The Seven Macaw Constellation

Touch the Stars detail: Seven Macaw, Mayan

Seven Macaw is a character in the Mayan epic The Popul Vuh. In the darkness before the world's dawn, Seven Macaw was helpful to humanity, guiding them with his light. However, arrogance leads him to brag that he is more important than the sun and the moon. One day the twin heroes of the The Popul Vuh teach him a lesson. They hide beneath the fruit tree where he feeds and hit him with a blowgun dart, knocking him over the tree top and down the other side. In the latitude of Guatemala where the Mayans lived, this describes the trajectory of the constellation through the sky—once a day making an arc up through the sky and descending to the horizon. Anthropologist Dennis Tedlock also thinks that Seven Macaw must be shot because he offends the Hurricane god. In July, the constellation is out of sight in those latitudes, and mythologically speaking, this clears the way for Hurricane to bring the summer rains.

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Photo by Jeff D. Goldman.

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