Monday, April 11, 2016


It occurred to me that I might want to explain the macabre change in my blog background. 

No, I haven’t gone Goth (again), and it wasn’t because we’ve just emerged from the rainiest, gloomiest Northwest winter in recorded history (a new puppy in the house tends to keep you too busy for the blues).

The original background image for Outlaws & Outcasts was simply the Wild Westiest stock wallpaper they had on blogger. I’ve always wanted to personalize it. But how? I decided, at least for the moment, to change it to an image that fits what I'm currently working on. I took the shot of the skull inside Actun Tunichil Muknal, a spectacular cave in Belize that I’ve explored multiple times over the last 16 years.

Same cave, different victim. Photo by Bob Friel
The skull belongs to a victim (or honoree, depending on your point of view) of human sacrifice. Maya priests led its owner into the cave, which they considered the entrance to Xilbalba, the “Place of Fear,” dwelling place of the Death Gods as well as the Rain God, Chac. More than a mile deep inside the cave, they carried out the ritual killing to appease the higher ups of the underworld.

Actun Tunichil Muknal was an active sacrificial site circa AD 250-900, the Maya Classic Period, with a lot of that activity in the latter years when a drought hit Central America and the Maya were desperately trying to persuade Chac to make it rain.

The skull, human sacrifice, and related Maya traditions (among many other cultures’ traditions) are related to a project I have in the works, so I felt it fitting to plaster my page with a momento mori. I hope to be able to announce something about the project here later this year.

As the skull might counsel: East, Drink, and Be Merry.



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