; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Flying Humanoid Mythos of Ancient America

A reader noticed an increase of articles and reports of bat-winged humanoid creatures in my blog recently. She was reading referenced verses from the Mayan The Book of the Jaguar Priest: A translation of the Book of Chilam Balam of Tizimin, with commentary and came across the following passage:

In the Book of the Jaguar Priests or The Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel it is written that the road from the stars will descend from the sky and the 13 Gods of Heaven and 9 Gods of Hell will come to earth. The Maya believed that the end was the beginning and the beginning the end, in destruction would come creation and creation destruction. It would happen at the black hole.

At the crossroads an image would appear in the sky. The dark kingdom of Xibalba ('place of fear') would manifest itself upon the earth. Xibalba is inhabited by winged creatures with the body of men and the heads and wings of bats. These creatures are blood drinkers and hostile to man. Most fierce among them is Camazotz or Camalotz which means 'death bat' or 'sudden bloodletter.' Camalotz killed most of the denizens of man's second creation by ripping off their heads.

The Cthulhu narrative is the nightmarish legacy of H. P. Lovecraft. He wrote the old ones were sleeping in the bottomless depths of the oceans until the time when the right astral alignment will awaken them and they will once again walk the earth reigning over an unspeakable kingdom of darkness. Their return is awaited by a priesthood of bat-winged humanoids who bide their time concealed by darkness in the unknown recesses of the earth’s forgotten caves.

Inspired by the passages forwarded to me, I started digging into various sources and discovered some interesting information. Around 100 B.C., a peculiar religious cult grew up among the Zapotec Indians of Oaxaca, Mexico. The cult venerated an anthropomorphic monster with the head of a bat, an animal associated with night, death, and sacrifice.

The monster soon found its way into the holy rituals of the Quiché, a tribe of Maya who made their home in the jungles of what is now Guatemala. The Quiché identified the bat-deity with their god Zotzilaha Chamalcan, the god that controlled fire.

Popol Vuh, a Mayan sacred book, identifies Zotzilaha as not a god, but a cavern. ('The House of Bats') Zotzilaha was home to a type of bat called Camazotz; one of these monsters decapitated the hero Hunahpú. Camazotz has been translated as 'death bat.' A vastly different story appears in another chapter of Popol Vuh. Here a demon called Camalotz, or 'Sudden Bloodletter', clearly a single entity, is identified as one of four animal demons which slew the impious first race of men.

In Latin American, it seems that the ancient belief in the 'death bat' still survives into the present day. For example, legends of the winged 'Black-man' (h?ik'al), a kidnapper and rapist, still circulate among the Zotzil people of Chiapas, Mexico. Other bat-demons include the Soucouyant of Trinidad and the 'Tin Tin' of Ecuador. Yet another similar creature appears in the folklore of rural Peru and Chile...the Chonchon, which is a vampire-type winged monster.

Is it possible that a natural species inspired the existence these 'demon bats?'

Several stories supporting the idea of a large bat-like creature have come out of Latin America in the last century. Some believe initial suspects were the common vampire bat the false vampire bat species, due to the large size and habit of attacking prey around the head or neck. A 1947 report of a creature presumed to have been a living pterosaur may in fact have been of a large bat. A witness saw five "birds" with a wingspan of about 12 feet a well as brown, featherless, and beaked.

In March, 1975, a series of animal mutilations swept the countryside near the Puerto Rican town of Moca, and during the incident a man named Juan Muñiz Feliciano claimed that he was attacked by a large, gray-feathered creature. These bird-like creatures were seen numerous times during the outbreak.

These reports didn't gain real notoriety until the mid-1970s, when a number of sightings of large birds or bats surfaced in Rio Grande Valley, Texas. The first report came from the town of San Benito, where three people reputedly encounters with a bald-headed creature. But rumors had long circulated among the Mexican inhabitants of the town about a large bird-like creature..

On New Year's Day, 1976, two girls near Harlingen, TX watched a large, birdlike creature with a "gorilla-like" face, a bald head, and a short beak. The next day, a number of three-toed tracks were found in the field where the creature had stood. On January 14, Armando Grimaldo said he was attacked by the creature at Raymondville, TX. He said it was black, with a monkey's face and large eyes. Further reports surfaced from Laredo and Olmito, TX, with a another sighting reported from Eagle Pass, TX on January 21.

To this day, there are a fair amount of flying humanoid reports in Mexico, Texas and New Mexico. Ken Gerhard's book Encounters with Flying Humanoids: Mothman, Manbirds, Gargoyles & Other Winged Beasts details many of the early sightings and lore. I have also documented more recent sightings in the 'Phantoms & Monsters' blog and books...Lon

Popol Vuh: The Definitive Edition of The Mayan Book of The Dawn of Life and The Glories of Gods and Kings
South and Meso-American Mythology A to Z
The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories
A Wrinkle in Time (Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet)