July 24, 2023

 Today, it took me a while to understand that I was experiencing another man’s memory fragment. My mind kept thinking that the experience was mine but it quickly became clear that it had nothing to do with me and was only being provided to me as context. The emotional affect surrounding the experience, too, was neutral. Usually, my heart is engaged when the experience is personal but this time my heart felt neutral. I was merely present in someone else’s body and seeing things from his perspective.


The person was definitely a man. From what I could tell, he was young and strong. Later, I came to understand that he was a warrior priest. He was seated on the ground near the top of a hill that overlooked the rainforest. The sun was setting. The orb of the sun was orange at first but became redder as it sank toward the horizon. When it was an intense blood red, “I” got up and turned to ascend to the top of the hill.


There was a copse of trees before me. They were unlike any trees I’ve ever seen with tall, straight trunks and branches that hung nearly straight down. Their leaves were green but what caught my attention was the handprint on each leaf. I shivered, knowing that this was not only a sacred grove but also a grove of human sacrifice. The spirits of the sacrificed lingered here in the trees.


“I” walked into the grove, pushing aside the branches. The leaves were stained blood red by the light of the setting sun. 


I knew it was time. 


I was ready.


I stepped up to a crude altar hidden in the copse of trees. There was a small temple behind the altar at the top of the hill. Its stones were green and moss-covered. My body, strong and powerful, was clad in green that matched the color of the temple. The sacrifice was before me, another young man like myself. He was standing there stiffly, radiating a sense of calm resolution.


I did not hesitate. 


I pulled his head over the altar and slit his throat with a very sharp knife. He gurgled as the blood poured out of his juglar. His face was so young! His brown eyes gazed up at me as the light faded from within and he died. His blood filled a basin on the altar. Soon, the basin overflowed with blood and trickled down a groove. I caught this overflowing blood in a crude chalice made of green stone.


Lifting the chalice upward toward the temple, I offered the sacrifice. Instantly, a blood-red gash appeared in the air before me and a deity of both blood and fire emerged. Her form was chaotic and she gazed down upon me with angry eyes as I lifted the cup to my lips and drank deeply.


I lost consciousness, tumbling into blackness before finally emerging, gasping for breath, from a red pool of blood on the floor of a cave. I knew I was in the underworld. I was wearing only a loincloth. I pushed myself out of the pool and, my body dripping blood, staggered into the cave. It was lit by an angry red light but the source of light was hidden.


Before me, in a small alcove in the cave wall, lay the golden body of a young man. Like me, he was clad only in a loincloth. I recognized him as the young man I had just sacrificed. He was unconscious. I lifted his body into my arms and carried him out of the cave into an immense, underground chamber.


Before us was a huge, square pyramid. It was made of golden stone and looked much like the pyramids I’ve seen in Mesoamerica, similar to the one at Chichen Itza. A shaft of golden sunlight pierced through the roof of the chamber, hitting the top tier and casting golden radiance throughout.


I carried the body of the young man to the top of the pyramid where there was another altar made of golden stone. I laid his body on the stone and took a golden knife from my belt and, raising it above my head, slashed downward, cutting his heart from his chest. His eyes opened as the knife pierced his chest and we made eye contact for one brief second before his body turned into liquid sunlight, blazingly bright, too bright to look upon.


I was no longer at the top of the temple. I was somewhere else.


I blinked, looking around and finding myself in a realm of golden sunlight. I was standing amidst golden clouds and the sun blazed overhead. Romping around in the mist of the clouds was a god, part man and part jaguar. Even though he seemed to be part man, he was clearly not a man. I can’t describe him because he was too bright to look upon but he was clearly very powerful. As I watched, he leaped closer and closer to me, finally opening his great jaws and devouring me whole.


All light winked out and I knew only blackness.


***


Now I was back in my own soul body again, dazed by what I’d just seen. I suppose it shouldn’t surprise me, this god of the underworld who was both pure blackness and pure light. Still, the experience left me shaken and confused. I didn’t know why I had seen that memory fragment but did have a strong feeling that I was somehow connected to the young man who had been devoured by the jaguar god. I don’t think he was my brother precisely but he was a relative, a close cousin, perhaps? I knew we shared the same lineage in some way, although his religious tradition and gods were not familiar to me.


I was seated in pitch blackness on a stone floor but gradually began to see resolve in the blackness as the soft, golden light within my chest strengthened. The firefly bees were buzzing inside me, activated for some reason. I stood and approached something I could see before me. It was so dark that I couldn’t tell exactly what it was but, as I neared, I realized it was a stone slab.


On the slab lay the body of the young man who had been devoured by the jaguar god, only now he possessed a jaguar’s head rather than a human one. His body, however, was still mostly human and obviously male from the outline of the, er, thing I could see protruding from his loincloth. (You’ll be happy to know that, even though I found him exceedingly attractive, I behaved myself and didn’t lift the loincloth for a better look.)


I crept over to him, the bees circling around me. Only now did my heart become activated and I cried as I stared down upon his feline face. I don’t know why I cried. Was it sadness? Recognition? Relief? Whatever the sensation, it was poignant. When one of my tears landed on his face, he awakened, slitted eyes blinking open.


With the head of a jaguar, he couldn’t smile exactly but nonetheless I knew he was smiling. He lifted his hand/paw and caressed my face. He couldn’t kiss me because he didn’t have lips so he lifted his head and licked my cheek with a long, sandpapery tongue. His eyes were filled with wonder as he looked up at me and the dancing firefly bees.


I helped him to his feet, steadying him before walking out of the black chamber. I got the sense that he had been ‘sleeping’ here for a very long time. As we walked, a familiar ghostly white glow appeared before us and I knew we were approaching the cave’s exit and the Crossroads.


Sure enough, we emerged from the cave mouth to find the fog-enshrouded realm before us. Like always, it was completely lifeless save for the presence of the Woman in White. She was waiting for us in the middle of the road. This time, however, she didn’t have a woman’s form at all but appeared as a fearsome snake god.


In the light, I realized the young man didn’t have the head of a jaguar but a black panther. Or maybe a black jaguar? His head and body were completely black and, well, let’s just say he was quite handsome. And also kind of ferocious looking. Given this, it was humorous the way he recoiled in terror at the sight of the serpent god. He looked at me with saucer eyes, clutching my arm so tightly his claws dug into my flesh.  I laughed, batting him on the shoulder.


“There’s nothing to be afraid of!” I chided. “She won’t hurt you! She’s here to guide you on the next phase of your journey.” I couldn’t help getting a little dig in, adding, “I would think that this would be no big deal for you after being eaten by a jaguar god!”


Chastened, he returned my grin (as best as a panther can grin) and trotted off to join the serpent goddess. I waved goodbye, already missing his strong, fine form and perky butt. Oh, well, what’s a girl to do? Maybe we’ll meet again someday. I can only hope he’s not really my brother because I wouldn’t want to commit incest. ;-)


***


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