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“The Ancient Memories of Mayahuel’s People Still Breathe”

“Las Memorias Antiguas de la Raza del Maguey Aún Respiran”

Memorias Antiguas de la Raza del Maguey Aún Respiran” Mural Painted by Mario E. Castillo, MFA

Mural Painted by Mario E. Castillo, MFA

The artist dedicated this mural to the memory of his father, Manuel Castillo de Leon

This mural demonstrates the presence of Animism in the universe of the ancient Americans. The speech scrolls, the breathing lines, or energy lines between all subjects in the mural illustrate the animated flow of vitality between all things as the Huichol culture informs us. Thus it expresses the Mesoamerican belief that all nature (including the cosmos) was interrelated and dependent on each other for its existence. For the ancient Americans, everything was “breathing” in a world alive with dynamism.

Photography: Many thanks to John Hite, a friend who has photographed this mural for over 15 years

Copyright © 1996, 2007, & 2016

by

Mario Enrique Castillo Enriquez

TABLE OF CONTENTS There are various different icons throughout this mural with specific or invented symbolism. Here, Castillo gives his interpretation to the invented ones, but also invites the viewers to form their own meaning to this historical account of memories from the past and present since juxtapositions of images are always open to interpretation.

1. Cover Page

2. Table of Contents

3. Guide to Mural

4. The Eight Skulls

5. The Juarez/Desert Skull and the Mexican Map

6. Structures A & B, plus the Referential Points Matrix

7. Referential Points plus Blocked in Color

8. The Final Structure plus the Light Within

9. The Shapes Within the Structure plus the Butterfly

10. The Butterfly plus Other Symbols in Structure

11. The Movement Symbol and the Quincunx

12. Other Configurations Within the Geometry of the Structure

13. The Human Body as a Temple plus Temple Floor Plans

14. The Year Glyph

15. Mayahuel Profile plus the Mexican Spirit

16. The Mexican Spirit (continued)

17. The Mexican Spirit (continued) plus Mayahuel, Goddess of the Maguey Plant

18. Mayahuel, Goddess of the Maguey Plant (continued)

19. The Maguey Plant

20. Quetzalcoatl

21. The Hummingbird (the Colibri) plus the God of Corn

22. The God of Corn (continued) as the Tree of Life

23. The Goddess of the Thirteen Serpents, Tortoise Throne, plus Toltec Warrior

24. The Toltec Warrior (continued) plus the Jaguar

25. The Jaguar (continued) plus the Chac Mool

26. The Water Lily Symbol plus the Aztec Skull

27. The Eagle

28. The Herons plus the Cactus and the Cactus Spirit

29. The Cactus and the Cactus Spirit (continued)

30. The Crows plus the Central Eye; the Perceptualist Point

31. The Huaxtec Adolescent Boy plus the Olmec Head

32. The Mixtec Sun

33. The Cosmic Spiral

34. The Portal of Intent

35. The Four Elements plus the Breathing Lines

36. The Blossoming Quetzalcoatl

37. The Line of Blood plus the Survival of the Fittest

38. The Six Pointed Star plus the Half Angel

39. Huichol Color

40. The Huichol Life’s Paths plus the Three Rays

41. Perceptualism

42. Perceptualism (continued)

43. Perceptualism (continued)

GUIDE TO MURAL (the over-all mural descriptions)

GUIDE TO MURAL (the over-all mural descriptions) 3

THE EIGHT SKULLS When Mario Castillo planned for these skulls in the mural, he was thinking of the having these be there especially for young viewers. He wanted to create some excitement for children so as to intensify their interest in art. In addition, Halloween and Day of the Dead are so close to each other in the calendar, that it was hard to avoid having people think of Dia de los Muertos sugar skulls. So Castillo hoped that the reflective skulls would be like “eye-candy” for children. Beyond this, these skulls are meant to represent the invisible presence of death. That is why they are almost invisible and can best be seen as light reflects from their surface or after turning off the lights, they will glow in the dark and if the room is completely dark, that is all you can see, eight skulls floating in black space (the underworld).

They are also a symbol for the Tzompantli, the skull platform where racks of skulls were displayed near the sacrificial temples. Mario Castillo sees these racks not only as trophies of war, but also trophies for their Gods. The mural below has been darkened to enhance the contrast and display the eight skulls, which seem to be made-up of light. In total darkness, they appear to be a very light yellowish tint.

darkness, they appear to be a very light yellowish tint. The eight Aztec skulls displayed individually
darkness, they appear to be a very light yellowish tint. The eight Aztec skulls displayed individually

The eight Aztec skulls displayed individually above are placed in sequential order (as they exist in the actual

mural) as shown on the whole image on top. Once more, when the viewers are standing in front of mural without any light reflecting on skulls, they become “invisible”. If lights are turned off, the eight skulls become symbols for the afterlife as visible beacons that seem to float in the dark netherworld of Xibalba or Metnal, both Mayan names given to the place where souls departed to after death. There are actually three more skulls in the mural. One is the crystal skull held by the Chac Mool, a second one is the Mixtec hieroglyph on the left of the tree trunk of the God of Corn, and the last one is almost invisible and is found over the chest of the Mexican Spirit (see next page).

THE JUAREZ/DESERT SKULL AND THE MEXICAN MAP

Although the theme of this mural is about Mexico’s pre-Columbian civilizations, it touches base with our contemporary world in the following ways. First, it is a post-modernist work in which a variety of isms and painting styles are used to create its imagery including Huichol art. Digital imagery was also used to develop the “skin” of the Mexican Spirit’s body (detail below). But also there is an image of the geographic map of Mexico as it appears today. In addition, connected to this map is a stylized light-pink skull with its teeth right over the desert area of northwest Mexico and Juarez, Chihuahua, where death has consumed thousands of innocent lives.

where death has consumed thousands of innocent lives. This second image highlights the map and the

This second image highlights the map and the skull so that they are noticeable and viewers can find them.

lives. This second image highlights the map and the skull so that they are noticeable and

THE JUAREZ/DESERT SKULL AND THE MEXICAN MAP (continued) The juxtaposition of the two images (the skull over northwest Mexico) points to the tragedies that have occurred and still keep happening in this region. These two calamities are; the deaths of people trying to cross the desert to reach a source of “bread and butter” for the families they left behind and the Juarez femicides that have plagued this city (across El Paso, Texas), for many years now. The red eye of the skull is right over the Mexican spirit’s heart, indicating the bloodshed and tears Mexicans have endured with all of these thousands of deaths. Since this mural is not about current events, Mario Castillo, nevertheless wished to connect it to some present issues, but he wanted to do it lightly (almost subliminal) so that these contemporary subjects blended in with the over-all mural. These images are so unobtrusive that most people do not know about the Juarez/Desert Skull or the Mexican map. There is another hidden image and this is the Cactus Spirit (pg. 29). These three images go unnoticed by the general public because they are difficult to see and almost close to invisible like the eight transparent skulls.

THE FIRST STRUCTURE (A) Before starting the mural, Mario Castillo chose the white line structure below from various he had formulated for the base of this work. His idea for the structure was to use the Golden Rectangle as a stimulus to come up with a symmetrical way of mathematically dividing the given area as a grid upon which the mural would be painted. Since he wanted each half to be reflective of the other one, he chose not to do a Golden Ratio, especially since the format he used was longer than required.

since the format he used was longer than required. (A) THE MURAL’S POINT OF ORIGIN (B)
since the format he used was longer than required. (A) THE MURAL’S POINT OF ORIGIN (B)

(A)

THE MURAL’S POINT OF ORIGIN (B) The mural’s definite focal point is the actual center of the whole pictorial area where all the lines of the grid can converge and find their point of origin by following a certain path to the center. This focal point in the mural’s symbolism is equal to two things: 1. The navel of the central spirit figure and also 2. Mexico City, DF. On a small map of Mexico laid out around the navel of the central figure, this center point happens to be the geographic location of the ancient capital of the Aztec Empire, Tenochtitlan, or present day Mexico City, D.F. Symbolically this is the “navel” of the mural and the “life-giving navel” of the ancient as well as the modern Mexican nation.

THE REFERENTIAL POINTS MATRIX In the linear foundation of the mural, wherever lines meet, they create a locus point of reference. Mario Castillo refers to these as “referential points” that can be used for creating shapes, paths, or as supports for the pictorial structure that is actually dictated by these spots. They can be seen as a traverse matrix where the viewer travels from one location to the next selected point, thus creating visual movement.

(B)

the next selected point, thus creating visual movement. (B) The All-Seeing Eye The Hexagon The “
the next selected point, thus creating visual movement. (B) The All-Seeing Eye The Hexagon The “
the next selected point, thus creating visual movement. (B) The All-Seeing Eye The Hexagon The “

The All-Seeing Eye

The Hexagon

The “Grecas” or Frets

6

REFERENTIAL POINTS (continued)

REFERENTIAL POINTS (continued) As you can well judge from this image above: when the referential points

As you can well judge from this image above: when the referential points are used to map out linear paths for the purpose of arriving at a structural composition for a mural, the possibilities appear to be endless. Even though this seems to be a very rigid approach because of the use of the grid and geometry, imagine choosing this one structure out of thousands of possibilities? Then taking this specific structure and working with it to establish the blocked in color, you would again have an infinite selection of outcomes of possible combinations (see below).

Essentially, this mural deals with pareidolia, the effect of seeing something that is not there. So basically, the geometric structure deals with “conceptual pareidolia”, where the viewer has to actually “work” harder at seeing a shape that they actually have to imagine, unlike a “face” on a cloud that seems to be a “given”. Also there is the organic foreground entanglement of lines over the Mexican Spirit, which is done in a Perceptualist approach.

BLOCKED IN COLOR

Here, Mario Castillo created a variety of structures as blocked in color for background studies to get an idea as to the many ways the background could develop. Eventually, he chose to go with a simpler selection (shown on next page), so that the background color and shapes would not compete with the foreground images.

and shapes would not compete with the foreground images. For painting a mural, Mario Castillo considers

For painting a mural, Mario Castillo considers that the artist must choose the proper foundation for the theme and content of the work at hand. The structure, which should be present in the blocked in color, must already be related to the main subject and serve as a basic structural support for all of the imagery that will be done over it.

THE FINAL STRUCTURE In blocking in the color of this structure, Castillo finally settled on a theme that is prevalent in small Mesoamerican clay stamps that show a figure with rays of light emanating from the navel and forming a diamond shape for the body. To enhance this, he added an inner yellow-green rectangle as a backlit background surrounded by a darker rectangle for a border to better yet create the theme of “the light within”. All of this served as a ground for each of the various images he would select later. Even though he had made some sketches and preliminary studies at the beginning, he did not have the images assigned to any given area. This was an organic development that grew from the actual work that was being done on the mural. The only thing that was known was the fact that Castillo wanted to pay tribute to as many ancient Mexican cultures as he could within the given space.

ancient Mexican cultures as he could within the given space. THE LIGHT WITHIN As indicated above,

THE LIGHT WITHIN As indicated above, the mural’s structure was created with a certain theme in mind, this being “The Light Within”. This is connected to the Native American belief of Animism and the life force of the soul. In essence it is the “cosmic egg” all living beings live inside of, as illustrated by the light rays around the Virgin of Guadalupe. This mural has several “Light Within” structures that can be appreciated as shown in four examples below:

that can be appreciated as shown in four examples below: The Water Lily Bloom The Diamond

The Water Lily Bloom

The Diamond as Womb

that can be appreciated as shown in four examples below: The Water Lily Bloom The Diamond

The Star

The Pyramid

THE SHAPES WITHIN THE STRUCTURE It was in 1996 when Mario Castillo designed the mural’s geometric structure to become interactive with the viewers. From early on, during his Minimal Art period in the earl 1970’s, he worked with the concept of “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line”. For example, he would drill a whole on one wall and a second one on the opposite wall and call it “Negative Line”. It is clear that the viewers had to visualize this “line”. Pushing this concept further in this mural, Castillo provided the framework of lines and asked the viewers to participate in creating any number of structures, figures, and shapes. In addition he had been working with the effect of the Rorschach inkblots in his paintings (as demonstrated in mural’s central figure) and so he thought that he could use a geometric structure, to do the same. Many surrealistic works deal with hidden images that transcend their own reality. This structure has many such images. Built into this geometric matrix are hundreds of cognitive stimuli that a viewer can interact with to arrive at one of the image alternatives hidden within. It is possible for these mind computations to be viewer specific and that no one else will see the same thing.

THE BUTTERFLY

and that no one else will see the same thing. THE BUTTERFLY Here are four examples
and that no one else will see the same thing. THE BUTTERFLY Here are four examples
and that no one else will see the same thing. THE BUTTERFLY Here are four examples
and that no one else will see the same thing. THE BUTTERFLY Here are four examples

Here are four examples of butterfly shape configurations.

Here are four examples of butterfly shape configurations. The “distressed” painting method for butterfly icon is

The “distressed” painting method for butterfly icon is meant to give it a feeling for the ceramic the original is on.

THE BUTTERFLY (continued) This image of the mural’s butterfly is of Teotihuacan origin. It is on a vase that is presently on display in the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City. The Nahuatl word for butterfly is papalotl. It was the symbol for fire and when this was combined with the symbol for water, the two opposing elements created a symbol for war. In effect the lower rank of warriors were called the Papalotls.

The ancient Movement Symbol on page 11 could very well be a symbol for the butterfly. Because of the butterfly’s mobility, it was also used as the symbol for migration and also represented the gods of the roads, Tlacontontli and Zacatontli. In other instances it was used to depict the spirit of the deceased. They were also used as sacrificial offerings to the gods, especially to Quetzalcoatl. They were indeed thought of as priced jewels since they at times were used as money or simply its motif was traded since it was a good luck charm especially if it was found on jewelry. The ancient Mexicans even baked bread in the form of a butterfly for certain festivities.

A butterfly, because of its beauty, was converted into the goddess Xochiquétzal who stood for love and all floras. Another goddess of Chichimecan origin is, Izpapalotl, or Obsidian butterfly. She is the reigning deity within the fifteenth section of the calendar of rituals as well as the guardian of the Cihuateteo or the souls of women who died while giving birth to a child.

the souls of women who died while giving birth to a child. The butterfly symbol was

The butterfly symbol was also used to communicate movement since this insect was indicative of that.

OTHER SYMBOLS IN STRUCTURE

since this insect was indicative of that. OTHER SYMBOLS IN STRUCTURE Birth The Trinity Infinity Symbol

Birth

since this insect was indicative of that. OTHER SYMBOLS IN STRUCTURE Birth The Trinity Infinity Symbol

The Trinity

since this insect was indicative of that. OTHER SYMBOLS IN STRUCTURE Birth The Trinity Infinity Symbol

Infinity Symbol

since this insect was indicative of that. OTHER SYMBOLS IN STRUCTURE Birth The Trinity Infinity Symbol

The Elements

THE MOVEMENT SYMBOL AND THE QUINCUNX (These two symbols are interrelated) The large “X” which uses the navel of the Mexican spirit as its central fifth point is the symbol for movement or our present era of the fifth sun. In actuality it is a quincunx – four points around a center point. These points also represent Quetzalcoatl for it was he, as Ehecatl (the god of wind), who first set the new fifth sun in motion.

The Nahuatl word for movement is ollin and it is represented visually in a variety of ways. The heart (y-ollo-tl) represented life in ancient Mexico and it was inconceivable to have life without movement (y-olli), the very principle that explains it. According to ancient mythology we live in the age of the Sun of Movement – the fifth sun that unifies the other four suns that had preceded it. Its symbolic magnificence is proudly expressed in the 25-ton Stone of the Sun (the Aztec Calendar). It symbolizes the positive and negative polarities, which are represented by: earth and sky, male and female, day and night, good and evil.

These opposites are expressed in the duality of Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca. Their constant conflict and reconciliation is what gives movement to life, humanity, and the universe. The movement symbol embodies the Chinese philosophical concepts found in their Yin Yang symbol that also represents the great primal beginnings. Out of the interplay of these opposite forces rose the world, change, and movement – these being conceived as the continuous transformation of one force into the other. This continuous change through movement is the underlying principle of all existence. For a defined period of time, the Sun of Movement has given harmony to the earth, but according to its own calendar, its time is ending soon. Please refer to the notes on the Mixtec Sun.

is ending soon. Please refer to the notes on the Mixtec Sun. In ancient Mexican symbols

In ancient Mexican symbols there are many references to the interwoven energies of these two symbols below.

to the interwoven energies of these two symbols below. The quincunx in the Aztec Calendar stone,

The quincunx in the Aztec Calendar stone, which in principle is also a Movement Symbol.

stone, which in principle is also a Movement Symbol. The large “X” is the Movement Symbol

The large “X” is the Movement Symbol (top) and the Quincunx symbol is represented below.

ORGANIC STRUCTURES There are hundreds of configurations for “free-form” paths developing designs. Here are just two examples:

paths developing designs. Here are just two examples: THE STRUCTURE AS LETTERS W for Woman M

THE STRUCTURE AS LETTERS

Here are just two examples: THE STRUCTURE AS LETTERS W for Woman M for Man There

W for Woman

are just two examples: THE STRUCTURE AS LETTERS W for Woman M for Man There are
are just two examples: THE STRUCTURE AS LETTERS W for Woman M for Man There are

M for Man

There are many letters that can be formed from the primary structure as the two examples shown above.

OTHER CONFIGURATIONS WITHIN THE GEOMERTY OF THE STRUCTURE

above. OTHER CONFIGURATIONS WITHIN THE GEOMERTY OF THE STRUCTURE “ X” Marks the Spot A for

X” Marks the Spot

above. OTHER CONFIGURATIONS WITHIN THE GEOMERTY OF THE STRUCTURE “ X” Marks the Spot A for

A for Awareness

above. OTHER CONFIGURATIONS WITHIN THE GEOMERTY OF THE STRUCTURE “ X” Marks the Spot A for

V for Victory

THE HUMAN BODY AS A TEMPLE

“The Light Within” theme is also a reference for the body as a temple, a place from where our spiritualty develops and connects to the outside world. This theme also brings to mind Castaneda’s book, "The Fire From Within" (see pg. 40). In addition, this mural is also a reference to ancient Mesoamerican temples; the structure has a built-in image of a silhouette of one as shown below. It displays two illustrations next to temple on top of the pyramid. The one on left is depicting an Aztec ruler’s attire scene while the one on the right shows a Mayan ruler’s regalia.

while the one on the right shows a Mayan ruler’s regalia. TEMPLE FLOOR PLANS To get

TEMPLE FLOOR PLANS

To get inspiration for the mural’s structure Mario Castillo studied floor plans of temples found on top of Mexican pyramids. Below are four examples he analyzed to determine if they could be somehow integrated into the mural. The dark maroon color represents the walls, which vary a great deal in their thickness. Since he already had decided to show the indigo pyramid above, basically, Castillo chose not to make reference to any floor plan in particular. Instead he settled for having the essence of a floor plan be only suggested in the final layout.

plan in particular. Instead he settled for having the essence of a floor plan be only
plan in particular. Instead he settled for having the essence of a floor plan be only
plan in particular. Instead he settled for having the essence of a floor plan be only
plan in particular. Instead he settled for having the essence of a floor plan be only

THE YEAR GLYPH: This glyph seems to imply the passage of time with recycled and interlocked movements. There are many designs for this hieroglyph that signifies the concept of one year and here are two below:

signifies the concept of one year and here are two below: Here is a close-up of
signifies the concept of one year and here are two below: Here is a close-up of

Here is a close-up of the displays of two quotidian vignettes on top of the pyramid temple, Mario Castillo pays tribute to two of the most advanced civilizations from Mexico’s past, the Aztecs (left) and the Mayans (right).

pays tribute to two of the most advanced civilizations from Mexico’s past, the Aztecs (left) and

MAYAHUEL PROFILE: This profile over the Mexican Spirit is the largest image in the mural. On the bottom right image, Mayahuel’s profile comes out from the colossal Olmec’s lips and then it spirals into the spirit’s third eye (below top right). Her top hairline (left image) connects with the maguey’s quiote (flowering stalk), the middle hair strand comes out from a crow’s beak, and the third scrolls out from the lips of her identity as mother universe.

out from the lips of her identity as mother universe. THE MEXICAN SPIRIT The male figure
out from the lips of her identity as mother universe. THE MEXICAN SPIRIT The male figure

THE MEXICAN SPIRIT The male figure in the central part of the mural, with the map of Mexico around its navel, represents the Mexican people as Mayahuel does. It is clear that Mayahuel (as the Madonna), stands for the macro world (the cosmos) and the Mexican Spirit figure represents the micro world through the amoebic characteristics on his skin’s surface.

The Mexican Spirit standing below the Portal of Intent.

The Map of Mexico over Mexican Spirit

the Portal of Intent. The Map of Mexico over Mexican Spirit At bottom-right is a close-up

At bottom-right is a close-up of the Third Eye into which the Mayahuel profile goes into. High contrast has been added to the detail of the map of Mexico above. The spirit’s navel is the exact geographic location of Mexico City on the map and that is where the coiling light-green line begins. It is also the center of the quincunx “X”.

THE MEXICAN SPIRIT (continued)

This image signifies a transcendental spirit who is in the process of becoming more aware. It is a spirit for all times, representing body (matter) and soul (energy). The “body aura” of maguey leaves shows its past and present existence. Its “cellular-like” skin illustrates the heredity of the genetic factor that has been passed from generation to generation, but it is also a symbol of the ancient Mexicans’ DNA flowing through the spirit’s body and linking its genes to today’s physical reality (especially since Mario Castillo used computer imaging to arrive at this texture). The “Virgin-of-Guadalupe like” aureole symbolizes his connection to the forces of the universe and the eagle’s wings merge with him to show a “half angel” effect that demonstrates the developmental nature of a soul that is in an eternal metamorphic process. See Half Angel on page 38 and rays of light on page 40.

His navel is the “epicenter” for the substructure underneath and it is also the center of this mural. All the lines of the fundamental structure are somehow connected to this point. This point in the mural is the center of the Mexican Spirit because, once more, geographically on the map, it is Tenochtitlan (present day Mexico City). Tenochtitlan was where the death of the old Mexican Spirit occurred and the place where the new Mexican Spirit was born. When the umbilical cord is cut from the navel of a newborn child one’s life in the world begins. In occult history, when death occurs, the spirit rushes out of the body connected by a “silver cord” to the navel, when this cord is cut, one dies (as the spirit is liberated). So it is that this spirit is related to the birth and death principle since it also appears in the center of a diamond (the womb) and in the center of a star (the spiritual world).

Out from Tenochtitlan (the navel) rushes out another spirit in the mural. It is made up of lime-green lines, and as it comes out, it creates an infinity symbol with its movement. Finally it realizes itself as Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent. Mario Castillo associates the plumed serpent with the Kundalini from Eastern metaphysics. It is through the Kundalini, the serpent of cosmic energy we all are supposed to have, that one can achieve astral traveling and become one with the universe. The Huichols make use out-of-body experiences in their rituals.

Castillo’s work below on left side illustrates Quetzalcoatl (the Kundalini principle) connected to Astral travel.

(the Kundalini principle) connected to Astral travel. On the right side above, the pink jaguar, Tezcatlipoca,
(the Kundalini principle) connected to Astral travel. On the right side above, the pink jaguar, Tezcatlipoca,

On the right side above, the pink jaguar, Tezcatlipoca, is trying to devour Mexico City, DF as it fights Quetzalcoatl, the green-feathered serpent, for dominion over the culture and its people.

THE MEXICAN SPIRIT (continued)

The Quetzalcoatl image represents all the positive qualities of humanity and it appears attacking the pink jaguar deity, Tezcatlipoca, which represents the negative aspects in mankind. Tezcatlipoca was actually assigned to various domains as many Mesoamerican gods were. In addition in some cultures, it had different associations.

The heart of the Mexican Spirit becomes the eye of all the creatures superimposed over it, including Mayahuel’s eye. It is the center of Perceptualism. By staring at the pupil of the superimposed eyes, for 10 seconds or more, it is possible to alter one’s optical awareness and a perceptual change occurs with the occurrence of the optical phenomena in the eye – the afterimage effect. This refers to the fact that when we “see” the color red, the eye registers this as a negative and we are actually sensing green (its complementary and negative color). But as this perception travels to the brain, it eventually is turned into the red color we are looking at. Mario Castillo has written an essay on Perceptualism (see page 41).

The Mexican Spirit is also standing underneath a Mayan archway, which represents the Portal of Intent through which we all pass in order to become and develop into beings worthy of being a part of the universe we live in. Art and its images can help us in developing our awareness. For Mario Castillo, the Perceptualist point is like the center of a mandala, a graphic point that can help to sharpen one’s consciousness and may possibly be used for meditation or even prayer.

and may possibly be used for meditation or even prayer. Portal of Intent Archway Pupil of

Portal of Intent Archway

Pupil of the Large Eye Becomes the Perceptualist Point

MAYAHUEL, GODDESS OF THE MAGUEY PLANT

The concept for this Mixtec image is derived from Codex Laud. There are two legends about Mayahuel, the lady of the precious drink. The first one is about her being an ordinary woman, (the wife of a farmer), who in time, discovered a way to ferment the maguey plant, thus creating the intoxicating drink, pulque. Since then she was elevated to the stature of a goddess, representing even plants which were hallucinogenic.

The second myth deals with her being a young goddess whose love was awakened by the wind god, Ehecatl, a manifestation of Quetzalcoatl. He brought her to earth to give love to humanity. Mayahuel’s guardian, Tzitzimitl, became jealous and she brought tragedy to this love affair, killing Mayahuel. After this, Ehecatl gathered Mayahuel’s bones and buried them. From her bones sprouted the first maguey plant.

In this mural, Mayahuel is actually playing a double role. She is the motrix or moving force, behind creation. Thus she represents the female principle in the universe and as such, she is Mother Universe, the nourishing essence that sustains all matter alive. As the dominating factor that drives life/existence forward in a perpetual motion, she is always pushing humanity (through the love principle) to transcend and go beyond our present state.

With two major representations, it is clear that Mayahuel is the fundamental subject matter of this mural. This is why she appears as the largest image in the mural, her profile (pg. 15) being dominantly superimposed over the central cosmic star, the male spirit, the movement symbol and others. Her hair is shown being born from the blooming stalk of the maguey plant. It also acts as a speech scroll coming forth from the ancient Nahual (Nagual) crow. Mayahuel’s neckline is “born” as a speech scroll from the primal cultural head of an Olmec lord. Her forehead ends as a scroll that becomes part of the spirit’s third eye, or the collective unconscious. Mayahuel’s eye becomes the heart of the Perceptualist activity in the mural as well as the heart of the Mexican Spirit.

MAYAHUEL, GODDESS OF THE MAGUEY PLANT (continued)

MAYAHUEL, GODDESS OF THE MAGUEY PLANT (continued) Mario Castillo thinks of the goddess Mayahuel as “The

Mario Castillo thinks of the goddess Mayahuel as “The Mother of the Aztec Universe” or “Mother Universe”.

THE MAGUEY PLANT BEHIND MAYAHUEL ACTS AS A RADIENT BODY-HALO In this mural Mayahuel is seated on her tortoise throne, which is associated with music and dance (see other notes under the tortoise). Behind her is the blooming century plant (the maguey plant), which is one of more than 300 species of Agave. Agaves produce aguamiel or honey water also known as agave nectar or agave sap. After harvesting and fermenting this sweet juice, Pulque is made. If the juice is distilled, various alcoholic beverages can be produced from different agave plants such as Mezcal, Sotol, Bacanora, Raicilla, and the famous Tequila.

THE MAGUEY PLANT It was believed that the maguey or century plant bloomed every 100 years, after which it died, but it actually blooms once in 20 to 30 years. It is a xeric plant that needs minimal water and it belongs to the Asparagaceae (or Agavaceae) family and the genus agave (Agavaceae), which contains over 300 species. Agaves are native to the Mesoamerican region but several have become naturalized in southern Europe, South America, Asia, and Africa.

The scientific name for the maguey plant is Agave Tequilana. This name gives away one of its uses – from it tequila is made as well as pulque. The pulque drink is produced in the fermentation process of the sugary sap taken from the stem of the plant. When the sugar in the maguey “juice” (called aguamiel) converts to alcohol, the pulque “wine” is produced. The pulque is then heated to distill its alcohol and flavors, thus producing tequila. But alcoholic beverages are not the only products derived from this miracle plant. Agave comes from the Greek word for noble, illustrious, and brilliant and indeed these adjectives well describe the prestigious rank the maguey plant acquired in ancient Mesoamerica. Since ancient times there has been a symbiotic relationship between this plant and the Mexican people.

Agaves have provided shelter, food, fiber, dress, medicine, and drinks throughout the centuries, which is why they are highly regarded as precious commodities. From maguey’s huge pulpy leaves, roofs for huts were made. The leaves of agaves when green, are used for cooking and when dry can be burnt as fuel and also provide the fiber from which pita thread, ixtle (istle), sisal, and henequen are made. With these fibers, Mexicans still produce all kinds of products, such as piteado belts, piteada boots, purses, blankets, dresses, paper, sandals, ropes, nets, and many types of arts and crafts. Wax is obtained from the fiber making process, the leaf skin is used for cooking mixiotes (as a wrap), the quiote and piña are roasted to make candy, and the sharp point of the leaf is used as a needle. Edible grubs, which grow only in the maguey, are used as food. There is mezcal liquor that comes with this grub inside the bottle. The tender heart of the plant is cooked and also eaten as a food. Cattle feed is also a product of the maguey as well as different kinds of soaps. The maguey, as medicine, was used for healing wounds. Also, before the introduction of penicillin, it was used to cure certain venereal diseases. It actually has many more uses and that is why it is considered a miracle plant. (See notes on Mayahuel)

it is considered a miracle plant. (See notes on Mayahuel) The maguey leaves radiate behind the

The maguey leaves radiate behind the Mexican spirit.

The maguey plant behind the Chac Mool.

QUETZALCOATL (Quetzal = Quetzal bird, Coatl = Serpent, thus the plumed serpent) There are many representations of Quetzalcoatl, but some of the most unique are found at Chichen Itza. This spectacular icon of a supporting column (image on left) in the form of Quetzalcoatl comes from the temple at the Ball Court Plaza at Chichen Itza. Its emerald-turquoise color is in reference to the magnificent bird Quetzal.

color is in reference to the magnificent bird Quetzal. The mural has five images of this

The mural has five images of this deity, counting the Lime-Green Quetzalcoatl, shown emerging from the geographic location of Tenochtitlan, the center of the Aztec world (the navel of the Mexican Spirit). The upper right “pink” graphic one is highly abstracted and was primarily used in ceramics. Here it is shown flourishing out from the water lily symbol on top of the crystal skull (see pg. 37). The one in the middle in “green” represents a Toltec stylization used in architectural reliefs. The last one (bottom right) shows a decorative Quetzalcoatl head on the Atlante’s sandals from Tula.

Quetzalcoatl is one of the most prominent deities of Mesoamerica. Except for Mayahuel, no other image is honored in the mural as much as this deity. There are many legends formed around this god. He is the feathered serpent, as well as Venus, the Morning Star. He is also the god of wind, light, love, and creativity.

The Mayans called him Kukulcan and since the ancient Teotihuacan civilization he was worshipped in a major way. To add to the confusion of names, high-ranking priests acquired his name, so there were many Quetzalcoatls. The literal translation of the name is bird-serpent, thus the name feathered (plumed) serpent.

QUETZALCOATL (continued) Many times it is simply shown as only a serpent, but in just as many instances it is depicted with a human face or figure coming out of its mouth, which not only depicts the god but also stands as a symbol for the transcendental nature of this deity in Mesoamerican cosmology.

An interesting note concerns one of the most prominent priests named Quetzalcoatl who had fair skin and a beard. When he was driven out from his city he went east and disappeared over the great waters. He prophesied that he would return on a certain date. This date was when the Spanish invasion came, overthrowing and conquering the great Aztec civilization in the name of the Catholic Church, and the king and queen of Spain.

See notes in the “Mexican Spirit” text related to Tenochtitlan, the ancient Mexico City, DF, capital of the Aztecs.

THE HUMMINGBIRD (The Colibri) Huitzitzilin (or Huitzilin) is Nahuatl for hummingbird. It was the symbol of rebirth and that is why Mario Castillo shows it with a fetus ready to be born. Its essence is drawn from the center of botanical nature, the flower. It is nourishing itself with the spiritual nectar of the “flower” of death, which comes forth, blooming in full strength, from the water lily symbol behind the crystal skull. This “Flower of Death” is actually a representation of Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent, shown with botanical motifs to imply spiritual rebirth after death. It is also known as the Blossoming Quetzalcoatl.

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It is also known as the Blossoming Quetzalcoatl. 1. 2. 3. 1. The Colibri feeding from

1. The Colibri feeding from the Blossoming Quetzalcoatl - 2. & 3. Show the symbiotic relationship between the red flower and the hummingbird; the nectar of the flower gives life to the Colibri while it pollinates the other flowers.

THE GOD OF CORN (as The Tree of Life) The maize god, in Mayan art, usually has on his head a grain of corn represented by the Kan sign. It is also common to see a whole ear of corn or other sprouts and smaller growth. The head of the god, sprouting from the maize plant, always appears youthful, handsome, and simply as a human face. Many times, it is the leafy headdress (with an abstraction of an ear of corn), which tells us it is the god of corn.

Corn is a Mexican invention. It was developed through a hybridization process from simple wild grasses. This took place in the Tehuacán Valley around 5000 BC. Scotty Mac Neish, a graduate from the University of Chicago, is the one who found the scientific evidence in Tehuácan caves (in the state of Tamaulipas) which demonstrated to the world the successive development from tiny corn (no larger than a cigarette filter) to larger varieties.

As it still is today, in antiquity, corn became the staff of life for the Mexican people. It was because of it that they were able to settle down and dedicate their leisure time to the creation of art. The place of birth of the Mexican cradle of civilization, the Olmec region, is just south of where the birth of corn took place. The Olmecs must have certainly been the first to develop the farming of corn into an industry. They had an understanding of hydraulic and agricultural technology. San Lorenzo, an Olmec site, contains an elaborate drainage system (the earliest in the world). Archeologists have found a system of artificial lakes that assured a year-round supply of water. Evidence of levee corn farming has also been found there.

THE GOD OF CORN (continued) In Mayan mythology it is stated that the gods created mankind from corn dough. They regarded maize as the greatest gift of the creator gods, and so corn itself became a deity and to this day they address it as “Your Grace”. Maya life revolved around the life cycle of maize. As maize cannot seed itself without human intervention, so the cosmos required sacrificial blood to maintain life. Humans had to intervene to maintain their universe working properly. The Mayan ritual of bloodletting appears bizarre and shocking to us, but to them it embodied the highest concepts of their spiritual devotion.

The idea of a corn growing on a tree comes from the Temple of the Foliated Cross at Palenque. The branches of the tree have ears of maize manifested as human heads, which remind us of how close these Mesoamericans identified themselves with nature. Maize was the ultimate symbol of Maya social existence in communion with nature. So it is very proper to have the tree of life (corn) growing from behind the goddess of agriculture with fragments on her headdress representing the god of earth’s fertility, Xipe-Totec.

representing the god of earth’s fertility, Xipe-Totec. Hieroglyphics associated with Mayahuel are shown on the side

Hieroglyphics associated with Mayahuel are shown on the side of the God of Corn Tree.

THE GODDESS OF THE THIRTEEN SERPENTS This funerary urn was found in Oaxaca and is typical of Zapotec art. Mario Castillo chose it because of its reverential gesture of prayer, thanksgiving and love. She appears to be in a trancelike state, simply intoxicated by the presence of the goddess Mayahuel next to her.

This goddess was the patron of the earth, agriculture, and food. Her headdress has a jaguar-type mask, which implies connections to the underworld or anything below the soil’s surface, be it roots or skeletons.

Mario Castillo took the liberty of expanding its headdress by combining it with Xipe-Totec’s headdress. The Xipe- Totec urn was found in Monte Alban. He was the god of spring and renewal of the earth and its produce. Since he was also the god of fertility, Castillo felt it was very appropriate to take this artistic liberty – so that the goddess, in his mind, became more Zapotecan.

– so that the goddess, in his mind, became more Zapotecan. Goddess with Xipe-Totec’s Head attire.

Goddess with Xipe-Totec’s Head attire.

THE TORTOISE THRONE Mayahuel is shown sitting on a tortoise throne. In early mythology, the tortoise was associated with the world’s creation. For indigenous peoples of North America, this creature was seen as the mother of all humanity and it was rightfully chosen to represent the throne of the goddess of the maguey plant, because this was a “miracle” plant to the early peoples of North America. It provided all that they needed for survival. See maguey plant text.

THE TOLTEC WARRIOR (Atlante from Tula) On top of the great pyramid in Tula, Hidalgo, there are four Telamon columns in the form of Toltec warriors symbolizing the planet Venus and Quetzalcoatl. They are about 15 feet high and made from basalt rock. They act as a guardian to the temple, each one is armed with an atlatl (spear thrower), and in the other hand they carry a bag of incense.

Tula was the great Toltec city where the prince-priest Quetzalcoatl lived. This temple was dedicated to him. Each celestial pillar has on its chest a simplified design of the butterfly motif, which is very prevalent in Mesoamerican art. Here it is meant to symbolize fire and the passion a warrior felt for war while simultaneously it becomes a symbol in honor of fallen warriors.

In occult history these warriors are said to have been women. A note of interest related to this is that in modern day Mexico in the Tehuantepec region in the indigenous society, women do the chores that men normally do in other cultures, while the males stay home and tend to the house chores.

Another item of notice is that, in architecture, this awesome warrior is called an Atlante or Atlas, the Titan in Greek mythology that supports the heavens on his shoulders. But even more interesting is that Edgar Cayce accounts that the Toltecs are direct descendants of the Atlanteans from Atlantis, the lost continent. In Mesoamerica (just as well as in other cultures) there are myths about four separate worlds ending in four different catastrophic events,

the last of which occurred about 3200 BC with a big flood. This correlates with the Aztec calendar’s 4

ending with a big deluge. Cayce, the sleeping prophet, notes that at this time Toltecs escaped into Mexico. The

The Tortoise’s shell relates to the creation of the world on its top.

th

Sun Era

THE TOLTEC WARRIOR (continued)

occult history of the Naguales goes back thousands and thousands of years before this date. This is why Mario Castillo chose this monolithic warrior, as an enigmatic symbol of the primordial mysteries of Mexico's antiquity.

The Toltec Warrior, Hidalgo, MX

of Mexico's antiquity. The Toltec Warrior, Hidalgo, MX Jaguar below is derived from a bas-relief found

Jaguar below is derived from a bas-relief found at Chichen Itza

below is derived from a bas-relief found at Chichen Itza Digital art by Castillo representing an

Digital art by Castillo representing an Olmec baby were-jaguar

THE JAGUAR This Toltec-Mayan Jaguar is from the Dance of the Eagles Platform at Chichen Itza. Ocelotl is the Nahuatl word for jaguar. Tecuani is another name meaning “devourer of the people” and related to the era of the First Sun.

The jaguar was the Nagual or the animal form of the spiritual guardian of Tezcatlipoca (one of the four sons of the divine creator). It was also the ancient symbol of the earth. According to ancient cosmology, when the god of the north – Tezcatlipoca, became the first sun, the first era or world was created (it was inhabited by giants). Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca fought and when Quetzalcoatl struck him with a club, Tezcatlipoca was changed into a jaguar after which he devoured the giants, depopulating the earth, and ending the first era of the first sun.

Perhaps, this is why the jaguar is also the symbol of the underworld. To the earliest Mexican culture, the Olmecs, the jaguar was some form of deity since characteristics of this feline appear in much of their art, including the anthropomorphic depiction of their own race. This early identification with the spirit of the jaguar persisted and influenced Mesoamerican cultures, which came much later, after the Olmecs. There are many stone figurines of were-jaguar babies. These were used in religious rites as part of offerings to the jaguar deity.

THE JAGUAR (continued) There are two more images of the jaguar deity; one is depicted in yellow over the Mayan Scene to the right of the Mexican Spirit and the other is the pink head already mentioned, which is found right over the Mexican Spirit. The jaguar was the nagual spirit of Tezcatlipoca, the deity that embraced both good and evil.

of Tezcatlipoca, the deity that embraced both good and evil. THE CHAC MOOL The Chac Mool
of Tezcatlipoca, the deity that embraced both good and evil. THE CHAC MOOL The Chac Mool

THE CHAC MOOL The Chac Mool depicted here is derived from the one found on the Temple of Warriors in the Mayan city of Chichen Itza. Some scholars tell us that the Chac Mools were associated with the cult of Tlaloc, the rain god.

The well-known archeologist, Jorge R. Acosta, believes that these impressive sculptures functioned as altars where the sacrificial heart was placed on its platter (bowl) over the navel. With the ofrenda of the heart in its hands, the Chac Mools became divine messengers to the gods.

It is of interest to note that the Mayan god of rain was named Chac or god of water, lightning and floods. Also, of general interest, these impressive sculptures inspired Henry Moore, the internationally renowned British sculptor, to create his reclining figures.

renowned British sculptor, to create his reclining figures. Chac Mools were messengers to the Gods, since

Chac Mools were messengers to the Gods, since an offering of a human heart was placed on its platter as tlaxcaltiliztli (nourishment) for the sun.

Water Lily Symbol behind skull

THE WATER LILY SYMBOL The symbol, which appears behind the crystal skull, is of Mayan origin. It stands for rebirth and resurrection. The water lily plant was chosen by the Mayans for this symbol because of its obvious relationship to three basic elements: its roots use the earth, its pads float on top of the water, and its flower blooms in the air. It was a perfect symbol for them because it also makes reference to life being created in the water. The Mayan creator, Kacoch, made the water lily from which the other gods were created. The Mayans were aware of the biological fact that all living things begin their life with/or in water.

There are relieves with water lilies coming out from a skull. This was the basis for the iconography in the mural. To show blossoms coming out of a skull can only be in reference to the resurrection of the spirit – life after death. Some iconography shows the water lily symbol sprouting from the sacrificed body. Other Mayan art (sculpture in particular) shows young lords emerging from the center of a water lily symbol.

In the mural we have a blossoming Quetzalcoatl rushing out from the water lily symbol. To add to this imagery of sacrifice, the heart of the Mexican spirit is connected to this symbol by a bloodline that rushes from the heart to the lily. To end this cycle of spiritual germination and generation, Mario Castillo shows the spirit of Quetzalcoatl coming out of the mouth of the feathered serpent column, rushing upwardly to take the crystal skull and the water lily symbol into his own hands.

Connected to all this is also the hummingbird. It is nourishing itself with the nectar of the spirit of Quetzalcoatl. Please refer to the hummingbird notes.

of Quetzalcoatl. Please refer to the hummingbird notes. THE AZTEC SKULL This is one of ancient

THE AZTEC SKULL This is one of ancient Mexico’s finest works of art. It is carved from quartz rock crystal and dates back to the 15th century A.D. Acceptance of death and an awareness of its significance permeated the life of the aboriginal cultures of Mexico. They also believed in the immortality of the soul.

The transparency of the skull seems to enhance the spiritual symbolism inherent in it. The form and technique are flawless, it seems incredible that they could produce such a work out of what seems to be an impossible medium to carve, rock crystal. The fact they did it just goes to show their highly skillful techniques and their superior vision as artists.

The abundance of Calavera Art in ancient Mexico, points to the fact that this was a subject, which was deeply engrained in the consciousness of its people. It seems that the ancient Mexicans had a longing for death – a desire to terminate with the hardships of this physical dimension. But if this was not the case, it certainly acknowledges death as being the common portal through which all had to pass to get from this life into the next one. Through such art works they seem to express the world that awaited them on the other side of life. Death was not something to fear. It was part of the metamorphic process the soul went through in order to reach unity and harmony with the creators of their universe.

There have been some doubts about the quartz crystal skulls, if they are truly ancient American. Tests have been done and seem to prove that some were made in the 19 th century, possibly commissioned by Eugene Boban, a French antiques dealer in Paris who had lived in Mexico. But it is also possible that there was one original skull and that from that one came the idea for others to replicate it, thus producing the fake skulls, which scientists have studied and discredited as being authentic. The truth is that throughout history, there has been several that have reportedly been found in archeological sites and so the mystery remains as to who carved them

THE EAGLE The eagle was the ancient symbol of heaven. In nature the eagle is the ruling bird in the sky. Parallel to this, the sun is the most prominent feature of the heavens; therefore it was worshipped as the soaring eagle, bearer of life.

In the ancient Aztec myth of the founding of Tenochtitlan, the Aztecs were to look for an eagle, perched on a cactus plant, devouring a serpent. When found, they were to build their city there. This sign is highly symbolic, because the eagle represents the ruling force of the universe, the serpent stands for time, eternal movement, and the transcendental Quetzalcoatl principle, and the prickly pears of the cactus are symbols for the human heart, the physical center for human existence.

In essence we have a trinity here, three states of awareness being represented in this famous Mexican emblem. The physical body, represented by the cactus fruit, the transcendental metaphysical represented by the serpent, and the eternal spirit essence of the universe symbolized by the all mighty eagle.

Based on this interpretation, one can easily understand the Aztec drive and need for human sacrifices. By becoming nourishment for the sun` (the eagle), one would eventually become part of this universal ruling energy. In essence, one would transcend physical existence and merge together with the ruling force of the cosmos. This is why the Mesoamerican cultures practiced bloodletting ceremonies.

the Mesoamerican cultures practiced bloodletting ceremonies. THE INFINITY SYMBOL The infinity symbol is embedded within
the Mesoamerican cultures practiced bloodletting ceremonies. THE INFINITY SYMBOL The infinity symbol is embedded within

THE INFINITY SYMBOL The infinity symbol is embedded within the body of the green Quetzalcoatl. It forms the numeral “8” that appears as it comes out from the navel of the Mexican Spirit, (geographic location of Mexico City) on the Mexican map drawn around the navel. This refers to the Mexican people having ties to an ancient past that seems infinite and has yet to be discovered.

THE HERONS According to Aztec mythology, they came from a land called Aztlan, which means, land of the herons. It is said that this land could be anywhere in northern Mexico or in the American southwest or Midwest. But the truth is, nobody knows for sure where it might have been. Mario Castillo believes that this can be a name for Atlantis. If we take out the “z” in Aztlan we end up with Atlan or the Land of Atlan, which would be Atlántida, and it translates as Atlantis.

The great American sleeping prophet, Edgar Cayce has described in his readings how the ancient Mexicans are the descendants of Atlanteans who escaped their island continent just before it sank. Plato’s report of the lost city of Atlantis described it as one built as an island in water with canals. Then when the Aztecs arrived at Lake Texcoco, they also built a city in the lake with canals in and around its center. Did the Aztecs have a prototype?

The heron is the symbol for the motherland and that is why the yellow Aztec heron is superimposed over the Mexican spirit. Both embody the mysterious everlasting presence/essence of the Mexican people. The heron’s short feathers in the right wing next to Mayahuel’s lips simulate the teeth of the skull to express the dichotomy of life and death, the philosophical way of life of the primary cultures of Mexico, which manifested this duality as being one and the same and as an expression of the eagle’s powers, the ruling force of the universe. The other realistic heron is shown soaring towards the heavens and the sun, the controller and generator of life.

heavens and the sun, the controller and generator of life. THE CACTUS AND THE CACTUS SPIRIT
heavens and the sun, the controller and generator of life. THE CACTUS AND THE CACTUS SPIRIT

THE CACTUS AND THE CACTUS SPIRIT The cactus is the landing spot of the eagle, which symbolized for the Aztecs the place where they were to build their city Tenochtitlan. The prickly pears as hearts represent the Mexican’s love for this plant, but also it symbolizes the sacrificed hearts, which were offered to the sun god.

The spirit of the nopal (cactus) is very close to the Mexican spirit. There is a ghostly profile created by the soaring line of the hummingbird, the speech scrolls, and the prickly pear at the far left. Its chin connects with the eye of the crow-nagual. In essence this profile represents the spirit of the nopal. To the ancient Mexicans everything was alive and everything had a spirit. In addition, the cactus gave them food and drink.

The nopal spirit appears to smell the flower of rebirth while observing the ancient Mexican panorama. Its consciousness appears to connect with the metamorphosis of the butterfly. The Prickly Pear Cactus, a staple food, is close to the heart of the Mexican people. Some prickly pears are deep red inside making their juice look like blood, which is why they are made to look like hearts in this mural.

THE CACTUS AND THE CACTUS SPIRIT (continued)

THE CACTUS AND THE CACTUS SPIRIT (continued) The Cactus Spirit’s Profile The Spirit’s profile smelling the
THE CACTUS AND THE CACTUS SPIRIT (continued) The Cactus Spirit’s Profile The Spirit’s profile smelling the
THE CACTUS AND THE CACTUS SPIRIT (continued) The Cactus Spirit’s Profile The Spirit’s profile smelling the

The Cactus Spirit’s Profile

THE CACTUS SPIRIT (continued) The Cactus Spirit’s Profile The Spirit’s profile smelling the flower from which

The Spirit’s profile smelling the flower from which the Colibri’s life comes.

THE CROWS There are two glowing crows on the tree of the god of corn. Their glow is indicative of they’re not being normal crows. They represent the ancient Nahual or as Carlos Castaneda calls him, Nagual.

These are people who are so highly developed spiritually that they can create any “miracle” as Jesus Christ did. Their teachings have been handed down through thousands of years of experimentation with the laws of the physical (natural), psychological, spiritual, and astronomical worlds. Through these teachings they have arrived at a point where they can exist in different dimensions and can do incredible things such as converting themselves into crows in order to observe the passage of human existence.

They choose the crow, in preference over other animals/birds, because everyone usually leaves the crow alone, they hardly attract people’s attention. In the lower right hand corner of the mural, there is a graphic depiction of a Nagual becoming a crow.

there is a graphic depiction of a Nagual becoming a crow. THE CENTRAL EYE; THE PERCEPTUALIST

THE CENTRAL EYE; THE PERCEPTUALIST POINT The pupil of Mayahuel’s eye becomes the focal point for the Perceptualist effect. It is right over the heart of the Mexican spirit. It also becomes the eye for the Quetzalcoatl, the Jaguar, the Eagle, the Heron and the 9 th Skull.

spirit. It also becomes the eye for the Quetzalcoatl, the Jaguar, the Eagle, the Heron and

THE HUAXTEC ADOLESCENT BOY This Huaxtec (Huastec) masterpiece carved from sandstone is definitely one of the jewels of Mesoamerican art. It is an elegant sculpture from the Huasteca region of San Luis Potosi and was chosen not only for its pleasing balance between the natural proportion of the human body and pure aesthetics, but also because some scholars believe it is the young Quetzalcoatl. He carries on his back his son who was born without the aid of woman and whom he converted into the sun. The sculpture has glyphs on half of the body. They are similar to Mayan glyphs and are associated with the corn cult.

to Mayan glyphs and are associated with the corn cult. THE OLMEC HEAD Mario Castillo decided
to Mayan glyphs and are associated with the corn cult. THE OLMEC HEAD Mario Castillo decided

THE OLMEC HEAD Mario Castillo decided to use an Olmec head because the Olmec culture is Mexico’s first civilization dating back 3500 years. The Olmecs served as the model for cultures that appeared much later. They were the foundation of the ancient Mesoamerican psyche and because of this they are called the mother culture of Mesoamerica.

The Olmecs were the first to do monolithic stone sculptures (weighing tons) to commemorate events and people. They also invented a calendar, hieroglyphic writing, and numeration. Their religion revolved around the adoration of the jaguar spirit, which they treated as a deity. Could this have any relation to the Mesoamerican myth of the first world (sun) having ended by a swarm of jaguars eating all the people?

As stated in the Mayahuel text, her profile is like a speech scroll that comes out of the Olmec head’s lips (blue lines). This parallels what has been said earlier of the Olmecs being the progenitors of cultural consciousness.

THE MIXTEC SUN The icon for the sun comes from the Codex Borgia.

The ancient Mexicans are known as the People of the Sun. They glorified the sun in many different ways

they understood that it was the giver of all life. To them the sun was the symbol of the great abstract force that

unified the cosmos, it was the source of creation, and it was the soaring Cosmic Eagle in the heavens.

In Mesoamerican mythology there are many versions of the birth and death of suns. The legend of the five suns is one of the best known. The Aztecs believed in five cosmic eras which were/are mythic cycles of creation and destruction. From the primal origins of the first sun (world) to the present world (the fifth sun), these are:

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since

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nd

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Sun – 4 jaguar which ended by a swarm of jaguars Sun – 4 wind which ended with strong hurricanes Sun – 4 rain which ended with rain of fire (volcanic eruptions) Sun – 4 water which ended with a big flood Sun – 4 movement which is our present era and is supposed to end with earthquakes

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5

The Aztec and Mayan calendars are so exact and far more accurate than their European counterparts. There was confusion about the world ending on the Mayan calendar around December 21, 2012, but people misunderstood the calendar, which reads that a Mayan period that started in 3114 B.C. would end around 5,125 years later, or about December 21, 2012. This was simply a resetting of a numerical count sort of similar to what happened during the Y2K problem when computer-time had to be reset. So in essence it was just the beginning of another time period.

The famous Aztec calendar stone in the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, documents these five eras in its center. The center of this monolithic work of art (also called the Stone of the Sun) is a quincunx. The quincunx is one of the most common icons in Mesoamerican art. It consists of four points placed around a central one. The graphic variations of this symbol are endless. The Stone of the Sun has, for the four points around the center, the four different worlds, which have come and gone. The central point is given to this era, the fifth sun.

In this gigantic stone calendar the quincunx can have many meanings, it also refers to the four quadrants of the universe and the four primordial elements. The five points can become the symbol for Venus and therefore Quetzalcoatl. Legend tells us that in his final journey on this earth, Quetzalcoatl, through penitence and self- sacrifice ascended (in spirit form) into the heavens and became the planet Venus.

According to Nahua beliefs, it is through penitence and self-sacrifice that the regenerative process can be maintained energized. This evolutionary and transcendental process is the focal point of all creation. If humanity fails and this goal is not met, the world must be destroyed. That is exactly what happened with the first four worlds.

The Mesoamerican religion taught the people that they had to perform sacrificial offerings to the sun in order to keep the mechanism of their universe “lubricated” and running. If they stopped the bloodletting rituals and heart sacrifices to the sun god, their whole world could come to an end. They were certain they were created from the same cosmic chemistry, which made up the heavens. When they died, they were certain their spirit energy went back to the sun to keep it alive. But heart sacrifices were not enough. The fresh flowing blood coming from a live body released a substantial amount of cosmic energy to assure the contentment of the sun god and maintain their universe “well tuned” so that it could achieve its aim. After all, the fifth sun was the sun of movement – the sun that demanded the transmutation of organic matter on earth into spiritual energy for the Cosmic Eagle. Please refer to notes under The Eagle.

for the Cosmic Eagle. Please refer to notes under The Eagle. The Mixtec Sun, with its

The Mixtec Sun, with its rays of life-energy, makes sure that it covers and protects the Mesoamerican universe.

THE COSMIC SPIRAL: Projecting out from the spirit’s navel, it also corresponds to an emblem for Quetzalcoatl. The navel is the epicenter of birth (of a new nation) and death (of an old empire).

of birth (of a new nation) and death (of an old empire). The Mexican map, the

The Mexican map, the large spiral, and the small spiral have been colored enhanced to make them be more visible.

There are many ancient petroglyphs of spirals throughout Mexico, as there are all over the world. All ancient cultures used this significant symbol. It seems that the coiling “shell-like” glyph was one of the main universal symbols used by our ancestors to communicate religious and philosophical concepts related to their existence and presence in the universe. Its meaning in Mexico is connected to the conch, another sign for Quetzalcoatl.

The spiral’s graphic symbol can communicate various ideas early humans had about their life in the context of their habitat. Simply by looking at its form, it seems to correspond to a variety of notions such as movement, energy, growth, beauty, infinity, vortex, birth, life, eternity, various natural motifs, astral bodies, or even the passage of time. The volute-shaped scroll also refers to the speech glyph. Perhaps it is even associated with the after life, a sort of guiding path that would transport a soul descending from this plane into the underworld.

It is interesting to note that one of the most persistent designs in the universe is the spiral, from the massive supernovas to our inner ear’s cochlea (through which we decipher sounds), to the tiniest of the microscopic

plankton spirals. In this mural, Mario Castillo makes use of a large orange spiral that represents consciousness as

a “thread of light” originating in the Mexican’s Spirit’s navel, which is the precise geographical location of the

Aztec’s ancient capital, Tenochtitlan, today’s Mexico City. It spirals towards Mayahuel’s baby, specifically going around its head to wrap itself around an opposite force inside the baby’s head, the smaller blue spiral shown above, this being a spiral galaxy. Here Castillo deals with the idea that each person is a universe unto oneself and that we are in control of this inner world. Mayahuel’s body also contains other spiraling galaxies.

The large spiral connects the Mexican spirit to the mind of the newborn, symbolically showing how parents pass the spiraling DNA to their offspring. All sorts of coded information and “ancient memories” get passed from parents to child. The two spirals coil in opposite directions to illustrate the contradictory forces in the universe. There is another important spiral and that is the one that originates in the third eye of the Mexican Spirit and creates a contour of a face where Mayahuel’s profile becomes part of that ancient memory consciousness.

THE PORTAL OF INTENT The Mayan archway under which the Mexican spirit is standing represents the Portal of Intent. Inherent with it comes the meaning that behind the Mexican Spirit is the past and in front of him is the future: the actions to be taken. Once we step over the threshold we have to move forward and commit ourselves to the task at hand. It is through these actions that we develop as human beings and our actions select the path we take in life. That means that we truly have to consider how we move forward because if we do not, we can end up in places where we do not want to be. In essence, by passing through the Portal of Intent, we create our own future. Hopefully we develop ourselves, through our choices, into beings worthy of being a part of the universe we live in.

beings worthy of being a part of the universe we live in. The Portal of Intent

The Portal of Intent becomes a central focal point for the mural because in reality, it is the main focus of our lives. The ancient Mexicans were very much aware of this. It is the point from which we move forward and become who we are and who we are going to be and it also becomes the point of no return. It is the doorway to the architecture of our being, our awareness, and it is a constant rite of passage. It is important to consider that a nation (or a group of people) also passes through these time-dimensional portal structures, which are part of our existence.

portal structures, which are part of our existence. This depicts the top of the Portal of

This depicts the top of the Portal of Intent’s central design of the Mayan arch above the Mexican Spirit.

THE FOUR ELEMENTS As depicted together earlier on page 10, the symbols of the four elements are an intrinsic part of the structure of the mural. Although the triangles used here are appropriated from old world symbols, the ancient Mexicans also accounted for these natural elements. Kukulcan, also known as Q'uq'umatz, was the deity of the four basic elements: earth, fire, air, and water. Here below, they are shown individually:

air, and water. Here below, they are shown individually: Earth Earth: Roots of tree Fire Fire:

Earth

and water. Here below, they are shown individually: Earth Earth: Roots of tree Fire Fire: Spirit’s

Earth: Roots of tree

they are shown individually: Earth Earth: Roots of tree Fire Fire: Spirit’s Flame “rays” Air Air:

Fire

they are shown individually: Earth Earth: Roots of tree Fire Fire: Spirit’s Flame “rays” Air Air:

Fire: Spirit’s Flame “rays”

Earth: Roots of tree Fire Fire: Spirit’s Flame “rays” Air Air: The breathing lines Water Water:

Air

Roots of tree Fire Fire: Spirit’s Flame “rays” Air Air: The breathing lines Water Water: Broken-color

Air: The breathing lines

Spirit’s Flame “rays” Air Air: The breathing lines Water Water: Broken-color rain The details above illustrate

Water

Flame “rays” Air Air: The breathing lines Water Water: Broken-color rain The details above illustrate

Water: Broken-color rain

The details above illustrate graphic depictions of these ancient elements. The Earth is only suggested by the fact that several of the images are standing on a “ground” of some sort and the fact that the Maize God Tree’s roots imply that they grow in the soil.

THE BREATHING LINES The breath-of-life scrolls connecting practically all things in the mural create a sense of currents of air moving throughout the ancient Mesoamerican panorama. There were four things that were instrumental in creating these and they are: the title of the mural, the concept of Native American Animism, the speech scrolls found in ancient codices throughout Mexico, and the idea of depicting the most “invisible” of the ancient elements, “Air”; here being made visible as “sound memories” from the past emanating from virtually all the large images on this mural.

emanating from virtually all the large images on this mural. The flowing lines represent what the

The flowing lines represent what the ancients considered “sacred breath”, a link to a higher consciousness.

THE BLOSSOMING QUETZALCOATL

THE BLOSSOMING QUETZALCOATL In the image above, the skull and the blood-red water lily symbol take

In the image above, the skull and the blood-red water lily symbol take the place of an offering of a heart. Flowing out from here is the Blossoming Quetzalcoatl. This Quetzalcoatl is a particular image that one sees associated with the moment of death during a ritualistic sacrifice offered to the gods. It depicts the precise instant when at the moment of death the blood discharges a life-giving essence. This elemental and spiritual energy is like a plant sprouting and flourishing with blossoms as it travels to the domain of the gods.

As noted earlier, the Chac Mools were a kind of altar for placing the offering of a heart on a platter that was carved right on the sculpture. This stone dish became a platform for the release of the message the priests would be sending to the gods. This is why the Chac Mools were considered as being “messengers to the gods”. The Blossoming Quetzalcoatl illustrates this message issuing from the blood of the offering. It represented the “birth” of a new life energy-form that transcended physical reality. This was a spirit type of life essence that existed as a transitional force between the world of the Maya and the higher realm of the gods.

Some of these images are charged with a horrible-beauty that is uniquely Mesoamerican. Their culture was so skilled in handling design aesthetics that they were able to communicate and place opposite concepts or polarities into one image. Another example of this is their depiction of fire and water together in one glyph. This Blossoming Quetzalcoatl is an example of their mastery for doing these types of clever graphic fusions by having something tragic such as death, become a sensual form for life and beauty, such as a “blooming feathered serpent”.

THE LINE OF BLOOD BETWEEN THE HEART AND THE STARTING POINT OF THE BLOSSOMING QUETZALCOATL

HEART AND THE STARTING POINT OF THE BLOSSOMING QUETZALCOATL The heart of the Mexican Spirit is

The heart of the Mexican Spirit is positioned right underneath Mayahuel’s eye of perception. The red line of blood between the heart and the Blossoming Quetzalcoatl shows the importance blood played in Aztec spiritual beliefs.

THE SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST

in Aztec spiritual beliefs. THE SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST The Survival of the Fittest does refer

The Survival of the Fittest does refer to the Darwinian principle that Herbert Spencer found in the theory of evolution, but Mario Castillo applies it also to civilizations: empires that have come and gone.

Shown here are two jaguars going after the heron. The heron is an emblem for the Aztecs. We can clearly see the need for creatures to rely on the cyclic process of natural consumption for the sake of survival. But as stated earlier, the jaguar and the heron were both religious and mythological symbols and as most of the images in the mural, they represent various cultures from different eras in Mexico. Some cultures survived longer than others.

One of the ancient world’s greatest and largest city-states was Teotihuacan with an estimated population of around 300,000. By the time the Aztecs arrived in that region, this city empire was in ruins and the Aztecs had no clue as to who had built this magnificent city. Another great civilization that disappeared was that of the Maya. All of their ceremonial centers were in ruins by the time the Spaniards arrived. Archeologists still need to discover what caused this great civilization to vanish so abruptly. In terms of empires, history has shown that sometimes some may fail to survive from within, instead of having been invaded and conquered. Regardless, none of the great pre-Hispanic civilizations survived the Spanish conquest, except for the Huichol culture that became nomadic in the high Sierras where the Spanish could not get to them.

THE SIX POINTED STAR The six-pointed star is an ancient symbol that has been used in many cultures throughout antiquity. In ancient Mexico, it can be found in the Mayan ruins at Uxmal and also in Honduras at Copan. The ancient spiritual leaders of Mesoamerica were able to tap into universal energy flows that brought awareness and wisdom to them. They did this with various rituals handed down through the ages. Present-day elders have carried with this tradition.

The six-pointed star that is built into the structure on page 8 can also represent, both the Star of Solomon and the Stair of David. Wisdom, mercy, love, power, dignity, and justice are the six traits assigned to the six points. If we take this basic shape and turn it into a 3D form (as illustrated below), it happens to become more esoteric by taking us into the realm of the Astral Plane. This star symbol is used in the practice and training of spiritual awareness as found in Merkabah mysticism. Merkaba yoga developed from this ancient Jewish theology.

The Mormons believe that Jesus Christ visited this continent in pre-Hispanic America. Quetzalcoatl is described as being fair skin, blue eyed, and with a beard. Mario Castillo believes that Quetzalcoatl was Jesus Christ, especially since before he disappeared into the East, he said that he would return at a certain time in the future. This turned out to be the date when the Spaniards arrived with their banners displaying the cross of the Catholic faith in the name of the Spanish crown.

of the Catholic faith in the name of the Spanish crown. The Merkaba star spirit has

The Merkaba star spirit has an intense feeling for the saturated Huichol color Castillo wanted to achieve with it.

THE HALF ANGEL

color Castillo wanted to achieve with it. THE HALF ANGEL The Huichols consider the eagle to

The Huichols consider the eagle to be a messenger to the gods.

According to ancient accounts, Quetzalcoatl was considered to be a Toltec Topiltzin or teacher. The meaning for “Toltec” was different before it was used as a name for the Toltec culture. Its earlier meaning referred to a teacher, wise man, priest, and medicine man:

one who was well versed in all the cultural arts. He taught his people everything from architecture to governance. Quetzalcoatl was seen as a being of light, a giving lord who communicated with the gods.

Throughout the history of great cultures and civilizations, humanity has consistently come to terms with the subjective questions such as who are we? Where do we come from? What is our destiny? Through

all these eras, a selected few have struggled to liberate their inner spirit so that it can “fly-off” into the higher realms of spiritual awareness and into the dominion of the Angels or beyond. Doing this

is not easy since we are bound to our material world.

The Mexican Spirit (at left) represents such a spiritual being in a state of development. The wing of the eagle shows his intent to fly. The other faded wing does not appear in mural, but is included here for the effect only. The symbolism of the one-winged spirit turns him into

a “half angel” and signifies that he is in the process of acquiring

perfection. But perfection evades his material body as shown by the unbalanced weight of his scrotum and the fact that the blue lines below his knees, tie him to the ground and the earthly plane.

38

HUICHOL COLOR As mentioned above, Mario Castillo wanted to do the color of the central Mexican Spirit as an inspiration that could be attributed to the Huichol culture from central Mexico. Since his first public art mural Peace (Metafisica) painted in 1968 in Chicago, IL, Castillo has paid tribute to the stunning and magical color of Huichol Art. The life of the Huichol people is interwoven with and dedicated to their religious/spiritual beliefs. They seem to live for their art and their sacred ceremonies. Through their belief in Animism, they become one with nature. Their enthralling artwork is an amazing chronicle of their daily lives and religious practices. Mario Castillo believes that through images one can pray. To Castillo, images are related to religious chants or mantras. Eastern mandalas are in essence a form of visual prayers. Navajo sand painting is used for healing and prayer. Castillo found it interesting that the Huichol peoples also see their art as invocations made to their spirits and gods. This was another reason for using Huichol inspirations in this mural.

another reason for using Huichol inspirations in this mural. Here are three examples of Mario Castillo’s
another reason for using Huichol inspirations in this mural. Here are three examples of Mario Castillo’s
another reason for using Huichol inspirations in this mural. Here are three examples of Mario Castillo’s

Here are three examples of Mario Castillo’s Huichol influenced art: the one on the left being the oldest from 1995. The three paintings deal with the Huichol Marakame or spiritual agents who also act as medicine men as well.

The Huichol use of color is very prismatic in the way they make use of hues, tints, and shades. At times, they seem to follow the physics of light and appear to “paint” with the colors of the rainbow in sequential order. Their color schemes are truly fantastic as they evoke a variety of harmonies of colored lights. The Huichols have a fantastic sense for aesthetic invention and a superb sensibility for color coordination. Their use of striated hues of carefully gradated values creates a variegation of colors that appear psychedelic with their electrifying intensity.

It is of interest to note that in their ceremonial rituals, the Huichols make use of the peyote cactus, which produces altered states of mind. These ceremonious practices take them through states of deep meditation in which they connect with their gods and their ancestral traditions. They do this as a form of communion with nature and the universe in general. Through these rites they get guidance, knowledge, awareness, spiritual development, and a great sense of being an integral part of the universe.

and a great sense of being an integral part of the universe. These three digital works
and a great sense of being an integral part of the universe. These three digital works
and a great sense of being an integral part of the universe. These three digital works

These three digital works by Mario Castillo are all based on work from 2014. As the three figurative examples above, they are also influenced by Huichol aesthetic principles. The intense color linear striations are a major

part of Huichol art. Here, Castillo has used somewhat of a minimalistic approach to depict vertical “speeding lines”

THE HUICHOL LIFE’S PATHS

THE HUICHOL LIFE’S PATHS Through their art and peyote ceremonies, the Huichols perceive sacred visions in

Through their art and peyote ceremonies, the Huichols perceive sacred visions in other dimensions through which they connect via dreamlike states. This procedure is similar to the Australian aboriginal dreamtime practice. In their artwork, the Huichols use undulating floating lines that signify the paths that humans take in life. It is like following one’s breath. We are guided by our words and follow the way of what we speak. The scrolls or breathing lines in the mural also represent these pathways that still “speak” to us from the past. They are like grapevines of breath trailing and climbing all over our habitat while producing links to our past, present, and future world, making our destiny more visible and easier to understand, while taking away the fear of the unknown.

THE THREE RAYS (the Fire from Within)

The Mexican Spirit and the image of Mayahuel as the “Madonna and Child” represent the dichotomy of life and the universe. Mayahuel represents the creative female principle of light in the dark void: the cosmos. The Mexican Spirit represents the masculine qualities of the light and fire we all have within. The idea for a need of an existing balance between the material world, passion, and the spiritual world, calmness, is expressed in the three types of “rays” radiating form the spirit.

in the three types of “rays” radiating form the spirit. The three rays emitting from the

The three rays emitting from the Mexican Spirit: Fire with roots in the body, maguey leaves from the earth, and blue spiritual energy rays.

The flames with roots growing within the body signify the deep-rooted passion for life (the fire within), which is very well expressed in the art of the ancient Mexicans. The Huichols believe that they are born from fire and treat it as a deity. The fire rays also bring to mind Castaneda’s "The Fire From Within" book.

The maguey leaves represent the spirit being “grounded” to the earth. Through the use of the maguey plant, the Mesoamericans showed their understanding of the natural world by the way they used this plant, which touched every aspect of their daily life. Thus, the maguey leaves demonstrate the synergistic connection the ancient Mexicans had with their immediate environment and nature as a whole.

The blue rays stand for the ancestral spiritual world, which was highly complex but well established in the ancient teachings and totally integrated into their existence.

As mentioned before, the skin displays a close-up of the cellular world and one can appreciate yellowish points of light all over it, coexisting with the cells. These “lit-up” points symbolize the dynamism of all of the body’s functions being turned on. For Mario Castillo, these “lights” also represent tiny solar systems within the body, making each human body a universe in its own right. Castillo has had this concept since around 1959, when he envisioned atoms as solar systems and molecules as galaxies. Later, around 1973, he came across an engineer who told him that he also held the same vision of the human body, and this lead Castillo to believe that there must be others who share this fascinating concept of the “Big Bang” happening within our human bodies at conception and then gradually growing and expanding until the lights are turned off at death and that universe no longer exists, but the energy and matter continue and get recycled, leaving everything behind as a big mystery.

PERCEPTUALISM

In this “Ancient Memories” mural, Mario Castillo, makes use of a Perceptualist approach in the center of the work and over the Mexican Spirit.

Perceptualism is a term Mario Castillo started to first use in 1993 to describe his paintings using a new procedure. He has given this name to a whole series of paintings. He started to do Perceptualist work before he became aware of the "Magic-Eye" digitized images. Mario Castillo’s work relates to the computerized "Magic-Eye" art only in the way that perception is altered. Castillo’s approach and technique are otherwise totally different. The layering of images comes directly from Paleolithic Art and this is a technique Castillo began to use in 1962. The layering qualities started to increase towards the late 1980’s.

qualities started to increase towards the late 1980’s. Portrait: Three Faces 1962 Madonna with Mushrooms 1963

Portrait: Three Faces 1962

towards the late 1980’s. Portrait: Three Faces 1962 Madonna with Mushrooms 1963 Offering to Quetzalcoatl 1993

Madonna with Mushrooms 1963

Portrait: Three Faces 1962 Madonna with Mushrooms 1963 Offering to Quetzalcoatl 1993 Above are three examples

Offering to Quetzalcoatl 1993

Above are three examples of works with layering of images. The first one from 1962 demonstrates that Mario Castillo did an upside-down portrait seven years before Georg Baselitz, the German artist, started to do his inverted images. With this portrait, Castillo wished not only to create a sense of altered perception but also to express turmoil and psychological upheaval while at the same time paying tribute to Paleolithic Art.

The second one shows a “da Vinci type” of Madonna hallucinating. Mario Castillo showed slides of this layering of images technique at California Institute of the Arts. As a Teaching Assistant at Cal Arts around 1971, Castillo was asked by Miriam Schapiro to give a lecture on his works to the Fine Arts students. Among the student group at the lecture were Castillo’s colleagues Jack Goldstein, Ross Bleckner, Eric Fischl, and David Salle. David Salle, at that time, had not started the layering of images in his paintings.

The last layered painting above is from the Quetzalcoatl series painted at the outset of the Perceptualism period. Castillo did a series of these in which he included a crucified Christ silhouette over which he would do a Quetzalcoatl theme. This third painting was stolen from Castillo’s studio and there is a reward for its safe return.

Please contact him through _ castillo02 (at) comcast.net

Castillo’s Perceptualist work is post-modernist in approach. It is a mixture of various stylistic tendencies derived from, Huichol Art, Folk Art, Cubism, Realism, Expressionism, Comic Book Art, Native American Art, Illustration, Impressionism, Hard-Edge Painting, Pop Art, Futurism, and most significantly, Surrealism, Optical Art and Pre- historic Art. The Surrealistic tendencies are present in the manner Mario Castillo pictorially treats various Mesoamerican themes such as Quetzalcoatl (the feathered serpent), Mayahuel (the goddess of the Maguey plant), and the Nagual (a shaman).

The nagual in Mexican folklore is a prominent individual. Curanderos, medicine men/women, are usually the ones who become Naguales after an intense and long apprenticeship to an elder Nagual. Carlos Castaneda made "Nagual" a household word at the time the new age movement started to evolve here in the States. Castaneda's descriptions of the teachings of Don Juan Matus (a Yaqui Indian from Mexico) influenced Mario Castillo’s work. Castillo read all of Castaneda's books (about ten), and they were influential in establishing the foundation for his Perceptualist theories. Here are titles of three significant books: "The Art of Dreaming", "A Separate Reality", and "The Fire From Within".

Don Juan's teachings are geared towards being able to perceive other realities. It is in this spirit that Mario

_or_

medafinearts.com.

PERCEPTUALISM (continued)

Castillo paints his Perceptualist work, so that viewers can let go of their conditioned points of view that create their everyday reality. He sees Perceptualist paintings as being Mandalas; the Eastern graphic mystic/spiritual symbols used chiefly in Hinduism and Buddhism as an aid for meditation. Native American shamans and Huichol elders use art and symbols in similar ways.

Below is a Color Theory graphic that will help viewers experience the after-image effect built into Perceptualism. To get this, focus your eyes on the black dot inside red square for at least 10 seconds, then shift your vision and focus on black dot on the right for about the same time until you perceive the negative color of the red square. It should appear to be a turquoise-cyan type of greenish tint. This negative color is the red’s after-image and in Mario Castillo’s paintings, this creates eye-fatigue, which gives the viewer a sense of vibrations.

eye-fatigue, which gives the viewer a sense of vibrations. After-Image test for Perceptualism During the nineteenth

After-Image test for Perceptualism

During the nineteenth century, the Czech physiologist, Johannes E. Purkinje, began to study and classify the optical phenomena of afterimages. These studies were crucial to the development of Optical Art (Op Art) in the twentieth century. In Mario Castillo’s works, the influences of Optical Art (such as complementary or negative afterimages and color vibration) come into play when the viewers' perception starts to “disintegrate”, as the images they perceive begin to flutter, vibrate, and shift configurations, as if transforming themselves from one reality into another, just as the nagual is described as being capable of doing. Here, the psychology of the viewer plays a big role in determining and questioning what it is that is being looked at. Thus the viewer becomes an active participant in creating a unique and personal aesthetic experience, making the work become inter-active.

Castillo achieves this by turning a pupil of an eye into the perceptual point so viewers can focus on a certain spot in the painting. Most of the time this eye, belongs to various creatures. Eventually what happens is that the viewer starts to lose the painted subject because of eye fatigue, the persistence of vision, and the way colors and contrasts are being used in relation to color theory and Op Art. When this occurs, a perceptual movement begins to take place so that the surface of the painting appears to shimmer. Then, if viewing time is increased, the subject matter starts to disappear, as it seems to dissolve and transform itself beyond recognition into what appears to be an energy field.

The Impressionists created a climax in art when they treated light as the primal motive in their painting. Light to them was the most important element and essence of their aesthetic universe. In Castaneda’s books, Don Juan's teachings tell us that energy is the essence of the universe. Castillo wants viewers to come to this realization when they look at and experience his paintings as energy fields. This provides the space for perception to become both the medium and the art form.

PERCEPTUALISM (continued) Another reason why Mario Castillo makes use of the term Perceptualism for this body of work is because his paintings are literally at the mercy of the viewers' perception. They are the ones who create with their own imagination and psyche what it is they believe they are seeing. He just provides them with something of a "Rorschach inkblot" (the entangled images) to look at.

Below are two Perceptualist works by Mario Castillo. The second one is digital art based on a previous work.

The second one is digital art based on a previous work. Nagual Woman's Attention on Singing

Nagual Woman's Attention on Singing of Birds

work. Nagual Woman's Attention on Singing of Birds We Are One With Nature To summarize what

We Are One With Nature

To summarize what occurs in Perceptualism, there are four stages, as follows:

1. The pictorial turmoil draws the viewers in to decipher the puzzle of superimposed and juxtaposed images. The

public may choose to make sense of what it is they are looking at or flatly reject the confrontation and visual

invitation to participate.

2. The viewer focuses his/her attention on a given point or the pupil of an eye in a painting for 10 seconds or

more. This is followed by an apparent oscillation or vibration of the pictorial surface, creating a change as if the viewer were experiencing actual movement. This is also the stage of recognition of peripherals, where viewers can play with choosing to see certain configurations in the peripheral field of vision and bring them more into their awareness without changing the focal point. It is also at this point, that the viewers can ask themselves (while continuing to focus on the central point of the eye) to see the "yellow system" of lines or the blue, green, etc. As they do this, the color they are asking themselves to see, "jumps" out from the others and gets noticed more. Castillo assigns one color to a particular creature so that when one wishes to see the “green” lines, it pops up.

3. Beyond the ten-second mark of focusing, the viewers (depending on their level of perceptual awareness) can alter the colors of the painting by swaying their body back and forth. For this to occur, you have to move your head within a distance of at least two feet. You can also get the same effect by quickly stepping back and forth while maintaining your focus on the spot of the painting.

4. After prolonged viewing (beyond 30 seconds) the images start to disappear or do metamorphic changes in a

surreal and/or abstract way. At this point the viewer may begin to perceive a blackout, whiteout, or a field of active energy. By this final stage the viewer has experienced Perceptualism.

On the following page, Mario Castillo has placed one of his Shapeshifter/Nagual works for those of you who would like to practice Perceptualism and experience the optical phenomenon that comes with it.

Castillo’s Rakshasa Shapeshifter at Artzolo.com Mario Castillo’s “Rakshasa Shapeshifter” is a theme based on the Nagual in Carlos Castaneda’s books.

If you would like to see this digital print and other Castillo works, you may view different sizes of these at the following link:

https://www.artzolo.com/users/mario-enriquez-castillo

link: https://www.artzolo.com/users/mario-enriquez-castillo Mario E. Castillo, Artist and Art Educator; MFA … Cal

Mario E. Castillo, Artist and Art Educator; MFA Cal Arts, BFA SAIC

2016 © copyright, all rights reserved

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