenched our thirst.
While I relaxed on a decaying tree trunk, my foot kicked
up a partially buried stone. Curious, I knocked it free from
the humus earth to inspect it. Turning it over, I discovered it
had been shaped with three carved protrusions,
symmetrically placed. Baltazar came over to see what it
was, as well as Hornsby and Cassarina.
“Appears to be the remains of a hearthstone,” Hornsby
It appeared to be a well-worn slab for making corn
tortilla dough. He crouched down next to me and picked up
the weighted stone. In the meantime, Cassarina wondered
over to inspect a clump of mushrooms.
“What a fine specimen of Agaricus bitorquis”, she said
as she bent down to pick them up to put in her rucksack.
The glint of a shiny substance under the mushroom roots
caught her eye.
“Come here,” she called out to us in urgent voice.
Kneeling down she dug her fingers into the moist soil to
uncover three obsidian flint chips.
Soul/Kambak 127

“Yatoch k'un,” Baltazar remarked upon seeing them

cupped in her hand.
“Baltazar’s right. We’ve found a ceremonial god-
house,” Hornsby added.
“How old do you think it is?” I said.
“Difficult to say. Maybe it was occupied in the
PreHispanic epoch.”
“What’s this?” Cassarina, who picked up some more
mushrooms, had unearthed a clay pot with an upturned face
sculpted on one edge. She held it up proudly like a trophy.
“Lak-il k'uh,” Baltazar said. “Incensario.”
“Copal incense burner.” Hornsby added, carefully
looking over the ancient clay bowl, darkened by its long use
of burning incense.
“These faces do not depict Mayan deities, but rather
human beings,” Hornsby said pointing out the features of the
The incense or pom when burned turns into tortillas for
the gods to feast upon. These faint red markings about the
features of the face are made from the red dye of the annatto
tree. The gods are believed to enjoy its scent, called k’uxu.
The red dye is symbolic of human blood and used for
ceremonial tunics.
With this recent discovery, and the mention of Yaxkin at
the rock art formations, I felt it was time to own up to my
dream. Baltazar’s unexpected appearance also caused my
imagination to run, making me wonder if he already knew of
my dream.
Was he Moise, in another form? After all, Baltazar was
the one that had told me to watch what I dream. Maybe now
it was the cosmos’ diabolical way of causing me to face the
truth and reveal what I been keeping as confidential
information until this discovery of the god-house remains.
Soul/Kambak 128

“Ah, there is something…” I started to say earnestly,

staring off into space, as Cassarina and Hornsby had their
backs to me. Baltazar cut me off.
“El camino,” he said, calling to us from about 10 meters
Baltazar followed along a faint indentation in the
clearing’s grasses that led toward the rock face of the cliff
we had just descended. Hornsby and Cassarina rushed over
to where he was standing. Inspecting it closer by hacking
away the thicket, he discovered a small opening to a cave.
Hornsby looked into the dark hole trying to penetrate the
darkness with his flashlight. Baltazar peered over his
shoulder. I resigned from saying anything further and caught
up with them.
“Best take a look,” Hornsby decided.
The cave opening was a smooth rock surface, different
than from the rock wall. It was a little more than three
meters across. The edges were smoothed and could have
been worn from frequent use at one time. I was hesitant to
go into the cave, as well as Cassarina. We were anxious
about what daylight we had remaining, reminding Hornsby
that we’d have to return before nightfall to make camp.
That was furthest from his mind. He sat there for a moment
wondering what purpose this cave could have served.
“It could be a shrine, similar to those along Lago
“What about snakes?” Cassarina said.
“It could be catacombs,” I professed.
“The dead are dead, they’ll be no help to us now,”
Hornsby quipped.
“It might be best to return tomorrow with more gear,” I
“Yes, and provisions,” Cassarina added.
Soul/Kambak 129

“And have sufficient time.”

Hornsby shot an acerbated glare at the two of us.
“The sooner we inspect this cave, the sooner we can
return to make camp. At best we’d make it back to Jorge in
two hours,” he reasoned. “That leaves us about two hours to
inspect the cave.”
Seeing that we had lost the argument, Cassarina and I
agreed to follow Hornsby and Baltazar.
With Hornsby taking the lead, one by one, the four of us
slid through the opening into the pitch-black pit, dropping
down about 2 meters before landing on a stone floor in a
darken abyss. We were instantly engulfed in stifling humid
air. It was sweltering hot. What we immediately discovered
was that this wasn’t a cave.
With our flashlight’s beams, we could see that this was a
narrow corridor that had a slight sloop downwards. The
narrow walls were made of stone, quarried from somewhere
else. The hallway was encrusted with centuries old detritus.
The abundance of thick cobwebs strung across the hallway
proved it had not been used in a long time.
For ten minutes Baltazar led our through the winding
corridor cutting away huge thick cobwebs and mashing giant
spiders with his bare feet. Hornsby and Cassarina followed
close behind Baltazar. I brought up the rear.
“Maybe this was a looters entrance,” Hornsby said
flashing his light against the wall, “searching for artifacts to
My sense was this ruin was early Mayan.
“We could be in the earliest period of a many layered
construction phase putting the Mesoamerican time around
the Pre-Classical period,” I said while shining my flashlight
around me.
Soul/Kambak 130

I became aware that the ceiling seemed to be breathing.

I aimed my flashlight above me. There were thousands of
nocturnal bats suspended upside down above us. I froze.
Cassarina was next to notice, to her own horror. Then
Hornsby turned about to see what we were looking at. His
flashlight beam crossed ours illuminating a horde of bats. It
was Baltazar that didn’t notice. With his back to us, he took
a whack at a thick cobweb, hitting the machete blade against
the corridor stonewall.
The noise of the blade striking the stone woke up the
hordes of bats at once. In a second we were engulfed by bats
whooshing passed us, a few centimeters of our face and
body. They flew at us with blinding velocity.
Letting go of her flashlight, Cassarina dropped to the
floor huddling in a fetal position. Hornsby dove over her. I
crouched down, tucking my head under my arms. The noise
of the bats was deafening. The echo of their furious flight
reverberated through the narrow passageway. Baltazar just
stood there undaunted.
The sheer panic of the experience held us in shock for
several minutes after the bats left. Baltazar approached us
concerned but bewildered as to why we were afraid. As we
stared in dismay at each other, he informed us that these bats
only ate insects. Then, he took Hornsby’s flashlight and
aimed the beam onto the limestone wall where he had
cleared away some cobwebs and crumbling stones.
A small doorway led into an adjacent vault-like room.
Next to the entrance was an emblem glyph. Hornsby
jumped to his feet. He quickly moved to brush away the
remaining cobwebs and encrusted dirt, standing back to look
at the doorway frame, and the distinct outline of some carved
shape. At that moment, I noticed something slithering near
Soul/Kambak 131

his feet in the beam of Cassarina’s flashlight still lying on the

Baltazar was swift to strike it with his machete, making
a dull thud sound as the blade hit the soiled floor of the
passageway. I aimed my flashlight at the object he had just
struck. There lay the severed triangular head of a deadly
viper snake; a barbara maria. Hornsby took little notice.
Cassarina cringed.
“Muchas gracias,” Hornsby said as he uncovered an
emblem glyph with his hand. “This has to be Mayan,”
Hornsby said with vivid certainty.
Baltazar, curious, inspected the glyph and called it, stoz.
Hornsby translated this to mean “bat” in Mayan.

There were two of these glyphs on either side of the

entrance to the vault.
Having cleared the entrance the best he could, Hornsby
carefully took a small step inside.
“See, it?” Hornsby was shining his flashlight on the far
“Yes,” Cassarina said, following him through the stone
portal. “It appears to be a fresco.”
The four of us stood staring at a cavern shaped room.
On the far wall, across a sloped-dirt fill floor was the faded
colors of a fresco. As we aimed our flashlights beam about
the wall, the outline of a sophisticated combination of a
fresco mural and stucco codice could be identified. Hornsby
immediately went about carefully brushing away the
centuries build up of dust sediment. The more that was
revealed in the beams of our flashlights, the more
pronounced this work appeared as a mythological artistic
Soul/Kambak 132

achievement. In about an hour we had cleaned the entire

“This isn’t like the Bonampak mural,” Hornsby
exclaimed, as he closely examined the faded fresco. He
continued to brush away the remaining layers of fine dust
with his fingers.
We shared in his excitement. The outcome of our
exploration was mind-boggling. The fresco and stucco panel
together was about three meters across and four meters from
floor to ceiling. Each of us studied the graphics depicted,
trying to get a sense of what it was communicating.
Cassarina took the camera out of her rucksack, but Hornsby
told her not to take any photographs.
“We can’t have our eyes blinded by the flash,” he
warned her.
Starting at the top was a downward progression of
symbols. In the center appeared a circular disk with emblem
glyphs on the edges. Superimposed within the circle, were
spaced rows of Mayan numerals resembling a matrix code.
“Itzamna,” Baltazar said, pointing to the top of the
He was referring to the Mayan Hunab Ku creator of the
universe depicted by a celestial two-headed serpent known
also as Oxlahuntiku. We aimed our flashlights to where
Baltazar was pointing to get a better look. Hunab Ku was
gazing over the entire scene below him. This made us think
that most likely the painting represented the
multidimensional world of the Maya going from an
extraterrestrial to terrestrial reality. Just below Hunab Ku
was another glyph that Baltazar called, “kin” or Sun in
Soul/Kambak 133

In the center of the fresco was something that resembled

a gigantic gyroscope, emanating radiant light waves.
Embedded in this image was a long tube-like shape glyph, in
a vertical position.
"It is written in the Quiche Maya’s Popol Vul that time
is the bridge between this world and the world of the spirits,”
Cassarina said admiring the fresco’s artistic charm.

Cassarina’s drawing of the “soul tube” image

After digging away the loose dirt about the base of the
wall with our hands, we revealed two humanoid figures,
similar in design to the Dezantes at Monte Alban, at each far
corner of the mural. Just below the figures were specific
Mayan numerical lines and dots. Baltazar squatted next to
Hornsby inspecting the images. In between these figures
was a painted coiled plumed serpent. Its open viper mouth
extruded what looked like flames.
“Itzaes,” he said pointing to two figures.
“Que es?” I said.
“Primera ninos de aqua,” Baltazar replied, standing up.
He was intrigued at our discovery. Absorbed, he inspected
each of the fresco’s delicately painted glyphs, though they
were severely faded.
Soul/Kambak 134

“First child of water?” Cassarina said perplexed.

“Quiet,” Hornsby commanded in a stern whisper. “He’s
telling us the story.”
Hornsby aimed his flashlight to where Baltazar was
looking next.
“Aqui.” Baltazar spoke softly. His long bony index
finger pointed at the emblem glyph next to the long vertical
tube in our light beams.
“Kuxan Suum.” Baltazar spoke the Maya words for “road to
the sky” as if he was giving us a lesson. Hornsby knelt down
to inspect the lower left emblem glyph. He deciphered the
three-sectioned image. The glyph on the left was the
“divine” name. The graphics on top signified the deity and
the large round corner square was the site.
Baltazar was quick to translate, “k’u ahaw” meaning the
“place name” of a particular temple site.

“Palenque,” Hornsby said.
Baltazar nodded with agreement. Cassarina was busy
sketching the glyph into her journal while I tried to steady
two flashlights at the scene, shaking with electrifying
excitement. Hornsby moved over to the other emblem glyph
on the right side of the mural. Baltazar aimed his flashlight
for Hornsby to see as he carefully deciphered the glyph to
read, “Yaxchilan.”

Soul/Kambak 135

As if nature wanted to accentuate our discovery, there

was a brief deep rumbling of thunder coming from outside
the tomb.
“Metzabok,” Baltazar remarked. He was referring to the
Mayan rain god.
However, our attention was too concentrated to have
been concerned. Hornsby started to calculate the numerical
notations next to the glyphs. He worked out the sequence in
a paneled arrangement of numbers from top to bottom next
to the Yaxchilan glyph.
“Nine is the Baktun. Eighteen is the Katun. Seventeen
is the Tun. Thirteen is the Uinals. And sixteen is the Kin.”
He paused for a moment to do the Gregorian calendar
conversion in his head.
“The conversion co-efficient would make it 808 A.D,”
he said.
“How did you get that co-efficient?” I said.
“It’s the Julian count of days that astronomers use,”
Hornsby replied. He was setting the corrections from the
Gregorian calendar and previous Julian calendar to make the
exact date correlations to the Mayan count.
“From January 1, 4712 BC in the Julian calendar, you
get August 13, 3113 BC in the Gregorian calendar or exactly
five hundred eighty-four thousand two hundred eighty-three
days. This was the zero date of the Fourth and final World
Epoch in Mayan predictions. Hornsby returned to the
Palenque glyph to decode the arranged date. He wasn’t long
in finding something extremely unsettling.
“The date written here is Palenque was
erected some 2,000 years later,” he said, perplexed.
“The whole thing makes me time sick,” Cassarina
Soul/Kambak 136

How could this ruin date back to 2700 B.C.? The codice
panel to the right of the fresco caught our attention. There
was a group of glyphs that Hornsby asked Baltazar to see if
he could translate. For a moment the Lacandon stood staring
at the vast mythological mosaic. From the collection of
glyphs he pointed out a sequence, speaking the Mayan name
of each symbol. Cassarina sketched them. Hornsby wrote
down each name.
I’ve reprinted these in their sequence as Baltazar
translated them to us.

The glyphs read from left to right.

Top row: winik; tun; iwal; hal; nal; tz’am.
Bottom row: ahaw; kun; chan; bih; k’u,
k’ul; way.
In a few moments, Hornsby read back in English what
Baltazar had translated. “Man – stone -- and then –
manifest – place -- throne, lord – center – sky – road –
sacred – god -- companion spirit.”
Soul/Kambak 137

Another rumble of thunder could be heard from outside

the tomb.
“Repeat it,” I asked as Cassarina continued to sketch the
glyphs. Hornsby deliberately repeated each word clearly and
“If the Lacandon’s ancestors were builders of temples,”
I ventured, “then this might be telling us where they built a
specific temple.”
“A very special temple,” Hornsby said perspicaciously.
He thought for a moment editing the translation. “Man and
stone combined could be mason. The verb, and then plus
manifest could be ‘to build.’ What was built was a specific
throne at a place known as the center for a lord who could . .
“Travel into the sky with assistance with a companion
spirit,” I said.
“And that companion spirit assists one through the “soul
tube,” Cassarina said, having stopped her sketching.
“Or the Soul Chamber,” Hornsby added, in awe of his
“It’s clear the coiled plumed serpent represents
Quetzalcoatl in his anthropomorphic form,” she pointed out.
“Why of course,” I said. “That’s it.” I aimed my
flashlight to the center of the mural.
“Palenque is over here and Yaxchilan is there and both
are along the Rio Ucumacinta. If you draw a line between
these two locations then take that distance out at equal angles
to form another triangular apex, out here . . .”
“It over shots the center glyph in the soul tube, ”
Cassarina said, disappointed.
“It’s too faded to make out exactly the whole scheme,” I
Soul/Kambak 138

What happened next, we hadn’t expected. Above us

was a small open shaft that we hadn’t discovered because of
the darkness. We had noticed that the cavern was cooler
than the corridor, but hadn’t given it much thought as to
why. Now we knew.
A brilliant light beamed down into the room, blinding us
for a moment. It was sunlight coming through a carved out
hexagonal shaft. Hornsby, the tallest of us, put his hand into
the shaft of light. Strangely, the shadow of his hand was
inside the shaft as well as outside.
“This is absolutely fantastic,” Hornsby said. “The sun
path crosses the Tropic of Cancer only two times a year.”
“It illuminates this temple vault on a specific date,” he
said with joyful amazement.
The shaft was the means of observing the zenial
passages of the sun. Having come to this exact point in time,
as Hornsby mentioned earlier about our current calendar date
was in the Tzolk’in mystic column, it was evident we had
entered a secret ruin built for a specific purpose.
As my eyes adjusted, the faded fresco came to life. The
colors were much clearer along with the outlines. With the
sunlight beaming down, having broken through the afternoon
storm clouds, we had adequate light to work by. Taking in
the grandeur of our find, Cassarina recited the Nahuatl
“The good painter is wise, god is in his heart. He
converses with his own heart. He puts divinity into things.”
“There’s a glyph midway between the two temples,”
Hornsby cried out.
“Kah,” Baltazar said immediately seeing it. He meant
“area.” Which was where we were currently standing, an
extension of a complex labyrinth of tunnels.
Soul/Kambak 139

The Olmec built tunnels about the Mesoamerican
landscape, creating an underground network. These tunnels,
later to be identified as catacombs because of the dead end
maze of tunnels, were exactly what Hornsby claimed we had
stumbled into. Most likely the fresco was of ancient origin
with combined Olmec and Toltec and Maya influences. The
other correlation was that we were north of the Lacanja
unexcavated temple ruins.
But the answer lies in the soul tube glyph and the
inference that a temple was possibly built there. The
departure of the all-encompassing lord, Quetzalcoatl,
brought about the downfall of the Toltec civilization known
for its spiritual artistry. The origin of the Tolteca nation was
suspected of being Naqualtacas. Their name is translated to
mean, “excellent artist.”
“The nature of humanity turned to their darker side after
Quetzalcoatl departed, claiming that someday he would
return again,” Hornsby related.
Quetzalcoatl, the gentle feather serpent god, had
installed a spiritual code that humankind’s harmonic
relationship with the cosmos kept the sun deity,
Huitzilopochtli alive, metaphorically speaking. By keeping
one’s heart open and offering one’s lifeblood to the sun
through artistic spiritual discipline the sun would be re-
energized, thus providing daily life to sustain their
livelihood. Such was the context for the Teotihuacan
civilization’s way of life; a peaceful paradise that maintained
freedom, and individual creativity.
Soul/Kambak 140

But Quetzalcoatl’s nemesis, Tezcatlipoca, the dark lunar

god, abrogated this spiritual doctrine to mean that human
hearts must be carved from the chest to appease the sun
deity. Seeking to overthrow Quetzalcoatl, Tezcatlipoca
disguised himself as a merchant and appeared in the
marketplace of Tollan, exposing himself stark naked before
the Princess. She couldn’t help noticing how well endowed
he was and became sick with craving sexual pleasure. She
begged her father, the King, to approve her wedding. The
night they consummated their marriage, she conceived
Tezcatlipoca a child, “Day of the Nine Winds,” heir prince to
the throne of Toltec.
After marrying the Princess, Tezcatlipoca, convinced the
warrior faction of the Toltecs that human sacrifice brought
superior power over their enemies. It was in keeping with
his sacred animal spirit, the jaguar -- fierce, cunning and
powerful to manifest his beliefs that gained him a majority
persuasion over Mesoamerica.
The spiritual doctrine of Quetzalcoatl was outlawed, and
the hearts and blood of the first prisoner’s of war were
consecrated and sacrificed. Thus began a bloodthirsty
warfare economy to supply the necessary demand for
sacrifices, which by some accounts totaled twenty thousand a
day at the height of the Mayan dynasty. By cutting out the
hearts of warring captives to appease the sun deity a tyranny
for servility was established in the collective consciousness
of humanity. Anyone who defied Tezcatlipoca would meet
the same fate as the prisoner’s of war.
“Refugees fleeing from Tezcatlipoca and the destroyed
Teotihuacan dynasty who held onto the spiritual beliefs
handed down by Quetzalcoatl fled to Xochicalco, the
birthplace of Quetzalcoatl, Reed One,” Hornsby said. “This
Soul/Kambak 141

was a transitional site between Teotihuacan and Tula

“What we’re looking at is the record of nine Baktun or
thirty-six thousand years,” I said. “More so, it’s possible that
if this is of early Toltec design, it would validate the
existence of a populated area that was supposedly near
“Huehuetlapallan,” Hornsby said. “It would stand to
reason this ruin was in the Pre-Classic period.”
Cassarina fumbled about in her rucksack for a moment.
“It might be that this ruin we’re standing in was
inhabited as a hide out for Quetzalcoatl refugees.” Hornsby
nodded in agreement with me.
“I also think our friend here,” he pointed at Baltazar, “
knew about this place well before we came along.”
“Here it is,” Cassarina said as she flipped through the
pages of a small paperback book with tattered edges. “I’ve
brought a copy of The Annals of Cakchiquels.”
Finding a dogged ear page, she read aloud.
“And setting out we arrived at
the gates of Tulan. Only a bat
guarded the gates of Tulan . . .
then we were commanded by our
mothers and fathers to come, we
the thirteen clans of the seven
tribes, the thirteen clans of
warriors . . .”
“A bat?” Hornsby was astonished. He quickly returned
to the entrance to inspect the emblem glyphs. “If it’s true,
we’ve found a resemblance of Tulan, perhaps purposely
constructed as a record, an archive of the first people, the
Nican Tlaca of Anahuac.”
Soul/Kambak 142

The fresco revealed to us the geometric alignment of a

mysterious location. There
was a distinct outside circle that contained the twenty solar
emblem glyphs. Within this circle was a smaller one that
contained thirteen numerical symbols of lines and dots. The
apex of the triangular alignment, as I had suggested, fell
dead center of these two circles. The “soul tube” glyph was
superimposed in the column.
“The numerical system within the outer circle is the
“count of days” or Tzolk’in,” Hornsby said, returning from
the entrance. “These are the two aspects of the Mayan
calendar count.”
Pulling out his topographical map from his pack,
Hornsby spread it out on the dirt floor.
“We need some form of translating the distances on this
fresco to the maps legend to find the distance from where we
are to Kuxan Suum.”
“There has to be some clues here.” I searched the
fresco for reference symbols to decipher.
Cassarina also looked about the fresco for more clues.
Baltazar was intently watching us.
“Look here,” I said standing back. There were four
distinct glyphs laid out in a pattern.
“Baltazar, que es? “ I asked pointing to the top glyph
just off center to the left of the center of the fresco’s
“Xaman,” Baltazar said coming closer. Cassarina wrote
down the names.
“Que es aqui?” I said, pointing to the next glyph.
“Chikin,” Baltazar answered, catching on to what I was
doing. He pointed to the glyph at the bottom of the largest
Soul/Kambak 143

“Nohol. Likin,” Baltazar said, pointing to the glyph

opposite Chikin on the right side of the large circle.
Hornsby asked Cassarina to confirm what Baltazar had
said. When she finished his eyes lit up.
“These are the directions of the compass. North, west,
south, and east.” Hornsby looked at the arrangement of the
four glyphs. He noticed that they were actually two glyphs
stacked on each other. The top glyphs were as follows:

ahau /south chicchan /east oc

/north men/west
“Brilliant. These are the four Tollans.” Hornsby was
beside himself.
He got up to examine the four positions confirming that
they were equal in distance to each other.
“Each glyph has the appropriate dominate color relating
to their directions. And at the center, where the apex of our
imaginary triangle is what glyph?” He turned to Cassarina
hoping she would know, but she stood there silent.
“Yaxkin,” Baltazar said. His eyes glistening behind a
sheepish smile, customary of the Lacandon.

“Of course,” Cassarina said. “The center.”
“Or as I mentioned when we inspected the rock art,
Yaxkin means green day, the zero count day that happens
once a year in the Mayan calendar,” Hornsby said.
“But it is still a mystery,” I added.
Soul/Kambak 144

“For now we’ll call this mystery temple, Yaxkin.”

Hornsby spoke with the sovereignty of a conquering explorer
discovering a new land.
“Bulls eye,” I thought to myself. “Again, The same
temple Moise pointed out to me in my dreamtime vision.”
The correlation was devastatingly accurate. Three times
Hornsby had mentioned the Yaxkin, and now the final
confirmation proved to me that we had made a remarkable
discovery that proves Hornsby hypothesis about the Soul
Chamber existence.
Next to the Yaxkin glyph was a set of numbers. In the
Long Count date measurement it was Hornsby
translated this to mean One Ahau in Tzolk’in and Thirteen
Keh haab. It was March 24 of the exact year between B.C.
and A.D.
“The first evidence we have of the use of the Long
Count was found at the Chiapa de Corzo on Stele Two dated
36 B.C.” Hornsby said. His calculations validated the
commensuration of the Olmec, Toltec, Nahuatl, and Mayan
The sunlight was beginning to dim through the
observatory shaft. We continued in haste to collect as much
data as we could.
“I need to make a geometrical quadrant compass,”
Hornsby said. He rummaged through this rucksack looking
for something to improvise with.
“You mean what Galileo invented?” I said.
“Exactly,” Hornsby answered.
Cassarina produced two plastic rulers thirty centimeters
long that she used in measuring her foliage collections from
her rucksack. Hornsby took out his pocketknife blade and
drilled a small hole one at each end. Pulling a loose thread
from his soiled shirt, he tied the two rulers together, making
Soul/Kambak 145

a tight knot on either side. He held up his new creation to

the shaft of light.
“Not bad, but I don’t have an extender.” Moving over to
the fresco, Hornsby set about taking his measurements.
“Did you know that Galileo divided the arithmetic lines
into two hundred and sixty equal parts?” he said to me.
“Two hundred sixty is the product of thirteen times
twenty,” I said.
“Quite right. Twenty emblem glyphs for what is called
the civil calendar, vague year or haab and two hundred sixty
permutations of the number thirteen that makes up the
Hornsby worked the alignments in reference to the
circle’s circumference in comparison to the sum total of the
three sided triangle based upon the distance between
Yaxchilan and Palenque. With the quadrant, he measured
the triangle’s angle to the angle produced by the two triangle
lines crossing into the circle. Then he took his own compass
and laid it on the topographical map to determine true north
from magnetic north.
“The word calendar is a misnomer, however,” Hornsby
said while working out his calculations. “Calendar comes
from the Roman word, calends, which is the word use for an
accountant’s book.”
“It was the book used to record monthly debts,”
Cassarina said.
“So, I guess that’s where we get the saying, ‘Time is
Money,’” I said.
“We’ve been living out-of-sync with the universe,”
Hornsby said, “because the Mayan have no word for time.
They lived in a dimension of kinetic viewpoints.”
Soul/Kambak 146

After a few minutes, he announced that the distances in

length were all equal, and the angles corresponded exactly to
substantiate the location of a temple.
“This fresco is more of a terrestrial surveyor’s map.”
Coming over to Cassarina and I, Hornsby brought the map to
show us his deduction.
“If my calculations are right, this center on the mural is
exactly at this point.”
His finger pointed to an area right at the right angle
corner of the border between Guatemala and Tabasco in the
Mexican Yucatan peninsula and the northwestern corner of
the great Maya Forest.
“There’s more,” I said as I had been closely inspecting
the soul tube glyph.
A faint detail within the “soul tube” had caught my
attention. Looking closer I could see the numerical lines and
dots of the Mayan mathematics. From top to bottom I read
the following numbers: thirteen, four, seven, nine, twenty,
“Each of the numbers add up to twenty, the base number
for their vigesimal ratio,” Hornsby said.
This was sufficient in that the matrix of thirteen and
twenty encodes a language just as the English alphabet does.
“But more importantly,” Hornsby went on to say, “the
long count date we found below the Palenque shield glyph
was deciphered at Palenque by Sylvanus Griswold Morley.
Why was this date recorded here?”
“Archetypal evidence?” Cassarina said. I was stunned
by her comment since she had quarreled so much with me
about the validity of archetypal consciousness.
“Evidently, numbers could very well be the language of
consciousness,” Hornsby pondered.
Soul/Kambak 147

Just as our attention went back to the map the cavern

dimmed, then went black. We rummaged around for a
moment to turn on our flashlights. The batteries in them
were nearly exhausted so it was futile to try and continue.
Reluctantly, we had to leave what Hornsby called the
“cryptic vault”.
“Clearly whoever inhabited this place purposely laid out
this orientation mapping for someone to find the well kept
secret from warring tribes that ravaged the Yucatan
Peninsula during the Classical period,” Hornsby summed up
while gathering his things.
The discovery made us eager to make it back to camp,
as we now wanted to confirm the information we had
gathered. But there was one more discovery to present itself
on our return. As we left the entrance of the cave, Baltazar
pointed out a stone axe head that been half buried in the
ground in the clearing outside of the cave entrance. It
hadn’t been there when we entered the cave. He informed us
it was from the thunder deity, Metzabok, an omen of sorts
that we were in favor of the gods.
Dense clouds blocked the sunlight as we hiked back up
the steep trailhead. It was hard to bear the intensity that
rolls across you with such discoveries. Our endeavor was
proving irresistibly appealing with the recent ruin find. It
was a missing link that Hornsby’s hunches had guided him
toward for the past several years. The validation would
reinstate him among his peers. But along with it came the
unbelief that one encounters on the edge of metaphysical
dimensions. The materialization of the stone axe head made
us embrace even more the mystical reality we had entered
that was filled with the rush of apprehension.
“There is no room for error,” Hornsby announced as we
climbed weary from the day’s fantastic discovery.
Soul/Kambak 148

It is impossible to convey the emotional effects of our

find, stirring and mixed with a futile sense of the burden of
one’s destiny to know its great truth. But in the vividness of
my memory, what still glows about the impression I was left
with, contains the courage brought about from Hornsby’s
“I mean we must scrutinize our findings tomorrow. We
cannot afford the anguish of deception. As hopeful as it may
appear…” Hornsby paused as he hiked up a rigorous portion
of the bushwhacked trail we had made earlier on our descent
to the gully floor.
Cassarina and I stood together, waiting to take turns to
make it up the sharp rocky incline.
Hornsby turned back toward us, peering down and said,
“…you must promise me to keep this a secret for now.”
Cassarina, I sensed, was vicariously sharing in
Hornsby’s victory of the day. Several times, she drew near
him, up ahead of me, conversing in whispers, holding him by
the arm. They seem to consult each other, or was she
consoling him?
Dusk had come by the time we reached the perilous rock
ledge trail. A full moon had risen on the horizon, lighting up
the tangled rain forest in a bluish luminosity. My thigh was
completely free from the painful extraction of the bot-fly
maggots, so I wasn’t concerned about making it safely
across. I had cheated death earlier in the day, making my
dream less powerful in its prophetic wisdom. Naively, I
started to believe that maybe the whole dreamtime
experience was my imagination, a delusion caused by living
months in the jungle, a residual withdrawal symptom from
having left Western society.
It was nightfall when we reached Jorge and the pack
mules. Jorge had set up camp, and made a meal of rice,
Soul/Kambak 149

beans and tortilla for us. He seemed unconcerned about our

late arrival but eager to share some news with Baltazar.
They whispered among themselves in their native tongue.
The three of us were too weary to pay any attention and
quickly retired after finishing our meal in cordial silence.
Soul/Kambak 150

Chapter 9
The Maiden Priestess
That night I dreamed about a maiden priestess, adorned
with precious jewels and golden bracelets. She appeared to
me in her full regalia descending on the rays of a full moon.
She wore a cotton headdress of florescent blue and red
feathers, plumed out in a display of majestic appearance. In
her nose was a moonbeam ring. She was joyful and
sorrowful at the same time with piercing eyes that captured
the depths of my soul.
I heard her whisper to me, “Why?”
At the same time I turned my face about as the sound of
footsteps drew near. What came toward me was a brilliant
light that dimmed revealing the corpses of souls still
wondering the earth. Rough faces and wrinkled skinned
naked bodies of ancient spirits who were still lost in the
desolate curses of their greediness for the earth’s energy.
She was showing me the sickness and misery from the
impurities of their lives.
“Enough,” I cried.
She murmured to me, “Nothing will scare me,” as she
embraced me to take away the chill of the darkness that was
all around me.
Then she spread her voluptuous body out upon the
moonlight beams in a posture that was sensuous and
seductive, beckoning for me to take her. I wanted to ravish
her because of her compassion and pity for me. My heart
wanted to burn next to hers with unbridled passion. But the
Soul/Kambak 151

feeling wasn’t sexual. The sensation was a rapturous

quintessence that made my body electric. She smiled a smile
that gave me courage to bear the truth in speaking the worst
of my deeds. Her eyes turned tender and soothed my pain. I
fell into tears, sobbing.
“Be patient,” she said to me in a soft voice forgiving me.
“Let him die by my hand, Jules,” she said softly repeating
my name over and over again a she faded into the moonlight
Suddenly, there was no air in my chest. “Die,” I cried
out in a shriek of anguish, gasping for breath.
“Jules,” Cassarina shook me by the shoulder. “Jules!
Are you alright?”
I quickly rose up in my hammock, shocked.
“You were talking in your sleep,” Cassarina said.
Everything about me stood still. I stared at the dense
rainforest. As I collected myself, I could see shreds of a
white mist hanging about the tree canopy. Jorge and
Hornsby were seated at the campfire staring at me. I noticed
that Hornsby had his map laid out in his lap. Jorge continued
cooking some tortillas over the open fire, but glanced my
way every few moments. Baltazar was nowhere to be seen.
I had no idea how long I had been talking in my sleep, but it
was obvious that they all had been listening to me for some
“A bit of a tumble, eh Jules,” Hornsby called out.
“I suppose,” I answered climbing on the edge of my
hammock. My mind was still swarming in the priestess’s
The esoteric spiritual truths of Mayan mythology had
remained ambiguous to me. They placed such an emphasis
on the phantasmagoria of life. We don’t have the ancients to
tell us the exact meaning of their evolutionary conception.
Soul/Kambak 152

Each Baktun period translates the prior beliefs into a new

assimilation of perspectives. Only the recorded dates
exemplify some facts to base our speculations upon their
But to have these primordial entities invade your
dreams, your subconscious, distorts all that you know as
reality, and more so, expands your understanding of life that
Western culture prohibits to venture into without costing you
a psychological diagnosis of clinical mental illness. What is
rational becomes more irrational and vice versa.
The Mayan perspective gives us a contrast to the
evolution of our consciousness as determined by the
evolution of the universe. It is the same with dream
interpretation. A dream comes to us as a holographic
resonance field created in the fourth or fifth dimension of
reality. It is created within our unconsciousness that
manifests the parallels of our self-reflective consciousness,
the causation of which isn’t broken during our waking hours.
A dream properly interpreted may give a clue for some
critical moment in your life to be keenly aware of.
Was dreamtime the underlying mechanism of the Mayan
consciousness? Was this the means to peal back the layers
overlapping the true self? We are on shaky ground when it
comes to dream interpretation, just as we are in decoding
indigenous mythology. We know as the Mayan believed,
existence was made tangible by the numerical matrix of the
Tzolk’in. In Yucatec Mayan, tzol or tzoltik translates into
“explain” the root words for the Tzolk’in that was translated
by the Quiche Mayan of the Northern Highlands in
What can be foretold in our dreams, as future
consequences may be the very essence of what the Mayan
have been trying to explain as the divine plan behind the
Soul/Kambak 153

evolution of human consciousness. And most likely this

numerical matrix was a correctly calibrated formula that
guides us along the natural sequence of cause and effect,
past, present and future, the alpha and omega, and our place
in the universe.
I was beginning to see that in fact, the complete logical
basis of deductive process tacitly underlies the process of
human reasoning, the foundation of our archetypal nature.
The more I immersed myself in Mesoamerican mythology,
the more extra-natural events interfered with my fixed
understanding of time and reality. But any admission of
such foreign possibilities demands more trustworthy
evidence. Any discrepancy that could deceive or delude
would be catastrophic.
“What were you dreaming about?” Cassarina said.
“Yes, Jules. You said, ‘die’ in your sleep.” Hornsby
added inquisitively.
His attention was riveted upon me as I approached them,
sitting down on a blanket next to where Jorge had prepared a
stack of fresh corn tortillas. Cassarina followed me over,
taking her place on the other side of Hornsby. Weary, I
asked about Baltazar, but none of them had seen him. He
had left the camp as mysteriously as he had arrived the day
Up until our discovery of the cryptic vault, I didn’t
know exactly what company I was keeping. As much as the
jungle and Lacandon were utterly foreign to me in the
beginning, Cassarina and Hornsby seemed to have become
foreigners to me. But now I knew I was among honest
thinkers, unwilling to deceive themselves or assert their
contradicting personal beliefs upon me solely for the sake of
preserving the anthropological hypotheses that entertained
our expedition. We sought the same answers, to understand
Soul/Kambak 154

the phenomena of the Mayan world, its existence and

ancestors with the least amount of ambiguity.
“The correcting process,” I thought, “is not human
behavior but the extraterrestrial that possesses a self-
aligning power that brings human aberrations back to
universal harmony. All inequalities must be balanced. It
could be that this was the force I was experiencing, the
conditions of the omnipotent time-space continuum.”
There was no doubt that my companions were
eyewitnesses to my dreaming. The three of them, seated
around the campfire, looked upon me with compassion,
endearing with watchful, caring eyes.
“Dreams are human testimony,” Hornsby humbly said.
His existence had become uniquely essential somehow
or another to me. He sat there, more keen than a mere
professor, a special human trait struck me. I recalled our
argument weeks before about dream interpretation, and
hesitated to resume the analytical argument, full of
multitudinous doubts. Hornsby looked upon me with
indigenous generosity, the kind I saw in the Lacandones.
This was the real Hornsby, and I believed at that moment,
Cassarina registered that I was catching on.
“Yes, Jules . . . tell us,” Cassarina’s ardor of speech
removed me from any suspicion.
I explained the details of my dream, translating it into
Spanish for Jorge’s benefit.
“All Mother and the Djanggano Sisters,” Hornsby said
after a long silence. He explained to us that he was referring
to an Aboriginal pictograph located in Australia.
“Tlazolteotl,” Jorge said.
The two of them looked back at the campfire then to
each other as if telepathically knowing what the other was
thinking. I looked at them bewildered. Hornsby saw I was
Soul/Kambak 155

perplexed and explained what he and Jorge thought I had

encountered during my “dreamtime” as Hornsby referred to
Tlazolteotl is the great mother or human fertility. Her
mythological story has been traced throughout indigenous
cultures, the evidence of which was painted on a rock in
Australia by aborigines. Tlazolteotl has been traced back to
the remotest antiquity. But more importantly, she is the
“eater of impurities.” When one dies, they come before her
to confess the greatest of their sins to receive absolution.
Nothing can overwhelm her, as she has the power to heal and
forgive us.
“In the end, we are all justified sinners,” Hornsby said.
“The dead must tell their darkest tales,” Cassarina
“What do you expect, a succession of holy deeds?”
Hornsby quipped.
“Fuerza creadora de lo no tejido,” Jorge said flipping
over a tortilla in a small frying pan over the campfire.
“Creative force of the universe,” Cassarina translated.
“Such a passionate power, the female psyche.”
“Yes, there is an extraordinary sanctity attached to this
goddess symbol,” Hornsby said.
“But there is more,” I said in a timid tone of voice.
By virtue of the dream and our incredible discovery the
day before, it was futile to withhold my other dreamtime
experience. I knew I would be condemning Hornsby and
Cassarina to an avoidable catastrophe by not divulging it,
and the confirmation of Yaxkin.
As much as our discovery yesterday was extraordinary
and motivated me even more to search the depths of the
Maya jungles, I still feared the worst if we continued on our
expedition. I started to explain at first that no one knows
Soul/Kambak 156

when death will come as one lives into their virgin territory
of life moment by moment. We can suspect and look for
signs of the inexorably fatal power at work around us, a
force of which devastates whole civilizations into ruins in a
blink of an eye. And still nature contains an inscrutable
spirit that lovingly spares us through the darkest times of our
lives. It seemed to me that life was a string of fortunes and
misfortunes all of which was there to enjoy.
“The three days that I was gone,” I began, “ wasn’t to
inspect the rock art.” I related to Hornsby that Cassarina and
I had an argument. Wanting to clear my head and give her
some space to cool down as well, I took off into the jungle
for what I thought would be a day hike. What happened next
was beyond my comprehension, as well as Cassarina’s.
Hornsby and Cassarina were transfixed as I related
vividly the dramatic scenes of my dreamtime encounter from
beginning to end. By the time I was finished, I felt I was at
the end of a long bridge spanning between us. Their
expressions were ones of overwhelm, delight, surprised and
Jorge had stopped cooking tortillas. He stood smoking a
cigarette. Cassarina looked at me glassy eyed. Most of all,
Hornsby was emotionally moved. Scratching his balding
head, he finally responded.
“Was this what you were afraid to tell me before?”
I nodded in agreement.
“The whole dream took three days?” Cassarina was
perplexed, intrigued and mildly annoyed.
“That’s the other part.”
I went on to describe my encounter with Moise.
Hornsby and Cassarina listened intently. Neither of them
questioned me when I finished. By then the morning air was
warming up from the tropical heat of the sun. The mist had
Soul/Kambak 157

long since evaporated. It was clear to us that my dream, my

encounter with Moise and our discovery of the cryptic vault
all correlated to the existence of this Soul Chamber that
Hornsby was searching for.
“Brilliant. You’ve experienced Dreamtime,” Hornsby
muttered. “I had thought that one of the Lacandones would
have come forth with this, not an occidental, especially a
member of our expedition.”
“And the mention of Yaxkin,” Cassarina queried. “How
is that you knew of this prior to our discovery. Are you
making up some kind of fable?”
“I wanted to see if in fact Hornsby, I mean we, would
actually find some tangible proof, without planting the idea
“And, I suspect you were concerned about the
symbolism of death,” Hornsby interjected.
“Yes, I was scared that to continue, one of us would
die,” I said nodding in agreement.
Inspired by my dreamtime occurrence, Hornsby went
into one of his philosophical lectures. He explained,
emphatically, that there are three hypothesis of life. First of
all that the universe has existed for all eternity. Second that
the antiquity of life had no precedent to follow and thirdly,
our present state has evolved by a natural process and will
continue to do so as it always has just as the first single cell
bacteria mutations occurred over sixty million years ago.
Everything in the mind of humankind is inextricably
woven together, whether we accept it or not. Everything is
running from the specific to the generality of conscious
perceptions; from the archetype to the symbol to the myth.
Regardless of metaphoric meanings derived from our
dreams, we are an infant civilization in the grand scheme of
the multiversity of the cosmos. As each individual comes to
Soul/Kambak 158

terms with their place in life, the truth of their existence will
only be revealed to them in the last split second of their last
breath of mortal consciousness.
“So what a glorious thing to meet,” Hornsby said pacing
about the campsite. “A goddess who will embrace you with
compassion, forgiving you of all your inequities.”
“Easy for you to say,” Cassarina said condescendingly
with an obvious change of heart about dream interpretation.
She wasn’t enthralled by my dreamtime message and
continued to look suspicious when I related my tale about
Moise. Cassarina was beginning to think our interpretations
were nonsense.
“It is a dangerous precedent to base theory upon myth,”
she said. “How much further can this imbecility go?”
But the whole dream spin and encounter with Moise had
a dramatic charm for Hornsby. His enthusiasm returned
without question of my prophetic vision for a catastrophic
outcome and possibly death.
“Have a good heart, Cassarina,” Hornsby cajoled while
he got his map to show us what he had been working on
since early morning.
His tone of voice was more paternal toward her. Their
relationship had been cultivated, I suspected, for some time
prior to this expedition. There was no doubt that Cassarina
came from affluence or lived off of a substantial inheritance.
She never mentioned having parents the whole time we were
Regardless, she flaunted a justified privilege to snob me
as if her academic endowments made her an elitist in
contrast to my impoverished insights. She was a complex
woman. On one hand maternally nurturing as a healer, but on
the other, if you crossed her intellect, she would deluge you
with a tempestuous storm of razor-sharp words.
Soul/Kambak 159

“Every civilization is enlivened by eccentrics.” Hornsby

spouted as he was getting situated with the map on his lap.
“Without them, the human race wouldn’t evolve.”
“Your quest, James, is like a narcissistic vice,”
Cassarina argued. “You’re caught up in this new age hysteria
to find some missing cosmic link between humankind and
the omnipotent.”
“You’re right, I’ve forgotten there is a serious person
among us,” Hornsby said, thoughtfully drummed his fingers
on the worn map that lay in his lap
This only infuriated Cassarina more. Hornsby obviously
had tangled with her tirades before and seemed to enjoy
pushing her to her limits.
“Garthwaite had the good sense to see through you,”
Cassarina retorted. “As for him,” she said pointing in my
direction, “he’s as daffy as you are.”
Cassarina was fuming as she turned away from the
campfire to start packing up her camping gear. Hornsby had
gone too far. He looked dejected and hung his head. This
was the worst spectacle I’d seen between them and neither of
them was making moves to apologize. Jorge and I went
about breaking camp.
Cassarina and Hornsby had an unsettled issue, a deep
burning conflict that was yet to come to some equitable
resolve. I surmised that our discovery of the possible
location of the Soul Chamber, my dreamtime encounter with
Moise, and the possibility that there really is a lost temple in
the Yucatan jungle made Cassarina more distraught. Perhaps
she believed all along that we were not going to find
anything of sufficiency.
The expedition served her more for a productive and
practical purpose, in which her goal was to further her
medical career in jungle medicine, not Mayan mysticism.
Soul/Kambak 160

She hadn’t planned on this turn of events. And though it was

unspoken, I felt that her argument with Hornsby was more
out of fear of him losing his life if he pursued this expedition
any farther. And for that matter my own. Beneath her
objecting veneer I suspected she secretly believed my dream
cast a fatal spell upon us. Her worse fear, as had been my
own, was that one or all of us would perish if we were to
press on.
We returned to Metzabok without a word spoken
between us.
Soul/Kambak 161

Chapter 10
Father Hernandez

Upon approach of Metzabok, the dogs started barking. The

day sky had turned to crimson dusk. Coming into the
encampment, I felt I was returning to a safe haven in the
rainforest. The villagers warmly greeted us, but we kept
more to ourselves. Jorge tactfully shooed them away. What
to do next weighed heavy in our hearts.
If any decisions were to be made, I imagine they would
be discussed tomorrow. Hornsby didn’t like to waste time,
especially with the rainy season starting. Most likely,
considering her defiant outburst, Cassarina would be packing
up to leave us, if Hornsby decided to go forward with his
hunch about the location of what he is now calling the lost
temple of Yaxkin.
“It is somewhere in the vicinity of the village called El
Destino, at the farthest northwestern corner along the border
of Mexico and Guatemala,” Hornsby concluded.
Cassarina was right to doubt Hornsby. What credible
archeological evidence did he have to make the precarious
journey and endanger her life? It would stand to reason, but
then reason doesn’t achieve the impossible. The prospect to
enter into untouched jungle grabs your sense of the ultimate
adventure. Nothing was known about the site we had just
Soul/Kambak 162

discovered, which Hornsby’s intuition hunted down like a

But our understanding of how the Maya evolved through
time was still murky, though the investigation at nearby
Palenque was unearthing incredible new discoveries.
Mayan hieroglyphic art and mathematics was the means of
keeping order in their social structure. It was this modern
understanding that we were grappling with. And more
importantly, I was purposely withholding the collaborating
evidence of the existence of Yaxkin, as revealed in my
encounter with Moise.
As I lay in my hammock that night, I reflected on the
series of recent events; the acquisition of our findings at the
cryptic vault and Hornsby’s dead reckoning intuitive sense
all seemed to be navigated by a guiding frequency deep
within the core of our psyche. Knowing the answer to
Hornsby’s question was a voyeuristic intrigue.
My thoughts about the archetypal nature of our
consciousness could be substantiated more, if I was to follow
Hornsby on this journey, which up till now was brought
about by his own conceptual vision of finding the Soul
Chamber. I wondered if this expedition was my own
initiation ritual. Prior to the rock art discovery, it seemed
we were on a futile track. But now, there was more to
logically explain his instincts as a valid “sixth sense” though
most scientists would abhor such basis as childish.
Buried in our psyche, as the indigenous believe, the
memory of our ancestors is guiding us. Their presence can
be conjured up when the right visual symbols and
experiences, like the priests initiation, present themselves.
What Hornsby was conjuring up was unidentifiable to the
academic world, so his notions to pursue such an
undertaking were considered irrational.
Soul/Kambak 163

I remembered Jung’s comment about his own

exploration into the depths of the human psyche. Had he not
come back from venturing into his own psychosis with valid
evidence to prove his theories correct, his peers would have
thought him mad and most likely had him committed to a
mental institution? Is this the fate of our great critical
thinkers? Like Galileo, who had to adjure his own theories
of the earth revolving around the sun or else be burned at the
stake for heresy by the Catholic Church, Hornsby was a rebel
in the eyes of the dogmatic precepts in anthropology.
Cassarina had made the decision to stay with us, solely
as a physician to take care of any injuries we might suffer
along the way. But she sent off a letter to Garthwaite, telling
him of our plans, leaving the handwritten correspondence for
Jorge to give to Montero the next time he came to Metzabok.
She included a page of one of her glyph drawings from the
cryptic vault as evidence of our find and reason for making
such a perilous journey on the spur of the moment.
The matter of adequate timely transport to get us in the
vicinity of Yaxkin was the priority on Hornsby’s anxiousness
to forge ahead. We hiked out that morning to the nearest
road that led us to La Arena. From there we hitched a ride
in a pickup truck to a small pueblo called Sival, where there
was an airstrip.
“We can make it by plane to El Desempeno on the
border of Mexico and Guatemala and then on to El Pedregal
in Tabasco,” Hornsby said.
When we arrived in the early afternoon, we found a
deserted airstrip. It was in a clearing and not much more
than a narrow piece of graded earth. At one end was a
tattered windsock flopping limply in the tropical heat. A
small yellow Piper Cub tail-dragger was housed in a thatched
roof hanger. So determined to get to El Desempeno, I think
Soul/Kambak 164

Hornsby would have hot wired the airplane himself, hadn’t

the pilot appeared.
His name was Manuel Rodriquez. He informed us that
he flew mostly for lumber and oil companies, sometimes-
delivering postal mail to the villages and providing medical
evacuations. It just so happened he had landed at Sival to
check if his engine was leaking oil, after which he wondered
off into the shade to take a siesta. His grimy oily hands
confirmed his story.
The prospect of making a few extra greenback dollars
was persuasion enough to make a detour with his flight plan.
But because he was expected in Velasco Suarez by nightfall,
he wouldn’t be able to take us on to El Pedregal.
Before the three of us loaded into the plane, Hornsby
demanded that Rodriquez start the engine to make sure it
would run smoothly. After five minutes of constant reviving
of the engine’s rpm’s without a sputter or misfired of a
piston, Hornsby was satisfied that we’d be safe.
The three of us were crammed into the small four seat
aircraft with our backpacks. Because of the heat of the day
and the weight of the plane, which I don’t think he took time
to calculate, we barely made it over the treetops on take off.
There we were, transported into the air, over the
mountainous rainforest terrain of the Sierra del Norte de
Chiapas. The radiating tropical heat left us, as the air-cooled
with altitude and white billowy clouds dotting the brilliant
tropical sky were all around us. The vast expanse jungle
looked stunning. At the same time I could see what a
formable situation we were getting into, as the vast flat dense
jungle of the Yucatan stretched out before us to the east.
Soon this invincible landscape would devour us.
Soul/Kambak 165

Once we landed at El Desempeno located next to the

Rio Ucumacinta, Rodriquez didn’t waste time in refueling,
wanting to make it to his destination before dusk.
“Adios, amigos,” Rodriquez cheerfully yelled and waved
goodbye through the small side window, roaring past us in a
cloud of dust at full throttle. As the plane just cleared the
treetops the engine sputtered for a moment. For a breathless
second we watched in horror. You could hear him
frantically turning the magneto ignition switch while trying
to maintain some altitude. Then, in a puff of white exhaust
the engine roared back to life. Manuel dipped the plane’s
wings as a salute and then disappeared over the
“I always say a prayer for him,” a soft voice said from
behind us. As we turned around we discovered a Catholic
priest had quietly walked up, making the sign of the crucifix.
He introduced himself as Father Hernandez. Elderly and
soft-spoken he had come out to see what the plane had
“Tener a alguien a mesa y mantel. . . .” Without
hesitation, the priest invited us to stay in his mission,
offering us dinner. There was a curiosity about him that
impressed me right at first. Such a gentleman he was, in
contrast to the desolate area he lived. I couldn’t help but
notice that the three of us appeared more risqué, contrasted
by Father Hernandez’s politeness.
The pleasant surroundings of this simple mission
outpost felt like a luxurious hotel after spending months in
the rainforest. Father Hernandez embraced us with Old
World Spanish hospitality, with the conveniences of a
modern world diesel generator to provide us with hot
showers. We partook in such luxury before attending his
invitation for dinner.
Soul/Kambak 166

“You appear to me to be a just man,” the priest said to

Hornsby as we finished up our meal at his dining table.
Hornsby had been outlining the expedition for the Father the
whole time we sat there.
“It may have been proven on a few occasions,” Hornsby
“One must be, to have come such a long distance.”
Father Hernandez said as he pulled the cork from a ceramic
vase of wine.
Upon the Father’s clue, a few servants clad in white
trousers and shirts obediently cleared the table noiselessly
walking on the tile floor in soft sole sandals.
“Would you care to join me?” He peered about the table
with a wry smile on his face. None of us refused. One of his
servants stopped clearing the plates and served us, filling up
our empty water glasses. Father Hernandez apologized for
not having the appropriate finery but then he said he stopped
making excuses for such things long ago.
“May we make a toast to your prestige and fortune,”
Father Hernandez said, raising his glass in delicate thin
“A toast, Father, to yours as well,” Hornsby said.
Cassarina and I joined in the salutation.
“Salute!” Father Hernandez was enjoying the
entertainment of new faces.
“Salute!” we all said in unison clinging our glasses
together. After taking a deliberately long sip of wine, Father
Hernandez turned to Cassarina, seated at his right side.
“And tell me, Dona Cassarina, such a lovely name it is,
how is it that you are mixed up in this affair with two
adventurous men?” Cassarina shifted in her chair.
“Father?” Cassarina half asked and half stated.
Soul/Kambak 167

“Oh, por favor, excuse me. I am too blunt. I’ve made

you feel uncomfortable,” Father Hernandez said. But it was
to his credit that he could cause Cassarina to be caught off
“I should be patient in spoonfuls, si?” Father Hernandez
smirked glinting his eyes towards Cassarina. She collected
herself taking another sip of wine.
“No. Father Hernandez, it is no problema. I’m an intern
doctor from Oxford, England. I’ve been collecting species
of foliage used by the indigenous for medical ethnobotany
Cassarina sat handsome and erect with her raven hair
tied up in bun to cool her neck. She bathed before dinner
and had put on some perfume, the fragrance of a rose. One
thick hair strand had fallen onto her shoulder. Her cheeks
were flush from the wine. Her lips were moist. She had a
look that enwrapped my spirit in a capricious tempest of
passion. Her tender eyes were stunningly attractive in the
soft candlelight of Father Hernandez’s sparse dining room.
Cassarina was the charming pose of maternal rapture that
penetrated my being. A lush golden paradise was sitting
across from me.
“You are courageous,” Father Hernandez said, “besides
being attractive.” The comment turned Cassarina into a
defensive stance.
“What do you mean, Father?”
But Father Hernandez didn’t respond with words.
Instead, he used a profound silence to speak for itself and a
deliberate stare in my direction. Cassarina followed the
gesture of his eyes towards me, who seated across the table,
was staring at her. For the first time, Cassarina’s eyes
flashed a spark of intimacy between us. Her lips faltered for
a second, her breath escaped her.
Soul/Kambak 168

“A man should never be tamed, don’t you agree with me

Dr. Hornsby?” Hornsby looked rather surprised about
discussing a romantic topic, noticing my gaze at Cassarina.
Father Hernandez went on without waiting for Hornsby to
“No matter how impractical a man is, the woman will
love his impious adventures if she knows that she is the one
and only that dwells in his heart. It is this quality that makes
him valuable than all the wealth in the world.”
“But courage is better than being attractive,” Cassarina
countered quickly turning away from me to suppress the
twinge from our passionate glances.
“It is exactly what makes a woman attractive. Did you
think I was referring to your physical appearance?” Father
Hernandez’s words flattered her.
“You command your thoughts well, Father Hernandez,”
Cassarina said. Father Hernandez smiled and took a
generous sip of wine.
“And speaking of thoughts, Jules, have you lost the
strength to talk this evening?”
“Father Hernandez, please pardon me, it has been some
time since I’ve socialized.” I felt humbled in his company.
“Quite so, we are always ourselves in good company,”
Father Hernandez said. “It is good to respect one’s own
reason as they see themselves,” he added with a gentle tone
that was barely whispered to us. “We should always nurture
each other’s souls, so they can live in eternal harmony.”
He spoke so clearly that I was left indispensable to
respond. I envied his spirit so pure and innocent with a
wisdom that struck deep into my breast. The three of us
marveled at Father Hernandez’s potent and insightful
conversation. Our silent awe made him uncomfortable.
Soul/Kambak 169

“I am keeping you up too long,” he said finishing his

wine. “You can see I have few guests here, other than God
and his purposes. . . .” he drifted off for a moment. Then he
beckoned his servants, directing them to take us to our
separate rooms.
“In the morning, we will make plans for your
transportation,” he said, reassuring us that he had our
intentions well in hand. Father Hernandez rose from the
table and politely excused himself, shuffling off in his brown
habit, drawn over his head.
That night I couldn’t sleep. Roaming about the
courtyard, I saw the flickering light of a single candle
burning in the kitchen, accessed from the fountain patio.
Through the doorway I could see the shadows on the walls
and ceiling dance about the large room. Curious, I slipped in
to see who was there.
A whiskered Father Hernandez was seated on a stool,
making for a tranquil moment. His lips were pursed up as he
read the yellowed pages of a black leather bond Bible on the
table before him. A pot of water was steaming on a cast
iron cook stove fire behind him. As I crossed the threshold
of the doorway those prominent brown eyes of his looked up
at me with a stony greeting. He was arrested in deep
“Disculpe, Father,” I said feeling embarrassed to have
intruded upon him.
“Que es, my son?” His thin lips departed underneath his
high boned weathered cheeks of a saintly face.
For a moment I stood across the table from him. I
forgot my concerns. Father Hernandez, patiently waiting for
my response, lifted one eyebrow then the other. I was under
the eye of a glorious man who led a glorious struggle against
tyranny in this part of the world.
Soul/Kambak 170

“My son, it is foolish to make a long prologue of your

account and then be short in the confession.”
I told Father Hernandez that I couldn’t sleep and wanted
to get some fresh air.
“I’m not Catholic and don’t believe in confession,” I
said with an honest face.
“Of course, it is the way of all men in the beginning,” he
said. “To God I speak Latin; to the Church I speak Spanish;
to the Indians I speak Mayan, but with foreigners I speak
He closed the book he was reading and slowly got up to
go to the pot of steaming water. I noticed the title, The
Anahuac Mythology.
“Would you like some coffee?” he offered. “The beans
are from our own finca.”
I willingly obliged him. He took two cups with saucers
from the kitchen basin where the diner’s dishes had been
washed and stacked. Opening up a jar of ground coffee that
sat on the rough hued wooden table, he brewed the coffee by
putting in a spoonful of ground coffee into the empty cups,
and then poured the hot water. Carefully, he put a saucer
over each cup to let it steep. Father Hernandez, could have
been performing communion for his worshipers, his
mannerisms were so ritualized.
“Lechi?” he asked turning to a small cooler and taking
out a pitcher of milk.
“Si, gracias,” I said sitting down on a stool next to the
table. He sat down across from me with sustained
“Perhaps you have never heard a straightforward
confession, so you don’t know exactly what I’m asking of
Soul/Kambak 171

He was right. I never had gone to church. In my youth,

my father wasn’t much on religion. He was a journalist, a
critic of the hypocrisy of humanity. Not that there wasn’t
some sense of spirituality in our lives, but dogmatic religion
wasn’t his idea of finding peace of mind.
Father Hernandez searched the darken corners of the
kitchen for a moment.
“I will tell you my own confession,” Father Hernandez
went on to say. “At my age it becomes a time to meet death.
I have shook hands with life long enough. My own life at
best has been a monstrous boil on the face of God. You see,
when I was a child, I was taken to a traveling circus, an
exhibition of freaks and monstrosities. Is this God’s
creation? I asked my parents. They could not give me an
answer. That is why I became a priest. I wanted to know
how God could create such afflictions of the flesh. All my
years of devotion to God, to live as Christ, I have only
yearned to depart this world.”
I could understand the Father’s dilemma.
“It is a paradox wrapped in the mystery of an enigma,” I
Anyone who has the ability to foretell the future will
show you a greater ability to explain why it didn’t happen
afterwards. This kind of knowledge doesn’t edify us.
Instead, such talk does its best to distract us from our true
purpose and nothing more.
“And . . . ” he pointed his bony finger directly at me,
“man seems to demand more of God then God demands of
man. This is why we have a merciful god.”
With that said Father Hernandez took the saucers off of
our coffee cups, placing them underneath. He
ceremoniously poured some milk into mine then his, stirring
the coffee with a small tarnished silver spoon. The steam
Soul/Kambak 172

rose with a strong aromatic aroma. The smell revived my

“Sometimes I like to mix in Mexican chocolate as a
treat.” Father Hernandez was humoring me but still behind
the light heartedness there was a sober intent. He enjoyed
how I listened thoughtfully to the details of his life in El
Desempeno. We both had found some solace in the lonely
darkness of the night. The cordial ambience encouraged him
to continue.
“There is one incident that happened not too long ago,”
Father Hernandez said shifting into a grave tone of voice.
He told me that it was of importance for me in regards to the
expedition with Dr. Hornsby. He cleared his throat and
“Along the shores of the Rio Usumacinta some
American archeologists found a large stone stele inscribed
with Mayan hieroglyphics, buried in some temple ruins. It
was not far from El Desempeno. One of the scientists
claimed it had Mayan inscriptions dating back thousands of
years. So, the archeologist got permission from the Mexican
government to take it back to his university to put it on
display in a museum.”
Father Hernandez explained that they didn’t ask the
local Chols about taking the stele, which was used in their
sacred rituals. So when the expedition arrived with their
team of men to haul out the heavy stone, they met stiff
resistance. The archeologists presented their document from
the Mexican government to the Chols to prove they had a
right to take it.
But a cadre of armed Chol men emerged from the
jungle, forcing the archeologists to strip down to their
underwear. They told them never to come back or they
would be killed. The archeologist team had to forage
Soul/Kambak 173

through the jungle for days before being rescued along the
Guatemalan side of the river by a paramilitary patrol boat.
So far the stone stele has remained.
"The flame of a candle gives light, but it also burns,"
Father Hernandez looked thoughtful as he spoke his wisdom,
absorbed in the flickering flame of the candle on the table
between us.
I sensed that he was trying to influence me about the
moral principle of charity in the wake of looters and
scientists storming into the Chiapas region in search of
valuable Mayan treasures.
“The fashions of civilizations pass away. Only the truth
of their existence remains as sanctified graves. My grave,
too, will be my victory.” Father Hernandez sipped the last of
his coffee.
Setting the hand made ceramic cup down on the table,
he looked weary. But with a deep breath he perked up and
said, “There is no mystery. There are no secrets. It is all
common sense. We are all seeds of . . . Elohim, the Creator
of the Universe.”
“Elohim, Father?” I inquired.
“Strictu sensu -- translated it combines gods and
goddesses. Without the spirit of the feminine and masculine,
religion is total atheism. The intellectual mammal, Western
man, tries to rise from the earthly mud without Elohim’s
assistance. Instead, the occidentals embody the sinister curse
of ignorance and perpetuate the hubris of self-deception.
They make deals with the devil and pray to God for
Father Hernandez rose up from his stool.
“Buenas noches, my son,” he said with a twinkling eye
and quietly walked out the kitchen disappearing into
courtyard and the darkness of night.
Soul/Kambak 174

He left me there in the ardent nakedness of his wisdom.

I felt he had just given himself permission to die.
Soul/Kambak 175

Chapter 11
Death Squad

I was abruptly awakened by the whomping noise of a

helicopter’s blades flying low over the mission. The
deafening sound of the Lycoming jet engine of a Huey
helicopter was distinct and frightening. I heard outlying
screams from villagers as I jumped out of bed. Then there
was a loud pounding at my door. Without waiting for me to
answer, the door flung open. It was Hornsby with a desperate
look on his face.
“Get your pack!” Hornsby demanded. “Meet me and
Cassarina in the courtyard. Quickly.”
Without hesitation, I ran out of my room, half dressed,
carrying my backpack over one shoulder. Making a
desperate dash across the courtyard, I saw the two of them
anxiously waiting for me by the fountain. The helicopters
menacing presence raised the hairs on my back. There was
not one, but two Hueys, painted in a drab olive green,
hovering about 200 meters above the village. I couldn’t see
any distinguishing emblems painted their fuselage.
We were not in their line of sight. It appeared they were
more interested in something moving about in the other side
of the village’s perimeter. A servant of Father Hernandez,
who had attended to our dinner the night before, came
running up to us. He said his name was Emilio and was to
take us to the river to escape.
Soul/Kambak 176

“Donde esta Padre Hernandez? Hornsby asked him

shouting above the Huey’s deafening sound.
“Monsieur, es . . .” The man looked absolutely
terrified. Suddenly one of the Huey’s let go with a burst of
50mm machine gun fire strafing the rainforest canopy.
“For chrissakes!” Hornsby yelled as the four us ran for
cover in the rainforest.
More villagers screamed. Another burst of 50mm
machine gun fire rattled above us, but the soldiers were
targeting something in the opposite direction. As Emilio
hurriedly led us along a narrow trail through thick brush, he
turned back shouting “escuadron de la muerte . . .”
“Death squad,” Hornsby translated as he ran close on the
heels of Emilio.
At that moment the helicopters turned and headed in our
direction. Emilio motioned us to take cover in the bushes.
Without hesitation I dove into the huge tangled mess of
vines, shrubs and monstrous fern growth, wishing I could
disappear. Cassarina, diving to camouflage herself,
practically landed on top of me. When I looked over at her, I
saw sweat dripping down her lovely face, off her nose. She
looked scared but hadn’t lost her wits.
Hornsby and Emilio took to the other side of the trail.
The Huey’s hovered above us for a few minutes. The
downdraft of the helicopter blades stirred up the loose
foliage about us. Cassarina looked at me with her saucer
green eyes, speaking in a strained undertone.
“American special forces sent here to train
counterinsurgency troops.” Cassarina was point blank on the
matter. “The issue centers around the Red Bishop, Father
Sanchez, in San de las Cristobal and his ‘church for the
“Suspected conduit for guerrillas?”
Soul/Kambak 177

“No, the church is acting as an eyewitness to village

“And, Father Hernandez . . . ” I said. The Huey was
directly overhead the tree canopy.
“Human rights violation informant,” Cassarina said,
flattening herself down a little deeper, with her bright blue
backpack underneath her. She informed me that there was a
Mexican leftist group building up in this area allegedly
supplied by communist Cuba. No doubt the recent incident
with the Chols refusing to let those archeologists take that
sacred stone caught the government’s attention.
“How did you know?”
“Garthwaite wrote about it in his last letter,” Cassarina
“That’s why you made such a fuss about continuing on,”
I surmised.
“It was a factor,” Cassarina said, nodding her head.
Garthwaite had written to Cassarina to be careful because of
reports of paramilitary groups on the Guatemalan side. They
were looking for rebel’s crossing over into Chiapas along the
Rio Usumacinta.
“And Hornsby knew as well,” I said crawling deeper
into the humus moist soil of the rainforest.
“Of course,” Cassarina replied matter-of-factly.
Unable to discover us, the Huey’s turned and flew off in
the direction of the small landing strip. Given the
opportunity to flee, we ran along the trail toward the river.
Being discovered would only complicate the military’s
aggressive presence, a threat of exposure to their clandestine
operations. Fortunately, we didn’t have to go far to reach
our escape point.
Emilio produced a long cayuco, tucked away under
some overhanging brush on the river’s edge. He told us
Soul/Kambak 178

we’d have to wait till nightfall before setting out. There

were Guatemalan patrols on the other side so it was too
dangerous to go in daylight. The distant rattle of more
machine gun fire could be heard coming from the direction
of the village. As an arbiter for truth, I confronted Hornsby
about what Cassarina had informed me of while hiding from
the military helicopters.
“You knew about the dangers,” I said nearly cursing
under my breath.
“Jules, don’t start,” Cassarina interjected.
“Yes, I did but I didn’t expect this flare up,” Hornsby
said, laying back on his backpack.
“Well, I’m not going to go without Father Hernandez,” I
said grabbing the camera.
“Jules, you’re insane,” Hornsby protested. “You’ll get
yourself killed.”
There was another remote staccato burst of M-16 rifle
“No mostrarse misericordioso,” Emilio said, telling us
the soldiers were not going to show us mercy if we were
“We must take the chance.” Cassarina defended my
“Wait a minute, not so fast, Cassarina.” She was
shocked to see me turn on her. “You mentioned the Red
Bishop, the same man that I saw you talking to when I first
arrived in San Cristobal.”
Bewildered that I knew of her meeting, she nodded in
“What’s the hell going on? Who are you working for?”
“Ourselves, just like you, Jules.” She maintained her
“Ourselves?” I said fuming.
Soul/Kambak 179

“There’s no time. We must get Father Hernandez.”

“Try me, for at least a minute.”
Cassarina stared at Hornsby then back at me.
“Father Hernandez was behind the Chol confrontation.
He incited the villagers to stand up against the
“And that brought the military here?”
“We didn’t expect this, Jules, believe me. How could
“You might have told me at least, it would keep our trust
in tack.”
“But that’s a given, isn’t it?” she said without pardon.
For the moment, I sensed in Cassarina a complete shift
of alliances. She stood there, looking at me with solemn
respect, willing to make amends for disguised behavior
unbecoming her staunch integrity. The whole issue of our
existence relied on trust and I suppose I had hit the nail on
the head by raising the issue.
Hornsby wasn’t as keyed in to our evolving relationship,
which under the circumstances was opening up more
intimate avenues. If she was willing to go back to the
village and risk her life with me, then she was certainly
willing to. . . .
“Are you as foolish as he is?” Hornsby said in a harsh
whispered voice staring at Cassarina.
A distant burst of M-16 gunfire added to our fear of a
sickening tragedy evolving.
“We must go,” I said turning to leave, pausing to see if
Cassarina was going to follow.
Emilio starred anxiously with a courteous wave of his
hand begging our attention. The slender man told us that
Father Hernandez had instructed him to take us downriver to
seek refuge at the next village. Returning to the mission was
Soul/Kambak 180

a careless endeavor, if it not in opposition to Father

Hernandez’s wishes. I could see Emilio’s loyalties were
being tested.
Seeing it was futile to change our minds, Emilio said,
“Los vivos y los muertos.”
Hornsby agreed. “The quick and dead . . .” adding that
if we weren’t back by dusk, we’d be on our own. He wasn’t
waiting around for us. I didn’t believe him.
Cassarina and I quickly ran along the trail back to the
mission. Most likely the troops were rounding up the
villagers. My body was shaking as we reached the edge of
the trail cover that opened up to the mission. Cassarina
stayed close behind me as we crouched down in the dense
underbrush looking for any signs of life around the mission
For a moment the mission was deadly quiet. I told
Cassarina to wait. I was going to sneak across to the
courtyard and hopefully find Father Hernandez, the man who
summed up the Chols, the essential force of devoted
Christian life and the flourishing strength of humanitarian
faith against the peril of humankind’s debauchery. He didn’t
make that point with me in the kitchen, but it was palpable in
the way he talked, sipping his coffee. The priest had an
innate quality to maintain neutral diplomacy between friends
and enemies, of which its success brought casualty.
If for the moment, as I gazed at the outline of the
mission, I wondered who was the informant that brought the
shadowy trouble upon this mission and the villagers. Or did
he, with his own priestly ambitions of martyrdom, bear it
alone? In an ironic twist, he had redeemed the sins of his
predecessors who cursed the Mayan culture by trying to
annihilate its existence.
Soul/Kambak 181

“If I’m not back in ten minutes, leave without me,” I

said. I handed her the camera.
“Absolutely… not!” Cassarina replied.
Then, a string of commanding shouts in Spanish come
rolling across the mission’s clearing.
“Seguir adelante. Obrar sin perder tiempo. Ser
candidato para . . .”
The voices were coming closer against the backdrop of
men and women moaning, crying, and children’s shrieks of
“Wait,” Cassarina said to me. She grabbed me by the
shoulder to hold me back. “ I think they’re coming,” she
In a few moments, we saw villagers being marched in
single file past the mission walls, herded like cattle by well-
armed militia. Some of the men staggered, having been
beaten about their faces. Others proudly walked regardless
of their wounds. At the end of the line came Father
Hernandez. Two soldiers were escorting him with the
barrels of their M-16’s digging into his back.
“Vamos,” one army officer kept saying to Father
Hernandez, intimidating him.
The priest said nothing, his face streaming in blood.
The weight of his body shuffled as if prolonging the
inevitable. Some of the village women turned to him, crying
softly, submissive to the soldier’s threats, but then others
tried to approach to kiss his robe, only to be met with sharp
blows by a rifle butt. If the children could have ran to him,
they would have. But they were soon sequestered with the
women to one side of the group of male villagers, forced to
bow their heads on bended knees.
“We’re too late,” Cassarina uttered. She cautiously
started taking photographs.
Soul/Kambak 182

“Hacer cola,” the Captain commanded.

The men, along with Father Hernandez, were lined up in
a straight line, facing the whitewashed adobe mission wall.
The Captain shouted orders to his men to form a firing squad
as a menacing gesture. Father Hernandez, for a moment,
slowly turned around as if listening to a far-off sound, a faint
voice in which was directly in our line of sight. The priest
starred at Cassarina and I, fiery-eyed, gleaming in a greeting
of humility. Though we were barely visible behind the thick
brush about fifty meters away, I imagined he knew we were
there, for the familiarity of his presence touched me.
“God is our victory.” I heard him bellow.
At that moment one of the younger men broke from the
line, running as fast as he could directly toward us. Two
soldiers took off running after him leveling their M-16’s.
The Captain started yelling to shoot him. There was a burst
of gunfire, but it wasn’t at the escaping man. The firing
squad, mistaking the Captain’s orders to fire and in all
dutiful respect, shot and killed the men lined up against the
mission wall in a thunderous salvo of blazing gunfire.
In the next instant, I noticed two American soldiers from
the distant side of the firing squad, starring directly at
Cassarina and I. Cassarina had captured the atrocity on
camera, but the glare of the camera lens had caught the
attention of two American soldiers. Alerted to our presence,
they started shouting in Spanish at the captain, who in turn
was waving to more of his men to chase us.
The distance between the escaping villager and
ourselves was closing fast. I stood frozen for eternity’s sake,
looking at the fallen lifeless men along the mission wall, and
the fast approaching escapee. The footsteps of the man
running our way seemed light and quick. I could almost hear
him panting for breath as he reached the edge of the clearing,
Soul/Kambak 183

his long wavy black hair tossing about, salvia dripping from
the corners of his mouth, and his eyes beseeching us to save
Looking over at Cassarina, I saw her bursting into tears
at the sight of Father Hernandez lying dead on the ground
among those who had obediently followed him. The shrieks
of the village woman and the wailing of the little children
added to the anguish befalling us. We were caught in the
somber, concentrated fury of anguish that had snatched the
innocence of our world from us. The burst of M-16 gunfire
whizzed bullets past us and burst the man’s chest open with
blood spraying blood everywhere, including Cassarina’s face
and myself.
We ran as fast as we could through the trail’s brush. A
volley of gunfire rang out. Bullets whizzed past us,
splintering tree bark into a thousand pieces. Stern voices
shouting commands echoed against our backs.
“My, bloody god,” Cassarina coughed up between gasps
of breath. I think if she could have, she would have
vomited, but the immediate danger kept her from
succumbing to her emotions. As for me, the prophecy of my
dream, the predicted death, pushed me to stay alive. I
wouldn’t die here. More bullets whizzed past us, though we
were gaining a greater distance, familiar with the way to the
“You can make it, Cassarina,” I shouted at her.
Eyes pale from the sorrow of death and the scorn on her
face, I could see her deep thoughts running like a ragging
river, tapping her strength to continue.
“Run, Cassarina!” I demanded, grabbing her by the arm
to pull her along.
In short time, the clamor of soldiers running behind us
started to fade. Another burst of gunfire shredded the
Soul/Kambak 184

landscape safely away from us. The death squad had lost our
trail or simply gave up. When we got to Hornsby and Emilio
they were aware of the danger chasing us. The cayuco was
loaded with our backpacks and ready for us to climb aboard
and shove off.
Without a second to lose, we furiously paddled along the
edge of the Rio Usumacinta crouched down in the tipsy
cayuco as we passed underneath thorny festoons of coiled
branches and overhanging tree branches for protection.
More random shots rang out far behind us, but within a few
desperate minutes we had put a safe distance between the
soldiers and us.
“No doubt they’ll come looking for us in the helicopter,”
Hornsby said.
After traveling about a kilometer down river, he decided
we were safe to hole up till dark in the cover of the
rainforest. We landed carrying the dug out canoe up on
shore and tipping it over with our backpacks underneath it.
Then we crawled back a bit further into the bush, smearing
our faces with mud and draping ourselves in foliage of
creepers, tree branches and ferns to hide ourselves. It wasn’t
long until we heard the Huey’s storming up the river.
They were determined to find us by scouring the
shoreline at about ten meters above the river’s surface. It
was a tense moment, as I feared they would send in a scout
party. But they didn’t. One of the side gunners strafed the
trees directly above us hoping to flush us out from fear. One
of the American soldiers grabbed the gunner by the shoulder,
reprimanding him for being so careless. In the next moment,
the Huey flew out of our sight.
After the sound of the Huey’s disappeared, I sat up rigid
with a burning pain in my head. I surveyed our situation.
We were confronted with the hardihood of desperation. The
Soul/Kambak 185

treachery of the paramilitary counterinsurgency operations

was pulled down right on top of us. Cassarina was
desperately assimilating the maelstrom of the atrocity we had
just encountered.
She sat cross-legged in the rotting soil of the rainforest
as a dismal solitude of breathless immobility from the
suddenness of a human injustice being committed front row
and center. The makeshift camouflage she was wearing
dangled from her raven hair caked in splotches of dried mud
mixed with blood splatters. I sensed she was waiting for a
signal to know what to do next as the fate of a venerable
All of us acted as if we were haunted by misery. Even
Emilio didn’t stir, but waited attentive in the detached
silence between us. Hornsby, in the meantime, reached into
his shirt pocket and got out a map that had worn through at
the folds, inspecting it in an attempt to recover from the mad
terror of the calamity that befell us.
I knew that when we are overwhelmed emotionally in a
crisis, we revert back to the most familiar behavior. Hornsby
was no exception. Getting our bearings from the map was
his means to process the mad panic we had just survived. It
was the first time that I saw desperation, momentarily, wash
over his face.
I moved toward the river’s edge to see if the cayuco had
been hit by gunfire. It hadn’t been. For a moment I glanced
out at the river’s surface to see the floating carcass of a man,
face down, drifting in the river’s current. His back was
riddled with bloodstained bullet holes. The frightful
appearance chilled me to almost insanity.
I didn’t want to madden them with news of the corpse in
the river. But it shattered my nerves.
Soul/Kambak 186

“What precisely do you want us to do now?” I said

sounding quarrelsome as I returned back to the group.
Cassarina, in response, cleared her throat as she
swallowed with difficulty. The feeling of nausea caused her
face to pale. She began to utter something, but nothing came
out as her tongue stuck to the roof of her dry mouth. In
contrast, Hornsby’s ability to disregard the violence we had
just survived was nearly contemptuous to me.
“The next village is Arroyo Jerusalem,” Hornsby said in
a matter-of-fact tone.
Cassarina sat stoically, her lower lip quivering. She
internally tried to drown the witnessing of a senseless cruelty
from her heart. By being an eyewitness to the death squad’s
madness at El Desempeno, we had signed our own death
warrant if captured. I was sure this was foremost on her
Hornsby grunted true to his rough and ironic behavior.
He gripped hard about the trying circumstances, attempting
to squeeze out the civility of our purpose. To me, we lived
in a condition of cruel adversity.
“Why did you have to go back?” Hornsby groaned, still
gripping the map in one hand. “Blasted foolishness.”
Upon hearing his words, Cassarina burst into tears. Her
cheeks flamed. She sobbed in choking breaths. The fresh
memory of cold-blooded human slaughter consumed her
earthly affections. Emilio stirred with an uneasy sigh.
Hornsby, shifting to a mood of empathy, consoled her in his
arms. Eventually, her crying fell into silence.
I watched Hornsby raise his shaggy eyebrow face as he
let her drift off into sleep upon his lap.
“She has suffered much,” he said as if carrying her
miserable wound.
“Much?” I wondered.
Soul/Kambak 187

Hornsby must be holding back against the fact of

another secret they kept between them. He bent over her and
tenderly stroked her face concealing those feelings that he
dare not utter to me.
“Where could we begin, anew?” he said drawing his
breath. “It’s perfectly clear, there is no going back.”
The logic of his emotions swayed me. He sat there with
a joyless face, worn out and powerless to create renewal of
spirit among us. The paramilitary raid had altered his nature
as much as Cassarina’s and my own. Perhaps he was
questioning his own lack of bravery in the heat of the
But his searching glances, taking little notice of the
irritation that annoyed me, showed the internal process of
mental changes. Resigned to our situation, he lay on his
back in the tall grass, using a bent arm as a pillow and
quietly breathed deeply with wide-open eyes. Cassarina was
sound asleep with her head in his lap.
“It’s best to get some rest,” Hornsby said, speaking as if
to no one then dozed off.
I was weary from the exertion of the day. But awaiting
our fate kept me keyed up as well as my growling stomach.
I sat vigilant till the night darken the sky and moonbeams
come pouring through the tree canopy above us. Up to this
point, the course of nature, the definite course of the
expedition was sufficient to serve my longings for
understanding of Mesoamerican mythology.
Along the way, by virtue of Hornsby’s guidance in
framing himself symbolically in understanding the
conception of the universe, I was provided with adequate
reassurance. But now the necessity of our struggle seemed
to exclude the chance to fulfill our sense of duty. We had
been lowered to a state of desperate survival.
Soul/Kambak 188

“Where’s the sense of it?” I thought to myself.

When it was safe for us to move on, we cautiously
loaded up the cayuco. Emilio navigated by sitting at the
front of the dug out canoe. Hornsby paddled in the middle
while Cassarina sat hunched over embracing her knees in
front of him, still somewhat catatonic. I was at the rear,
using my paddle as an occasional tiller. A disperse cloud
cover had protected us from being discovered under the
waning moonlight that intermittently shone upon the smooth
river’s expanse.
There were light puffs of breeze across the Rio
Usumacinta that cooled me off. For a moment I had
forgotten the turmoil of the day, as the deceptive pale light of
the night dreamily engulfed my senses. Why couldn’t we
had had a different outcome? Then all of this would be more
commonplace, I thought to myself.
As we arrived at the black-lined shore on the out skirts
of Arroyo Jerusalem, the crocking frogs we had heard along
the river’s edge stopped. Emilio had brought the cayuco to a
small break in the foliage, a sort of archway cut through the
dangling vines that was the beginning of a dirt path leading
into the forest. As he stepped out of the dug out canoe, he
reassured us he would be back shortly, immediately taking
off for the village.
We waited under the cover of some brush. The
uncomfortable feelings of our situation returned in the
darkness of the colossal jungle. We sat there as if we had a
hang’s man’s noose about our necks.
I tried to give Cassarina a sip of water with my hands
cupped with river water, but she remained in different,
starring vacantly into space, still horror struck by the
massacre. From my pack I took out a handkerchief, dipped it
into the river and washed off the specs of blood and dried
Soul/Kambak 189

mud on her face. She made no objection, though she made

no comment either as her chin drooped to her breastbone
when I was finished.
“I suspect they’re paramilitary squads trained at the
School of Americas.” Hornsby said.
I heard what he said, but I didn’t want to talk about it
anymore. I closed my eyes and clinched my teeth, hoping I
could find some solemn accord in my heart. The silent space
between us grew as the frogs began to crock even louder.
Within an hour, Emilio returned from the village.
Hornsby, Emilio and myself huddled together. Cassarina
was resting in the cayuco.
“There is much talk about you,” he said in Spanish.
Hornsby asked if there was word about the Chol villagers
and Father Hernandez in El Desempeno.
“Lo fusilar por espia,” Emilio said bowing his head
down towards the ground as he made the sign of the cross.
Father Hernandez had been shot as a spy. The news just
frightened me more. Cassarina stirred for a moment lingering
in her remorse. We fell to hushed voices not wanting to
disturb her.
“Can we go to the village?” Hornsby whispered to
Emilio. Emilio shook his head no, saying that there would
be informers to the authorities. But in subdued excitement
Emilio said it was our turn of luck. He had met a convert of
Father Hernandez’s.
“Un hombre llamado, Cristobal.” Cristobal had been
on the lookout for us, when rumors of the attack at El
Desempeno reached Arroyo Jerusalem and some gringos had
escaped. So when Emilio arrived in the village and found
Cristobal, he was already prepared to help us.
There were some chicleos caballeros on the Guatemalan
side of the river that wanted to leave the area because of the
Soul/Kambak 190

danger of paramilitary reprisals. Cristobal had made a plan

for us to cross over to the Guatemalan riverside to buy their
horses. He would guide us north though the Mayan forest to
wherever we wanted to go.
“He knows the territory very well,” Emilio reassured us
in Spanish. Pleased with the news, Hornsby affectionately
slapped Emilio on the shoulder. We were at Emilio’s mercy
for our survival, no doubt directed by divine intervention;
Father Hernandez. This was a small miracle that raised our
hopes of survival.
When Cristobal arrived with a sack of provisions,
Cassarina was regaining her senses. She rose up in the
cayuco having broken the invisible bonds of her grief with
an immense sigh. Her hair was partly over her eyes as she
murmured some disjointed words at first. Hornsby and I
watched her absent-mindedly absorbed in thought. I felt a
great pity of tenderness for her. Kneeling in the shadows of
the moonlight, she glanced over to us and saw an unfamiliar
face of a decedent of the Nican Tlaca, Cristobal. She sadly
focused her eyes at me and asked who he was.
“Me llama, Cristobal,” Cristobal said in warm self-
Cristobal’s appearance brought a modest assurance that
we could escape safely from the Chiapas territory. The
young man was dressed like a compensino, with a flimsy
straw hat that covered his thick but groomed black hair. A
gold chain with crucifix hung about his neck. He impressed
me at once of the necessary unrelenting dependability to take
us along precipitous paths through the mountainous jungle
on horseback.
After all he brought us a stash of cold tamales in a used
burlap coffee bag. On his right hip, between his belt was the
gleaming blade of a well-sharpened machete and a silver
Soul/Kambak 191

revolver tucked into his pants. The whole of him in the

moonlight looked like a swash buckling revolutionary.
Cassarina stared at him as he sat silently watchful of her for
a moment. They were face to face. There was dullness in
her eyes and a melancholy attitude. Cassarina spoke in an
expressionless tone.
“Is he taking us somewhere?”
“Yes, Cassarina,” Hornsby said, “he’s taking us away
from here.”
The conversation ended there, as we still needed the
cover of the night to cross the river. We piled into the
cayuco, Cristobal at the bow, and Emilio at the stern,
steering. Hornsby and I paddled with Cassarina between us,
crossing the expanse of the Rio Usumacinta, a river flowing
with ancient secrets.
My mind was eased as a voice called out to us in
friendly hushed tones as we neared the Guatemalan
shoreline. I felt that there could be an end to our danger.
The unpleasant reality of the indigenous’ heart-breaking
struggle to survive was enough. A bit further and I could see
the outlining shapes of three men.
“Aqui,” one of them called out to us again. As we
brought the cayuco to shore, one of them, dress as a cowboy
with a strong stench of alcohol on his breath, grabbed the
painter as Emilio used his paddle as a tiller to bring the stern
along side the shoreline clearing. Quickly we disembarked
taking our gear with us, assisting Cassarina as she was still in
a grave mood.
Our discourse was spoken in muted voices. Hornsby
paid the caballeros for the horses that were lashed to some
trees a few meters from us. The caballeros had brought their
stash of boiled down sapodilla sap in square cubes and
quickly loaded them into the cayuco. Emilio, in haste, said
Soul/Kambak 192

he was taking them back across the river. There was no time
to linger with goodbyes. The sun would be rising soon.
Emilio turned to me before he got into the cayuco.
“Senor, Jules . . . Father Hernandez . . . want you . . . el
libro,” Emilio said in broken English as he reached into this
shirt and pulled out a leather bound journal.
I took the book, as he quickly turned and boarded the
In a few moments, the three of us watched them paddle
away in a rhythmic swing as the form of the cayuco melted
away in the darkness. As Cristobal urged us on, I took a
moment to read the book’s title before tucking it into my
shirt. It read, The Anahuac Mythology.
The four horses were bony and not over fourteen hands
high. I suspected maybe a bred of quarter horse but I wasn’t
sure. Whether they were fit enough was beside the point.
They would have to do. The saddles and blankets had been
removed so Cristobal was busy saddling them up as we
assessed our situation.
“It’s best to push on,” Hornsby said looking at us
expecting a response.
I hesitated as I looked over at Cassarina whose face was
blank. The fire in her eyes had been extinguished. No affect
of emotion. It had been erased by the frightful tragedy.
Without expression she shrugged her shoulders and tears
started to flow down her cheeks.
“I will never forgive you,” Cassarina said in a
monotonous whisper.
That was a heavy blow to Hornsby. He was trying to
assure her of his intention to take care of her. I knew it was
a great gesture on his part to compromise the expedition for
her well-being. However, I could see her faith was gone,
Soul/Kambak 193

destroyed by the treacherous cruelty we had witnessed at El

There was a whiplash of confused thoughts behind her
eyes; a chaotic disorder that curled up and demonized her
sensibilities. As well, there was regret in Hornsby’s heart,
confronted by the emotional wreckage brought on by his
own zeal for success. He knew all that was latent in
Cassarina’s nature, I believed, as I observed the two of them
His robust attitude that great things could be done
transformed us to overcome every obstacle along the way.
But he carried a special duty to Cassarina, like a father
would to his daughter. She alone could shame him like no
one else. He would take her words to heart, in hopes of
preserving her, I supposed. But hearing her words he
remained firm, unflinchingly turning back to Cristobal to see
how he was getting along. The horses were ready. We
saddled up and headed off into the early morning sunrise of
crimson sky and cobweb-threaded clouds.
Soul/Kambak 194

Chapter 12

Our route took us through the northern region of the Selva de

Lacandon and into the lowland jungle of the Guatemalan
Peten region. Here, the wild life was abundant. I saw
quetzals, scarlet macaws, howler monkeys that yell like
lions, spider monkeys and a whole assortment of insects that
feasted upon my flesh.
Cassarina only showed a numb interest as she fell into
an expressionless bewilderment. Hornsby, in his massive
horseback riding profile, remained stoic for the most part.
His optimistic temperament had been stained by Cassarina’s
distaste toward him. I kept an eye on her, as the hoofs of her
horse trampled along our narrow paths, obediently following
the rest of the pack.
On the second day, Cristobal found a cenote, a natural
underground well in the Yucatan’s limestone bedrock, where
we could re-fill our canteens. As we sat there resting the
horses, Hornsby, in all earnestness, was determined to set
things right with Cassarina.
“You see, there are too many foreign governments
involved here,” he said. The statement was meant to reason
the eventualities of a man-made menace we could not
“There is too much potential wealth here. The
magnitude of natural resources is astounding.” He wanted to
Soul/Kambak 195

make a point that governments were going to run the

business of the world whether people liked it or not.
“We can’t help it,” he continued. “There is no escaping
this industrial scourge.”
The sky had clouded and rain started to pelt down upon
us. I made haste to get our ponchos from our packs,
covering Cassarina, as she made no effort to respond.
“If anything turned up at the South Pole that was worth
taking, the beast of consumption would be there to devour
it,” Hornsby reasoned.
There was destiny in his words, substantiated by a great
deal of historical evidence. I thought at first he was being
distasteful, but now I could see he was trying to show us, or
at least to Cassarina, that we couldn’t allow such vile
incidents to humiliate us into submission.
The age of technology was on a track of self-destruction.
Human life was dwarfed in value by comparison to the
technological advances embellished with patriarchal
categories like, law, medicine, politics, industry, trade, and
religious convictions. Anything regarded with worth was
based on materialistic and monetary acquisition.
“No where can we find an artistic peaceful civilization
valued or honored. Human decency has been robbed from us
by the industrial conspiracies to steal what they can.”
The rain was pouring down as we sat there, huddled
about each other. Hornsby looked intently at Cassarina with
cherished hope that one way or another he was getting
through to her.
“Nobody can diminish you, Cassarina,” he said in a soft
There was so much desire in his voice for redemption
that I hung onto the next moment with anticipation of
Cassarina coming back to her senses. She stirred.
Soul/Kambak 196

“Too late,” Cassarina replied muffled by the pounding

rain. She sunk lower into her abyss of despair, a dark heap
under her poncho. Was it her payback and hurt and disgrace
and rage that made her say it?
“Why are you angry with me,” Hornsby said. His kind
eyes peered out from under the hood of his poncho.
“I can’t believe you,” Cassarina flung at him without a
“I don’t believe you.” His voice was filled in
compassionate tenderness. “Our opinions cancel each
Cassarina fell forward hiding her face in her hands,
sobbing. Every limb trembled. Hornsby looked at me with
somber resignation. We sat there in the merciless jungle that
could clutch the life of its victims into a rotting silence. The
anguish of perishing here swelled up in my throat as the
mood of fatigue consumed me. I was relying upon Cassarina
to recover from her revulsion of the distressing experience.
“Oh, god, how much longer,” I thought to myself.
This remarkable woman could not be tarnished for life.
The heavy dismal affair weighed upon my heart. And, I
could see it fraying Hornsby’s nerves.
But no matter what, we would not fail Cassarina. I
internally prayed for our salvation from this
incomprehensible ordeal. It was then that Cristobal called to
us in his enlightened goodwill.
“Darse prisa.” The horses were fed. It was time to
move on.
Mechanically we rose, gathering Cassarina to her feet.
The two of us, shoulder to shoulder, carried her over to her
horse, as Cristobal steadied the four-legged beast with the
reins. We lifted her up. She tried to gently wriggle out of our
Soul/Kambak 197

grip but Hornsby gave her a push that set her up across the
worn leather saddle.
Adjusting herself, Cristobal handed her the reins.
Suddenly, she let out a half-cry, half-laugh to no one in
“Let me go,” she yelled in a soul-stirring shout, turning
her head away in a wild stare. Her sudden switch into a
manic behavior struck me as offensively independent. She
despised having to be dependent on anyone. The horse
Cristobal quickly grabbed the reins, steadying its nerves.
Hornsby and I froze, so as not to encouraged the spooked
horse. In a moment, the snorting beast settled down.
Cassarina, who miraculously remained in the saddle, starred
straight ahead, oblivious to what had happened. Hornsby
decided it was paramount to lead her horse.
The rain kept on all day but at least we didn’t suffer
having to walk in the mud. We bypassed the village of
Lacandon in Guatemala. Cristobal told us that it was best to
stay clear of the villages, though it would slow our progress.
The more time I spent with Cristobal, the more I appreciated
his knowledge of the area, his discipline to survival practices
and a genuineness of heart. It dawned on me that I had not
questioned him at all, tacitly turning over our lives to his
expert attention.
That evening we spent the night in a crudely constructed
tree house that Cristobal knew the location of. It was used
by the chicleos from time to time, he said. The shelter was a
blessed reprieve from the drenching we were taking from the
tropical storm, but leaks in the roof didn’t give us much
protection. It was impossible to light a fire under the
Soul/Kambak 198

Hornsby said he would look for food in the morning, as

we finished the last of the tamales that Cristobal had brought.
Regardless of our raingear, our bodies were soaked to the
bone. I trembled from the chill and felt feverish. The best
we could do was huddle together to preserve our body
warmth, hoping that tomorrow would bring sunshine.
Cassarina sat between Hornsby and I. The touch of her
body brought salient comfort to me though she was rigid.
Cristobal was directly across from her on my right side and
Hornsby on my left, who dozed off. We were drowsy from
fatigue, leaning into each other when I felt Cassarina’s head
drawing back. I looked up to see her blazing eyes fastened
out into space as if her soul was leaving her body as a bolt of
lightning flashed through tree house. Her lips quivered. I
feared she had become delirious.
She swayed slightly for a moment. The dread of her
going raving mad consumed me. Then I felt her hand
searching next to me. Her fingers found mine and entwined
them tightly with hers. A rumble of thunder filled me with
apprehension as my pounding headache made me vacantly
aware of what she was doing. Beneath the endless
drumming of the rain on the shelter’s thatched roof,
Cassarina sighed.
“Better now,” she whispered.
She squeezed my hand even tighter and rested her head upon
my shoulder, her body sinking into mine. Cristobal aware of
her shift glanced over at me with up lifted eyes.
“Dormir bien toda la noche,” he said warmly, wishing
me a good nights sleep.
The next morning I found myself prostrate and alone in
the tree house. Thin cotton sleeping bags have been laid
over me to keep me warm. A poncho was draped over these
to keep the rain off, but it was hardly the remedy. My fever
Soul/Kambak 199

was worse; radiating heat like a furnace. My body was

shivering in damp clothes. I thought about moving but I
couldn’t muster the strength.
I barely could move my eyes about to notice that our
belongings were still strewn about the tree house’s lashed
cane floor. I moaned, curling up in a fetal position, trying to
keep my body tremors to a minimum. Directly, I felt I had
just had a bad dream, a vague memory of the incident at El
Desempeno. What I saw the next morning brought me back
to stark reality.
The bare feet of a Metizos came toward me carefully
stepping so as not to disturb me. He leaned down coming
close enough for me to feel his breath upon my cheek. His
shirt was open revealing deep scars from a machete blade.
Through the slit of one open eye I watched him. He moved
about as if in secret with stealthy systematic movements. I
couldn’t be sure if he was Cristobal in the shaded light of the
tree house.
If he was Cristobal, he was searching for something
among our gear. There was a kind of perdition directing
him. I suspected a malicious character. Each item he picked
up to see if the object of his desire was underneath, he
carefully placed back down so as not to alarm anyone that it
had been moved. He moved out of my line of sight,
rummaging quietly through the backpacks. The presence of
the man gave me a scare. It was disheartening to think that
Cristobal had betrayed our trust. I cursed myself for being
too reliant upon him. I worried about the fate of Hornsby
and Cassarina. Had he killed them? It caused me to find
strength for truth’s sake to know what he was doing.
“Cristobal,” I gasped through a parched tongue.
I heard him spring like a spooked cat. I rolled over to
look at him, his face darkened by the filtering sunlight
Soul/Kambak 200

behind him. He stood in a posture of awkwardness.

Something dropped from his hand. I sensed he was uneasy.
I thought that if Cristobal can go wrong on us, there is little
hope for our survival. He had no business being sneaky like
a thief.
There is no such thing as respectable bandits, even if
from the necessity of habit because of one’s cowardice to be
disciplined by their own inherit good nature. They always
have a thousand petty inadequate excuses for being godless.
“Disculpe, senor,” the man remarked, half serious. I
was resolute to know what he was doing, but my fever
engulfed me in a hellish infernal. His lips kept moving, but I
only heard my own incoherent voice coming from his mouth.
I drifted into a lapse of unconsciousness only later to be
aroused by the gentle shake by Cassarina’s hand.
As I opened my eyes, I saw she had returned to her
senses again, compassionately kneeling by my side. Her
face was washed and hair combed neatly about her face. She
looked endearingly at me, holding a metal cup of some
steaming concoction. I tried to speak but she motioned for
me to sip, putting the hot cup to my dry lips.
As I drank I heard the creaking floor of someone else
near me. I noticed Hornsby’s tan soiled trousers were
hanging down from a line strung between the tree house’s
cane walls. I didn’t have the strength to say anything as I
finished the medicinal tea that Cassarina had prepared for
me. I wanted to tell her about Cristobal the Thief, but then I
wondered if my feverish imagination was out-of-control.
Delirious, I laid my head back down on a bundle of clothes,
feeling the weight of my sins, my sense of unworthiness.
The fever-demon put its grip on me.
The day turned into night and day again but then I lost
track of time. I was too weak to stand, but with the
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assistance of Hornsby and Cristobal I was able to move into

a hammock they had strung up for me encased in mosquito
netting. Cassarina diligently tended to my needs, always
close at hand when I woke to give me more medicinal tea,
water and an occasional injection of quinine.
At times Hornsby and Cristobal were in sight or I could
hear them talking, but I was reduced to such a state of
incoherence that it didn’t matter to me. I surmised that they
kept their distance because it was probably too heart
breaking to watch me dying from the ravages of a tropical
Cassarina told me I had caught “that miserable malaria”
and that it could have been much worse.
“Worse,” I thought.
It was the only period in my life that I had wanted to die.
I continued to suffer through repeated bouts of high fevers
till the curse finally broke. The first distinguishable voice I
heard was an echo of low toned words from a grizzly
bearded Hornsby, crouched next to Cassarina.
“There’s some life going on behind his eyes,” he said to
her cheerfully.
She laid a damp cloth on my forehead and nodded with a
genuine smile.
“Thank god you didn’t catch the dengue fever,” Hornsby
said, “or we’d would have had to put you out of your misery
with lead therapy.”
Two weeks had passed by the time I had recuperated
well enough to move about. As they waited for my recovery
the three of them had orchestrated a cooperative routine. We
were eating well from Cristobal’s and Hornsby’s daily
hunting for game, mostly snakes, and edible foliage that
Cassarina collected.
Soul/Kambak 202

When they weren’t hunting, they did repairs to the tree

house, patching up the leaky thatched roof, and retying vine
lashes that had rotted. Hornsby, to his delight, had found
some remains of a few old Indian tortilla stones. These were
a few flattened stone slabs, which he hauled up into the tree
house with Cristobal’s assistance. Cassarina made good use
of them as her food preparation table.
“Everything is about presentation,” she delightfully said,
serving us a meal.
Exhibiting a domestic flair, Cassarina spruced up the
small tree house quarters nice enough. She made flower
arrangements of orchids to place by my hammock. This
brightened my spirit as I imagined it did some therapeutic
good for hers.
At times during the day, Cassarina and I were left alone.
My elevated spirit inspired me to write in my journal during
the quietness between us, as she still insisted that I remain
sedentary. Her nurturance was like liquid gold, pouring over
me, rendering me helpless and happy. Through the mosquito
net draped over my hammock, she appeared like an angel as
she moved about the tree shelter, in a soft focused glow.
Such scenes I wrote about in my journal with a growing
impatience I felt in my heart. Scribbling down my
passionate desires was the safest mode of expression to
express my intimate feelings.
I wanted to know what she was thinking. What did she
feel? In the presence of her stillness, as she rested in her
hammock across from me, I yearned to embrace her. A gust
of obsession swayed about me like wind through the trees.
She would stir in a way that made me breathless, induced to
the truth of my own fervent repressions. I wanted to lash out
a furious gesture from my sneering torment of
unrelinquished love.
Soul/Kambak 203

“Better not,” I wrote. It was not morally right. Maybe

when we’re out of here, some time in the future. If it’s
meant to be, we’ll be both know, I concluded, bringing my
amorous thoughts to closure upon the page.
“I had malaria once,” Cassarina volunteered to me one
day after the two men had left to go hunting. She told me
about her experience in Sri Lanka, assigned to provide
humanitarian aid.
“The best they could do for me was let me lie in a hut
like a dog.” Cassarina related that she had gotten so mad at
the villagers for letting her suffer so much.
“I couldn’t understand why they didn’t do something,”
she said, explaining that she didn’t have her medical kit, as
she had moved into this remote region on her own, rather
“I laid there in on a mat bed on top of a dirt floor, flies
buzzing all about my head, in a feverish stupor.”
Later, the villagers had told her all they could do was
wait and see if she would die. The disease had to run its
“If I was strong enough, I would be ok,” Cassarina
spoke with finality as she prepared some greens with banana,
avocado and coconut meat, a tossed salad of sorts, the
ingredients of which she had gathered that morning in the
“I would never let anyone suffer like that, I decided,”
she said as a matter-of-fact. She came over to my hammock,
pulling up the mosquito net and handing me the salad in my
mess kit bowl. What struck me as being perplexing was
Cassarina’s absence of her fiery unprovoked aggressiveness.
I was fascinated and bewildered at the same time. But it was
a poignant trait that had vanished.
Soul/Kambak 204

“You’re lucky. You got the benefit of my own hard

knocks experience,” she said gleaming in sincerity.
The two men returned with a joyous laughter in their
voices as they climbed up the tree house ladder. Hornsby
and Cristobal were getting on as kindred spirits. I could see
that Hornsby was alive and vibrant with his new outpost
duty. Cristobal had found a like-minded companion, as I
spied him admiring Hornsby as they cleaned game together
and barbequed it over an open fire. After diner, their jovial
animated talk of the day’s adventures gave us delightful
Through the night, Hornsby and Cristobal took turns
with a vigilant watch over the horses to keep any predators
away. I still had the uneasy sense of my vision of Cristobal
the Thief, yet it was hard to determine that these two
personas embodied the same individual.
When I asked where they had gone the first day,
Cassarina said she and Hornsby had gone out to survey the
area and determine what to do about my condition. Cristobal
had been left behind to watch the horses and me. From then
on, I secretly held my suspicion of Cristobal as a traitor to
us, waiting to find some evidence.
Strangely, Cassarina did produce something while I was
still delirious with fever, which she asked me about, half
concerned. She found it in my clothes as she went through
them to wash. It was one of the flints we had found outside
of the cryptic vault with Baltazar.
She was a bit perplexed because she didn’t remember
me taking anything. My response was the same, claiming I
didn’t remove a thing. It was my cardinal rule as well as
Hornsby’s. Cassarina affectionately placed it near the head
of my bed under my journal, to enshrine it as a hidden
symbol to bring me rejuvenation. The discovery made my
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mind run with into the wild regions of the mysterious visitor.
That evening the truth was to be known about Cristobal.
In an arm stretching gesture as he told us a story of his
exploits in the jungle, Cristobal’s shirt opened up baring his
chest. In the firelight, I distinctly saw no marks whatsoever.
To my relief, I sank into a peaceful sleep that night.
Whatever the mystery of the flint was about, I didn’t want to
speculate. The incident of the strange man was like a
vaporous dream as time elapsed making me forget even more
of the details.
When I had the chance not to be detected, I tucked the
flint away in my backpack. I didn’t want to bring attention
to it again. Cassarina thoughtfully didn’t say anything to
Hornsby. He would have chewed on me regardless of my
weakened condition. Even if I denied taking it, the
irrefutable evidence was there. It was detestable to him to
take relics from the ruins.
My illness came as a blessing I suppose, as it caused
Cassarina to rally to my needs, and for Hornsby to indulge in
his passion of wilderness survival. Their enthusiasm, I
thought, was something that Cristobal hadn’t expected given
our state of mind when we first set out. He was enlivened
with the goodwill of their mutual interests.
The next evening, after dinner, Cassarina announced I
was well enough to move on. Our liveliness faded from the
pleasure of our diversion. For a moment, apprehension fell
upon our hearts to leave our makeshift Shangri La. Our
bond under the circumstances had gratified us with a
devotion we had not shared before. Moving on meant more
challenges and perils ahead. We would have to muster the
love of this adventure. None of us offered any objections.
Soul/Kambak 206

Cristobal leaned back and facing us in our customary

evening circle as if we had gathered about the hearth of a
campfire, looked content and recognized the inevitable.
“No hay más remedio,” he said. We couldn’t help it.
“On to El Destino,” Hornsby cheerfully exclaimed, as if
he was making a toast. In unison we made the jubilant toast
again with imaginary glasses in our hands.
“El Destino.” We said in cheerful unison.
Soul/Kambak 207

Chapter 13
Refugee Camp

We had to cross the Rio San Pedro next, making our way
between two villages, El Ceibo in Mexico and Progresso in
Guatemala. The upper region of the Peten, our destination,
was only a few days trek from here. Farther east of us was
the unexcavated Mayan ruin of Yaxha, near the village of
Naranjo. Still concerned about military patrols, Cristobal
kept us off the beaten track.
The Rio San Pedro appeared to flow as a void in the
jungle wilderness. Traversing the length of the Peten region
of Guatemala, this river is a highway connecting human life
that struggles to survive in the middle of nowhere. Most
likely during the height of the Maya civilization, this river
was a vibrant trade route for commerce and possibly warring
We drew in our horses and dismounted arriving at the
river’s edge. The brilliant sunshine of the late morning
beamed down upon the lazy river’s current. Standing by its
swollen banks I was impressed by the remarkable peaceful
phenomenon of its presence. Large puffy clouds dotted the
horizon, a warning of more rain to come by afternoon. I then
heard the faint sound of a low continuous roar down river.
“What’s that?” I asked Cristobal.
He said there were some rapids that we had to avoid and
knew of a place that was shallow enough to cross farther up
river. In single file, as if in certitude to Cristobal, we walked
Soul/Kambak 208

the distance in the ambience of the blue sky and river,

enmeshed with lush green foliage. It was not far before we
arrived at a small outcropping of cleared land.
In methodical silence we secured our gear to the saddles,
making sure to tightly wrap the camera, journals, film and
pistols in our ponchos. Out of the corner of my eye I caught
a confidential glance between Cristobal and Hornsby. All
feelings of the fierce inhumanity of life had disappeared. It
all seemed to be turning out for the good. Cassarina looked
infinitely calm; more stately and mature than I had ever seen
her. There was no doubt she had reconciled the anguish in
her heart. I was relieved.
“Just cross the river and we’ll almost be there.” I
imagined what we would see as we passed through the
Laguna del Tigre region dotted by lush lakes, while working
our way closer to Yaxkin and possibly the location of the
Soul Chamber. The prospect had given me a twinge of
renewed excitement.
By the time we were set to swim the horses across the
river, the wind had stirred into a stiff breeze, blowing against
the river’s current. Ripples upon the river’s surface were
clearly visible making the velocity of the water’s flow
deceptive. The clouds were building into a dark grayish wall
of thunderheads, their whitish pink anvil heads soaring into
the heavens in the eastern horizon.
“Best get across and make shelter,” Hornsby said while
surveying the approaching storm.
The time had come to move quickly, once again. We
striped down to our underwear, packing our clothes to keep
them dry. Hornsby took the lead, with Cassarina close
behind. The horses mildly protested at first, but Cristobal
whipped them with a switch.
Soul/Kambak 209

Plunging into the chilly waters of the river, each of us

led our horse with the reins gripped between our teeth.
There was a short distance between each of us at first, but the
current and panicky horses widen the gaps. As I breast
stroked through the muddy water, I kept my eyes fixed on a
spot across the river so as to navigate my position relative to
the river’s flow. From the corner of my eye, I could see
Hornsby drifting downriver as he neared the middle, but still
making his way with brisk strong breaststrokes. Cristobal
was behind me, calling out.
“Nadar contra corriente.”
Cassarina and her horse we caught in the swirling
current as well. I was about to try and swim in her direction,
hoping we’d make it across before coming to the rapids
when I saw a partially submerged tree trunk coming around
the river’s bend. It was massive with barren branches
protruding out in a frightening posture.
The log’s path was headed straight for us. If we
continued to swim against the current, the floating log would
drift into the horses and us. Hornsby appeared to be out of
danger, but Cassarina and I were in harms way. Cristobal
shouted something at us, but my own splashing from trying
to find a means of escape drowned him out.
The horses sensed the danger and started to pull at their
reins dragging Cassarina under water. In a few moments,
Cassarina surfaced, floundering against the horse’s fear and
her fight to keep from drowning. Taking stock of the
situation, Cassarina let go of the reins. The struggling horse
swam away from her, headed directly for the rapids. She
furiously swam to the other side of the river. Hornsby’s
horse panicked pulling him back toward the middle of the
river, as well. I didn’t fair any better.
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Between gasps of air and choking on muddy river water,

my horse yanked hard, twisting me around. I grip the reins
in one hand, in hopes of forcing the beast to follow me, but
instead he overpowered me, plunging me dangerously deeper
beneath the river’s surface. It became a matter of tug-of-war,
with me hopelessly loosing the battle as my strength gave
out. With my lungs ready to burst, I surrendered the reins
and swam toward the river’s surface, desperate for air.
Just when I resurfaced to catch my breath, I was
slammed hard from the submerged log. Knocked
unconscious, I don’t recall how I was saved, but later, once I
was brought ashore and revived, Hornsby told me that
Cristobal and him let their horses go, so they could swim to
me. A bit shaken, I rested soon enough.
“You got a nasty bump on the head, maybe a slight
concussion,” Cassarina offered in her expert medical
opinion. “Are you well enough to move?”
“We can leave you here, Jules, and come back for you,”
Hornsby said, anxious to go find the horses and our gear.
I scanned the sky to see that there was no time to waste
as the tropical storm was quickly moving our way. The first
thing that came to mind was that I had survived four near
misses of death. There was the rock ledge incident, the
massacre at the mission, my bout with malaria and now a
near drowning. Each time I survived the odds, including the
others, though they didn’t come as close to death.
“I’m fine,” I stammered, not convincing Cassarina.
My head was swimming, and my eyes couldn’t focus,
but I determined that once I got up and moved around I’d get
my bearings back.
We sought our gear and the horses down river trampling
through the shoreline brush. The horses were nowhere to be
seen, either having drowned in the ragging white water or
Soul/Kambak 211

they had made it to safety running off. The loss was

Fortunately, we found Hornsby and Cassarina’s
backpacks washed up along the river’s edge about a
kilometer downriver. My backpack, other than my clothes
and mess kit, contained the camera, film and pistol, lost
forever – including Father Hernandez’s gift, The Anahuac
Mythology. Most importantly was the damaging evidence of
the death squad massacre at the mission and our only
weapon for defense, Hornsby’s revolver.
Cassarina’s backpack had the journals of drawings from
the cryptic vault and medical kit. They were soaked through.
Hornsby carried the navigational equipment, compass and
maps, none of which suffered any damage. But over all we
were in desperate straights again. Without the horses, our
journey would take more time. In resignation and despair,
Cristobal said we would go to Progresso to get provisions
and equipment.
I keenly eyed Cassarina to see if our misfortune would
shake her foundation. But she didn’t complain. She took it
in stride. I, on the other hand, felt more despondent, noticing
that Hornsby’s enthusiasm dimmed as he shook his head in
despairing annoyance.
Low dark clouds blocked out the sun drenched blue sky.
Streaks of lightning and rumbling thunder came from the
distant horizon. Thick drops of rain started to fall. The
tropical deluge had started again. The four of us collected up
our gear and started to hike along a jungle path headed
The unknowns of the jungle are forever consuming your
thoughts. You eventually come to a place of surrender or
you’ll go mad. You can’t win back the toiling efforts, those
climatic moments of accomplishment, as the next event,
Soul/Kambak 212

even more monstrous, can deny you of its pleasure. Anyone

of us had to live with the other question that kept us
guessing. As we marched single file in the tropical
downpour, Hornsby declared in frustration that either he will
win back his respect or be done with it forever.
The whole passionate ordeal of the expedition danced
before him, that which initiated him to be an anthropologist
in an unappeasable manner. The man had sought it out in a
wilderness of indigenous tombs, saying farewell to the
comforts of an English suburb. He found himself victorious
enough times against the odds by producing fortunes from
entering the depths of human antiquity. Enough times that
he was one of them in flesh and blood, garnished with
indigenous mythology.
In reflection to his anthropological distinction, his state
of mind had out shone him. The whole ordeal this time
seemed to beguile him into its long intensities of proving his
convictions as a solitary man. Nobody on the other side of
the globe had any interest or anything to say to him. He was
a mere insect, an illness to their consciousness. How could it
be that when we have such discoveries, the rock art, the
cryptic vault and my dream, our sublime feelings are meet
with such ugly things of less goodness and more evil. Was
the universe taking enjoyment in our degradation? Or was it
the means of molding us, through laborious time and
unyielding faith to change our consciousness into something
wiser, better, and more omnipotent ourselves? Or was there
just nothing for us to change into?
Cassarina walked near him. Again, the two of them
talked in muffled tones about something. I imagined she was
providing him some kinds words of reconciliation in light of
our ill luck. I paid little attention. I had no delusions about
the two of them. They had both showed their vulnerable
Soul/Kambak 213

sides, the under belly of their academic veneer. Both were

characters of action -- charging forward like an infuriated
bull -- horns down and nothing could stop them. They were
made of strong nerves, and certain refinement, a rare
For myself, the expedition had taken me further into the
depths of my own understanding of one’s life long destiny.
Had I come to the isthmus to sacrifice myself to its deities,
the near –death mishap outcomes diminished my thoughts of
perishing in the Mayab Forest. That was a comforting
reassurance under the circumstances, but unsettling to think
that one of my other companions still could.
Cristobal caught our attention with a hushed warning.
Something was moving in the jungle nearby. Fixing my eyes
through the downpour of rain, I saw a shadowed shape
cautiously moving about ten meters through the driving rain.
Then another figure stooped and slowly paraded behind.
My companions froze, crouching down in fear of a
paramilitary patrol mistaking us for rebels. I signaled to
Cristobal to venture a bit further concealing himself in the
foliage. I moved up close behind him as Hornsby and
Cassarina stayed back. Many more individuals appeared,
trudging along with burdens of satchels on their backs.
Some were carrying children. Others with bundles strapped
on their backs. All were moving in a remorseful procession.
There could have been a hundred or more men, women and
children covered in mud, sweat, disease, and torn clothing,
pressing forward towards a refugee encampment.
The four of us passed through the campamento de
refugiado of scraps of tin and cardboard shelters, plastic
tents upheld by tree branches, and some refugees huddled
together shivering from exposure. They had been forced to
leave their ancestor’s solitary huts and villages to tread the
Soul/Kambak 214

jungle paths of the Peten, descending the rivers and streams

in cayucos, passing through death filled suffering of loved
ones along the way.
Desperate for self-preservation, they fled their forest
homes, the protection of the wilderness, seeking liberation in
the inhospitable jungle, migrating as a whole body. Their
milpa fields no doubt have been left to rot, the binding
symbol that rejuvenated their spirit to their heritage.
Covered in mud and grime, the Iipil and Piik embroidered
finery of the Mayan women’s colorful dress was soiled and
ragged. The men were equally disheveled, lean and old,
glancing curiously at us. Some smoked cigarettes in cupped
hands. There were no young men among them.
Some children with swollen bellies played disconcerted
in the mud. Younger ones cried piteously and babies in
rebosos slung over their starving mother’s shoulders clasped
bare wilted breasts hoping to suck a drop of milk.
At times I heard the yelp of a perro callejero roaming
about the encampment trying to beg some scrap of food. The
whole scene repulsed me. As I glanced around the sea of
exhausted and miserable faces, my heart sank. There was no
organized sanitation. Feces littered the muddy ground. This
was not humanity. Then the shrieks of a woman cut through
the driving rainstorm. I ran to see what the matter was.
Cassarina was already by the woman’s side, comforting
her when I arrived. The Mayan woman was squatting on a
rain soaked mat on the muddy ground. A bare footed elderly
man wearing dungaree trousers, a worn and stained cotton
shirt and straw hat squatted in front of her, holding her fisted
“She’s in labor,” Cassarina commanded. “I need a
Soul/Kambak 215

Hornsby, Cristobal and I set about making a lean two.

Hornsby instinctively took Cristobal’s machete and hacked
out a few thick tree stands at about three meters each. In
minutes we had erected a poncho-covered tee-pee canopy
directly over her. Dripping wet, she reeled in the
contractions. At that moment, a figure came hurriedly
through the bush.
“Ca va?” It was a French woman under the hood of a
poncho. I barely caught a glimpse of her face as she bent
down to check on the pregnant girl.
“Très bien!” Cassarina responded without a flinch. She
was in her element. I heard Cassarina ask the woman how
many refugees were there.
“De 100 à 150 personnes.”
“For chrissakes,” Hornsby remarked, astounded at the
number of refugees.
The French woman rose peering at us with rich blue
eyes embedded in a lean rounded face. A lock of black hair
hung down across her face. She wasn’t much taller than
Cristobal. It was obvious she was exhausted with the dark
rings under her eyes.
“Je Docteur St. Germain. Julie St. Germain. Excusez-
moi? My English is not so good.”
Hornsby promptly introduced himself as if at a formal
dinner party.
“I am a doctor of anthropology.”
I, in turn, acknowledged her. “I’m Cole, Jules Cole.”
Beneath the tented shelter Cassarina announced herself.
“I’m Dr. Cassarina Deakin.”
She continued stroking the back of the young Mayan
girl who was heaving with respirations.
Soul/Kambak 216

“And this is Cristobal, our guide,” Hornsby offered,

pointing toward Cristobal who stood not an arms length
away from us.
“This Q’eqchi girl,” Dr. St. Germain started to explain,
“was raped by soldiers who attacked her village. Atroce.”
“Where are the others? You said they’re about a
hundred and fifty.” Cassarina attended to the girl.
“Over here, I can show you. Most of them have come
from the Alta Verpaz highland mountain range. We have
been on foot for a week or more, avoiding patrols.
“There’s no time now. I need hot water to wash her and
bathe the baby,” Cassarina said in a desperate tone. “Is there
a fire?”
“Non,” said Dr. St. Germain. “We had a cooking fire
but the rain put it out.”
“Are you the only doctor here?” Hornsby inquired.
“We. I was at a village outside of Flores when the
military patrols came. That was about three weeks ago.
They have been running for their lives. Some didn’t make it.
There were rumors of a Peace Corp worker being murdered
while under interrogation. Hearing this news, I decided to
flee with them, offering what medical treatment I could.”
Dr. St. Germain excused herself, telling Cassarina she
had to attend to others with serious wounds. She could see
the girl was in experienced hands.
“Best to get on task,” Hornsby said in response to
Cassarina’s request for hot water.
The three of us set about rounding up some dry matches
from the men and then put together a stone pad in the driest
area we could find, which was as muddy as any other area.
Over the stone pad we constructed another poncho tee-pee
shelter to keep the rain off.
Soul/Kambak 217

Cristobal gathered some coconuts, shelling them to

scrape off the coarse fibers. From this we took a few
cigarettes from the old men to add as kindling. I looked
about for clusters of dried thin brush while Hornsby cut thin
pieces of branches and small sapling trees. Though it was
wet, it would dry quick enough to catch fire as long as we
kept the coals hot.
In a half hour we had boiling water. It was good timing.
The baby came screaming into this world behind a
thunderous clap of lightning. Cassarina, smiling, emerged
with a tiny baby boy in her arms, closely wrapped in one of
her shirts.
In the meantime, we constructed a rainwater collector
with our last poncho to store up drinking water. The
refugees could put their containers underneath it where we
created a small tied opening as a faucet. The other matter
was to organize a latrine.
Hornsby told Cristobal to find the chief of the tribe, the
bataab. Then, the two of us set about scouting out the
perimeter to mark a few areas solely for defecation.
“We’ll need to dig some holes, as best as we can.”
In a moment Cristobal returned to Hornsby and told
him the bataab was “estar ocupado.”
“Too busy?” Hornsby exclaimed with rain dripping
from his face. “Where is he, I need to have a word with
Cristobal pointed in the direction of the pregnant woman
explaining that the bataab was the old man assisting the girl,
his granddaughter. The girl’s parents had been killed in their
“Grand,” Hornsby said then turned to slush his way
through the mud over to where Cassarina, the girl and old
man were huddled under the poncho shelter.
Soul/Kambak 218

“I must get this old man appointed as the warden of his

people, the administrator of this bunch or they’ll all perish
from e.coli infections.”
Even in the strenuous conditions of our work, Hornsby
had become a bit frisky. The challenge made Hornsby
robust, taking Cristobal in tow to translate for him. I tended
to the fire, keeping the coals burning bright amid the rainy
damp air.
The three of them emerged shortly, walking about the
area, where Hornsby was animated in explaining about the
need for sanitation. The bataab was nodding in agreement
dutifully following behind Hornsby. Moment’s later orders
were being given to some of the men to dig latrine holes.
Cassarina made up a “jungle soup” concoction as
Hornsby and I took turns holding the newborn, tucked safely
against our body to keep warm. The girl would fair well
enough, but was understandably fatigued from the exertion
of childbirth. She rested under our tee-pee shelter.
Cassarina fed the soup to the girl, while we ate coconut meat
from coconuts that Cristobal had previously foraged for fire
With hints of daylight left, I ventured over to where Dr.
St. Germain returned. It was a stone’s throw through the
jungle bush from our area. I assumed that these were the
worse off, the other fifty. Dr. St. Germain had managed to
orchestrate the construction of a makeshift clinic, hastily
built of lashed cane walls and a pinnacle thatched roof.
There was only a small doorway opening.
As I entered I saw the floor was made of palm leaves,
piled up high enough to give some relief from the soggy,
muddy ground. Moaning bodies were laid next to each
other, in neat rows with little room to walk between them.
They were drapped with bloodied bandages of torn clothes
Soul/Kambak 219

dressed upon an array of wounds and open sores. Some had

carbuncle sores all over their bodies.
“Impetigo,” Dr. St. Germain said noticing that I was
looking with disturbing curiosity. “I have no anti-biotic to
stop the blood infection.”
I glanced over to one corner of the hut and saw a
colorful handkerchief covering a woman’s face.
“She died an hour ago,” Dr. St. Germain informed me.
An assistant helped Dr. St. Germain, a young Mayan girl
passing a cup of water to their lips. Not much else could be
done for them but offer comfort and reassurance that they
would be rescued at some point.
“You would think America would come with
humanitarian aid. But they are more interested in supplying
weapons to the Guatemalan army,” the doctor said bitterly.
Dr. St. Germain was kneeling next to an old man who
had a wound in his shoulder. She used a coconut shell cut in
half to act as a water bowl to clean the wound. I watched as
she removed the bloodied bandage to reveal a horrendous
maggot infested ulceration of human flesh.
She looked up at me with half-empty eyes from lack of
sleep. Her long auburn air, once silky was untidy and
muddy. Her face was marked with fresh and dried blood as
well as her trousers and blouse. All the things that could
break a person’s spirit had accumulated here in this dwelling
place of death. My gut twisted in knots from the nausea that
over came my senses.
“This is what saving life is about,” she said
acknowledging my repulsion. “A la merci de dieu.” Dr. St.
Germain was at the Mercy of God, fulfilling the role of the
Angel of Mercy.
That evening I rested under the jungle canopy, not far
from the fire. Hornsby and Cristobal among the hundred
Soul/Kambak 220

refugees managed to find some makeshift lodging for

themselves as the rain continued to drizzle through the night.
Cassarina stayed with the young girl and her baby, herself
well worn from the toiling events of the day. I had gathered
some palm leaves and lashing them together I made an
umbrella type canopy for my head. It kept me dry enough,
though I was still damp from the rain and chilly air. I stayed
opened-eyed and alert tending to the fire from time to time.
Stillness pervaded the night. Other than an occasional
crack of the fire coals shooting sparks like fireworks into the
misty air, the scheme of a safe universe produced itself with
a permanent sober slice of the moon’s phase, momentarily
through the cloud cover. The slender shaving of its
reflecting light made me wonder if God intended to provide
assurance of everlasting security, and we, with our audacious
beliefs, screwed it up? All around me was evidence enough.
Then, I felt a rush of air behind me, a voice out of the
“Jules, its me, Cassarina,” I heard her say.
She had wondered out to me, a few meters from her
shelter, crossing the encampment in the darkness undetected.
She came close to my face with a steady candor, “This isn’t
so bad is it?”
“You make a comfortable home,” I replied sarcastically.
The misty rain made the air hang heavy. It muffled our
voices. She pressed her lips and lingered for a moment. In a
discreet whisper she said she wanted to stay with the
refugees. In a way I had expected it. When she returned
from visiting Dr. St. Germain, there was edginess in her
silence. A deep purring brooding was going on within her
psyche. But unlike before at the Lacandon village, she now
had a constant tranquil voice, a serene tone reflecting a peace
of mind in the most horrible of circumstances.
Soul/Kambak 221

“I can help Dr. St. Germain with my knowledge of

medicinal ethnobotany. It’s our only chance to try and save
these people.”
It was a vital point that I couldn’t contradict. She had
the wisdom of the necessary things to help conquer their
“But what about Hornsby?” I said with enigmatical
emotion. “I don’t think he’ll agree.”
Cassarina turned her head, her green eyes gleamed at the
low burning fire I was attending through the night, and in a
glance as thoughtful and vulnerable she was frank with me.
“I have something to tell you . . . about James and I.”
It was no longer necessary to keep me ignorant of their
secret, but she kept me in suspense for a whole minute, as
her face turned gravely sincere.
“What is it?” I finally said. “Are you two . . .”
“Lovers? Hardly.” She gaffed at the thought. “He’s the
trustee of my inheritance.”
The truth unfolded before me as Cassarina explained
that Hornsby took on the responsibility of raising her after
her parents were killed in a plane crash. Her father and
Hornsby had met as officers during the war, and upon
returning to England they attended Cambridge University.
Cassarina’s father was an Earl, with a fairly large family
legacy to carry forth in his lifetime. There were no heirs
apparent except for Cassarina.
“My father studied psychology. James and him often
mingled their disciplines thinking that anthropology and
psychology ought to be combined into one science. This is
how they became so close.”
Light puffs of white smoke from the fire filter between
us like ghostly fingers in a leisurely manner. The charm of
her vagueness up till now impressed me as divine and
Soul/Kambak 222

unbounded confidence in keeping the great secret, secret. I

started to speak but Cassarina hushed me.
“But there is more,” she continued ominously. “James
was disqualified from Cambridge.”
“ I thought he had resigned,” I said, astonished.
Cassarina shook her head no.
“The truth of it is James is a bit of a anthropological
swashbuckler. His passion for ancient sociology filled the
emptiness of not marrying. As I grew up, I learned that he
was most happy in his science researches, plunging like a
boy into some new pursuit of valorous deeds in uncovering
the hidden meaning of life. It is with gratitude that he raised
me with a strong sense of justice and passion to redress a
wrong. He always stirred me to discuss, analysis and think
among the company of a wide spectrum of people who came
to our house for dinner and social events.
“James came from a poor family in Australia, who I
never met. He seemed to have cut off the past, solely to carry
on with the present task of making sure to fulfill his promise
to my father. His mastery challenged me every step of the
way raising me with the philosophy that men should be men
and not hooligans. I grew up expecting the same, as you
might have noticed.”
“So,” I interrupted passionately, “ I don’t understand
why this has to do with his being disqualified from the
“James wouldn’t give me the liberty to tell you the truth
for fear of giving you reason to abandoned him. I kept on
him, as you might had seen us talking among ourselves from
time to time, to open up, but he continued to be stubborn.”
“Why are you telling me this now?” I asked.
Soul/Kambak 223

“I’m not going on with you, and…” she drifted off for a
moment. The misty rain filled the chilly night air with a
fragrance I had not smelled before.
“And what?”
“James was pushed out. It was a conspiracy. First the
board of regents sent him threatening letters to stop the
nonsense about the Mayan Soul Chamber. Then, he was
brought before a review panel to put in question his
credibility to continue with his tenure. To keep face and
some professional credibility James offered to resign . . . but
it was under duress.
“His resignation was immediately accepted. But it
didn’t stop there. James continued to write articles about
Mayan mythology permeating throughout the consciousness
of humankind, which were refused by every publisher in
England. That was a first, since he was well published
worldwide. I was busy at Oxford at the time with my
medical exams, so I didn’t suspect anything straight away.
“When I finally caught wind of the crucifying he was
taking from his former loyal colleagues, I intervened. I
feared that he would release himself from the circle of the
academic code of belief and go madly into a blissful
oblivion. So it was my idea for him to make this expedition
to escape the organized ostracism of his British peers. I put
up the bulk of the funds from my inheritance, along with the
generous donations that were made from a few individuals. I
felt it was my duty to repay him for taking care of me.”
“It was his fidelity to his own truth that undid him,” I
“I knew you would understand.”
“What about Garthwaite?”
“A friend and not someone that James trusts . . . not like
you,” Cassarina was quick to answer.
Soul/Kambak 224

For the first time she looked back into my eyes with the
strength of being victorious in convincing me. She displayed
a sincere temperament.
“And you?”
“Jules, are you jealous?” Cassarina chuckled slightly.
“No, I just thought your correspondence. . . .”
“Hardly a man that is a man. Unlike you.”
She strung me out like a tightrope walker without a
balance pole in that last flattering comment. I swayed for a
moment, speechless, trying to keep my balance from of what
she was implying. I didn’t dare to continue in this vein and
fortunately, she didn’t either.
“Take him to Yaxkin, or at least go look for it. I know
this time is precious to him. He doesn’t have anyone else to
believe in him, other than me. And I must stay here, I can’t
leave these suffering people with a clear conscious.”
“But what about my dream?”
“I don’t know, you’re the expert,” Cassarina said,
reassuring me.
There was a confidence in her voice that disposed me
not to strenuously object.
“I will need to think about it,” slipped out of my mouth.
I reached into my shirt pocket. From my fingers I
produced the orange sign language card I had gotten in San
de las Cristobal from the deaf girl. I had stuck it into one of
my wallet’s plastic covers, which had kept it relatively intact.
“Here, I want you to take this as a memento, something
to . . . keep us connected.”
“Grand. I will keep it forever,” she said giving me a
kiss on the check and taking the worn card in her hand.
Her kiss gave me a promise of salvation. Touching the
very core of my being, it was the revealing moment that
lurks on the edge of our yearning for companionship.
Soul/Kambak 225

“You’re a brick.” She rose to her feet said, “Bonne

nuit!” and headed back to her shelter in the flickering light
of the campfire.
Soul/Kambak 226

Chapter 14
The Final Leg

By morning the rain stopped, but the cloud cover remained.

The encampment slowly stirred to life. Horse coughing,
babies crying, low sleepy voices, and the fear of finding
more who had died through the night greeted the new day.
The dawning light illuminated the vivid dreariness of paucity
that surrounded me.
I thought Hornsby would have debated Cassarina’s
decision to stay with hair-splitting objections. However,
Hornsby had become distracted with some startling news. I
learned from Cristobal that Hornsby and the Mayan tribal
bataab had struck up a conversation of sorts regarding
knowledge of a lost Mayan temple.
In the meantime, Cassarina was already off in the jungle
collecting medicinal plants to start making a small
pharmaceutical laboratory for Dr. St. Germain. Given her
absence, I didn’t have a chance to talk further with her about
my decision to agree to go ahead without her. Had she
already discussed this with Hornsby, I didn’t know.
Hornsby informed me that the bataab confirmed our
findings with his corroborative information from the cryptic
vault. This remarkable twist of fate was profoundly
Soul/Kambak 227

“There is a lost Mayan temple near El Destino named

It was hardly the place for such exuberance, given the
human anguish surrounding us, but the hunter was soon to
capture his prize. I couldn’t squelch Hornsby’s excitement
even though he was becoming a bit maniacal.
The tribal chief related to Hornsby that when he was a
young man, he had climbed up the highest mountain in his
region where he overlooked the jungle. Along the horizon
he saw a great city with white turrets glittering in the tropical
sun. It was here, he said, is Yaxkin, but it has always been
considered a forbidden place. He claimed there were
messengers that went to and fro from the mysterious temple,
but no one had ever gone there because of the warning of
death to intruders. The bataab believed they still perform
the rites of Quetzalcoatl, keeping alive their ancient faith and
power of the Feathered-Serpent.
When I questioned Hornsby about being worthy to enter
their territory, without a beat he said we were more than
“How do you know?” I replied.
“We found the cryptic vault, didn’t we?”
We spent the day burying the dead Maya woman with a
small cortege under a mound of limestone rocks. That
evening we set about preparing for the next and hopefully
the final leg of our expedition. For the most part it was a
nice distraction from the sorrowful angst around us. Not that
I was uncompassionate.
It was beyond my comprehension at the time to absorb
the human tragedy. What was going on with the military and
rebel conflict for whatever political reasons, I couldn’t
justify. I hadn’t come here to get involved in a civil war, but
still it wasn’t my ethic to look the other way.
Soul/Kambak 228

Upon the face of it, I would have stayed with Cassarina,

but I knew Hornsby would have continued on with Cristobal,
and that was a flimsy proposition. So, I took it upon myself
to be his guardian for Cassarina’s sake and return him safely.
She had been candid enough to convince me that I was what
she perceived as “a man’s man” and that was inspiring
enough. As well, Dr. St. Germain urged us on, relieved that
Cassarina would stay on to help her.
“The living must keep going. This is the fact of life,
no?” Dr. St. Germain said as she sat among us eating our
simple meal of cooked snake, some salad greens washed
down with coconut milk that Cristobal and Cassarina had
“This is our base camp,” Hornsby said devouring
cooked snake meat with his fingers. “When we return, we’ll
move the refugees down the Rio San Pedro and across the
Mexican border at El Ceibo to safety,” he said in optimistic
We all nodded in agreement, resigned to the difficulty of
such an immense task.
I could only hope for such an easy outcome as I found a
place to spend the night. Relieved that the rain had stopped,
I hoped to get a good night’s sleep. I had expected that
being so close to our objective, Yaxkin, the Mayan spirits
would visit me in my dreams that night. They didn’t.
Instead, Cassarina did.
Cassarina didn’t expect her desperate yearnings for my
kisses, my touch, nor to understand the tantalizing passion
that developed between us over the past few months. But
she surrendered, unexpectedly, having given me no warning
other than our previous night’s revealing conversation.
Safe were we, entwined in loving embrace, passionate
kisses, under the shelter of night, driven by the inscrutable
Soul/Kambak 229

spirit that bonds for the sake of affection. Aroused, I wanted

to make love to her, but she stopped me.
“Jules, save your strength,” she said stroking my face to
calm me.
“I want you,” I whispered.
“And I want you, but . . .” she paused, kissing me on the
forehead and my lips. “This is not the time or place.”
My heart was torn. I had come to the threshold of that
great divine place between lovers and was put at bay to
behold but not touch. She was right. I knew it.
“I don’t expect a happy-ever-after ending, Jules,”
Cassarina confided before drifting off to sleep.
In the morning the three of us, Cristobal, Hornsby and I,
set off under the well wishes of the two doctors. We must
had looked like three ragged desperados; bandana’s tied
about our heads with unshaven faces, wielding machetes
through our belts and me lugging the backpack with the
essentials for cooking and spare clothes.
For a moment I turned back to look at Cassarina. She
stood there with a coquettish look on her face. She winked
at me, and blew me a kiss and using sign language she said
to me, “I L-O-V-E Y-0-U.”
In that fleeting second of my life, I was torn to leave her,
where before she had been so standoffish in the beginning, I
never imagined that I was on an unavoidable success to win
her love. It took all my will power not to run back to her. I
smiled, acknowledging that I understood her silent message.
“A man’s man . . .” I thought to myself while waving
goodbye to my dear companion. “In a few days I’ll return to
your embrace.”
Hornsby charted our direction with his army surplus
compass while Cristobal and I hacked away at the jungle
overgrowth to clear a path. By noon we had made a good
Soul/Kambak 230

distance of several kilometers, as the sun broke through the

cloud cover, steaming up the jungle floor. We were in the
lake filled Laguna Del Tigre region. Maybe in a few hours
we could make our destination, but our malnourished bodies
lack stamina. The tropical heat only made it
incomprehensibly worse.
Our enthusiasm nourished us more than anything,
carrying us along as we threaded our way through the thick
bush. Periodically we had to stop and rest to regain our
strength. At those times, Hornsby would re-calculate his
bearings with a makeshift sextant he had made while we
were held up at the tree house. While Cristobal cut down
some coconuts, I looked upon Hornsby in a new perspective.
Here was the surrogate father of Cassarina, an exiled
anthropologist, and a ghost of a chance discoverer of a lost
Mayan temple, all of which had come about from the
inhospitable regions of existence. The sudden rustling of
toucan birds over head diverted my thought.
The noise was distant at first. Then it grew louder. The
thundering drumming of helicopter blades slicing the air
moved quickly toward our location. The sound ran chills
through my body. I couldn’t see through the jungle canopy,
but it was recognizable as it articulated a warning that danger
was descending upon us. Had a sentry in the treetops spotted
“Peligro,” Cristobal said under his breath.
“Danger,” Hornsby repeated.
It was clear the copter was coming directly toward us.
The three of us suddenly threw ourselves into a panic to run
as best we could through the tangled vines and underbrush. I
couldn’t move fast enough. We knew it was futile. As the
Huey helicopter came closer, Cristobal made a heroic
offering of himself to distract them from Hornsby and me.
Soul/Kambak 231

He turned and started to run in the opposite direction.

I infuriately objected. “No, no!”
Cristobal energetically waved us to save ourselves. He
smiled and then turned back toward the hovering gunship,
deliberately waving his arms to attract their attention. I saw
it hover for a moment, then bank sideways to bear down on
Cristobal, taking the bait. I stood motionless for a second,
fearful that we were once again losing a companion to the
Guatemalan Civil Patrol incursion.
“Jules, run. There’s nothing you can do. It’s their war.”
Hornsby grabbed me by the shoulder.
I recoiled from Hornsby’s grip but he was right. His
wisdom always embraced the vaster scheme of things. We
had to make haste for cover or risk losing our own lives.
“We . . . will . . . have . . . to . . . move . . . on,”
Hornsby said, panting for breath.
Instinctively, I ran behind him. The noise of the
helicopter was following Cristobal, as I imagined he was
running as hard as he could, hoping to lure the Guatemalan
Civil Patrol as far from us as possible and yet find some
protection for himself.
“The refugee camp,” I stammered, drench in sweat,
gasping for breath. The fear of them being discovered,
worse yet, Cassarina, drained me to a pale color.
“Cassarina will take care of them,” Hornsby replied.
The distant sound of staccato machine gun fire cut
through the air. I dove frightened onto the ground, digging
my face into the rotting humus soil, buying my fear and
disdain. I cried. I sobbed. Hornsby pulled on me, yanking
me up, trying to make me stand.
“Get a hold of yourself, Jules.” I had wilted in his huge
rough hands. My legs were rubber. The thought of Cristobal
being killed devastated me.
Soul/Kambak 232

“He was innocent,” I sobbed.

“And so are we,” Hornsby offered as a nervous
He dragged me up to my feet. I reluctantly advanced
under his prodding trying to quell my hysteria. I was fleeing
from something that compromised my confidences in
humanity. The truth was a pestilence in the hurried air of
those helicopter blades, indiscriminately scattering death in
all directions.
It had a fiery sense that assailed one’s courage; the sight
of it alone sent my heart pounding with it spewing out a
violent wrath from above. I could only imagine what the
innocent victims must have felt moments before its fury was
unleashed upon them. And for that matter Cristobal.
Hornsby forced me ahead of him, prodding me so as I
wouldn’t stop.
In an hour the Huey was long gone, the sense of it
seemed to have been an apparition, but then there was no
Cristobal to prove me wrong. It was strange, but I soon
resigned myself to the outcome, having become more
accustomed to this tragedy, unlike the time at El Desempeno.
Again, I escaped death’s grip as we moved on toward our
A cluster of mountain ranges was off to the west side of
us. At times I caught glimpses of the distant peaks of the
Sierra Del Norte De Chiapas, making me ache to return to
the blissful simplicity of our lives a month before. Since the
moment we divined the possible reality of the Soul Chamber,
our lives had been cast to a tumultuous fate.
We descended the two thousand meter high montana
entering the lowland jungle with its permanent watercourses
threading themselves from the Tikal high ground in Peten
down into the Tabasco basin of the Yucatan peninsula.
Soul/Kambak 233

Hacking our way through dense jungle and forging rivers

and streams, we were now at last a half-day’s travel to our
The pungent fragrant odors of orchids and bromeliads
had filled my senses; the plethora of wildlife had enriched
my sense of wonderment of this magnificent tropical zone,
and the destructiveness of human greed had stained my trust
in the integrity of humankind. Not a drop of rain had fallen
all day, but the cloud cover was ominous. Hornsby
announced in the late afternoon we should make camp.
“From my calculations, we can locate Yaxkin
tomorrow,” he said with blazing fiery eyes. “El Destino is
seventeen degrees and forty nine minutes north and ninety
one and one minute west.”
A camp fire was out of the question, as it could attract
military scouts, so Hornsby set about the jungle, hacking up
some palm hearts for us to collect water from. In that quiet
moment of dusk, as I waited on the professor, I remembered
how heroic Hornsby looked to me standing at the podium in
the lecture hall that spring day. He cared not for gold or
archeological treasures of the world. The significance of his
purpose was bringing the Soul Chamber to life.
He unwittingly aroused envy in me. His intelligence
rewarded him with an extraordinary convincing character
that transformed me on the day I met him to find a purpose
to my own life. I never would have suspected the sinister
plans of his colleagues to undue him.
What a disobedience to God’s will to make him suffer
humiliation at the cost of their ignorance. It was
inconceivable to me to have betrayed his intuition as I had
watched him foster a courageous spirit under the most fatal
circumstances brought on by evil forces, which sparked his
Soul/Kambak 234

own psychic influence to cultivate conquering optimism.

This was his glorious patriotism.
“It is possible?” I thought to myself.
Are we that near to what we had set out to do over six
months before? Were we in the mist of our exalted treasure
that was considered by most a figment of imagination? I
wanted to rally with my last honest effort on his behalf, my
honored mentor and friend. Every inch we gained and
survived in this crusade was worth the risks to find some
evolutionary link of harmonic consciousness hidden from
our eyes.
Presenting me with some palm hearts and halved
coconuts to eat, we sat together unafraid as the sky turned
into night.
Hornsby looked thoughtfully across at me, munching.
“We are off the beaten track of civilization. Even the
Spaniards that came here were confronted and pushed back
to sea from the jungle pestilence. The luxuriant vegetation
of these tropical lands seduces us, but the notorious history
of misrule and anarchy prevail.”
I knew he was trying to console me about Cristobal.
“It is not so strange that few wonder into these places,
having only a machete to carve out a passage. But remember
a people destitute of metallic tools built these majestic
ruins.” Hornsby said with reassurance, trying to throw off the
burden of Cristobal’s violent fate.
The luxury of romancing the Mayan mystery at the
university’s library was forgotten. The reality of making this
journey outstripped my sensibilities. I had become
accustomed to the insects and mosquito bites. All of it was
just a pesky nuisance, though my skin was taking the toil of
their parasitic ravages. The homeless ghosts of the
massacred villagers, Father Hernandez last words,
Soul/Kambak 235

Cassarina’s subtle sighs as I tenderly kissed her, the

cherished Lacandones, the dreamtime appearance of Moise,
the dying refugees, all those things remembered or cast-out
confronted me in this region of the earth as an unbelievable
Regardless, I nestled into a comfortable feeling of being
in the womb of mother earth. This was God’s creation, I
assured myself. From the beginning of time, here was the
Garden of Eden. The Biblical story of Genesis, the Quiche
Maya Popol Vul or Book of Advice and all the primitive
history of humankind wrapped up around me in a terrestrial
What’s more, I never got a chance to turn the pages of
The Anahuac Mythology. What secrets did it behold for
Father Hernandez that he felt compelled to share had
perplexed me. He made no mention of its contents when we
talked in the kitchen or did he, indirectly? That was
something I resigned myself to never being able to answer.
How was it that we were continuously beset with the
difficulties of finding the appropriate solutions to sustaining
a peaceful life when we had cultivated such profound
wisdom through the ages? Was it an unconquerable devil
that truly governs the spirit of the earth just as Quetzalcoatl’s
foe conquered him? I wanted to find solace in the stars
above me, but the night sky had clouded over with a thick
and heavy layer above us. I curled up into a ball leaning
against the trunk of a mangrove tree. In no time I dozed off
into a deep sleep, but in short time, I was rudely awaken by a
frenzied Hornsby.
“I must talk with you Jules,” he said with a desperate
tone of voice.
Soul/Kambak 236

I roused myself awake startled by his urgency. I came

face to face with the wild-eyed expression of a man who was
obsessed in a sudden frenzy.
“What is it, James,” I said calling him by his first name
for the first time since I knew him.
“The spirits cry out to me in my dreams,” Hornsby said,
I adjusted myself to scrutinize him, rubbing my eyes.
“Their power is so great . . . like the eye of a hurricane,
it whirls within me.”
Seated with an earnest appeal in his voice to gain my
attention, I waved him on as an obligation. He composed
himself with a sober smile.
“Who can read the story of creation? Neither does it
live in a culture’s tradition or is written in history. There is
mystery here, hidden by the darkness of ages. We question
the past, content to believe that thousands of people have
roamed the earth sinking into oblivion with no consequence
to our existence. Only a few races have left a trace of their
subsistence. We find monuments of ancient skill, doctrine of
mythology, intricate sketches and portraits, showing us how
the mind must advance, seeking new fields of conquest. If
not, our consciousness will be defeated. Our consciousness
does not rest until it reaches its gain, its objective point or
demonstrates that the quest is hopeless.
“And science, with all its resources is brought to bear in
contribution the creation of a new science that is added to
human knowledge. But I tell you; while we roll back the
voyage of time and learn the condition of primitive man we
have yet to triumph in our analysis. Science has enriched
our understanding of life to a point. Geology unfolded into
paleontology, as impressions in rock revealed fossils. And
Soul/Kambak 237

the science of Human Antiquities laid the foundation for

“As Columbus perceived the traces of land as yet
invisible and had to take the ridicule of his peers to think
such things, there are those of us who must break from these
academic constraints as seekers of the great questions to the
origin and history of our consciousness.
“There was not a great sudden change in the Stone Age,
except here among the Mayab Forest. It was as if the
darkness of the land was given the light of the Holy Grail.
Most likely it was trade between the Mesoamerican’s that
expanded their civilizations over time, but something deep in
their psyches was awakened from an external force. The
myths of the Mayans have since become the inheritance for
our modern world to understand, where the mournful ruins
stand as testaments to their far-reaching awareness in the
barren wilderness of understanding.
“Nations have come and gone, but the Mayan temples
still stand as navigational markers, left behind to tell others
about the portal, the path, the course. What is lost, the truth,
is but a code we haven’t allowed ourselves to perceive.
“The mist of epochs between them and us is so thick,
like the dense fog of night that only the rough outlines can be
determined. The whole body of the spiritual system is
hidden from the bare eye. This cyclic physics of
timelessness, we don’t understand as fully as the Mayans.
The rotating and counter rotating of electrometric fields
about our earth as some kind of stabilizing grid.
“There is a radiant point out there in the cosmos sending
a vast energetic message to us. At times I can feel it. And
the nature of the Mayan numerical calculations recognizes
this fact. To receive this frequency our true natures are
archetypal in nature, resonating with cosmos. This all makes
Soul/Kambak 238

for a seemingly endless conundrum of perplexity to our

rational science. But it does make sense to me. I just wish I
knew more about their language.”
Hornsby, spent and wild-eyed, drifted off, mumbling to
himself. He moved a short distance away from me, lost in
his frantic thoughts. A man obsessed. I hunched back down
to go back to sleep. But the restlessness of the air kept me
half awake.
At day break the mournful cries of the howler monkeys
caused me to rise and shake my numb limbs about. Hornsby
dozed, a slight snore gave me the impression he was deep in
his dreams. The pang of hungered made me long for a hot
breakfast. Something other than lizards, beetles, snake,
foliage and tropical fruits that would get me through the day.
“One can’t muster the strength to face the day on a
empty stomach,” I thought to myself.
Taking out the mess kit, I neatly laid out the utensils,
cup and plate in the pattern of a formal table setting. I
imagined fried eggs; harsh browns, bacon and cut juicy
melon in nice neat squares placed for my consumption
before me. I took my hot cup of coffee, sipping it while
taking in its steamy aroma that filled my nostrils. Then with
my Swiss army knife I forked up some hash browns,
munching the delicious texture of salt, pepper and oil soaked
crispy fries. Oh, yes, and there was a stack of toast and jam
to devour as well, slathered in creamy butter. With that I
sopped up the runny yoke of an egg cooked sunny side up.
As I finished up this delightful meal, Hornsby stirred,
awakened from my rummaging.
“Care to join me?” I asked, holding up my cup of
imaginary coffee in my hand. Hornsby couldn’t believe
his eyes.
“Jules, are you mad?” He quickly sat up.
Soul/Kambak 239

“Yes, you’re right. I should have waited for you. How

impolite of me.”
Hornsby grabbed me by the shoulders violently shaking
“Snap out of it, Jules!”
“Ok, ok, James. It’s ok. I’m not mad. I was just . . . ” I
paused looking up at him.
He had a terrified look in his face. I had scared the wits
out of him, something I thought not possible, realizing how
dependent he was on my own sanity. Settling down, he
gathered himself while I put the mess kit away.
“For chrissakes, Jules don’t pull a stunt like that again.
You know how vulnerable we are right now.”
“It’s ok, James. We best get on with our exploration,
don’t you agree?”
Hornsby thoughtfully agreed.
Together we surveyed the map and compass heading.
Identifying a decidedly point of reference from the landscape
off in the distance the two us set off directly east of El
Destino. If the day was to bring about our great discovery,
let it be so. I ignored the deadly calm of the air and dark
cloud cover that looked like an approaching tempestuous
“Tally ho,” I said to Hornsby with the gusto of a rallying
With that the sky unleashed a thunderous clap. A light
rain started to fall. We were blissfully unaware that moving
swiftly toward us off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula was
Hurricane Brenda.
Soul/Kambak 240

Chapter 15
Soul Chamber

The jungle canopy was so thick that I could hardly catch a

glimpse of the hillside terrain. Most of the time I was
walking with my head down, hacking away at the endless
shrub brush in what felt like a timeless stupor. All the while
I remained alert to not plant my foot on some poisonous
snake or worse yet, stepping into a bottomless cenote.
We were in some of the most densely overgrown jungle
of the Mayab Forest. After a time, I started to hack and
clawed my way up against a seemingly endless embankment.
The light rain turned into a deluge.
While pulling myself up on hanging vines while digging
my feet into the slippery mud my foot landed on something
solid. Sensing a flat rock base beneath my foot, I set my
weight down to test it. It held my weight. I perceived I must
be on a ledge of some sort. The physical appearance of the
ground underneath me started to take on a terraced
appearance. Through the thick underbrush and muddy soil, I
noticed a smoothed out rectangular shape, resembling large
stone blocks delineated by thin straight cracks laid at a tiered
ninety-degree angle.
A huge underground tree root disarticulated a portion of
the mason-type setting. I chopped at the jungle underbrush
while pulling on the tangled vines in front of me, to see what
Soul/Kambak 241

lay behind them. The water pooled about my feet, flowing

towards the hillside, disappearing into a dark void behind the
dense foliage. All the while, Hornsby kept yelling to me.
“Jules, come quickly.”
I abandoned my curiosity and groped my way toward
him, who had climbed much further ahead of me. The
hurricane, in the meantime, unleashed its fury upon me.
Arriving at the top of the incline, the wind and rain
stung my face like a sandstorm. Tree branches flew about
me. But in the blur of the storm’s rage, I saw a spectacular
sight. The top was leveled off to a form a large square
plateau. Shrubs and tangled vines encased the stone ruin.
Near each corner of the terrace were the remains of a large
elaborately sculptured stone. A two-storied main edifice
occupied the center.
The temple had more character of any structure I had
seen before in Mayan photographs or illustrations. Some
trees had sprouted taking hold in the plateau court-yard
making gapping crevices in the cut stone surface from their
roots. At the top of the main edifice a circular stone column
about four meters high and one meter thick was sculpted in
bold relief, much like the ones we had seen in the cryptic
vault. It was made of red stone. This was the menhir that
Hornsby had been calling out to me.
“Over here, Jules,” Hornsby called out to me through the
howling wind. “We’ve found Yaxkin.”
I saw him standing in the small entrance to the center
edifice, protected from the storm’s fury. He had cut away
the shrub and vines exposing a lintel over the doorway of a
chief with an enormous feathered plum for a headdress,
gripping a two-headed snake in one hand and a wand in the
other. I made my way across the plateau, fighting the force
Soul/Kambak 242

of the wind and rain by protection from huge stone cisterns

that were placed in a crisscross pattern on the temple’s mesa.
Reaching Hornsby, he pulled me inside the circular
shaped structure.
“Welcome to the Soul Chamber.” Hornsby proudly
I was astonished at the grand appearance. Its diameter
was about three to four meters. The imposing interior was a
complicated array of elegant colored glyphs carved in stone
blocks. Huge timbers crisscrossed in an upward spiral
fashion as if it was the frame of a stairway, having decayed
over centuries of time. Water trickled down the circular wall
from above, where daylight filtered through, but little rain.
We had found a safe refuge from the hurricane.
“Look at this, Jules,” Hornsby said. “Every stone is an
emblem glyph, some of which must be PreClassic.”
I looked closely at the wall to see that this was an
elaborately designed tower; each stone had been
painstakingly sculpted and then placed in a matrix format. It
was the finest example of Mayan architecture. Within the
walls were four large stone glyphs that represented the four
points on the compass. These were just above the height of
our heads.
“My god, Jules, some of these glyphs… they look like
Caucasian men. And here . . . some have Assyrian features.”
Hornsby said as he quickly moved about electrified by his
discovery. “Over here . . . these depict African features.”
Then he discovered in vertical rows the glyphs from the
Chol Quij, the count of day’s glyphs. Hornsby, oblivious to
the ragging hurricane outside, ran to the entrance peering out
at the lintel above doorway. The storm whipped at him. I
jumped and grabbed his shirt sensing he would be sucked
Soul/Kambak 243

“It’s Quetzalcoatl,” Hornsby cried out, ducking back

into the tower. “We must get to the top, to the stele,”
Hornsby commanded.
“But the storm,” I protested. I insisted we wait out the
hurricane before venturing up the decayed timbers. Looking
up toward the ceiling of the tower and hearing the violent
wind outside Hornsby thought my advice was practical
enough and went about deciphering the glyphs.
The force of the hurricane sounded like a hundred
locomotives bearing down on us, swirling wind into the
tower, but still the thick stone edifice offered protection.
“Absolute shame we don’t have anything to record these
with,” Hornsby said absent-mindedly as he ran his fingers
across the relief faces of the glyphs.
I hunched down against the wall, hoping to protect
myself from any flying debris that might come crashing
down on us. Lightning flashed. Thunder roared. Hornsby
“James, sit down and wait,” I demanded. He sensed the
furious storm outside and took a seat on the wet stone floor.
“Something’s missing here,” Hornsby quipped.
“What?” I inquired.
“Notice the stones here, they are smooth and clean.
Rain didn’t wash these off. There were would be residue of
dirt left by centuries of vacancy. Doesn’t it seem odd to you,
I ran my hand over the surface. No evidence of grime or
caked dirt. Even the crevices of the sculpted glyphs were
clean. They had a polished texture to it. Each stone was
about ten centimeters square with a metallic surface of
crystalline specks.
“This looks like platinum or something like it. And
here, this one looks like its made of gold, another is jade, and
Soul/Kambak 244

this one is silver, and this one’s mineralogy is crystal,”

Hornsby said closely inspecting the wall.
“Maybe it’s designed to keep a high magnetic void?” I
“But this one stone is very strange.”
As the cyclone thrashed the jungle outside, we kept our
focus on the discovery of a lifetime. I moved next to
Hornsby to take a closer look.
“It has a dense metallic structure but the surface feels
like sandpaper.”
“A meteorite?”
“Jules, that’s it,” Hornsby replied in deep thought.
Hornsby speculated that the Nahua or Mayans had
quarried meteorite stones from somewhere. Searching the
wall for an answer the most likely location dawned on him.
“Zona del Silencio, of course,” Hornsby snapped in the
blink of an eye.
It was a place in Northern Mexico, in the Chihuahua
Desert that attracted meteorites on a regular basis including
misguided missiles fired from America. The local
Mexican’s call it the place of “falling pebbles.”
There was an area discovered by a Mexican oil explorer,
Harry de la Pena. He plotted an equal sided triangle, three
by three by three kilometers, using the static interference on
his radio as a means to track the outlying border. It was
where the Allende Meteorite landed in 1969.
There are two points in the celestial sky called the
celestial equator and the ecliptic equator. The plane of the
solar system defines these two great circles in which the two
cross each other at two points on the horizon: The vernal
equinox or spring and the autumnal equinox or fall. It is the
same coordinate system that lies upon the lithographical
crust of the earth.
Soul/Kambak 245

There are these paths across the landscape, magnetic

forces that have path shifts, probably caused by cosmic
catastrophes such as supernovas hundreds of thousands of
light years away. Indigenous people knew of these magnetic
alignments using them to survey the layout of their cities and
temples over vast distances. But to the priestly hierarchies
consternation and social control, the shifts that came about
caused tribal encounters that turn into warfare. This was all
about keeping control of the sacred alignments.
“So if these alignments existed, then the plotting of
the temples in Mesoamerica was mapped out on a magnetic
grid with specific nodal points, such as with the four points
of the compass.” The two of us were in utter fascination.
“And the center, the Yaxkin, the Kuxan Suum or road to
the heavens,” Hornsby added, “is this Octonun or stone stele
above us. It is the Zuhuy tun, the virgin rock.”
Seated next to me, he continued to investigate each of the
glyph stones that lined the walls, recognizing that the whole
interior was the Tzolk’in or Chol Quij.
Hornsby told me at the crux of the issue is the control
“Issue?” I said.
“Before Zodiac astrology there was Omen astrology
created by Ptolemy that was defined as perceptions of myth,
later disregarded by Sir Isaac Newton. You might say the
Mayan’s were expert at this omen phenomenon with their
astronomical calculations.”
The science of astronomy and astrology parallel in
definition: To find a correspondence between the heavens
and earth. In order to keep control of the masses the
Mesoamerican priests relied on the charting of the stars to
make predictions, such as the appearance of a comet or the
solar eclipse, most importantly the appearance of Venus.
Soul/Kambak 246

To illustrate his point, Hornsby recalled an English

astrologer from the Seventeenth Century by the name of
A comet appeared on November 21 in the year of 1618
and was seen for twenty-eight days, having moved
backwards from nine Scorpio to seven Virgo, as Lilly had
recorded in his ephemeris. If a comet appears in Scorpio it
indicates civil discord, war and scarcity of provisions and the
gruesome intestinal slaughter of victims by rioting subjects.
The declination of the comet corresponded to the fifty-
first latitude, which is where the zenith of the comet crossed
the local meridian once every twenty-four hours. The comet
retrograded into Virgo corresponding to the fact that the
kings and queens of England at the time all had Virgo rising
in the year 1638, twenty years later.
Lilly surmised that the influence of change that brought
about the birth of Great Britain’s Long Parliament in 1640
was germinated with the arrival of this comet. And what’s
more, we entered the final four hundred year Baktun cycle in
1618. It was a galactic polarity shift that caused a new
consciousness to break through in mankind, becoming more
humanitarian in government policy.
“The secret to the mystery… is always the deepest at
the gateway of its origin,” I said quoting Hornsby from his
lecture. He nodded in a complete agreement.
“When it was discovered that the planetary orbits were
fixed, it was assumed that one could accurately predict the
future. Modern science is based upon the belief that because
of cosmic order, the Darwinian mindset, our future is
predetermined because of genetics. Zodiac astrology is
based on fixed periods of revolutions or fixed frequencies
that cannot explain the increased frequency of time, which
the Mayan’s could. Like the Zodiac signs, the Mayan had
Soul/Kambak 247

solar signatures as well, that made up two hundred and sixty

different combinations of thirteen numbers and the twenty
emblem glyphs.”
To corroborate his theory, Hornsby presented the
argument of Nature vs. Nurture as being set to rest by the
progression of seven of the thirteen deities ruling the thirteen
heavens in Mayan cosmology. The forces of nurture are
depicted in sequence.
Pointing to a row of glyphs on the wall, Hornsby
explained that a seed is planted during the rule of the First
Heaven or god of procreation. This seed receives energy
from the light of the god of sunrise in the Third Heaven. The
gods of rain and water provide essential water: the Fifth and
Seventh Heavens. The Ninth Heaven brings the god of fire
that pushes the plant to blossom into a flower the Eleventh
Heaven, finally bearing its mature fruit in the Thirteenth
“But there is always something essentially unpredictable
in regard to the universe,” I said.
“Unless you have a frequency receiver of some sort to
connect to the cosmos,” Hornsby said, “that keeps you in
harmonic resonance. And the Mayan’s implicitly knew this.”
“The original archetype,” I replied watching Hornsby
inspect the wall glyphs.
“That which runs from the explicit to the common, from
the archetype to the symbol . . . just as Pacal Votan, the
priest of Palenque claimed.”
“The code of thirteen times twenty,” I said.
“Or the simpler zero through nineteen code,” Hornsby
“The universal archetype of spiritual wisdom is stored in
the prime number of nineteen – containing all the other
Soul/Kambak 248

We starred about the walls of the tower lined with

carved glyphs enlightening our understanding. The effect of
our scrutiny lit up Hornsby’s face.
“I think we’ve discovered a replica of the Holy
Envelope.” Hornsby said exhilarated.
“What?” I was bewildered. How could the Soul
Chamber and Holy Envelope be one of the same?
“The place that Quetzalcoatl was to receive instructions
for guidance of his people the Toltec was within the Holy
Envelope. The deities put the Holy Envelope in his care,
concealing the divinity from human gaze.”
“Like a tabernacle or soul tube,” I said.
“Or Soul Chamber,” Hornsby added. “All three are
synonymous for our purpose, except for one thing.”
“And that is?” I stammered.
“The Holy Envelope brings our consciousness in
alignment with the earth’s envelope – that is the biosphere
and noosphere transition in revealing all that is known.”
The wind howled outside of us. The sound of crashing
trees and driving rain roared. Bolts of lightning flashed and
thunder clapped. Our voices echoed throughout tower’s
chamber as it acted as a sound buffer from the storm raging
through the jungle.
“Why wasn’t this Holy Envelope found earlier?”
“Like the Tabernacle, I suspect it was removed from the
malevolence of Tezcatlipoca, who tricked Quetzalcoatl to
lose his credibility with the Toltecs and then overthrew him
sending him away on a long journey. No doubt the Holy
Envelope was taken somewhere safe.”
Hornsby related that when the city of Teotihuacan, Ce
Actal Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl’s possible birthplace fell to
Tezcatlipoca, those not wanting to be forced to follow
Tezcatlipoca fled from fear of being murdered. Teotihuacan
Soul/Kambak 249

has reconstructed archeological evidence of a network of

contacts that extended as far away as the jungle lowlands of
Honduras and throughout Mesoamerica, so it stands to
reason some of the refugees made alliances with neighboring
Nahua and Mayan tribes.
The most interesting story is of a semi-mythical city
never found called, Tamonchan. The refugees of
Teotihuacan gathered there. It’s assumed that Xochicalco is
this transitional site, which is between Teotihuacan and
Tollan. But Xochicalco doesn’t contain unequivocal
Quetzalcoatl was reported to have made many trips to
the East, where he was in touch with a Great Lodge whose
members knew the secret of the Elixir of Life. To travel to
the Great Lodge, one would need the Holy Envelope. The
legend of these people, as recorded by the Aztecs is that their
ancestors came from a land “on the great water” or Aztlan.
“Quetzalcoatl embodied a state of consciousness of the
solar universe, embodying a messianic character enduring all
to show humankind the highest state of being.” Hornsby
“The elixir of life,” I said recalling the Spanish explorer,
Ponce de Leon’s quest to find the fountain of youth.
When the Spaniards arrived upon the shores of the
Mayan civilization, thousands were being sacrificed at the
temples to obtain the necessary nourishment for the Sun --
human hearts and blood. It was believed the Gods sacrificed
their own flesh and blood as well. This was a catastrophic
misunderstanding from what Quetzalcoatl had originally told
the Toltecs.
To attain what Quetzalcoatl envisioned was based on the
quality and type of every person’s movement as a critical
aspect for attainment to universal consciousness – the climax
Soul/Kambak 250

of self-reflective thought resulted in an exponential change

in perception.
Comparable to the Akashic Records, The I Ching and
the Book of Changes, the Mayan matrix carried one to the
comprehension of the Psi Bank embedded in the Sun –
attainable through the Soul Chamber.
The Sun is sustained by humankind’s one rule spiritual
conviction. The initiate’s free their heart from conditioned
intellectual dominance. This meant the return of the human
“sun” or “earth-sun” to the Cosmic Sun. The luminous
particles of the human solar consciousness were to bring
universal harmony by recognizing One Divine Creative
“A spiritual testing of the global mind to understand that
there is one law,” Hornsby added.
In the highland’s of Mexico there is a ancient chronicle
called the Anales de Quahtitlan, where Venus is described
has having “perils of rays,” shooting the kings or bringing
death. It appeared on the day of Quetzalcoatl’s departure to
become the planet Venus, a pivotal point in cosmic history
that signified both the end and beginning of a world age
Since then, Quetzalcoatl’s life and death is repeatedly
ritualized through Mesoamerican history. To become
liberated, the spiritual hero, Quetzalcoatl built a bridge over
the river blocking deliverance to show his followers the way
to the Great Cosmos or Hunab Ku. He didn’t live for
himself; he lived for the salvation of humankind.
No doubt Tezcatlipoca literally implemented the idea of
human sacrifice as a means to keep control of his people and
erase Quetzalcoatl’s spiritual influence. This was the process
of the cyclic change. It was very barbaric and horribly
perverted fallout from Quetzalcoatl’s overthrow.
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Ironically all the Nahua tribes in Mexico worshiped

Tezcatlipoca who mythically held a fiery mirror in which he
saw all deeds on earth, passing judgment upon those at the
time of their death. Death by sacrifice was the natural
ending of a warrior’s life that ensured entrance into paradise.
Death had become nothing more than an incident in the
continuity between this life and the next.
The storm raged outside. The wind was howling so
loudly I covered my ears. We had both crouched down
against the wall together.
“You know why the Mexicans have the Feast of All
Souls?” he shouted at me face to face with cupped hands
about his mouth to act as megaphone.
I shook my head no. “Why?” I yelled back at him.
“Venus represents the return or reincarnation, like the
Egyptian Osiris. The earth is like a mummy. The Mexicans
hoist a mummy up a pole and then dance around it, because
our origin of consciousness must bypass mortal death to
become a part of the molecular universe. That is what
motivates evolution, our DNA. Our conscious interpretation
is but dense concrete.
“The key lays in our dreamtime, which speaks the
language of metaphor. It transcends all linguistics and
cultural barriers. It guides one’s spirit to make the transition.
If not, then we are stuck here on earth . . . waiting to be
freed. This is why the earth is like a mummy and the
indigenous honor their ancestors. Its karmic insurance of
sorts -- to make sure you’ll make it to heaven.”
The hurricane reached a fever pitch. The wind gusting
inside the tower started to produce a vibrating tone that
gradually increased in frequency. But instead of deafening
my hearing, it soothed me. As it grew in intensity, the tone
formed a harmonic cord of which I’ve never heard. It was a
Soul/Kambak 252

combination of a bassoon bass and treble pitch mixed with

ribbons of a multitude of chorus voices. By the look on
Hornsby’s face, I could tell he noticed it was well, looking
about the tower’s walls in wonder at it all.
“Can you hear that?” I shouted to him.
“Yes. Absolutely fantastic, isn’t it,” he shouted back to
The tone hummed within the walls of the tower, the
frequency of which vibrated through my whole body. I felt
levity, bathed by its musical pitch.
“It’s a harmonic octave, I believe,” Hornsby said
standing up.
I no longer could hear the hurricane’s fury outside, only
the tonal pitch circulating about the interior of the tower’s
walls as if was I standing inside a musical tuning fork, but
this sounded like an ethereal harmonic. I felt a warm
soothing sensation running through my blood.
My thoughts were clear and came from the depths of my
being. Every cell in my body was alive. My skin tingled as
the hair stood up on end. I wanted to rejoice as it made me
feel I had been delivered from a dark world. Looking over at
Hornsby, I saw him with out stretched arms, his face looking
up toward the opening of the tower and crying jubilantly,
There was no awareness of the great cataclysm just
outside the walls of the edifice. No sense of the danger or
fear, just this divine rapturous tone engulfing us like . . . an
Then in the center of the tower an iridescent light
emerged. It grew in a swirling flaming motion, spinning
clockwise at a high speed and elongating itself up toward the
top of the tower and at the same time toward the bottom.
There were yellow sparks flying out of the center that
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bounced off the walls of the tower in a counterclockwise

spiral upwards. I leaned back against the wall, as it
expanded to such a size it was directly in front of my face.
Like a huge torch, it flamed, but did not burn nor create
intense heat. Instead it didn’t seem to emit any temperature
at all, not hot or cold.
“Xiuhtecuhtli,” Hornsby called out to me from the other
“Lord of Fire, the ancient God, the father and mother of
all Gods.”
It took all I could bear to hold on to my wits.
“What was going to happen next?” I thought, feeling as
if I was facing my Judgment Day. My body was pressed
hard against the tower wall. If this all-encompassing energy
wanted to consume us, so be it, but then again no, I didn’t
want to die like this.
In my attempts to keep whatever was in store for me
from this unnatural act of nature, I thought if I continued to
focus on what life meant to me I would survive. I thought
about my future with Cassarina, about what I still wanted to
accomplish in my life, get married, have children, read more
books, write and travel the world. I hadn’t tasted the sweet
and bitter of it all. No, I wasn’t ready to depart this earth and
begged with all my heart not to be taken, not for my spirit to
depart, though it felt it wanted to leave my body so badly at
that point.
In the next gasp of breath, I found myself flying into a
night sky deep into heaven’s darkness. A slit of brilliant
light, a wrinkle or warp in the seam of this darkness that
didn’t have a source suddenly appeared to me. I entered,
absorbed into its force field that took me further into what
seemed deep space. There were billions of particles of
twinkling brightness all about me.
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As I spun about the whole of this interstellar universe, I

realized it was my own molecular structure of my body. I
was sustained there for what seemed an eternity. The bright
hot stars darted in a dazzling sparkle. Then there was a flood
of light for a split second filling me with eternal bliss.
“Can you see it?” Hornsby cried out repeatedly. I
couldn’t see him, but sensed him, realizing he was
communicating to me telepathically.
In a whirlwind shift, I found myself standing on a
jagged stone path buried in an impassable web of prickly
bushes and thorny trees growing in a humid jungle swamp,
filled with reeds and rushes, wearing only a loin cloth.
Monstrous snarling beasts growled, hidden behind the great
thick brambles surrounding me, pacing and waiting to see if I
would run out of fear: The chance they needed to pounce
and devour me. I trembled from the sense of the violent way
we suffer through life on this earth. Dark was the blood red
sky and foreboding was the flames that licked upon my flesh
from the bushes . . . I cursed Hornsby under my breath,
thinking I’d been betrayed.
In that moment, an extraordinary sound, faint at first, but
growing louder, summoned my attention. A rapturous
musical sound, unlike the first one had heard, cut through the
dense vile din of my surroundings.
“Uayeb,” I heard a mystical voice say. “Uayeb,” it said
I feebly stuttered, “Uayeb” at first. Then, I gathered
more strength the more I said it. Repeating it over and over
again, the dark bloody sky broke away to a golden beam of
“You’ve open the House of the Sun, all is set in
motion,” the ethereal voice called out.
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A double rainbow appeared across the horizon,

transforming the jungle swamp into a lush paradise, as if it
had existed all along. The beasts were gone, the fiery bushes
extinguished. Was it my own illusion that created the
horrific sight? When I felt that all things were turned against
me, now everything embraced me, including the innumerable
creatures of the earth.
Hornsby appeared, walking along the path toward me.
He was adorned in the likeness of a deity, proudly wearing
an ornate flowing robe, planting his majestic bare feet,
reverently, upon the path and with great splendor brought me
this message.
“You have come to a mysterious region, that has
remained unknown for so long. So many have tried, but
none have crossed the barrier. The evil of the world you
have come from, so keeps it this way. Only those who
achieve annihilation of the Demon’s enslaving perceptions
can enter here, but you cannot stay.”
“Why?” I asked.
“The warning of the Final Day, the message of cyclic
transformation, the divine plan.”
“But here is paradise.”
“All things lead to here, but when Aztlan was
abandoned, all things turned upon humankind. The Demon
was evoked and cast spells upon all created things, turning
them into wild beasts and the companions of our ancestors to
mortal death. The Demon harms and weakens you, telling
you eat all and drink much, to indulge yourself, seek wealth
and flaunt your possessions, for all that has ruined you will
decimate your entrails in exchange for the Demon’s
Hornsby then turned, with a long sweep of his arm
across the landscape before us muttering a sorcerer’s
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invocation, bearing the light of the key to all supernatural

“Eritris sicut dei.” The living image of Quetzalcoatl
appeared like a Morning Star on the eastern horizon.
“Your people call him Jehovah, Christ, Allah,
Mohammad, Buddha.”
Turning around to fast the western horizon, Hornsby
repeated the same ritual, materializing the fire-breathing
Demon. “Eritris sicut dei.”
“Here is the Prince of Darkness, Lucifer, Devil, or
Upon the mention of the Nahua Lucifer, I remembered
seeing a powerfully mesmerizing glyph from Monte Alban.
The entity had deformed limbs, a feline mouth and
captivating pose that signified the genesis of Monte Alban –
the tutor to the inner most depth of individual divine Being.
There was no question that the heroic struggle against the
debase passions of ourselves was in fact a great celestial
battle that our Self was submitted to from birth. The victor
of all temptations killed them.
“They are all kinship,” the mystical Hornsby said.
“But why are we so sure that one is good and one is
bad,” I asked.
“The ultimate meaning has been lost. Each complement
the other – helping along our journey? It is human
imagination that created the more vile beasts, giving them
permission to exist among them on earth. Humanity has
been cursed with regret ever since.”
“How?” I wanted to know, standing there in what could
have been the Garden of Eden, enjoying the sense of peace
and leisure.
“The One Divine Law is the all-encompassing theme
leading toward the inevitability of the cyclic end, as the
Soul/Kambak 257

Ancestor’s have prophesized. Many have construed that a

certain religious practice holds the key, the upper hand, if
you will, in protecting its devoted followers from the
ultimate punishment of an Armageddon occurrence. Such
beliefs are built upon the interwoven motifs of centuries old
religious symbolism and cloud over the simple truth: the
fulfillment of an undeviating law of destiny – a duality of
good and bad – the actions of which either cause damage or
benefit one’s soul – will be made known on the Final Day of
this Great Cycle.
“In this way, as the world enters the final years of the
Great Cycle, each individual must remain conscious, not in
the Biblical sense of a rapturous salvation, but in the day by
day existence of holding their consciousness to see the
innumerable ways that divine mercy is being bestowed upon
your people. This will carry you across the threshold when
the opportunity for the final transforming liberation arrives
on the Final Day. Hopefully, your people will not literary
take the intuitive cosmic message of an evolving spiritual
consciousness to mean that they must kill each other off as a
sacrifice to their chosen deity, who conveniently replaced
Hunab Ku, in how faithful they are, just as the Mayan
sacrificed their own in the final days of their existence.”
The context of “your people” stuck in my mind.
Hornsby was speaking as a separate entity. Curious I
reached out to touch him, discovering I could pass my hand
right through his robe. He turned and smiled affectionately
at me.
“You’re not real,” I said.
“Real as can be,” Hornsby said. “We are the Ancestral
At that moment both Hornsby and I collapsed to the
floor of the Soul Chamber, dazed. As I regained my senses,
Soul/Kambak 258

I noticed the hurricane had subsided. Sunlight was shining

down through the tower, illuminating the emblem glyph
walls. The color stones were set in a pattern of a circular
matrix, spiraling up toward the top, where at the opening the
huge stele I had seen before from outside was mounted.
Hornsby leaped up to his feet surveying the height of the
“Hornsby?” I stammered. “What are you doing?”
I got up, seeing that the ethereal Hornsby had
transformed back to his old self.
“You’re dressed different,” I said.
Hornsby was distracted. It dawned on me that he didn’t
remember what he was portraying or saying to me a moment
ago. Instead, he his attention was diverted elsewhere.
“Space and time have no difference in the universe.
They are both forms of ethereal energy. And that is
consciousness. The origin of which comes from a galactic
core, the Mayans called Hunab Ku the eye of the hurricane.
It is the means of losing yourself, your ego.”
He motioned me to give him a boost up to the first
cross-timber for him to get a foothold.
“Quick, Jules, now’s our chance to see what’s at the
I laced my fingers together to give him a step. With a
grunt I boasted him high enough so he could grab the nearest
beam swinging himself up. He moved like a cat, jumping up
to the next timber and the next briefly stopping to take a
glance at the progression of the hieroglyphics.
“You can’t believe this, Jules. It’s the Tzolk’in.”
“I’m going to take a look outside,” I called out to him
walking out onto the sun-drenched courtyard.
“Sounds good to me,” Hornsby replied as he moved up
the two-story edifice. “This is profound… there are star
Soul/Kambak 259

clusters that appear to map out celestial constellations. It

looks like the Pleiades star cluster and another one on the
other side… appears to be Orion.”
When I walked out I was momentarily blinded by the
bright sunlight as I immediately looked up at the lintel to
confirm what Hornsby claimed as Quetzalcoatl. He was
right, though this form seemed to me to be more of an
anthropomorphic design. I gazed about the plateau to see
that it was littered in debris.
Branches from trees laid about the ruin in disarray,
making it more difficult to find a route back to where we had
first arrived. But the brilliance of the blue sky above and the
sunlight brought forth a lush green tropical color glistening
from the rain that belied the fact that we had just survived a
The cisterns that I had earlier passed by were filled with
clear rainwater. I dipped my cupped hands into one of the
cisterns to drink some water. As I stood there sipping the
water I noticed a peculiar glow from the corner of my eye.
Between the fissures of stone caused by the protruding roots
system of a mangrove tree, there appeared to be a dim
golden light coming from within the ruin. I rubbed my eyes
to get a better look, peering down at my feet. The glare of
the sunlight made it difficult to determine if it was just the
reflection of water pooled below. I went to kneel down, but
Hornsby called out to me.
“Jules, look at me. I made it to the top.”
I turned around to see Hornsby energetically waving his
arms at me in absolute delight.
“Evam maya e ma ho. All hail to the harmony of all
mind and universe,” he joyous shouted.
“In Lake’ch. I am another yourself,” I yelled back at
him, waving my arm.
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As Hornsby stood there, waving, a gaseous cloud

formed above the stele, spinning in a clockwise direction. It
extended some distance upwards toward the clear blue sky,
as another vapor cloud formed about the circular edifice,
spinning in a counterclockwise spin and fanning out across
the courtyard. I ran to the edge of the terrace to avoid it.
At a safe distance I could see the force field of these two
bulky cyclonic vortexes formed an hourglass design. Where
the two spouts would have touched, they didn’t. Instead,
Hornsby was linked directly between their apexes. The
vortexes were transparent enough for me to distinguish the
presence of a separate inner spherical convolution, like a tri-
directional force that created bands or layered dimensions
that looked like nested spheres within the body of each
vortex. Both the stele and circular tower had become
obscured by the vortexes’ vapors.
“James, get out of there,” I shouted.
He didn’t hear me. Hornsby was enraptured by the
supernatural event. I saw him extending his arms straight
out, his head cocked backwards toward the sky transfixed at
the wonder of it. The whirling cyclones caused my own
perceptions to be altered.
Everything about us came to a standstill. I could
recognize an ethereal energy running through all the foliage
of the jungle, caught in the vibration of space shedding the
constructs of a third dimension reality. The natural realm of
life was revealed, as my vision about me was a virtual world
of molecular substances.
All that made any real movement was an expansion and
contraction of the atmosphere, producing a musical octave
emitted from the density of the two spinning vortexes. And
then it happened.
Soul/Kambak 261

A bolt of lightning shot down from the clear blue sky

from above, directly into the upper vortex, penetrating
Hornsby’s body and continuing down into the bottom vortex.
An iridescent shock wave of light burst out horizontally from
where Hornsby had been standing expanding across the
temple’s mesa dissipating into the jungle canopy.
In that moment, the history of all eternity effortlessly
rushed though my mind. In the next second the coned
vortexes vanished and Hornsby was gone. It took me a few
seconds to realize what had happened. My head was still
swimming from the experience as I rushed toward the tower
hoping to find Hornsby inside. Maybe he had fallen down.
But my hopes were dashed when I arrived inside,
yelling, “James” and finding nothing but an empty tower. I
cried out, “James, for gods sake!”
Running back outside I hoped that he might have been
cast off the tower’s top, landing on the temple’s courtyard. I
ran about the ancient cisterns, climbing over thick layers of
storm debris, anxiously hoping that somewhere he was lying,
dazed or unconscious and needed my immediate rescue. But
nothing turned up. Not a trace.
In the time that followed, for however long it was, I
don’t remember. It just came at the point when I was
completely forlorn from the loss of Hornsby that the steel
wall of the hurricane slammed into me. We had been in the
eye of the storm. I was beset to survive the second onslaught
of wind and rain, alone.
Had I wanted to indulge in my anguish, the storm
wouldn’t let me as it came charging ahead across the
landscape preoccupying me with remaining alive. The wind
was so fierce that I was blown off my feet and tumbled
backwards on the edge of the temple’s cornice. The rain
whipped my face like a thousand stinging bees. It stung so
Soul/Kambak 262

bad I had to keep my head down, momentarily cupping my

hands over my mouth to catch my breath.
Gripping a hold onto some shrubs another blast of wind
ripped my hands free and I fell backwards on the mounded
terraces, landing hard against an exposed stone block
gashing my forehead open. Debris flew all about me. The
fury of the storm seemed more violent than before.
Shielding my face, I tried to make for some shelter,
somewhere down in the jungle because the wind was too
fierce for me to climb back up to the plaza to hide in the
tower. Disheveled and bleeding I turned to make a
treacherous descent from the temple.
The roar of the hurricane tore at the tree canopy bending
it like twigs under its tremendous blasts of wind. I continued
to tumble and fall for a short time; flinging myself helplessly
down what was an ornate stairway centuries ago. With
clenched teeth and expelled breath I was conscious of one
thing, my dream had come true.
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Chapter 16
The Jaguar

The dreamtime prophecy was fulfilled. The sagacity of its

wisdom, the enormous power of its metaphor, knitted itself
in my thoughts and produced an intimate understanding that
exploded suddenly before me. Imperious, like the raving
tumult of the hurricane, the dream had foretold the future.
Hornsby had found his immortality within the Soul
Chamber, and I was given its enlightening meaning, which
was overshadowed by the sight of my companion and mentor
being electrocuted into oblivion.
An awful appalling hollowness gripped my gut. As I
made my way through the storming jungle, on hands and
knees, crawling at times, running and just trying to fly away,
Hornsby’s face in that hopelessly blank moment before the
lightning struck haunted me. I staggered and cried trying to
dispel the vivid memory of his death, as he looked at me
with glaring and enlarged eyes, answering to me in a resolute
fleeting look.
“He knew, he knew,” I cried out against the howling
winds. “The bastard knew he was going to die.”
I anguished like a man defeated in battle. The gash over
my head streamed blood down my face, stained with the
rain. My hair tousled, the disorder of my clothes and the
aspect of Hornsby’s death made me a frenzied possessed
Soul/Kambak 264

Exasperated in the clutches of the hurricane’s alley, I

was wrung out with an utter loneliness; homesickness and
then a premonition stole over me. I sensed I was not alone.
Searching about the jungle the fierceness and rapidity of a
gleaming black object moving amidst the tropical forest
growth instinctually made me feel imminent danger. I glared
amazed as it was overtaken by my presence as well.
Its yellow black slit eyes were no farther than five
meters from me. Between us was a fallen tree, offering a
momentary projection for me to make an escape. The
panting Jaguar crouched down in a black heap, its claws
digging into the earth to strike with its full force. I was
disarmed having left my machete at the top of the temple.
My bare hands were my only protection. In an instant, I was
sure I would be devoured and consumed as its predator eyes
fixed on me.
“Leave me alone, go away,” I cried out in defiance.
The boiling commotion of the hurricane seemed to
subside into the background for a moment. The Jaguar and I
were locked in a scrimmage of out witting each other’s fear.
The Jaguar growled with a horrendous guttural threat back at
me. I could see his body tighten, his great paws were
flattening out, preparing to make its leap.
Maybe it would be my chance to turn and scramble in a
blind panic. But the Jaguar would be about my throat before
I had even flinched a muscle. If I fell on my knees and
pleaded for mercy, he might be offended with the excess of
my fear and see the worthlessness of the blood lust kill.
The struggle would be over soon enough I assured
myself. A strange eloquent admiration of being killed by the
savage brute force penetrated me. But then the Jaguar’s eyes
widen staring beyond my shoulder at some obscure shape. I
Soul/Kambak 265

didn’t see what it was at first, but only heard a rhythmic song
being sung amid the fury of the hurricane.
“Jujuntsit in jitik in wok jujuntsit in jitik in k’ab tan u
pek in nej tin wu’uyaj u tar a k’ay ch’iknach netak in
wenen tin kashtai u pachtakih che?”
The Jaguar snarled, flashing its white fangs in cursed
defiance. I stood frozen not wanting to turn away for fear the
jaguar would pounce on me. What was behind me or what
was being sung above the roar of the hurricane’s force put
fear into beast’s eyes, causing it a sudden reversion of its
fury to attack me. Slowly the Jaguar stepped backwards,
without taking its eyes off of the object.
“Oken tin wenen yokor jenen che? Tu yek’er in nok’ tu
yek’er in k’ab tu yek’er in shikin.”
The voice reached higher tones, loudly singing. The
jet-black Jaguar snarled again as if complaining of being
deprived its prey and made a quick leap off into the jungle.
In an outbreak of impulsive avowal I yelled, “I scared it
off,” jumping up in deranged delight.
Even though the hurricane was at its fullest strength, I
dismissed it as nothing to be concerned about. The Jaguar’s
threat surpassed the hurricanes wrath. The beast’s prey had
escaped. Turning around I was dumbfound to see the white
tunic clad Moise standing on the trunk of a huge mangrove
tree, smiling.
The wind tossed his long black hair about his face, but
his close-set eyes peered at me. A bolt of lightning struck
above us, exploding into a bluish flame and raining down
fiery sparks upon my head forcing me duck for cover.
Deafening thunder rolled over me. I was footsore and
exhausted. If but for a moment he appeared to sing a song of
protection from the Jaguar on my behalf, in the next moment
Moise vanished.
Soul/Kambak 266

I rushed to where he had been. From the corner of my

eye I saw a figure moving quickly through the brush. It
stumbled, fell and regain its self. Thinking it was Moise; I
ran stumbling over more fallen debris. When I finally came
around the trunk of tree to confront him, I was met with a
“Senor Jules, que pasa!” It was Cristobal coming face
to face with me.
“Cristobal!” I cried, hugging him. “You’re alive!”
“Donde está, Don Hornsby?” Cristobal asked.
“Muerto,” I answered not knowing how to convey the
“Huracan,” Cristobal said seeming to understand the
“Sequir, mi,”
The two of us took off toward the refugee camp.
Cristobal still had his machete so he carved a path for us,
dodging falling branches along the way. I staggered over
rocks, branches, trying to keep up with Cristobal, feeling a
remorse for Hornsby’s death.
There was no place to find shelter, so we moved on the
best we could. I noticed that Cristobal’s white shirt was
blood stained about his left shoulder. He had winged by a
bullet from the helicopter’s gunner. Looking worse for wear,
his spirit was vibrant and serene. Having found him, my
spirit was rejuvenated. The rest of the day was spent
foraging our way in a southerly direction, through the
carnage of the hurricane. By late afternoon the hurricane had
subsided into a tropical rainstorm eventually dying out
Soul/Kambak 267

When night fell I stoically observed the sky; a brilliant

celestial heaven so crystal clear I felt I could have reached
out and touched the stars. The Milky Way filled the sky like
a stellar cloud. The constellation’s Orion and the Southern
Cross were visible, among the grand spectacle of the Milky
Way. The twinkling light carried me into deep reflection.
What Hornsby was telling me about Quetzalcoatl and
the importance of being an artist in your spiritual life, caused
me to wonder if there was really a time upon this earth when
all things were not in a chaotic condition? When the world
was shared in tranquility, no harm and no untimely ending to
one’s existence. Was there a time when a stable
manifestation of naturalness was the only action taken?
Could this time, if it ever existed, be the future of our world,
when the end of this Tun Mayan calendar cycle comes to an
Such is the magic of the universe’s method, directed by
the ultimate mastermind that conducts with precise regularity
that which out strips man-made technology. Nothing could
be more powerful, essentially divine than the creative order
of this universe, that we have a privilege to exist in.
As I continued to gaze at the celestial heavens above me,
Cristobal prayed, evoking the protection of some Nican
Tlaca deities. In his own way, Cristobal was ritualizing a
velorio or wake ceremonial service for Hornsby’s spirit. He
brought the simple prayer service to a climax by dancing and
singing to himself. I was too exhausted to participate,
curling up into a fetal position to stay warm and dozed off.
The next morning we started out at daybreak, swiftly
covering the jungle terrain to arrive at the refugee camp. The
ravages of the hurricane became more apparent as we made
our way. The upheaval of trees, plants and corpses of
wildlife littered the landscape. I questioned Cristobal
Soul/Kambak 268

whether we were on the right track, since we had no compass

to navigate by. He calmly reassured me answering that if he
could find me he could find the refugee camp.
During the time we spent hiking towards the Rio San
Pedro thoughts turned in my mind, maybe needlessly in
exaggerated fashions. The restlessness of humankind
seemed to be erroneously out of sync with the universe’s
consciousness. I had become aware of my sensory acuteness
since living in the jungle, which was something that
technological inducements of a modern world never
Given the discovery of the Soul Chamber, I had learned
one thing: That man has not been progressing in accordance
to universal principles. Instead, what has been manifested is
a disastrous feedback loop only perpetuates artificial
extensions of a gross unthinking paradigm that is deadening
our senses. This keeps us in a mental paralysis, unable to
connect to the psychic resonance between organism and
If the origin of consciousness is the connection to the
universe, which gives us the higher state of pleasure since we
live in harmony of the energy of intelligence, than our
development of a democratic industrialized hierarchy is an
obstruction to the purity of this natural experience. This is
what drove my inner contradictions, as I was experiencing an
imperceptible shifting within my own psyche prior to
embarking on this expedition.
Hornsby, in the final moments before his death said the
earth contained nodal points that were moved by the tectonic
plates. These points were sacred to those who understood the
true nature of human existence upon this planet. The Mayan
temples were constructed as markers of these
Soul/Kambak 269

electromagnetic power spots that emitted pulsations to keep

the planetary grid in balance.
Even though our current modernized society believes
that the way we are is because we made it so, in reality, we
are enslaved in the final hurricane gesticulation of this
planets evolution and the cosmos. Economic and political
order of the last cycle of the Mayan calendar known as the
Twelfth Baktun is disintegrating, as the failures of its
infrastructure must give way to the inseparable relationship
between the next consciousness and its cosmic nature. The
more human conflict there is among nations, the greater the
suffering of the planet, the harder to remain connected to our
divine purpose. I feared there would be more cataclysmic
events as political leaders demand war to make peace.
Hornsby believed that the Tzolk’in matrix is the key for
us to understand and to adhere to our salvation. Hornsby’s
aberration, his extravagance to live on the edges of human
consciousness, was his genius that served the progress of the
world. Judged and scorned for his passionate indulgence in
the common passion to know what lies behind our moral
intentions, Hornsby found the Soul Chamber as a spiritual
warrior and revolutionary against the enormous human
He claimed that we didn’t understand the true use of
technology as a means to extend the completion of the larger
matrix circuit of nature; instead we used this evolutionary
energy grid to create a dissonance reality of degenerative
static that suppresses the empowerment of consciousness.
In time, Hornsby said, there would be warriors breaking
down the dominant powers of the mechanistically contrived
paradigm that built the occidental civilization, and instead
bring a real prosperity and peace to this earth. He had
spoken these words to me in the Soul Chamber as if they
Soul/Kambak 270

were written in fire upon the hieroglyphs. He had told me

that the Tzolk’in round cycle will bring an end and new
“We will come out of the rainy period, the period of
barbarism and into the investiture of a time of clear skies.
This will herald the coming of the solar deity, Hunahpu, the
Ultimate Being of the Universe,” I recalled his words.
The existence of the Soul Chamber was the Holy Grail,
proof of our origin of consciousness: The common genesis of
human existence and divine countenance.
“There are events coming in our future that bring us to
our ancestor’s past,” I thought to myself as I trudged along
through the jungle’s overgrowth.
There were few signs of the refugee camp. I did
discover the stone campfire hearth as a reference point but
other traces had been washed away from the hurricane’s
fury. I surmised that Cassarina, Dr. St. Germain and the
others had broke camp before the hurricane arrived
otherwise there would have been tracks, a well-defined trail.
Or had they fled a patrolling “death squad” or worse yet had
been captured prior to the hurricane’s arrival.
As we surveyed the area, a billowy white thundercloud
passed over the sun. Its shadow fell across me causing me to
recall the frightful phenomenon of the storm, Hornsby’s
death and the abstraction of the Soul Chamber’s
enlightenment of the Final Day’s remarkable liberation.
Wondering through the brush I found the remains of the
clinic structure that had been torn down by the wind, its cane
walls scattered like splintered toothpicks. The whole ordeal
of the expedition felt pitiful as my hope of seeing Cassarina
again was dashed.
Searching further, I found the grave of the Mayan
woman we had buried days before, the stone markers still in
Soul/Kambak 271

place. But where had Cassarina gone? My eyes welled up

with tears, as I despaired by the gravesite. What would I do
if Cassarina were dead? The dismay drowned my heart. I
crumbled upon the rotting soil of the marshy lowland jungle.
The discovery of Soul Chamber and what it contained was
overshadowed by the death of Dr. Hornsby. I wavered
between the events unable to make sense of it.
Cristobal called out to me in the tone of a heart uplifted
in some tender admiration of life’s miraculous moments.
“Senor Jules,” he called out to me coming through the
jungle brush.
With the reins of the bridle in his hand he lead one or
our horses, a bit worse for wear that miraculously had
survived the river and hurricane. The saddle and my
backpack were dangling on one side of the horse’s torso.
Renewed in spirit, I quickly ran to him and the horse.
Unlashing my backpack, I dumped out the contents, spilling
the water soaked items out on the ground. Rummaging
through it, I found the film cassettes were still dry, protected
by the plastic canisters renewing hope that I could expose the
death squad massacre at Father Hernandez’ mission.
My journals were soaked through, but what was
foremost in my mind was something I had given little
credence before; The Anahuac Mythology book that Father
Hernandez had given me. Once I put my hands on it, I sat
down, crossed legged and gripped it in my hands as a
priceless treasure.
“Anahuac,” I thought. The word resonated within me.
It loomed up off the book cover, embracing me as if it was
trying to tell me something.
“Que es?” Cristobal asked me.
He stood by the horse; the two of them seemed to be
anxiously waiting for me as I glanced over at them.
Soul/Kambak 272

“Right,” I muttered, realizing that this was no time to

dwell in my intuitive musing.
I collected the things I had dumped out on the ground
and put them back in my pack, including the book. Cristobal
had re-secured the saddle on the horse, so I lashed my pack
to the saddle horn, just as it was prior to crossing the Rio San
Pedro days before.
El Ceibo, the closest village, was across the
Guatemalan/Mexico border where food and rest could be
provided to us. We’d have to cross the Rio Usumacinta
again, but I was seasoned to the perils that lay ahead. As I
turned my thoughts upon the prospect of returning to
Mexico, it hit me.
“The Hotel Anahuac in San Cristobal de los Casas
would be the place that Cassarina would go,” I thought.
“Vamos,” I shouted to Cristobal and grabbed the horse
reins, headed at a brisk pace toward the west.

The End

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