The Iris Man

What a wonderful May! For the first time in maybe ten years I’ve got a stellar flowering of iris.  Every spring the buds would be forming and then it would freeze hard enough in vicious late April to turn their buds into what I disgustedly call “corpsicles.”

I feel so heartily happy about the exceptional display of my iris this year because for a great long while those exquisite flowers/plants provided my livelihood. For fifteen years, as noted elsewhere, I was the Iris Man at the Santa Fe Farmers Market (1997-2012), and these amazing blooms bring back fond memories of the indescribable varieties I sold and the beautiful gardens I worked in.  Driving around town now, I admire iris beds I planted long ago and rejoice in how well they grow.

Well, the Iris Man is back! This year, while the days often got unseasonably warm, it stayed quite cold at night, and I guess that held the rhizomes back a bit.  Also we didn’t get our usual late freeze.  When those enthusiastic bloom stalks started emerging from the fans of leaves, I was on pins and needles watching the weather.  Then each day became a new thrill with the opening of another variety.  They should last another week.

Here are several of my prize varieties with their names—if I know. Could somebody please identify the unknowns for me.  (Use the comment doohickey below.)  I haven’t included the more common yellows, reds, or pinks, though they are all equally gorgeous, if you know what I mean.  I was sad that two of my favorites didn’t make it to flower this year:  Loud Music and Heartbreak Hotel.  Maybe next year.

Iris blooms, 2016

Iris blooms, 2016



Aztec Icon #10 – MICTLANTECUHTLI, Lord of the Land of the Dead

Though there were times when I wondered if I’d ever finish this drawing, I’ve actually managed to complete the next icon in the series for the coloring book YE GODS!  THE AZTEC ICONS.

This icon of the Lord of Mictlan, the Land of the Dead, contains a lot more mythological narrative than even hinted in the caption.  Starting at the upper left and moving clockwise around the temple, dead persons enter Mictlan at the mouth of the Underworld.  Then the monstrous deity Xolotl serves as their guide (psychopomp), and the dog Itzcuintli is their companion through Mictlan, where they must climb eight hills and cross nine rivers (in four days).  The realm of Mictlantecuhtli is an empty place of darkness, dust, and vermin/vile insects (centipedes and scorpions among others), but that’s where most people had to go after death.  I wonder why they ever bothered to struggle over all those hills and rivers just to get to a nowhere like that.

Meanwhile, in the center of the lower register the wind deity Ehecatl (nagual of Quetzalcoatl) negotiates with the Lady of the Land of the Dead, Mictlancihuatl, for the bones from the Fourth Sun (Four Water).  He then breathes life into those bones to create the people for the current Fifth Sun (Four Earthquake).

(You can still see or download the previous nine icons by clicking on them in the list on the page for the coloring book.)


(Lord of the Land of the Dead)

To download this icon as a pdf file with a page of caption and model images from the Aztec Codices, right click here and select “Save Target (or Link) As.”  You can also download it in freely sizable vector drawings from the coloring book page.

Mictlantecuhtli, Lord of the Land of the Dead

Mictlantecuhtli, Lord of the Land of the Dead

MICTLANTECUHTLI {meek-tłan-te-kooh-tłee} is the most prominent of several deities of death, 5th lord of the night, and 6th lord of the day.  His worship reputedly involved ritual cannibalism.  (Counter-intuitively, skulls and skeletons were symbols of fertility, health, and abundance.) His wife is Mictlancihuatl.  Only souls who died normal deaths went to the Land of the Dead, Mictlan; souls of heroes, warriors, sacrificial victims, or who die in childbirth joined TONATIUH in the Fourth Heaven, and those who drown went to TLALOC’s Eighth Heaven, the paradisiacal Tlalocan.