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The Mayan Door

Dreamed 2008/3/21 by Wayan

THAT DAY

I go through experimental poems and prose by my friend Patagia and find a dream of being a bird. Ten years old, badly faded; have to transcribe it. Add to the World Dream Bank under the title Hunt and Peck.

Time for paid work now--my friend Lily's art-site. Photograph her new quilt and build three new pages with dozens of photos, captions and links.

I find a parking ticket on my car. So much for earning! Lose most of what I made today. I even reminded myself it was street-sweeping day, and still forgot--too busy working. After a year with no tickets, this makes $160 in fines since I started working. Sabotage! A warning. My spirit doesn't want me working for others. My art takes time and energy--and wage work drains both. Do what you were born to! If that means you starve, starve. But focus.

In the evening, the band Heller Highwater is playing free at Red Hill Books. Nice voices and harmonies but the songs are too safe for me. So as they play, I open my sketchbook and draw scenes from a nightmare about the complex triangular relationship between me, Emily Joy, and Cheryl. At home, before bed, I scan the sketches and title that nightmare: Burn the Eggs. Another dream-obsessed day...

THAT NIGHT

I'm in Yucatan, inside a hill, standing in a great domed cavern-room. The floor's been smoothed flat, but it's a natural cave--the Maya never built arched ceilings. It's gigantic, echoing; the Grand Central Station of ghosts.

Previous archeologists believed this was a temple or throne room, based on the circular dais in the center of the huge round space.

Above a small statue of a jaguar in a niche, glyphs cover the cavern walls. I struggle to translate them--I don't know Mayan, but the murals in the side-rooms help. Slowly piece the story together. The glyphs tell of a journey by the Average Mayan Guy...

Sketch of a dream scene, by Chris Wayan: In a cave, Mayan glyphs around a small shrine to a jaguar.
They seem to be a teaching-tool like a kids' reader, meant to teach glyphs to anyone. Sequences are simple, repetitious, obvious. There's a reason: many glyphs rely on puns, and Mayan dialects varied so much that the pun-associations didn't universally work. That helps us non-Mayans struggling to learn! By writing Mayan For Dummies, the builders meant this place to have working instructions for eternity--and they may have succeeded.

As I read them, the glyphs refute the archeologists. This is a sort of Grand Central Station--a station between worlds. Approach the dais right, step on, and it takes you... elsewhere. No wonder the great cavern's so empty. You need that space to maneuver.

Three huge zodiacs are carved into great rings set at right angles. None are level with the floor, though--they're aligned to Earth's meridians: the equator, and a north-south line running through the Mayan heartland (their Greenwich Meridian, I guess) and one at right angles to that. Only half of each is visible, for they rise from the floor as if it's water, in three great tilted (stone?) arches. I feel as if we're inside a huge antique atom, as conceived around 1915! But this is millennia older.

a cave with an arched roof and a round dais, center. Carvings show figures from the Mayan, Chinese and Greco-Roman zodiacs. Dream sketch by Chris Wayan; click to enlarge.
The carvings on the three arches show the Mayan, Chinese and European zodiacs. Yes, they knew of cultures distant in space and time. The figures are unmistakable, carved in bas-relief. The Mayan ones are all boxy in style but varied--things, people, animals. Ditto the European ones, though the style's more flowing and it has more humans. The Chinese twelve are all animals, of course.
Sketch of a dream scene, by Chris Wayan: in a cave, a painted and carved figure from the western zodiac: Virgo. Sketch of a dream scene, by Chris Wayan: in a cave, a painted and carved figure from the Chinese zodiac: the horse.

IN THE MORNING

I wake up and start drawing the cavern. Perspective on the zodiac-arches is hard. Can't recall the exact orientations of the three zodiacs, so I pick angles foregrounding the figures I want to draw: a running mare and a tiger on the Chinese arch, Virgo and Sagittarius on the Greco-Roman one. It was my dream after all; and I'm a Virgo, and a Horse. But the Mayan calendar? I don't know, and don't recall it well, so I pick the jaguar.

Then Cheryl comes in and sees my dream-sketch. She complains that the Mayan or Euro zodiac is wrong in some detail. I don't care; she's missing the point: the nucleus of this atom, not its electron shells! The cave's center is empty, but it's a world-gate--they need space at the heart. If you walk the right paths to the center, you can find anywhere, anywhen, anyone!

Sketch of a dream scene, by Chris Wayan: a round, sunlit stone dais in a Mayan cave.
And then I wake again. Another self-interpreting dream... I have to draw it all again, but this time I'm sure what the cavern is...

NOTES IN THE MORNING Thumbnail sketch of a dream scene, by Chris Wayan: in a cave, a painted and carved figure from the Chinese zodiac: the horse.

Sketch of a dream scene, by Chris Wayan: a round, sunlit stone dais in a Mayan cave.
A WEEK LATER

The image of forgetting the Mayan zodiac may be literal: I researched the old Mayan zodiac and found the details are lost--the Spanish burnt all the books, killed the priests. Can't be sure the modern Maya have the same zodiac, centuries after the Conquest. The Peccary (wild pig) and Scorpion are mentioned in carvings, but the rest... I portray some animals associated with the area: the jaguar, the alligator, the murex snail (milked to get a rich red/purple dye; akin to Tyrian purple), the quetzal, the feathered serpent...

Sketch of a dream scene, by Chris Wayan: a painted carving of a feathered serpent in a Mayan cave.
But they're filler--fakes. Real history? Censored. Burned.

A MONTH LATER

Both Emily and Cheryl are so uncomfortable with the nightmare Burn the Eggs, feel it violates their privacy, and ask me to pull it from the World Dream Bank. Reluctantly I do. Feel angry, discouraged.

Can't finish the drawing either--sketched it out, but I can't fill it in, shade it, color it. Let it sit...

Faint pencil sketch of a dream scene, by Chris Wayan: a cavern with arches. Hard to make out.
A YEAR LATER

Emily and Cheryl both broke up with me months ago. After a year of feeling stuck, today I finally sat down and shaded in the dream-picture in a single morning. So I'm putting the whole mess, including Burn the Eggs, back up. I've learned two lessons:

Stay empty.

And censor your dreams for no one.

a cave with an arched roof and a round dais, center. Carvings show figures from the Mayan, Chinese and Greco-Roman zodiacs. Dream sketch by Chris Wayan; click to enlarge.


LISTS AND LINKS: Mexico and Central America - caverns and chthonic dreams - language, translation and scripts - calendars, holidays, etc - doors between worlds - false waking and dreams within dreams - dreams about dreams - shamanism - dreams of Emily Joy - dreams of Cheryl - pencil dream-art - dreamwork in general - free speech and censorship - austerity and asceticism - a dream of Mayan magic and Mayan Force -

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