Thursday, October 22, 2015

Seven temples of the underworld

Pyramids in Mesoamerica are not solid rock structures meant to be climbed for the purpose of worshiping some god. They're living structures that grew over centuries and have layers upon layers of lesser pyramids within them. There, are as you would have guessed, tunnels within. Unlike their Egyptian counterparts which are said to be built for the purpose of being a tomb, these pyramids were ceremonial and government centers. The complexity of them is outstanding and no pyramid shows this better than the one in Cholula, Puebla.

Allow yourself to travel back in time a few centuries. Your party has traveled through a mountain pass between two huge volcanoes and is finally making good way over the grasslands and sparse forests that populate this valley. You quest the famed Tlachihualtépetl, the hand made mill as it translates from the local language. It is said that below the now abandoned abbey is an ancient temple filled with great riches. You're now seeking to reach this abbey and enter its crypts in search of a passage to the temple rumored to be below. 

It is late in the fall and the winter is coming quickly. Already all around you you see preparations in anticipation to the celebrations of the dead. You pass a local cemetery dressed in the classic yellow of the zempoalxochitl flower, the flower of the dead.

You pass the cemetery paying respect to the passers by and those in ritual around the tombs and quickly turn down the road to the local town. Once there you find your way to the local market, the center of all commercial activity and a sure place to find information and directions to the abbey.

The market is packed with merchants lined one next to the other and selling a multitude of products, from flowers, spices and seeds to fish, cloth, pottery, candies and all types of foods. In the multitude of merchants, guards, soldiers, nobles and slaves you find a few who can give you directions to the abbey you quest for. Being late in the day you decide to stay in town and journey early tomorrow morning. Who knows what spirits may roam the roads this night. It is not a good trecena (13 day week) to be out and today's sign favors the west, an ill fated direction that points to the falling of the sun everyday and the arrival of the gods of darkness. Better to journey on a less ominous evening. You find a local house to stay in and settle down for the night.

The next day you set off early in the morning and within a few hours you arrive at what you expect should be your destination. You meet a local farmer taking care of his zempoalxochitl. You make small conversation on the matter of his flowers and he expresses his delight at the good season and harvest and the proper time of year to have these flowers for the celebration of the dead, he's hopeful that no external ill will come to this land this time. When asked about the abbey he retracts himself from you and his expression changes to a cold look. He insists you should not be going there, that it is an ill fated place and only harm will come to you and to those who you return to after visiting it. He points at the building to his back and bids you not to return through these roads should you bring bad luck and ill to his land.

You thank him for his good advice and mention that you only wish to see the place and not actually enter it. He seems to see clearly through your lies and only says, "Yes, like all those who've come before you. Just for a look. Don't come back this way!", he turns and leaves you to your travel. You walk the short distance covering a small forest and come up to an amazing sight as the road leaves the bush.

The amazing sight of the abbey standing on top of a hill, a hill so large it seems impossible to think there's a temple beneath it. If so, if so, what's the size of this beast?!?! What dwells within it?

The Cholula archaeological complex is a temple built over a millennium. Its construction is estimated to have begun in the second century BC and construction stopped around 1100 AD with the downfall of Teotihuacán. As you can see, compared to the church on top, the temple is beyond huge. It is composed of seven temples built one on top of the other. This lead to the expansion of the base which reaches 450m (1485ft) per side for the 7th and largest temple built on top of the previous six. The overall height is 65m (215ft).

The ceremonial site is a walled behemoth that has various entry points to tunnels that run into its insides. This has the potential of being an incredible dungeon to explore. The site of seven temples built one on top of each other over one thousand years. Rulers, priests, rituals and sacrifices taking place here for the span of a millennium. What type of creatures and spirits have been buried here with the construction of each new temple. What fate awaits those who journey deep into it going back one thousand years in history.

Imagine dark underground passages covered with images and strange writings. What stories do these murals tell? What magic is at work here? What powers and spirits could be released? What was the purpose of building a whole new temple above the current one? When was this done? Does it coincide with some cosmic timing, the beginning of a new era? Did the old temple become so corrupted and fill with ill spirits the priests required a whole new temple for the next era? What evil has been dormant in here for centuries? Just waiting for an unaware party of adventurers to release them.

Consider that such cultures built their pyramids with tiers representing different planes or levels of existence. Like the Chichenitza pyramid to the left, whose nine tiers represented the nine planes of Xibalbá, the Mayan underworld.

It is easy to see how going down a pyramids tier can take you deeper into unknown worlds of existence. Bringing you closer to the demons that dwell these mesoamerican underworlds.

Welcome to the seven temples of the underworld, journey on brave adventurers.

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