Sunday, February 17, 2008

Rethinking Apocalypto

I finally got around to watching Apocalypto last night. As an ancient history teacher, I immediately noticed several historical inaccuracies, however, the story ultimately captured me. Looking at the story through the lens of myth and ritual masculine initiation, it was very powerful.

Jaguar Paw, the Mayan hero, is taken against his will from the wildness of his jungle home, by an invading horde, and sets out on a forced journey to be sacrificed. One by one, the men chosen for the ritual Mayan sacrifice are dragged through a corrupt and chaotic Yucatan city. They are marched to the top of the pyramid and their hearts are cut out and offered up to the Mayan gods.

Civilization does this to the masculine soul, doesn't it? It civilizes a man and in essence, rips his heart out. Just like Jaguar Paw, we need to risk the pain, the wounds, and death to flee the things in life that kill our hearts. His heart was in the deep forest, his heart was with his wife and sons. The journey revealed the true meaning of his name, Jaguar Paw. Though dead, he united with his father in spirit and became one with the wild. The symbols and story were very powerful and bore real substance.

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