Jaguar Women 1 and 2

sauer jaguar woman resized with paintsauer jaguar woman 2 resized with paint

In Mesoamerican culture, jaguars were considered spiritual warriors, protecting the health and well-being of the tribe while providing its stability and identity. Because they could see in the dark, both literally and figuratively, they were considered masters of the earthly night as well as the supernatural otherworld. Thus this sacred animal helped the shaman move between earth and spirit realms, leading them without fear down the needed paths even in the midst of chaos and darkness. Their spots were considered the portals to these otherworldly places.

This symbolism has always resonated with me and has empowered me time and again to trust and follow my instincts. One evening while at a storytelling lecture about these animals, a friend mentioned that my big hair reminded her of a wild cat – a jaguar – and thus these Jaguar Women came alive. I wanted to embody more fully the idea that the wisdom and fearlessness of the jaguar was always at the ready for me – attentive, vigilant, standing guard, and guiding.

Each jaguar in the piece has its own purpose.

Resting over my right shoulder is the matriarch, keeping me steady in my feminine wisdom.

Over my left shoulder is a prowling cat, using its night vision to discern the path into the unknown.

The jaguar leaping into my left ear brings with it the truth, while the one leaping out near my right ear demonstrates the resulting fearless action.

The larger cat near my right temple is growling, rumbling, reminding me that sometimes it is necessary to speak the truth.

The opposite animal is looking over its shoulder, vigilant and protective.

The top two jaguars work in tandem with one paw always connected to my thoughts, guarding what comes in and what goes out, making sure wisdom is the most resilient.

Addendum: In January 2014 these pieces joined a show at Wunderkammer Gallery in Fort Wayne, Indiana called, Ask Me if You Can Touch My Hair. The show was organized and juried by Green Hair Revolution, an organization that provides education and encouragement for a return to natural hair. This offered a rebirth of my Jaguar Women, reminding me to return to the natural state of existence, the ‘roots’ of my ancient, shaman self who has the wisdom and guidance of the jaguar always present. 

Each original measures roughly 32 x 32″ matted and framed, and combines Tyvek papercutting with acrylic paint. 


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Regina Leffers McCaleb, Ph.D.

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