On a hill just outside Chichicastenango is Pascual Abaj, a Mayan shrine dedicated to the earth god Huyup Tak’ah (Mountain Plain), where worshippers gather frequently to perform ceremonies.
The idol is a blackened Pre-Columbian sculpture standing about a meter tall and lined with stones, candles, and sacrificial offerings of booze. It has been around for centuries.
Ceremonies performed by a Mayan shaman usually involve much incense, liquor-drinking, chanting, and offerings of candles, flowers, and maybe even a sacrificial chicken.
If you happen to stumble upon one of these ceremonies during your visit, be sure to keep your distance and refrain from taking photographs. You can always ask for permission, but don’t be surprised if the answer is a firm “no.”
Getting to Pascual Abaj
To get to Pascual Abaj, walk down 5a Avenida from the main plaza turning right onto 9a Calle. At the bottom of the hill found along this street, head left onto a path through the signposted morerías (mask workshops) found there. The path continues uphill from there to the hilltop site.
It’s best to go in a group and earlier in the day, as robberies of tourists along this route are not infrequent.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com