Guaguyona andAnakakuya, Struggle for the Cosmic Center
Tau My Relatives In the "Relacion" of Ramon Pane (a collection of ancient Taino sacred narratives) wearetoldthat there was a leader of some kind in the ancestral caveof Casibajagua who, among other things, sent others out of the caveto seek things that were needed by the people crowded into that ancestral abode. That leader was called Guaguyona. Although the scholar Lamarche has theorized that this man represents the first "shaman" in Taino society. We in the Caney Circle suggest instead that Guaguyona represents thefirst Kasike (chief). It seems to us that this legendary characterfulfills the role of temporal leader more closely than the role of a spiritual one by his authoritarianbehavior, before andafter his epochal journey away from andbackto the primordial cave.
According to Pane's account, Guaguyona is angered by the fact that one of the people whom he sent out to get things did not return (presumably,as a result of his frustration, the chief first seduced the wife of the man that he was angry at, andthen seeing with what ease he accomplished that feat he proceeded to seduce all the rest of the women). The story concludes that the leader, filled with anger, then persuadedthe women of the cave to abandontheirresposibilities within the tribe andfollow him out of the caveandaway from the rest of the community. This does not appear to be the behavior of a shaman, who, even in the case of extreme misdeed, would not normaly have the leadership charisma or extraordinary power of authority to organize such a large group of people to rebel against traditionand norm.
Guaguyona is a chief,a kasike,and his selfish andinconsiderate act, committed in a fit of uncontrolled emotion, severely impacts the people as a whole. At this point in the story another character surfaces. His name is Anakakuya. The narrative explains that Anakakuya, a brother-in-law of the wayward leader, resolves to go out andsearchfor him and the women that he took away with him. This appears,on thesurface,to be a righteous act until one analyzes the name of this other character for possible symbolic mythological significance. "Anakakuya"as an Arawak/Taino language term has been analyzed by both Arrom and Lamarche to mean "Flower of the Center" andit refers to the North Star. The North Star is the focalpoint in a cluster of heavenly bodies that comprises the two constellations known as the "Big Dipper"and the "Little Dipper". Allof thestars that one sees in the night sky appear to move throughoutthe night. They move very slowly, but they do move. The movement of the stars can be assessed if one looks up and establishes the position of recognizable star clusters at a specific moment in the night, andthen one looks up about two or threehours later and checks to see where those same star clusters are. One notices that they have all moved. In fact the whole sky appears to moveina circular mannerallnight longand the visible heavenly bodies appear to all rotate around the North Star and its associatedconstellations, the Big andLittle Dippers. In other words, one could make the argument that the whole sky is dancingaround these two constellations, almost as if paying tribute to them, hence the name "Flower of the Center".
This concept was evident to many of the ancients. Accordingto the researcher Linda Schele, the ancient Mayas associatedthe whole Big Dipper/Little Dippergroup with two mythological characters called SEVEN MACAW andhis wife CHIMALMAT. In ancient Maya mythology, Seven Macaw was a beingthat had usurped the celestialauthority of the sun spirit. He arrogantly declared himself to be the sun andestablished a dictatorial hegemony over the whole universe supported by the negative powers of a cadre of sinister beings called the Lords of Xibalba. In the ancient Maya narration,Seven Macaw lords it over the subjugated Universe from his elevated post high atop the lofty branches of the Cosmic Tree, a legendary ceibathat stretches from its roots at the bottom of the Underworld to the highest branches spreading inthe Heavens. Accordingto Schele, this tree is represented in the night sky by the longluminous bandof the Milky Way Galaxy. As it happens, The Big and Little Dipperappearina position nearthe northern end of the Milky Way image in such a manner as to suggest that these two characters really are perched atop the great celestialtree.
The Mayan legendsays that the great twin heroes of the Maya Creation narrative, Hun Ahpu and Ixbalanque managedto shoot the usurper down from his lofty perch through the use of blow-guns.In the realm of astronomy the spinningmotion of the sky duringthesummermonths creates the image, on certain nights, of the Big Dipperrotatingdown so low in the northern horizon that it actually dissappears into the sea. Accordingto Schele, the image of this constellation dissappearing into the marine horizon duringthecourseof the night as if it were falling into the sea is the inspiration of the story of Seven Macaw's defeat at the hands of Hun Ahpu andIxbalanque.
In the Taino legend,Anakakuya does, in fact, set out to find Guaguyona andthe lost women. He does find them but on their trip back to the caveGuaguyona tricks him. He persuades his brother-in-law to go out in their canoe to fish. While they are on the water, Guaguyona points to a lovely sea-shellat the bottom of the water andtells Anakakuya to look at it. As Anakakuya leans over the gunwale of the canoe, Guaguyona grabs him violently andtosses him into the water. Anakakuya drowns andGuaguyona is again left master of the situation.
Given that Lamarche equates the same Big Dipper/Little Dipper cluster of stars with Anakakuya, and that he also goes as far as to suggest that the movements of the summer sky which creates the image of the big Dipperdiving belowthe marine horizon is a visualmetaphor for Anakakuya falling into the water, we propose that Anakakuya is the Taino counterpart of the Mayan Seven Macaw. Wefurther propose that like Seven Macaw, Anakakuya represents a counterfit leader attemptingto usurp power from the legitimateleader during his moment of weakness.
Lamarche remarks that Anakakuya's death is a "sacrifice" that needs to be offered in order for the later adventures of Guaguyona to take place. In Lamarche's estimation these adventures inturnmust take place in order to provide the Taino people with vitalspiritual attributes. Lamarche asserts that upon Anakakuya's deathGuaguyona is given the liberty to make a legendary voyage to the realm of the supernatural where he arrives in a state of illness, stricken with the disease called syfilis. At the conclusion of his voyage he meets a holy woman called Guabonito. After this woman has healed him of the sickness,she gives him certain sacred stones (cibas) which he is to wear upon his return to his people. Along with these cibas,Lamarche contends that Guaguyona is giventhe ceremonial magic that is needed by the Tainos to move foward from the ancestral period to modern times. It is unclearto me from the reading of Lamarche's book how exactly he proposes that the killing of Anakakuya makes it possible for all of these important deeds to be performed, but a study of Mayan mythology gives us an insight into this issue. In the Popol Vuh, the Mayan Creation Narrative, the Mayan counterpart of the Taino Anakakuya is SevenMacaw,as I stated earlier. SevenMacaw was an illegitimateleader.Lamarche contends in his book that Anakakuya was a "cacique" (kasike) p. 31, a leader. But since he also insists that this "leader" needs to be killed for Guaguyona'slegendary journey to take place, andhecalls Guaguyona a "culture hero" p. 26, itcan only be surmised that Lamarche considers Anakakuya a kind of obstacle to the legendary process anda negative entity of some kind that has to be eliminated.This coincides very ppropriatelywiththeidentification of Seven Macaw intheMayan Creation Narrative. SevenMacaw is an illegitimateleader,setupon his throne by the Lords of Xibalba, taking advantageof thefact that the Creator spirit,the real Cosmic king, FIRST FATHER, in a moment of weakness has been defeated and murdered by them. FIRST FATHER is later revived andbrought backfrom the dead by his offsprings Hun Ahpu and Ixbalanque, thesacredtwins of Mayan mythology.
In the Taino legend,Guaguyona can be associatedwiththeMayan First Father. Guaguyona's syfilis sickness, which comes about partly as a result of his great sin, his great moment of weakness, can be equated to the death of First Father, which also comes about in his moment of weakness. In fact Lamarche compares the process of sickness-to-healing that Guaguyona experiences in the Taino legendwiththewell-known universal shamanic process of initiation in which shamans actually get sick andoftenactually go through a form of "death" before being brought backas fully initiated p. 32. As I mentionedearlier, we in the Caney traditionview Guaguyona as the first kasike rather than the first shaman,but ourcontention still holds true in light of the fact that we know that Taino kasikes didperform many spiritual leadership duties, and were considered to be a form of spiritual guide under certain conditions,even going as far as to being the leaders of important ceremonies performed in their own CANEY personaldwelling. Under these circumstances itis reasonable to assume that kasikes, also were subject to spiritual "Death-to-Rebirth" type of intitiatory processes similar to shamans.
We therefore see Anakakuya as an illegitimateleader,presumablyput in power by negativeforces ina moment of opportunistic usurpation, during the period of Guaguyona's personal weakness. We see Guaguyona as later "coming backto his senses" andtakingthe appropriateaction byremoving Anakakuya from his illegitimate position of power, by casting him into the primordial ocean. We also see Guaguyona as suffering the sickness of syfilis, ritually experiencinga form of shamanic initiation. At the conclusion of this initiation the female healer Guabonito grants him the gifts of scared stones which validatehis claim to the leader's seat, the sacred dujo (ceremonialstool). By doing this the Tainos express the cultural reality that in Taino societythe leader derives his authority from the head women, the clan-mothers, who are also the repositories of ancestral healing wisdom. Accordingly Guaguyona changes his nameto Albeborael Guahayona. This is in keeping with well-established universal shamanic traditionin which people who survive severe initiatory illness are presumed to be "re-born" andthereforeneed to be given a new name. In the Mayan legend the re-born FIRST FATHER only acquires that nameafter his death and re-birth. before that, he was called One-Hunahpu.
The independent researcher John Major Jenkins has proposed that the struggle for power between the two leaders SevenMacaw andFirst Father is, in fact, the transition of belief in a Cosmic Centerthat took place at a specific period of the development of Mayan culture. According to Jenkins, primordially, it was common for the ancients to assume that the center of theCosmos was the North Starbecauseallother stars and heavenly bodies appearto rotate around it as if paying homage to it. Later shamanic inspiration led them to conclude that it was, in fact the concordance of the great Milky way Galaxy andthe sun that in fact composed or represented the true Cosmic Center. This shift inbelief system seems to have hapened in very ancient times, andaccording to Jenkins, was mythologized in the legend of Hun-Ahpu (a character who represents the power of the Sun in conjunction withthegalaxy)as he shoots SevenMacaw (a character who represents the North Star) from his perch atop the CentralTree. By doing this Hun-Ahpu makes way for his father to take on the taskof creation, which is initiatedbythe sacred act of erecting a new Central Tree (a symbol of the Galaxy). This act verifies the validity of theMilky way Galaxy as the true Cosmic Center. Jenkins then associates the great leader, First Father(who as well as his son andname-sakeHun-Ahpu is a symbol of the sun)with the Milky Way Galaxy by claiming that the Galaxy is perceived by the Mayas as a kind of background "seat" or "birth-home" of the sun. He sees the celstial positioning of the Milky Way Galaxy in conjunction with the sun as a sacred association of Hun-Ahpu/First Father in his proper throneand birth-place.
I propose that likewise Anakakuya may represent an illegitimate pretender to the Cosmic Center "throne", the ceremonial dujo. He is defeated andtossed into the primordial sea, making way for the true kasike to take his place on the dujo. Present day researchers contend that the ancient Tainos perceived a CentralAxis treevery symilar to that of the Mayas, which comprised the center of theCosmos. This tree was perceived to symbolically run throughthe center of the body of the kasike as he sat upon the ceremonial dujo. This in a way can be associatedto the maya belief of the Milky Way CentralTree being the "seat" of thesolarMayan king. Lamarche associates the Taino kasike with the solar power. This coincides with the mayan association of First Father(a representativeof all Mayan kings) with the sun. The association of the Taino kasikewith the sun andof thekasike-dujo combination with the sun-Galaxy conjunction is a direct reference to the Mayan legendas representing the victory of the solar-galactic deity over the North Starusurper.
In conclusion I would like to add that in the Mayan creation story Hun-Ahpu and his father FIRST FATHER are both associatedto the movements of Venus duringits 584-day cycle. Coincidentally,lamarch also associates the hero Guaguyona with the Venus cycle p. 36.
Taino Ti Miguel Sobaoko Koromo