Origins of AoxomoxoA

"...a sort of perfection in life, a moment of purity..."
- Dean Jordan

My post entitled AoxomoxoA generated a lot of questions from friends and readers all over the blogiverse, so I went looking for better answers than I had. Here's what I found...

On June 20th, 1969, the Grateful Dead released a studio album entitled "AoxomoxoA". The liner notes say it "derives from the palindromic preoccupations of Rick Griffin, the brilliant artist who designed the cover art." Rumors abound regarding its meaning. One theory is that it is from a Pre-Columbian Central or South American language, possibly Mayan, or Aztec. Another holds that Griffin created the word for a comic he drew years earlier - it was the response of an alien surfer to a human surfer who yelled "Cowabunga!" How Griffin came upon it may never be known; he died in a 1991 motorcycle accident.

It is a superbly constructed palindrome, as it not only reads the same forward and backwards, but each letter is also reversible (i.e. an A, O, M, or X still reads the same after you flip them over). Thus, AoxomoxoA is readable from left or right, even if you are looking at it from the back.

Using the Pythagorean method of numerology (the most common method in the West), the nine letters are valued as 166646661, which, when added together is (not surprisingly) 42...

At any rate, the album has received critical acclaim as has Griffin's art, but I was curious about how this term came into kiting jargon. It turns out that Dean Jordan, one of the early pioneers of sport kiting was a fan of Griffin, and he saw the term in the aforementioned surfing comic. He adopted it as his model when he started making kites professionally. Jordan wrote on rec.kites, "we are an aoxomoxoa centered company, each kite has some aoxo built into it, and I always sign some form of aoxo somewhere on anything I do."

Now you know...

Photographic example of AoxomoxoA by Rachel (also my new desktop wallpaper)


deanjordan said...

well ain't the blogsphere wonderful! My friend Biz, has been an old time dead head for ever, and we were looking up camp names for this years burn, when we came across the camp name "AoxomoxoA" and she asked me, the usual, 'what's that mean...?' and i told her, you can't explain it, you have to know it, but usually there is some sort of explanation that does it right, on the internet.

Thanks for keeping it clear. I never heard of the Dead, when i started using the term at 13. It's all about Rick Griffin, for sure! aoxo~! dean jordan

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