Dr. Einar C. Erickson
Ancient Document Mormon Scholar
Main Menu
Articles View Hits


Listen that I may reveal to you the prodigious mystery concerning the great King who must come into the world at the end of times, at the moment of dissolutions which will put and end of them, a child will be conceived and born with its members in the womb of a virgin, without any man having approach her.



The investigation of Maya civilization and the study of native literature of Yucatan is, next to the actual archaeological exploration of the remains, one of the most promising for finding written parallels to the Book of Mormon, for it contains much of what the Indians remembered of their old culture after the Spanish Conquest.  Since the death of Joseph Smith, more than 100 Chronicles and Codex have been found and translated, many of them into English. This study will begin a series that will briefly introduce these ancient documents and outline some of their content that might be of interest to LDS students.  

Many of these ancient Chronicles were collected by Lord Kingsborough in his nine volumes of the Antiquities of Mexico.  Hunter refers to the Works of Ixtlilxochitl, which has sufficient detail that had it been available during the life of Joseph Smith he could have used it for Book of Mormon History. Kingsborough's works included the Ixtlilxochitl's account, but only in the last two volumes that were not published until 1848, four years after Joseph's death. The first seven volumes were published in 1830-31, but would have been of little use to Joseph. All of the other documents did not appear in English until many years later. The latest collections of translations include more than 75 accounts not previously available. (Calderwood pp. IX-XII)  Hunter provides one of the most complete translations of a number of ancient documents in his work. (Hunter p.18) Many other Codices are listed by Sten. (Sten p. 9) For other Indian Chronicles Tom Cryer provides an enormous amount of information in his book. (Cryer pp. 8-11)  Hemingway, in his translation of the Veytia documents, assembles an unusual source of Indian information. (Hemingway pp. x—xv) A neglected study of Hopi Chronicles akin to the Popol Vuh is most valuable. (Waters pp. vii-viii) Along with that one is Pages From Hopi History. (James p. xi) The Hope changed their name from Moki  to Hopi in 1801.  And more recently from the translation of Mayan Glyphs comes The Lost Chronicles of the Maya. (Drew  pp. 1-17)  Of somewhat curious but useful information is the compilation by Natalie Curtis The Indian's Book. (Curtis pp. xi-xii) All of these and others will be examined for pertinent parallels to the Book of Mormon.  Important parallels are also made available by Hanson in her book, He Walked the Americas, especially a panel that seems to reflect the episode of the Brother of Jared, the sixteen stones and the finger of God. (Hanson p. 56)  Sejourne's accounts in Thought and Religion in Ancient Mexico is also a neglected text that is most informing. (Sejourne pp. 16-18)

Hunter's book has been very much neglected. In 1974 an important summary of the Mexican Codices was published by Maria Sten. And now there are the many individually translated texts and codices available.  To all of these and more, I will turn in an effort to bring some of their content to the attention of more readers and interested parties. Simply put, they confirm the Book of Mormon is an ancient text, but the Book of Mormon is a much more complete and detailed than any of the available documents. The Book of Mormon is truly a marvelous work and a wonder. Certainly it is not a work of fiction.


More than 200 years ago, an ancient manuscript was recovered consisting largely of medical incantations with frequent mention of the Bacabs, ancient deities, and because of its frequent mention of these deities, Williams Gates gave it the name of the "Ritual of the Bacabs. "Nearly all of the incantations are written in a single hand...about the last half of the eighteenth century...the last twenty-three pages contain mostly ordinary medical prescriptions, and the last two are written on the back of a printed Indulgence dated 1799." (Roys p. xii) It was apparent that the manuscript was copied from a much older manuscript perhaps as early as the sixteenth century.  See below under No. 5,  The Book of Chilam Balam for more details of the recovery of this text and the life of Ralph L. Roys, the translator of many of the works included in this present study.

"The first published description of the "Ritual of the Bacabs" was by Alfred M. Tozzer in 1921.  More details of the later history of the manuscript was provided by Alfred L. Bush, associated curator of Manuscripts of Princeton University Library, derived from unpublished papers of Gates's codex of the "Ritual of the Bacabs" which was discovered in Yucatan during the winter of 1914-15 by Frederic J. Smith. Gates who acquired it at this time, has stated, "How he ever got even to hear of it or [even] see it, much less acquire it, is simply a mystery." [In] 1930 it was purchased from Gates by Robert Garret, a distinguished collector of manuscripts; and it remained in his possession in Baltimore until 1942, when he deposited it temporarily at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. In 1949, at Garrett's direction, the manuscript was transferred as a gift to the Princeton University Library to join Garrett's other manuscript collection there." (Roys p. vii.)  In 1941, Ruth Lapham Butler, custodian of the Edward E. Ayer Collection in the Newberry Library in Chicago, provided a photocopy of the manuscript for Ralph L. Roys. It is that document from which Roys translated and edited the present publication of the ‘Ritual of the  Bacabs." (Roys pp. vii-viii)


In both the Spanish and the Maya accounts of the native religions we read of a supreme deity. The Motul Dictionary contains the following item: ‘hunab ku: the only living and true God, the greatest of the gods of the people of Yucatan, of whom there was no image." (Roys p. xvii)  "The Vienna Dictionary gives a similar account for a God said to be the most important of the Maya deities; but he is named Colop-u-uich-kin ("snatcher-of-the-eye-of-the-sun").  Elsewhere we find this name only in the Bacabs' manuscript, where it is repeated a number of times; and here a creator god seems to be implied." (Roys p. xvii)  However, there is a Gallery of Gods, the Aztec's have a Creator Pair, Ometacuhti and Omecihuati.  The Tarasco' also have a Creator Pair, Curicavaeri and Cueravaperi.  The Ancient Zapoteco's have as their Supreme Creator God Pijetao, and then a pair of gods who engaged in the creation or a Creator Pair: Cozaana and Nohuichano. To the Maya Hunab Ku is the Supreme Creator God, but they also have a Creator Pair: Itzamkna and Lxhai.  One of the Creator pair becomes the First Man on earth. (Chan 2 pp 76-77) They answer to Christ and Michael in the LDS creation pair.  Other Gods are also known, the most popular of these is Quetzalcoatl-the insignia is the feathered serpent, the God of Civilization who personally taught man.

Special incantations are for curing purposes: "Most of these incantations are to cure a patient; and to do so, it is usually considered necessary to banish the evil spirit....In some cases he (the evil spirit) is cast or falls ‘behind the sky'." (Roys p. xvii)

There is an interesting take on the ‘Breath of Life'. "Since the sixteenth century ik has been defined as ‘wind', ‘breath' and ‘spirit', but the immortal soul is ‘pixan' and [when translating western religious texts] the Holy Ghost is Cilch Pixan." (Roys p. xxii) "A number of evil winds are named...It seems uncertain in many cases just how a wind occupies a patient's body, but recovery is dependent on its being forced to leave." (Roys p. xxii)  The LDS under stand this rebuking of the evil spirit.

These are subtle parallels to LDS doctrine. Alone they don't mean much, but in conjunction with many others, there is a striking demand to explain why there should be any parallels in these ancient documents to LDS Doctrine and the Book of Mormon in particular?

The Maya entity kak "appears to have been in the charge of the goddess of medicine and childbirth answering to the duties and activities of the Angel Rafael in Jewish tradition." (Roys p. xxiv; See my tape or CD on The Angel Rafael)

In the glossary prepared by Roys there are references to words that suggest some contained in the Book of Mormon such as is the reference to "Cum Ahau (‘seated Lord'). This would well be the same as ‘Cumbhau' identified as ‘Lucifer, the prince of devils' [in the] Motul Dictionary.  Here the name is associated with the kanch'ah-snake and, less closely, with a ‘place of great putrefaction." ...The underworld was characterized by its stench." (Roys p. 146)  One finds a curious parallel to Loki of the Norse Gods: "Loki, Intelligent, astute to the highest degree, but amoral, loving to make mischief great or small, as much to amuse himself as to do harm, he represents among the AEsir a truly demonic element." (Dumezil  p. 58)  In a considerable number of these incantations [of the Bacabs] the origin of the evil spirit is ascribed to "the lust of creation [ch'ab] and ‘the lust of darkness [akab]'." (Roys p. xv)  Ch'ab wants creation to continue so he and his can occupy the bodies of those born on earth.

In the Book of Mormon name lists there are such names as Cumom and Curelom. Compare these with names found in the glossary prepared by Roys. They are curious in their similarity.

Under Terms for Malevolent Magic we have:

Calam- koh-che...is a well known snake. (Ether 9:18-19)

Calam- Described as a snake a meter or more in length colored black and yellow.

Cuyum- Considered to be a snake because of its association with the rattlesnake, and kan-ch'ah-snake.

Ch'ahum-  A crested magpie or woodpecker.


An important link between the Maya and many North American Indian groups is the scheme for colors for directional and cardinal points. This is a precise parallel, to explain it one must assume some connection of Central America with most North American Indian groups. "To each year was ascribed a certain Acantun association with a color and one of the cardinal points, or world quarters. For the east was the Chac (‘red') Acantun; for the north was the Sac (‘White') Acantun; for the west the Ek (‘Black') Acantun; and for the south the Kanal (‘Yellow') Acantun." (Roys p. xv)  I have participated in many Southwest Indian Ceremonies where stones or textiles and other devices were utilized to identify the cardinal points using these exact colors.    

"In both the Spanish and Maya accounts of the native religion we read of a supreme deity ...hunab ku:  the only living and true God, the greatest of the Gods...here a creator God seems to be implied...[To effect healing] it is usually considered necessary to banish the evil spirit ...[who] may be consigned to Metnal, the foul-smelling abode of the dead." (Roys p. xvii)  Depending where you are geographically, there are different names for the Supreme God and his understudy.

There are a number of published accounts of Southwestern Indian Medicine and Ceremonies. As far as I can now determine, no one has tried to match or compare these with the Rituals of the Bacabs. This would be a most interesting enterprise. It may have surprises in store for those who attempt it.


"It is a curious fact that the three outstanding literary works which throw the most light on the life and thoughts of the American natives come from a small area situated almost in the center of the continent. Two of these works, the Popol Vuh, [The Peoples Book] and the Title of the Lords of Totonicapan, were written by the Quiche people [Of Guatemala] and are anonymous accounts of the life of that Indian nation. The third one, written by two well-known natives, is ...The Annals of the Cakchiquels. The descendants of these people are still living in the interior of Guatemala and occupy the same territory where their ancestors...settled." (Recinos p. vii)  Since Recinos wrote this, other documents have been forthcoming. Another one is also from the Cakchiquels, an important codex, entitled The Solola Memorial. (Sten p. 53)

The ancient document of the Annals is one with some history, but essentially a narrative of internecine warfare, just as recounted in the Book of Mormon. "The [Olmec] San Lorenzo data imply that this happened as the result of internal strife....this would suggest to me that the entire Olmec [Jaredites] state fell into disarray, about 900 BC." (Benson p. 63) Internal strife was characteristic of the Jaredite and Nephi culture. It is most interesting to compare these ancient account. with the early history contained in the Book of Mormon.  For the most part the events are dated according to Mayan calendrical systems. Precise dates begin shortly after the arrival of the Spaniards in their area, dates beginning with the insertion of December 10, 1493, and continue with a tragic date inserted in the year 1601 on "Friday September 5, when seventy years were completed after the arrival of the Spaniards. In the month of October a deadly epidemic began attacking the throats of women and men, who died after two days." (Recinos p. 159) This was the last entry in the Annals.   


"I shall write the stories of our first fathers and grandfathers, one of whom was called Gagavitz, [Hill of Fire, or mountain] the other Zactecauh [White Mountain, hill of snow]. The stories that they told to us; that from the other side of the sea we came to the place called Tulan, [which means Bountiful] where we were begotten and given birth by our mothers and our fathers, oh, our sons...the two men who begot us, the Xahila, ...the first of the Cakchiquel nation." (Recinos p. 43)   Four other families also arrived. "Thus, then, we were four families who arrived at Tulan." (Recinos p. 43)  A total of six families or tribes.  "There resulted thirteen males and fourteen females." (Recinos p. 47)  "The seven tribes were the first who arrived at Tulan." (Recinos p. 49) How does that compare to those who came by boat with Lehi?  Lehi and his families left a place they called Bountiful where they had built a boat, and landed in the New World at a place they also called Bountiful. (1 Nephi. HD, 17:5-7, Alma 22:29;  Hel 5:14)

"Then we arrived at the shore of the sea. There all the tribes and the warriors were reunited at the shore of the sea. And when they looked upon it [the sea] their hearts were heavy. ‘There is no way to cross it; we know of no one who has crossed the sea,' the warriors and the seven tribes said to each other. ‘Who has a log on which we can cross, our brother? We trust only in you, they all said.' And we spoke to them in this manner. ‘Go, you, go first, carefully.' ‘How can we cross, in truth, we who are here?'  Thus we all said. Thus they said ‘Have pity on us, oh, brother! Who have come to gather here on the shore of the sea, unable to see our mountains and our valleys. If we remain here to sleep, we shall be conquered, we the two eldest sons, the chief and heads, the first warriors." (Recinos p. 54)  "Let us go to work, our brothers we have not come to stay here huddled at the shore of the sea, without being able to look upon our country which we were told we should see, you our warriors, our seven tribes. Let us plunge [into the sea] immediately! Thus they said, and at once all of them were filled with joy." (Recinos p. 55) 


"'There is our hope, there on the first land we must be reunited', they said, ‘only there can we be organized now that we have arrived from Tulan.' They plunged forward then and passed over the sand...we emerged form the waters on the other bank." (Recinos p. 57)  Note how these episodes reflect the struggle between Laman and Lemuel and Nephi.

" ‘From the west we came to Tulan, from across the sea; and it was at Tulan where we arrived, to be engendered and brought forth by our mothers and our fathers,' So they told us." (Recinos p. 45)  "Then we arrived at Tulan in the darkness and in the night." (Recinos p. 48)  "All the indigenous sources of Guatemala, Yucatan, and the Mexican plateau speak of one primitive center of population, which was called Tullan....from the west [a very distant place] we came to Tulan, from across the sea.." (Recinos p. 45) This "agrees with the Cakchiquel and Quiche traditions of a primitive emigration which took their forefathers to the place of Tulan, the common home of the peoples of Mexico and Central America." (Recinos Note 8, p. 45)

The Annals begin with the account of the "stories of the first fathers and ancestors, those who begot man of old." (Racinos p. 43)

"When they made man, they fashioned him of earth...searching for dough of the corn...with this dough the flesh of man was made by the Creator and the Maker   ...thus the Creator, the Maker, the Progenitors knew how to make man complete, so they tell...Then they talked, they had blood, they had flesh. They married and multiplied." (Recinos pp. 46-47; See also Abraham l:3)


Like other accounts and narratives of the Central Americans, there are genealogies and especially accounts of the internecine warfare amongst themselves. (Goetz p. 178)  This Chronicle was written in Quiche apparently in 1554 and contains a brief history of the American People from their legendary origins to their greatest king, Quikab, who ruled in the second half of the fifteenth century.  The Indians of the village of Totonicapan, in 1834, requested from the provincial governor the services of the priest of Sacaplas, Dionisio Jose Chyonay, to translate into Spanish the document we have today.  The Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg saw the document in Totonicapan, realized its value and made an eighteen-page copy. This copy was acquired after his death by Alphonse Pinart. Later it passed into the hands of Comete de Charencey, who translated it and published it in French and Spanish for the Societe de Philologie, published by E. Renaut de brose at Alencon in 1885.  Brasseur's copy was given by Charency's widow to the National Library of Paris where it is No. 77 in the Catalogue of American Manuscripts.  The ancient document was signed by the kings and dignitaries of the Quiche Court. It was considered to have been written in Utatlan, capital of the kingdom, Santa Cruz del Quiche.  Diego Reynoso, Popol Vinak, son of Lahubvh Noh, may have been the Indian author or copier. (Recinos p. 165)

The opening summaries of this document deals with the arrival from "the other side of the Sea from where the sun comes up." (Hunter p. 60)  Hunter provides side by side parallels of this document with the Book of Mormon.  


"The Wise Men [prophets], the Nahuales, the chiefs and leaders of three great peoples and of others who joined them, called U Mamae [the old men], extending their sight over the far parts of the world and over the other part of the ocean, from where the sun rises, a place called Pa Tulan, Pa Civan." (Goetz, Note 1)  "The Nahuales were the guardian spirits of the Indians; but here the word has the meaning ‘the prudent men.' Further on, the gods of the tribes are called nahuales." (Goetz p. 169)  "Together these tribes came from the other part of the sea...from Pa-Tulan, Pa-Civan...the first leader was Balam Qitze, [Which means prophet] by unanimous vote, and then the great father Nacxit gave them a present called Giron-Gagal." (Goetz p. 170, Note 5, The ‘Bundle', symbol of power and majesty, the carefully kept stone [If that was what it was] which as related further on, made the other peoples fear and respect the Quiches; (Popl Vuh, 1950 p. 205; Alma 37:38, 45; the Director or ball, Mosiah l: 16)  "There in Hacavitz-Chipal they lived many years and that was where they unwrapped for the first time the gift that the old Nacxit gave them when they left from the East, and this gift [Giron-Gagal ] was what made them feared and respected." (Goetz p. 172)  Hunter describes in detail the comparison of the Giron-Gagal with the Liahona. (Hunter pp. 70-72)

The Spanish translator, who appears to have been the Reverend Father Priest of Sacapulas, Dionisio Jose Chonay,  (Goetz p. 195) who helped prepare the Title, about September of 1554, makes comments in his work which either reflect his own bias, or correctly reflects significant contents of the ancient work for he writes:  "When they arrived at the edge of the sea, Balam-Qitze touched it with his staff and at once a path opened, which the closed up again, for thus the great God wished it to be done, because they were sons of Abraham and Jacob." (Goetz p. 170)  And again, a similar insertion: "These then were the three nations of Quiches, and they came from where the sun rises, descendants of Israel, of the same language and the same customs." (Goetz  p. 170)  Goetz does not make any comment on these passages in her notes or elsewhere in her translation. Do we take it she did not know how to explain these insertions?  Critics of the Book of Mormon consider any statements that have Biblical parallels, or references, such as to Israel, Abraham, Jesus Christ, etc, to be anachronistic. No one has explained Biblical references in these ancient documents.  Did such references come from authentic records similar to the Book of Mormon remembered by the Ancient Indians?  


Mesoamerica is a civilization and not a village culture, which developed along the rivers. Associated with the Tuxtla Mountains drainage system is one of the very early Olmec Centers, which dates back to before 2000 BC, at Tres Zapotes now occupied by the Popoluca Indians. Anciently the Royal Bee was kept for its honey, recognized by Sterling in 1930.  (Sterling p. 203)  "The Popoluca Indians who live in the ancient Olmec area practice a number of rites connected with the keeping of this insect thus indicating its ancient origin."  (Bernal p. 20)  "And they [the Jaredites] did also carry with them deseret, which, by interpretation, is a honey bee; and thus they did carry with them swarms of bees." (Ether 2:3)  Is there a connection here? The Olmec and the Jardites seem to be connected in time and geography. (Coe pp. 6-7)

I have personally seen the stucco figure at Tulum [The great site on the sea] known as the Diving God which has obvious resemblances to the depiction of the Bee in the Codex Tro-Cortesianus, where Tozzer and Allen recognized the figure as a Bee. In the photos of two carvings provided by Bernal one is clearly a Bee. (Bernal pp. 20-21) There it looks very much like a diving Bee.  "A similar Diving God has been found at Coba [An inland site, one of my favorites] where the Muzencabob are still believed to dwell." (Roys  1967 p. 63)  Elsewhere the elaborate and artistic representation of the Bee as Ah Muencab, the representation in stone of the Maya bee god, gets very complicated. (Roys 1967 p. 63)  In some instances the diving or descending God is clearly a man, descending upside down. The diving God at Tulum is more like a man than a bee.  I have seen other carved representative of this figure at Kabah (Map of site in Bloomgarden p. 33) and Labna and at Sayil. No doubt there are more of these elaborate ‘puuc' style carvings in other ruins as well.  They are generally found on very large and important structures and commemorate an important event or personage, a descending God. (Chan Fig 53)   


The Prophecies of Chilam Balam are well known in Maya circles. As noted below there are at least four versions of which the one we are quoting from is the main one. The Katun Prophecies were obtained by Father Avendano who drew his information from the actual hieroglyphic manuscripts of the independent Itza priests. He was in northern Yucatan as a missionary during the last part of the Seventeenth Century, but the few days he spent at Tayasal where manuscripts were kept certainly did not allow sufficient time to acquire all the knowledge he wanted. Avendano's account of the Katun prophecies has been quoted by Roys. (Roys 1967 p. 184) Roys couldn't believe the Katun prophecies could be so accurate.


Willam Gates, a Member of the much respected Aryan Theosophical Society, had been interested in Mayan sources since 1898. He began to amass one of the greatest collections of manuscripts and rare printed books in private hands. He discovered and acquired the Ritual of the Bacabs, which fifty years later was translated by Ralph L. Roys as noted above, as part of the Civilization of the American Indian Series of the University of Oklahoma Press. Gates treated Roys with great kindness, giving him photographic copies of manuscripts and selling him others, as well as rare imprints, at cost... precisely the material Roys needed to succeed in his new found interest. Roys printed his first paper in 1920. In 1931 Tulane published Roys' The Ethno-Botany of the Maya made possible by his work on the Ritual of the Bacabs. Then in 1933 the Carnegie Institution published his work on The Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel.  He had steeped himself in Maya thought, custom, and religion, resulting in superb studies of Mayan documents. In 1948, after doing research back to 1525 and working on ancient Chontal Maya documents, he contributed to the book The Maya Chontal Indians of Acalam-Tixchel: A Contribution to the History and Ethnography of the Yucatan Peninsula. He engaged in tedious research on  pre-Columbian data going back to 1549, which eventually resulted in his book The Political Geography of the Yucatan Maya published by Carnegie Institution in 1957. His last work, posthumously published, was Lowland Maya Native Society at Spanish Contact, in 1965, the year he died. (Thompson pp. vi-ix in Roys 1967)  His works are not fully appreciated.


All was done at the "command of our Lord God. He it was who set the land in order.  He created everything on earth. He set it in order also. But these were the people... who named the land because no one had arrived here in this neck of the land when we arrived here." (Roys 1967 p. 72; See also Alma 22:32, 63:5; Ether 10:20)  This parallel to the Command made by God at the Creation in the Translator's Handbook on Genesis  is most unusual, (Reyburn pp. 25-26), especially since one might expect such things to have been contained in the Brass Plates known only to Mormons.


"These words are to be treasured as a precious jewel is treasured. They are concerning the coming introduction of Christianity, and were spoken at Tanch Mayapan and at Chichen Itza in the time of the Zuyua people, in the time of the Itza [a tremendous ruling family]. A new wisdom shall dawn upon the world universally in the east, (l Nephi 14:17, the Book of Mormon is the work of the Father) north, west and south. It shall come from the mouth of God the Father. Those who recorded it were the five priests, the holy priests who came into the presence of God. They recorded the change of misfortune when the introduction of Christianity came." (Roys 1967, p 64)  "So it is written in the command of the great priest, the prophet of Chilam Balam and in the chest of manuscripts." (Roys 1867 p. 165)  "Who then shall be the priest then shall be the prophet who will declare truly the word of the book." (Roys 1967 p. 166) "A new day shall dawn in the north, in the west...Our Lord comes, Itza. Our elder brother comes...He who received him, who has truly believed, he will go to heaven with him." (Roys 1967 pp. 167-168)  On Jesus as "our Elder Brother" see Clark p. 34. Most Mormons are aware of this doctrine of the ‘Elder Brother'. The Elder Brother is Christ, the First Born in the Spirit World.

"Great is the discord that arises today. The First Tree of the World is restored; it is displayed to the world. This is the sign of Hunab-ku [the Great God] on high. ...You shall worship today his sign on high You shall worship it furthermore with true good will, and you shall worship the true God today, Lord. You shall be converted to the word of Hunab-ku, Lord; it came from heaven. O it is he who speaks to you! ...They will correct their ways who received him in their hearts in another katun, Lord...it is heard in every part of the world...He is ruler over us; he is the true God over our souls" (Roys 1967 p. 168)  The Tree of Life, or World Tree is a frequent motif in many of the ancient documents. It is found in particular detail in many panels of glyphic carvings now being read.

"The World Tree is the central axis of the world. Called the Wakah-Kan ("Six Sky" or "Raised up Sky") in the glyphs, it appears in the form of a cross with a tzu, "partition," sign on its trunk and sak nik,  "white flowers," on its branches Often a Double-headed Serpent wraps through its branches and the Celestial Bird [Quetzalcoatl] perches on its summit. The tree can have a single trunk of the ceiba tree or it can have multiple trunks resulting from the Maya practice of harvesting the branches of living trees for wood. The tree grows out of an ol, or "portal." in an offering plate or in the mouth of the Suk-Bak-Nakan, on the southern horizon. It symbolized the Milky Way in its north-south orientation. [In common with the Incas] The king personified the World Tree in his flesh." (Schele pp. 417-418)  Compare this with the Tree of Life of Lehi and Nephi's explanation of it..  

"Who will be the prophet, who will be the priest who shall interpret truly the word of the book?" (Roys 1967 p. 169)  What Prophet? What Book? There are a number of references to this Prophet and the word of a special Book.  Since nothing has materialized since this ancient prophecy to fulfill it, could the book be the Book of Mormon and the Prophet be Joseph Smith?


"A Seventh prophecy, also ascribed to [The Prophet] Chilam Balam...confines its statement to predicting misfortunes of general character in Katun 13 Ahau."  (Roys 1967 p. 186) This links to recorded history because Katun 13 Ahau began in 1519.The misfortune was the coming of the Spaniards. Unfortunate for the Aztec's, but no one can hold back the raging river of destiny.

Now notice the bias of the translator.  He, like many today, cannot accept accurate Prophecy!

"Here the arrival of the white men is foretold as occurring in the eighth year of Katun 13 Ahau. [1527] If Katun 13 Ahau began in 1519, this is altogether too accurate a prediction of Montejo's landing on the east coast of Yacatan in 1527 [ the eighth year] to be credited to a man said to have lived under Hun Uitzil Chac at Uxmal about the Eleventh Century A.D." (Roys 1967 p. 186) The story of Montejo, one of the first Spaniards in the Western Hemisphere, is a fascinating one, but space does not allow it to be included here. (Stephens p. 23)

"Chilam Balam lived at Mani during the reign of Mochan Xiu. In Katun 2 Ahau he predicted that in the Katun 13 Ahau following, bearded men would come from the east and introduce a new religion. His prophecy was somewhat more definite than those of his predecessors." (Roys 1967 p. 187)  The original translator cannot believe that Chilam could be that accurate and calls it suspicious. Yet it is present in the oldest manuscripts available.  When the Spaniards first arrived in the West Indies, a knowledge of their arrival was brought by fishing canoes that had been driven to Yucatan by storms. "What Chilam Balam had in mind was the return of Quetzalcoatl and his white-robbed priests, but after the Spaniards landed in Yucatan in Katun 13 Ahau according to schedule, he never ceased to be regarded as the most famous of the Maya prophets." (Roys 1967 p. 187)

There are four versions of the prophecies found in the Books of Chilam Balam, all four have been published separately: 1. Chumayel reproduction, [the present study by Roys]. 2. Mani in Codex Perez, 3. Oxhutzcab in Codex Perez, and account No. 4. Tizimin. In all four there are ‘Special prophecies of the return of Kukulcan and a new religion. The Mayans did not accept the coming of the Bearded men as the return of Kukul kan, (Roys 1967 p. 187) but only the fulfillment of the prophecy concerning the coming of bearded men and a new religion.  Following the coming of the bearded men was the strange expectation and question of who the prophet would be that would interpret the special book that was looked for. Kukul kan has not as yet returned. He is still looked for.  The account of Christ visiting the Americas in 3 Nephi of the Book of Mormon may qualify for his first visit, for some it does, for others, there is another coming.

On one of my visits to Chichen Itza with my wife and two Mexican Archeologists, she tired a little after climbing to the platform of the Temple of the Warriors, [now off limits] where, to rest, she sat in the lap of the Chac Mal God. I then learned the natives still believed in Chilam Balam, for one of the archaeologists turned to his companion and said "She shouldn't sit there, she will become pregnant." The other said "Are you Chilam Balam?"  About nine months later our youngest son was born. I believe in Chilam Balam!


Benson, Elizabeth P., Dumbarton Oaks Conference on the Olmec, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collections, Harvard University, Washington, D.C., 1968

Bernal, Ignacio, The Olmec World, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1969

Bloomgarden, Richard, Merida Yucatan and Nearby Archaeological Zones, Litographica Turmex, S.A., Mexico 1969

Calderwood, David G., Voices From the Dust New:  Insights into Ancient America, Historical Publications, Inc., Austin Texas, 2005

Chan, Roman Pina, Maya Cities, Instituto Nacional De Antropologia E. Historia, Mexico, 1972

..................2, A Guide to Mexican Archaeology, National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico 1969

Coe, Michael D., America's First Civilization, Smithsonian Institution, N.Y., 1968

Clark, James R., Messages of the First Presidency, Bookcraft Inc., Salt Lake City, Utah 1971

Cryer, Tom, Visual Testament and The Israelite Indian, Cryer  circ. 1995

Drew, David, The Lost Chronicles of the Maya Kings, University California Press, Berkely, 1999

Dumezil, Georges, Gods of the Ancient Northmen, University of Calif., Berkeley, Los Angeles, 1973.

Goetz, Delia, Trans. Title of the Lords of Totonicapan, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman 1953

Hemingway, Donald W., & W. David Hemingway, Ancient America Rediscovered, Maiano Veytia, CFI, Cedar Fork, Inc., Springville, Utah, 2000

Hunter, Milton R., & Thomas Stuart Ferguson, Ancient America and the Book of Mormon, Kolob Book Co. Oakland, California, 1964

James, Harry C., Pages From Hopi History, University of Arizona Press, Tucson, Az. 1990

Recinos, Adrian, & Delia Goetz, The Annals of the Cakchiquels, Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, 1953

Reyburn, William D., & Euan McG. Fry, A Handbook on Genesis, United Bible Society, NY, 1990

Roys, Ralph L., Ed. Ritual of the Bacabs, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman 19650

...................1967, The Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel, University of Oklahoma, Norman

Schele, Linda & Peter Mathews, The Code of the Kings, Scribner, New York, 1998

Sejourne, Laurette, Burning Water, Shambhala, Berkeley,  1976

Sten, Maria, The Mexican Codices, Litoarte S. De. R.L. Ferrocarril, De Cuernavaca No. 683, Mexico City, 1974.. See my cassette or CD on Mexican Codes.

Stephens, John L., Incidents of Travel in Yucatan, Vol. l, Dover Publications, Inc, New York, 1963.

Sterling, M. W., Discovering the New World's 0ldest Dated  Work, NGM, LXXVI 183-218, 1939

Waters, Frank, The Book of the Hopi, Viking Press, Ballantine Books, Inc., New York, 1963

All research and opionions presented on this site are the sole responsibility of Dr. Einar C. Erickson, and should not be interpreted as official statements of the LDS doctrine, beliefs or practice.
To find out more about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, please see their offical websites at LDS.org and Mormon.org