Legends of the nether regions abound, but especially in Mesoamerica, the unmarked polar “dark region” symbolizing death and the underworld, around which everything was observed to revolve. Quetzalcoatl was the sun god or 'Plumed Serpent' and Lord of Tula the Toltec Capital City which is interchangeable with Meru, “the place of peace, a real place, open to those of pure heart,” at the Navel of Earth.
The ‘Feathered Serpent’ reigned over a time of peace and plenty until he was defeated by Tezcatlipoca, (his dark side) god of night and the rain of the north, together they manifest cosmic polarity, like Sammael the fallen angel and the archangel Michael, who fought with his angels against the dragon. 'And the great dragon was cast out; that old serpent, called the Devil' (Revelation 12,9.) Quetzalcoatl was the one cast out after his moral downfall, and expelled from Tula. He wandered over the face of the Earth, represented with a beard and wearing long white robes and carrying a staff, and he wore the solar disk, a prominent motif in ancient Egypt. The ubiquitous Quetzalcoatl (Kukulkan, to the Maya) was endowed with the same civilizing qualities as Thoth, (Hermes) who also wore the winged, solar disk.
He was warmly welcomed wherever he went but when he reached the netherlands in the east, at the edge of the sea, from whence everyone had come, Quetzalcoatl was 'self-immolated' and arose like a phoenix to become the Evening Star (Venus, a symbol of love.)
It was believed that the Toltecs came from an undisclosed island, in ancient times. The sacred Codices also describe a deluge in which a man called Coxcoxtli and a woman, Xochiquetzal survived and found safety on Mount Colhuacan, but the aftermath of this event was a confusion of ‘tongues.’
Tezcatlipoca had only one leg, having lost the other when the gates of Mictlan, the lower world, were shut on him in haste, he replaced Quetzalcoatl as the principal deity of the Aztecs, who feared him greatly. The Aztecs chose the most handsome captive for the blood sacrifice to Tezcatlipoca. The still beating heart of the victim, in the persona of the god, was the offering, ritually removed by an obsidian knife.
Some scholars, who investigate the ancient mysteries of Central America, are keen to relate Quetzalcoatl to an actual person, possibly
a Semite (or an extraterrestrial) who travelled the Globe spreading enlightenment and good-will...yet Black Tezcatlipoca, the ''smoking, obsidian mirror'' from Mictlan, is referred to strictly on metaphorical terms. But metaphysical would be a more apt synonym for this deity who could exert such a profound and bloodthirsty influence on the customs of mighty empires.
Viracocha, the Inca god of water arose from his home at the bottom of Lake Titicaca, (through a portal) and created islands and cities and the human race before disappearing, back into the depths of the lake, just as he had come... It is said that the Inca treasure was hidden from the Spanish in a subterranean river and gallery, two thousand leagues beneath the American continent, which extends from the Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, to Lake Titicaca. A path veering away from the underground river, inevitably leads to the Hollow Earth.
It was the duty of all Maya, through initiation, to conquer death and ascend to the heavens. This was demonstrated by the hero twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque, who were notably experts at the ballgame, which symbolized the planetary movements, with the ball being the sun moving in and out of the underworld, which was represented by the ballcourt itself. The account of this game and it’s links to the Afterlife occurs in the Popol Vuh. Summoned by the gods of the underworld to display their ball playing prowess, the twins survive a series of tests to defeat the old gods of death. The last stage of the contest saw the hero twins perform miracles and bring the dead back to life. ‘Then the boys ascended into the middle of the light, and they ascended straight into the sky, one being the sun, one being the moon. When the day comes, when the night comes, the two Hunahpu and Xbalanque, one or the other is always present.’
Amerindian shaman believe in three cosmic zones, the sky, the earth and an underworld, 'where the sun continually shines' (for there shall be no night there, Revelation, 21,25.) These planes are connected by the Earth's axis, symbolised by a tree or pillar, (the backbone of Osiris) entwined by a serpent.
Shamans take psychotropic plants, peyote and jimson weed, (sacred and god-given) to stimulate the pineal gland, which in conjunction with pain, deprivation and fasting, will induce initiates to a near-death state, (like Odin hanging from Yggdrassil, over the abyss without food or water, with a self-inflicted wound) whereupon they have an out of body flight to these other worlds. Certain locations, like cross-ways or waterfalls, (which harbour dragons in fairy tales) are paths of entry between the worlds and shaman know the mystery of the break-through plane.
A fine silver cord connected to a spot above the eyes is attached to the astral body and they can soar through the air, transmogrified into a bird. Free of their bodies, these 'medicine men' have transcendental encounters with the non-human entities of mythology; there they commune with the gods and return invigorated and 'born-again' with supernatural powers, like the ability to make rain and heal the sick.
The shape-shifting Anansi, as told in West Africa gained entry to the underworld easily through cracks in the ground, as a spider dangling from the silver thread of his web. Ritualistic customs of death and resurrection were also evident amongst African tribes. This initiation coincided with the transition from youth to manhood and usually included the symbolic dismembering of the body (an after-death vision) before being brought back to life.
This vision is exemplified by Osiris being cut into fourteen pieces by his jealous brother and foe, Seth, who then dispersed the bodily parts throughout Egypt. Osiris was joined together again by his sister-wife Isis who restored him to life with a magic formula and Anubis helped to reanimate him. Horus, son of Isis and Osiris took revenge on his uncle Seth and won back his father's throne.
So it is Osiris, accompanied by Horus, to whom the hawk is sacred and Anubis, the jackal headed deity, who the ka (the dead's double) meets in the Judgement Hall of Death where the heart is weighed against a feather, watched over by Thoth, represented by an ibis. The ka divided into two when the mortal body died and became the ba (the soul) and the akh (the spirit.) The akh took the form of a human-headed bird and flew to the underworld, where it could stay if it knew the correct procedures to follow, while the ba remained in the tomb, furnished with all it would require for a happy stay.