Thursday, May 07, 2020

Chicanonautica: Dazed and Bemused in Mayach, Mu, and Atlantis

I dug into this one expecting amusing bullshit, something to get me dazed and bemused in the quarantine. I wasn't disappointed, but I also found myself enjoying it and had my mind blown a few times. I was also inspired.

Maya/Atlantis: Queen Móo and the Egyptian Sphinx by August Le Plongeon, first published in 1896, reprinted in 1973 as part of Steinerbooks' "Spiritual Science Library," is one I had heard about and finally found while on a used bookstore crawl. The glue that bound the paperback cracked and broke as I read it. I finally had to stick it back together with duct tape. I've got a feeling that I'll be referring back to it.

Le Plongeon, who had long, pointed white beard like R. Crumb's Mr. Natural, expounds a theory that the Maya are as old as Atlantis and Mu/Lemuria and that they colonized Egypt, Babylonia, and India before recorded history. He doesn't provide much convincing evidence. The introduction had pages peppered with Mayan hieroglyphs in attempt to convince the reader that he knew how to read them. There are a lot charts comparing the Mayan language (which he, like the Mormons, makes the mistake of thinking as a single idiom, but is actually a system of related dialects) to other languages that seem impressive, but then I don't know all those languages . . .

Strangely, he never presents any Mayan text with a translation that could be compared. Not even the story of Queen Móo, which he claims he got from a series of murals, that are reproduced as drawings that look like Mayan murals, but I would have been more impressed by photographs. He and his wife spent from 1873 to 1884 in the Yucatan studying the ruins. They were the first to photograph Chichén Itzá, but didn't the take pictures of the Queen Móo murals

As someone with a lifelong obsession with pre-Columbian archaeology, I must admit that Mayan art and hieroglyphs hold a certain fascination. They get the imagination going . . .

Le Plongeon writes "This is not a book of romance or imagination; but a work—one of a series—intended to give ancient America its proper place in the universal history of the world." Then declares that "Maya—not India—is the true mother of nations." It looks like his imagination went wild on him.

But I can't dismiss it as trash reading for amusement under lockdown. As a science fiction writer and sociopolicital travesio, trickster, humble acolyte of the Smoking Mirror and the Ancient Coyote, I see some bizarre gems floating in the snake oil.

I like the idea of Mayach being the Mayan name for the Yucatan. It isn't clear where Le Plongeon got the word, but it's a nice one. He offers Egyptian meanings, because the Maya, who he says were "mighty navigators" according to the Ramayana (guess I'm going to have read it again). He refers to "The Maya colonists who carried their conceptions of cosmic evolution to India," and claims to have "traced step-by-step the journey of the Maya colonists, along the course of the Euphrates." Also, they were "worshippers of the mastodon, god of the sea, whose image adornes their palaces, sacred and public buildings."

I have to mention that there doesn't seem to be any Mayan art depicting ships of any kind.

Oh yes, he also claims that the last words that Jesus spoke on the cross were Mayan. And not just any old Mayan. "He spoke pure Maya."

Then there's the issue of the banana.

Don't take my word for it, here's David Hatcher Childress from Lost Cities of Ancient Lemuria and the Pacific: "They are said to be one of the few foods that mankind can live completely on. Yet, the only other seedless fruits, such as naval oranges and seedless grapes are genetically engineered. Someone, somewhere in the remote past, cultivated bananas into the amazing plant that it is today."

We don't know who invented the banana.

A prehistoric, seafaring Maya/Atlantis/Lemurian empire would be a likely suspect.

According to Le Plongeon, the name Maya, "was given to the banana tree, symbol of their country."

If you go far enough south in Mexico, into Mayach, tamales—that essential pre-Columbian food, are wrapped in banana leaves instead of corn husks.

All this would make Chicanos--and the all Latinx variations--the true children of "the mother of nations."

To quote Le Plongeon again: "Can it be that all these are mere coincidences? If they be, then let us present more of them."

Ernest Hogan is holed up under quarantine, but his imagination is merrily running amok.

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