I was at the Mayan ruins in Copan Honduras in the early 1990’s listening to Conrad Satala tell the story of each stelae in the main temple plaza. Each story of the individual stelae weaved into a larger story of how these ancient people explored personal & collective transformation. These stories through the art of each stelae created a mythic story common to all people even to this modern age. The myth of the Mayan culture in Copan described the inner transformative journey each human travels during their lifetime. As Conrad described these stories about the stelae, I could sense that the stelae artworks are the portals for the deities & beings to emerge through to co-create with the Maya on the daily aspects of their culture.
I returned to Copan on 2003 for another week of exploring my inner world and meditating on the site of the ruins. It was during this time that I would directly experience communication from the unseen world that was preparing me in advance for the restructuring of my life. As I would learn later from the Tz’utujil Maya in 2009, the unseen world communicates via beings and deities through the art of creating ritual space. This happened to me during my 2003 visit to Copan. The stelae and their mythic stories were communicating to me through experiences, dreams and visions. Their communication were clearly instructing me on the next area of my inner psychological world that I would need to transform in order to be prepared for current and upcoming experiences in my personal & professional life.
While I was at the Copan museum on the site of the ruins in 2003, I decided to meditate in front of an ancient tomb cover that was a burial lid for the only known female shaman. During this meditation I could feel a fine but intense vibration and I started to get very warm. There were not any images but rather a direct feeling in my body and I felt different as I walked away that was similar to waking up from a dream. Later in the week we visited a smaller museum in the center of the village of Copan Ruinas. In the museum was an enclosed display with the bones of the female shaman and the bones of a puma. This was the same person whose tomb lid I meditated with in the other museum. I decided to meditate in front of this display to see if I felt the same as I did in front of the tomb lid. This was a very different meditation. It was very quiet and still. I did not feel the intense vibration I had felt in front of the tomb lid. I walked away feeling that nothing had happened.
On the last day of that visit to Copan, we had some free time so I decided to visit a small collection of ancient structures behind the main temples of the ruins. We called this place the dreaming place and had been there several times as a group. I went there to do a final meditation in the old stone structures. As I sat down to meditate, a tour group came by with a guide. It was a very large group and very noisy. I did my best to not get distracted and to keep focused on the meditation. The group eventually left but I was feeling very busy in my mind and felt the meditation was not working. I was getting ready to leave when I decided to try again since I was alone. I sat down again and did my best to quiet my mind to meditate. At that moment I saw a hazy image of an ancient Mayan in the shape of the Maize God and it was a yellow green color. It then switched to an image of the stones of a temple but with an opening to a dark space. At that moment I opened my eyes and across from me was a small temple structure. I felt the urge to get up and look at the temple. I walked up the steps to the first level and I saw the opening to below the temple. I looked down there and felt compelled and conflicted at jumping down into this opening. How would I get out? I saw a ledge half way down there that I could sit on and I could still get out of this space. There were many insects flying around and I did not want to sit in the midst of them just to get bitten and I had no repellant with me. I knew this was my last day so I mustered up the courage and jumped down to the ledge. The insects were flying all around and did not leave. So I sat down on the ledge with my legs dangling over into the dark space of inside the temple. It felt very vulnerable and the flying insects just kept circling around me. I got quiet and focused on my heart center and asked to go deeper. I did this several times and did my best to stay focused and not get distracted by the insects and the feeling of my legs dangling into the dark opening. This time my meditation was very quiet and still. It was similar to the meditation in front of the female shaman & puma bones. I’m not sure how much time had past but as I opened my eyes, all the insects had gone. I picked up my backpack and climbed out of the opening and returned to meet the group in front of the hieroglyphic stairway. I was to learn later that this was the temple tomb of the last king of Copan Yax Pajac.
Shortly after I returned home, I had a significant dream. In this dream I was painting a puma with jaguar spots on top of its head that went down the spine and stopped at the tail. While I was painting this puma/jaguar it came alive and jumped off the canvas and ran to the screen door. It turned to look at me and said “I’ll be back”. It ran through the closed screen door and was gone. I looked out the door and I saw my car drive into the garage of a house across the street. The dream continued with my observation of the puma/jaguar running through a forest and then I was in the jaguar, running as the jaguar. This feeling became stronger and I was the jaguar and I was myself. I could feel everything the jaguar was experiencing. At that moment in my awareness I knew I was going to wake up. As I started to shift from the dream to being awake, the feeling of the jaguar intensified, and I felt I was a jaguar and nothing else. When I began to awaken even further it seemed I was automatically sitting up in bed at the same time as I became fully awake. Once fully awake I was breathing as if I had been running and I still felt I was the jaguar. It was an extremely intense and I felt the wildness of the jaguar. After a moment the feeling receded but the story of the dream was very vivid.
These two dreams are related and they led to the creation of my painting “Voices of Paq’alib’al”. This is the painting with the image of the maize god with the open heart and jaguars. It is important to note that I did not plan this painting to have its final configuration as it is today. I did not even connect the dreams to the painting while I was creating it. The figures emerged after many times of painting over previous images that did not feel right. It was only after I completed the painting did I understand how it evolved and where it came from.
This is the art of the indigenous way of life by co-creating with the beings and deities that communicate to us individually and collectively through a depth of feeling, dreams, visions, and nature. It is a unique language that manifests into this world through a work of art.
It is the vision of the mural project to activate transformational art with similar methods of the indigenous for this modern age. The mural project will explore the integration of the indigenous & western consciousness through the focus of the heart center. This is related to how each individual would explore within themselves the integration of their unconscious self with the conscious self that C.G. Jung taught. It is the basis for self-actualization. The integration of the indigenous & western consciousness is the unfinished mythic story of the Americas. The mural project will explore & develop the new mythic elements, deities and beings of the story that need to be brought into manifestation. The murals will depict images that will provide a pathway for the authentic story of the Americas to emerge.
The murals will be inspired by the cultures of the ancient peoples of the Americas such as the Maya, Chaco Canyon and Anderson Mounds Indiana; http://arms.iweb.bsu.edu/RoI61.pdf . The project will synthesize the practices of these ancient & modern indigenous cultures that access & communicate with the forces of the natural world through the heart center. This is the integration of the indigenous & western consciousness. The project will bring the foundation of Jung’s work into the murals by exploring and listening to the wholeness of the human and natural world experience. This means developing a sensitive awareness to our relationship with our natural environment, which includes the inner experiences of a depth of feeling, dreams, visions and synchronous events.
The definition of “Myth” by Joseph Campbell will be expanded and explored in that mythic elements are actual living beings co-creating and communicating to humans. The mural project will partner with the Tz’utujil Maya in Guatemala through ritual and dialog to co-create with the unseen forces, beings and deities to develop the images and story for the new elements of the Myth of the Americas. This will bring myth creation into a livingness for each individual and the collective community to bring mythic stories beyond the “Hero’s Journey” and into an integrated wholeness. The mural creation is related to Tibetan mandala creation of co-creating with the unseen spiritual world to allow an image to emerge that answers a life affecting issue or question for individuals and society. It is actively seeking and petitioning the next part of the story to emerge from the unseen world. See blog on “Creating beyond the Known and with the Unknown”;http://davidawill.wordpress.com/
The mural project will also begin to bring into ritual the elements of the cosmos within our galaxy that are in direct relationship with the earth. The project will specifically work with the “2012” event. As the ancient Mayan calendar predicted, the alignment of the earth to the center of the Milky Way will occur on December 21, 2012. NASA has already discovered the additional energy that emanates from the center of the Milky Way. From the Mayan view this is a beginning of a new cycle and the energy projected from the center of the Milky Way is an actual living being and/or deity that emerges from the one source. This idea continues to open up the ancient ways of co-creation of the mural with the natural forces, beings and deities of the unseen world, the earth and cosmic forces. This relates how the ancient people of the Americas would utilize the network of sacred sites at Chaco Canyon, Anderson Mounds and the world of the Maya in Central America. The mural project would embody these indigenous art forms of the sacred sites and develop into a transformative story. The Myth of the Americas would capture this story through art to fully illustrate the story as a pathway for people to live in harmony within themselves and to the earth.
John Biggers speaks eloquently about this process in the short movie “Stories of Illumination and Growth: John Biggers’ Hampton Murals” published by Hampton University Museum. In this movie, John Biggers describes how he integrates the elements from his personal life, his African heritage and universal motifs of mythic metaphors. This is a life long process to explore one’s personal story and integrate it with one’s heritage and/or passion with the larger essence of myth. It is the mural project’s vision to elaborate and expand John Biggers vision into an active process of mural creation. The transformational mural process as explained previously is developing an indigenous way of creating art with the unseen world. From this active process the images emerge to continue the story that John Biggers describes in the movie. Therefore it uses Biggers legacy as an inspiration to keep his work alive and growing into new forms, images and stories that describe a spiritually integrated people and their society. The mural project would produce images of “Illumination and Growth” for our society to see and strive towards.
The mural project will develop a core group of people that convene on a regular basis to continue the evolvement of the Myth of the Americas stories. It would be a vehicle to create and commission murals that have a positive and integrated vision for society. It would challenge cultural paradigms of European and indigenous origins for the goal of creating new cultural partnerships based on compassion for all life. These challenges would be in the form of positive illuminating images that illustrate the potential of societies to co-create with each other and with the natural forces of the earth.
The core group would embody the ideal of creating with the unseen world and have a direct relationship to the archetypes that emerge through the language of art. The mural project members would study dream images and metaphors for the development of mural stories. It would also provide a vehicle for co-creating mural stories with indigenous groups that desire to participate in the project.