One of the surviving creation stories from El Salvador is the Lenca creation story. It is a story about Akú, the creator who is frustrated in his/her efforts to create the world. Nothing seems to go right while Akú is working alone. But as soon as Akú forms a council, the Kanel, or directiva, he/she begins to make progress. In fact, each Kanel is given a consort. I read this to be a directiva. So, not only does Akú create a directiva but then each directiva (Kanel) member is part of a directiva themselves.
After five days of fruitless work, Akú created the four divine beings that were collectively called, Kanel to assist in surveying the measurements of the first square of the universe called Anamerike or Ajkmerike. The task was so great that an assisting consort was created for each one of them. Together, they celebrated council and after meditating on the task at hand, in unanimity they decided to create a circle of time.
This is so Salvadoran! If you can’t get something done, call a meeting. For those of you not familiar with the rural organized communities of El Salvador, such as those of CRIPDES, let’s just say that directivas kick butt. They get things done. One person in charge of each thing happening in the community and each one representing a certain portion of the community. The directiva brings the community together and organizes the collective action, whether that is working in the fields, forcing the army to leave the community, or campaigning against domestic violence.
I really like how the Lenca creator is not able to create the world, at least not right away. Akú tries many different things until finally something – the directiva – works. The story provides some clues to the most valued attributes among the Lenca: humility, patience, experimentation, teamwork. “Akú made a mountain but this crumbled on itself.” How many creation stories include such a clear admittance of failure. The Lenca are not afraid to fail, to learn, to try again, this time with a team.
First posted, Dec. 9, 2009 on BlogBox