The Codex of Little Hope (catalogued CODEX PAULLUM SPES, AB 679, Borgesian Library, Steiner College in Austin, TX.) is a 16th century Mesoamerican pictorial manuscript. The Codex is one of two known, possibly degraded, variations of the Codex Laud. The Codex of Little Hope is a pictorial manuscript consisting of 22 leaves (44 pages) from pre-Columbian Central Mexico.
While in Mexico conducting anthropological research among the Huasteca tribes in 1964, Charles Jones was informed by Jose Garcia Payon of the discovery of a looter’s chamber in the Pyramid of the Niches at the archaelogical site of El Tajin, near Papantla. Jones assisted Garcia Payon in excavating the chamber for several months, uncovering the Codex in addition to many archeological treasures once considered lost from the Y Manifest of Cabeza de Vaca. Jones was also responsible for saving Garcia Payon’s life after a chamber collapse. Subsequently, Garcia Payon and the Mexican government presented Jones with the Codex as a reward for his efforts.
After years of research and comparison with other similar codices, Jones concluded that the Codex of Little Hope was exceptional in its subject matter. The Codex Laud, of which it is a variation of, is concerned with religious rituals regarding the eclipse of the sun and the cycles of the seasons. According to Jones, the Codex of Little Hope is concerned with the death or “absence” of the gods. He believed the Codex indicated an explicit set of rituals to recover the bones and skull of the dead god(s) in order to “purify the language of the tribe” and establish a transcendental ground for hope, i.e. the deification of human being.
Jones’ interpretation is, to phrase it lightly, considered idiosyncratic by most scholars of Ancient Mesoamerican religion. Some scholars have even gone so far as to label it “insane and dangerous” and perhaps “inspired by an overindulgence in hallucinogenic drugs.”
Jones, in an effort to substantiate his thesis, isolated and reconstructed 20 crucial “hieroglyphic instances” as instructive plates. We are proud to have the privilege of displaying these plates here.
The Codex of Little Hope is preserved in the Borgesian Library at the Steiner College of Osteological Ontology in Austin, Texas.
God Darkening the World
(Unfinished Hieroglyphic Plate)
Note: Jones did not complete this image. In lieu of his words, we do not believe he would object to those that follow.
“The darkening of the world, the flight of the gods, the destruction of the earth, the transformation of man into a mass, the hatred and suspicion of everything free and creative, have assumed such proportions throughout the earth that such childish categories as pessimism and optimism have long since become absurd. Only God can save us now.”
Being Devoured by God:
The Ecstasy of Surrender
The reverse communion wherein the transubstantiation occurs within the soul seeking god in order to be devoured by god. Depiction from Miccailhuitontli, the Feast of the Dead, wherein the one who seeks god is treated as a god for 90 days. At the end of which the godlike person is devoured by those that have been worshipping him. Allegories of the soul surrendering to God with such intensity that the desire for oneness is symbolized as being eaten alive by the god. Skulls surround. The vulture to the left removes the flesh from the bones. The deer to the right represents the flight of the spirit.
The King and Queen of the Dead
Holding the Soul Over the Abyss
The Lord of the Underworld, Mictlantecuhtli, and his wife, Mictecacihuatl, who dwell in a windowless house full of spiders. Their skeletal jaws are open to recieve the stars that descend into them at the end of night, at the end of time. Death is always hungry for more flesh, more dream, often devouring itself. The naked soul is held above the Abyss. Nearby are the red snake-like flames of desire. This is the path to the god, marked by footprints, burning the flesh away until the white smoke of the bones, purified intention, rises evenly from the ashes of the named and faced soul.
The Unfolding of Time
Within the Belly of the Goddess
The Royal Hawk, a Nagual bird of Ometeotl, Lord of Duality, descends, unfolding the eternal into the temporal, represented by the pregnant goddess, Chalchiutlicue, goddess of waters, preparing to give birth to the world. She sits upon the sacred raft, against the phallic lingam, floating upon the milky waters of creation. Framing her are the every present flames of desire, attachment, licking out towards her like tongues. Duality surrounds her and informs her, the separation of the One into the aspects of the Many: light and dark, male and female, life and death, Being and Nothingness. There is the one and there is the other and there is both of them together.
The Dance of the Bones in the Hole
The twin gods, Quetzalcoatl and Xolotl, set out to steal the bones of the dead gods, which were guarded by Mictlantecuhtli, Lord of the Underworld. As they were leaving the underworld with the god’s bones, Mictlantecuhtli appeared and forced them to drop all of the carefully preserved bones and skulls which shattered and scattered. Retrieving what they could, the twin gods made it back to this world and, with those fragments, created all the varieties of human being. It is said that after we die, our bones begin to dance and return to the forms of the dead gods.
The Ritual Return to the Womb/Tomb
The ritual decapitation by burial within the womb/tomb, the endpoints of the line of human being, the spiderweb floating over the jaws of the Abyss, the Great No Thing. The loss of the singular skull of the self in the Dark Night, re-enacts the birth of the sun god, Huitzilopochtli, whose wisdom within the Tomb, brought forth the Light of the World. The central hieroglyph is framed by the fetal soul curled within the jaws of the Abyss. At each corner, lurks the shadow beast of doubt. After rebirth, there is no doubt, no double mind. William Blake: “If the sun were to doubt, it would go out.”
Free From the Bonds of the Flesh,
The Soul Ritually Decapitates Itself
The senses bind down the soul like demons, giving substance to the illusion of this world. It is only when the soul is able to separate the head from the body of senses that the Way to the Gods is revealed. The hieroglyph depicts what seems impossible, but which is necessary before the Godskull can be worn. Before we can become as gods, we must be able to remove our own heads. This subtle balance is like standing upon the three-pointed arrow of being. Fertility images multiply: the red phallus, the glyphs for semen, seed and sprouting plant forms.
Metanoia / Transformation:
Wearing the Godskull, Holding The Head
After ritual self-decapitation, the human head is replaced with the Godskull. This is the Divine Vision, no longer dependent upon human eyes, now blindfolded. The single edged axe blade is transformed into the double edged blade of discernment. Wearing the Godskull, the being is on fire, burning away all memories, dreams and desires. It is represented in the explosive blades of blood alternating with the singular all seeing eye.
The Frame is the Mirror:
Looking Into the Face of Evil
The hieroglyph of Tlazolteotl, she who eats filth, causes death by lust, also the goddess of purification, of steam and cleansing. The frame is a mirror. Becoming gods, with godlike vision, the world becomes our dream, our mirror. Everything, even evil, filth and sin, are extensions of our dreaming world creating minds. By confronting the mirror, the Face of Evil, we see deeper into the god within, attaining purification in the process. Aspects of purification, death and holiness surround the frame.
The Fugitive God
(Unfinished Hieroglyphic Plate)
Note: Jones did not complete this image. In lieu of his words, we do not believe he would object to those that follow.
“To be a poet in a destitute time means: to attend, singing, to the trace of the fugitive gods. This is why the poet in the time of the world’s night utters the holy.” - Martin Heidegger
Opening to the Sacred Plant:
God Speaks to the Soul
The soul stands upon the three-pointed arrow of being, breathing in the powder of the sacred plant, the morning glory of Ololiuqui mixed with the “God-Mushroom” Teonanácatl. The god Huitzilopochtli manifests its being in full, resting upon the divine throne, one foot extended onto the sacrificial fire. Through the revelatory powers of the entheogens, the god extends his tongue of sacred blood into the skull of the soul. Mythology indicates the birth of language out of such intercourse. Dialectical knots, animate skulls and the god crown surround the hieroglyph.
Who Can Wear the Godskull?
Who Can Withstand the Weight of Being?
Legend has it that the gods have departed this world, like fugitives traveling through the darkening night. Those that remained behind in this world are dead, their bones trembling into dust in the desert under the light of distant stars. The soul seeking what remains of god will find his path leads to an enormous skull, like a broken, empty cathedral. The challenge is to have the strength and discipline to annihilate the self and to place the Godskull upon one’s own being. A riddle: what sort of being is it that will be able to wear a cathedral, an entire pyramid upon his head? Fibonacci sequences and the lamp of illumination offer clues.
Only True Sacrifice
Can Purify the Dialect of the Tribe
The red ring of blood, the river pulsing within our being. Our tears fall down like rain. Our sweat sweetens the earth. Our blood gives it life. The sacrifice of another being to god, for god, because of god is older than Abraham and Isaac. The grammar of angelic speech is violent and brutal. Only an ongoing sacrifice can sustain the transcendental ground of futurity, of hope, of Being. We are macehualli, “those who do not deserve life except that it be redeemed through penance.” This is a Mystery. The Flower of Ecstasy, the rain god, Tlaloc and the snake points towards an Edenic trace haunting every culture.
The Soul Begins the Dream Journey
At the crossroads, the intersection of the sacred and the profane, the soul lays down to dream the Goddream. The god Ometecuhtli is dreaming the universe but has forgotten that he is dreaming. The soul must find the god and begin to dismember him, setting the parts of the god’s body on the
sacred fires. Only by doing this can the soul awaken the dreaming god from the nightmare of time and begin the world again.
Too Late for the Gods,
Too Early for Being
Arranging the vestments of the diety upon one’s flesh, the godmachine engages the holy, the numinous, the Mysterium Tremendum. The soul is removed from time into the eternal and is given the vision of the Too Bright Light, the Smile on the Void. Everything returns to the One, awakening to be reborn. The I Am becomes the Am I? Here is soul is expelled from the eternal back into time, tumbling out of the vestments of god as a newborn child back into the world. Framed by the fires tending the warming lamps of illumination and verb/spring plants.
The Mysteries of Language
Two sacred altars, one resting upon a Teocalli, God-House, the other hovering in the air. The two worlds of language: what can be said and what can not. Rising from the Teocalli altar is the glyph for sacred language, Teoxochi. From that arises the glyph for Teocuicatl, The Silence Out of Which Arises Being. Analogies to O. The combination of the two creates the sound-word Xochicuicatl, flower-song or poetry. Such songs exist only in performance in which the god is revealed, is “un-forgotten,” conditions of aletheia. Between the two worlds is the glyph for ecstasy. To the right are date markings for the beginning and ending of the world.
Who Sings Death in the Night?
Chalchiuhtecolotl, the Owl-God, with burning eyes, harbinger of Mictlantecuhtli, God of Death. It is said that when you hear the song of Chalchiuhtecolotl, death is not far behind. A broken haiku of questioning who’s. With the wisdom of the death of god, comes the death of self. Who is dreaming who? The owl will often catch blind snakes and take them back to their nest to protect their young from vermin. Six eggs extend out of the nest to the left. Where dead things are, all creatures gather. Isaiah 34:15 Framed by the vulture, the deer, the coyote and death.
The Languge of River Speaks
to the Initiated Soul
The Soul beside the River is singing. The Wind God, Ehecatl, harnesses vital energies, containing inspiration, divine breath. The hands hold the stolen bones of the Dreaming God, Tezcatlipoca. The sacred altar rests between them. Between water and air, the river and the wind, the soul recovers the language. By listening to the babbles and whispers of the Fugitive Gods, the soul learns to speak again with the True Language. Vesica Piscis, representing the forgotten words of God, fill the river. Along the edges, the wind sings with the wolves howling sacred words of beautiful death. Three marks the crucial thesis, anti-thesis, synthesis of the mandorla.
From the Venom of the Dream Serpent
Spins the Lie of the Mind
The frightened soul approaches the spread jaws of the Dream Serpent, seeking an elixir to ease the sickness of the flesh. The venom is collected in the vessel of the moon, hoping to appease the god, Tecciztecatl. This is the path of the false sun, of illusion, of the world drained of color. Glyphs for ecstasy corner the scene. Above and below is the vessel the moon, supplanting the sun. The dragon, feathered serpent, Quetzalcoatl, is torn in half. This is the way of madness, the way of the modern world, full of such fear and trembling, bowing down before the Great Lie of Dreadful Mind.
The Scorpion Woman
Malinalxochitl, goddess of the scorpions, snakes and things that crawl through the Desert. Temptress of the Fugitive Gods as they made their way out of the World. She sits upon an overturned altar, dark demi-urges at her feet, clothed in her disguise as a bird. The soul approaches what seems a heavenly creature only to be stung with enrapturing desire. Malinalxochitl then opens the soul and feeds upon the bones. The soul is left a sack of skin which she hangs from the cactus for the Birds of Appetite to feast upon with the dawn.
Born From the Bones of Love:
The World Tree
Mayahuel, goddess of the maguey plant. After having sex with Quetzalcoatl, she was killed by an angry goddess. Quetzalcoatl planted her bones in the ground, which then became the maguey tree. The sweet milky white sap, aguamiel, believed to be her blood, is fermented to make the sacred drink pulque, which sits in her right hand. Her other hand holds the sacred bones of the Dreaming God. She sits triumphant upon the Snake of Desire and the Tortoise of Ignorance. To her right is the glyph of path and language, meaning that through her, pulque, one may speak the truth. Below is an axe used to harvest the sap. She is surrounded by glyphs for vulture and fish.
Charles “Bonesy” Jones (August 6, 1945 to November 15, 2005) was an American graphic artist, writer and poet. Reputedly born in Little Hope, Texas, much of his early life is shrouded in mystery and misinformation. In 1962, Jones was graduated summa cum laude from the Steiner College of Ontological Osteology where he studied Legerdaemonic Epistemology and Allegorical Cetology. He then briefly attended the University of Oxford, but left after a dispute with one of the Dons over the Nature of the Hesychast Controversy. He traveled to Mexico in 1964 and lived with the Nahuas of La Huasteca, near the small agraian village of Aquismon. He conducted ethnobotanical research on entheogenic plants native to the region, traveling often to El Tajin, where he helped to uncover the Codex of Little Hope. From 1965 until 1972 he lived in an international art colony north of Abiquiu, New Mexico, working as a surrealist painter and poet, receiving some money from his family. There, he carried out anthropological research with the Penetintes and was involved in several controversial crucifixions. In 1973, he traveled to Mt. Athos in Greece where he studied the teachings of Theophan the Recluse under the guidance of Archimandrite George, Abbot of Holy Monastery of St. Gregorious. He returned to the United States in 1983, settling in Austin, Texas, operating a small bookstore near the University for many years. Just after the first of the year of 2005, Jones was struck by a car while riding his bicycle home one night. He suffered extensive head injuries. Shortly after, he began to experience selective retrograde amnesia and a progressive anomic aphasia (grammatic, but empty, speech). In October of that year, realizing he did not have long to live, he asked me to assist him in the journey back to his “spiritual home.” He died beside the fire under the full moon of November 15th in the hills above the Chama River in New Mexico, not far from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert. His last words were: “In the end, these bones...” - as fitting an epitaph, at least to my mind, as any Japanese Death poem. I knew Jones for almost 20 years. No one has had a greater influence upon my life. As much as he prepared me over the years for “the day the bones step out of the skin,” it still shocks and saddens me in every hour to realize that he is no more. The absence of his burning presence will haunt me for the rest of my days.
Due to ongoing litigation between myself [Scot Casey] and the estate of Charles “Bonesy” Jones [Nora Boney, executrix], EST Case #19620319 TX, Boney v. Casey, I am hereby required to state that I am not in any way, shape or form representing any work from the Non-Digital Archives from the Estate of Charles “Bonesy” Jones. It was the expressed will of Mr. Jones that the Digital Archive is under my custodianship and that I have full right to display and/or present any work from this archive in any manner that I see fit. Scot Casey