One Four Challenge for May – The Sacrifice of Smoke Jaguar

I am taking up the challenge again with Robyn at Captivate me and we process a photo four different ways each week for the month. Do check out all the great submissions!


The sacred gate to the ceremonial center of Labna ( Catherwood style)

and a short story:  chapter one ( of four)

The Journey 

It was not a mission to be taken without intense spiritual preparation, and Smoke Jaguar had performed the necessary prayers and blood letting.  He knew that his journey along the Sac-be (white road) which connected the hub of the Empire to the outlying areas of the jungle was a solemn undertaking. According to belief all duty was holy ritual. Like the tree that rose up from the bowels of Xibalba, the messenger’s quest would parallel the voyage of souls from the underworld to the ultimate portal in the Milky Way. Within the great dream, the tree of life joined earth and heaven, and as branches grew into the turtle constellation of Ak- Ek, the leaves trembled constantly from the shimmering rain of stars.

Smoke Jaguar carried the long count symbols of the grand order that the high priest had rolled into the codex. He paused to ask for the blessing of Kinich Ahau and acknowledged the four pillars of the earth, the Bacabs, who prevented the heavens from collapsing into catastrophe! As he walked in reverence through the gate of the ceremonial city he knew he was passing  into another sacred dimension.


(Apologies to any true historians of ancient mesoamerican civilizations and mythology)

 continue to Chapter 2– The Meeting

and for more Mayan history and  images visit

 In the Jaws of Kukulkan


some background information

I can imagine the wonder of the two explorers in the Yucatan Jungle coming across the remains of this ancient civilization. Frederick Catherwood was a draftsman and architect who beautifully sketched these cities of stone and John Lloyd Stephens was a writer and diplomat  who wrote of their adventures in  Incidents of Travel in Central America.

Sac be– the white road- I walked part of this in the city of Coba. The Mayans built roads to connect everything- like the Romans

Xibalba– the fearsome underworld

AK Ek – is Orion in our astronomy

Kinich Ahau– the sun god

Bacabs – four brothers that corresponded to north, south east and west. The earth resided on the back of giant turtle.

codex – a book made of tree bark- the most famous Mayan codices that survive are called The Popol Vuh. The Mayans had great knowledge of astronomy and mathematics and the divine order of the cosmos was wrapped up in religious ritual.

I decided to use an older photo from my own wonderful Mayan journey a few years ago.  Starting with the original and an overpexposed sky I tried to achieve a Catherwood  sketch look, so I added a glow, antique plate and vintage effects. I added a hint of colour as per Catherwood.