Chalchiutlicue’s Wrath

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About 500 years ago, Cortez landed in Mexico. He told the people who were already living there that they had to become subjects of the King of Spain. But, they told him, they were already subjects of Montezuma, the Emperor who was in Tenochtitlan. Cortez told them that Montezuma had to become a subject of the King of Spain, too, and he took Montezuma prisoner. As if that weren’t enough, he told the People that they had to give up their Old Gods and accept his God. Cortez’s God, he told them, was far more powerful than their Gods, and if they didn’t accept his God and abandon their own Gods and abandon their practice of having idols and human sacrifices and ceremonies and dances to their Gods, they would be killed. Also, Cortez told them, they had to deliver to Cortez all of their gold and silver. So it was that the Spanish foothold came to what is now Mexico in 1517.

Cortez was deadly serious about obtaining compliance with these demands. To make sure they were carried out he brought to this hemisphere some frightening, never before seen things. He brought the first firearms. And explosives. And the first steel swords. And the first, huge battle horses. And horrible, gigantic war dogs. In the first skirmishes with the people who lived here, he showed that he and his God had entirely different rules in war. The number of deaths would be enormous. No captives would be taken. The dead would be left on the battlefield.

Those who lived here used in combat obsidian swords, which were designed to injure but not to kill. The goal of their war was to capture enemy combatants. Later, these might be sacrificed or eaten. But the idea wasn’t to kill them all on the battlefield. These obsidian swords were no match for Spanish steel. Steel swords shattered them. And foot soldiers were no match for cavalry. Or guns. Or explosives. A few, foul smelling Spanish soldiers were a match for large numbers of warriors.

To this mismatch Cortez added terror. Killing many unarmed non-combatants, including women and children was a tactic to assure compliance with Cortez’s wishes. Apparently, this horror was acceptable to Cortez’s God. To no one’s surprise, it was quite effective in securing compliance with Cortez’s demands.

Chief among what was not acceptable to Cortez’s God were the Original Gods. There were many Gods. Cortez insisted that these Gods all had to be abandoned. No exceptions. These Gods’ requirements, Cortez believed, were simply unacceptable. There could be no idols. There could be no offerings or sacrifices to these Gods. There could be no more singing and dancing. People who insisted on ceremonies for these Gods of any kind, offerings, sacrifices, prayers, songs, festivals, those people had to be converted. And if they resisted conversion, they’d be killed. Period. If their Gods were so powerful, Cortez taunted them, why aren’t they protecting you now? Why are they letting us destroy their temples and their images? Why are they letting us hold Montezuma captive and kill you? Why are they letting us live in this Temple and cover their altar with a picture of the Madonna?

Cortez evidently didn’t understand the Gods. There were obvious reasons why people followed them and made offerings to them. This was not superstition, regardless of how Cortez may have characterized it. The Gods were cared for because they were supporting the people’s lives. They had done so for centuries. It was a gigantic presumption on Cortez’s part to insist that the Gods were no good, or that they were powerless. Who was he to command them to do anything? Wasn’t his arrival evidence of their displeasure?

Chalchiuhtlicue, Goddess of water, she with the “skirt of gems,” companion to the mighty rain God Tlaloc, watched and saw that the people gradually abandoned her. Not all of them left her at once. There was no formal renunciation of her. Over time, over a long time, virtually everyone who had offered to her songs, dances, prayers, sacrifices, offerings, virtually everyone who had remembered her, died or forgot her. There was no more dancing and no more incense. How long had it been since there had been sacred copal smoke? And drumming? And a fiesta? And worse, they didn’t tell their children about her. If they were frightened or terrorized into abandoning her, it did not matter to her. That was no excuse. Wasn’t she an Old God? Had she not served them for millennia? After all, she recalled, there were reasons why for so many millennia the people had praised her, made offerings to her, and remembered her. There were reasons why they built temples to her. It was because she was their God and she cared for them. How dare they think they did not need her?

Chalchiuhtlicue was the Goddess of the waters, of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. She and Tlaloc together brought the rains. They watered the crops. If they didn’t bring rain, the People would starve. The mais would not germinate. They also protected the life of the seas and the lakes around Teotihuacan. They were responsible for fish. And frogs. Shellfish and crabs. Yes, sometimes they brought fierce storms, hurricanes, mud slides, terrible winds, but even these they moderated. They cared for the People. They made the wheel of life turn. They made the cycle of the weather. They brought sacred water. And in response to the offerings and prayers, Chalchiuhtlicue did what she could to be of help them. When she saw that she was almost completely forgotten, she became angry. And vengeful. And she decided she would no longer moderate the Sea and protect the people. Because they had forgotten her. And abandoned her. They had lived by her Grace, but they betrayed her. She seized her obsidian knife, and she stabbed herself in her stomach.

Perhaps you can understand that just as a dog’s year is 7 human years, a God’s year is about 500 human years. Chalchiutlicue waited for us to come back her. She waited a full God year. She waited long enough. And now she knows we are not coming back. As we have abandoned her, so she has now abandoned us.

Chalchiuhtlicue has now fully withdrawn her help. She has given up on us. And she has sacrificed herself.

You can see this in the Gulf. You can see her blood and guts emptying into the Gulf. You can see that she has cut herself deeply with her obsidian knife and is bleeding to death.

Who were we to leave her? Who were we to believe that she was powerless? Who were we to believe the calumnies Cortez brought? Didn’t we understand the Gods? Didn’t we realize that there were good reasons why we made offerings and ceremonies to them for so very long?


simulposted at The Dream Antilles and The Stars Hollow Gazette and dailyKos


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  1. Thanks for reading.

  2. historical, few blinks of an eye. Speaking in terms of the human period, it is less than a blink of an eye. In terms of our anthropologlical ancestors, we don’t quite exist yet.

    We fuss, we scream, we rant, we rage, we threaten, and after a few laughs and drinks, we kill each other. We have nice, white, porcelain toilets, hot showers and all sorts of gadgets that light up, just so we can rob the graves of our ancestors and lay down concrete so they can’t get back in.

    The stories of Native Americans (and I mean the entire Western Hemisphere) with their colorful imagery, connections with the living earth, and celebratory dances and songs have been no match for the anger and revenge of the Iliad and The Cross.

    Politically, we’re still fighting the battles of Don Quixote. We’re in the thick of the industrial revolution and its progeny and haven’t a clue how to rid ourselves of its destructive power. The pseudo, self proclaimed, neoaristocratic, cellophane toads don’t have a clue and don’t give a shit. Although not really different from their mentors of the past, they play Russian roulette with much bigger weapons.

    We didn’t get em in the American and French revolutions. They’re still here. Even though they say they’re not.

    As long as we lust after the King’s currency, ain’t no way out.  

    • RUKind on July 11, 2010 at 1:04 am

    We are the ones who need to prove that wrong. If we fail the coming generations will fall like dominoes before us.

    Time to lay it all on the line people. You never were going to get that Social Security money anyway.

  3. and maybe the “loving god” who smites enemies and never answers prayers but is always sides with the “victors” in war, killing untold millions, is not such a “helpful” god when it comes to our environment. We need more “helpful” gods not vengeful ones.

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