For thousands of years native people in what is now Mexico, Central America and Southwestern United States had stories, epic accounts, and even religious beliefs regarding animals. On of such admired animals was the butterfly.
They revered nature almost to religious levels.
Who knew that people who admired fierce jaguars, stealthy snakes, and mighty eagles would have butterflies in high esteem — from all animals. And yet it is true. Once you know the ancient lore and culture of the indigenous people you can easily understand. For their reason in life wasn’t all about war — or inexistent human sacrifices. They revered nature almost to religious levels, or even more!
Such a society would respect the delicate.
The societies of Ancient Mexico were composed of poets, artists, performers, mathematicians, astronomers, dancers, and great teachers — but you won’t hear this in any Discovery Channel or National Geographic documentary (since they either lack historical knowledge or work on a biased agenda). Such a society would know and respect the delicate, the artistic, and the beautiful. We know that because their poetry and way of talking is full of empathy and care. They were no blunt warriors only — the vast diversity amongst the ancient native peoples of the Americas is not only impressive but still unknown.
Warriors carried a big butterfly symbol.
Motifs of butterflies adorned clothing capes, artisan’s clay figures, and even the glyphs written on deer hide or amatl paper by scribes. In Tula, Hidalgo (known back then as Tollan Xicocotitlan), the capital of the historical Toltecs, warriors carried a big butterfly symbol over their chests as part of their military attire. Also printing seals — a great tradition in Ancient Mexico not so much discussed — were also made with various butterfly shapes and sizes.
There are still traditions to honor the deceased.
But beyond the visible, butterflies were part of the ancient’s stories and beliefs. For instance one of the most famous one, which still survives to our times: butterflies being visiting souls. Although Day of the Dead traditions has been quite tainted and manipulated for centuries — I.E. Disney-Pixar’s Coco — there are still some original traditions who once honored or remembered the deceased. The butterfly story is one.
Now they come to bring joy to us, and for us to honor them.
It is said that if you see a butterfly pass by or visit you, it is in reality the soul of an ancient warrior visiting you. And it is probable that person died in battle to became a beautiful butterfly in the next life. We know from Tula the connection between warriors and butterflies, probably as if they knew that if they were to die in the fight a chance to become a peaceful and delicate butterfly awaited. So people respected and protected butterflies, because they may even have been a father or a sibling who perished under the spears and arrows at the chaos of the battlefield. Now they come to bring joy to us, and for us to honor them.
Photo I shot last year of the carved pumpkin I did.
Whether Mexicans accept it or not, Pumpkins are originally from Oaxaca, Mexico. And I fear Mexicans will be more prone to reject the historical fact than Americans (or the rest of the world for that matter) because there’s a strong anti-Halloween sentiment in Mexico.
And to think Mexicans feel offended by Donald Trump’s vision for HIS country, and still they also feel hatred (and even bigotry, I shall add) against all things Halloween. Allegedly they dislike Halloween because it’s an “all-American Holiday”, but if you ask me that title should go to the Fourth of July or Memorial Day. Anyhow, in the process Mexicans have developed hatred against pumpkins! They hate more these innocent pumpkins (they’re food after all) than Donald Trump! Media, ads, and even government propaganda attach these orange yankee “demons”.
Let’s have a raw reality check.
Pumpkins are Mexican. I wonder if the RNC are asking for visas to these friendly orange fellas. They were originally domesticated 10,000 years ago by the indigenous people that inhabited the region, most likely the ancestors of today’s Mixtecs, Zapotecs, Mixes (and others). Just like it was done with beans, squash, corn and chilli in Tamaulipas and Puebla, pumpkins began to take its current shape in Oaxaca.
The reason pumpkins ended up in Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, is because it is what white settlers found (or immigrants, I’m confused to what Ann Coulter would say — not). To those days pumpkins had already extended over North America. “So those savages had trading routes before the arrival of Europeans?” Yup, pretty neat for a hoard of savaged, won’t you think. (Coff, coff, sarcasm, sorry if you’re like Sheldon Cooper and can’t read between lines. Coff, coff!).
To sum up.
Mexicans are bigots with their own stuff. Most of the time Mexicans are fighting for things they don’t have facts or data. That’s why there’s a saying here in Mexico that you gotta have the “hair of the donkey in you hand”. Don’t ask me, that’s the way the proverb goes, but I assure you it sounds way cooler in Spanish. It means that you gotta have your info before speaking, whether we’re talking gossip or a scientific breakthrough.
If you want to read or more know about true (and exciting) Mexican history, download my ebook Till Stars Shut Their Eyes. It has romance, action, and poetry!
One of my students learning how to write Ancient Maya glyphs.
First I taught them how to transliterate their name phonetically into Maya glyphs. This in order to grasp the concept of constructing Maya cartouches.
A Maya cartouche is composed by one or several glyphs.
Once they knew how to write their name in Mayan, we began building sentences in order to comprehend structure. One easy task was to begin writing using the TZOLKIN-HAAB’ DATE + NAME + “WAS BORN” sentence that was used a lot by the ancient indigenous Mayas. This formula was written like that in glyphs while read: In the year X of the month Y so and so was born.
Many are struggling to decipher what causes Climate Change in this world of ours. Scientists and politicians alike have their ideological thoughts about what is creating Climate Change. One thing that is at the core of the debate is how fast is happening in such a short time. What I’ve found is that there is evidence of it happening since many centuries even millenia ago in Ancient Mexico.
There are two major periods in Mexican history in which Climate Change appeared in Mexico way before fossil fuels. I focus on the years 600’s and 1200’s, but we can even bridge both periods into one huge period. Then there’s also a third period immediately after the Europeans began populating Central Mexico. I want to refer to the pre-hispanic periods because it may be more dramatic to see how Climate Change could have existed in a low-tech era.
The Fall of Teotihuacan.
It was the most powerful and influential city of the time perhaps in the entire Americas, although the era is more commonly associated with the Classical Maya nations. Climate Change studies focus on the disappearance of these nations, especially Tikal, Calakmul, and later Yucatan nations, but not on Teotihuacan. It would be as if people in the future would focus on a major catastrophe of our days in Paris or Tokyo and not New York City, for instance. Teotihuacan was the New York of that time — multicultural, multiethnic, multilingual, with numerous embassies from various part of the known world, highly urban, sophisticated, and of course influential to the rest of the major capitals of the time in fashion and politics. So why not look at Teotihuacan.
Mysteriously Teotihuacan fell around the year 600 and after that Maya and Zapotec cities fell as well in an eerie domino effect. Climate Change scientists focus on the latter effects of this domino effect, and not on the beginning. Whatever destroyed Teotihuacan (or weakened it for a major political fallout) had to be related by climate. Why? Because Teotihuacan was not only described but painted in murals of its time as a paradise-like place with numerous trees, exotic animals, with abundance of water. Now, Teotihuacan is located in a dry (almost barren) environment that resembles more the deserts of the American Southwest than the pictures left to posterity by the native artists of the time. There is one word for this: desertification. And desertification is a symptom of today’s Climate Change.
This desertification process also appeared in Monte Alban, the capital of the Zapotecs, and at major Maya cities like Tikal and Calakmul. Once the so-called Classical cities fell, the process extended to Yucatec Maya cities, Western Mexico cities, until something dramatic happened in the northern Mexico and Southwestern US.
The rise of Xolotl the Great.
Xolotl became a powerful ruler only because he was the first of millions of refugees that migrated south to today’s Mexico City’s basin. What was he and many others fleeing from? Desertification, once again. Once a land with big cities like La Quemada in Zacatecas became dry, barren, and ultimately inadequate to live and harvest food. Entire nations fled, and were welcomed by Xolotl and his descendants. This people might very well be the first refugees produced by Climate Change — and we’re talking about mid thirteen to early fourteen century!
Chronicles written by natives and Spanish describe these people as wanderers looking for a hospitable land to live. Whatever pushed them from their ancestral lands in Northern Mexico and Southwest USA was so menacing and life-threatening that they needed to migrate and clutter the Mexico City basin. The last to arrive were the Mexica, later known to world history as the Aztecs, and they were so desperate that they even went and inhabit in a tiny island in the middle of the great Texcoco Lake.
Climate Change studies should focus in this time periods. Although human activity is suspected, we should not discard any cyclical behavior from our weather. Apparently the growth of cities and the need for resources are linked. But we should remember this was a low-tech civilization type, other factors may and should be accounted to. Still, to say Climate Change is recent or modern is a mistake. What we are certain is that Climate Change phenomenon is now global and perilous to our world.
If you’re interested about these times of migration and social changes it brought, you may enjoy my historical novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes based on true events.
Coyolicatzin was a Mexica Aztec lady that stopped a bloody war. Known in her time for her paler than normal skin.
Stories of old recount that she appeared in the baths of Cocijoeza of Zaachila, whom she convinced the War of Guiengola would end if they were to be married. Not only her sensual physique but her cunning plan convinced Cocijoeza .
So Cocijoeza did accordingly, and asked her hand to his enemies the Mexica in exchange of ceasing hostilities. The Mexica Aztecs agreed, the exhausting Siege of Guiengola ended, and he got to marry this beautiful and intelligent woman. She became a co-ruler at what is now the state of Oaxaca.
800 years before Donald Trump highlighted immigration issues Mexico faced the very same challenges. What solution did the ancient indigenous found? You’d surprised.
In the years 1200’s massive contingents of people migrated from the northern lands which in modern days consist of northern Mexico and Southwestern United States. Back in the day people didn’t migrate northbound but to the south, specifically to the colossal Valley of Mexico and its surrounding valleys.
After the fall of Tula (Tollan Xicocotitlan), the Toltec capital, entire nations of northern and western native nations moved towards to what today is Mexico City and its surrounding states. Most pushed by a phenomenon we now call Climate Change. By the time the migrants arrived to the fertile lands and huge lake areas the Chichimec Domain* was already established ruled by mighty Xolotl.
Every day people kept pouring in.
Xolotl saw the influx of migrants as a major issue in his government. It was a do or break moment for the Huey Tlatoani (High Ruler). There was no time to waste, every day people kept pouring in. Contrary to what the United States is experiencing today, entire nations were moving into his realm — America’s illegal immigration issue according to Donald Trump seems to be primarily with Mexicans. But Xolotl had to deal with multiple nations moving altogether to a rather small place in comparison to the open northern range.
What solution did Xolotl thought about? His 800 year old answer may surprise you.
The all-powerful Xolotl decided to not only welcome all of the huge groups of weary and tired migrants (hmh, hmh, well before the Statue of Liberty ever existed), but under several non-negotiable conditions. Each native nation that arrived accepted his unmoving terms. What were Xolotl’s terms?
We may call them the Xolotl laws.
Each immigrant group or nation would receive their own piece of land, and that land would be decided only by Xolotl himself on the basis of availability and land size.
Each immigrant group or nation had to supply with men to the Chichimec Domain army should it be needed.
There had to be no quarrels between groups of immigrants for land or power, all of it derived from the Chichimec capital Tenayuca.
But the most important decree Xolotl gave to each and every person who arrived to his nation was… that all had to abide to assimilation into Toltec culture, language, and way of life.
The last and most important precept was the pivotal policy of his rule and of his descendants. There was a genuine need to have immigrants comply to the customs and laws of the land. But I have to stress, these immigrants had nothing asked but to comply to Xolotl’s decrees. Visas, long waiting times, entry permits — those were not part of Xolotl’s true open-arms immigrant nation. Each Chichimec ruler continued this legacy of letting people in as long as they abide to the laws, language, and Toltec traditions of the land.
An open-door policy may be dismissed by any candidate.
America’s immigration issues of today has many differences, mainly an ongoing war in Mexico (hint, hint! War’s not only raging in Syria or Ukraine). This has made the region volatile with the ongoing turf wars, which spills into the USA as what Trump refers as crimes and raping. Americans are afraid of ISIS combatants, and yet they have far more bloodier massacres next door. So an open-door policy may be dismissed by any candidate, while a wall seems a more comforting one.
Are we in for a simplistic solution?
What’s better in the long run, might ask Xolotl? What ideas might a powerful Xolotl give to the powerful Trump? After all, both share the same can-do attitude stemmed from their omnipresent power. At least Xolotl saw an opportunity out of immigrants, maybe thinking as a modern-day businessman. A good businessman can turn into benefit every situation. Is it really that the age of American creativity over? The same nation that once invented the planes, the car, harnessed nuclear energy, and went to the Moon (and even Pluto) can’t come with an out-of-the-box solution for illegal immigration? Or are we in for a simplistic solution? It can’t just be either amnesty or booting everyone out — right?
Portrait my model Ximena dressed with the regal military attire of the great warrior ruler. Lady Ñuñuu Dzico Coo Yodzo, who stood up against the imperial aspirations of 8 Deer Jaguar Claw.
Although a ruler, she is considered in the literature as a warrior Queen, Lady Six Monkey.
At a young age, she visited the enigmatic Vehe Kihin cave to seek the favor from her revered ancestors to rule her people. She became ruler of what is now Jaltepec, Oaxaca almost 1,000 years ago.
A violent wedding.
On the way to her wedding, Lady Ñuñuu was ambushed and attacked by political enemies. Two towns in the road rose against her. She and her wedding carriers successfully repelled the attack, winning her military admiration, and thus being condecorated with the Quechquemitl of War.
The Lady wear War.
The quechquemitl is her distinctive garment with which she appears in ancient books and drawings. The quechquemitl is delineated by a chevron-like glyph which is read as “war”. Along with her dress these became her official attire, but also part of her name as written in millenia-long ancient books for posterity.
A jaguar seat — it’s all in the details.
Here, she is seated in her seat of power (equivalent for a throne), as depicted by each ancient codex with a jaguar hide. Such seats were used only by rulers. This was also applied by ancient scribes when writing history, putting rulers above a jaguar seat. These details help us now discern who were rulers of importance, and who were client or lesser rulers. After all, indigenous Ancient Mexico was all about protocol and sophistication — contrary to popular belief. While at that time (11th to 12th century) in England or France royals were very austere and plain (it was way before Spanish customs were introduced into King Henry VIII’s court) in the Oaxaca-Puebla realms of the Mixtec, Zapotecs, and Mixe lived in a sophisticated and courtly manner.
A woman who fought imperialism.
Lady Ñuñuu fought ruler Eight Deer Jaguar Claw’s imperialistic expansion. His men-at-arms sprawled across the Three Mixtec regions (locally known as Las Tres Mixtecas) — from now tourist beaches of Oaxaca to the mountain region and the valley area. No one could stop Eight Deer Jaguar Claw, especially after being anointed with the nose-piercing of power by the Toltecs, perhaps Quetzalcoatl himself. Little did they know what 8 Deer plan’s were. Lady Ñuñuu fought him personally, but was defeated. She along her husband and sons save for one were executed.
8 Deer became the first Yya Canu, meaning ruler of rulers, hence Emperor. Four Wind, Ñuñuu’s only surviving son avenged her mother many years later, executing 8 Deer and automatically becoming the second Yya Canu.
Photo and text by Miguel Omaña.
An ancient Mexican native altepetl (capital city) whose origin spans back to the time of the Toltecs, the prestigious city of the Eastern Lands of the Valley of Mexico, and where monumental artistry flourished. Today it is under the lascerating erosion of oblivion – and yet it is still there, as many places in modern Mexico and Central America. I continue to visit the sites that appear in my novel, this is another one.
Coatlinchan shared power with the Toltec main city.
During the heyday of the Toltecs, Coatlinchan was linked to Tollan Xicocotitlan (today known as famously tourist site of Tula in the state of Hidalgo), the epicenter of all things Toltec. Although there’s the idea that Tula was the political High Capital of the Toltecs, the reality was that rulership was shared under a then innovative system for sharing power which included Coatlinchan and gave status to the city.
Coatlinchan was part of beginnings of the Triple Alliance political system.
After the fall of the superpowers of this world – Teotihuacan, Tikal, and Calakmul – the overwhelming political vacuum forced the orphan new nations to survive by trying a different political system. The era of the imposing one-capital gave way to the Triple Alliance scheme. Three cities elevated each as a capital, but working in joint efforts. Apparently this project was successful since it appeared not only in Central Mexico but also at the Maya world in the Yucatan Peninsula and at P’urepecha land in Michoacan (Perhaps even in the Chalchihuite-Altavista region).
Henceforth Tula, Coatlinchan, and Colhuacan (nowadays in the Iztapalapa borough, Mexico City) comprised the Triple Alliance of Central Mexico. The lives of those Three Heads (as it was also called) were so intertwined, that the list of their rulers is confused from one another. The problem with the Triple Alliance system is that one polity tends to gain more voice than the other two. In this case it was Tula, who was regarded as the center of all things artistic, cultured, and civilization. This made the alliance fragile.
After Tula falls, Coatlinchan goes on.
After many eerie omens, Tula collapsed. The reasons are countless, but this left Coatlinchan alone with its sister city Colhuacan. Although Colhuacan enjoyed more proximity with Tula’s elite, they retained the glory of safekeeping the continuation of the lineage of Toltec families. What Coatlinchan kept was something that with times proved to be far more valuable, prestige over the cities, towns, and people of the Eastern Lands. These territory was East of the later known as Lake Texcoco, an interconnected set of five great lakes. Its elongated size spanned from the north in what is today the state of Hidalgo down south to the state of Morelos.
Turbulent times as northern immigrants descend to the Valley.
The fall attracted a continuous influx of immigrant contingents that arrived from the vast Northern lands. They were the first humans to be affected by what we now know as desertification caused by the climate change phenomenon (also known as global warming). Whatever the origin or cause, global warming forced thousands to leave each year to seek fairer climates. One of those who arrived changed the destiny of this part of the world, Xolotl. With a massive group following him from the Tampico, Tamaulipas area, Xolotl Amacui took political control of Central Mexico. Way before Nazi Germany’s blitzkrieg or George W. Bush’s shock-and-awe, in matter of months Xolotl’s men-at-arms seized the land in-between the limits of Michoacan to the Gulf of Mexico. This time is turbulent for Coatlinchan, and literally there is no dynastic link between the before and after of Xolotl. This only happened to cities or capitals where its rulers refused to be under the rule of Xolotl. Whatever the case, Xolotl spared the city and its inhabitants.
The Chichimec Domain era, Coatlinchan brights again.
The high capital was now Tenayuca (today Tlalnepantla, state of Mexico), and from there the Chichimec Dominion ruled sternly but ironically not to impose their way of life, but that which existed before them. Xolotl, his son Nopaltzin, his grandson Tlotzin Pochotl, his great-grandson Quinatzin Tlaltecatzin, and his great-great-grandson Techotlalla – each implemented major modern reforms to establish civilization ideals as the highest the people should pursue. These reforms found dissent amongst other Chichimec immigrants which were established in the Eastern Lands. A struggle that put Coatlinchan in the political spotlight, since the rebellion was to be crushed within its territory.
The uprise of a lover named Yacanex.
Swiftly Coatlinchan allied with Tenayuca to contain the uprise led by Yacanex of Tepetlaoztoc. A manwho also rose because he wasn’t permitted to marry Atotoztli of Colhuacan, who was already given to Huetzin of Coatlinchan as wife. Tenayuca, Coatlinchan, and Colhuacan quickly movilized to hide Atotoztli in Coatlinchan from the rebel Yacanex. This infuriated Yacanex and his thousands of followers from the area of Atenco. They took their fight against Coatlinchan, after all, this city represented the interests or failures in the Eastern Lands. In painted chronicles we can see Huetzin of Coatlinchan (son of the Tlatoani of Coatlinchan) against Yacanex. The war lasted many years, and in each combat Coatlinchan and its allies winning.
Then came Azcapotzalco to rule them all.
After the war, Coatlinchan remained standing, its sister city Colhuacan did not. This city was the last of the Toltec Triple Alliance, and so important elite intermarried with them, connecting many genealogical links to Coatlinchan, including that of a then minor city called Mexico Tenochtitlan (pronounced meSHIco tenochTItlan), and a rising star called Texcoco. But the rising star rose much faster because one of its sons was famed poet warrior Nezahualcoyotl. Texcoco slowly but surely shadowed Coatlinchan. The era of the Chichimec Domain was long gone, but Azcapotzalco desperately made all that was possible to retain its importance. Tezozomoc of Azcapotzalco declared itself the sole heir of the rulers of Tenayuca — which he was a heir, but not the sole one. The new Huey Tlatoani (High Ruler) established military garrisons in Coatlinchan in its bloody war against Texcoco. The fiery bravado with which Azcapotzalco ruled made the Mexica Aztecs one of their finest pupils. But the students learned so good, that it superseded the teacher.
The ultimate Triple Alliance is forged, without Coatlinchan.
When the Mexica Aztecs destroyed Azcpotzalco in their war of independence, the Triple Alliance was once established over the ruins of the Tepanec ruins. Sadly, the new Triple Alliance did not include Coatlinchan. The reason was that Nezahualcoyotl of Texcoco, Itzcoatl of Mexico, and Tlacaelel of Mexico reached a compromise with the surviving Tepanecs. After all, they were afraid one day they could turn against them. So instead of Coatlinchan, the only Toltec Triple Alliance city, Mexico Tenochtitlan and Texcoco chose Tlacopan (today Tacuba district, in Mexico City) as the third head of the alliance in order for the Tepanecs to be represented in the new Triple Alliance the world now wrongfully knows as the Aztec Empire.
Coatlinchan was so prestigous, that even Tlaloc refused to leave.
Coatlinchan survived in times of these “Aztec Empire”, contrary to what the extremely biased chronicles of the Mexica Aztecs want us to know, this city was never touched in war or other form except when Nezahualcoyotl fought the Tepanec fighters shielded in Coatlinchan during the reconquest of his nation in times of Maxtla. The city flourished artistically under the poet warrior tlatoani. Coatlinchan built a gigantic statue of Tlaloc (or perhaps his wife Chalchiuhtlicue), the manifestation of rain. After all, Coatlinchan was and still is surrounded by fertile land, and the city depended on rain and dreaded hail.
After our holocaust, Mexico gained independence from the Hispanics and struggled to find an effective political system. Dictators came and went. And after Porfirio Diaz, Mexico was ruled by the surviving revolutionaries of the Mexican Revolution. Their new government wanted to modernize the nation, especially in education. So they did a controversial move in such endeavor, they collected masterpieces from each city and ancient indigenous nation to be displayed in one unique site in an upscale area of Mexico City. One of such masterpieces was the Tlaloc of Coatlinchan. Its inhabitants refused the move, but the government with monumental machinery carried the Tlaloc who also refused to go from Coatlinchan, for it poured a heavy rain during its entire trip and rare technical problems appeared. But not even Tlaloc was safe from the modernization the Mexican government wanted.
What of Coatlinchan today?
The rain ceased once the colossal statue rested in its new home, outside of the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City’s famed Reforma Avenue (across from where the President lives). Perhaps after all Coatlinchan is still so prestigious, that its major treasure was taken to be showcased to millions of foreigners and tourists from around the world. The irony is those tourists nowadays take #selfies for their Instagram accounts with the mighty giant of Coatlinchan, but nobody visits now the city that made the statue, started the idea of the Triple Alliance, and dodged wars. Totally understandable, since today’s rulers have no interest to boost efforts for people, here in Mexico or abroad, to know such cities as Coatlinchan. It is of relatively complicated access, and has no infrastructure to receive visitors. Coatlinchan once shone, in the best of Mexican history, and now lies dark in the best of globalized society.
To get my novel, where the city of Coatlinchan appears, you can find it here or at online book retailers.
Let us live and love freely — war is more cruelly! And yet, you have chosen. We may back down at many things but never in matters of life and love.
Excerpt from Till Stars Shut Their Eyes.
We live in a time very similar to that which Yacanex along her beloved Atotoztli lived in the late 1200’s. The moment when governments impose upon us how to live and whom to love is a decisive moment to either stand down or face injustice. Just like it happened to Yacanex, it is the authority who has chosen the confrontation, not the we the people.
Pass it on! Fight for love!
You can find links on where to download my novel here or at online book retailers.
The past is about discovering who we may become or accomplish, the good and the bad.
I tend to write, research, paint, and talk about the past — a lot, especially of indigenous Mexican history. Many don’t see the point of bringing to the light about things and people from years past. It may well seem as if I may be stuck in the past, when in fact it is about discovering who we may become and what we can accomplish — the good and the bad as well.
If our ancestors were able to overcome the obstacles of their time way before the Internet, why can’t we?
To glance into the past is to see what we are capable of. We are surprised to see how Sumerian cities were organized, Egyptian pyramids erected, ancient Chinese achievements, otherworldly amazing artistry from India, and the sculptural and writing feats of the Olmecs… well before iPhones, laptops, the internet, or electricity for that matter! If our ancestors were able to overcome the obstacles of their time, why can’t we? It is safe to assume that if they did those things we can do better, and yet we don’t.
Newsflash, the future can actually be more awesome that we imagine.
The key is in our past. People dream of a future with flying cars, floating cities, space rockets coming and going, and magical pills. Reality check, this isn’t the 1950’s anymore. Newsflash, the future can actually be more awesome than we may imagine (literally!). We don’t need magic pills because in Mexico there were ancient remedies for todays maladies, and it is not that much of a secret. We just have to delve into our past.
Before hipster lean meals there was amaranth.
Prickly pear cactus (yes, like the thousands that grow in the Northern Mexican desert) can control diabetes and lowers cholesterol. Aspirin is an artificial ripoff of remedies done with salicylic acid from Mexican Willow trees called Huexotl. Way before over-processed powerbars there was (now called) Spirulina, a rich algae from Lake Texcoco that the Mexica Aztecs considered it gold (than actual gold) for its stunning nourishment effects. Before hipster lean meals there was amaranth, which today’s experts say it has the properties of cereals… plus everything else, without the fat. Our ancestors used to be so cool, that not only they knew how to cure illness or take care of a fit body, but also invented chocolate for dessert (originally it was called xolocolatl and it was a beverage) way before the Belgians added sugar into the frankenstein-ish thing we now know as chocolate.
It’s not about getting stuck in the past.
We need the past in order to have a future. We need to see what worked and what not to “move on” as hip progressive and conservative people tend to say. Many problems that afflict us today were those of our ancestors, how they solved it or not is important to us (or it should be). Climate issues, food shortage, social issues, technological hurdles — our ancestors around the world had the same troubles. It is not about getting stuck in the past, it is about letting our past light our future.
Photo I shot at Tepojaco, Mexico.
If you’re a history buff, you may enjoy my novel Till Stars Shut Their Eyes. Set in Ancient Mexico based in true events, a story of forbidden love.