Column: Talking about our Mexican Origins

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I would like to apologize. On my first column for The Wild Hunt, I was so excited to introduce myself that there were a few details about our Mexican Pagan community that I regretfully left out. I was impatient to tell about our existence. I wanted to let the international Pagan community know that we are very similar to each other and that there are practitioners here with similar beliefs or people who belong to the same traditions as them. However, my big mistake was to talk about Pagans and Witches in Mexico without including our own heritage and what this means. I omitted telling about our background and about our rich history and context when it comes to magic, witchcraft, and sorcery.

I did not tell, for example, that witchcraft has been part of our history since ancient times. In the Pre-hispanic world, there were several types of witches, sorcerers or magicians. Bernardino de Sahagún, a Franciscan friar, registered at least fifteen of these in the Florentine Codex. Alfredo López Austin, a Mexican historian, listed forty types, grouped in five categories in his book Cuarenta clases de magos en el mundo náhuatl (Forty class of magicians in the Nahuatl world).

Some of these names and their meanings are: the tetlachahuiani, the one who bewitches people; the monotzale, possessor of spells; the cihuanotzqui, she who possesses seducing spells; the nahualli, who has the power to transform into another being; the eutlipan moquetzani, personalities that represented a deity and who were believed to have its talents and power.

I did not tell either that we have ancient types of divination. The most famous being throwing corn grains or beans and reading their position and direction to foretell what will happen with a sick person.

And I also didn’t mention that magic can be found anywhere in Mexico. That we can step out of an office building in Mexico City and can be on the top of pyramid two minutes later. That although we have just a few occult stores, we have a huge market dedicated to the occult and magical items and remedies, the Sonora Market, which is fifty-one years old. That Catemaco, a town located in the south of the state of Veracruz, is famous because of its brujos, and all kinds of people, including politicians, go to them to get a cleansing or other magical workings.

I am not trying to justify myself, but I believe there are a few reasons of why I left out all of this.

First, within our Mexican Pagan community we tend to talk about being a witch and we immediately relate it to modern witchcraft and to Wicca. Probably because we are making use of the knowledge we have acquired via the work that the international community has done trying to clean up associations with witchcraft. Probably also, because many of us learned from European or American teachings, and when talking about us, we like sharing these origins.

Second, because we get lost in translation and in words. Witchcraft, Wicca, brujería, and other words can mean the same thing in one context, but a totally different one in another. They can express the same concept to someone, but another person would like to separate them from each other.

Third, because we suffer from La Malinche’s curse. Malinche, also known as Malinalli or Malintizin, was Hernán Cortés’ indigenous interpreter and advisor. Malinche, a Nahua woman, is often seen as a traitor and La Malinche’s curse is referred to when we talk about how Mexicans are blindly eager to ignore our own indigenous heritage but welcome with open arms and without hesitation all that is foreign, especially when it is European or North American.

I would not like to make another big mistake by generalizing and assuming that no Mexican modern witch has explored his Mexican origins and his heritage. I would not doubt there are people who have done so, but unfortunately this is not a common topic in Wiccan and neo-Pagan gatherings or virtual forums.

There are two temples dedicated to the divine feminine in Mexico City that have opened recently but both of them are dedicated to European figures. Although I support the idea of having spaces open to the public devoted to the long-forgotten mother, I hope to see a space dedicated to a one of our own ancient figures soon, for example, a temple dedicated to Tonantzin, the Aztec mother goddess.

I do not mean we should change our Wiccan traditions’ practices in order to include more pre-hispanic symbols or concepts. But maybe, by having a closer relationship with our origins and expressing greater respect, and by honoring the ancestors of our land, we could discover wonderful spiritual treasures.

It can be a delicate endeavor investigating our origins and ancestor’s practices— especially finding the right source material. But we now have brilliant opportunities where we can explore this topic through an academic point of view, like the Congreso Nacional de Magia, Brujería y Superstición en México (National Congress of Magic, Witchcraft and Superstition in Mexico), organized by the Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia (National School of Anthropology and History), where these topics have been explored and debated for three years now.

I used to like picturing myself being the heir of a long line of European witches, or to think of Doreen Valiente as the aunt I would have loved to visit Thursday afternoons. Now I realize and I honor that I am the grandson of a great magical woman, who may not have talked me about the triple goddess, but always talked me about the mother when showing her Virgin of Guadalupe necklace. She may not have taught me how to do ritual but she gifted me with a great sensitivity, who may not have shown me a book of shadows but showed me other magical ways that she inherited from her Mayan ancestors.

Today I’m prouder of my Mexican origins and I am planning to explore them more. I hope that we, as a Mexican Pagan community, can also study our roots and talk about them more with each other. I also hope we can share with our international community what we learn or what we already know. So, I apologize again for my big mistake, and I am looking forward to compensating for it by including other kinds of practices soon and by sharing more about our own past, about our own present and, hopefully, about our own future.

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The views and opinions expressed by our diverse panel of columnists and guest writers represent the many diverging perspectives held within the global Pagan, Heathen and polytheist communities, but do not necessarily reflect the views of The Wild Hunt Inc. or its management.


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