To the Maya, the ceiba tree is considered to be Yaxche, the "world tree", the first tree in existence. Yaxche was axis mundi, the navel of the world uniting the underworld (represented here by the crocodile coming out of the water), the earth and the sky (heavens).

The ceiba tree is topped with a canopy of leafage with branches spreading out in all four directions. During its ascent, it gave birth to life on earth and later set stars and heavenly bodies in motion. Mayans believe in a connection between humans and the ceiba tree. Like a mother, the bearer of children, humankind can only perpetuate as long as the ceiba tree is alive.