Saturday, April 18, 2009
The Coming Sun
This is a cacao flower, sacred to many tribes in the Mesoamericas, and was originally (as far back as we know) cultivated by the Mayans. It is the flower before the cacao bean- Theobroma cacao: Theobroma meaning "Food of the Gods", cacao being an Anglicized version of cacahuatl, the Aztec name of the bean. Cacao pulverized and served as a drink is a traditional staple- you've probably heard the stories about Montezuma drinking it. It's also used as a delivery for hallucinogenic plants like datura. Once when I was traveling alone in Paris I went to the finest chocolate store. I bought a small expensive bag of almonds thickly covered and dusted in chocolate. As I ate them my head began to get higher, and by the time I arrived at where I was staying, I could literally feel the vibrations in my head buzzing about me, and I was holding onto the walls to get to my room because my vision was bright and confusing. I sat on my bed for about two hours enjoying the little stars around me and the lit sensation I felt all over. I suspect there's more to chocolate than Hershey's.
The flower itself is a heavenly delicate beauty and I could not do it justice with the stained glass painting style I'm using. It's less than an inch tall and grows directly out of the trunk of the tree. Seriously, take a look at this flower- it is amazing:and it has no scent. The shape reminds me of the fleurs-de-lis. It's worthwhile to quote Michel Pastoureau via Wikipedia, "The use for ornamental or symbolic purposes of the stylised flower usually called fleur de lis is common to all eras and all civilizations. It is an essentially graphic theme found on Mesopotamian cylinders, Egyptian bas-reliefs, Mycenean pottery, Sassanid textiles, Gaulish and Mameluk coins, Indonesian clothes, Japanese emblems, and Dogon totems. The many writers who have discussed the topic agree that it has little resemblance to the lily, but they disagree as to whether it derives from the iris, the broom, the lotus... the essential point is that it is a very stylised figure, probably a flower, that has been used as an ornament or an emblem by almost all civilizations of the old and new worlds."
This is the flower of the Cannonball Tree, actually related to the Brazil Nut tree. As an aside, we humans have not yet learned to cultivate Brazil nut trees, so if you want to eat a wild nut, Brazil nuts are the ones. Apparently they don't do well in captivity. So the Cannonball Tree- these are tropical trees and are frequently grown around Hindu temples dedicated to Shiva. Once again, I'd rather you see the real deal- check out this flower!:The first time I saw it I yelled, "Woah! Sexy!" And apparently that's why it's also dedicated to Shiva and used in Shiva Pooja, which is, a, um... let me tell you a story! There's an old story that once Brahma and Vishnu were having a fight over who was more powerful. The immortals asked Shiva to intervene. So he does. Before Brahma and Vishnu appears this massive column of light. Shiva says, "Find the end of this one, guys." And they go on wandering about trying to find the end, which was impossible, because his column in infinite. Eventually Shiva bursts out of the column like, "What's up, fellas?! Who's the man?! By the way we're all from the same light, you're awesome, just be more respectful of each other." Within this same tradition it's believed that the earth is penetrated by 12 infinite columns of light that remain until the last day.
Here is a Mexican sunflower. Pretty lovely bright things! The Mayans domesticated them around 3000 BC. The Otomi People are Mayan descendants whose word for sunflower, “dä nukhä,” means “big flower that looks at the sun god." To this day in their churches, the Otomi fill Christian crosses with sunflowers. For the living Sun God. The Son God. Son of God. Sun of God.