I stood at the altar at the center of the world. It was a simple church and the altar was a table all dressed in Maya flowered cloth and decorated with images of Christ, saints, and of course, Mary. This was not a Catholic church, however. It was the Church of the Three Crosses. Before me, in the center of the altar, were the three crosses--one heavy stone, one wood, and one painted green. All three were dressed almost like dolls with Maya flowered dresses and necklaces. Everywhere there were offering of charms on thin green strings, some draped on the necks of the Christ and saint dolls and some hanging from their hands. On the table were lighted candles and in front of the altar was another table for more lighted candles. (NOTE: I have no photos of the inside of the church because you are not allowed to take them)
The stone cross in the center drew my attention. It felt heavy, its energy much bigger and more imposing than the cross itself.
I came with some understanding of the stories, the mystery, the magic in the place. The three crosses are central to the cult of the Speaking Cross, but they are older than that. The Speaking Cross cult revolves around the Caste War in the Yucatan where the Spanish rulers were trying to bring the Maya under their control. The war lasted for more 50 years (1847 into the early 1900s) and jungle skirmishes marked it as bloody and intense. Near what is now Filipe Carrillo Puerto, a Maya man found a cross at the base of a tree next to a cenote and that cross spoke to him, giving him instructions on how to hold off the Spanish oppressors. Over the years, people gave offerings to the cross and eventually an entire religion grew up around it, complete with power centers and priests.
Now, some say the Church of the Three crosses, also called Iglesia Santisima Cruz Tun (Church of the Super, Super Holy Stone Cross), is the same as the Cult of the Speaking Cross, but the story of the three crosses predates the cult movement. I have not been able to get all the way back to its origin, but I did find this shocking story.
After setting up the stone cross and the two lesser crosses in the church, people began to come and bring offerings in exchange for miracles requested. However, when individuals left only one offering, instead of three (one for each cross) they didn’t get 7 steps away from the altar before they dropped dead! The priests called a meeting to discover which of the three crosses was causing the deaths and came to the conclusion that it was the two lesser crosses who must have been jealous because people were not leaving offerings for them, only for the main stone cross. So, they assigned 13 priests the duty of carrying the two lesser crosses to a cave and leaving them there. They did just that, but the next morning, the two crosses were mysteriously back in their original places on the altar.
Taken aback, the priests came together again to make a new plan to remove the two smaller crosses from the church. They prayed for nine days and nights and gave offerings of seeds and money. Then they assigned 13 priests and 9 children (The numbers 13 and 9 are very important to the Maya here.) to carry the crosses back to the cave and leave them there. The crosses disappeared and all of the people who accompanied them mysteriously died!
As I stood before the alter, I saw that the two smaller crosses were indeed still on the alter and I wondered how they got back there after disappearing. I must admit, the story was a bit troubling. So was the energy I felt from the intimidating stone cross. My stomach began to turn.
I lit the requisite 3 candles and went and sat on one of the simple wooden pews and closed my eyes. The air inside the church was cool, the tile floor cold and the cement walls preventing the sun from warming the barren open space inside the structure. As I sat with my eyes closed, tuning in to the energy, my nausea increased.
I have been in many spiritual places and I always attempt to feel the energy therein. Usually, its peaceful. Sometimes, I don’t really feel anything. Occasionally, I feel a bit spooked. You might wonder why I would do such a thing. It’s because I am very curious, and I want to learn about the energy of place and the spirits that make it feel that way.
In the Church of the Super, Super Holy Stone Cross (Church of the 3 Crosses) I noticed a bench with the words (in Spanish) “Given as promised for” …and then the name of a person and a date. I noticed other things that were labeled in a similar way and, along with seeing the charm offerings, it came to my understanding that the god/entity (or possibly three of them) that inhabited the place took offerings in exchange for favors granted.
I have run into this often here on the Yucatan Peninsula. The aluxes are similar in that they require offerings to keep them happy and encourage them to protect your land. The problems arise when the entities are not happy with the offerings or get “hungry” because they have not received offerings in a long time. In the case of aluxes, they can become troublesome, playing pranks, or even causing injury to both people and animals. In the case of the entities associated with the three crosses, it seems that not leaving the proper offering could be much more serious, causing illness or even death.
Do you believe in these things? The people of Xocen, the town that is home to the Church of the Three Crosses, certainly do. And I took this energy very seriously, because the longer I sat in that church, the sicker I got. Now, I know this is my own personal system of identifying energies around me. Some people get headaches, some feel a tingling on the back of their neck. I get sick to my stomach and I knew that as soon as I left the church, the symptoms would go away. So, I sat there, observing the feeling until I could stand it no longer and then I left.
I walked out into the bright, if chilly, sunshine and walked over to a deep well nearby. The energy faded and I began to feel better. I have studied this type of phenomenon for many years and I felt no fear. I was simply observing. However, I would not recommend that you go there unless you are very sure of yourself and where you stand. I DO believe there is an active entity there. Perhaps it IS the center of some power source. Although, since I know many lovely Maya people who would have nothing to do with this cult, I do not believe it is the center of the Maya world, simply the center to those who believe it as such.
I am thankful for my time there because it, again, confirms to me that these beings are very real. And understanding this--feeling it first-hand--helps me to better understand the people, the land, the culture, and the spirits that hover over them.