“A” is for Axis Mundi

As is consistent with my temperament , when faced with a rather daunting task (in this case an alphabet primer), I start at the beginning and soldier on. Hence, “A” is for the Axis Mundi.

In Mesoamerican culture, the Axis Mundi, essentially the World Tree, is  situated at the center of the Earth. It is truly a  cosmic being, with its branches kissing Heaven and its roots finding their way to the bowels of Hell. Traditionally the World Tree is thought to be the glorious Ceiba tree, the link provided is well worth a glimpse or two. I remember this beautiful tree from our time living in Ft.Lauderdale. It is a perfect tree for me, close to nude save for ferocious thorns;instead of pedestrian foliage , the Ceiba rewards visitors with fabulous orchid-like flowers, often hot pink. It is quite simply a stunning tree, no wonder it is the national tree of modern Guatemala.

All that said, I did not depict the fantastic Ceiba, I chose instead an odd little tree that we have fallen in love at the Cactus Garden of Balboa Park here in San Diego. I don’t know what this curious specimen is, we haven’t located an identification plate, but I will research further. What is apparent is its great age, probably pushing a century mark, which is curious as it is a very tiny little tree.

This is my interpretation of the odd little charmer.

“A” is for Axis Mundi
June 22nd 2012
watercolor on paper
9 by 16 inches

And this is the tree as we know it.

Axis Mundi @ Balboa Park, San Diego

To give a sense a scale, here is the dear tree with David’s equally dear Aunt Lydia, a wee little woman, 5’2″ or so.

Aunt Lydia @ the Axis Mundi

I’m working through the alphabet, I think I will be more random than my initial inclination if for no other reason than aesthetics. Given the scope of the endeavor, there is bound to be stylistic progression as I delve forward. I think the primer will possess a more consistent aesthetic if I jump about. That said, “H” is drawn out, Hun Hunahpu, the Maize God. I will present that when complete.

I think this will be a fun ( and exhausting) project, I have been fantasizing about the frontispiece. My conceit is a primer of New Spain to be presented to Charles V, I want the frontispiece to be full of that overblown false modesty and groveling  found in  period documents.

Well until next time,

take care


Author: babylonbaroque

I am a painter and printmaker working towards creating a body of work that reflects my own developing aesthetic. New work ,first link. The second link is an on-line portfolio.

10 thoughts on ““A” is for Axis Mundi”

  1. Leonard, you are off to an impressively flying start! Moreover you may be the first to get going, and certainly the first to blog about it. A magnificent A, my friend, beautifully drawn.

    1. Thank you, I’m sure you know how much fun it is to draw gnarly branches and roots!
      Have a great weekend,

  2. Oh Leonard what a fantastic start, the monochrome with the accent red is spot on for that image, and I love the idea of the New Spain (conceited!) conceit, I can’t wait to see the front piece! Bravo!

    (I imagine many people might be inclined to start at A and then dot about more freely, it”s what I think I’m inclined to do…)

    1. Oh I am pleased. I love monochromatic, grissaile paintings, but i see my palette of available color and i become so seduced by their beauty. This will be a good exercise for me.
      Take care,

  3. wow!this is fantastic! great use of the A, and when i first saw it, i instantly thought of a heart with the veins stretching out, especially with the ribboning red, which is a fantastic double for that odd little tree, which also functions perfectly as an axis mundi, i think.
    what a bizarre little tree you found, though! and it looks like david’s aunt might fit inside, really 🙂

    1. You are an excellent interpreter of my paintings, YES, bloody veins are a constant, in my work and in Meso culture. It was not a conscious decision but as the branches morphed into veins I was pleased. So thank you for noticing.
      We tried to get Aunt Lydia into the tree, she is actually under 5 feet, but she was afraid of spiders, snakes and creepy-crawlies.
      Next time, I will squeeze in.
      Take care and have a creative weekend!

  4. A very clever “A” and proper use of an accent colour! ( I see what you mean about my buff titanium now, it does seem very mean to call it an accent colour!).
    I’m sorry to read about the loss of your friend, Leonard, she sounds wonderful. You obviously both thoroughly enjoyed your friendship and working together and your post was an amazing glimpse into her life. Px

    1. Thank you. I was only teasing about the buff titanium, obviously you have used it to great effect.
      I have just finished “L” with a very limited grisaille pallete, only a hint of red.
      Red because it IS Mesoamerica after all! will post this weekend, too pooped at the moment.
      Also thank you concerning Loreen, I hope i honored her memory adequately .
      Take care,

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