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!

labnaportalsketchcolour
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.

Mayanketzal

(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.

original
original

 

71 Comments Add yours

  1. Me hubby shouted up the stairs there about something before I could say…what a brilliant post. He quite tore me away from this sun and stars world here I am still sitting in, so he couldn’t have really. But your power was such I was in that other world. The image is amazing. I want to know more about Calderwood

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Sehanne, oh yes, very interesting story of Stephens and Catherwood in 1839. I hope you will enjoy all the installments of that little story of Smoke Jaguar.( 4 in all) I am very fascinated with the Mayan history and dark mythology and traveled all through the area a few years back. I wrote a few posts on my travels there as well.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh I will red them all, you can be assured. xxxxxxxx

        Liked by 1 person

      2. thank you Shehanne, sorry for my late reply!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. DG MARYOGA says:

    Clicked the link from the post I was reading and you captivated me in here with your fabulous story and the sacred gate to the ceremonial city … You are unique Cybele dear,a great narrator and photographer 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh Doda, thanks so much for reading!! I do love stories and writing them – when I have time and am inspired of course- the nine muses have all touched my shoulder from time to time with poetry, dance music and astronomy!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. DG MARYOGA says:

        Yes,Cybele dear,it’s quite obvious that the divine nymphs have touched your shoulder in so many fields.Exhilarating for us to read and for you to have this spiritual surge come out of your sensitive soul 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. oh thanks Doda but you live in the country of muses- as your own posts show!!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Photos and story! Yay! Double joy! Greeat job, Cybele!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Lizzie- go glad you like it!!

      Like

  4. katieprior says:

    What a great rendering of this image, Cybele. You sparked my curiosity and I went off to look up Catherwood, a very interesting and well travelled chap. When I came back to your picture, it looked just like one of his watercolours, beautiful. Thanks for sharing a bit of Mayan culture with us. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. so glad I succeeded Katie! Thanks!! And yes a very interesting civilization!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love the changes you made to the photo–simply magical!

    Like

    1. thank you so much Bethany! and for your visit!

      Like

  6. What an amazing transformation!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Many thanks Naomi!

      Like

  7. Peter Nena says:

    Cybele, how do you do? I love what you’ve done with the photo, the second one. So Gothic, so lovely.
    And where is the whole story? I want to read more of it. There is a traditional wholeheartedness in the way you tell stories. Your characters have a strong moral significance, and the spirituality, the essence, is affecting and deep. You know those kind of stories you read and something tells you that there is more to them than just the wonderfully woven words, something deeper, sometimes subtle, but certainly magnetic and powerful. That’s how it is with your stories–Niamh’s Journey and the rest, even the Arabian one. I love the quality–simple, captivating, profound.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am overwhelmed by the compliment from such a tale weaver as yourself! For some reason there does seem to be an underlying spiritual tone to my stories. When I was young I was deeply moved by Oscar Wilde’s writing and also stories about the Holy Grail!! Seeking is a huge part of it all. Thank you so much my friend for your eloquent description of the longing for something more, something close yet so far!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. ps: I used an editing program called Topaz to and another called Perfect Effects to achieve that faded sketch look.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Love the photo treatment Cybele, the story and the facts behind it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. oh their story is really fascinating and still so mysterious! Thank you so much Andrea!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Nurul Lubis says:

    You changed ordinary foto becomes beautiful skectch, Cybele. Wonderful works, as always..

    Like

    1. Many thanks Nurul!! Glad you like it!

      Like

  10. jannatwrites says:

    I haven’t done photo editing, but I do like how your final photo turned out. It’s interesting, too, how cropping can change the whole feel of the photo. Nicely done 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. afairymind says:

    I love the way you’ve linked your edit to Catherwood and his sketches. Great picture and I look forward to seeing future edits. Brilliant story, too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks so much Louise!! Yes I loved his sketches and the whole story of their explorations.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I love how you edited the photo. Made it quite mystical and historical (if that makes sense) and it went so well with your story. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you Linda!! It was fun to do and I’m glad that comes across!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Very inspired story Cybele and fantastic photo!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks so much Della for your lovely comments!

      Like

  14. Debra says:

    I just love what you did here. Wow.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks so much Debra! Now I have to think of what else I can do for the next 3 weeks!!

      Like

  15. Stephen Thom says:

    So much wonder in this post – Mayan journey, very jealous! Although that’s not what I should be feeling ;-). Love the combined elements, the transportive image, ‘the leaves trembled constantly from the shimmering rain of stars.’ A magical combination, with much to mull over… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks for your great comment Stephen!! I hope you can visit there sometime- it can profoundly inspire the storyteller in us.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Norma says:

    I really love the post processing effect that you have given to this photo. It adds to story and shows the history of this old structure.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. your comment is much appreciated Norma!!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Anita says:

    The zoom / crop was a great choice for applying this effect, Cybele!
    Looking forward to the rest of the story…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks so much Anita!! Ouch now I have to think some more!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Anita says:

        That’s what everyone’s thinking! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  18. Cybele, you never cease to amaze me! What an incredibly beautiful transformation of this image. I just love how you “see” things! And I am just fascinated with how you come up with your stories and the facts you weave into them. What a wonderful post for me to read first thing this morning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am thrilled that you enjoyed the story along with the edit!! It’s such a fascinating civilization and history and so full of sacred rituals or quests, astronomy and mystery. – all the things I love! lol! Thanks so much Stacy for your enthusiastic support!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Robyn G says:

      I absolutely agree with Stacy’s comment here. Every word!
      As always a gorgeous image and process Cybele and I was thrilled to read that Eliza totally gets this, knowing the artist and place.
      As usual – awesome! 😃
      I jumped the queue 😜😜

      Liked by 2 people

      1. So glad you like it Robyn!! It’s such a great challenge!! I love the Mayan mystery! Yes Eliza knew of my inspiration – very gratifying! Thank you- and thank you!!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Robyn G says:

        Always a pleasure to watch and read your beautiful creations 😃

        Liked by 1 person

      3. 👍🏻to you, Robyn 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  19. coolquilting says:

    super edit. I have never heard of Catherwood before…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad you liked it cool!! Thank you!

      Like

  20. svtakeiteasy says:

    Nice treatment of your beautiful original image, Cybele. The hint of faded colour, the blur on the edges, all help to focus our eyes on the gate. And as always your writing helps put it all in context and transport us to a sacred world.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks so much Chris- I’m glad it all tied together and the effect was fun!

      Like

  21. Ann says:

    I like it! I’m reminded of one of those old photographs that have been painted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. so glad it worked!! Thank you Ann!

      Liked by 1 person

  22. I love the development of the image! It looks very old. The story is intriguing. I’m ready to turn the page. 🙂

    Thanks for adding the word definitions and history. It really helped to bring the story alive the second reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Glad I succeeded with that old look!! Thanks so much for reading the story too Deborah!

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Sue says:

    Love your processing here, Cybele….just right for the subject. And I liked the information about Catherwood.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. I love Catherwood’s etchings and took Stephens’ book with me the first time I went exploring Mayan ruins of which Labna was one. This is such a lovely way to present the sacred gate of Labna – really puts me in the mood of being one of the early explorers of Mayan archeology.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!!! Thanks Eliza – so glad you like it and Catherwood and Stephens!

      Like

  25. sheldonk2014 says:

    Great story of your journey,the photo is beautiful
    Great post

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks so much for your lovely comment Sheldon!!

      Like

  26. disperser says:

    That is a nice treatment of the subject.

    Liked by 1 person

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