In Maya mythology, Ah Puch (Alternatively Ahpuch or Hun ahau) was the God of death and King of Metnal, the underworld.
Ah Puch is depicted as a skeleton or corpse adorned with bells, sometimes the head of an owl.
Even today, some Mexicans and Central Americans believe that an owl's screeches signify imminent death, as the following saying, in local Spanish, indicates:
- Cuando el tecolote canta... el indio muere (When the great owl sings, the Indian dies)
Like his Aztec equivalent, Mictlantecuhtli, Ah Puch frequently wears bells.
In modern folklore he survives as Yum Cimil, ‘lord of death’, prowling the houses of the sick in his endless search for prey.
Daniel Gleason included an ancient Mayan incantation to Ah Puch in his book Mind Games. Upon reading the incantation in the book, the reader was claimed by Ah Puch, who absorbed the life force of the reader. Ah Puch eventually came into conflict with the Phantom Stranger, when Gleason turned to him for help. Ah Puch possessed Gleason's body and brought the Phantom Stranger to Chichen Itza, where Ah Puch threw him into the Cenote in order to slowly devour his energies. Appealing to Gleason’s soul deep within the form of Ah Puch, the Phantom Stranger was able to exorcise Ah Puch. If Ah Puch was truly vanquished remains to be seen.