Closing Chapters


Resurrection of the Father
watercolor on paper

The last of my drawings for my Popol vuh commission have been satisfied.

I should feel a sense of relief but in truth I feel a sense of disappointment, of hopes once bright , now dimmed a bit. I am not sure where this project, one in which I have invested so much energy into , will go. Perhaps its just the creativity bubble bursting a bit.

What I had understood to be a project slated for publication after I had completed my commission  now seems in limbo. The publisher suggested by the poet  I found to be lacking in creativity and vision  with no apparent back up option-given the publisher was a pay-to-play  publisher was disappointing as well.

But that seems to be the reality. I am now in the position of needing to find a publisher , to pay or to not, willing to publish this heavily illustrated tome. To be honest I feel sick to my stomach but I have put so much into these drawings to just allow them to be stashed away into a folio seems too great a defeat. I also feel ill-equipped and inadequate to the task

So I will begin researching , I dislike feeling  a bit alone in this but from recent exchanges I fear the poet and I now have different intentions for the project. My initial understanding of the collaboration was a shared enthusiasm for Blake, inspiring a  universalist, humanistic approach to this distinctly Maya creation myth, an uplifting  celebration in the Jos. Campbell “Hero with a Thousand Faces” vein. It now seemingly more activist, too anti-Western Christendom in approach than I’d prefer.




There is profound relief in at last being free of the Xibalban Underworld, C.S.Lewis, in describing the creation of his Screwtape Letters  dwelt upon the  difficulty of being immersed in such darkness. The last year or so of trickster demons, their wanton cruelty, the viciousness of unwholesome, perverse gods and the relentless bloody sacrifices has had a similar darkening upon my soul. I’m eager to emerge into the light.


That said, the  following are the images for the tacked on poems to our Popol vuh.

Poem Images:

Scepter 1967
Mi Finca
The Owls Return to Xibalba
The Jungle Path to Xibalba
All Their Lord’s Hearts
(terrible photograph)
Epilogue, the Daykeeper’s Sermon, Circa 1520
(perhaps my favorite drawing)

Chapter headers, the theme being puppetry and nursery amusements:

Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V
Chapter VI
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
(my favorite of the chapter headers )

I am going to take some time away from thinking about this project, but not so much that I can wish it away. Just an opportunity to rekindle inspiration, to aflame motivation. David and I are tentatively planning a trip to Mexico City, with old gods underfoot and new above that just may do the trick.

Resurrection of the Father
watercolor on paper


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.

4 thoughts on “Closing Chapters”

  1. Leonard, I want to convey my congratulations to you on the completion of this outstanding portfolio of illustrations. Your art has inspired me to do some reading about the Popol Vuh at my university library today. What immediately stood out for me, given what you write above, is how much the gods in the Popol Vuh worry over and hesitate about the act of creation. Edgar Garcia writes, “Gathered over the ocean in the time before anything has been made, long before the hero twins set out to defeat the Lords of Xibalba, and thus long before humans are formed from the flesh substance of maize, the gods discuss the difficult project of creation. At this moment, we are still “varal chi quecumal chi aqabal” (“here in the darkness, in the earliest aurora of dawn”), in which most of the book takes place (folio 1 verso). The gods (either three or seven, depending on how you count the names and aliases) get together over a roiling ocean, and together “ta xenaohinic ta xebizonic” (“they thought” and “they worried”; folio 1 verso). As they consider how their creativity will make creation happen—asking themselves, “hupacha ta cha uaxoc ta caquiro puch, apachinac tzucul” (“How should the sowing be? How should the dawning be? Who will be the provider? Who will be the nurturer?”)—they distinguish themselves from a kind of Creator with a capital C who might be more familiar to readers (folio 2 recto). Unlike the primordial creator of biblical tradition, who creates by authoritative decree, these creators displace the fiat lux with something more like quomodo lux? In what way should there be light?

    “This analytic quality of creation is what these hesitant creators call their puz, or power to split things open (folio 2 recto). Rather than decree, they question, investigate, consider, debate, and differentiate. The world before creation is thus already one defined by contradiction and the necessity of interpretation. Its closest approximation in the biblical tradition would be the ambivalent gnostic craftsperson who is also a Creator in William Blake’s fiery spiritual meditations, the kind of Creator about whom one might ask, “What immortal hand or eye, / Dare frame [this] fearful symmetry?” In such spiritual questioning, which is also fiery critique, is a sense of the divine whose seat of redemption is not clothed in faith as much as it is in knowledge, criticism, and searching.”

    The worry and hesitancy of creation, which Garcia describes in the gods of the Popol Vuh, I feel is familiar to anybody who has ever engaged in the creative process. I was heartened to read on Facebook today that you are now in talks with your collaborator. It seems an entirely fitting way to proceed for an artist and a poet inspired by a creation myth that contains so much questioning and debate about interpretation in its telling. I wish you both the very best in turning your own time of crisis into an instance of creativity.

    Here are some final words of encouragement for your labour of love, which stood out for me in my reading today, “The world-making power of poetry is a constant theme in the Popol Vuh. The Lords of Xibalba guard the flowers—synonymous with poetry—jealously from the twins, because these lords understand that this gift would give the twins (and the humans that come after them) the ability to bring light out of darkness, to bring the sun into existence.” – Edgar Garcia, Birds and the Crisis of People in the Popol Vuh, 2021

    1. Thank you my friend , I should not be surprised that you’d wander in so deeply into the Popol Vuh , it is a fascinating world , further enriched by your curiosity. I love that about you . 🦉

  2. The images are quite compelling and close to the heart. It must be difficult when dealing with broken humans who mislead. I pray that your heart will heal. I know it will.
    This project did not happen as you would’ve wanted it to, but the beautiful art you’ve created is there and it will find its home.
    I hear your pain and acknowledge your passion in your work!
    Much love,

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