feared by the Indians. We have ascertained by the confessions of many who have been reconciled that the Devil at times appears to them in the shape of a ball or globe of fire in the air, with a tail like a comet.[41]

"According to the most ancient traditions of these Indians this idol, poxlon, was one of the most important and venerated they had in the old times, and the Tzentals revered it so much that they preserved it innumerable years painted on a tablet in the above figure. Even after they were converted to the faith, they hung it behind a beam in the church of the town of Oxchuc, accompanied by an image of their god Hicalahau, having a ferocious black face with the members of a man,[42] along with five owls and vultures. By divine interposition, we discovered these on our second visit there in 1687, and had no little difficulty in getting them down, while reciting the creed, and the Indians constantly spitting as they executed our orders. These objects were publicly burned in the plaza.

"In other parts they reverence the bones of the earlier Nagualists, preserving them in caves, where they adorn them with flowers and burn copal before them. We have discovered some of these and burned them, hoping to root out and put a stop to such evil ceremonies of the infernal sect of the Nagualists.

"At present, all are not so subject to the promptings of the Devil as formerly, but there are still some so closely allied to him that they transform themselves into tigers, lions, bulls, flashes of light and globes of fire. We can say from the declaration and solemn confession of some penitents that it is proved that the Devil had carnal relations with them, both as incubus and succubus, approaching them in the form of their Nagual; and there was one woman who remained in the forest a week with the demon in the form of her Nagual, acting toward him as does an infatuated woman toward her lover (como pudiera con su proprio amigo una muger amancebada). As a punishment for such horrible crimes our Lord has permitted that they lose their life as soon as their Nagual is killed; and that they bear on their own bodies the wound or mark of the blow which killed it; as the curas of Chamula, Copainala and other places have assured us.

"The devilish seed of this Nagualism has rooted itself in the very flesh and blood of these Indians. It perseveres in their hearts through the instructions of the masters of the sect, and there is scarcely a town in these provinces in which it has not been introduced. It is a superstitious idolatry, full of monstrous incests, sodomies and detestable bestialities."

Such are the words of the Bishop of Chiapas. We learn from his thoroughly instructed and unimpeachable testimony that at the beginning of the eighteenth century Nagualism was a widespread and active institution among the Indians of southern Mexico; that it was taught and practiced by professors who were so much feared and respected that, as he tells us in another passage, they were called "masters of the towns;"[43] that they gave systematic instruction to disciples in classes of three, all of whom were bound together by pledges of mutual information and assistance; that a fundamental principle of the organization and an indispensable step in the initiation into its mysteries was the abjuration of the Christian religion, and an undying hatred to its teachers and all others of the race of the white oppressors; and that when they made use of Christian phrases or ceremonies it was either in derision or out of hypocrisy, the better to conceal their real sentiments.

There are a number of other witnesses from the seventeenth century that may be summoned to strengthen this testimony, if it needs it.

[41] Father Lara, in his Vocabulario Tzendal MS. (in my possession), gives for medical (medico), ghpoxli; for medicine (medicinal cosa), pox, xpoxtacoghbil; for physician (medico), ghpoxta vinic (the form vanegh, person, is also correct). The Tzendal pox (pronounced pōshi) is another form of the Quiche-Cakchiquel puz, a word which Father Ximenes, in his Vocabulario Cakchquel MS. (in my possession), gives in the compound puz-naual, with the meaning, enchanter, wizard. Both these, I take it, are derived from the Maya puz, which means to blow the dust, etc., off of something (soplar el polvo de la ropa 6 otra cosa. Dicc. de la Lengua Maya del Convento de Motul, MS. The dictionary edited by Pio Perez does not give this meaning). The act of blowing was the essential feature in the treatment of these medicine men. It symbolized the transfer and exercise of spiritual power. When Votan built his underground shrine he did it à soplos, by blowing (Nuñez de la Vega, Constitut. Diocesan, p. 10). The natives did not regard the comet's tail as behind it but in front of it, blown from its mouth. The Nahuatl word in the text tzihuizin, is the Pipil form of xihuitzin, the reverential of xihuitl, which means a leaf, a season, a year, or a comet. Apparently it refers to the Nahuatl divinity Xiuhtécutli, described by Sahagun, Historia de Nueva España, Lib. i. cap. 13, as god of fire, etc.

[42] Hicalahau, for ical ahau, Black King, one of the Tzental divinities, who will be referred to on a later page.

[43] "Maestros de los pueblos," Constitut. Diocesan, i, p. 106.

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