February '09 seminar - The path to the Mictlan, Mexican lore

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Re: February seminar - The path to the Mictlan, Mexican lore

Post by Beith » 11 Feb 2009, 17:17


Muchas gracias for answering all my questions. I posed quite a few as I found your article very interesting on many aspects covered therein.

I was particularly interested in the harvest festival that has been moved to Samhain and on the similarities (even if purely superficial) of a bean-síde *banshee* type of supernatural harbinger of disaster in the Goddess Coatlicue.

It is interesting what you say regarding the Cihuateteo -
The strengthen soldiers in battle and accompanied them when they die in the battle field to be reunited with Tonatiuh, the sun. But if they are sight on the night or one can hear they cry, it’s because someone near to the person who saw them or hear them is going to die. They also haunted crossroads at night, causing sicknesses, especially seizures and madness, and seducing men to sexual misbehavior. They are depicted with skeletal faces and with eagle claws for hands.
This also bears out in some degree of similarity to death Goddesses who have something of the form of birds. In Irish myth they are the Badhbh [Badb] prounced like "Bive" or "Bow" depending on dialect and era of language. In myth the Badb is one of the war /death spirits - along with Fea, Nemain, Macha, who take the shape of carrion crows and flutter, shrieking battle cries, over the heads of warriors in battle, inciting them to fury, war and slaughter.

But the Badb is also another name for the Banshee in parts of Ireland (I think particularly in South East Leinster but maybe also parts of the north midlands) and then it usually refers to a solitary female spirit who warns of death with her shrieking cries; and those who hear here will know that there has been a death nearby in the village or in their home.

There are also other war-death goddesses in other mythologies (non Celtic) which feature bird-like women, or women with some features of birds - wings/ claws etc, who function in much the same way - linked to battle and death.

Interesting how the similar features appear across quite disparate and different cultures.

Its' also interesting that you mention the Cihuateteo haunted the cross-roads at night. This too has links in Irish folklore as the cross-roads are often believed to be meeting places of the sidhe and places to avoid after twilight after the sun sets, because of the increased chance of encounter with a supernatural presence. Also in many "black magic" type charms, the cross-roads are implicated indirectly as in some cases, the site of gallows and a hand or finger or strip of skin from the corpse of a hanged man was used (or reported to have been used) in part of those magical charms and spells, or soil from a cross roads or from under a gallows standing at a crossroads. I think the point implicit here is the liminal setting - it being the juncture point of directions and at twilight - a liminal time, between night and day (or in the Mexican lore, at night, being the dark time of separation of the bright days, associated with spirits, ghosts, etc.)

This meeting place of directions is a strong feature in very early Irish myth and it features in Early Irish Christian prayers that possibly have an origin or part-origin in druidic philosophy in bearing a recognition of directions and a binding of their power to the self. St Patrick's Breastplate is one such example and I think the earliest written citation of the importance or power in directions (albeit through a Christian lens, invoking Christ before/behind/left/right/above/below and in different positions of sitting, standing, lying - the three 'axes' or 'stances' of the body in time and space.

Thanks again for your seminar and the interesting discussion of my points and questions above.

Best wishes,

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Re: February seminar - The path to the Mictlan, Mexican lore

Post by DaRC » 24 Feb 2009, 18:02

Hi Aelfarh,
thanks for a fascinating and intriguing read -
I've been tardy and have only just got round to completing my read of it.

It's most excellent and is an insight into a culture I've never really looked at before.
The closest I've come to Mexico is South Padre Is. and a long acquantance with Tex-Mex food and drink :grin:

My one question is - do you have any recomended further references for anyone wanting to explore the myth and culture more?

Cheers, Dave.
Most dear is fire to the sons of men,
most sweet the sight of the sun;
good is health if one can but keep it,
and to live a life without shame. (Havamal 68)
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Re: February seminar - The path to the Mictlan, Mexican lore

Post by Abhalainn » 24 Feb 2009, 22:55

Thanks Aelfarh, this seminar was fascinating reading, and I'm grateful for this insight into such a rich cultural and spiritual tradition. :tiphat: Thanks to Beith also, your questions really contributed a great deal :D
Vivemus et amemus- Ovid

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Re: February seminar - The path to the Mictlan, Mexican lore

Post by Aelfarh » 26 Feb 2009, 17:46

DaRC wrote:My one question is - do you have any recomended further references for anyone wanting to explore the myth and culture more?

Cheers, Dave.
I know some books, but they all are in spanish... do you like the titles anyway?
Bennacht Dé ocus ainDé fort!
(The blessings of the gods and the non-gods upon you!)


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