(Condensed from +quot;The Mexican Messiah+quot; by Dominick Daly, _American Antiquarian_,

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(Condensed from "The Mexican Messiah" by Dominick Daly, _American Antiquarian_, 11:14-30, 1889, reprinted in _The Unexplained, A Sourcebook of Strange Phenomina_ by Wm. Corliss, ISBN 0-553-02812-X) I. Summary When the Spaniards landed in Mexico in the 16th Century, they found that many of the religious beliefs of the Mexicans bore a resemblance to Christianity. According to Mexican legend, the foundations of their religion had been imported from "across the ocean" by a god called Quetzatcoatl. This Quetzatcoatl might well have been St. Brendan of Ireland. II. Coming of Q. to the Toltecs, and the blending of the Aztec and Toltec Traditions According to Mexican tradition, many centuries before the coming of Cortez a bearded white man had come across the Atlantic in a boat with "wings" (sails) like those of the Spanish vessels. He stayed many years and established a system of government, and taught religion and many industrial arts. The Mexicans called him Quetzatcoatl, of the Green Serpent, the word green in- dicating a rare or precious thing. After a time, he sailed away for his own county, Hallipan. Quetzatcoatyl is described in legend as a tall white man, advanced in years, with a large beard and dark hair, dressed in a long garment, over which was a mantle marked with crosses. He was chaste and austere, fasting frequently and sometimes inflicting severe penances on himself, sometimes even drawing blood. (Note that the Mexican indians were dark skinned and beardless.) According to the Aztecs themselves, Q. originally appeared to the Toltecs, who migrated south out of Mexico before the arrival of the Incas. Some few Toltecs remained behind from choice or neccessity, but most voluntarily migrated to Central America around the year 1050. A century or more later, the first of the Aztecs appeared; they were a fierce and war- like people who did not begin to build cities until the mid-14th century, and thus had ample time to be influenced by the remains of the Toltec culture. This accounts for the strange, seemingly hybrid, religion the Spanish found, a combination of civilization and barbarism, mildness and fer- ocity, refinement and brutality. Prescott, in _History of Mexico_, notes, "Aztec civilization was made up of incongruities apparently irreconcilable. It blended into one the marked peculilarities of different nations, not only of the same phase of civilization, but as far removed from each other as the extremes of barbarism and civilization." The Mexicans themselves attributed the savage and barbarous parts of their religion to the Aztecs, and the gentler and humanising parts to the Toltecs. The Spaniards felt those doctrines and practices ascribed to a Toltec origin were reminants of an early knowledge of Christianity. III. Similarities between Toltec and Cristian beliefs and organization According to the Mexicans, the Toltec part of their beliefs included a single supreme god, the creator and ruler of the universe, and the fountain of all good. Subordinate to him were a number of minor deities, and opposed to him was a father of all evil [was that the snake that the eagle strangled? EE] There was a paradise and an abode of darkness after death, and also a third place that wasn't quite a purgatory. There had been a common mother of all men, allways represented as accompanied by a serpent; it was claimed that, "By her, sin came into the world." She had twin children, who are represent- ed in an Aztec picture in a museum in Rome as quarreling [Note the date of the picture is not specified. EE]. There had been a universal flood, from which only one family escaped. There was also, incongrously, a race of giants which had escaped the flood and constructed a pyramid to reach the clouds, a project which the gods frustrated by raining fire on it. The Mexicans believed in a Trinity, a Reincarnation, and a Redemption. They errected crosses throughout the country and regarded them as objects of worship and veneration. One cross near the present Vera Cruz was surmounted by a cross, and the locals told the Spanish that "one more glorious than the sun had died upon a cross. In Lord Kingsboro's reproductions of Mexican antiquities, there is a sketch of a cruciform surrounded by a group of Mexicans. One is seemingly offering an infant to the cross. The people believed in original sin and practiced infant baptism by sprinkling the infant with water. The religion included confession to priests, absolution and pennence; the secrets of the confessional were held to be inviolable and confession to a priest would free the confessor from both moral and legal guilt. The Mexicans believed in Communion and Transubstantiation; the priest would break off pieces of a santified maize cake and administer it to a "communicant" who lay on the ground. The maize was regarded as the body of God himself. At times a mixture of maize and human blood or flesh was consumed as part of the worship of the War God, and occasionally a model of the god was formed out of a mixture of maize flour and the blood of sacrificed children and eaten by the worshipers. Some orders of the priesthood were celibate, some practiced flagellation, fasting, severe pennances, and mortification of the flesh. The priesthood undertook the entire education of the young. The cities and rural districts were divided into parishes and presided over by a priest who was of a different order and served a different function from the temple priests.


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