'He who kills with one leap.'

by Harry Miller November 06, 2016

The jaguar's dusky power

If our domestic cats are crepuscular, as we've previously discovered, then there's a very good chance that their somewhat larger cousins also live a life in half-light.  So far we have covered Daniel's rabbit and bear, but now we must complete the twilight trio: it's time to talk about the mighty and mystical Jaguar! 

Peer into the DM Twilight Collection

First of all we need to dispel the myth of another big cat, the black panther. Technically they don't actually exist as a species, they are but black colour variants of leopards and jaguars which both belong to the panthera family - yes, slightly pedantic I know.  So in Asia and Africa they'll be leopards, and in Central and South America they will always be jaguars.  Needless to say, you will usually still be able to see the blotches or spots of these animals in a certain light.

The name jaguar comes from the Native American word 'yaguar', which translates as 'he who kills with one leap'. Being one of the most feared and respected beast of the Americas, nowhere was the jaguar more revered than in the Mesoamerican Maya culture.  The skin of the feline was frequently worn by society's most powerful individuals to portray their strength and status. If during battle one was to come across a jaguar-donned warrior, you would know that they carried the spirit of the beast and you should probably run!

Because the jaguar would hunt both during day or night, in the trees or in the water, and were known to sleep in caves - places associated with dead ancestors - the jaguar was seen to live a life of two worlds. With jaguars travelling between the light and the dark, shamans would regularly channel the beast's essence to gain the necessary strength and protection as they themselves transcended to the 'other side'.  It was said that a shaman should dominate the spirits as the jaguar would dominate its prey.

The Mayas considered the day time to represent the living world and man's consciousness, with the sun soaring across the sky like an eagle.  During the night the hidden sun was known as Jaguar Sun, with the stars akin to the jaguar's spotted coat.  It was the world of the ancestors, the spirit world, and man's transformation.  This big cat was considered a God, and known as the formidable 'lord of the underworld'.      

To end on an ominous note, one Maya story says that one day a solar eclipse will mark the end of life on Earth, and that the jaguar will climb up from the underworld, to eat the moon, the sun, and possibly even the universe….  "tut, greedy kitty!"

Shop the DM Twilight Jaguar greeting cards or peer into the whole DM Twilight Collection

Harry Miller
Harry Miller


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