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The tree near Paq'alib'al recalls the pan-Maya notion of a world tree that grows out of the underworld to center creation (Miller and Taube 1993:57; Freidel et al. 1993:55). Myths concerning Paq'alib'al and the tree nearby are widely known in Santiago Atitlan although almost no one but ajkuns (Tz'utujil "shamans") go there. This is partially because of the distance (it is approximately 17 kilometers up a steep trail) and partially because it is considered a very dangerous place. An ajkun-shaman who visits the cave periodically gave me a description which agrees for the most part with Nicolás's account and adds some important details:

World tree from the Panel of the Foliated Cross, Palenque. Drawing by Linda Schele.