October 17, 2011

Escape from the Xtabai

The still darkness of the midnight hours through thick jungles and inside an ancient Ceiba tree that overlooks a dirt road, awakens the seductive spirit of Xtabai who hunts for unsuspecting souls.

            In Belize, Central America, a tale is passed on through generations of a beautiful seductress known as Xtabai, pronounced ish-ta-buy. She is said to live in large and old trees called Ceiba. According to Mayan legends of Xtabai the Ceiba tree is believed to be a portal between the dead and the living and is where the spirit of Xtabai dwells. Although Xtabai is known to appear as an irresistibly beautiful woman, she is feared by many who believe in the myth because the seductress is known to cause pain, mental breakdown and ultimately death. Stories are shared about the evil seductress and her ability to seduce and trick victims by shape shifting into animals, people or someone familiar.  A tale told to me by my grandfather about his personal account with the Xtabai begins on an eerie dark moonless road. He recalls that night as being especially dark. My grandfather, his cousin and a couple of friends all headed through a dark lonely short stretch of jungle road to a local bar for drinks and a good time.

Later on, at the bar, my grandfather, his cousin and friends sat around and told silly jokes to each other. My grandfather decided to order another round of drinks when without a word his cousin abruptly gets up and walks over to the far end of the bar. My grandfather and friends couldn’t help but notice his cousin being seduced and taken to the dance floor by an amazingly beautiful young woman who never looks at any one. As if time stood still, the beautiful woman took a few dance spins with the cousin and there after headed out the door.

My grandfather and friends all commented about how lucky his cousin was to have hit it off with a stunning beauty, as they went on drinking, joking and laughing.  Before they knew it, the bar was closing and morning was quickly approaching. Since my grandfather and friends saw his cousin leave with the beautiful young lady they didn’t think much of them and headed home. Back then it was more convenient to walk so they walked home stumbling and laughing down the same lonely stretch of jungle road they came from. My grandfather recalls that while they joked a loud cry followed by terrified whimpers halted their laughter. They all had an eerie feeling run through their veins but together they went to investigate where the cries came from.

As grandfather and his friends got closer to the cries it begins to sound like his cousin. They yell for him and find that the cries get louder as they approach an amazingly large Ceiba tree overlooking the road. My grandfather and friends heard the cries coming from the tree top. They looked up to see his cousin high in the tree hanging on for dear life and crying like a traumatized baby.  With help from his friends my grandfather managed to bring his cousin down. The cousin appeared disheveled and in bad shape. He had a high fever and bloody lash wounds all over his back. After they took the cousin home he would not allow anyone to leave him alone. For weeks, the cousin shook with terror chanting, “She will come back for me.” My grandfather and friends new right away that his cousin had all the symptoms of an encounter with the evil spirit of the Xtabai. The local herb doctor was summoned to perform a cleansing ritual, which is a process to rid evil spirits. The cousin stopped drinking for a while and if questioned about what happened that night, he is said to react terrified and respond angrily to never ever ask him again.

             My grandfather warned us about the terrifying spirit called Xtabai. One of his warnings to me that I will share with you is to always inspect the feet of anyone who calls you to follow them into the jungle late at night. Xtabai is known to be a shape shifter and has a distinctive trait that she is unable to hide. That trait is one large bird foot with talons for her right foot and a hairy goat like hoof for her left. As in the case of my grandfather’s cousin, it never occurred to any of them to look at the beautiful woman’s feet for they were all intoxicated and blind from the hypnotic beauty of Xtabai. This should serve as a lesson to all to never follow into the lustful unknown, for evil can appear in many forms and living a responsible life may just save you.

Copyright © GrisDismation.com

Authors: Dismas and GrissyG Lizárraga,
Dismas and GrissyG are Artists and Animators born in Belize, now residing in California. Together they document and share their interpretation of the Belizean myths through a series of Art titled Legends of Belize. To learn more about the fascinating and eerie myths of our culture we invite you to visit our website: www.LegendsofBelize.com
or email us at GrisDismation@gmail.com