Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

We Remember the Popol Vuh

Crawling down below Meauan Mountain, where ground meets sea level, the first grandson of America whispers a plot that will bury a bad god forever.  The crawling insurrectionist is Hunahpu, Jr. and there on the whiteness of a giant pyramid stone at Mirador, Guatemala you can see the young genius at work, with the head of his father strapped tight to his sash.

If Hunahpu, Jr. does not get the words exactly right, if the crab that he conjures from flagstone and bromeliad does not obey precisely, then the arrogant clan of old gods will persist one day longer.  Zipacna, who calls himself the mountain maker, will not be buried under the weight of his own prideful production.  Hunahpu’s grandmother will have to mark the day wasted.

Because it falls now to the grandson to conquer the wicked gods in grandmother’s name, we watch this subterranean subterfuge through grandmother’s x-ray eyes.  That dirty god Zipacna must be teased into submission and buried face up.  Since this is the fifth time the good gods have experimented with the creation of humankind–if we count the chattering creatures, the mud people, the stick people, and the decapitated generation of Hunahpu, Sr.–we can see how grandmother is running out of options.

Of course we also know that Hunahpu Jr. is the star of a long and proud story that ends happily with our corn-fed existence above ground.  Like some 2,300-year-old serial drama, the story of the Popol Vuh wraps around the base of the Mirador pyramid, its images of hope reflected across the surface of a memoried waterwork.  Onward and upward the story unwinds, until life triumphs over death.  The ball-game episodes would play well on ESPN.

CNN dramatizes this year’s archaeological sensation by raising a specter of suspicion.  “Some say” that the Popol Vuh was never really handed down to us by Mayans.  “They say” it could be a post-conquest corruption.  True enough, Christian officials of Yucatan burned all the Mayan libraries during the 1570s.  Why would they not attempt to displace Mayan memory with fraud?  But there are all kinds of Christians making history, and the carving at Mirador seems to prove that the priest who made it his business to preserve the Popol Vuh circa 1701 wrote down authentic words.

Conflict and suspicion are good for a story and serve to sell the pictures that come with it.  But in the case of the Popol Vuh there was no need to worry very much about the authenticity of its ancient genius.  Raphael Girard after three decades of experience in the Mayan regions learned to see the Popol Vuh everywhere he looked.  It is the classic text of America and its heart beats behind the life of native cultures up and down the Western Hemisphere.  Corn, beans, tobacco, rubber balls, and spirits coming at you from six directions of every crossroads—don’t forget up and down.

In 1948 Girard argued that the Popol Vuh is like the Mayan encyclopedia of everything: astronomy, mathematics, zoology, agriculture, history, comprehensive sex education, and the ethics of The Hunahpu Code.  Get on the bus tomorrow at 5:30 am and see the industrious man of America for yourself–hombre trabajador–still growing the world against sinister odds.  On Thanksgiving we remember authentic words who refused to be forgotten.  And we try to remember how to be grateful for them.

Based on the plants and animals named in the Popol Vuh, Girard argued in 1948 that the epic must have been composed along the Pacific Coast of Guatemala.  In 2006 at La Blanca, archaeologist Michael Love unearthed a scooped-out four-leaf clover which he dated to 900-600 BCE.  Old as the books of Moses, that clover basin would have been filled with water six feet across for ritual re-enactment of the first creation when Heart of Sky conferred with Plumed Serpent and conceived the possibility of an existence that could count the days and keep them well: grandmother’s Hunahpu.

Therefore, we mark Thanksgiving Day to re-bury the gods of arrogance under the very stuff they claim to control.  We drink to underground genius that makes a day well made.  Messages in stone unbury themselves to whisper spirits unconquered.  We remember the Popol Vuh.

GREG MOSES is editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review and author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. He is a contributor to Red State Rebels: Tales of Grassroots Resistance in the Heartland, published by AK Press. He can be reached at: gmosesx@gmail.com

 

More articles by:

Greg Moses writes about peace and Texas, but not always at the same time. He is author of Revolution of Conscience: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Philosophy of Nonviolence. As editor of the Texas Civil Rights Review he has written about racism faced by Black agriculturalists in Texas. He can be reached at gmosesx@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
Elliot Sperber
Build More Gardens, Phase out Cars
Chris Gilbert
In the Wake of Nepal’s Incomplete Revolution: Dispatch by a Far-Flung Bolivarian 
Muhammad Othman
Let Us Bray
Gerry Brown
Are Chinese Municipal $6 Trillion (40 Trillion Yuan) Hidden Debts Posing Titanic Risks?
Rev. William Alberts
Judge Kavanaugh’s Defenders Doth Protest Too Much
Ralph Nader
Unmasking Phony Values Campaigns by the Corporatists
Victor Grossman
A Big Rally and a Bavarian Vote
James Bovard
Groped at the Airport: Congress Must End TSA’s Sexual Assaults on Women
Jeff Roby
Florida After Hurricane Michael: the Sad State of the Unheeded Planner
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Bradley Kaye
The Policy of Policing
Wim Laven
The Catholic Church Fails Sexual Abuse Victims
Kevin Cashman
One Year After Hurricane Maria: Employment in Puerto Rico is Down by 26,000
Dr. Hakim Young
Nonviolent Afghans Bring a Breath of Fresh Air
Karl Grossman
Irving Like vs. Big Nuke
Dan Corjescu
The New Politics of Climate Change
John Carter
The Plight of the Pyrenees: the Abandoned Guard Dogs of the West
Ted Rall
Brett Kavanaugh and the Politics of Emotion-Shaming
Graham Peebles
Sharing is Key to a New Economic and Democratic Order
Ed Rampell
The Advocates
Louis Proyect
The Education Business
David Yearsley
Shock-and-Awe Inside Oracle Arena
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail