Sun, Moon, Stars: D. H. Lawrence’s Reconstruction of Christ and the Guadalupe in The Plumed Serpent

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There was erected on the hill of Tepeyec, Mexico, around the end of the seventeenth century, the third sanctuary of the Guadalupe, the miraculous Image of the Virgin, who appeared to Juan Diego, in 1531, leaving in his mantle, which She had instructed him to fill with wild roses and other flowers, the image of her Person, a silvery-brown-faced Woman in roseate tunic and sky-blue mantle covered with forty-six stars (for the forty-six conquistadors) and with a twelve-rayed golden crown, her figure standing on a crescent moon supported by the angel Michael, and from the back of her niche emanating one hundred rays of the sun. In company with the Eucharistt, the “sacramental sun,” the Guadalupe made her progress as “precious pearl . . . imperial eagle . . . rose of Jericho and moon of the Mexican sea.” She was the Ark and the Burning Bush, the Phoenix that was also Quetzalcoatl, Savior of sacrificial victims, who would sacrifice serpents, small birds, butterflies, and flowers in place of humanity, and who, as his namesake, the helicoidal Sun Serpent, his rays feathering the earth with life and health, typified the Eucharist, Christ, “a sun and shield” (Ps. 84:11).

Another sun god, Huitzilopochtli, “Blue Hummingbird on the Left” (a Blue Meany), the Aztec god of war, demands for his honor wholesale human sacrifice. He represents the underside of Quetzalcoatl. But Guadalupe sees through the mask and is able, by the power of her Love (1 John 4:8) to crush the evil side of Quetzalcoatl, since her real name is probably not Guadalupe, associated with the miraculous will- o’-the –wisp, the supernatural statue of the Virgin at Guadalupe, Spain, but rather a name sounding like ‘Guadalupe,” Coatlaxopeah (translit. Quatrasupe), “Stamps out the Serpent,” a cognomen derivable as a type of a portion of Genesis 3:15.

In reconstructing the above dramatis personae, D. H. Lawrence determined to replace the “Gringo” Christ with an underside Quetzalcoatl (Ramon), understudied by a modern Aztec Huitzilopochtli (Cipriano), whose priestess and consort, Kate Leslie, would be inducted as a lunar fertility goddess, the green-robed Malintzi. Ramon’s belief, like that of Lawrence, is that the dark-skinned peoples must be given the old religion of human sacrifice in order to appease their passions and, not incidentally, preserve the white race from being swarmed over by superior global numbers. Some critics find fascist leanings in Ramon’s violent henchmen, the Roman salute given him by his elite guard at his investiture as the god of the new fictional Mexican theocracy, and his resumption of human sacrifice. Kate is sickened by the violence but tragically accepts her role as Cipriano’s sex object, a passive receptacle of male potency, always virginal because always mentally detached from physical involvement. As Malintzi, she has supreme consortial status but lacks the functional independence of mythical virgin deities, such as Aphrodite, Hestia, and Athena, able, should they choose, to give birth and still recover total self-possession. Happily, Lawrence’s vision was deconstructed by the Guadalupe, the seal between Catholics and non-Catholics in Mexico. Declared the patron saint of the Americas by Pope John Paul II, in 1999, she serves as the source of Mexican national identity and unity. On July 31, 2002, Juan Diego, first Amerindian saint, was canonized by Pope John Paul II, at the basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in Mexico. Fred MacFadden, Member CCL Prof. Em. Coppin State University, Baltimore, MD.

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