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Another thought on contexts [21 Oct 2008|06:04pm]

I'm sure this has been remarked on before somewhere, but when we talk about bringing old gods into the present world we are also working within dual aspects of what has been called "cultural relativism"

We are at the same time increasing this relativism...and being acted upon by it.

Increasing it by manifesting another interpretation and more awareness of that god.

Being acted upon because our base of knowledge about other history and culture is what has "created" cultural relativism...and this is the environment in which our effort exists. I wrote before that a ritual to the moon can't mean the same to us because we know what the moon really is and the ancients didn't. In the same way our 'relatively' vast knowledge of all these other cultures and religions makes it impossible to relate to these gods in the same way. That hypothetical Aztec priest from 1500 wouldn't have to relate his experience of Tezcatlipoca to other completely different traditions...(either in synthesis or confrontation). He didn't know about Odin, Zeus, Allah, Buddha, or Jesus (although Jesus would soon be forced on him!)

So when we conjure that old god into the modern context part of that context includes a relativism the likes of which no other time has ever contended with.

I'll requote what wrote a few days ago since that is part of the 'context' of my thought:

>By coincidence I came across a quote by Slavoj Zizek...who seems to be the "hot" philosopher of the moment:

"Apropos of an intense religious ritual, it is commonplace to claim that we, outside observers, can never interpret it properly, since only those who are directly immersed in the life-world of which this ritual is a part can grasp its meaning (or, more accurately, they do not reflexively understand it, they directly 'live' in its meaning)."

We always have to think about it...we always are attempting some sort of restoration. But I'm not claiming that these restorations have no link with the original, or that nothing original survives in someone's restoration whether it be intellectual or spiritual.

There seems to be dual aspects to bringing old gods into the modern world...a consistent and a contingent aspect.

Maybe I could compare a deity, an "archetype", to an emotion. We could make a reasonable claim that love, hate, fear, joy, etc. are consistently part of the human experience. This 21st century guy sitting at his computer experiences them and so did an Aztec priest in 1500. But these emotions manifest in a context that makes them partly contingent. Each place and time has "rules" about how emotions can be expressed, which are good or bad, who has more right to express each emotion, and so on.

Even though the core emotion is the same its manifestation can be governed by very different "rules" determined by context. This would also be the same in regards to intellectually or ritually bringing a deity into our here and now. Different understandings will automatically be in play. This does not mean the original is ignored...but there is this major aspect of (re)creation. Yet there must also be something in the original that attracts us in the first place...something that makes us want to restore it. There is always a "there" there. The (re)creation is not out of nothing.
(Although one of Tezcatlipoca's names, Moyocoyani, has been translated as "The Lord who thinks himself up" or "Maker of himself"!)
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Reflections I [04 Oct 2008|04:59am]

Now that my nomadic interests have wandered and wondered back to the Aztec mythos I find myself pulling out my old copy of the Markman and Markman book _The Flayed God_ and reading the following about Tezcatlipoca...(pg. 84)

"Nothing makes the complexity of Mesoamerican cosmological thought more apparent than the fact that Tezcatlipoca, the enigmatic trickster, was seen by the Aztecs as the apparent center of all reality...They seem to have felt that as one approaches the center, reality becomes progressively harder to understand and more difficult to control. At the center is a unity that is beyond man's power to even comprehend."

I like that. But I can't help but think that if you could sit down with an Aztec priest from 1500 he wouldn't express it that way and might not have that exact understanding... that exact interpretation.

And this gets me to the point that I wish to make. Even if a modern mind is trying to understand a deity from another time and another place in the original context, that modern mind automatically brings that deity into a new context...the here and now of its own consciousness.

Even on a "merely" conceptual level the deity is transformed by that new time and that new place. Into the magic circle of that modern mind a new understanding has been summoned. Take the generic example of any god/dess associated with the harvest or the cycles of the seasons. A university student (or a suburban witch) is not going to relate to that deity in the same way as its worshippers did 100s or 1000s of years ago. The context is too different.

But arising out of the mystery of the past shouldn't Tezcatlipoca especially enjoy that sort of situation. A god described as "protean" and as a "shape-shifter" might take great delight in being conjured up into the thoughts of a 21st century brain.

So what might a modern human see in the Obsidian Mirror?

(To be continued at my leisure!)
23 comments|post comment

Mirror, mirror [27 Sep 2008|04:17am]

[ mood | contemplative ]

I stumbled across this group after I decided to list Tezcatlipoca as an interest. It looks like nothing has gone on here for quite some time, but I'll still throw something out there!

Listing an interest as it comes to mind can cause me to go back and review it a bit. So when it occurred to me to list Tez I pulled Brundage's book _The Fifth Sun_ off the shelf and rediscoverd an entire chapter dedicated to this one deity.

So what were my first impressions upon returning to this lost world?

Smoking Mirror, Obsidian Mirror, the mirror as His primary magical tool, a temple of mirrors devoted to Him (Why not use the capital H when Yahweh demands the same concession?)...a god that casts down and destroys at random...a god that loves to fuck with people...sometimes for better, but usually for worst. And His main name means Mirror.

If Tez is a mirror then, in essence, His being is a reflection of ours. When we dare to look we see only ourselves. Tez is, in part, what He reflects. And only humans truly understand what's going on when they look in a mirror. And within that mirror Tez incloses the chaos, the arbitrary, the cruel randomness of human existence. Does Tez distort the truth, or does He strip away lies?

Or, perhaps, when we look into the depths of this god we see into our own depths...where lurks the image of the primordial, paradoxical being that dwells within us...a divine thing concealed within us that is sometimes twisted and stunted, but still the image of a god.

Either way, when you look into Tez, you also are looking at yourself.

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Ideas for a stage production of the Popol Vuh [27 Feb 2007|12:06pm]

So I'm writing a script concerning the Hero Twins and have a few issues:

Twins, multiple fathers, justification?

Bed, on the floor mat or more modern raised bed?

The Ball Game yokes, in one inscription (pg 138 of Tedlock's translation, taken from Chichen Itza and its Cenote of Sacrifice, by Tozzer) the yokes appear to look like some sort of monstrous cod-piece, else where they look like a piece of fabric wrapped a few times around the waist. Can anyone provide a picture of original equipment, or at least a good modern interpretation?

Any one care to explain to me the seemingly ribald joke about the mosquito not really being a mosquito but a hair from Xibalanque's thigh? Does this have something to do with the mosquito "pricking" the Xibalbas? Does it make more sense in the original Quiche?

House of bats, the twins climb into a blowgun, any thoughts on a bit of ritual magick to be done on stage to explain the change in size?

I could use some examples of woman's makeup. Our Grandmother bleaches out horribly under stage lights and western stage makeup looks whorish at best. What sort of traditional compounds did woman, especially older ones, use? Do you have any good pictures?

Ideas on costume for the Grandma? Jewelry, cut of the blouse (I understand that in Tenochtitlan, only nobles were allowed clothing below the knee, did the Mayan's have any such rules?), possible hats, or hair buns that would be fitting (further on the bun, what would be a good stick for it, one or two sticks?)

Are there any colors or stones that would be taboo among the cast of characters, mostly the twins and grandma. Likewise, is there anything the Xibalbas should have to declare them lords?

Costuming in the movie Apocolypto, critique as a source? I've got a few heavily pierced folks on my cast and would like to take advantage of that, how can this be done tastefully? While I plan on covering some of the tattooing people have, I was hoping to do some temporary work, I was especially enthralled by the facial serpent from that film, not to mention the minimalistic geometric tattooing any good resources on Mayan tattooing?

I could use pictures of animal masks from Central America, frankly not being so picky on this one.

Hair styles, especially male. I've got a few long haired males who won't cut, should it be bound like a pony tail, left free flowing, in a bun, something else entirely? Anything that warriors traditionally did?

I'm about half way through the script, still not really sure about my ending yet, but I'll post about that as I get closer. Rest of the stuff is coming along nicely, started making masks for the animals and Xibalbas, sketching out scenery and props. Going to have Skull Scepter as a giant papermache skeleton that will be attached to the actor in a way to make him almost three meters tall. Black rods to control the ball (and knife attack) and others with little LED fireflies. Trying to get an animator to program me CGI backgrounds to improve the special effects, especially for the gardening and the Trial houses.

Any sort of input would be awesome.

7 comments|post comment

[17 Jan 2007|02:50pm]

Woo! My book came today:

title or description

It's awesome! 900 pages of Maya. Anyone read it?
2 comments|post comment

Spiders and Bats? [17 Sep 2006|10:05pm]

Hello everyone. I find Aztec and Mayan mythology and cuture to be facinating. I often check books out from the library about them. 
I was curious though (and I tried looking on my own) if there is any detailed info about the role of spiders and bats in Aztec myth and religion. 
I read that bats were linked to the underworld and shamanistic death and there was a blurb on a site that brought up Mictlantecuhtli... but I have a feeling there is more info about bats and the Aztec out there. 
Mictlantecuhtli was also linked to spiders according to Wikipedia. 
And then there's the spider goddess-- the Teotihuacan Spider Goddess. I didn't find much info though.
So does anyone have any insight about Mictlantecuhtli, bats and/or spiders in Aztec myth? 
45 comments|post comment

More Ketzalcoatl, Florentine Codex [23 Jul 2006|09:16pm]


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Cortez myths [16 Jun 2006|10:12pm]

hey everybody,
maybe this has already been discussed here but who gives a ....,
There is a big myth going around that when Cortez came to Mexico
he had been expected, some even say they thought he was a God?
Oh and by the way, is there anyone here who can speak Nahuatl (Classical
or Modern)? Anyone know the situation of the modern Aztecs(Nahuatls)? I know there's
a few million but nothing in detail referring to them, in English especially though I have found a lot of information on Mayan communities.

P.S. Has anyone read a book that talks of the invasion of Mexico by Cortez
and the other conquistadors, its part fact and fiction i.e. it has a narrative involving
Cortez, La Malintzin and many others... It talks of Cortez's military conquests and final subjugation of Tenochtitlan with the aid of subjugated nations of the Aztec empire.
12 comments|post comment

Quetzalcoatl [30 May 2006|10:32pm]

[ mood | lazy ]

hello ppl,
i'm really interested in quetzalcoatl,
would anyone be able to tell me where i can
get good pics and info of him?

6 comments|post comment

Hi, I'm new [04 Oct 2005|09:46am]

[ mood | curious ]

My interest in Aztecs began many years ago when my dad got me a book called Aztec Inca and Maya. At the time, I was more captivated by the human sacrifice pages than anything else...Now I think they're just cool in general. I like their art, their chocolate, and I'm still wowed by the human sacrifice and ritual cannibalism.

I recently picked up a copy of Gary Jennings' book Aztec - can anybody tell me how accurate it is? Or better yet, why he decided the main character should be incestuously in love with his sister?

2 comments|post comment

Question [13 Aug 2005|11:03am]

[ mood | contemplative ]

Could anybody tell me which would be the Aztec correspondent of the Greek god Hermes (Roman god Mercury)?

5 comments|post comment

Tezcatlipoca [29 Jun 2005|10:35am]

[ mood | stressed ]

Here's some about my favourite god.

TezcatlipocaCollapse )

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Song of Huitzilopochtli [26 Jun 2005|12:49pm]

So I thought I'd post some actual Aztec myth. :)

This is The Song of Huitzilopochtli and it tells the story of Huitzilopochtli's divine conception and birth. For those that may not know, Huitzilopochtli was the patron of the Aztecs and the War God extraordinaire. His name means Hummingbird on the Left (or South), and he is often portrayed in grand hummingbird plumage regalia. He is credited with leading the Mexica to the place where Tenochtitlan was to be founded and giving them a sign. That sign, the eagle devouring the sepent while perched on a cactus, is now found on the Mexican flag. His temple is found at the top of the Templo Mayor (along with Tlaloc's). He's my personal favorite god. :)

"In Coatepec, on the way to Tula,
there was living,
there dwelt a woman
by the name of Coatlicue.
She was the mother of the four hundred gods of the
and their sister
by name Coyolxauhqui.

Read more...Collapse )
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What do you think about Quetzalcoatl? [25 Jun 2005|01:54pm]

[ mood | curious ]

So what do you think? How do you think the Aztecs came up with such a God? No, really. Do you think they simply imagined his body as a hybrid between a Quetzal bird and a serpent? Or does he look more to you like a man in a flying machine, as some theories say? I'm really interested in your opinions.

12 comments|post comment

best books [11 Jun 2005|12:06pm]

[ mood | curious ]

Hi all

I'll throw out a few topics. What books do you think are the best for learning about Aztec mythology? What authors do you like the best? Are they in English/Spanish/Nahuatl?

I'm a big fan of David Carrasco (City of Sacrifice), Miguel Leon-Portilla (Aztec Thought and Culture), and Thelma D. Sullivan (A Scattering of Jade). Any opinions on these authors? Any other ones people like?

What do you think are the most central myths in Aztec Culture?

What are your favorite myths? Your favorite gods and goddesses?

5 comments|post comment

Hey, guys (OT) [11 Jun 2005|12:22pm]

[ mood | tired ]

Haven't had much activity lately, so I thought, even though this is off topic, that I'd post it here.

My reasoning is that they're trying to create a "pictoral" language so that people who speak different languages can interact better. It's called IKU.

Anyway, it's a program/website where you can create a cat/dog that walks around your screen, you feed it, clothe it, and it can visit other people. It's like the Word paperclip mixed with a Tamagotchi. Very fun.

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

Please put mneiai as the person who invited you.

And...let's try to think of something on topic to talk about, maybe?

5 comments|post comment

[25 May 2005|11:44am]

[ mood | awake ]

Hi all!i just joined here and thought it was better to introduce myself...Im from Italy and only recently fell in love with LatinAmerican history, mythology, literature,culture, in a word..EVERYTHING and all thanks to a course in HispanoAmerican literature im takin at uni this year...i still dont know much about Aztec mythology but im goin to study more about it for sure!

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[11 Jan 2005|03:27am]

Hi, my name is Tokatl. And i'm an Azteca decendant.
2 comments|post comment

[14 Oct 2004|02:57pm]
So, it's a little quiet in here. Here are some sketches I did. Some of them are really more Mayan-looking, but I'm rather fond of them.

I drew these in my notes for Archaeology of Mesoamerica. It's hard to pay attention, as my professor's teaching style is totally incoherent and illogical.

Feathers and beads of jadeCollapse )
4 comments|post comment

Hello! [15 Sep 2004|02:51pm]
Hi all-

I'm a second-year archaeology major. I'm looking to specialize in Mesoamerican civilizations. And I'm currently taking an Archaeology of Mesoamerica class.

Just thought I'd say hi.

Anyway, if anyone would like icons of Aztec/Maya deities, just let me know what god or goddess you'd like, and maybe a color or theme or caption if you want. I'd be happy to make it for you!
3 comments|post comment

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