Lake Atitlan, Panajachel, Guatemala

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Location of Zarahemla and the Waters of Mormon

For my Z post last year I wrote about Zarahemla, a key city and land written about in the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ and companion to the Holy Bible.

People often question the location of this ancient city in the American continent, and wonder where Zarahemla could be.

I'm borrowing my Z post from last year's Challenge,  Where is Zarahemla and Does it Matter, and changing it up a bit to connect it with another interesting Book of Mormon geographical location--the Waters of Mormon.

The Waters of Mormon were a short distance from the City of Lehi-Nephi. The prophet Alma and his people left Lehi-Nephi under duress and persecution from King Noah.

Escaping to the forest in the borders of the land, the people gathered at a body of water called the Waters of Mormon. Here Alma taught them the gospel of Jesus Christ and baptized them in His name.

The group then traveled from this location for eight days, and stayed for a time in a valley they named Helam. Another twelve days journey from Helam took them to the City of Zarahemla.

For a group of people to walk or ride in wagons pulled by animals-- (we don't know what their transportation was so this is an assumption, using the way large groups of people traveled across the Western plains in the U.S. before gasoline-fueled vehicles)-- it would take about 20 days to travel from the Waters of Mormon to the City of Zarahemla. This is geographical background that can be helpful if one is wondering about the location of these two Book of Mormon places.

Now, where might the Waters of Mormon be located?

To the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints native to Central America, it is not a question. They are convinced the Waters of Mormon are one and the same with Lake Atitlan. At the time of Alma, the Waters of Mormon are described as containing "a beautiful fountain of pure water” (Mosiah 18:4-6) where the people entered and were baptized by immersion. For this reason, it became a sacred place to the people and the church of Jesus Christ at the time.

Currently Lake Atitlan is a huge land-locked body of water much larger than how the original Waters of Mormon are described. However, the lake has a life-giving spring that bubbles up from the center, and because there's no drainage, the rains fill it up each year as the level continues to rise, rise, rise.

In addition to the spring, there is the legend of the Xocomil, the wind that blows across Lake Atitlan and carries away sins. These two elements would seem to validate the idea that Lake Atitlan is indeed the original location of the Waters of Mormon. And if so, it isn't too difficult to ascertain the approximate location of our Z letter, Zarahemla.


  1. The water just continues to rise? That would mean it's a lot bigger now.
    Hope you've head fun with the Challenge!

    1. The lake is so big and keeps rising, with villages buried over the years. Then the rain makes the mountains fall and eventually we'll all be buried. Guess I'll move back to the States before that happens. LOL.

  2. This is so interesting! I love how special places in the natural world are incorporated into every religion and faith as places of healing. When a place seems to be full of healing benefits Buddhists say it has drala. Your beautiful Lake Atitlan seems like such a place for sure!
    It was pure pleasure to Zoom through the A to Zed with you my deario! I sure hope someday I can see your new home in person but until then it was great to see it through your eyes.

    1. Yes, Jan, it's been a long month! Look forward to seeing you and your friends in Pana one day soon!

  3. Fascinating! And also useful for A to Z.

    1. Mirka, Why I had to find a way to use Zarahemla again this year :)

  4. I love things that have mystery and adventure surrounding them. Not just this post but your whole challenge has been a joy to follow.

    Thanks again.
    2015 A to Z Challenge Ambassador

  5. A very interesting post and did not know that this lake keeps rising

  6. A lake that keeps rising? That must be something to see.

  7. What a great post! Thanks for sharing it. I'd love to see this lake one day. Congrats on completing the A-Z. Have a great day. Eva, IWSG co-host