AZTEC DRUGS and Herbs

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Psychotropics , herbs and plants used in Prehispanic Rituales

The Indian tribes of Mexico had a Cornucopia of plants to choose from in their natural medicine chest. It was said that after the Conquest (1519 – 1521) that within a 3 or 4 year period the Apothecary shops of Europe tripled in size because of the newly discovered plants that were discovered.

For the most part because of the huge amount of herbs I will stick to the better known  ones that people are familiar with.

In Mexico City at the Museum of anthropology you can see a statue of Xochipilli, the goddess of flowers, dancing and love games. Around the base of the statue you can see different types of plants and flowers.  There are psylicibin mushrooms, tobacco, cacao flowers and white and blue morning glories.

Xochipilli goddess of flowers   sinicuichi   wildtobaccoinarizona

Also pictured is a plant called sinicuichi (sun opener) which causes auditory hallucinations. I would surmise that the priests would eat these to hear what the gods had to say to them

Another well known plant is Toloache or the devils herb as the Spanish called it. It was used to induce visions for hunters to help them catch prey, supposedly.  It’s from the Datura family and the Indians believed it would give them supernatural powers.  I have heard of women on the Gulf Coast (Yucatan) putting it in men’s coffee because they thought it would cause them to fall in love  with them. A very dangerous and potent drug if it’s given in too high a dosage.

the Devil's Herb  Toloache Datura plant

The Huichol Indians  in the USA and parts of Northern Mexico have a ritualistic pilgrimage every year to gather Peyote, an extremely hallucinogenic cactus that causes visions similar to LSD causing them to go into a trance of altered state.

Huichol Indians   peyote painting

Morning glory seeds were also given to natives being counseled by high priests are Shamans. Thirteen seeds would be ground and added to a drink then the patient would be taken to bed and the priests would listen to his “dream” to decide what needed to be done.

morning glories

And of course magic mushrooms , Psylicibins, which are common around the Oaxacan area were used in Aztec times and even now Shamans there perform a ritualist Velada or Wake.

magic mushrooms  images (1) Maria_Sabina tim leary

waltcri-cri/ francisco soler dylan

dancing hippos burning aztec books

An article appeared in Life magazine  in 1957 about the mushroom rituals and many famous people went to try them. It’s chemical composition is very similar to LSD. Amongst home were people like, John Lennon, Yoko Ono, Mick Jagger, Timothy O’LearyKeith Richards, Bob Dylan, Alice Cooper, Writer Aldous Huxley and surprisingly… Walt Disney visited well known  Shamaness Maria Sabinas on six different occasions . It was said he would go to Oaxaca and stay a couple of months each year at a hotel near the village.  Much of this is hearsay and hard to confirm but it makes us wonder about Fantasia and Alice in Wonderland Now. Disney did an animated cartoon for Mexican songwriter Francisco Javier Soler. Francisco was known Internationally as Cri-Cri and he wrote childrens songs. Disney said he was a Genius who understood the minds of children.
Many plants were used for their curative powers but the knowledge of many of them were lost when the Spaniards deemed the Codex Books of the Aztecs were demon possessed and ordered thousands of them to be burned.

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THE FIRING SQUAD

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The Firing Squad

I was browsing through some old photos and I ran across a photo of my wife’s Uncle Moses When he was a much younger man and played catcher on a baseball team in Puebla in the early 40’s.

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Uncle Moses was the best man at my wedding and a great guy. So I found this photo of him on the team but there was something else about the photo that caught my eye. I told my son, look at this guy standing in the back row wearing a hat, there’s something wrong with his face.

ball team about 1940      10634360_10204461065107707_2124302285_n

 

He looked at it and said, You’re right, it looks deformed like he has no chin. He said, I’ve seen this guy or a photo of him somewhere before. So he thought about it for awhile and said, You know where I think I saw him was at Ripley’s  Believe it or Not Museum in New York.
 So we started searching through Ripley’s internet pages and sure enough we found some photos of the same Guy. It turned out to be a very interesting story.

The man who returned from his own execution

 

General Carranza

General Carranza

Back during the Mexican Revolution (1915) a young man by the name of  Wenceslao Moguel , whio lived in Yucatan, Mexico joined up with Revolutionaries fighting on the side of Venustiano Carranza gathered up a group of students to fight the opposing enemy, poorly armed and inexperienced they were captured and a Col. Ortiz ordered their execution by firing squad. Wenceslao was in the last group to face a squad of 8 soldiers and after a cigarette they fired 8 rounds into his body, he fell and the Col. Went over with a revolver and shot him in the head with a Coup de Grace shot.

Mexican Firing Squad

Mexican Firing Squad


 Another battle was taking place so the bodies were left where they were. But Wenceslao wasn’t dead, although severly wounded he managed to crawl to the church of St. James Apostle three blocks away where a church member  found him, took him home a helped to stop his  bleeding cared for him till he recuperated. After the Revolution ended he became known as the miracle of the executed man who returned from the dead.  He traveled around the country and even to the USA where he was invited on the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Radio Program in 1937.

Wenceslao Moguel Survivor of Firing Squad on Ripleys Radio Program

          Wenceslao Moguel
Survivor of Firing Squad on Ripleys Radio Program

Wenceslao Moguel and Robert Ripley

Wenceslao Moguel and Robert Ripley

 

  He returned to his beloved Yucatan home where he lived to be 85 years old and he passed away about 1975. 

Then I got to wondering, why was he at this baseball game. I think it was because he was paying a visit to Uncle Moses Father, )my wifes grandfather=, Major Rosalio Romero who had been in command of the military headqurters of General Carranzas troops stationed in Tlaxcala. 

 

Worlds Largest Mural…. The Polyforum

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self portrait

self portrait

David Alfarp Siquieros…

Back in the 60’s Industrialist Manuel Suarez  started looking for a site to build a major business and cultural center which became the World Trade Center of mexico City Within the Complex but separated from it was a building completely covered by a mural  painted by World reknowned Muralist David Alfaro Siquieros . Manuel Suarez himself had studied in the Art Academy of San Carlos, the oldest art school in Mexico. He was the same age as Siquieros and both had been veterans in the Mexican Revolution. The Geometric form of the building is a diamond shape supported by four coloumns.  It was a dream come true for Siquieros, the total integration of architecture, painting and sculpture. The mural is made with acrylic  paint  , each of its panels has different symbolic meanings depicting the expressions of man and nature. In it Siquieros portrays these themes:

  • The Leader – the World marches on
  • The Environment – the leafless tree and the tree reborn
  • The acrobats
  • The masses
  • Decalogue
  • Christ
  • Indigenous People
  • Dance
  • Mythology
  • The Mingling of Races
  • Music
  • The Atom

Polyforum mural        Polyforum mural      Polyforum mural            Polyforum mural

The Mural is in a round room and you sit in a chair and the walls rotate around you.  An Amazing Mural that is a must see when in Mexico City.

More Photos…..

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10203840085300205.1073741857.1162394476&type=1&l=9463b17562

PREHISPANIC DEITIES

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PREHISPANIC DEITIES
One of my favorite archeological pieces, which dates back about 800 years, was found near the Cacaxtla Archeological Zone, When you see the name you´ll know why it´s my favorite.
Known as Coxcox , (Maybe it was an ancestor?) , the god who gave humans speech, sometimes called teocipactli the lizard lord who along with his wife Xochiquetzal (feathered flower) were the originators of humanity.

Coxcox
This statue is located in the Regional Museum of Tlaxcala.
In this same museum we find other pieces such as Ehecatl, the god of wind, with an elongated mouth that looks like he is blowing out candles.

san Jose=cathedral=museo regional 037

 

There is also a Chaac mool, several chaac mools have been uncovered in Mexico , some of Mayan Origen and others of Mexica or Aztec Indian tribes. Mayan Chaac mools can be distinguished by the fact they are looking over their right shoulder where as Mexica Chaac mools are looking over their left shoulder. This one was found in the town of Nativitas, Tlaxcala. The first one was discovered by accident at the Chichen Itza Archeological zone.
archeologist Augustus  Plongeon       san Jose=cathedral=museo regional 042

As it was covered with a red dust the natives called it the red warrior. It is considered to be a divine messenger, my friend Carlos says it was the equivalent of UPS . However the packages they delivered back then were usually human hearts.

THE PYRAMID IN THE SUBWAY

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THE PYRAMID IN THE SUBWAY

 

Back in the sixties the government, in preparation for the upcoming Olympic games of 1968 decided to start building the subway in Mexico City. While excavating in the downtown section of what is now known as Pino Suarez station they unearthed a round shaped pyramid. Actually my history professor would dispute that claim and tell me, “It’s not a pyramid it’s an altar built by the Mexica Indians around the 1400’s.”

 

Dedicated to Ehecatl the wind god.

Dedicated to Ehecatl the wind god.

It’s discovery presented a problem , the National Institute of Archeology and History ( INAH), intervened and after serious discussions metro officials signed an agreement to let the altar remain and allow INAH officials to preserve and maintain it.

So passageways were built around it, local fauna planted to spruce it up , river rocks and illumination were implemented. Now over 40 years later close to 200,000 people a day pass by this magnificent prehispanic monument on their way to work or daily routines. A touch of history to remind them of the past.

Mexico City Subway

Mexico City Subway

 

The METRO as the subway system is called has many locations that feature art, culture and history to see more check this link by Peter Davies…….

http://mexicocitymetro.wordpress.com/

MOCTEZUMAS NIGHTMARE

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Moctezumas Nightmare

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 Moctezuma, The emperor of the Aztec Empire, )called Montezuma in English, but whose name was really Motecuhzoma, to difficult to pronounce by either English or Spanish had a foreboding feeling about the future  and his superstition was one of the many factors that caused the fall of the Aztecs.

 

 The Aztecs believed the God Quetzalcoatl )The plumed Serpent= was a white skinned god with a red beard and that he had went to the east and disappeared but had left a message that he would return in the year One Cane of the Aztec Calendar.

 

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About ten years before this date many things happened in Tenochitlan that were considered to be ill omens. All of these  were recorded in the ¨Florentine Codice¨.

There were eight events that caused great apprehension and fear throughout the empire.

First of all a shining light was seen in the sky to the east that seemed to be a comet with drops of fire falling from it, It could be seen at nightfall till dawn for several months.

 The second omen was when the temple of the god of war burst into flames and was reduced to ashes .

The third disaster came when lightning struck the temple of Tzommolco, a part of the Main Temple. It occured on a clear day  and the witnesses to it said strangely enough there was no accompaning thunder.

The fourth presage was fire that fell from the sky with a rattling sound. Shortly thereafter a fifth event occured when the water of the lake started boiling and it overflowed the banks damaging many houses.

The sixth omen came on several nights when the emperor could hear a womans voice coming from the lake as he stood on his terrace, crying out mournfully… saying: “ My children, my children, where have they been taken?”     Moctezuma sent out search parties but they found nothing. After the conquest this story was told many times and I believe it is the basis for the myth of the crying woman. A tale that is still prevalent and used to scare disobedient children with the threat that the crying woman will come for them if they misbehave.

The Weeping Woman

 

The seventh and strangest omen came when a group of fishermen caught a crane in their nets that had a shiny mirrorlike stone embedded in its head. It was presented to the King and when he looked at it he said he saw stars, the constellation of Taurus, groups of agitated men and men riding on deers. (note: there were no horses or draft animals in preColombian Mexico) . He looked away and called his astrologers but when he looked again the images had vanished

The eight omen it was said that deformed persons had been found wandering the streets a person with two heads was seen.

 

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Moctezuma asked his astrologers and prophets what all these things meant and they said it signified the end of the empire and the return of Quetzalcoatl. All of these things cast a shadow of depression and gloom upon the land.

 The year one cane (1519 A.D.) was fast approaching and the Emperor was sure that the plumed serpent would return.  The stage was set for disaster.

So we ask, Did Moctezuma see a vision and forecast of the Spanish coming??

 

THE RISE OF TENOCHITLAN

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The Rise of Tenochitlan

the plumed serpent

    the plumed serpent   

God of War

God of War

Tlaloc the rain god

Present day Mexico City sits atop the ruins of the Aztec Empire. The Spanish systematically destroyed many things such as the templesand buildings and used the stones to build their own Colonial Empire. The Aztecs had thousands of pictographic manuscripts recordind their history , customs, astronomy, medicine and other things all of which were burned by the Spanish priests because they looked demonic. Only 13 codices remain. Now archeologists and anthropologist struggle to piece this puzzle together as to what went on in the Aztec world.

About 1325 nomadic Aztecs left a place called Aztlan or the place of seven caves and arrived in the area of what we now know as Mexico City. At that time it was a huge lake with a small island in the center . The high priests saw an eagle with a snake in its mouth alight upon a cactus and decided this was a sign from the gods that they should settle there.
Within a hundred years they had built a society that dominated the Central Highlands all yhe way to Guatemala, the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific.
It was a society of Priest warriors who demanded tributes )taxes= from surrounding sedentary tribes.
An exception to this rule was the tiny Republic of Tlaxcala, a confederation of regions ruled by four kings who would meet to discuss important decisions.
They informed the Aztecs that they had never paid tributes to anyone before and they had no intention of ever doing so. This arrogance couldn´t be tolerated by the Aztec rulers and there was a continuous state of war, raids and skirmishes between them.
Although they were outnumbered by about 20 to 1 , the Tlaxcalans were fierce fighters and managed to hang on to their sovereignty.
Tenochitlan had a population of around 200,000 inhabitants. In spite of their warlike nature they developed culture, art, music, architecture and had a well organized society. They made great buildings and sculptures without the aid of metal tools, the wheel or draft animals.
But there was a sickness eating at the soul of this civilization, the sickness of human sacrifice and an oppressive government that subjigated its subjects many of whom were just waiting for a way to get out from under its heel.
The main deities that the Aztecs worshipped were Quetzalcoatl (The Plumed Serpent), Tlaloc (The Rain God), and Huitzilapochtli (God of War), and others, all of which had a great thirst that could only be quenched with blood About 10,000 people a year were sacrificed to these gods, and on special occasions even more.

And this was the situation just prior to the arrival of the Spanish.