Monday, May 28, 2012

Author's Note on May 28, 2012: "All the Time in the World".

Today, May 28, is the anniversary of the day, May 28, 3149 BC, when, in the Mayan calendar, Seven Macaw, or Vucub-Caquix, is shot down from his tree and begins his descent into the Underworld. At the same time, Seven Macaw's constellation, the Big Dipper, appears to turn upside down when viewed from the tropic latitudes, and begins to set below the horizon shortly after sunset.

Many scholars believe that the Seven Macaw character was based upon an earlier entity, the Primary Bird Deity, Itzam-Yeh, who in pre-Classic times was regarded as a genuine god, an animal aspect of Itzamna, The God of Magic.  By the time of the Popol Vuh story, however, Vucub Caquix is no longer a true god but only a "false deity", variously described as a bird, a demon, a monster, or a shapeshifting man. It's thought by writers such as John Major Jenkins that Seven Macaw's fall from grace represents a shift from the Polar Center, represented by the Big Dipper which orbits the Pole Star, to the Galactic Center whose bulge could be seen clearly in the tropical sky.

According to this theory, as the ancestors of the Maya moved southward, away from the Pole, they observed the Big Dipper sinking lower and lower in the sky, and in the spring, they saw it turn upside down like a bird plummeting to its death.

I was thinking about what it must have been like for Itzam Yeh's worshippers to see this happen for the first time. It must have been terrifying to see something they'd counted & relied on for so long, suddenly appear to be dying.

This date also has a personal meaning for me. Last year, on the day after May 28 -- May 29, 2011 -- my beloved grandmother Lillian Futo passed away. She was my Pole Star, the one person who was always there for me.

The Zipacna story I've just posted was suggested to me by the passage in the Popol Vuh where Zipacna meets the 400 Boys:

“Stay with us, boy. Do you have a mother or a father?”
“There is no one,” he replied.

This struck me as quite sad -- Zipacna has just become an orphan. Poor Zipacna. What was it like for him to lose his parents that way? A few days ago, Zipacna came to me & told me, so I wrote this short tale.

I've posted Zipacna's story on this date in honor of Vucub-Caquix, my grandmother and all of our lost loved ones.

~ Myrna Sabor

Zipacna: All the Time in the World.

"Zipacna's Travels"
Image reproduced with permission of the artist, Bruce Rimell.

Zipacna, the older son of Seven Macaw, bounded from peak to peak amid the rugged stone range. He was at his work, awash in the joy of creation. He raised his arms, and great columns of black basalt rose from the earth like menhirs, soaring into the sky. He jumped on the ground, and red hot lava spurted out from below, shaping itself into stone as if guided by the strokes of a painter's brush. The rock shifted and molded fluidly beneath his feet as he leapt from ledge to ledge. A mountain was rising. He was building his new masterpiece.

The two proud sons of Seven Macaw lived happy lives, roaming through the world wherever they wished, getting into all sorts of wild adventures and escapades. But what they both loved best was being out alone in the wilderness, working their art, sculpting the landscape. Zipacna, the elder, was the Maker-of-Mountains; he built great mounds and piles and jagged peaks of stone. His younger brother, Cabracan, was the Breaker-of-Mountains; he broke down the peaks, carved out canyons and valleys, levelled the hills, and made the land flat.

The two brothers were thousands of years old now, but they were still young in their looks and ways, still almost boys.They lived as if their future was always before them.

Their father had always let both of them do whatever they wanted.

Zipacna wasn't complaining. He loved his life, exploring the world and following his passion.

Today, however, he felt a bit uneasy. The sunlight was flickering strangely; it had been doing so for the past few days. Sometimes it would flare up brightly, then fade down to a hazy dimness. What was going on with Father?  he wondered. Was there some kind of trouble?  Zipacna shrugged. Whatever it was, Father could handle it. He'd never known of anything his father couldn't handle.

Zipacna returned to his great artwork. Soon, he had lost track of time completely, as he often did, immersed in the pleasure of building. Stone boomed and cracked around him, the ground shifting, the land molding into new shapes.

Then, there was a sharp, bright flash, like a stroke of lightning, a cry of pain, followed by a slow fade to grey. The sun's flickering continued, even more erratically.

Zipacna was alarmed now. Something must really be wrong. "Father!" he shouted. In three great leaps, he bounded down the mountainside and hit the road running. As swiftly as his strong, young legs could take him, he ran down the road leading to his father's city, down through the winding hills.and the forest to the city by the sea.

But, as Zipacna was running to help his father, the sky suddenly shone with a brilliant flash of light, brighter than any day that had ever before dawned. The whole sky was lit up; everything in the landscape was limned in pure white.

Then, the sky went completely black. All was silent. There was only darkness and stillness over the face of the earth.

Zipacna stopped running, right in his tracks. "No!" he wailed into the blackened heavens. But he knew it was too late. His father was dead now. And, soon, his mother would be too. She would not let her husband walk the Dark Road to Xibalba alone; she would choose to follow him there. His parents were like that.

Zipacna dropped to his knees in the road, crying, "Mommy, Daddy," his whole body shaking as he wept with overwhelming grief. A few drops of rain drifted down around him. Over the distant sea,  thunder rumbled faintly.

When he was finally able to pull himself back to his feet, Zipacna gazed bleakly at the once-familar landscape of his father's country. It was much harder to see now; the only light came from a thin crack at the horizon's edge. The trees, hills, and valleys loomed like dusky shadows in the dark grey dimness.

What was he to do now? Zipacna wondered. With his father gone, there was no one left to hold back the hurricane except him and his little brother Cabracan. They had inherited their father's power, but they didn't have his knowledge, skill, training or experience. They had never bothered to acquire these things; it had just always seemed like there would be enough time.

It had always seemed like they had all the time in the world.

He had to try, now, somehow. Perhaps he could find some of the other people who knew about magic. Maybe he could bring them together, to fight the gods; maybe someone could teach him what to do. There had to be a way.

Zipacna looked for the last time down the hill, down the road leading to the city by the sea where his home had been. For all of his life, like the sun in the sky, his parents had been a constant, abiding presence, always there, always to be relied on, often taken for granted. Wherever he had roamed in the world, no matter how far he had gone, there had always been a home to come back to -- a candle in the window, a bed for him to sleep in, arms to hug him. Now it was all gone. Zipacna couldn't go home now, for there was no home left.

Zipacna could never go home again.

So he turned around, and went the other way up the road.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hun Caquix Buys the Farm.

Once there was a farmer who had two sons,
Hun Caquix and Vucub Caquix:
One Macaw and Seven Macaw.

The time came when the father died,
For his mortal legacy to divide.

The older brother was the heir;
He wished to still remain a pair.
And so he said to Seven Macaw:
We must be two, it is the way:
One the first and one the second,
One the elder, one the younger,
One the greater, one the lesser.
With me in my house you must stay.

But Seven Macaw thought to himself:
I can stay with Hun Caquix
Forever on my brother's leash;
Or I can go off on my own,
To see what fortune may have sown.

So Seven Macaw left the farm behind
A destiny of his own to find.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Verse Drama: The Shaking of the Day of Seven Macaw.

[I've completed the first part of this project, "The Shaking of the Day of Seven Macaw", a verse drama set during the cataclysmic events at the end of the Third Age, which closely follows the Popol Vuh storyline. Here is the complete drama, linked into the correct narrative order.]

The Shaking of the Day of Seven Macaw

A Verse Drama Based on the Popol Vuh

Dramatis Personae

[The characters' Mayan names have different pronunciations. The ones I've given here make my rhymes work right.]

Hurucan (pronounced like "Hurricane"), also "Heart-of-Sky": storm-god, Chief Sky God, Cosmic Creator-Destroyer Deity.

The Hero Twins, Hunahpu (HOO-na-poo) and Xbalanque (Ex-ba-LAN-kay): sons of the original sun god, One-Hunahpu.

Seven Macaw, also Vucub Caquix (WOO-koob Ka-KEESH): bird-human shapeshifter and self-styled sun god.

Chimalmat (Chee-MAL-mot or Chee-mal-MOT): bird-human shapeshifter, wife of Seven Macaw


1. Among the Sky Gods.

2. In the Nance Tree. 

3. The Hero Twins' Challenge (or, "Xbalanque, Hunahpu, Have I Got a Deal For You!") 

4. The Fall of Seven Macaw (or, Hunahpu Flips the Bird). 

5. The Bird Is Caught in the Snare.

6. The Death of Seven Macaw (or, "This Is an Ex-Parrot!").

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Bird Is Caught in the Snare.

[This section explains something rather puzzling in the Popol Vuh story: when Seven Macaw is shot in the jaw by the Hero Twins, instead of getting the wound treated immediately by someone he trusts, he just lies around for several days letting it fester, until he is so weakened that he easily falls prey to the Twins' ruse in the final episode. What is the reason for his self-destructive behavior? A simplistic explanation would be that the character is just stupid. But I really don't think Seven is stupid.

Here, I've put together a plausible dramatic scenario. I'm rather proud of having come up with this plot device -- no, not THAT proud. Don't shoot me! =)]

What shall we do about Seven Macaw?
So far we have only broken his jaw.

Seven Macaw's pride will destroy him.
He won't seek help until it's too late.
Then we will offer him help, indeed --
When he is sick, we'll take his riches.
We'll beguile him with friendship,
We will kill him with kindness.

The two brothers laughed at their sport;
And it happened as Hunahpu said.

For thus said Seven Macaw:
Hunahpu claims I am not divine;
He knows not the glory that is mine.
Because of the metal in my eyes
I am immortal; I cannot die.
I need no aid to mend my bone;
I'll heal this ill by will alone.
They all the world will know and see
Seven Macaw's divinity.

But the wound made by Hunahpu
Rankled and festered.

And worms came to Seven Macaw's jaw,
And the worms crawled in his teeth,
They climbed into his nose and eyes;
And in Seven Macaw's unyielding pride
The worms grew thick and multiplied.

And the Lords of Xibalba sent their demons,
With powers to sicken and weaken,
With powers to torment and stricken:

Flying Scab and Gathered Blood,
Master of Pus,  Master of Jaundice,
Bone Scepter and Skull Scepter,
Sweepings Demon, Stabbings Demon,
Wing and Packstrap --

The demons danced around Seven Macaw,
To poison his blood, to swell up his jaw,
To fill his bones and veins with putrescence.

And so the magnificent Seven Macaw,
Stubbornest of the stubborn People of Wood,
Was caught in the hunters' snare.

But while Seven Macaw sickened with pride,
His wife Chimalmat stayed by his side.

At sunset, Seven Macaw sank down in relief
And sighed, too weary even to speak,
Worn and drained, torn with pain,
Seven Macaw lay weary but awake,
Deprived of sleep by his jaw's unending ache.

And Chimalmat spoke to him softly:
Now you must rest from making light,
Let me hold you through the night.

She embraced him in her arms,
She folded him in her wings,
And Seven Macaw closed his shining eyes
Enclosed in her soft green wings.

And he who would be Moon & Sun
Surrendered to her, who surrendered to none.

Then Chimalmat sang to him in the night,
To soothe his pain, to bring respite.

And here is one song she sang:

"Remember, my dearest, how we flew through the trees
In the green forest shadows, aloft on the breeze.
Remember, my dear one, those days long ago,
When we met in the darkness, your eyes all aglow.

And I tell thee true, my dearest one,
You have always been my Moon and Sun.

In days long ago, before you were the Sun,
We sang in the treetops, our souls became one.
Even before you had lit up the Moon,
We danced in the branches, we both to one tune.

BuI I tell thee true, my dearest one,
You have always been my Moon and Sun."

And Seven Macaw said to Chimalmat,
Fortunate I am before all others,
Happy I am beyond others,
Not because I am the Sun,
Not because I am the Moon,
But because thou art my love.

And Chimalmat wept.

When the time of dawn came to the skies,
Seven Macaw opened up his eyes;
With terrible effort, he brought forth the light;
Screaming in anguish, like one giving birth
He brought the sunrise back to the Earth.

Meanwhile, the Hero Twins stood watching
For signs of Seven Macaw's downfall
See how the sunlight flashes and fades,
How it flutters and flares
Like a flickering flame;
Seven Macaw is crying in pain,
Now he is sobbing, now he is weeping.
Now he is weakened,
Now we will kill him.

I see it, Brother. He's ripe for the killing.
He'll fall into our hands like the fruit of his nance tree,
He'll fall to the ground like that fruit he's so fond of.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Murmur and Rustle.

[Seven Macaw's encounter with the Hero Twins, from a first-person perspective.]

He is lying stunned. Not moving, not breathing. He's not dead; he's just had his breath knocked out so hard his lungs can't start moving again.

He is staring up at the blue sky, blankly. The sky is so far away.

The leaves are drifting down on him.

There are only the soft murmurs and rustles of the forest, the rustle and murmur of leaves.

He is only a motionless object. But all of his senses are still working, both his human senses and his bird senses.

There are soft rustles in the grass.

The hunters are approaching. He senses them coming, with both his human senses and his bird senses. He smells their scents. They are very similar. Relatives. Brothers.

He still can't breathe. His lungs are so empty. He lies still, a wooden object.

All of his senses are warning him.

The hunters are coming closer. He sees feet and legs above him. One of the hunters pulls out a knife and lifts it to strike.

Suddenly, he springs up. Life and motion return to him. He is able to breathe again; he is whooping air desperately. He grabs the wrist of the man with the knife, holding it tightly, using the man's wrist to lever himself up from the ground.

The other hunter is approaching from the side. He throws out his foot and trips the man. The hunter goes rolling in the grass. Seven Macaw catches his breath, and laughs.

There are two of them, but he is not afraid.

He is immortal, after all.

The leaves are drifting down.

Authors Note: When I composed this scene, it was a cloudy morning. I looked out the window at my backyard; there was that eerie, hazy light, and the stillness, and the green of spring leaves.

This was one scene that I was able to compose in my head, word for word, and then type out verbatim at the computer.  There was that eerie feeling that I get sometimes when writing fiction, of actually being there.

It's 2012, folks, and weird shit is happening.


[A stream-of-consciousness piece, written from the alternating viewpoints of Seven Macaw and an anonymous wooden dummy.]

he is sitting in the car seat
sitting there waiting for the car to start

The sky is clear, before him and beneath him;
There is only the blue, beneath and around him.

his hands don't reach the steering wheel
he wishes he could take the steering wheel
but his arms aren't made to move

Something hits him. He is hurled sideways
Before he knows what happened.

the car is starting

The blue sky is falling away from him,
Rushing away upward.

the car is accelerating
the force of motion pushes him back in the seat

It is happening too fast, he can't control his motion;
He flaps his wings, but he can't stop falling.

and it is happening too fast too fast
there is no way to hit the brakes
because his feet can't move

He is going to crash.

the car is going to crash

The ground rushes up against him from beneath
Like an earthquake;
Like a great tidal wave it strikes him from below,
The ground itself like a great hand striking a blow.

he is pitched forward into the windshield
his face goes into the windshield in a spiderweb of cracks
the car turns over

He is struck by the ground from beneath
With overwhelming force, unbearable pain..
He sees the sky rushing away upward,
He hears the wind rushing and roaring
Like a hurricane.

the car turns over rolling and burning
he can't move can't get out
the car is breaking apart

He is lying there broken.

he is lying there broken

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Fall of Seven Macaw (or, Hunahpu Flips the Bird).

[This is one of the most famous scenes in Mayan mythology. I think it's where the phrase "flipping the bird" originally came from. I've followed the PV account in general outline, with a few changes.]

But Seven Macaw still could not see past the horizon.
He knew not Hurucan's plans, he knew not Hurucan's secrets.

And one day again he flew to the nance tree,
And one day again he spoke to the wind:
I will see you, Hurucan!
You will not conceal yourself in clouds.

And Seven Macaw arose on high:
He stood, he rose, he raised his wings,
Balanced upon the highest branch
In the form of a luminous bird
Perched upon the swaying branch,

And from his eyes he shone the light
To pierce the clouds of Hurucan;
And from his face he shone the light
To the horizon's furthest plane,

Searching, seeking, piercing --
All his will, all his mind on the horizon alone,
All his sight drawn to the horizon alone.

And as Seven Macaw stood all alone,
High off the ground, on the uppermost branch,
Alone and up high on that thin, swaying branch --

There, down below, under the nance tree,
Were the two sons of One-Hunahpu,
Hunahpu and Xbalanque.

Hunahpu whispered to his brother
He does not see us. He does not notice.
He sees us not as we hide in the bushes.
Let's get him now -- he won't know what hit him!

Shoot, Brother, while I stand watch;
We will destroy him and no one will save him.

So he loaded his blow-gun, the son of the Sun:
He aimed in the stillness at Seven Macaw;
Silent and deadly his aim did he draw;
He shot at the jawbone, he shot with his gun.

So silent his dart, so deadly his aim,
Seven Macaw did not know when it came.
Out of the blue he was struck on the jaw,
Hurled from the sky was Seven Macaw,
Shrieking in agony, struck, stunned, surprised,
Not knowing what happened, he fell from the skies.

Down through the branches he tumbled and crashed,
Down from the treetop he helplessly fell,
Down from the heavens, down from the clouds,
Down to the ground where he crashed and lay still.

Now, said Hunahpu, We'll finish him off,
We'll wring the neck of that bird.

The brothers approached, one on each side
Of Seven Macaw, where he lay stricken.
"Now!" cried Hunahpu; he pulled out his knife --
Up sprang Seven Macaw, and fought for his life.

Seven Macaw:
Who are you two, and why do you attack me?

We are Hunahpu and Xbalanque;
The sons of One-Hunahpu,
The One and True Sun --
The one you have wronged,
The one you offend.

Expect no mercy from us, Macaw --
We're here to take what's ours.

Seven Macaw:
You claim the Sun by right of birth,
But it is I who light the Earth.
My actions are my only claim,
I need no other source of fame.
What you were given, I have learned;
My own divinity I have earned.
I was not born above the sky,
Yet still no less a god am I.

Then let a show of strength decide
Which of us is deified.

We will restore our father's right,
We will regain our rightful claim,
By snuffing out your stolen light
In the name of Hurucan!

Seven Macaw:
Then against the name of Hurucan
And whatever heralds bear it
I will fight.

So they rolled on the ground, they wrestled and fought,
The sons of One-Hunahpu and the bird that they caught.

And Seven Macaw changed as he fought,
From bird to man, from man to bird --
Now here, now there, a rapid blur.
Though he stood alone against the pair
Without a friend, he felt no fear.
Like feral lightning, wild and fierce
Was the flashing of his metal eyes.

They grappled and struggled, dust flew from the ground,
And on went the contest, round after round,

Until Seven Macaw caught the arm of Hunahpu,
And he tore and pulled off the arm of Hunahpu.

The Son of the Sun gave a terrible cry;
Off went the Macaw, away did he fly
Bearing the arm of his enemy's son.
He took it away -- the trophy he'd won.

Never fear, said Hunahpu, I'll get back my arm.
Then that bird will regret doing me harm.

The Hero Twins' Challenge (or, "Xbalanque, Hunahpu, Have I Got a Deal For You!")

[Hurucan and the Sky Gods conspire against Seven Macaw. The Hero Twins, the Popol Vuh's most important protagonists, are introduced.]

Seven Macaw holds back my rains.
No flood can come while he remains.

And one of the gods asked:
Who is this Seven Macaw?
He was not with us at the Creation;
No one has seen him up here in the Sky.

And some of the other gods said:

Some say he is a man who became a bird,
Or a bird who became a man.

He fancies himself a god.

He says that he is the Sun.

Then Hunahpu and Xbalanque,
The sons of One-Hunahpu,
Spoke forth in anger:
He is not the Sun!
Our father, One-Hunahpu, is the Sun,
Our father, and he alone!

Why does your father not claim his throne?

He cannot rise while the false sun reigns.
Our father dwells in Xibalba's gloom,
Locked within its darkest room,
Where he lies in deepest shame
Without a way to clear his name
From his defeat before the Lords
Of dark Xibalba, who over him scored.
He cannot rise 'til the sky is cleared
Of that usurping, upstart bird!

Xbalanque, Hunahpu,
This promise I now make to you:
Should you slay that man, that bird,
I, Heart-of-the-Sky, swear on my word,
Your father's place shall be restored;
He shall again be Solar Lord.

Hunahpu and Xbalanque:
Then off we go, to hunt Macaw,
And thus restore the Cosmic Law!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Death of Seven Macaw.

[This is based closely on the PV version, with some extra details added. I've tried to make it even more gruesome than in the original, and also to imitate the folk-tale quality and ironic, macabre humor.]

On the next day, Seven Macaw
Was sitting in front of his house.

Down the road came two old people
Accompanied by two teenage boys.

Seven Macaw:
Good day, old grandparents.
Where are you going?

We're going to town, my lord, to look for work.

Seven Macaw:
Why do you have to work, old ones?
Aren't your sons old enough to help?

They are not our sons, my lord,
They are only our grandchildren,
Just two poor orphans.
We care for them and give them a bit of food.

When Seven Macaw looked again,
The boys seemed only children.
And Seven Macaw's heart was softened
By the two old people's kindness.

Seven Macaw:
Well, what do you do, then, old ones?
Maybe I can offer you hire.

We are but two old healers;
We only cure teeth, my lord,
We only cure teeth and eyes.

And Seven Macaw held out his hand,
Humbled, at last, like a mortal man.

Seven Macaw:
You have helped those who have none.
Now help me, I beg you --
I who am the Sun.
For I can neither sleep nor eat
Due to the torment of my teeth.
Take pity on me; I am the lord
Upon whom Hurucan's wrath is poured.

The grandparents bowed to him and said:
O lord who drives off the deadly rain,
We will end your dreadful pain.

So they went inside and made him lie down on a table.

Now we will have to take out all your teeth.
It's the only way to get the worms out.

Seven Macaw:
Perhaps that's not such a good idea.
I am only a lord because of my teeth and eyes.

Don't worry, we'll put in replacements.
They'll be as good as new.
Now just lie as still as you can,
It's best if you don't move at all.
It'll hurt less if you don't squirm and wriggle.
You must let us tie you down.

Seven Macaw:
O grandparents,
I am desperate for rest;
I will do as you think best.

So Seven Macaw let himself be bound.

The grandparents took out the sacred items of sacrifice
And laid them on the table around Seven Macaw.

Seven Macaw:
What are those for, grandparents?

Oh, they are just instruments for the curing.

One by one, they pulled out Seven Macaw's teeth.
As each came out, the sky grew dimmer.
So they lit candles, and placed them around him,
Arranged for ritual like on an altar.

In place of his glorious jade and turquoise teeth
They put in soft kernels of maize.

Seven Macaw:
Grandparents, these teeth don't feel right --
I don't think they fit.

Don't worry, my lord, you'll get used to them.
Now we are going to cure your eyes.
It will all be over soon;
Soon, you won't feel a thing.

The grandparents called the two boys to bring the tools.

"Here they are," the boys said.
Then they stepped forward, and dropped their disguises.
And there stood the two sons of One-Hunahpu,
Hunahpu and Xbalanque.

Look upon our faces, Seven Macaw;
It is the last thing you will ever see.

Then Seven Macaw knew he was undone,
Betrayed by the tricksters, the sons of the Sun.

Hunahpu and Xbalanque took their knives,
They gouged out Seven Macaw's golden eyes,
They carved the silver from his nose
And flayed the metal from his face
'Til it was gone without a trace.

Seven Macaw cried out in utter despair,
In absolute loss. His screams shook the air,
And all in the city shuddered in terror.

And as the last of his greatness left him,
He who once had been the Sun
Became again a mortal man.

And Seven Macaw fell dead.

The sun went out, the sky turned black,
His power vanished from the skies,
No more did he hold back the storm
And so the Wooden People died.

And that was the slaying of Seven Macaw:
A sacrifice to bring the rain,
A sacrifice to Hurucan.

In the Nance Tree.

Seven Macaw, sitting in the nance tree:
This is the nance tree, highest tree on Earth.
This is the place where I see all the world.

But what is that, far away, at the world's rim?

Dark clouds are coming over the horizon;
Dark clouds, black clouds low on the horizon.
Something is gathering beyond my sight;
Some dread power that evades my light.

I must climb higher, I must look farther --

What does Seven Macaw see from his tree,
At the edge of the world, on the waves of the sea?
What does he see by the dim, fading light,
Beyond the horizon, at the end of his sight?

A storm is gathering over the ocean;
It is Hurucan turning and churning;
High in the heavens his wrath is burning,
Bringing the storm-winds, curling and twirling,
Heart-of-the-Sky in anger whirling.

Seven Macaw shouts into the wind:
Hear me, Hurucan!
I see your dark stormcloud, I know of your plans.
Hide no more from me past the horizon.
What is your purpose? Why do you threaten?

The voice of Hurucan roars on the wind:
The time is coming of storm and strife;
An end I am bringing to this age of Earth --
The end of the people unworthy of life.

Seven Macaw:
 It is life that decides its own worth.

But it was my power that gave them birth
And that power can take back what it gave.

Seven Macaw:
 Never, Hurucan, as long as I live!

Heart-of-the-Sky, my challenge I call:
As long as I stand, this world shall not fall.
Not one shall die while I still remain;
Not one shall you slay until I am slain.

I swear by my life, my will shall not bend,
As long as I live, the world will not end.

 So you have spoken, Seven Macaw;
By your own words you have sealed your own fall.

Seven Macaw:
We'll see, Heart-of-Sky, who will win in the end.
I am the Sun. All the world is my friend.
The People of Wood do not follow your ways.
It is I who bring them their nights & their days.

The wind howls, and shakes the tree.

You are not the Sun; you are only a bird.
No more shall you speak arrogant words.
Here is the doom I pronounce:
Your teeth shall be torn from your mouth,
Your eyes shall be gouged from your head;
You shall go to Xibalba, to dwell with the dead.

Seven Macaw:
O great Hurucan, I fear not your rage.
I will hold back the end of the age.
Bring on your wrath, bring on your storm,
I stand between you and the world that you scorn.

So let it be done.
You shall live to regret
Every word you have spoken,
And more bitterly yet
Shall you be broken.

Seven Macaw:
I care not for your threat.
I am the Light, the Moon and the Sun.
I sit in the sky, this world is my home;
I'll rescue the people that you have disowned.
Not one shall perish, not one shall you slay
While Seven Macaw is the maker of Day.

Days you may make, Seven Macaw --
False days only, and false nights;
But I am the Maker of All
And what I made, I can destroy.

The wind shook the tree, and the leaves trembled --
But Seven Macaw trembled not.

Table of Contents -- Read the Story in This Order.

Seven Macaw

A Mythic Narrative Inspired by the Popol Vuh,
In Prose and Verse.

Prologue: Prophecy

Prophecy: December 21, 2012.


The Rise of Seven Macaw in the Third Age. (verse)

The Time of Early Dawn. (Beginning of the Third Age)

The Shaking of the Day of Seven Macaw. (Toward the End of the Third Age)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Outline of the Plot.

Seven Macaw ("Vucub-Caquix" in the Mayan tongue) was born at the beginning of the Third Age. He belonged to a lost race of beings called the Wooden People, who inhabited the Earth before modern humans. He was one of the first shamans of that age, and he gained the ability to shapeshift into a bird and perform other feats of magic. Using these arts, he created magical ornaments that he wore on his face, which gave him godlike power, the light of the Sun and Moon, and immortality. He used his powers to aid his people, and became a benefactor to all the world.

The Wooden People began to think for themselves, and they departed from the ways of the old gods. And the gods grew angry, for they wanted praise, obedience and sacrifice.  So the storm-god Hurucan, Heart-of-Sky, the great Creator and Destroyer of All, decided to slay them all in a great flood. But he could not do so while Seven Macaw protected the world. So Hurucan sent the Hero Twins -- two great hunters and wily tricksters -- to destroy Seven Macaw. Through his fatal flaw of pride, Seven Macaw was defeated.  Stripped of his power and immortality, Seven was sent down the dark road to the Underworld, Xibalba.

And so Hurucan's genocide succeeded. The Wooden People were brutally slaughtered and wiped out in the flood, their souls cursed to remain forever in Xibalba. In the Popol Vuh, the few who managed to remain on Earth were turned into howler monkeys. In my version of the story, they've been turned into inanimate objects like store mannequins and crash test dummies, reduced to total nonentiity.

Seven Macaw himself has spent the last 5,125 years in Xibalba, gradually rising through the levels and regaining his transcendence. Finally, he was able to oust Vucub Came, the second-ranking Lord of Xibalba and take his place (probably at the same time that someone on Earth mixed up the names "Vucub Came" and "Vucub Caquix", and the name got changed in the manuscripts.)

But as this Long Count comes to an end, Seven Macaw has an even more ambitious plan.

At the December Solstice of 2012, as the Earth aligns with the galactic core and the road to Xibalba opens in the sky, Seven intends to bring the souls of his people back to the world of the living -- to resurrect the People of Wood.

Verse Introduction.

[This poem should have come first. See, I told you I'd suck as a daykeeper.]

This is the story of Seven Macaw,
First of the shamans, bird, god and man;
Seven Macaw who challenged the Sky.

Of the lost people,
A world washed to ruin,
An age of the world before time.

This is the story of sorrow and wonder,
Seven Macaw in yearning and anguish,
Of light and transcendence,
Of death and despair.

Seven Macaw, the Lord of Xibalba,
Vucub-Caquix, the Victor of Death,
Who guards the dark gateway
At the heart of the galaxy,
At the end and beginning,
The black hole's horizon.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Among the Sky Gods.

[Hurucan announces his plans before the other Sky Gods. In the Popol Vuh's official version, these are supposed to be the good guys. Some good guys, huh?]

Heart-of-the-Sky looked down upon the world.
He was displeased at the people he had made,
The people he called the Wooden Mannikins.

I regret that I have made them:
The Wooden People, less than human,
Inferior, flawed, impure, imperfect.
Wooden Mannikins, unworthy of life.

I regret them, I reject them,
I condemn them -- I will kill them!
I who made them will destroy them.
Hurucan will sweep the world,
Hurucan will raise the waves,
A flood upon the Earth I'll bring
To send these people to their graves.

And all the Gods of the Sky agreed:
Truly they are nothing more than a failure,
Truly they do not deserve to live.

The Earth must be made pure again,
Pure as the garden of the gods,
That we may plant a new race more to our liking,
Frame a new plan to establish our glory.

And so Hurucan went down from the sky,
He set down his foot on the sea,
He lowered his foot to the sea
And the winds began to turn.

2012: Seven Macaw's Prophecy.

She is standing there. She is wearing beautiful clothes. People are looking at her.

No, they aren't really looking at her. They are only looking at her clothes. They don't look at her face, her eyes. Just her clothes.

The people are walking around and talking to each other. They are carrying bags of clothes.

They are not talking to her, only to each other.

She wants someone to look at her, to talk to her. She wants to talk to someone.

It has been so long.

She sees a woman standing close by, right beneath her, talking to her friends.

She tries to lift her arm. Slowly and jerkily, it begins to move. She reaches down to tap the woman gently on the shoulder.

The woman turns and looks up at her.

She makes her mouth move. It is hard at first.  "Hello," she says, curving her lips into a smile. She remembers her name; she remembers it clearly. "I am Naveena. Who are you?"

The woman just stares, her eyes growing round as an owl's behind her spectacles. Then her mouth opens up, and she screams.

Other people are screaming now too, screaming and running away.

Why are they running away from her? She isn't doing anything wrong.

The people are running and screaming, pushing and shoving, the crowd swirling like a tide of water.

Naveena holds out her arms helplessly. She doesn't know how to make her legs move yet.

"Please don't go," she says.

"Please come back. Please talk to me.

I want to be your friend."

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Rise of Seven Macaw in the Third Age.

[This introduces the overall setting and the main character.]

Long ago, in the age before the great flood,
The world was dark, for there was no sun nor moon,
Only a trace of early dawn on the face of the Earth.
And that was when the Wooden People lived.

Their flesh was made of wood,
But they were much like us.

They spoke and thought,
They loved and fought,
They worked and played,
They sang and danced,
They laughed and cried,
They lived and died.

But they did not remember the gods,
And they walked wherever they wanted.
So the gods thought them worthless,
And plotted to destroy them.

But there was one among them who magnified himself,
Who sought only transcendence.
He was like a sign to the people who were flooded,
Like an enchanted being in his essence.

And this is the transcendence of Seven Macaw,
How he became like one of the gods.

In metal he placed the rays of the Sun,
In metal he placed the light of the Moon,
Of all precious metals he made his ornaments,
And with turquoise and jade he made the arch of the sky.

He placed the power of the Sun within his eyes
And the magic of the Moon upon his nose,
And the blue vault of the sky upon his teeth.

And he turned to the horizon, and the first sunlight shone.
And when he turned again, there came the moonlight.
And the world began to be bright with a new day.

And the Wooden People rejoiced,
But the gods were jealous and angry.

Prelude: Before the Long Count.

It is very, very long ago, in a prehistoric age, in a primeval rain forest. It is warm now, but not very humid. The dry season is beginning.

It is dark and quiet now. There are only soft murmurs and rustlings in the trees, and a faint shining on the ground, like the first light of dawn.

Then the sky begins to brighten with a strange luminescence, a light that is not of this world.

From the highest tree that rises above the forest canopy, a mysterious voice speaks:

"I am the Sun, I am the Moon."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Xibalba: The Room of the Broken Dolls.

The little ghost stood before an obsidian door. It led to the next room of Xibalba that lay before him.

Xibalba, the Realm of the Dead, is like a great spiral seashell with many layers. In it are level after level, many houses and many rooms. The only way to escape from Xibalba is to pass through all the rooms, one after another, and face whatever is in them.

And what they contain is different for each person.

This ghost only recently had come here, to Xibalba, through the black hole in the galactic core. He did not remember very much. The passage through the black hole had wiped away most of his knowledge of what had happened, and who he had been.

The ghost touched his face; it felt strange, like something was missing. But he couldn't worry about that now. He approached the black door.

He knew there was something horrifying behind it. But it was the only way to go on. He pulled it open; it was dark inside. Slowly, carefully, he slipped through, his bare feet feeling the ground. The door clanged shut behind him.

Inside, at first, it was as if everything had vanished. There was only darkness and the soft murmur and ripple of waters; the murmur and ripple of waters beneath the darkness.

Then it began to become more clear and solid. There was a faint shining in the distance, at the edge of the horizon. Distant lightning flashed and crackled beneath the black sky.

As the ghost's vision grew accustomed to the gloom, he saw that before him was a desolate, forgotten city. The buldings lay in ruins, the streets flooded with black water that murmured and gurgled, littered with upturned carts and wagons, fallen trees, dead animals, piles of refuse and rubble.

And everywhere there were the wooden dolls, large, like mannequins, floating and bobbing in the black water. They were broken and mangled; their clothes were torn, paint smeared, eyes ripped out, faces missing, arms and legs broken off, bodies shattered and splintered. Some of them looked like they'd been gnawed by animals. A woman doll was standing up incongruously, leaning against a pushcart, blank eyes staring lifelessly.

He was sickened by the stench, everywhere the smell of putrid water and rotting wood.

The air of the room was permeated with a sense of unspeakable sorrow, unbearable loss.

There was something he ought to know about this place.

He was afraid, terribly afraid. But he stepped cautiously forward into the mud. The water lapped about his toes.

Recognition began to dawn in him.

The wooden figures were just dolls. But, somehow, they had once been alive. And now they were all dead. No, not just dead. Worse than dead, much worse. They had been rendered lifeless, inert, inanimate. Turned into mere objects.

Something bumped against his foot. He looked down.

It was a little girl doll, life-size. She had a pretty brown face and long black hair tied in pigtails. One side of her head was gone, and the other side of her face was painted with a bright, cheery smile.

He screamed; he couldn't help it. The sound echoed through the ruins, through the hollow, empty space. Some sea birds flapped up into the dark sky.

The ghost was crying now; he couldn't hold back his tears. There was only the sound of his weeping and the murmuring of the waters.

But it is not safe to stand still for too long, here in Xibalba. A person who does that might get stuck in one spot for centuries. So he stepped down into the flooded street, and began making his way through the piles of rubble, through the vast ruined city.

He knew that, somewhere, at the other end of this room, there was a door leading out. But he would have to go through this whole place to get there.

And it might take a very long time to find it.