Monday, February 21, 2005

Popul Vuh... The Mayan Creation Myth

At first, there was nothing but the sky and the sea... the sky murmering, the sea at rest. The Sovereign Plumed Serpent/the Maker and Modeler was enclosed in his blue-green quetzal feathers and the Heart of Sky came together and talked... agreeing and joining their words and thoughts. With their word, they created the generation of trees, and of life. Then came Thunderbolt Hurricane, Newborn Hurricane, and Raw Thunderbolt, in that order. They came to the Sovereign Plumed Serpent asking how to set up earth.
Sovereign Plumed Serpent said to split the water to make land, sow it and dawn came. They simply said "Earth" and it was, mountains and rivers were created, and the sky was seperated. Next the guardians of the mountains and forests were created... the deer, birds, pumas, jaguars, serpents, rattlesnakes.. all were given a place to live and protect. However, the animals did not praise their creators. They simply howled, chattered and squawked. Since they did not give praise to their makers... the gods decreed that their service was to let their flesh be eaten.
The gods wanted to try again, to create beings to keep their names, to praise them and to speak. Sovereign Plumed Serpent tried building with earth and mud to create a human form. However, it simply kept falling apart and dissolving. It talked, but it was senselessly and its face was lopsided and kept twisting. It couldn't walk and it couldn't multiply. These attempts were dismantled and they began talking about experimenting againg.
Calling together other gods, they gathered wood to be carved and sculpted into manikins. They multiplied as well as looked and spoke like humans. However, their hearts were empty. They had no sweat, no fat, and flailed their arms and legs. It was another humiliation, another defeat for Sovereign Plumed Serpent. Heart of Sky sent a flood to kill them, resin fell from the sky, Gouger of Faces gouged out their eyeballs, Sudden Bloodletter snapped of their heads, Crunching Tiger ate their flesh and Tearing Jaguar tore them open. Dogs and turkeys ate them, the grinding stone ground them, and the cooking pots and tortilla griddles burned them. They were completely destroyed by all because they were incompetent for their mother and father.
Dawn was approaching and the earth still lacked its nurturer and provider. All came together, thinking in the darkness. Soon the sun, moon and stars were to appear. Then fox, coyote, parrot and crow brought news of the ears of yellow and white corn. These became the flesh for the new human forms. Water became the blood. And the first person, Jaguar Quitze was created. Next came Jaguar Night, Mahucutah and last True Jaguar. They were simply made, created out of the corn and earth. They talked with real words, walked, worked and praised their makers. These good looking males could see everything and everywhere.
It was then that Sovereign Plumed Serpent took back knowledge. They were too great, equal to gods, and with the removal of knowledge, they became the lesser humans to worship the gods and their creations. Last, the wives were created; Celebrated Seahouse for Jaguar Quitze, Prawn House for Jaguar Night, Hummingbird House for Mahucutah, and Macaw House for True Jaguar. These were the four mothers and fathers for all the Quiche people.

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