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F I V E The UnvirginVirgin In Chapter 2’s overview of Maya religion, I presented the idea that the Maya gods were repositioned in the colonial years in order to merge with the Catholic saints. Chapter 3 showed that in using the metaphors related to warfare and sin, the colonial Maya were concerned with meeting the needs and desires of the gods. Chapter 4 concluded that Maya concerns with sexual behavior related to their wish to have appropriate communication with the gods. In this chapter I return to the powerful sexual deity, the Moon Goddess . By late colonial times the Virgin Mary was more prominent in the documents, but she still was invested with many of the powers of the Moon Goddess. I argue here and throughout the remainder of this book that the Maya notion of the power of the gods was more than theocratic superstition. Maya society , like perhaps almost any other state system, required a repositioning of desire into the personification of the leader. This Maya leader ruled because of supposed divine intervention, whether of the Christian God or of the Maya supreme deities. Desire was placed upon these gods. People were told that in order to reach the gods they were required to maintain society with its social, economic, and political inequalities. The Maya had a developed class structure which was maintained partly through interest in the gods. However, on a social level, the Maya certainly did not act and react simply according to the The Unvirgin Virgin 9 5 supposed wishes of the gods. Instead, they placed high values on self and collective interest and on the preservation of a particular, highly ritualized notion of order.1 The Virgin Mary Moon Goddess hybrid, a colonialist and anticolonialist god, showed the people both the power of the cosmos and the limits of that power. Given the nature of the extant Maya documents, it is impossible to say when the Maya first adopted the Virgin Mary or even exactly when and how the Moon Goddess and Virgin came to be two parts of a single figure. Nonetheless , the documents present a hybrid notion of the Virgin Mary Moon Goddess, and they show change through time. This chapter is based on a progression of texts that discuss the two figures. The Dresden Codex is a preconquest hieroglyphic text that shows the Moon Goddess as having powers parallel to those of the other gods. It presents her as being sexual with various deities. In the Ritual of the Bacabs, a text probably written in the seventeenth century, the Moon Goddess continued to have parallel power to the other gods. Here she remained sexual, spreading her sexual desires through the population. The Books of Chilam Balam were written primarily in the eighteenth century. The Moon Goddess had little presence independent of the Virgin Mary, and the Virgin for the most part was not associated with sexual desire in the same manner. The Songs of Dzitbalché were written in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The Moon Goddess had a somewhat hidden presence while the Virgin Mary was worshipped openly. Both were associated with sexual desires. The changes which took place moved the Virgin Mary to the forefront of the rhetoric of Maya desire. The Maya adopted the Virgin Mary and the Christian God because Christianity was the conquering religion, and, according to Mayan (and Mesoamerican ) tradition, the conquerors’ gods were added to the pantheon of those conquered. The Maya certainly did not believe that they were giving up their preconquest deities. The Maya people desired to have the most powerful gods protecting them. The desire for the Virgin Mary herself was an important one: she was desired in order to replicate some preconquest Maya beliefs . She was to be a central signifier in the act of colonization as she became the powerful Unvirgin Virgin or the Virgin Mary Moon Goddess. THE MOON GODDESS The preconquest Maya gendered gods in order to signify various concerns, including a division of the world into masculine and feminine. However, instead of representing the gods and goddesses as opposites, the texts present 9 6 From Moon Goddesses to Virgins them as a duality: two to four parts of what often was considered the same deity , and which clearly constituted the whole.2 In the constitution of ritual circuits (ceremonies which moved in a set pattern in the various directions), there often existed a male god representing one part of a ritual...


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