In this painting a couple honor a sacred tree with incense and candles. During the month of Wayeb (the last five days of the Maya solar calendar), the Maya traditionally abstain from their normal work. They use this time in dialogue with Mother Earth as manifested through the four elements of fire, air, water, and earth. They perform ceremonies at springs, sacred rocks or boulders, and as in this painting, at ancient trees.
The ritual site of Chi Kaqajaay, behind the San Pedro volcano, is surrounded by the corn fields of the Maya. Among those fields are ones belonging to the artist Pedro Rafael, so this site was likely the inspiration for his painting. The site also lies within a grove of ancient trees that are hundreds of years old. The Tz’utujil Maya have the greatest respect for these ancient trees, making it one of the few forested areas near the volcano where people do not harvest firewood. The local Maya believe that anyone who cuts down one of these trees will be cursed. This belief has been bolstered recently when a local man who cut down one of these trees died three months later. Within this grove of trees are three small overgrown pyramids constructed by the pre-Hispanic Maya. A shrine to the Virgin Mary defaced one of the pyramids when it was constructed on top of the pyramid during the reign of Pope John Paul II.