More on the Lunar Bunny

Besides for my motto, I’m indebted to the alley cat Mehitabel (“Archy & Mehitabel” by Don Marquis—1928) for stating our existential problem: “the eternal struggle between art and life.”

In early September I got word I had to move out of my penthouse apartment on Alicia Street. That same day I arranged with my daughter to rent the house she owns on Gilmore Street next door to her place. Moving there took some three months, meanwhile putting my projects on the back burner. Said projects included the ninth in my series of re-creations of trecena pages from the Aztec calendar (see the eighth, the Grass trecena) and a third short story about the old man dancing (see the second story “Better Buy a Dozen”).

Shortly before Thanksgiving when I’d finally gotten on top of the domestic trauma, I came down with Covid, fortunately only a mild case of exhaustion and congestion, with some ten days in isolation/recuperation. Off and on during the month, I managed to play with a few pixels on the Snake trecena re-creation from Codex Borgia (see “The Aztec Codices”) and to sketch out a couple paragraphs on the story.

“Clean” again (and resettled), I jumped back into the artistic fray, already making good progress on the Snake trecena. In addition, yesterday I posted a blog on 12/6/22 in the Aztec calendar as the day Ce Ollin (One Earthquake), when I became Pilzincoyotl (the Young Coyote), a deity of dance and nagual of Xochipilli (the Flower Prince).

While we’re on the subject of the current trecena in the Aztec calendar, I note that this Friday, 12/9/22 will be the day Nahui Xochitl (Four Flower). That’s the day-name in my private universe for the Sixth Sun—as proclaimed in my post “The Old Queen’s Proclamation,” which means we will have completed four cycles of the new era. You’re free to celebrate as you will this day of hope for a beautiful new world.

Now let me add some Aztec information that my devoted readers may have missed. Nearly four years ago in 2018, I posted “Ancient America-Asia Coincidences” about the Mesoamerican concept of a Rabbit in the Moon. At that point, I was working on Icon #16 (for my YE GODS! coloring book) and presented my drawing of the full moon:

Back then I was intending that icon to represent the god and goddess of the moon, Tecciztecatl and Metztli, but early last year (1/21) I discovered that I’d been mistaken (see my blog post “To Err is Human”)—that the god in the Codex Telleriano-Remensis whom I’d used for a model wasn’t Tecciztecatl but Tonatiuh, the god of the sun. Oh, well…

After that, back in May 2022, while working on the Death trecena re-creation, I discovered that the calendrical day-name of the Rabbit in the Moon is apparently 12 Rabbit! That day comes up in the current trecena on 12/17/22—a great day to celebrate the lunar bunny:

The Lunar Bunny – 12 Rabbit

How’s that for truly esoteric information!?


Divine Dance

In the Aztec calendar today, December 6, 2022, is Ce Ollin (One Earthquake) and therefore a very special day for me. Here’s why:

I’ve often enough run on about my love of dance and long Terpsichorean history—ever since the pudgy age of ten dancing squares. I    t’s been seventy years now of twinkling toes and many styles in the interim, also amply discussed elsewhere in ethnic detail. For the past thirty years, I’ve danced (mostly by myself) in a variety of gay bars—the only place one could usually find good dance rhythms—and four or five years ago discovered ecstatic dance in a peaceful, ceremonial environment. One moves as moved by the music, and the resulting ecstasy can be of a very spiritual nature, or at the very least psychically exhilarating.

As a reasonably logical consequence of my decades-long fixation on Aztec mythology and iconography, I began in my dance to personify Aztec deities. First, for some years, it was, Xochipilli (the Flower Prince), god of arts, etc. His concocted image in my old calendar book has gotten a lot of attention, and it is exceptional, if I do say so myself. Last June I drew a new image of Xochipilli for Gay Pride 2022, also often viewed and praised ever since. Also exceptional, this image was my ecstatic avatar for most of the past summer.

Oddly, my concocted image of Huehuecoyotl (the Old Coyote) has been at least as popular and even had its copyright infringed—truly sincere appreciation. (But I don’t believe in copyrights anymore.) Among other spiritual and corporeal things, he’s the god of dance, and in August, I found myself dancing him instead—like the image of him in my Icon #6 for the YE GODS! coloring book:

My Vision of Huehuecoyotl, the Old Coyote

At times I’ve even danced Five Flower, another god of dance and music and a manifestation of Xochipilli. A couple weeks later, I got to feeling instead like a descendant of this famous Huehuecoyotl—like a new deity named Pilzincoyotl (the Young Coyote)?

One night in an exceptionally divine dance, I manifested Pilzincoyotl with rattle and pennant, enacting the image I’ve been drawing of an Aztec dancer. For the meditative afterlude of tonal crystal bowls, we leaned along the wall, and he revealed our divine lineage: Seems we’re a composite nagual (manifestation) of Xochipilli and Huehuecoyotl, born of their well-known romantic liaison, on April 26, 1942, with the ceremonial day-name Ome Acatl (Two Reed). That means the god Tezcatlipoca (the Smoking Mirror) of the same day-name is our patron-godfather.

Naguals only mature after they’ve lived a full cycle of 52 standard years. Then we became a full-fledged nagual in 1994—right when I went back to a regular regimen of dancing. Our formal divination was by Tezcatlipoca on the day Ce Ollin (One Earthquake) in that year, ordaining us as Pilzincoyotl (Young Coyote), spirit of dance. A half-cycle later (26 years) in 2020—just before the onset of the pandemic—we ceased being Young Coyote and became an official deity of dance named Quetzalcoyotl (or Quetzal-Coyote, the Quetzal being an exotic plumed bird). According to our day-name, we’re also worshipped as Ollintecuhtli (Lord of Motion, esp. Earthquakes—when the earth itself dances).

One evening divine Quetzalcoyotl danced in waving quetzal plumes and displayed our power (inherited from Huehuecoyotl): to transform into all sorts of animals. We prefer dancing as birds, like the majestic Cuauhcoyotl (Eagle-Coyote) with striped pinions sweeping high across the sky. Hummingbirds, though mini-minions of mean old Huitzilopochtli (Hummingbird of the South), are quite fun to dance, flitting dizzily around the floor. We don’t enjoy dancing as dogs—they’re such slavish creatures and smell as bad as crazy Uncle Xolotl (Evening Star). Though obscenely limber, they sadly lack agility and physical grace. Once we danced a big, feathered snake, impersonating Uncle Quetzalcoatl (Quetzal-Serpent) in sinuous undulations of flaming plumes. Then, since Quetzalcoyotl had never seen one, we danced my vision of a Kwakiutl raven, rejoicing in our obsidian wings.

Many evenings now, Quetzalcoyotl and I have danced and hopefully will for many, many more. On a recent evening, he revealed that at our ordination as Pilzincoyotl, we were also designated the deity of the rainbow, Cozamalotecuhtli. When I eventually finish drawing us as the colorful Pilzincoyotl dancing in the Flower World, I’ll draw our self-portrait as Quetzalcoyotl in plumed magnificence.

Please don’t take my remarks about naguals as a sign I suffer from psychotic delusions. They’re not delusions but illusions, sur-realities. (Besides, reality itself is simply a construct of illusions.) You may also call my illusions of divinity psychotic, but they’re perfectly harmless. I don’t need anyone else to worship or believe in me. Just knowing I’m a god is plenty good enough. Precious few folks realize that they’re in fact deities.


Gay Pride 2022 – Xochipilli, Flower Prince

This month of June is Gay Pride 2022, and it’s mete and just that we parade and party. It would be great to have a patron “saint” to celebrate (“saint” being the title the dominant creed uses to replace the earlier gods of paganism). I want to glorify a patron god of gays, not a vengeful and homophobic deity whose devotees revile and condemn us.

There once was indeed such a god of gays in the distant past, beautiful boy named Antinous, who was deified by the Roman Emperor Hadrian. By sacrificing himself to the River Nile to bring his imperial lover good fortune, the divine ephebe became a god of beauty and love.

Head of Antinous from Hadrian’s Villa

Temples, statues, and even an entire city in Egypt were raised for beneficent Antinous, and as an honest-to-god deity, he was for a good while a strong candidate for the title of humanity’s savior—much more appropriate than the heavily marketed Messiah from Judea, who was merely (and messily) executed for rabble-rousing. The cult of Antinous was soon eradicated by righteous believers in less tolerant traditions, and I still mourn the loss.

But nowadays, as ever, it takes a lot more than an imperial decree to become a god. Anyway, beautiful Antinous probably qualifies more as a divine hero than a deity. We can always use more of them. Personally, I’m not into sacrifice and salvation (for and from what?) and prefer to revere a powerful deity with a positive attitude about being gay. It just so happens that in spite of their gruesome fixation on sacrifice, the ancient Aztecs had just such a one, a handsome divinity called the Flower Prince, Xochipilli.

This divine Prince is specifically the patron of homosexuals and an important god of fertility (agricultural produce and gardens). He’s also the god of art, dance, laughter, happiness, beauty and peace, flowers, ecstasy, sleep, and dreams/hallucinations, as well as of the sacred ball-game tlachtli. As patron of writing, painting, and song, he’s known as Chicomexochitl (Seven Flower), and as god of music, games, feasting, and frivolity, he’s called Macuilxochitl (Five Flower). That’s a rather impressive portfolio if you ask me, well worth glorifying.

Long ago before I’d ever seen any picture of Xochipilli, I drew one based on that portfolio and images of males from the Codex Nuttall—for my Aztec calendar as patron of the 20th trecena, Rabbit. (See my 1993 book Celebrate Native America!) As an arrogant humanistic artist, I was offended by the patron of that trecena, Tecpatl (flint—the sacrificial knife) and installed the more appetizing Flower Prince in that ceremonial role in an artistic coup d’état.

My early drawing is startling for the figure’s beard, which I saw in Codex Nuttall images of the historical ruler Eight Deer, and which was a not-infrequent trait of Nahuatl males. Besides loading my figure down with stylized flowers, I added a curlicue song-symbol, the cuciatl. Even that long ago, I recognized in Xochipilli my favorite Aztec deity for a patron and adopted his image for my website banner, little realizing how in-authentic my colorful iconography is.

Now 30 years later, in the codices I’ve found several authentic images of Xochipilli, which don’t look much at all like my invention. They had no ‘literate’ language, so the codices didn’t label the deities, though Spanish annotators did—sometimes with mistakes. It happens.

The image from Codex Laud can be assumed to be of Xochipilli, judging by all the flowers and the seven dots, the Prince being the patron of the number seven and his day-name Seven Flower. In the same way, also lacking identifying regalia or insignias, the Codex Fejervary-Mayer image must be the Prince, judging from the seven flowers adorning his temple. (The round fan he holds, or whatever it is, may be intended as indicative.)

The image from Codex Vaticanus (with only three flowers) I’m taking to be Xochipilli as well, given its similarity to the former—and the fact that both enthroned figures occur in pairs with an enthroned Huehuecoyotl (Old Coyote), who is one of the Prince’s lovers. The Codex Borgia image isn’t explicitly the Prince, unless one notes the flower emblem floating by his head; but this scene occurs in a sequence of calendar days with their patron deities, and he’s also patron of the day Monkey (Ozomatli).

The much different image from Codex Magliabechiano is one of two, both with the red-parrot headdress, and I’ve relied on that motif for my recent portrait of the Flower Prince:

Xochipilli – The Flower Prince

Those familiar with my YE GODS! coloring book will observe that I’ve extracted the central portion of my Icon #18 with the tlachtli ballcourt, worked that black-and-white drawing over a bit, and colored it in with a rainbow of iridescent hues. The psychedelic hummingbird and bee are there to suggest the surreal beauty of Xochipilli’s ecstatic heaven called the Flower World. The most iconoclastic aspects of this “icon” are his physical realism and frontal position, reflecting the posture of ancient Maya figures. I haven’t a clue what kind of flowers those are.

To celebrate Gay Pride 2022, I would like to see my illustration of Xochipilli enthroned appear on cards and in publications and become a celebratory poster or community mural—an emblem of LGBTQ+ dignity, love, and beauty perhaps on a par with our glorious rainbow flag.

I welcome entrepreneurs or afficionados to freely use the image for respectful purposes. To be frank, I’m extraordinarily proud of my modest picture, and I’d be greatly gratified for as many folks as possible to see our great gay deity—and pay the Flower Prince due homage. After all, our gods live on attention, devotion, and love.

As I’ve fortunately had the opportunity to say for some decades:

Happy Gay Pride everybody!

—and thank Xochipilli for our new freedom!


Icon #19 – TEZCATLIPOCA, the Smoking Mirror

I’m happy to announce the completion of Icon #19 – Tezcatlipoca, the Smoking Mirror. Once again, the designs and motifs in this icon are drawn from images in the surviving pre-Conquest Aztec codices. It and the preceding 18 icons can be downloaded as .pdf files with captions from the YE GODS! coloring book page.

Tezcatlipoca, the Smoking Mirror

First, I should offer some tips for coloring if you’re so inclined:

1) The black stripes on the faces of the upper left and right figures should be paired with yellow, which is the emblematic color-scheme for this deity; in the original, the upper central figure is mostly white with a few color highlights—at your discretion.

2) All those sacrificial knives (flints) in the borders are supposed to be half white and half red, in whatever pattern you choose.

3) The patterns on the limbs and face of the main figure are supposed to be red tattoos; I should also note that in the original he has brown hair.

4) The hair-like figure flowing from the head of the monster should be red blood as well as the apparent stream from the deity’s severed leg. The rest of the colors are up to you.

The horned owl at top center is Tezcatlipoca’s personal “volatile” symbol (many deities have one). The upper figures are some of his various manifestations. The main scene is the story of the god’s battle with the Earth Monster (Cipactli) in which he lost a foot and then created the First Sun (or world), Four Jaguar, on her back. The day-signs along the bottom are those representing the direction North, with Jaguar numbered as four to name the Sun being created just above. The dots along the side are the numeral 10, of which Tezcatlipoca is patron, and they also indicate that he is the 10th lord of the Day.

That should be enough to get you going. As soon as I can, I’ll post the icon on the coloring book page in vectors so it can be sized freely with no change in line quality. Now, when I’ve caught my breath, I’ll move on to Icon #20 – Tlaloc, the Storm God.

Visions of Tezcatlipoca

In the couple months since my last posting about the Maid in New Orleans, my self-incarceration for the Corona virus has made it easy to focus on the last chapters of my second memoir “Lord Wind” (soon to be posted for free download), and drawing on Icon #19: Tezcatlipoca, the Smoking Mirror, for the coloring book YE GODS!

Like the 18 previous deities in the series, this icon is modelled on images from the few surviving Aztec codices and reflects the mythology summarized in my illustrated encyclopedia of the Aztec pantheon. The icon will present several visions of Tezcatlipoca, who is sometimes called The Black One. I offer here two of the vignettes as “teasers.”

The first is Tezcatlipoca as an eagle, which is based on an image from a calendar week in Codex Rios. I’ve re-created this unusual manifestation of the deity using the stylistics of Codex Nuttall and certain motifs from Codex Borgia. (The eagle is a symbol of power and dominance.)

Tezcatlipoca as eagle

The second is Tezcatlipoca manifesting as Itztlacoliuhqui (Curved Obsidian Blade), who is the god of stone, cold, sin, punishment, objectivity, and blind justice. This surreal image is a re-working of one from Codex Borbonicus, though similar, sometimes even more surreal, details can be found in other codices as well. It presents some striking innovations in the stylebook of Aztec iconography and raises questions about certain motifs. Your guess about what they mean is as good as mine.

Tezcatlipoca as Itztlacoliuhqui

One of these solitary days I’ll finish this icon. I’m still waiting for some final tweaks on the vectors for Icon #18: Xochipilli, Prince of Flowers. Meanwhile, like everything else, my show of larger icons at the Ohkay Casino and Conference Center has been locked down… In this “unprecedented” viral situation, the show of smaller icons lies in storage with no prospective venues.

I have no options but to keep on with the drawing—next will be Tlaloc, the Storm God—and like Candide, work in my garden. My 35 varieties of iris are just now coming into bloom to bring joy to this best of all possible worlds.


Icon #18 – Xochipilli, Prince of Flowers

I’m proud to announce finishing my latest Aztec icon, #18: Xochipilli, Prince of Flowers—by the end of 2019.  Working in and around other projects, I spent 6 months on drawing it, rather longer than it took on any of the preceding 17 for the coloring book Ye Gods!  Small wonder…

Now that the basic drawing is done, I can at least offer a small version here for your wonder and amazement. To post it on the coloring book page, I’ll have to do a caption page with model images from the codices and get it turned into vectors for sizable printing.  All in good time…

Xochipilli, Prince of Flowers

No doubt you notice immediately that this icon is a lot different than the others. As a matter of fact, it’s seriously iconoclastic, breaking several of the canons of Aztec-codex iconography.  But first let me explain the elements.

As detailed in the Aztec Pantheon, XOCHIPILLI (Prince of Flowers) {sho-chee-peel-lee}, is a very appealing deity: the god of art, dance, laughter, happiness, beauty and peace, flowers, ecstasy, sleep, and dreams/hallucinations, as well as a god of fertility (agricultural produce and gardens).  Hence all the blossoms and vegetation which are far more intense and decorative than you’ll find in any of the codices.  That’s my first departure from the Aztec style, but I couldn’t pass up the perfect opportunity to indulge in floral display.

The Prince is also the patron of the sacred ballgame tlachtli (seen in the structure behind him), of the day Monkey (which cavorts by his left foot), and of homosexuals and male prostitutes.  In the cameos above and below the deity are his various lovers, a fairly polyamorous assortment.

Upper left is Opochtli, left-handed god of hunters; upper center is the Old Coyote, Huehuecoyotl (see also Icon #6), god of music, dance, and sex; and upper right is the god of writing, painting and song Chicome Xochitl, Seven Flower.

Lower right is the god of music, games, and feasting Macuil Xochitl, Five Flower; lower center is Pilzintecuhtli, the Young Lord, god of the planet Mercury; and lower left is the Prince’s twin sister-wife Xochiquetzal, the Flower Feather, goddess of love and female sexuality. As a note, I’m going use this cameo sketch of Xochiquetzal when I get to doing her icon.

The most iconoclastic feature of this icon is the figure of Xochipilli himself. In the codices, almost without exception, human figures are presented in profile, but my Prince is seen here full-frontal with only his face in profile.  His intentionally sensual posture is an echo of much earlier Maya iconography.  The angle of his chair/seat and new perspectives on his limbs, feet, and etc. forced me be fairly realistic in drawing the physical details.  (See that right hand and his un-Aztec eye!)

The most subtle element of this icon is that Xochipilli is also the patron of the number seven. With the god in his circular wreath of flowers as a central “dot,” the six cameos around him comprise that numeral.  My only regret is that I couldn’t find a way to include a procession (as shown in Codex Magliabechiano) with a little guy blowing on a conch-shell trumpet:

Conch-shell Trumpeter


Aztecs Go Big

Five Flower – Aztec God of Games

The above image of Five Flower, Macuil Xochitl (God of games, feasting, merry-making, music and dance) is simply click-bait.  He’s shown here in a cameo included in Icon #18–which is really, really close to being done.  Hope to post it for you in the next week or so.  Meanwhile…

All this fall my Aztec icon show Ye Gods! has on display again, first occupying our local Las Vegas for a month (hosted by Highlands University) and then hanging out at Santa Fe’s public library branch on the south side for six weeks.  Not sure how many folks really viewed them in either place, but at least that got their banners out of my garage and up on some walls, which is of course the point of it all.

Last week I arranged for the bunch to make a return appearance in early January to nearby Española, where last fall they’d made considerable noise at Northern NM College. Now they’ll be partying at the Ohkay Casino—Ohkay Owingeh used to be San Juan Pueblo—where the conference center is being redesigned with a huge lobby/hallway.  My proud deities will each have a vast wall from which to lord it over the conferring crowds.

In general, I’m thrilled silly to display my icons to multitudes of people, like the 2-3,000 expected for a conference on January 18. In particular, I’m totally pumped that these crowds will be what one might call “normal” folks who aren’t necessarily museum- or gallery-goers.  My weird gods and goddesses are bound catch their innocent eyes, and the fascinating captions might even get read.  I might well hit the visitation jackpot!

Even more specifically, I’m overjoyed that the casino folks want the show to be up for a long time—at least through the coming summer! Ye gods!  Imagine having one’s show up for nine months…  I’ve told them it can just hang there until they get tired of it.  It makes great décor.

Considering those vast walls, I plan to increase the size of the icons so they don’t get lost in all that space. They’ll bump up from 3’ X 4’ to 4’ X 5’, i.e. 1/3 larger, and will no doubt be at least that much more imposing.  I’m also inspired to add QR code-blocks to the captions for folks to scan and download the vector drawings.  Might as well get with the technology…

That will leave me with the smaller, original show to hang in less spacious spaces, and my first target will be our local Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). I’d approached them back when first planning the show and basically got ignored.  Now that they actually have a gallery director, maybe there’s a chance, especially considering the show’s history of venues.

When Ohkay does eventually get tired of my rowdy crew, there are several other casinos and conference centers around where this deep Native American history might be appreciated. But in the meantime, I’m dreaming even bigger for the Big Show—the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City.  Wish me luck.







Exultate Jubilate

I’m totally exultant! Yesterday I discovered that in July wonderful WordPress has started registering downloads.  This is a ginormous deal since for the past five years all I could do was hope (pray and wish) that you folks out there were taking the fabulous stuff I’ve been trying to give away on this website.  Now I’m jubilant that you apparently are indeed and may actually have been accepting my gifts in the past.  Not to be greedy, but I’d love to get some comments back about my artwork and writing—appreciation, criticism, gratitude, or whatever.

There were some splendid surprises in the first six weeks of download data. I’d been pleased with getting an enormous number of hits (from literally all over the world) on my Aztec materials, and now I find that they’re being downloaded like hotcakes.  To my joy, the treatise The Aztec Codices and encyclopedia The Aztec Pantheon seem hugely popular, but even better, the YE GODS! coloring book is flying out the door, both as the collection, The Aztec Icons, and as individual black and white images.

Through Google Image searches, I’d already observed that my earlier four-color images of Aztec deities were being used for various purposes like T-shirt designs and other graphics, and now I see that they’re still being downloaded frequently. As hoped, my art is now truly taking on a life of its own in the wide world—beyond the several exhibitions of icons I’ve managed to organize.  The next show will be at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas NM this October.

The other thrill is that folks are also taking my books. No longer do I feel like a writer scribbling invisibly in the wilderness.  Folks are downloading my first novel Bat in a Whirlwind, my first memoir There Was a Ship, and the nonfiction books: Remember Native America, Celebrate Native America, and Getting Get.  My second novel Divine Debauch is only available through an online publisher, but some have linked to that too.  Weirdly, my most popular book seems to be the biography Ms. Yvonne, The Secret Life of My Mother.  Go figure.

Now I can even look forward to reports of folks accessing my Pre-Columbian artifact drawings and related Indian Mounds photos, as well as images of my sculptures, photographic art, shorter writings, and my long, fascinating, and sometimes sordid life.  Of course, you can also feel free to download my shorter, but still fascinating and sometimes sordid blog posts—like this one.

Now back to work on my next memoir titled “Lord Wind, My Second Coming Out” and on Aztec Icon #18, Xochipilli, Prince of Flowers.


Icon #17 – TEPEYOLLOTL, Heart of the Mountain

So… It’s been another long haul to complete the next icon for my coloring book YE GODS! Something like four months, but no apologies.  I’ve had to take a lot of sanity breaks—to continue writing on my next memoir and to deal with the sorrows of life.  Namely, in late March, at the tender age of 18 my eldest grandson Ike chose to end his life.  We know nothing about why but can only respect, accept, and lament his decision.  That’s my reason for tearfully dedicating this Icon #17 – Tepeyollotl, Heart of the Mountain to him.

Tepeyollotl, Heart of the Mountain

Tepeyollotl (Heart of the Mountain) {te-pe-yol-lotł} is the god of caves/mines and echoes and causes earthquakes, avalanches, and volcanos.  As the Lord of Jewels and underground treasures, he is the male spirit of the earth and a nagual of the hermaphroditic Tlaltecuhtli, Lord of the Earth.  A deity of witchcraft, he cures and causes diseases and guards the entrance to Mictlan (the Land of the Dead). Tepeyollotl is the ancestral were-jaguar and may be the God L of the Maya. Also a nagual of Tezcatlipoca, he is the Jaguar of the Night whose roaring heralds the sunrise, and as 8th lord of the night he is sometimes depicted as a jaguar leaping toward the rising sun.  

I’ve already posted a couple pieces about this icon in process, The Divine Volcanoes and Jaguars Changing Spots, and the above caption gives the rest of the information I’ve learned about this deity. On the coloring book page I’ve now listed a free download of it with caption and models, and when it comes back home to me in vectors from Bangladesh, I’ll add the two versions for sizable prints.


Jaguars Changing Spots

I seem to be at my stellar best when I’m boring folks with useless information—or at least with stuff they don’t give a rat’s patootie about. The following verbiage may well fall into both categories.  And since it’s on the Internet, there’s the distinct possibility (but minuscule probability) of boring millions of readers to tears.  What more could I hope for as I hold forth on jaguars’ spots?  I bet you’ve never given that esoteric subject even a nanosecond’s thought.

But I have. For some years, as you likely don’t know, I’ve been drawing digital icons of Aztec deities for a coloring book called YE GODS! Since the jaguar is a major mythological figure for most of the ancient cultures of the Americas (see A Roar of Jaguars), I had to come to terms with how it was depicted in the iconography of those cultures.  In fact, as the Lord of the Animals, the jaguar was my first try at digital drawing.

Already well versed in the iconography of the few Aztec codices that survived the Conquest of that empire by the Spanish, I wasn’t terribly impressed by their renderings of the unique and complex pattern of the jaguar’s pelt. For the most part the ancient Aztec artists made do with a simple scattering of spots looking a lot like those of the Old World leopard.In the Codex Borgia, a more elaborate picture-book, the pelt was sometimes depicted in greater complexity. I chose to use two of those stronger patterns for figures in my later icon of the deities of the moon, but the first pattern was just too weirdly abstract, if oddly more realistic.

For my first digital drawing (eventually used in the icon for OCELOTL), I pompously tried to reproduce a naturalistic jaguar pelt—and believe I did a decent job. It convinced me of the amazing power of computer imaging and kicked off the whole coloring book project.  Having mastered the pattern, I used it also for a seat-cushion in the icon for the goddess CHANTICO (also see the icon for MICTLANTECUHTLI), and for a detail of a jaguar-warrior in that for the god CHALCHIUHTOTOLIN.

Chantico and Jaguar Warrior

At present I’m in the final throes of the icon for TEPEYOLLOTL (see The Divine Volcanoes), who is a were-jaguar (an anthropomorphic creature), appearing in a number of the codices.

Here comes another sneak preview. There are two jaguars in this icon.  I chose to use the Nuttall jaguar, radically restructured, for the leaping one and the Vindobonensis figure as model for the god himself—with a pelt based on one of the Borgia examples.

Leaping Jaguar and Tepeyollotl

This illustration shows that I haven’t yet completed Tepeyollotl’s face, though I have already given him an aesthetic nose-job. While the open-ring pattern may not be any more naturalistic than the plain spots on the Vindobonensis model, I did that on purpose—for the coloring.

I’ve only given explicit directions for coloring the icons in a few cases. First, for the pelt in OCELOTL, I described the animal’s range of coloration from rusty gold to white.  For the icon of EHECATL, I explained that scallop shells come in black, white, and all shades of the rainbow, though very dark and dusky like in the last hues of twilight.  For TEPEYOLLOTL, I will direct the colorist to make those open rings various colors as in these almost hallucinatory images:

In this second Telleriano example, the spots are inexplicably green, and in the psychedelic Aubin figure red, blue, and gold. (By the way, the general Aubin style of illustration might most kindly be called “casual:” Note the incomplete claws, stubby tail, and curious wrinkles on its back.)

The rationale for vari-colored spots on my Tepeyollotl (which was completed in June 2019) is that, among several other mythical qualities, he’s the Lord of Jewels. Also, any deity worth its salt really should be hallucinatory, psychedelic, and/or surreal.