Column: Juan Machete and the dangers of impatience

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Disponible en castellano.

I recently read a legend that made me think a lot about the times when, by rushing and not wanting to wait for things to develop in a natural, organic, and calm way, we accelerated the process and ended up with a totally different result than what we were looking for, even the recent news regarding the planet. The story of Juan Machete may be known to some, perhaps not to others, but I for sure will never forget it.

Legend has it that Juan Francisco Ortiz, called “Juan Machete” because he always had one on his belt, wanted to have power, land, fortune, and fame. Blinded by greed, and evidently without any desire to wait to achieve his goals on his own merit, he decided to make a pact with the Devil.

He told him that in exchange for the life of his wife and children, he should take a frog and a hen, to which he should sew their eyes and bury them alive on Good Friday at midnight in a secluded place. Then he should invoke him, saying Satan three times. So did the man, and business began to prosper. Soon Juan’s name became famous in Los Llanos, being synonymous with power, wealth, cattle that did not stop growing, and the envy of everyone around him.

A man holding a machete [Pixabay]

The bliss would not be eternal, however. For a while, Juan Machete saw a black bull with white legs and horns, but he paid no attention to it. It disappeared after a few days, and his business continued to grow, he became a tyrant with the peasants and workers of the region, until after a few years his cattle began to disappear without explanation.

It is said that all the animals were dying from a strange disease, his businesses fell, and a fire devoured his house. Juan Machete, terrified, hid the chests with money that he had left before disappearing into the jungle. Some say that his soul still wanders, grieving for his mistakes, and that a man vomits fire in what used to be the lands of Juan so that no one would dare to remove those chests stained with blood.

Details about how Juan treated his workers abound, from baptizing them praying the Apostles’ Creed backwards to being a cruel tyrant with whom none could reason. It is a case where power and greed take control of a soul that was previously kind and dreamy, but did not measure the consequences of its actions.

For a long time, I have been an impatient person, and I have seen the results of it. As a writer, I have a hard time waiting for answers when I post new material, so I lose interest quickly. I jump ahead of conversations, irritate those around me, and self-harmed many times by not waiting.

The sun sets over the waters in Los Llanos, Guárico, Venezuela [Christiane Pelda, Wikimedia Commons, CC 3.0]

This year has been a very quiet time in many ways, though. Things have happened that I can’t and don’t want to talk about for now. I know that the time will come, that the wait will be worth it, and that it would be unwise to do so at this time. Being such an open person and who loves to share everything that happens with family and friends, this has been a challenge for me. I have realized that things will always work out no matter how uncomfortable it is. (That said, I don’t believe in Satan, and if I did, I wouldn’t even consider giving him the slightest bit.)

Many times, the Law of Triple Return or the Law of Three is spoken of when the subject of Paganism and Witchcraft is touched upon. Although it is part of a past in which I became interested in Wicca, I still keep it in mind because it makes sense. Each one reaps what he sows. The fruit will depend on the seed, and nothing born of despair and greed will bring good results. I have seen it in my life, in my family, in my friends, and in the media.

I saw it a few days ago when I learned that we have 10 years to save the world after a United Nations report came to light. This planet is millions of years old, and humans have brutally abused it for so long that it’s time to see the results. Experts say that global warming will continue to increase, that the damage is already too much, but that there is still hope if drastic measures are taken.

Although I try to be optimistic and hopeful, it is almost impossible to do so now when you know that what is coming will not be a good episode for humanity. We only have to look outside the window to realize that nothing has changed: everyone continues to seek their interests, there is still cruelty, waste, and abuse of the Earth.

My mother always tells me that it is illogical for human beings to seek lives on other planets when they do not take care of those in this one, our home. It is just as illogical when I hear ideas of colonizing other planets or founding colonies on them. Is something missing here?

Thinking that almost the entire world could be uninhabitable in a hundred years or so is a terrifying reality, a possibility that I want to get away from as much as possible. It is easy for me to imagine a giant spitting fire incessantly to prevent humans from taking control once again, and it makes me rethink many things I had dreamed of.

I think we should all take this into account, be responsible, and know how to wait. This unbridled race to be “developed” and “up to date” is costing the planet a lot. The resources we had for this year were exhausted on July 29, so everything we have used since then and will use until the end of the year are overexploited resources. It’s easy to feel like we own the planet, we could even say that we do, but being so also entails a job that we cannot neglect.

We are at a point where we have to hit the brakes and slow down, or continue in this mindless race and witness the rain of fire.


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