Wotan vs. Tezcatlipoca
The Spiritual War for California and
Stephen A. McNallen
Something new is happening in the radical Chicano movement. The barrio revolutionaries are getting religion - and their new belief has direct implications for Asatruar everywhere.
Actually, the religion they've discovered isn't all that new. The old Aztec and Mayan deities never really went away, they simply went underground. Tonatzin, for example, is the Mother of the Gods in the old Mexican pantheon - but the Franciscan monks who came to the New World were willing to transform or absorb her into the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The old religion of Mexico is being put to political use by those who want to carve an independent Chicano nation, Aztlan, out of what is now California and the Southwest. Tonatzin is seen as the Goddess who will lead the "children of the sun" into this new land - and the correspondence with the Virgin of Guadalupe provides a link with Catholicism, enabling the revolutionaries to expand their base of support.
Aztlan, Ancient Deities, and Ethnic Cleansing
It's not just a handful of radicals who are reviving native Mexican religion. Ordinary Catholics of Mexican descent are taking part, too. At Our Lady of Guadalupe parish in East Los Angeles, the feast of the Virgin has become a two-day event featuring Aztec dancers and a dramatic reenactment of the day the peasant Coahtlatoatzin - whom history Christianized as "Don Diego" - encountered the miraculous Lady on a hilltop which had long been holy to the ancient fertility Goddess of the land.
At the Church of Saint Thomas the Apostle, also in Los Angeles, most of the parishoners honor "folk saints," many with pre-Christian roots. Statues of these pagan-deities-turned-saints, along with appropriate candles and similar supplies for honoring them, are sold at a thriving botanica just around the corner from the church.
This coexistence - indeed, the identity - between Christian religious figures and those of the ancient Mexicans should make us reasses a phenomenon which has produced cynical snickers and outright laughs for many years. You've seen the articles in the newspaper and dismissed them; the accounts of Mexicans finding an image of Jesus in a tortilla...or most recently, the Virgin in a cake taken from a housewife's oven in Quintana Roo state. According to the CNN report that provided the Virgin-in-a-cake story, "Reports of the virgin's image have turned up with remarkably frequency in the past year, from a sewage stain in a Mexico City subway station to the dented fender of an old Chevy in northern Mexico."
I, too, used to laugh. But what if this is not just pious hysteria, but is actually the way the archetype of Tonatzin manifests to the humble Mexican people? Obviously it says a great deal about the intensity, the determination to be heard, of the Goddess who stirs in the Mexican unconscious and who today masquerades as the mother of Jesus. I am told that, in Mexico, these mystic events increase just before times of political upheaval...
This is not the first time that Meso-American deities have been mentioned in connection with the California social and political scene. Readers of The Runestone will remember the controversy over the statue of Qetzalcoatl erected in downtown San Jose a few years back. Local Christian groups protested, but demographics and culture made it politically impossible to stop this expression of Chicano nationalism and religion.
Chicano organizations are as diverse as any other group, and their ideology is not monolithic. However, the prevailing vision of their projected homeland, Aztlan, is one from which non-Chicanos would be forcibly expelled. No real effort has been made to hide this fact.
Olin Tezcatlipoca is quite open about this program of ethnic cleansing. He was born as Leo Guerra, but changed his name to that of one of the most revered of the Mexican deities. Tezcatlipoca leads the "Chicano Mexicano Mexica Empowerment Committee" and longs for the day when an insurgent army will arise and reclaim the southwestern states for his people. After killing or deporting European-Americans, the plan is to rebuild the Aztec empire.
Amazingly, this group enjoys tax exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service.
If the intention to conquer the border states was limited to Mr. Tezcatlipoca, it could be dismissed. Every ethnic group has its radicals, and we're not suggesting that your Mexican landscaper is a knowing part of some vast conspiracy. But the Aztlan concept is, nevertheless, very widespread. It forms the heart of a powerful movement, and is an integral part of the largest, most vocal Chicano student organization on today's college campuses. It is also encouraged, somewhat covertly, by the Mexican government.
War of the Gods
The great majority of Mexican-descended people are solidly Christian, at least on the surface. You'll find them in church most Sundays, and there is no reason to doubt their sincerity. But what lies beneath this ordinary exterior? Can a whole group of people manifest religious forces of which they're not even consciously aware?
Carl Jung, one of the most famous psychologists of modern times, would say so. In an essay titled "Wotan," he wrote how the God of fury and frenzy - as an archetype in the collective unconscious - had gripped the German people during the early part of the Twentieth Century. This was manifested in a great many religious and social movements, the most notorious and tragic of which was Nazism. The result was a great spiritual revival on one hand, and war and destruction on the other.
Would Carl Jung's comments on Wotan as an archetype in the Germanic soul also have its parallel in the psychic functioning of the Mexican people? Are Tonatzin and Tezcatlipoca (the God, not just Leo Guerra) moving among their folk, stirring them to conquest?
It seems likely that the Mexican nation (which is a much more fundamental entity than the Mexican state) is being gripped by their ancient Gods in much the same way as the Germans were seized, early in the twentieth century. Turmoil and war were the result. Can we expect any less from the bloodthirtsy deities of the Aztecs, renowned for their warlike ways and human sacrifice on a mass scale?
Those of us who live in California and the other border states are probably more aware of this dangerous situation than people in other parts of the country. Folks from the Midwest or from New England probably think we're alarmist - just a few Eurocentric anachronisms who can't adapt to the changing face of America.
Well, they're wrong. Speaking of California (because that's where I live), I can see two possible scenarios. One is that people of European descent will resign themselves to a subordinate role. In this case, our culture will be replaced by others, mainly Hispanic. Our percentage of the population will continue to drop toward numerical insignificance, and our political influence will shrink accordingly. European-Americans now make up about fifty percent of the California population; by 2020 we're expected to be down to about thirty five percent. There is no reason to think our decline will stop at that level.
However, there is another possibilty: that we will rise from our slumber and resist this tide of cultural and demographic conquest. I am of course referring to non-violent resistance, in the form of legislation, a cultural rebirth, and an awareness of ourselves as a people who deserve to survive. Some will say that we have no "right" to do this; that the very act of resistance is "racist," and that our role is only to be overwhelmed by another people and their way of life. Get used to it, they say - California is only a foretaste of the rest of the country's future. The nation is changing, and we're supposed to adapt...or to accept our marginalization quietly.
I disagree, of course. As one who loves my ancestors and who is not willing to throw away what they have won, I have no honorable choice but to fight for my people and my culture against all odds. No healthy organism willingly submits to its own disempowerment and death.
If California and the American Southwest are to be cultural battlegrounds, who better to lead the European-American counterattack against Tonatzin and Tezcatlipoca than our own Gods of the North?
Of course, the vast majority of European-Americans will not accept Asatru - just as most Mexicans will not formally adopt Aztec religion. But that really is a minor point. From a historical, political, and psychological standpoint, it is the archetypes that count. On our side as on theirs, only a few people will knowingly and overtly follow the old Gods - but all of us will, in a sense, be dancing to their tune.
Religion - Personal and Collective
Most Americans think of their religion as dealing with them as individuals, or as something that involves them and, perhaps, their friends at the local church. With many Asatruar, it is not so different. They come home from their job at the office, watch a little TV, eat dinner, and maybe read from the sagas or the Edda in the evening. Maybe they do some rune work and talk to the Mighty Powers for a few minutes each day. Every now and then they go to a gathering, hold a blot, or pour a libation to the land wights.
In indigenous or tribal cultures - in which humanity evolved over very long stretches of time - it is not like that. Religion does of course concern the individual, in terms of blessings and luck and eventually in one's destination after death. But it is also a matter affecting the welfare and the survival of the group. The Gods are linked not just to a person, but to a people. They are intimately intertwined with the destiny of the tribe.
It is this communal aspect of religion that so often escapes people today. Urban men and women practice shamanism not to heal their tribesmen or to ensure a productive hunt, but for...self-fulfillment. We have fogotten that, although individual religious experience is important, the Gods still speak through the community, the tribe, the Folk.
This larger perspective on religion is where we see the struggles Between entire peoples, and the movings of Wyrd that shape nations. It describes what we see happening in the American Southwest today.
A Challenge to Asatruar
So what are Asatruar to do? What is our duty? Since the AFA is not a political organization, we must leave each of you to act in accordance with your judgement. But this struggle is not even - or even primarily - a political one; it has an immense spiritual component. Our actions should concentrate on this elevated level, and we must avoid measures which might be seen as promoting violence or hatred. Still, there are things you can do that will make a difference, especially if you live in the areas most threatened (However, take note that communities in Virginia, Wyoming, Washington, and Alabama are being overwhelmed with illegal immigrants; this is not just a border phenomenon). Most of the things you can do boil down to the basics: Support your Gods and Goddesses - honor your ancestors - stand by your kin and your culture.
But there is one more very important thing. We must sink down roots in the soil, and insist on our right to be here.
A few hours ago, a woman on an Internet newsgroup told me that if I didn't want to accept the spiritual guidance of American Indians - if I insisted on honoring the ways of my forebears - I needed to pack up and leave for Europe! She was in earnest, not speaking metaphorically. She'd gladly hold the door while I packed, she added.
People like this - who, interestingly, are the first to accuse us of racism or intoleranace! - need to get the message that European-descended peoples, true to their ancestral ways, are here to stay. Our forebears fought and died to carve out this place in the world, and we will not give it up.
Mighty psychic forces, and powerful religious impulses, are on the move. The old Gods of Mexico, and the Gods of ancient Europe, are stirring their respective peoples. The spiritual descendants of the Aztecs are looking northward, coveting land which, they have convinced themselves, should be theirs - and, perhaps quite unconsciously, they are moving to conquer it by mass immigration, by language, by cultural influence. A dangerous few want to conquer by force of arms.
But then, they haven't reckoned with Odin and Thor, and Frey and Freya, or the other Mighty Powers of Asgard and Vanaheim! Nor have they figured, in their calculus of conflict, on the spiritual will of those who follow them.