The Tikal bones creation myth
The story behind the titles of the albums:
While I was researching books for my Journey to Mexico I encountered the creation myth about the Paddler Gods. The (Day), the stingray god and (night), the old jaguar god escort the dead Corn God (or King) across the Milky Way in the Cosmic Canoe. Being metaphoric in nature, this represents the concept of the world as it turns, with day and night following along the elliptic of the Cosmos. The canoe being the Milky Way and the passengers the canoe carries are the iguana, monkey, parrot and peccary representing the constellations riding along the elliptic. Now as the myth goes, the gods paddle along the sky taking the dead corn god to the galactic center of the Cosmos, (underworld) located in the void or mouth of the cosmic serpent, which is one end of the Milky Way. As they travel, the Milky Way starts to turn in the sky so it appears to tip toward the earth. When this happens the canoe tips over and sinks. This causes the corn god to be thrown out of the canoe and land in Orion, (the turtle) and set the three hearthstones (stars in Orion) in place. As he is doing this he also casts the corn seeds he is carrying (the Pleiades) into the sky, which drift down to Earth to grow in the spring. The sign that spring begins is when the
Milky Way becomes upright in the sky and appears to have set roots in the southern horizon. As the corn grows it represents the rebirth of the corn god, or renewal of life in the spring. As birth follows death everything is born from the bones of the ancestors. The Milky Way becomes the World Tree with corn stalks and ears growing on it.
A pair of carved bones that were discovered in a tomb in Tikal, showing the two scenes, one of the canoe with the passengers lamenting the dead god and the other with the canoe and passengers screaming as they are sinking. I used them as part of the artwork on the covers. With this story on my mind as the bus lumbered along the Gulf coast on my first night ride I visualized all of us passengers as being corn seeds compressed together on a cob as we sat in our seats. Wrapped tightly in the metal bus frame as corn would be wrapped inside the husks. On departure we would exit the bus and launch each of our cosmic canoes to journey our separate ways.
When I rented the Volkswagen bug in Merida to drive around the Yucatan I dubbed it the leaky canoe as a joke. I drove (paddled) it until I turned it back in 30 days later, symbolizing the canoe sinking. From there I traveled again by bus to the rain forest and found the symbol of the World Tree as I climbed the pyramids and looked over the top of the rain forest. So, metaphor became poetic reality in all I did andfound paralleling the myth of the ancients.
The ancient Maya are alive and well in spirit, and enjoy a good joke, too.
Pictures are of the carved bones from Tikal, Guatemala