Guaguyona and Anakakuya, Struggle for the Cosmic Center
Tau My Relatives In the "Relacion" of Ramon Pane (a collection of ancient Taino sacred narratives) we are told that there was a leader of some kind in the ancestral cave of Casibajagua who, among other things, sent others out of the cave to seek food and medicinal herbs that were needed by the people crowded into that ancestral abode. That leader was called Guahayona. Although the scholar Lamarche has theorized that this man represents the first "shaman" in Taino society, we in the Caney Circle suggest instead that Guahayona represents the first Kasike (chief). It seems to us that this legendary character fulfills the role of temporal leader more closely than the role of a spiritual one by his authoritarian behavior, before and after his epochal journey away from and back to the primordial cave.
According to Pane's account, Guahayona is angered by the fact that the people whom he sent out to get things did not return. The story concludes that the leader, filled with anger, persuaded the women of the cave to abandon their responsibilities within the tribe and follow him out of the cave and away 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 normally have the leadership charisma or extraordinary power of authority to organize such a large group of people to rebel against tradition and norm.
Guahayona is a chief, a kasike, and his selfish and inconsiderate 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 and search for him and the women that he took away with him. This appears,on the surface,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 Jose Juan Arrom and Sebastian Robiou Lamarche to mean "Flower of the Center" and it refers to the North Star. The North Star is the focal point in a cluster of heavenly bodies that comprises the two constellations known as the "Big Dipper"and the "Little Dipper". All of the stars that one sees in the night sky appear to move throughout the 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, and then one looks up about two or three hours 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 move in a circular manner all night long and the visible heavenly bodies appear to all rotate around the North Star and its associated constellations, the Big and Little Dippers. In other words, one could make the argument that the whole sky is dancing around 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. According to the researcher Linda Schele, the ancient Mayas associated the whole Big Dipper/Little Dipper group with two mythological characters called SEVEN MACAW and his wife CHIMALMAT. In ancient Maya mythology, Seven Macaw was a being that had usurped the celestial authority of the sun spirit. He arrogantly declared himself to be the sun and established 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 ceiba that stretches from its roots at the bottom of the Underworld to the highest branches spreading in the Heavens. According to Schele, this tree is represented in the night sky by the long luminous band of the Milky Way Galaxy. As it happens, The Big and Little Dipper appear in a position near the northern end of the Milky Way image in such a manner as to suggest that these two characters really are perched atop the great celestial tree.
The Mayan legend says that the great twin heroes of the Maya Creation narrative, Hun Ahpu and Ixbalanque managed to shoot the usurper down from his lofty perch through the use of blow-guns.In the realm of astronomy the spinning motion of the sky during the summer months creates the image, on certain nights, of the Big Dipper rotating down so low in the northern horizon that it actually dissappears into the sea. According to Schele, the image of this constellation disappearing into the marine horizon during the course of 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 and Ixbalanque.
In the Taino legend,Anakakuya does, in fact, set out to find Guahayona and the lost women. He does find them but on their trip back to the cave Guahayona tricks him. He persuades his brother-in-law to go out in their canoe to fish. While they are on the water, Guahayona points to a lovely sea-shell at the bottom of the water and tells Anakakuya to look at it. As Anakakuya leans over the gunwale of the canoe, Guahayona grabs him violently and tosses him into the water. Anakakuya drowns and Guaguyona is again left master of the situation. This drama appears to play out in the northern sky when the Big Dipper sinks behind the marine horizon on a Summer night.
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 Dipper diving below the marine horizon is a visual metaphor for Anakakuya falling into the water, we propose that Anakakuya is the Taino counterpart of the Mayan Seven Macaw. We further propose that like Seven Macaw, Anakakuya represents a counterfeit leader attempting to usurp power from the legitimate leader 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 Guahayona to take place. In Lamarche's estimation these adventures in turn must take place in order to provide the Taino people with a celestial guidepost (the North Star) which helps them navigate during the night. Lamarche asserts that upon Anakakuya's death Guahayona is given the liberty to make a legendary voyage with the aid of the North Star navigation, to the realm of the supernatural where he arrives in a state of illness, stricken with a disease. The women that accompanied him away from the cave abandoned him and created a man-free community on a desolate island called Matinino (Place With No Fathers). 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) and the golden guanin medallion of the chief which he is to wear upon his return to his people. Along with these cibas and medallion, Lamarche contends that Guaguyona is given the ceremonial magic that is needed by the Tainos to move foward from the ancestral period to modern times.
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 Seven Macaw,as I stated earlier. Seven Macaw was an illegitimate leader. 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 Guahayona's legendary journey to take place, and he calls Guahayona a "culture hero" p. 26, it can only be surmised that Lamarche considers Anakakuya a kind of obstacle to the legendary process and a negative entity of some kind that has to be eliminated.This coincides very appropriately with theidentification of Seven Macaw in the Mayan Creation Narrative. Seven Macaw is an illegitimate leader, set upon his throne by the Lords of Xibalba, taking advantage of the fact 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 and brought back from the dead by his off-springs Hun Ahpu and Ixbalanque, the sacredtwins of Mayan mythology.
In the Taino legend,Guahayona can be identified with the Mayan First Father. Guahayona's sickness, which comes about partly as a result of his great sin, his great moment of weakness, can be equated to the death of the Maya 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 legend with the well-known universal shamanic process of initiation in which shamans actually get sick and often actually go through a form of "death" before being brought back as fully initiated p. 32. As I mentioned earlier, we in the Caney tradition view Guaguyona as the first kasike rather than the first shaman,but our contention still holds true in light of the fact that we know that Taino kasikes did perform 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 personal dwelling. Under these circumstances it is reasonable to assume that kasikes, also were subject to spiritual "Death-to-Rebirth" type of initiatory processes similar to shamans.
We therefore see Anakakuya as an illegitimate leader, presumably put in power by negative forces i na moment of opportunistic usurpation, during the period of Guahayona's personal weakness. We see Guahayona as later "coming back to his senses" and taking the appropriate action by removing Anakakuya from his illegitimate position of power, by casting him into the primordial ocean. We also see Guahayona as suffering the sickness, ritually experiencing a form of shamanic initiation. At the conclusion of this initiation the female healer Guabonito grants him the gifts of scared stones and the gold chief's medallion (guanin) which validate his 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 tradition in which people who survive severe initiatory illness are presumed to be "re-born" and therefore need to be given a new name. In the Mayan legend the re-born FIRST FATHER only acquires that name after 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 Seven Macaw and First Father is, in fact, the transition of belief in a Cosmic Center that 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 the Cosmos was the North Star because all other stars and heavenly bodies appear to 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 and the sun that in fact composed or represented the true Cosmic Center. This shift in belief system seems to have happened in very ancient times, and according to Jenkins, was mythologized in the legend of Hun-Ahpu (a character who represents the power of the Sun in conjunction with the galaxy)as he shoots Seven Macaw (a character who represents the North Star) from his perch atop the Central Tree. By doing this Hun-Ahpu makes way for his father to take on the task of creation, which is initiated by the sacred act of erecting a new Central Tree (a symbol of the Galaxy). This act verifies the validity of the Milky way Galaxy as the true Cosmic Center. Jenkins then associates the great leader, First Father (who as well as his son and name-sake Hun-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 celestial positioning of the Milky Way Galaxy in conjunction with the sun as a sacred association of Hun-Ahpu/First Father in his proper throne and birth-place.
I propose that likewise Anakakuya may represent an illegitimate pretender to the Cosmic Center "throne", the ceremonial dujo. He is defeated and tossed 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 tree very similar to that of the Mayas, which comprised the center of the Cosmos. This tree was perceived to symbolically run through the center of the body of the kasike as he sat upon the ceremonial dujo. This in a way can be associated to the Maya belief of the Milky Way Central Tree being the "seat" of the solar Mayan king. Lamarche associates the Taino kasike with the solar power. This coincides with the Mayan association of First Father (a representative of all Mayan kings) with the sun. The association of the Taino kasike with the sun and of the kasike-dujo combination with the sun-Galaxy conjunction is a direct reference to the Mayan legend as representing the victory of the solar-galactic deity over the North Star usurper.
In conclusion I would like to add that in the Mayan creation story Hun-Ahpu and his father FIRST FATHER are both associated to the movements of Venus during its 584-day cycle. Coincidentally, Lamarche also associates the hero Guaguyona with the Vens Cycle p. 36.
Taino Ti Miguel Sobaoko Koromo