Who gets left hung and twisting in the cold, dry winds…?
A fictional what if.
Taking a few days to become accustomed to the new year, 2022.
The thought just occurred that this ‘transition’ from 2021 to 2022 just might hold something magical, powerful, something good.
Something beyond the usual New Year’s racket
Sure, and why not.
So I get up and dance the night away.
I couldn’t sleep after, maybe the wine. I pulled something off one of my bookshelves, lit a Nag Champa, lit some candles in front of my Buddha.
A new author, self described as a Buddhist anthropologist. He stressed he was Buddhist before he was an anthropologist, in the present…
Interesting and a sharp reminder of how we’re still a long way from, whatever…
The Cabañuelas Explained. (Cabañuelas in English: weather predictions).
These are the markings of the New Year. An ancient practice by cultivators thousands of years ago from where Spain would be. Someone analyzed carefully the days of January. It would require a far longer treatment than this post to explain this practice. For our story, it will suffice to say the first twelve days represent the twelve months of the year!
From an agricultural perspective, these first twelve days were and are critical as they predict what weather the next twelve months might offer.
This thinking originated way, way back when… the cultivators were looked upon as though mini gods. After all, a good crop of maize, or a robust growth of beans, sprung forth from the rocky, volcanic ground was equal to a powerful omen. An omen of good.
In fact, the study of the Cabañuelas goes all the way back to Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico. There is growing evidence that this weather prediction method predates these ‘advanced’ societies/ countries. The Mayans in Central America, the Aztecs before Mexico and The Incas from what would become Peru.
To add one more piece of information that shouldn’t surprise us too much, there is conclusive evidence that there was ongoing communication amongst the three civilizations about the study of the Cabañuelas. They weren’t called Cabañuelas in these places, of course, they were referred to loosely as Los Nuevos Calendarios, or The New Calendars, which would come out every year.
We move ahead in time a thousand or more years. We take a sidestep away from the Cabañuelas…
We rarely see the ones in power these days. The families of our Priest-King stayed away from the common people because of fear of catching the sickness. They used to boast that they could never get sick. The Spaniards brought a new disease. I saw a young woman die in the family next door. She coughed up blood and finally choked on her own liquids. A miserable death.
Things change. Surprises are always there.
Makes practical sense. Me, a nameless cultivator, plants the New Years’ field of maize. I do all the ritual farming and chanting called for, just in case. I studied the Cabañuelas as much as was permitted. Just in case my efforts were rewarded with a burst of perfect, tall and bountiful corn. This is heightened to the status, the local status to that of the stuff of miracles.
Back then, miracles were watched for, encouraged. Take this bountiful maize apparition of the so seeming, the indisputable teaming of the collaboration between man, the farmer, you and…
Me and the gods! Audible gasps as even the increasingly envious high priests take notice of Xocs’ fecund fields. I am Xoc. This is raised to even higher degrees of authority recognition. How could it not be thus. Especially when my neighbor and once best friend Babajides’ field nary a single brave and exploratory green sprig showed for all his efforts. As the sun bore deep shafts of burning heat through the top layers of black earth and nothing grew on Babajides’ fields while my cultivation took on local legendary attention.
Imagine for a moment. You are visiting your daughter’s new home. They divinely placed her, according to the stars charting, and the secretly paid off most local of chiefs and shamans, with the strikingly handsome son of the town’s elite. As if this wasn’t enough, your fields of corn burst achingly into a green explosion of goodness and plentitude.
Yes, this happened to me.
The visiting shamans from the hills beyond the horizon came and sat through several nights accompanying the miracle corn. To a person the corn had spoken them to, more accurately, the much worshipped and greatly feared corn gods. There was great benefit that rode in on the golden wings of a ridiculously lucky crop.
I have cultivated corn all my life and many other crops and never once, not even a whisper, has my plants spoken a single word to me, or to my dog.
How could anyone know that just eight inches below Babajides’ unfortunate fields lay an impenetrable cap of ancient lava?
So how was a good crop, from these same, now disastrous fields, explained away? You see, the real and potentially enriching as well as possibly the most inopportune abundance. Conundrum? So yes, even I am taken in by the mystery. Yes, there is some magic at work here.
Oh, there is always magic at work here.
The Popol Vuh, in its current rendition, enjoyed a popular readership. This was because the Spanish priests produced it. There was collaboration with the certified shamans. Those shamans determined as such by the wealthy authorities. No one else had access to the written word found in the Popol Vuh. So it only made powerful sense that those privy to the secrets and wisdom found in the now well-known Popol Vuh were the ones who held the power.
Even over the elites who paid gold for the right to wear the longest quetzal tail feathers. They would appear from their temples’ inner chambers to their sun bathed observation decks. The brilliant sun god never failed to strike up a glowing and breathe taking, rich, green iridescent radiance. Further sealing the elites undeniable hold on the powers that only they, the ‘wise’ and of necessity, wealthy, seemed to have.
Invisible to the masses were the unbreakable strings that tethered the ‘god chosen ones’ to their masters. The dark translators of the secrets who lived in hidden abundance, young nubile women and handsome young men, disappeared frequently. Everyone knew.
So it was that:
The aging god who lived in the most resplendent temple pyramid received word via the spiritual inner path of your god smacked plenitude. The old and still cunning ‘god’ perceived opportunity for many as the outcome of these developing events.
I recall one of my closest friends, had been, asked me to enter a contest with him. Yes, the same Babajides. We had a spiritual contest. A contest that no one could know the details of. Simple farmers like us did not piddle around with the gods. It had more to do with fear than with respect.
God forbid that the high priests caught wind of ones finagling, one would soon find that suddenly one’s property title was ‘lost’, or a child of the errant practitioner suddenly took ill and after endless nights of gruesome, ear-splitting screaming and painful and writhing came the relief of death. Sealing the spiritual element was the timely or otherwise rolling thunder from the black skies over the land that nightmarish night. In the high hills, even a fool could almost assure even greater fools that tonight the gods will speak.
One reliable trick was to behead one of the huge, black howler monkeys that was in heat. As a result, these notorious monkeys set up a distressed howl in concert that carved deep into one’s soul late into the night.
There were more than just one or two furtive winks amongst the ‘brotherhood’ of ‘real’ shamans.
Just who held the true power? It seems only the farmers and the shamans really knew… knew even more than the highly held, although surely misguided, propped up priests and governing elite. This a struggle that had gone way back, back, to the beginnings, between the politics, shamans, the true practitioners and the mushroom consuming false priest caste and the dumbly wealthy. How could it be?
No one asked too loudly unless they knew the answers to the suddenly apparent questions and if there were sufficient high sums of currency at play. The tightly woven tapestry of fear and pain ever present. Authoritarian order, for it to prevail, necessitated the element of visceral fear be sowed amongst all levels of society.
It was an unspoken reality that the only ones who seemed immune to the variety of controls that held the society in check against uprising and free thinking were the ‘ones never seen’. The true Shamans.
Those who had countless years ago determined that their survival depended on stealth. These spiritual practitioners had long since melted back into the impenetrable, vine entangled darkness of the jungles they had uncovered and repaired some of the ancient, lost structures.
They lived out their lives with as much ‘normalcy’ as possible. Raised families. Farmed for their needs. Respected and studied the surroundings. Whatever hierarchy which may have existed was based purely on the degree of inner awakening the members experienced and which was eagerly and compassionately shared to the young. They based entirely on their existence on the various practices which brought about insights.
These practices had their roots as far back as a thousand years. It was said that even before, way back, there was travel to and from ancient lands near the tallest mountains of the planet. They knew the planet was not flat…
A massive stone mural in another, now abandoned ancient city, showed an impossibly tall mountain range that has no comparison to mountains in our region. Some elites paid some men to destroy the mural.
Today, there are two gigantic stone statues carved from a rock outcropping near the coast where the sun rises that are said to have been around since a time in the great distant past. The statues stand out amongst countless others throughout our stone cities. They are different. They are studied by the elite and yet access to them by us; the commoners are forbidden.
The two figures, one man standing, and next to the one is a woman sitting, legs crossed, eyes closed. Both have what can only be described as a third eye between the two eyes. No feathers or headgear present. No weapons. Rather, the man has a long flowing beard, long hair to his shoulders. Both their attire look like a loose, light cloth wrapped about them.
The woman draws further attention because she holds her right hand up with palm towards us.
The true spiritual practitioners watched outwardly too. I have heard of this forbidden subject from a childhood friend who lived in the deepest jungle. They never took their eyes off their former tribes. Vigilance, a necessary ingredient, was what assured their survival against the off kilter, or lost culture, warlike and long since out of control, no longer capable of finding a level of compassionate awareness.
Sure. It was part of these peoples’ self-imposed efforts, at great risk to their lives, as a sense of mission to attempt sharing the teachings with the warlike tribes. Placing teachers within these ‘new’ cultures was a long term and complicated effort. They had to make absolutely sure that they could not be discovered. It would, of course, mean assured extinction.
Before falling asleep, I’m reminded of the current tragedy still unfolding. Tibet to name just one. How many teachers and teachings and ancient monasteries have been forever lost because of China’s control?
Reminded how at the next turn in the road, ‘it’ can go from light to darkness.
From freedom to oppression…