The Aztec Origin of Nopal & a Brief Autobiography of Myself

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“America’s lost somewhere inside of Littleton
Eleven million children are on Ritalin
That’s why I don’t rhyme for the sake of riddlin
False media, we don’t need it, do we?
Pilgrims, Slaves, Indian, Mexican
It looks real fucked up for your next of kin
That’s why I don’t rhyme for the sake of riddlin”

– The Roots, False Media

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Érase una vez,

at Zero eight hundred hours in our morning lived some folks known to live off the land.  On that morning the box told them to find land greater, larger, and more beautiful than they currently were enjoying.  The box explained that they would see an eagle sitting on a strange plant.  In the eagle’s beak, a serpent would reside.  Where that bird be–they are commanded to erect a grand city.

Literally they were told,

–Vayan al sur donde encontrarán una nueva tierra más grande y bonita que la que aquí habitan.  Y un día verán allí un águila hermosa posada en una planta desconocida.  El ave tendrá una serpiente en el pico.  En aquel edifiquen una gran ciudad.

Because good people are faithful they obeyed, leaving their homes to travel South.

Over mountains, through trees, and fording water, the peoples moved.  The movement, difficult and perilous, had been undertaken with faith as the foundation.  And so, in the time of thirteen hundred hours, they arrive at the base of a great valley.

Snugged by buttes, cliffs, and peaks, the High Priest named Tenoch exclaimed, “This is our land.  Here is where we will stop until our gods show us, by means of a sign, where we are to build our great city.”  To them however, it sounded more like this:

–Ésta es nuestra tierra –anunció el supremo sacerdote.  –Aquí viviremos hasta que nuestros dioses nos indiquen por medio de una señal dónde hemos de edificar nuestra gran ciudad.

Tucked inside mountains a great river flowed.  Water equals life.  The travelers knew this.  But so did the tribes already residing along its banks, fishing, trapping, and peacefully existing.

I cannot however, fully illustrate the faith, positivity, and determination the wanderers felt toward their box’s words.   So when one ordained-as-god’s-helper claimed the land’s bounty for his people, all listened.  To back the prophecy they summoned Huitzilopotchli.   Above all other gods, He, the god of war was time honored.

With tyranny and a void of compassion, Huitzilopotchli always left his folks in a better situation than they began.  Only, the god needed gold to guarantee victory.

With His mighty command, warriors of the wanderers ran to the hills in search of blood.  With blood, they could freely jack gold.

“Let’s fight our neighbors!” became the scream of the banshee, though to the slaughtered it sounded like this:

–¡Luchemos contra nuestros vecinos!

Days after many days, the mandates of the High Priests were loyally obeyed by the well trained soldiers.  Each victory brought forth more gold sacks.   More of the moneys led to enhanced strategy, superior spears, and smiles on the warrior’s families back home.

The story, however, became quite contrary back up North from where the travelers had initially begun.  The people left behind, lived peacefully inside modest huts and off meager meals.  The war god, Huitzilopotchli’s  sister and husband led the Northern tribe.  Their son, Jason, felt great horror upon learning of his ancestor’s battles raging down South.  Every gold piece gained by spears produced a vomit to fly from the young boy’s mouth.

Jason vowed, “when I am older, I am going to take my uncle, Huitzilopotchli, prisoner so he cannot cause so much suffering.”

“You cannot do it, little son.  Your uncle is cruel and powerful.  It is already the established way of things, Jason.”  His father would explain in return.  This bummed the boy greatly.

Until one day, the boy listened to the Wu-Tang Clan.  The Clan told the boy his arms were, in fact, not too short to box with a god.  Inspiration and purpose inflated the youngster’s heart while his desire to meet his uncle-god grew greatly.  The smallish boy searched his land for anything to make himself larger.

Many moons washed over the time and finally Jason had grown to become a brave, handsome young man with an athletic body.  He was skilled at both the arts: hunting and fishing.  And of course, like his father, Jason was intelligent.

Adulthood sent feelings of revolution throughout his warm body–sending the lad down South, followed by a hundred of his father’s best men.  Jason’s intentions contained malice for his uncle’s blood-lust.  The tribesman accompanying him carried spears, shields, and were well strapped with M-16 machine guns.

Traversing treacherous trails of the natural Earth, the party eventually arrived at the woods surrounding the river of the High Priest, Tenoch.   They could see the Priest and his men in the distance.  Weary from travel, Jason said, “tonight we will rest here in the forest so that their god will not know about our arrival.  Then, tomorrow, before sunrise, we will carry out our plans.  For they are some fake ass m.c.’s indeed.  Our lyrics are far more deadly.”

Poor Jason!  He had no idea.  He did not know that spies invaded his camp at the request of his powerful uncle.  Upon learning the intent of his nephew, the war god gathered together three Priests.  To the trio, he commanded, “take out Jason’s heart and bring it to me as an offering.”  Or to be more accurate he said:

Sáquenle el corazón a Jason a tráiganmelo como ofrenda.

The three assassin Priests waited for darkness to flood the night before stalking toward Jason’s camp.  Silently and unseen they reached his party’s site.   Advancing noiselessly, they saw the group slumbering.   Standing over Jason’s sleeping body one of the three said, “–Qué valiente y noble es el sobrino de nuestro dios.  Ojalá que pudiera ser uno de nuestros querros.”

In English it means this:

“How brave and noble is our god’s nephew.  If only he could be one of our warriors!”

After the words one of the priests pulled out a knife.  The knife had the ghostly blood of hundreds sharpening its silver.

It became plunged into Jason’s torso with a single blow.  The pierced chest split open, sending maroon and a Priestly hand quickly inside.  Silently, the three killers returned to Huitzilopotchli with the bleeding heart as a prize.

What shall we do with your nephew’s heart? the elder High Priest, Tenoch asked of the war god.  Pleased with the offer, the god commanded the heart to be buried among a pile of rocks and weeds.  The Priests obeyed of course.

The next morning, pointing at the burial site, the god gasped in surprise.  Beckoning the Priestly three, Huitzilopotchli asked, –¿Qué es aquilla planta verde con flores rojas que está creceiendo en el sitio donde fue enterrado el corazón de Jason?  ¿Quién puede explicármelo?

For the English reader:

“What is that green plant with red flowers that is growing in the place where Jason’s heart was buried? Who can explain it to me?”

Quiet overtook all three until the oldest and wisest spoke, “That plant, called nopal, a kind of cactus, has grown from the heart of your nephew.  Like him, it has strength and beauty.” Tenoch explained.

After the words and before I can translate them into to Spanish, the valley sky muddied with black.  No moon, stars, or sun shone.

From the dark a voice thundered, lighting itself with electric lightning in the day-night, and suspended in the clouds Huitzilopotchli god of war spake:

–La profeciâ de los dioses está cumplida.  Por eso, he vuelto a mi habitación en el cielo.  De aquí guiaré el destino de mi pueblo.  Recuerden que con sacrificios humanos en los altares, ustedes pueden dominar el valle y las regiones lejanas.

– or –

“The prophecy of the gods is fulfilled.  Therefore, I have returned to my dwelling in the sky.  From here I will guide the destiny of my people.  Remember that with human sacrifices on the altars, you can rule the valley and the distant regions.”

As the words ended, the sun blew the black apart, ripping the night to shreds with day.  Inside the sun, the image of Huitzilopotchli could be seen.

Days later, on the branch of the nopal cactus where Jason’s heart lay, the people saw an eagle perch.  Gripped by the beak, a green serpent slithered.    The bird, snake, and cactus were the signals the box foretold.  Now the people knew that they had to build their great city on the exact site.  They did this, naming it Tenochtitlan, in honor of Tenoch.

Y Ahora la ciudad se llama México.

– or –

And now the city is called Mexico City . . .

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4 comments

  1. Great story! True legend? Blood is sometimes required to begin something new. I believe war accomplishes little these past 50 years…sad. I’m an Army Vet. Maybe ‘fighting’ has never actually accomplished anything…Who is to say? Keep writing. Peace to you, my friend.

  2. Koinboy

    I just woke up and decided it’s been too long since I’ve read your writing. Properly awake now! This is great. What happened to the hundred warriors with their M-16s? Must have been a shock for them to wake up after the priest’s sinister visit.

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