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Thursday, October 9, 2014

On the Limits of Coexistence: I Will Not Lie to Protect Your Myths

A Facebook friend I'll call Desdemona posted video from the September 21, 2014 People's Climate March. The video depicted dancers in Aztec-influenced costumes dancing before a several-foot-high Aztec-influenced stone skull idol. The skull idol represented Coatlicue, the Aztec fertility goddess.

Desdemona's video is linked, below.

Here's Wikipedia on Coatlicue

"She is represented as a woman wearing a skirt of writhing snakes and a necklace made of human hearts, hands, and skulls. Her feet and hands are adorned with claws…Her face is formed by two facing serpents after her head was cut off and the blood spurt forth from her neck in the form of two gigantic serpents, referring to the myth that she was sacrificed during the beginning of the present creation.

Most Aztec artistic representations of this goddess emphasize her deadly side, because Earth, as well as loving mother, is the insatiable monster that consumes everything that lives. She represents the devouring mother, in whom both the womb and the grave exist."

Coatlicue gave birth to Huitzilopochtli after she was decapitated by one of her children. Huitzilopochtli sprang from her headless corpse fully grown and ready for battle. He killed his brothers and sisters. Huitzilopochtli became the Aztec god of war and human sacrifice. Aztecs bragged of sacrificing 80,000 human beings over the course of four days. Hearts were extracted in these sacrifices.

I "met" Desdemona through a mutual Facebook friend. Desdemona is a very nice lady and a very talented artist. I love nature and she loves nature. She creates art based on nature and I very much appreciate her artistic depictions of trees and birds. So far, that has been the sum of our Facebook contacts. Desdemona posts her paintings of trees and birds, and I click "like" and offer praise.

Because I like her as a person, I did not want to do or say anything to hurt her feelings.

I was scrolling down my Facebook feed one recent morning, and Desdemona's video of the dancers appeared. I commented, "It's not really sacred until they rip out the still beating heart of a captive, and offer it to Huitzilopochtli."

I posted the brief, fact-based comment, and moved on.

I received a message from Desdemona upbraiding me. She said, "I am deeply saddened and offended by your comment. Whether this is Sacred is not up for debate and is disrespectful of me, my beliefs and my Spiritual path to question it. I defined this as Sacred to ME in my words above it and ask you to respect that."

Desdemona's friend wrote "Danusha, are you part of the Danza community? Is this your and your ancestors traditions? These are my beloved friends in the above video doing ceremony at the Climate March. I can assure you that what they are doing is sacred and filled with love and beauty"

Another message said "Respect people singing and dancing in honor of Mother Earth."

I went back to Desdemona's Facebook page. I deleted my message. Again, it was never my intention to hurt Desdemona's feelings. I didn't know her religious beliefs. I didn't know that she identified with the Aztec-influenced dancers.

I do know this: Desdemona demanded that I "respect" human sacrifice. I do not.

Desdemona was attempting to demand that I lie for her. That I un-know information that is inconvenient to her – that the costumes, dance, and statue she was admiring were all built around human sacrifice.

How about Desdemona's and my own shared love of nature? After all, these folks were at the People's Climate March. Were the Aztecs at least planet-friendly? In fact pre-Columbian Mesoamerica is associated with environmental collapse, both in Mexico and in the Four Corners area, where the culture spread, in mass cannibalism. Maya culture collapsed before the rise of the Aztec, and Anasazi culture collapsed after Mesoamericans moved north, bringing cannibalism and terror with them.

I knew something that perhaps Desdemona and her friends did not know: that Aztec culture practiced human sacrifice. I mentioned that fact, and was ordered to "respect" "love and beauty" and "Mother Earth." I stated that I don't respect human sacrifice, and left the conversation.

It was one of those moments when coexistence does not work, not because of disagreement, but because one group – in this case what I guess might be called the New Age Pagan group – demanded that facts not be mentioned, and that evil be disguised and respected.

Recently one of my liberal Facebook friends instructed her Facebook friends that she does not want them to post photographs of Sarah Palin or Rush Limbaugh. I can't imagine ordering my Facebook friends not to post photographs of people I don't like.

Me? I am a Christian and a Catholic. Insults directed at Christians and Catholics flow through my Facebook feed daily. Sometimes I address them. Sometimes I don't. I've never made a blanket request that my Facebook friends not post negative truths about Christianity or Catholicism.

In fact, I would not want to live on the planet where I had such power to control others' thoughts or words.

You can read more about Aztec culture's cruelty and bloodlust here.

You can see the video Desdemona posted here 

Or here

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