ANC051: Thirteen Jars: How Xt'actani Learned to Speak by Ashley Miranda
if i do not carefully open my jars / i will overspill / and lose myself
Across regions and time, the Mayan moon goddess saw many permutations; all versions of her myth featured suffering to a high degree. Common among most was her selection of the sun as a partner leading to swift destruction. The murdered deity’s remains were collected in a series of jars, a dozen of which contained blood, disease, or vermin. Their contents left a poisonous trail around the world, but the final vessel opened to reveal a moon reborn. Still, her celestial obligations were not free of hurt. To provide man time for sleeping, the sun extracted one of her eyes to dim her brilliance. Eclipses were the result of an ongoing quarrel between the two giants due to the moon’s deceptive nature. Certain groups saw her as erratic, promiscuous, incomprehensible, and so on.
In Thirteen Jars: How Xt’actani Learned to Speak, Ashley Miranda places the tormented idol against a backdrop of modern womanhood to explore themes of consent, trauma, gender, and sex. Repurposing oceanic imagery and reproductive themes among other devices, Miranda crafts a new rendition of Xt’actani’s ordeal and calls attention to the unseen wounds concealed in so many jars today. Her allegory exposes a contemporary culture scarcely more progressive than the ancient Maya in its attitudes toward women, a world in which “hysteria is a symptom of incurable need to be more / than just a sex device.”