Indian returns to the church at the end of the year, bestows on his holy patron a sound cursing, calls him all the bad names he can think of, and has nothing more to do with him.[28]

10. A Mexican writer, Andres Iglesias, who enjoyed more than common opportunities to study these practices as they exist in the present generation, describes them as he saw them in the village of Soteapan, a remote hamlet in the State of Vera Cruz, the population of which speak the Mixe language. This is not related to the Nahuatl tongue, but the terms of their magical rites are drawn from Nahuatl words, showing their origin. Every person at birth has assigned to him both a good and a bad genius, the former aiming at his welfare, the latter at his injury. The good genius is known by the Nahuatl term tonale, and it is represented in the first bird or animal of any kind which is seen in or near the house immediately after the birth of the infant.

The most powerful person in the village is the high priest of the native cult. One who died about 1850 was called "the Thunderbolt," and whenever he walked abroad he was preceded by a group of chosen disciples, called by the Nahuatl name tlatoques, speakers or attorneys.[29] His successor, known as "the Greater Thunder," did not maintain this state, but nevertheless claimed to be able to control the seasons and to send or to mitigate destructive storms—claims which, sad to say, brought him to the stocks, but did not interfere with the regular payment of tribute to him by the villagers. He was also a medicine man and master of ceremonies in certain "scandalous orgies! where immodesty shows herself without a veil."

11. Turning to the neighboring province of Oaxaca and its inhabitants, we are instructed on the astrological use of the calendar of the Zapotecs by Father Juan de Cordova, whose Arte of their language was published at Mexico in 1578. From what he says its principal, if not its only purpose, was astrological. Each day had its number and was called after some animal: as eagle, snake, deer, rabbit, etc. Every child, male or female, received the name of the day, and also its number, as a surname; its personal name being taken from a fixed series, which differed in the masculine and feminine gender, and which seems to have been derived from the names of the fingers.[30]

From this it appears that among the Zapotecs the personal spirit or nagual was fixed by the date of the birth, and not by some later ceremony, although the latter has been asserted by some writers; who, however, seem to have applied without certain knowledge the rites of the Nahuas and other surrounding tribes to the Zapotecs.[31]

Next in importance to the assigning of names, according to Father Cordova, was the employment of the calendar in deciding the propriety of marriages. As the recognized object of marriage was to have sons, the couple appealed to the professional augur to decide this question before the marriage was fixed. He selected as many beans as was the sum of the numbers of the two proponents names, and, counting them by twos, if one remained over, it meant a son; then counting by threes any remainder also meant sons; by fours the remainder meant either sons or daughters; and by five and six the same; and if there was no remainder by any of these five divisors the marriage would result in no sons and was prohibited.

[28] Eduard Mühlenpfordt, Mexico, Bd. i, s. 255.

[29] The word is derived from tlatoa, to speak for another, and its usual translation was "chief," as the head man spoke for, and in the name of the gens or tribe.

[30] The interesting account by Iglesias is printed in the Appendix to the Diccionario Universal de Geographia y Historia (Mexico, 1856). Other writers testify to the tenacity with which the Mixes cling to their ancient beliefs. Señor Moro says they continue to be "notorious idolaters," and their actual religion to be "an absurd jumble of their old superstitions with Christian doctrines" (in Orozco y Berm, Geografia de las Lenguas de Mexico, p. 156).

[31] For instance, J. B. Carriedo, in his Estudios Historicos del Estado Oaxaqueño (Oaxaca, 1849), p. 15, says the nahualt was a ceremony performed by the native priest, in which the infant was bled from a vein behind the ear, assigned a name, that of a certain day, and a guardian angel or tona. These words are pure Nahuatl, and Carriedo, who does not give his authority, probably had none which referred these rites to the Zapotecs.

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