Continuing on with my series of magazine inspiration for Shadowed Earth, we take a look at Current World Archaeology, Issue #62.
Issue #62 of CWA has a fairly provocative headline on the cover “Rise of the Birdman – Easter Island’s sacred cult”. That headline alone screams Shadowed Earth. Why? Because anything referencing a sacred cult is fodder for what dwells within the Shadowed Earth.
The title of the article is “Bringing back the Birdman” and takes a delve into Easter Island. For those who don’t know, Easter Island is located in the South Pacific Ocean, well east of Chile. The island is, of course, most well-known for its moai statues that dot the landscape, but what many may not realize is that there’s an entire religion attached to the history of the island and the fall of their traditional beliefs. This article refers to the time after that fall of traditional beliefs, ushering in what is essentially a new era of rituals attached to the island.
After the decline of the old traditions, the new traditions of the “birdman cult” were born. During the time of the birdman cult, much of the sculpted rock was painted, often using sacred designs and colors. The Shadowed Earth question becomes: What was the significance of the birdman and the painting of the sculptured rocks and statues? There is a statement within this article that I’d like to key off of:
“Application of colour may have been considered an important act associated with replenishing their sacred power (mana)”
There we have an answer (a Shadowed Earth answer that is). Much of the canon of Shadowed Earth centers on the pantheons and how they presented their power to the mortal realm. There were many mediums in place and clearly the Polynesian culture on Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, were channeling the divine power of their gods through painting. Thus the birdman can be seen in the same light as a shaman, but instead utilizes the power of paint and color to tap into the cosmic energy provided by their gods.
So how would this magic work? By choosing the right color and painting the right picture, the birdman is able to draw upon his gods’ divine energy, consuming it for later use to produce supernatural effects. This is much like a shaman that absorbs the energy of the spiritual realm in a fetish for later use. The only person who would know the right color and picture combination is the birdman, or rather that year’s chosen one who’s given the knowledge of how to draw upon the pantheon’s divine energy.
You can learn more about the secrets of Easter Island over at World Mysteries:
Or read about Easter Island on Wikipedia: