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Monday, 22 February 2010

Night Sun: Black Jaguar


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At the edge of the ruined ballcourt, in the rainforest shadows, beneath a great bending hardwood, a black jaguar, ceremonial guardian of the temple structure, a great god in an animal's body, or perhaps a divine animal in the heavy recumbent body of a dead god, lies sprawled inert and slumbering, as the centuries go by. The ballcourt games are over, the scores long forgotten, the nameless adversaries translated now into eternity; the jaguar has slept through the millennia of this sacrificial combat, here in the shadows, off to one side, away from the central pyramid, unconcerned and unnoticing.

The jaguar god will prowl the empty acropolis by night, and when day comes, take shelter from the blistering sun beneath the sloping thatched roofs that have been constructed for his worship, among the broken monuments and palaces of stone. His Mayan name is Ocelotl, the Night Sun, protector, most powerful deity of the Night Sky.

The jungle around the site will continue to sleep, its dreams uninterrupted by the soft liquid movements of lizards and snakes, the intermittent sharp cries of forest birds and of small animals suddenly seized upon by larger ones and so translated into eternity.



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And time will continue to move inside its implacable silence, eroding these temporary constructions men have made in honour of their gods.



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For like the revolutions of the earth, and of the sky bodies above it, time is built into the universe.



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The sun drops swiftly down as evening again approaches, and the new moon floats up still unseen through the gauzy cloud saturated atmosphere over the wet green tree canopy.



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The eyes of the jaguar god grow large as he sniffs at the air curiously, his blood rising, and begins to move through the deep undergrowth beneath the great temples that have always been his home.



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Melanistic jaguar (Panthera onca): photo by Cburnett, 2006
Toucan (Pteroglossus torquatus), Tikal, Guatemala: photo by John, 2006
Stela 5, Tikal, Guatemala: photo by HJPD, 2010
Trees and ruins, Tikal, Guatemala: photo by Clark Anderson/Aqaaimages, 2006
From the Mayan site, Tikal: photo by Peter Andersen, 2005
Mayan temple ruins, Tikal; far left, Temple I (Temple of the Great Jaguar): photo by chensiyuan, 2010

7 comments:

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,
A pleasure to find this here just now - transports me something 'far away' from here (that hawk's cry echo of toucan, maybe? sparrows at the feeder and table too, maybe? but nothing like that jaguar around here -- but wait! now I remember, a jet black wild cat out there on the table as it was getting dark last night, eating breadcrumbs on the table (waiting for some unwary bird to land?) -- like a 'premonition' of your god cat here . . . . thanks.

2.22

orange edge of sun rising below branches
of trees, motionless shadowed green leaf
in foreground, sound of waves in channel

think that with ‘projection
of memories,’ no more

or less order, at same time,
both cause and effect

grey-white clouds to the left of point,
wingspan of gull flapping toward ridge

Princess Haiku said...

Amazing post: sleek and powerful like an unending night of many histories.

TC said...

Projection and memory, premonition and night, both cause and effect, a sleek black cat out there, in the shadows, waiting...

TC said...

(By the way, in the night one of our cats was crooning fearfully at the side door... something was out there, was it the black jaguar?? Nope. A large bold raccoon, standing at the door, forepaws up the glass, looking straight at me.)

Julia said...

Entiendo bien por qué tantos vienen a buscar esta fabulosa foto del jaguar. No deberían perderse tu texto, sin embargo. Y aprovechar a dejarte un saludo, como yo estoy haciendo ahora =)

TC said...

"Ronroneo", dice el jaguar negro.

Julia said...

:-)