Popol Vuh 2

This depiction of Hun Hunahpus head hanging from the gourd tree like just one more gourd was painted on a ceramic container by the ancient Mayas during the classical era

The downfall of Seven Macaw after the defeat of his mentors, the Evil Lords of Negativity allows for the Creative process to take place. Soon afterwards Hun Ahpu and Ix Balamque retrieve the head and decapitated body of their ancestor One Hun Ahpu. It is to be remembered that One Hun Ahpu had been killed earlier by the Evil Lords and his head had been hung as a grizzly trophy on the branch of a tree. Now that same head is placed on a sacrificial platter by his twin children along with a pile of the dead Lord’s sacred jewelry. The platter reflect the platters commonly used by ancient Maya royalty to hold sheets of white paper and copal incense which they ritually splattered with their own royal blood and later burned as sacrificial offerings to the ageless spirits.

Like their human counterparts, who believed that the destiny of their people depended on the royal sacrifice, One Hun Ahpu now becomes a divine sacrifice. And like the humans who saw rebirth and transcendence of death in the smoke of the burning blood and copal, so the head of the dead diety in the sacrificial platter holds the promise of a new rebirth, new creativity.

The timeless stories of Anakakuia and Seven Macaw transcend time and space. The lessons they teach are just as relevant now as when they were first told.

The story of Anakakuia was recorded by a Spanish Catholic monk commissioned by Christopher Columbus himself to learn as much as he could about the people that he was about to conquer. The monk, one Fray Ramon Pane, took the trouble of learning the Taino language so that he could gather as much information as he could about the natives. He called the finished written record of his research “Relacion De Las Indias”.

The story of Seven Macaw is told in a magnificent piece of Native Central American literature known as the “Popol Vuh”. The book was written by a Quiche Maya man from Guatemala about a generation after his people had been conquered by the Spanish. The work was written in the Maya language but the man used the same Roman letters of the alphabet that I am using here to write this in English. It is very probable that he was copying the work from an earlier version of the text which may have been written in the ancient Mayan hieroglyphic letters. Later the work was translated into Spanish and much later into English.

The section of the Popol Vuh that deals with the adventures of both sets of twins in the dim dangerous realm of the Lords of Negativity is of interest. It illustrates a series of hair-raising episodes in which the first set of twins are totally defeated by the treacherous schemes and double dealings of the Evil Lords. It also illustrates a second almost identical set of episodes in which the second set of twins triumph over their murderous adversaries.

These two parallel sets of adventures with different outcomes is believed by the Mayas to be played out mythically in the complex rhythms traced by the celestial bodies in the night sky. The night sky presents the Maya with a vast canvas upon which the whole story of the ancient spirits is told and retold endlessly.

As part of their trial for victory over the Lords of Negativitry, Hun Ahpu and Ix Balanque are challenged by the Dark Lords to a series of rough-and-tumble ball games that in many ways resemble modern day soccer.

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