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Sacred Bone, Tattoos and Stones: Mayan Portal Mysteries Unraveling

My sacred tattoos, including Hunab Ku (Galactic Butterfly) on my sacrum at bottom

I’ve been receiving a lot of intuitive nudges on the sacrum and coccyx, both literally and energetically. With my own experiences in having sudden pains over the last several months in that area (physically due to a fracture of the tailbone I had about 11 years ago, but energetically linked to much more), hearing from a few others on issues or focus on this area, and even clients and friends getting sacred tattoos on their sacrum, it all started to hit me again, as to the significance of this region. I then was reminded about the connections that had taken place for me about 8 years ago and how it all is energetically linked with the now.

March 5, 2004 I got my second sacred tattoo. It was the Hunab Ku symbol (or Galactic Butterfly, as it’s also known).

This symbol is called the Galactic Butterfly which is said to represent all of the consciousness that has ever existed in this galaxy. This is all of our physical ancestors both human, animal, reptile, fish, shell fish, plants as well as the consciousness which organized all of the raw material from a whirling disk into stars then planets and solar systems. Big Meaning. So big that the original Maya had no symbol for this. In their civilization it was like having no name for God. Just knowing the concept was good enough. Later this pattern was devised by Toltec or Zapatec weavers as a pattern for blankets and this is where Jose Arguelles came across it. He called it Hunab Ku. The indigenous peoples call it “The Galactic Butterfly”. Butterflies are seen as ancestors returning for a visit to physicality. Wearing one of these symbols is very powerful as it broadcasts your reaching to actively join the consciousness of our galaxy. ~ Ian Xel Lungold

I was intuitively drawn to place this Galactic Butterfly on my sacrum. At that time in my life, everything was just intuitive for me in what I did. I would then come to see later, the significance and reiteration of why I would be drawn to certain things. And right after I got this tattoo, a whole unraveling started to take place, as I also got my first computer and was able to do research and uncovered deeper meanings to so many things that were emerging in my life at the time, including this tattoo, the placement and the paintings that started to channel. I had opened a doorway that created a flood of energy , experiences, and information into my life in new ways from that point on. The symbol itself, Hunab Ku, had come to me while I was in a bookstore with my brother after getting my first butterfly tattoo, by just being drawn to a book where it was in and I had always had in back of mind that if I ever got another tattoo that that would be it. That was like somewhere near 1998-2000. And then several years later it emerged, after staying with me all that time.

What I discovered, alongside the meaning of this symbol, was also the significance to my own life and soul history and path, as well as the connection with the sacrum bone.

As I shared in my book, Spiritual Skin:

Brian Stross’ “The Mesoamerican Sacrum Bone: Doorway to the Otherworld,” addresses in great depth some of what I came to realize about the potency of my placing the Mayan Hunab Ku (otherwise known as the Galactic Butterfly) on my sacrum. He states:

The sacrum bone has been viewed by some cultures as a “sacred” bone, and been seen as related to reproduction, fertility, and reincarnation. … “in Mesoamerica the sacrum represented one index of the more generalized but variously manifested ‘portals’ or doorways permitting translocation of shamans, spirits, and deities between worlds or levels of the cosmos.”

Brian Stross continues to share:

In Mesoamerica the sacrum, along with closely associated bones, is apparently seen as sacred in some Indigenous societies even today, though surely less so now than in earlier times. The name “sacrum,” designating the more or less flat bone with eight holes located at the base of the spine, comes directly from Latin os sacrum, meaning ‘sacred bone’.  Sugar points out that while most bone names readily reveal their origins, it has long been a mystery why the sacrum bone (os sacrum) should be called the “holy bone.”  “That it is a translation from the Greek hieron osteon merely pushes the inquiry back from the first Latin use in about 400 AD to the time of Hippocrates (about 400 BC)” (1987:2061).  Following the trail through several explanatory hypotheses about the origins of the name sacrum, Sugar introduces evidence that the sacrum in tradition was the bone necessary for resurrection, identifying it as the “almond” or luz of the Hebrews and the ajb of the Arabs, and ultimately deriving its conceptual underpinnings from the ancient Egyptians (1987:2062‑2063).

Upon finding that some Mesoamerican Indian languages also named this bone with words referring to sacredness and deity, one may well ask why societies distant from one another refer to the sacrum as a “sacred” or “holy” bone.   Presumably such naming practices reflect independently, rather than through diffusion, the cultural importance of this bone, and one can suggest plausible explanations, based on observational logic, for its being termed “sacred.”  The word “sacred” for our purposes can be defined as “worthy of veneration, reverence, and respect on the one hand, and protected by tradition and ritual against symbolic or actual abuse on the other.”

The sacrum bone is, among other things, the fulcrum of support for the human torso, and as such is well designed to take great physical stress.  It is what we sit on, and by sitting we place ourselves at rest in a position that can be maintained without significant movement for long periods of time.  Perhaps more importantly from perspectives of symbolism and cultural importance, it is located next to the reproductive organs, which are of utmost significance for the species as well as the individual, and are surely of great significance in most if not all societies.  In its proximal location, the sacrum could well be thought to share significant qualities with the reproductive organs, and even to transport material from the brain to those organs.

Several cultures around the world assume that the sacrum participates directly in procreation by channeling seminal fluid through the spinal column to the penis, most notably ancient Egyptians and some cultures of India.  Its location on the body and the formal similarity of spinal fluid to semen provide an observational basis for these conclusions.  Even Leonardo da Vinci, with such a fine grasp of human anatomy, must have made a similar assumption, for he placed in his drawing of a human male a seminal duct leading from the sacrum at the bottom of the spinal cord to the penis (Huxley 1974:64).

Sacredness of this bone is also related to a belief found in various parts of the globe that the sacrum is the “resurrection bone” from which residual raw material remaining after death a person will be reborn, presumably by attracting the spirit residing within.   This notion may spring from the observation that as an especially hard bone, the sacrum resists disintegration through time, and is often among the very last visible remains of a body that has been left on the ground or that has been unearthed long after burial.  A rational basis for attaching importance to the sacrum bone can thus be constructed from empirical observations and conclusions underlain by a kind of observational logic.

Stross goes on to share some fascinating insights and research presenting the ritual and symbolic significance of the sacrum in Mesoamerica  and its place in conjunction with a shamanic world view. His findings also present things pointing to the fact that:

…the sacrum as a focal part of the pelvic girdle represents a metaphor for the cosmic portal linking this world with the Otherworld while emphasizing the generative or (pro)creative aspect of the life cycle, just as the jawbone as a focal part of the skull represents another metaphor for the cosmic portal, but one emphasizing the analytical or destructive aspect of the cosmic cycle.

He then continues with a discussion of the human pelvis in shamanic worldview:

A pillar of five fused sacral vertebrae within the pelvic girdle supports and balances the human torso.  This pillar, the sacrum, is attached to four more fused vertebral bones together called the coccyx, but otherwise known as the tailbone.  The sacrum (or the sacrum and the coccyx together) is a pivot, a support, and a focal center in the human body….Some Mayan names for pelvic bones or for the rump region suggest that the procreative area of the human body was in the past identified by Mayans as a figurative “fire” composed of the coccyx surrounded by figurative pelvic “hearthstones,” three being the traditional number of stones in the Mesoamerican hearth.  Two of the pelvic “hearthstones,” the hipbones, are similar in form, like mirror images, while the third, the sacrum, is different.  The pelvis, so closely connected to the creation of new life, somewhat resembles a skull and shares other features with the skull…

Dictionaries of Indigenous Mesoamerican languages do not often include words for sacrum or coccyx for understandable reasons, but there are a few that do, and related concepts such as Spanish rabadilla ‘coccyx, lower extremity of vertebral column (including that of a bird)’ and rabo ‘tail, hind end’ can sometimes be found when the more explicit form are not available.   In those Mayan languages for which we have translations of sacrum and coccyx, the words usually relate the sacrum to notions of ‘god’ and ‘sacred’, while the coccyx is related to ‘fire’.  For example, Yucatec Maya has a word for sacrum, k’ul, which also means ‘sacred’ and ‘holy’ (Barrera Vasquez 1980).   Itzá Maya has the word k’uul ‘hip, tail bone’ (Hoffling and Tesucún 1997:402), which surely derives from the Itzá root k’u ‘sacred, holy’.

The Tojolabal Maya word for sacrum s‑bah h‑wawtik (literally “sacred image, sacred self”) is based on the verb wawtikan ‘to worship, deify,’ and ultimately derives from the root waw ‘man’ (Lenkersdorf 1979 (2):666; (1):395).

In Choltí Maya data limitations render uncertain what the word xun‑xun means besides ‘coccyx’, but in a near linguistic relative, Chontal Maya, the root xun means ‘trivet, the three stones of the hearth’. For the Yucatec Maya a bird’s coccyx is called the “griddle of the rump” (xamach it), and in Chol Maya the base of a bird’s tail (its rump or coccygeal region) is called simply and literally “fire” (k’ahk) (Aulie et al 1978:21).

And the references continue in different Maya and Aztec languages that all come back to the same referencing to this sacred bone. Stross continues:

Language data of this sort, based on languages of today and the recent past, can tell us about perceptions in earlier times that do not necessarily reflect current understandings of worldview and important concepts as identified by a contemporary speaker, just as many English speakers use the word “secretary” without realizing that it reflects the notion of keeping “secrets,” or the word “sacrum” without thinking that sacredness is or ever was attached to it.  Because language generally lags behind culture change, our language data has here informed us more about past worldview than about the present one.   One might look long and hard at contemporary western culture without finding much evidence outside of books for a concern with the sacrum.  Somewhat more productive would be looking to mythology and other ancient narratives with a practiced interpretive eye, for even in oral narrative meanings are on multiple levels and are not always obvious, as we can see from the Popol Vuh‘s mention of Blood Woman’s impregnation by a “skull.”   However, through information preserved in language and in narrative, particularly when in written form, we are able to determine that some Old World perceptions of the sacrum and pelvic region, if not identical, were at least similar and comparable to those in Mesoamerica, and that data from the Old World links the “holy bone” or sacrum directly to resurrection, which implies passage through at least a figurative cosmic portal or doorway between this world and the other world.

…If the human body can be said to have “portals” or loci of transformative power where the body’s interior is connected with the external world, and perhaps also with the Otherworld, the sacrum in the pelvic girdle is likely one of these, while the jawbone in the skull constitutes the other.

The Coccyx Pendant, another very interesting linking Stross reveals:

A small unprovenanced, but apparently Classic Maya pendant found in the Ahaw collection is in all three dimensions precisely the size and shape of the human coccyx.   On it is carved a representation of a human figure.  This Coccyx Pendant, of apple green kosmochloric jadeite, has a laterally drilled hole for suspension, not visible in a frontal view.   The top half shows a head framed by rolled hair, circular earspools and arms held in the “crab‑claw” position of Maya rulers who usually cradle a serpent bar in this position.  Below this upper head, a second head occupies what should be the hip region, visually illustrating the notion of the body having an upper and a lower “skull”.   The lower head, manifested in the structural position of the sacrum, has a pronounced elongated chin that is simultaneously of the appropriate shape and position to be the coccyx of the “sacrum” (in this case the “sacrum” is the second skull that is visually manifested as a head).  In other words, a little knob at the bottom of the pendant represents a miniature version of the whole pendant, which itself represents a coccyx.  The shape and iconography of the Coccyx Pendant constitute strong evidence for the hypothesis suggesting Mesoamerican concern with the sacrum, and the notion of two “skulls”; and it suggests also the importance of the coccyx to the Maya during the Classic period.

Since Stross was focused on revealing the sacred connection with the sacrum and coccyx in his writings, he didn’t mention how the significance of this Maya coccyx pendant being created in jadeite, also spoke to this sacredness. When I read it I immediately was reminded of the marbled green “Dreamtime” Jade Sphere we have in our Joyful Earth Crystals collection (pictured right) and the link with this sacred bone area and Mayan “sacred stone.” Jade is known as a sacred stone by the ancient and some current primitive tribes. It allows you to access the knowledge used during the Mayan “dreamtime,” as it help you connect with the elders of the Mayan culture. The Mayans revered jade as the “Sovereign of Harmony” facilitating peace with the physical, emotional, and intellectual structures, as well as with the materialistic world. It was said to bring accord to the environment, to transmute negativity and instill resourcefulness. It promotes balancing of your needs with the requirements of the day, allowing you to nurture the things that are of prime importance to well-being.

….Frederick Starr has written of other native Mesoamerican traditions that connect the coccyx with sexuality, noting in this connection that in Mexico the coccyx is sought by prostitutes in the belief that men’s power (sexuality) is lodged therein (1899:100).   It is appropriate here to recall that some of today’s Maya call the coccyx bone the “fire,” recalling another of the Mesoamerican metaphors for the cosmic portal, i.e. fire.   Not to dwell on this metaphor, it is worth mentioning at least that a fire is a superior transformer of materials (making the milpa fertile, creating edible food for people, etc.), that not infrequently individuals referred to in the literature as shamans demonstrate their control over fire in one way or another (as for example by placing hot embers in their mouth), that the three hearthstones characteristic of indigenous Mesoamerican homes enclose the fire and establish the center of the house, and that of course fire is clearly another sort of portal or gatekeeper between worlds.

…If the body can be viewed as a microcosm, then its form is either a template for or a reflection of other cosmic levels, and its form is our only guide to the appearance and operation of these other levels, incomplete as this guidance may be.  The body has two ends regulating the passage between the inside the body and outside of it, and at these two ends are portals.  One end has the mouth; on the other end are the anus and the water producing urethral orifice (and in females there is also the entrance to the birth canal).  Concentration of power is in the bony appurtenances surrounding these portals, and most focally these bones are the lower jaw and the sacrum (sometimes including the coccyx).  On a slightly more inclusive scale, these bones are the upper skull and the lower “inverted skull.”

…A serpentine conduit, the spinal cord being protected by the bony vertebrae, joins the two skulls. The vertebral column, because of its durability, is where the power is presumed to be concentrated.  The soft portals of the body (mouth and anus) are also joined during life by a winding serpent‑like digestive tract composed of soft and perishable parts.  Things come into the body through the mouth portal, where they are transformed in composition (destroyed) by the actions of the jaw.  They pass through the serpent conduits in the body (spinal column, intestinal tract), and they pass out of the body, transformed in the pelvic portal (created) by the more mysterious actions of the sacrum.  The male body creates new life (ultimately delivered from the sacral region, and according to some the sacrum proper).  The new life is then transferred into the female womb (itself backed up by a sacrum).

Much that goes into the body, observational logic would dictate, is crushed into pieces in the mouth, transformed in the stomach and intestine, and exits by way of the anus, which by a continuation of the logic should itself be viewed as a portal, and surely it must be, though that has not been explored in this study, for lack of data.

In the worldview outlined above as “shamanic,” the body’s form and functions can be considered our most basic guide to understanding the appearance and functioning of other cosmic levels, operating thus to generate and/or reflect them.  In that way the metaphors and allegories relating the body to other elements in the world allow these elements and their combinations to be comprehended relatively easily, consistently, and with a plausible logic based on observing nature, and especially our bodies as parts of it.

This speaks to the Kundalini Serpent Energy 

Stross concludes more with:

For example such observational logic treats the earth as a living being, so for the Huasteca Nahuatl speakers the soil comprises its flesh, while stones are its bones and water is its blood (Sandstrom 1991:238).  Vegetation is the earth’s clothing (Alcorn 1984:57). This logic continues in treating the mountain as if it is a person, with analogous anatomy and physiology.  The mountain has a “head” and a “foot”, grass that “clothes” its body, and animals that live in the remote parts of it.  It “drinks” water from the top (as rain) and the water is passed out from lower down (as springs).  Similarly the water is passed down to earth from the bottom part of the heavens, and sometimes likened to urination by the sky deities (Thompson 1970:253).  The earth, if likened to a human or animal body, needs to eat, and sacrificial food is placed at special places or portals [mouths of the earth].  The portals can be sacred places in the natural landscape such as particular caves, springs, mountaintops, and sacred trees. The portals can also be located on human-made miniature representations of the earth (or its parts) within the cosmos, such as altars, wayside crosses, and small temporary pits dug in the earth for placing sacrificed “food” in the center of the cornfield.  Just as some seeds need to pass through a bird’s intestinal tract before they can sprout, so the shaman initiate may see the need to pass through a long cave with two entrances (the earth monster’s intestine) in order to be purified and empowered, as can be observed in a well known long cave in San Luis Potosí when done by Teenek shamans.  This may be conceived as being swallowed by a serpent and passed out the other end.   Things like water, and spirits, etc. have to pass from one level or medium to another by means of the portals or “doorways” which are not always open, just as the animate mouth and anus are not always open.  Sometimes specific activities, times, and / or rituals are required to open them.  Blood appears to be a particularly useful substance in this respect, but music, dance, and chanting are frequently found in portal opening contexts.   Chanting clearly comes from the upper skull (assisted by the chest), but dance can be said to reside prominently in the hips (assisted by the legs and feet).

And here is an interesting table he includes that lays things out clearly:

TABLE 1   Transformation Zones


Portal 1 Jawbone Skull 7 Neck Vertebrae Middleworld
Conduit Spinal Cord Spinal Column 8 + 8 Intermediate Vertebrae Conduit
Portal 2 Sacrum Pelvis (Inverted Skull) 9 Sacral/Coccygeal Vertebrae Underworld

Alongside promising to share this information with someone who was inquiring, I’ve received big nudges of its importance, have had my own personal connections and experiences with this that are coming full circle, and in hearing of many also sharing tailbone and sacrum experiences of late, as well as many feeling compelled to work with the Root Chakra energies for integrative healing (I feel, holding a key to a lot), there is something to this. 

I could draw many conclusions for you, but I think it best to let it percolate and find its own meaning for each. What I know for myself is nothing is arbitrary, everything has meaning and purpose, based on things I’ve been working with, receiving and feeling, combined with my major tailbone issues accompanying this and now subsiding and healing with miracle activations on my visit to Tahoe and working with Root Chakra energies, only to remain as a random bruising feeling at odd times in sacrum (an energetic reminder) and all the things I’m channeling with portal energy, having others activating their own sacrum portals with sacred tattoos (some that I have designed) and starting to connect their own dots with it….needless to say, I do experience the connection. 🙂

If you want to read Brian Stross’ writings in fullness, including many interesting images to accompany you can do so here: The Mesoamerican Sacrum Bone: Doorway to the Otherworld

If interested in support with designing your own “sacred bone” portal tattoo you can contact me at


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