One Four Challenge for May- week 4

The Sacrifice of Smoke Jaguar

(Chapter Four)

Thank you Robyn Gosby at Captivate Me for the fun challenge of editing an image four different ways!

I went a bit wacko with this last edit. I feel the best one was week 2! But as I had written the story I tried to fit the image to the final mood. I cropped it again and used a layer of stars and a radial blur. I also played with colour filters before settling on this one called starlight.

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The Appeasement

Smoke Jaguar wore the spotted cloak of his namesake and an elaborate headdress of  brilliant Quetzal feathers and precious seashells. He was carried on a litter by his entourage along the broad causeway that led to the great pyramid.  They passed by the empty ball courts.  He remembered the hero twins who had played ball with the lords of the underworld and won.  The two boys had been destroyed but were regenerated to ultimately defeat the gods of Xibalba.  As a Mayan and a king, Smoke Jaguar knew that all life was sacrifice and all death was renewal.

People had begun to gather by the road and he saw Lady Ho Chuen in the crowd.  Her eyes were red with weeping and though  his heart ached to comfort her he could only nod from the confines of the regal procession. The day was ominous according to the calculations and predictions of the astronomer priests -and of Ho Chuen’s dream. Everyone was looking up in fear as the sky darkened and the sun began to disappear bite by bite.

In silence Smoke Jaguar’s feet slowly climbed the steep steps of the pyramid temple. The high priest solemnly awaited his arrival at the top with arms outstretched in supplication.  He bowed as the young king laid the scepter of office on the altar and removed his royal cloak. It was then that everything shifted and Smoke Jaguar stepped through the portal and into that sacred space of stillness between the moments of time.

He didn’t know if the gods would accept his gift. He did not see Kukulkan spit the sun back out into the heavens. He did not hear the  great  mournful cry of the people rising up from the earth. He did not see the sound ripple like a wind through the great serpent’s  feathers as it flew majestically over the city toward the edge of the world. He did not hear the thundering and jubilant voice of Chac who would open the cisterns of the sky to nourish the dying crops and save the people.

He did not feel the blow or see the dripping offering bowl that temporarily appeased the anger of the gods.  Smoke Jaguar was already far from the city and running once again through the Puuc hills with his beloved brother.

and I can’t ask for a more wonderful endorsement of my unpublished tales than that of Peter Nena whose stories have been published in African Anthologies. Many thanks Peter

“There is a traditional wholeheartedness in the way you tell stories. Your characters have a strong moral significance, and the spirituality, the essence, is affecting and deep. You know those kind of stories you read and something tells you that there is more to them than just the wonderfully woven words, something deeper, sometimes subtle, but certainly magnetic and powerful. That’s how it is with your stories–Niamh’s Journey and the rest, even the Arabian one. I love the quality–simple, captivating, profound.”

Background:  

Although the Mayans  practiced human sacrifice it was not done in deliberate cruelty, but more to appease their terrible pantheon of gods which of course were representations of the natural world and it’s frightening phenomenon.  Ball players were sacrificed as an honour and as a retelling of the story of the hero twins . The gates of Xibalba were similar to the gates of Heaven but much darker. If someone of royal blood was sacrificed it was usually by beheading and not the gruesome opening of the chest method. Those to be executed were given a narcotic type drug beforehand.  Interestingly, even today the Mayans consider intoxication of any kind to be a divine state.

The steps of the pyramid numbered the days of the Mayan calendar

Chac: The rain god.

bonus: A Mayan dressed in ancient traditional costume like Smoke Jaguar

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