Call of the Panther

A Novel of the Ancient Maya

by Joan C Wrenn


Book Details

A Novel of the Ancient Maya

An aspiring anthropologist journeys to Mexico and becomes entangled in a tale of the Ancient Maya, amidst the Late Classic political upheaval, where foreigners infiltrate cities and social changes break up economies and families. In the midst of this turmoil, a young woman struggles to make her way, haunted by visions and a mysterious summons from a Panther Spirit. Raised to value the old traditions, unable to accede to her husband's heartless demands to participate in bloody rituals, she flees with her infant son into the unknown, discovering lost kindred and caring helpers, and learning to walk in the Otherworld in search of the key to her family's destiny. When she faces the ultimate challenge, will the Panther Spirit's power enable her to overcome it?


Book Excerpt

Excerpts from the book

The thrumming of drums in my ears was my first clue that anything out of the ordinary was happening. I was standing on the second floor of the Government House in Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico, leaning on the balustrade, mesmerized by the brown, white and yellow mural filling the landing wall before me, while my guide Manuel explained the importance of maize in Maya culture.
An immense pair of hands was offering me several huge ears of corn.
“This is the corn goddess,” Manuel was saying. “Life springs from her, bringing maize to the people. Without her, there is no life.”
The image was powerful, almost overwhelming, the tanned hands emerging from a blindingly yellow sun. That was when the drumming started, lightly at first, a quick rhythm reminiscent of reggae. At first I thought it came from somewhere in the building or the plaza outside, a festival or something. It continued louder and louder, drowning out Manuel’s voice as he continued to explain the images in the mural. Holding tightly onto the stone railing, I felt the intense awe of being in a cathedral filled with organ music.

The ride became monotonous, straight road broken only occasionally by villages, as there was thicker underbrush and less population here south of the Puuc. The sun was bright and warm, and the occupants of the van conversed quietly. I leaned my head against the van window and drowsed.

* * *
As I awoke, I was no longer sitting in the van, but lying on my side on a thin mat on the ground, and someone was gently shaking me.
“Ch'eel Yash, aabil, ko’oten!” The voice was rough and guttural, gentle but insistent. Dazed, I slowly opened my eyes to see an elderly Maya woman in a rough brown garment bending over me, her brown eyes full of concern. But I was not startled, for I seemed to know her and care for her as she cared for me.
But before I was fully awake, a small nearly naked dirty Maya boy began yelling at me in the same guttural language, dancing between the woman and me and trying to pull at my dress.
As I looked down past his hands, I flinched to see, not a mature woman’s body, but that of a pre-adolescent girl, about eleven or twelve years old, in a rough dress and no shoes. The skin on my legs was lighter than that of the woman or the boy, but still browner than my own, and as dirty as the boy’s. I reached up to touch long, straight, stiff hair where I was accustomed to shorter softer curls.
Where am I? I thought, but I didn’t have time then to figure it out, for the woman was pulling me to my feet, and pushing me to roll up my mat. Then, fastening the mat to a pack on my back, she urged me and the boy onto a narrow path through the high brush.


About the Author

Joan C Wrenn

Joan C Wrenn has an MA in Cultural Anthropology, with an emphasis on the Anthropology of Religion. She has studied the ancient Maya through extensive reading and in numerous glyph workshops and tours of Maya sites in Central America. A grandmother of six, she lives in Northern California with her husband and nine cats.

Also by Joan C Wrenn

Samuel, Servant of Yahweh
Young Lords of Siyah Chan
Unsung Lord of Siyah Chan