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HUEHUETLAHTOLLI: An ancient Toltec word

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The greatness of our Old Grandfathers, was based on two fundamental axis and four structural columns and these enabled their culture to survive the element of time and its effects. I am referring, of course, to their teachings in philosophy, ethic and moral values. The four columns supported agriculture, medicine, social organization and a judicial system. These principles and laws were applied during the process of human development from 6,00 B.C., to 200 B.C. A fruitful and splendid era was enjoyed from 200 B.C., until the middle of the 8th Century, in the Christian Era. This period is known as the Classic, when mysteriously, the civilization of the Anahuac ceased to exist.

 

The arrival of the European invaders took place when the culture was in decadence because of the absence of the old venerable teachers that caused the civilization in the Anahuac to form towns with each town being ruled by a lord. The degradation of the civilization reached its peak with the arrival of the Aztec that ignored the ancient Toltec teachings of spirituality, respect for human being and other values. Instead, the new religion demanded war and human sacrifice.

 

This period embraced the last one hundred years before the arrival of the Europeans. In this period, the Aztec destroyed the origin of the ancient teachings left by the ancestors in numerous codices. Most of the valuable codices where the teachings of the Toltec had recorded their millenary wisdom were altered and the new codices showed the Aztec as the chosen people. Not long after, the European destroyed the Aztec records and set systematically to destroy any vestige of the ancient word, culture, traditions and religion in order to impose their own laws, beliefs, culture and language.

 

The invaders succeeding more or less to destroy from our memory the Mother Culture. They left us without land, without history, blind, mute, incapacitated to live neither as Indigenous nor as Europeans.

 

We, Mexicans, are ignorant foreigners in our own land. We were stripped and robbed of our natural resources and human dignity. We have suffered despicable atrocities at the hands of "civilized" Europeans and for 490 years this abuse continues to be manifested in the exploitation of human labor, injustice and disregard for all traditional values. We have suffered since the arrival of Hernan Cortes and his greedy subordinates through past and present heads of government.

 

All of them have depleted the richness of this country and have attempted to destroy the four columns that once sustained our great civilization. If a country does practice and exhibit "advanced western colonization," it is then viewed as primitive and, therefore, unworthy of respect Some ancient text that exist today, date back from the time after the conquest and written in Nahuatl, Old Spanish and Latin. Some old humanists, like Andres de Olmos, Bernardino de Sahun, Bartolome de las Casas, Vasco de Quiroga are followed by modern writers like Angel Maria Garibay, Miguel Leon, Laurrete Sejurenett, Alfredo Lopez Austin and Ruben Bonifaz Nuño.

 

These men are great contributors in the preservation of the ancient scripts that await the sons of the sons of the Old Grandfathers. These texts are available to those who wish to cease to be strangers in their own country and stop being ignorant of the wisdom of the ancestors.

 

These are powerful weapons to use in the XXI century to aid our society to build a more humane and just world four our sons and their sons. The recovery of old wisdom and ethic and moral principles that guided our ancestors, is absolutely necessary to build our future. This was the case of many Europeans that lived in the darkness of the Middle Ages. They turned around and began to search in the past. They re-discovered the Greco-Latin wisdom of the ancient culture and applied it to their lives.

 

Like them we must strive to accomplish this re-discovery of our past, but learn to balance it with the wisdom introduced by the Europeans. We must see our reflection in the smoking mirror and recognize our own face and heart that has traveled through a labyrinth of confusion, the result of ignorance and disregard for the ancient Toltec word: Huhuetlahtolli - teachings. At continuation we give the reader some examples of this ancient teaching.

 

Come closer, my children. Your mother and your father are on this world, but for a brief time. During our lives, we must guide you in the path of virtue and spiritual knowledge. This path takes us to a place of glory made for us by the one who created us.

My son, my necklace and precious plume, you were born out of the womb of the earth on this land of our lord. He formed you and gave you life to live it for the one we live for. Your parents, aunts, uncles and other relatives have cried and suffered for your arrival. Now, you are born on this land, your land.

 

"My daughter, my little turtle dove, little woman. You were born and at my breast suckled to be molded. My prayer is that you do not suffer on this earth. How would you live among your people? How would you survive danger and fright? It is true that we must live through great difficult times, but how would you overcome? Because there is hope on earth when the faces of humans are no more. We are then rewarded with honor, warmth, sweetness and peace by our your maker.

Be sure you do not waste your life. Do not astray and be left behind, you, my precious quetzal feather. I pray your face, your heart, your body are not harmed.

 

My children, you are of my blood and color. I have taught you and molded you. I pray you are not only fashioned like precious metal and your eyes remain closed by scales. You, whom I have watched and taken care of, I hope you unveil your own face and discover who you are. Perhaps you are a tiny bird covered with feathers, but you will have wings. If this is the case, do not be disrespectful with others. Do not engage in needles flight above their heads. Peace and wisdom will take you to nest in the Ceiba - silk cotton tree -. Be careful not to damage it in any way. For only in that manner you will find peace and live in happiness.

 

(Huehuetlahtolli. Testimony of the ancient word. Trans. by Miguel Leon-Portilla and Librado Silva Galeana. SEP/FCE. Mexico 1991)

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