by the Aztecs and held in high esteem by them.

But the dog must be of a particular color; white would not answer, else he would say, when brought to the brink, "As for me, I am already washed." Black would fail as much, for the animal would say, "I am too black myself to help another wash." The only color was red, and for this reason great numbers of reddish curs were fostered by the Aztecs, and one was sacrificed at each funeral. Clinging to it, the soul crossed the river and reached the further brink in safety, being purged and cleansed in the transit of all that would make it unfit for the world beyond.

These worlds were threefold. One was called "The nine Abodes of the Dead," where the ordinary mass of mankind were said to go and forever abide. The second was paradise, Tlalocan, the dwelling-place of the Tlalocs, the gods of fertility and rain. It was full of roses and fruits. No pain was there and no sorrow. Scorching heat and cold were alike unknown.

Green fields, rippling brooks, balmy airs and perpetual joy filled the immortal days of the happy souls in Tlalocan. Those who were destined for its elysian years were divinely designated by the diseases or accidents of which they died. These were of singular variety. All struck by lightning or wounded, the leprous, the gouty, the dropsical, and what at first sight seems curious, all those who died of the forms of venereal diseases, were believed to pass directly to this Paradise.

The third and highest reward was reserved for the brave who died on the field of battle or, as captives, perished by the malice of public enemies, and for women who died in childbirth. These went to the sun in the sky and dwelt up in the bright heavens. After four years they returned to earth, and under the form of bright plumaged singing birds rejoiced the hearts of men, and were again spectators of human life.

In this Aztec doctrine the ruler of the underworld is spoken of Mictlantecutli, which the obtuse missionaries persistently render as the Devil.

The name means simply "Lord of the Abode of the Slain," or of the dead. In several myths he is brought into close relation with the Aztec national hero god, Quetzalcoatl.

Like Osiris, Quetzalcoatl was said to be absent, to have gone away to the home of the sun, that home where the sun rests at night. More specifically, this was said to be under the earth, and it was spoken of as a place of delights, like Tlalocan. Its name was Cincalco, which means the House of Abundance, for no want, no dearth, no hunger and no suffering were known there. With him dwelt the souls of his disciples and the Toltecs, his people, and at some day or other he and they would return to claim the land and to restore it to its pristine state of perfection.

The thoughts in these faiths which I have described are the same. In each of them the supposed history of the destiny of the soul follows that of the sun, and the stars. In all of them the spirits are supposed to descend into or under the surface of the earth, and then, after a certain lapse of time, some fortunate ones are released to rise like the orbs of light into the heavens above.

Striking analogies exist among them all. The river which in each flows through the under-world, is nothing else than the great world-stream which in the primitive geography of' every nation is believed to surround the habitable land, and beyond which the sun sinks at night. To reach the abode of the sun in the west this river must be crossed.

The numbers 4 and 8 which occur in the Egyptian and Aztec geography of the under-world, are relics of the sacredness attached to the cardinal points.

The ruler of the realm of shadows is not a malevolent being. Osiris, Hades or Pluto, Mictlantecutli, Quetzalcoatl, all originally represented the sun in its absence, and none of them in any way corresponded to the mediaeval or modern notion of the Devil. As Osiris, who is unquestionably the departed Sun God, was represented with heavy and braided hair, so his Aztec correlative was also named Tzontemoc, which means, He of the abundant falling hair. In each case the analogy was to the long slanting rays of the setting sun.

The role of the dog in these myths is a curious one. He appears as a guardian and preserver.

Page 6

Please email us if you are interested
in a PDF of any of the posted books.