This piece was created using pen and ink as well as colored pencil and graphite.
QUEZTALCOAL, THE FEATHERED SERPENT
It is difficult to easily explain the progression of my spiritual journey so far in life, as it has been so diverse and so very rich. Suffice it to say that I have tried to leave no stone unturned in my quest to understand the nature of the human soul and why we struggle so much in this illusion of life. Now, when I say illusion, this is not meant to diminish the importance of our journey here or to minimize this experience. Think, if you will, of a grand magician. The most glorious trick the magician can manifest is an illusion; however, knowing this fact does not keep us from appreciating the magnificence of that illusion or make us want to abandon the performance.
To think of life as an illusion and to acknowledge that we, its creators, have the ability to make such an illusion the grandest we can should bring us a great sense of relief and empowerment. I am not saying we are the Grand Illusionist, however, but only that great Spirit intended for us to continue Its perfect work.
So much of my spiritual awakening has been a result of my deep affinity with all teachings of the Indigenous peoples, everywhere; and none are dearer to my heart than those of the Nahuatl and the Toltec. I must make mention of the little book that saved my tortured heart as it transformed my mind’s way of thinking. I was firmly in the rut of rigid, self-loathing and confusion about my own worth; but these Agreements freed my strangled view, allowing me to accept a simpler, clearer understanding of the truth of my own power. Don Miguel Ruiz, a man of Toltec descent, wrote this simple guideline for perfection in our physical way of being. The Four Agreements literally changed my life in a matter of days as it made me aware of my own perception of perfection and how that was keeping me imprisoned by my own guilt. There would be other books, other teachings and messages to follow, but I thank Mr. Ruiz for his contribution to my rebirth.
And now a bit of history about Quetzalcoatl
Representations of this god occur as early as the Teotihuacan civilization, around 3rd-8th century, where it was conceived of as a vegetation god. For the Toltec, Quetzalcoal became the god of the morning and evening star, the symbol of death and resurrection. In Aztec times this god was revered as the patron of priests. There are many myths surrounding the figure of Quetzalcoatl, the priest-king of Tula, the capital of the Toltec at that time. Although history shows the transformation of the Toltec culture to have evolved into one of a more violent, warring nature, which included human sacrifice, the god Quetzalcoatl never offered human victims-only snakes, birds and butterflies, according to legend. There was another God, Texcatlipoca, the god of the night sky, who was expelled from the Toltec city of Tula, for performing feats of black magic. It was the legendary victory of Texcatlipoca which changed much of the cultural mind of that time. While there are several versions of Quetzalcoatl’s retreat into the East, one legend has him wandering down to the “divine water” where he sacrificed himself on a pyre thus transforming himself into the planet Venus. Another version has him sailing beyond the eastern horizon on a raft he fashioned of snakes. He was credited by the Aztec with inventing their calendar and books, and he was seen as the protector of goldsmiths and other craftsmen.
His companion was Xolotl, a dog-headed god; and both were said to have descended to the hell of Mictlan to gather bones of the ancient dead. He then anointed these bones with his blood, giving birth to the men in our present universe. It was always prophesied he would return, and this led the peaceful nation ruled by Montezuma to view the Spanish conqueror Hernan Cortes and his men as divine envoys. They had arrived in one Reed year, the time that Quetzalcoal was expected to return.
He has also been known as Ehecatl, the wind god, whose representation was that of a man with a beard, or with a mask with two protruding tubes and a conical hat.
As the god of learning, writing and of books, he held a place of high esteem in religious colleges that were attached to the temples where future priests and sons of nobility were educated.
The Aztec, Maya and Toltec history has much to teach regarding values, honesty and industrious living. Much love went into this artistic rendition of my own. This figure has a place of prominence in my novel, but without complete identity. I appreciate what Quetzalcoatl represents to the people whose history was greatly affected by its presence in their myths and legends.
And the magnificent Quetzal we saw in Costa Rica?
It was so very magical to find and photograph this elusive bird.
What do you think? Do you see any resemblance?