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martes, 31 de enero de 2012

Myths and legends of Mexican tribes from the desert: The mesquites cross

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A LEGEND ABOUT THE NATURAL CROSS IN MESQUITE TREES
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(Edited version of a legend heard in Mier y Noriega, NL)
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The elders of past centuries knew that the tradition of the cross of mesquite was not a thing of Christianity but that it came from further back, long before the Spanish arrived in the highlands and to impose their religion, which was unknown and alien to desert dwellers, the Huachichiles. Even though the conquerors thought everything the natives did was related to the devil, the only thing that they accepted about the huachichiles was the worshiping of the mesquite tree that had its arms outstretched as if they formed a cross, which for the missionaries was somehow similar to the Christian religion. But truth be told, for the natives the so-called cross in the mesquite tree was a powerful spirit of nature expressed in a human-like tree, its body erect and open arms, and they used to ask such spirit to bring rain when drought was prolonged.
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As the syncretism of beliefs took place, time went by and the Huachichil essence of this belief got lost and the cult of mesquite-shaped cross took a Catholic turn. In the present, any mesquite tree with such features is regarded as sacred and people organize a feast on May 3, Day of the Holy Cross. However, when there is drought, people bring offerings to those special trees because they know the spirit within will bring the miracle of rain.
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People in Mier y Noriega, N.L. say that on one occasion, a farmer who was unaware of this tradition was walking in the bush looking for firewood and found a cross-shaped mesquite; he decided to cut it. He came home with a pile of wood and also with the cross to set up an altar. When neighbors found out, he was asked to do something to apologize, but he said he did not believe in those things. On the third day, a very strong tornado swept through the town, killing everyone in the family of the farmer. The farmer, aware that the locals would retaliate against him, fled from the community and nobody ever knew about his whereabouts. Meanwhile, people took the Cross, organized a pilgrimage back to its original site and buried it. Rain continued for several more days, until the fury of the powerful spirit calmed. But the story doesn’t end here: some people say that right on the spot where they had buried the cross eventually grew a robust mesquite in a cross-shaped form, which still exists and people worship it.
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This is an excerpt from the story that was published in my book Myths and Legends of Huachichiles, edited by the Ministry of Culture of the State of Oaxaca in 2008.
The book, in Spanish, is available in bookshops in San Luis Potosi.

You can find more Mexican legends on this link:

jueves, 26 de enero de 2012

Mitos y leyendas huicholes: El nacimiento del Sol

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EL NACIMIENTO DEL SOL
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 Leyenda huichol recopilada por Carl Lumholtz
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“Dicen los huicholes que en los principios del tiempo, no había en el mundo más luz que la de la Luna, lo que traía muchos inconvenientes a los hombres. Reuniéronse entonces los principales de ellos para ver la manera de dotar al mundo de mejor luz, y le rogaron a la Luna que les enviase a su único hijo, muchacho cojo y tuerto. Comenzó ella por oponerse, pero consintió al fin. Diéronle al muchacho un vestido de ceremonia, con sandalias, plumas y bolsas para tabaco; lo armaron de arco y flechas, y le pintaron la cara, arrojándolo luego a un horno donde quedó consumido. Pero el muchacho resucitó, corrió por debajo de la tierra, y cinco días después apareció el Sol.
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Cuando éste irradió su luz sobre la tierra, todos los animales nocturnos (los jaguares y leones monteses, los lobos, los coyotes, las zorras y las serpientes) se irritaron muchísimo y dispararon flechas contra el astro del día. Su calor era grande y sus deslumbrantes rayos cegaban a los animales nocturnos, obligándolos a retirarse con los ojos cerrados a las cavernas, a los charcos y a los árboles; pero si no hubiera sido por la ardilla y el pitorreal no hubiere podido el Sol completar su primer viaje por el cielo. Éstos fueron los dos únicos animales que lo defendieron; hubieran preferido morir antes que dejar que se diera muerte al Sol, y le pusieron tesgüino en el ocaso para que pudiera pasar. Los jaguares y los lobos los mataron, pero los huicholes ofrecen sacrificios hasta el presente a aquellos héroes y dan a la ardilla el nombre de Padre” (Carl Lumholtz,
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Esta leyenda fue publicada por Carl Lumholtz (1904 [1902], 2: 106-107) y tomada del FaceBook de Real de Catorce Mágico

martes, 17 de enero de 2012

Mexican Folk Stories: The Rabbit and the Coyote

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THE RABBIT AND THE COYOTE
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Mexican folktale from Galeana, N. L.
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There was once an old woman who had a small farm with lettuce, radishes and beets, and there was a bunny that came every night to find something to eat. Tired of it, the old lady put traps, but the bold rabbit was never caught. One day the old lady thought:
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"Next time I will put as bait a glued scarecrow, to see if that scares the rabbit does not come anymore."
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The days passed and the rabbit kept coming to feast at the farm. When he saw the scarecrow, he began to mock it, but as this did not answer, the rabbit said, "Look, monkey, I will beat you up until you plead no more. And so he did, the rabbit started beating it up until he was stuck. That day the old lady was not around, so she did not realize that the rabbit had been caught. However, a hungry coyote was passing by and got him. But the bunny, very clever, said:
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“Please do not eat me, coyote. Look, you see that herd over there? Tell me which goat you like and I’ll bring to you immediately.
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Since this coyote was a bit silly, he believed the bunny. So it happened that when he helped the rabbit free, he ran away as fast as he could and only his ears moving were seen. The coyote waited for the goat, but only waited.
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A couple days later the coyote happened to find the rabbit again and said:
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“I got you again, bunny. The other day you cheated me and now I'm going to eat you”.
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"No, Coyotito, let me explain”, said the rabbit. “I caught the goat as I said I would, but when I went looking for you I did not find you, so I decided to make this chicharrones, from that goat. So here you see me preparing. Hm ... they’re just about ready. Would you like some?
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“All right, the coyote said, let’s eat”.
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With his hand the coyote began to stir the pot where there were supposed to be the chicharrones, but were not such –it was a buzzing hive of bees, producing a noise as if something were frying. In the meantime, the rabbit ran away again as fast as he could, while the foolish coyote realized that he’d been tricked again.
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The following night, the rabbit was eating a radish in the farm of the old lady when the coyote stalked from behind and caught him.
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“Look, tricky rabbit, I’m really starving and there is no choice but to eat you. After all you’ve mocked me twice”.
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When he was about to take a bite, the rabbit said:
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“No, Coyote, don’t be silly. Do you really think you’ll have enough with a little bunny like me? Look, do you see that bag over there? Well, that's a sheep that I caught for you, and if you eat it you'll have plenty for two or three days. What do you think?”
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The coyote got excited and ran to take the bag with the sheep inside, but when he took the first blow he just made a howl of pain. It was a cactus and had thorns! The rabbit had fooled him again.
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Time passed and again the coyote found his enemy, this time on the shore of a lake.
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“Look, wretched rabbit, now I'm going to eat, he said. You’ve tricked me three times and I will not leave without eating you this time”.
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“But Coyotito my friend, before you eat me you should know that I’ve been looking for you because I found a really big cheese, but it fell into the lake and I can’t reach it with my little hand for it’s very short”, explained the rabbit. I was thinking about a solution to get the cheese out of the lake and I think that between the two of us can do it. What do you think, either you hold me until we can retrieve the cheese from the water or I hold you”.
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They were discussing who clutched the hand of whom until he finally agreed. They agreed that the rabbit was going to hold the coyote because the coyote had longer arms and could reach the cheese easily. But what the coyote did not know is that the cheese was actually the full moon reflected in the water. Neither did he suspect the rabbit’s plans. When the coyote was already in the water, the rabbit let go and the poor coyote drowned.
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In many Mexican indigenous stories as well as ethnic groups in the North American desert, there is a series of stories where the protagonists are a rabbit and a coyote, and the winner can be either. Usually, that kind of story has a moral implication, which is a conventional feature on this literary genre.
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In the version we just read, narrated by Milton de la Pena, a student of Geology at Linares, who tells us that it is still popular in the mountainous region of Iturbide, the symbols are the same: a coyote, an animal trickster that usually gets what he wants, whose nature is in folklore dual, because apart from cheating is also a cultural hero, as it provides knowledge of the arts and he did not allowed fire to extinguish, thus protecting the human race. And a rabbit, also in the folklore of some people is a trickster and liar animal, but is equally benefactor, as he brought fire from across the sea for the benefit of mankind, thus demonstrating its dual nature, similar that of his opponent.
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This story was originally published in the book Myths, Tales And Legends of Nuevo Leon, by Editorial Font, 2005. Monterrey, Mexico.
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The book, by Homero Adame, was edited by Deborah Chenillo Alazraki and designed by Beatriz Gaitan. The drawing was made by Jennifer Hennen.
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You can read more Mexican folk stories and legends on this link:
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This book, in Spanish, is for sale at the Cosmos bookshop in Monterrey, NL.

sábado, 14 de enero de 2012

Mitos y leyendas de San Luis Potosí: Isidrón

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ISIDRÓN
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Leyenda de Villa Hidalgo, SLP
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Debió de haber sucedido en fecha posterior a 1615, fecha en que ocurrió el descubrimiento del mineral de San Pedro de Guadalcázar y más probablemente alrededor del año 1756, año en el que en ese lugar se estableció la Real Caja por el Marqués de Las Amarillas (1), cuando transitaban por territorio del actual municipio de Villa Hidalgo arrieros y diligencias con cargamentos de diversos productos que mercaban entre los colonos que habitaban los escasos asentamientos humanos de la región, volviendo a la ciudad con los productos de estas tierras un tanto inhóspitas pero a la vez muy ricas. 
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De especial valor eran los minerales que en forma semi concentrada o en algunos casos ya como producto metálico en barra o en moneda, eran también transportados hacia la ciudad de San Luis Potosí, por lo que no podía faltar el vival que encontrara más atractivo el asecho a los cargamentos que transitaban por los polvorientos caminos que la búsqueda de las vetas y su posterior extracción a pico y pala desde las entrañas de las prominentes sierras de Charcas, Catorce, Salinas, San Pedro y Guadalcázar. Desde esta última era paso obligado hacia la capital el valle actualmente conocido como de Villa Hidalgo o de Peotillos. Al aproximarse a los picachos y lomeríos en donde hoy día se encuentra Villa Hidalgo, la adrenalina de los que por allí transitaban fluía por todo el cuerpo, el corazón se aceleraba y el sudor de la frente era helado, los arrieros trataban de descubrir todo ruido, todo movimiento, todo objeto extraño que les pudiese avisar, no sé ni con qué fin, de algo que sería inevitable, una vez que se apersonara frente a ellos Isidrón y su gavilla de bandoleros.
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Isidro Portocarrero, conocido como Isidrón por su corpulencia, con más de dos metros de estatura y poderosos músculos, era uno de esos rebeldes con espíritu de líderes y sin una causa, o quizá había hecho de él todas las causas que en este mundo incitan a la rebelión a quienes poseen ímpetus de guerreros y sentido de justicia y libertad, a quienes buscando la justicia misma son señalados como villanos por los supuestos ciudadanos honorables y no encuentran como seguidores más que a prófugos, a las “lacras” de la sociedad, a los que no reciben otra oportunidad de reivindicación. Isidrón confirmó así una vez más esta tesis, pasando de ser uno de esos ilusos nobles, al temido salteador de caminos, seguido por una horda de bandoleros que se apoderaban de todas las riquezas que podían cuando interceptaban cualquier cargamento. Su trayectoria fue tal vez efímera por esta vida, sus gritos y los de su gavilla se escucharon tal vez sólo por algunos años entre los montes de esta región, no así el eco de sus hazañas legendarias, que aún se sigue escuchando y más aún si tales hazañas han despertado la curiosidad y difícilmente no, también la codicia de los que ahora se preguntan, ¿qué pasó con las riquezas acumuladas durante ese tiempo?, Si a los bandoleros poco se les podía ver por las ciudades y no eran capaces de gastar esas riquezas y no hay noticias de que hayan sido recuperadas, ¿en dónde quedaron?
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Cuentan que en tiempos más recientes, paseantes que caminan por las laderas del llamado Cerro Grande, el mayor de los picachos que rodean a la cabecera municipal de Villa Hidalgo, han descubierto entre los nopales de tapona que se extienden alcanzando poca altura, no mayor de un metro, una cueva cuya entrada está sellada por una pesada losa con una argolla, sin embargo, cuando deciden ir a buscar ayuda para remover la losa, regresan y encuentran la nopalera descrita, mas no así la mencionada losa. Otros han logrado correr un poco la losa y han logrado ver las riquezas que yacen bajo de la misma, en el interior de la cueva, sin embargo, es tal su miedo que deciden llamar a otros más para abrir por completo la cueva y penetrar en ella sin dar más con la misma a su retorno. ¿De qué encantamiento se trata?, ¿será el valor que flaquea siempre en los momentos decisivos, cuando las cosas están a nuestro alcance y no las tomamos por miedo?, ¿será la codicia la que nos hace ver sólo por momentos cosas que no existen? Miedo y codicia, dos debilidades del ser humano que frecuentemente nos mal aconsejan.
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*Montejano y Aguiñaga, R., 1994. La Minería en San Luis Potosí. Archivo Histórico del Estado de San Luis Potosí, 61 p.
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Esta leyenda fue publicada en el libro Picachos, Villa Hidalgo, S.L.P. Monografía y recuerdos, de José Rafael Barboza Gudiño. Universidad Autónoma de San Luis Potosí. SLP. 2011.
Se ha publicado en este blog con autorización del autor.

lunes, 2 de enero de 2012

Leyendas cristianas: El milagroso San Judas Tadeo

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UNA LEYENDA DE SAN JUDAS TADEO
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Leyenda escuchada en Yécora, Sonora
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Lo que yo le puedo decir es que la fe mueve montañas y yo soy creyente y tengo fe a los milagros divinos –afirma el Sr. Arturo Valenzuela–. Dios es el que arregla todos los problemas, pero como tiene muchas ocupaciones entonces hay santos que se hacen cargo de los problemas y Dios les da el poder de arreglarlos. Hay santos para cualquier problema, que si de salud, que si de falta de dinero, que si del mal de amores y uno tiene que encomendarse con mucha fe y el problema que traiga se le arregla porque es un milagro de Dios. Leyenda recopilada por Homero Adame.
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Yo me encomiendo mucho a San Juditas, que es el santo que tiene a su cargo los casos muy difíciles y desesperados, o sea que cuando alguien ya ni esperanza tiene para salir de un problema si se encomienda a San Juditas con mucha fe, él le cumple el milagro. Tengo en mi casa una imagen de San Juditas y siempre le prendemos su veladora. Una vez que fui a Ciudad Obregón allá visitamos la capilla dedicada a San Juditas –no sé si sea parroquia o nomás iglesia, pero fuimos a conocerla y le dejamos sus flores y sus veladoras.
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San Juditas sí obra milagros; nomás es cuestión de pedirle con mucha fe como le digo. Pero aquí viene el asunto: es mejor pedirle para otro que para uno. O sea, si uno le pide que lo saque de un apuro, por ejemplo de que no tiene chamba, a lo mejor le cumple, pero si uno le pide que ayude a otra persona, haga de cuenta que un familiar, que un amigo en apuros, entonces de seguro sí le cumple.
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Hay gente que le ofrece regalos por los favores concedidos, así como mandas, pero también hay otros que reciben el favor y luego ya se les olvida de darle algo a San Juditas. Lo que yo siempre hago es prometerle nueve días con veladoras y siempre me cumple y yo le cumplo y así quedamos los dos contentos.
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La fiesta a San Judas Tadeo se celebra el 28 de octubre, mismo día que San Simón. En casi todas las iglesias de México existen imágenes de San Judas Tadeo, pues se trata de uno de los santos más populares porque, se cree, ayuda a los desesperados a conseguir trabajo, a recuperarse de alguna enfermedad o por cualquier otra causa difícil. Información agregada por Homero Adame.
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domingo, 1 de enero de 2012

Mexican myths and legends from Oaxaca: A pirate treasure in Puerto Escondido


THE ORIGIN OF THE NAME OF THE PORT AND A GREAT TREASURE
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Legend of Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca
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How shall I say it... here it seems that there are two versions of the name of the port, both versions are matters of history. Here's the first: it happens that many years ago, when the Spanish already had a lot of trade with their ships along the coast from Manzanillo and Acapulco to Peru, the pirates who attacked the Spanish galleons had to flee and hide somewhere when the Spanish Armada chased them. It was common that the pirated always had a bit of advantage, so they used to get and hide here because it was a very hidden. And so it was the name of the area then and is the name of the port still today. The funny thing is that in the old days people said it was a ghost pirate ship, but the truth is that the pirates always came here to hide. Legend translated by Homero Adame.
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And here it goes the other version, which as you will see is related to the pirates as well. According to this version, once an English pirate ship managed to catch a Spanish galleon coming of China and they got a great treasure. The Spanish navy gave chase and caught the pirates somewhere near the isthmus, but the ship no longer carried the treasure the pirates had stolen from the galleon. They took the pirate captain and his people and tortured them till death so they’d say where they had hidden the treasure. One of them, when was just about to die, said: “It’s in the hidden harbor; it’s in the hidden harbor” (“Está en el Puerto Escondido”). That pirate died and the Spanish did not know which hidden port of harbor he had been talking about.
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And that’s the story. And we also know that no one has ever found the treasure – and people have tried, oh yes they have searched enough everywhere. We think that if the story is true, the pirates must have either buried or hidden the treasure in a cave, but which cave, where? Legend found in Homero Adame's blog.
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The legend, narrated by Francisco Ortega, a boatman who lives in Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, was included in my book Myths and legends from all over Mexico, published by Editorial Trillas, in 2010.
The book --in Spanish-- is available in all branches of Editorial Trillas in the country.
It can also be purchased through the Online Store.
For easier access, this is the direct link to the book: Myths And Legends From All Over Mexico.

You can read more Mexican folk stories and legends on this link: Myths, legends and traditions of Mexico