The Way to the Underworld - an essay by Jimena Borboa
My country has a very interesting relationship with death. My Mesoamerican ancestors saw it as part of life; existence did not end when the body died. There was an underworld separated by levels and each level corresponded to a certain kind of death. For example, if someone died by drowning, they went to Tlaloc’s place, the God of Rain and Thunder. Or if a mother died while giving birth, she went to Tonatiuhichan, the place where the warriors rest. There were also some trials for people who died because of “natural causes.” They needed to pass nine levels in order to put their bones to rest alongside the Gods of Death. All of this cosmogony generated traditions and changed the way Mexicans relate with each other. After the Spanish conquest of the region, the Catholic and indigenous beliefs mixed together making the now famous Day of the Dead, which combines the holy day of All Saints with the harvest festivities made for Mictecacihuatl, the Goddess of Death. Until now, death has remained very present in our society but maybe in some other less desirable ways. I live in a very violent country where we are reminded of death constantly; although the reasons have changed, I believe the feeling is similar. We know that our ancestors are with us, waiting for us in the underworld We can celebrate their memories and invite them to visit once a year. Our family and loved ones never really die; they are just... somewhere else.