Sunday, April 26, 2009

Prehispanic Dance Figure

Gouache painting "Zapotec Star Figure: the Pleiades"

This painting was inspired by a stone carving I found at a museum in Oaxaca. The carving was the figure with a sun/moon eclipse face on a block of stone. The figure looks like a dancer. I added the thunderbolt symbols to symbolize energy, and spirals representing stars.

A young Zapotec looked at it and told me that the figure represents the Pleiades, a star group really important to Mesoamerican cultures. The Zapotec culture at Oaxaca may have created the first Mesoamerican calendar.

I feel a connection to the Pleiades, that tiny kite formation that travels across the northern winter night sky.

Pleiades Fly Overhead (poem)

As if time itself has meaning
and space lies beyond it.
or, as if the brevity of a single breath
encompasses a moment of

Words distract the truth.
Freedom distills moments.
Divine liquor drops onto our
parched tongues.

Whether it is a god of suffering,
a compassionate mother of all beings,
or a flash of colliding angels,

Awestruck, dumb
Grace enters us,
The clear light.

Oaxaca, 1990

Pleiades has a 52 year cycle. The Sun, Moon, and Venusian calendars also come together every 52 years. 52 years is the “century” cycle of the old Mesoamerican calendars-- Zapotec, Toltec, Mayan, Aztec etc. A new cycle was celebrated every 52 years. The Pleiades is also tied to the annual agricultural cycles of Mesoamerican and Mediterranean Cultures)

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Amor Sin Palabras

Gouache Painting--Oaxacascape : Turtles Rising

Amor Sin Palabras (poem)
(Love Without Words)


I am riding the bus called
“Amor Sin Palabras”
from Teotitlan to Oaxaca.
I’m seated alone,
the only guera.

Pueblo querido,
Wrapped in your rebozo
of loving-kindness,
Carrying your precious tlayudas,
Washed in the gold of sunset,
Delighted with the afternoon’s visit,
Full of gratitude for your friendships.
I ride in bliss,
Amor sin palabras.


You, shining as we see each other,
Talk with our hearts’ eyes,
Without fear or games.

copyright Mitzi Linn 2009

I always like the way buses are named in Mexico.
"Amor Sin Palabras" and another bus called "Amor de Unas Horas’"or
‘Love of a Few Hours’ ran between Oaxaca city and Teotitlan Del Valle
during the 1990's. The names came from titles of Columbian music hits,
the driver informed me. It was those late afternoon, sunset trips back to Oaxaca that inspired the gold/yellow skies that you see in my painting

Missing Oaxaca from the far north tonight!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Feathered (Plumed)Serpent

Gouache Painting. "The Feathered Serpent Climbs the Tree of Life--Daystars

Serpents, as symbols of wisdom and transformation, have been found in nearly all ancient cultures. Serpent-power refers to the kundalini energy said to lie sleeping at the base of the spine. It rises up the spine (the tree of life) usually through specific meditation practices or dance. The rising of the kundalini brings ecstatic awareness and enlightenment. Serpents are often identified with the feminine principle and call up the matriarchal roots of modern, patriarchal culture. In this painting the feathered serpent climbs the tree of life. This could symbolize ecstatic awareness.

In Mexico, the feathered serpent refers to the mythological and historical priest-king called Quetzalcoatl. He was a culture bringer, magician and said to be an enlightened being who was against harming others. At least one king held the title of the "the Quetzalcoatl" and it seems there were other emanations of Quetzalcoatl. It was probably a priesthood. One emanation is said to be buried at Tule, Oaxaca under the 2000 year old "Tule" tree--a tree of life.

Quetzalcoatl (the priest-king) was tricked by his brother, broke a taboo and had to leave his home at Tollan. He and his followers visited many parts of Mexico teaching people crafts, language, spiritual practices, and agriculture. In the Gulf of Mexico near Veracruz he sailed into the unknown and turned into the morning star. He predicted his return to the same place in the year 1 Reed....the year Cortes arrived. Many thought Cortes was Quetzalcoatl. That is why Cortes was welcomed at first.

Once in my travels while visiting Walpi (Hopi Mesa) where the serpent has important ritual significance, I was showing these images to my guide, a young woman. She said there is a Hopi prophecy--"when the feathered serpent climbs the tree of life,......" Before she could finish the statement another guide interrupted our conversation. I suppose it is secret information. I wonder if anyone can finish that sentence.