time approaches, they instruct the child to deny God and His Blessed Mother, and warn him to have no fear, and not to make the sign of the cross. He is told to embrace his Nagual tenderly, which, by some diabolical art, presents itself in an affectionate manner even though it be a ferocious beast, like a lion or a tiger. Thus, with infernal cunning they persuade him that this Nagual is an angel of God, who will look after him and protect him in his after life.

"To such diabolical masters the intelligent Indians apply, to learn from these superstitious Calendars, dictated by the Devil, their own fortunes, and the Naguals which will be assigned to their children, even before they are baptized. In most of the Calendars, the seventh sign is the figure of a man and a snake, which they call Cuchulchan. The masters have explained it as a snake with feathers which moves in the water. This sign corresponds with Mixcohuatl, which means Cloudy Serpent, or, of the clouds.[39] The people also consult them in order to work injury on their enemies, taking the lives of many through such devilish artifices, and committing unspeakable atrocities.

"Worse even than these are those who wander about as physicians or healers; who are none such, but magicians, enchanters, and sorcerers, who, while pretending to cure, kill whom they will. They apply their medicines by blowing on the patient, and by the use of infernal words; learned by heart by those who cannot read or write; and received in writing from their masters by those acquainted with letters. The Master never imparts this instruction to a single disciple, but always to three at a time, so that in the practice of the art it may be difficult to decide which one exerts the magical power. They blow on feathers, or sticks, or plants, and place them in the paths where they may be stepped on by those they wish to injure, thus causing chills, fevers, ugly pustules and other diseases; or they introduce into the body by such arts toads, frogs, snakes, centipedes, etc., causing great torments. And by these same breathings and magic words they can burn down houses, destroy the growing crops and induce sickness. No one of the three disciples is permitted to practice any of these arts without previously informing the other two, and also the Master, by whom the three have been taught.

"We have learned by the confession of certain guilty parties how the Master begins to instruct his disciple. First he tells him to abjure God, the saints and the Virgin, not to invoke their names, and to have no fear of them. He then conducts him to the wood, glen, cave or field where the pact with the Devil is concluded, which they call 'the agreement' or 'the word given' (in Tzental quiz). In some provinces the disciple is laid on an ant-hill, and the Master standing above him calls forth a snake, colored with black, white and red, which is known as 'the ant-mother' (in Tzental zmezquiz).[40] This comes accompanied by the ants and other small snakes of the same kind, which enter at the joints of the fingers, beginning with the left hand, and coming out at the joints of the right hand, and also by the ears and the nose; while the great snake enters the body with a leap and emerges at its posterior vent. Afterwards the disciple meets a dragon vomiting fire, which swallows him entire and ejects him posteriorly. Then the Master declares he may be admitted, and asks him to select the herbs with which he will conjure; the disciple names them, the Master gathers them and delivers them to him, and then teaches him the sacred words.

"These words and ceremonies are substantially the same in all the provinces. The healer enters the house of the invalid, asks about the sickness, lays his hand on the suffering part, and then leaves, promising to return on the day following. At the next visit he brings with him some herbs which he chews or mashes with a little water and applies to the part. Then he repeats the Pater Noster, the Awe, the Credo and the Salve, and blows upon the seat of disease, afterwards pronouncing the magical words taught him by his master. He continues blowing in this manner, inhaling and exhaling, repeating under his breath these magical expressions, which are powerful to kill or to cure as he chooses, through the compact he has made with the Devil. Finally, so as to deceive the bystanders, he ends with saying in a loud voice: 'God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Amen.'

"This physician or healer is called in the towns of some of the provinces poxta vanegs, and the medicine gspoxil; and everything relating to healing among the Indians to which they apply these terms means also to practice sorcery; and all words derived from pox allude to the Nagual; for this in some provinces is called poxlon, and in others patzlan, and in many tzihuizin, which is something very much

[39] Rather with the Quetzalcoatl of the Nahuas, and the Gucumatz of the Quiches, both of which names mean "Feathered Serpent." Mixcohuatl, the Cloud Serpent, in Mexican mythology, referred to the Thunder-storm.

[40] In his Tzental Vocabulary, Father Lam does not give this exact form; but in the neighboring dialect of the Cakchiquel Father Ximenes has quikeho, to agree together, to enter into an arrangement; the prefix me is the Tzental word for "mother."

Page 13

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