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I wanted to revise (slightly) and extend my remarks here, because at first blush it looks like I'm just being a violent, bigoted Hispano-Catholic chauvinist and not taking into account the unique cultural values offered by the Aztec religion.

Except I am. I've done my homework, and I know damn well what the Aztec religion was all about. It was about justifying and continuing the extremely bloody dominance of the Aztecs over their neighbors, an oppressive dominance that explains all too well why Tlaxcala and other nations went over to Cortez and his handful of freebooters: he offered them a way out of the bloody tributes demanded by the priests of Huitzilopochtli, who dominated the state cult. Contrary to modern revisionists' claims, there was nothing voluntary in the least about the human sacrifices, executed on a scale that would make Nazis blanch. The history of the Aztec cult is well documented and not at all a fabrication by conquistadors or Church officials; many of the latter were avid scholars of the pre-conquest culture and conducted exhaustive interviews with surviving members of the Aztec nobility. Translations of the many historical codexes were done before the remaining Nahuatl-speakers died off, and these show quite clearly the cynical, bloodthirsty aims of the Hummingbird God's priests.

Recreating a religion without the support of a society for it to function in is a difficult task. The experience of the "hidden Christians" of Japan shows the deformations and corruptions that occur when a faith is practiced in isolation from a sustaining population. Indeed, our ancestors would have been confused by the very notion that a nation and its religion could be considered as separate entities: loyal Spanish were all Catholics, just as all Japanese subscribed to the syncretic mix of Shinto and Buddhism and all English were C. of E. It is only in the last two centuries that any nation has embraced religious toleration as a basis for society, and even here in the United States, some religions were socially proscribed, if not legally outlawed. Ask any knowledgeable Catholic, Jew, or Mormon about the history of their church in America; the entire system of Catholic schools in America is a testament to the Protestant indoctrination prevalent in the public schools of the late 19th and early 20th century, and the persecution of the Mormons that drove them into internal exile in Utah is well known.

The problems encountered by modern Wiccans in trying to re-establish authentic forms and ritual suppressed for a millenium are well documented, and this in a nation whose general social characteristics are not in conflict with many Wiccan beliefs. Doing the same with the Aztec religion would require a renascence of Aztec culture and a recreation of the Aztec nation, which no sane person would want and every reasonable person should oppose. You don't see Hindus suggesting that thuggee is a respectable form of worship on a par with devotions to Vishnu and Brahma; we should likewise reject calls to revive any obeisance to Xipe Totec, Huitzilopochtli, and the other bloodstained gods overthrown by Cortez and the missionaries in his band.

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
qob
Oct. 20th, 2005 04:31 pm (UTC)
My opinions, At the risk of offending people
The entire Wiccan/pagan movement is IMNSHO not what it thinks it is. - I worked hard at not saying the word 'fraud.' - The original peoples were trying to make sense of a universe they didn't understand. If you believe in the supernatural (as I do) you can see where they did on occasion come into contact with the Numinous. There was unfortunately, the use of the mythic structure to find explanation for phenomenon that we now understand scientifically. Also they were ontologically naive. The Thor worshippers of the 8th century and the Thor worshippers of the 21st (for example) are very different people. In order to emulate the originals, you have to deny/ignore 13 centuries of culture and learning. I think folks that sincerely try to do that are either doomed to failure or reduce themselves in harmfully substantial ways.
wombat_socho
Oct. 20th, 2005 06:03 pm (UTC)
Re: My opinions, At the risk of offending people
My personal opinion of the pagan movement is that most of them either had poor/no faith formation as children or are reacting against Christianity, which they see as being unacceptably conservative in a social sense. So I agree that they are very different from the Celts and Norse they're trying to emulate...and those are just the serious pagans, not the "fluffy" New Age airhead types.

There are reasons why most primitive people turned away from their pagan gods and accepted Christianity, and those reasons usually have more to do with the relative merits of those religions rather than a "convert or die" ultimatum, because forced conversions don't tend to last long after those exreting the force pass from the scene.
qob
Oct. 20th, 2005 06:06 pm (UTC)
Re: My opinions, At the risk of offending people
An interesting compare and contrast is the Episcopalian churches in the US and in Africa. The American Episcopalians would have little problem accepting a bisexual transgendered Wiccan. The Africans are on fire with the Word of God so seem very conservative.
wombat_socho
Oct. 20th, 2005 08:05 pm (UTC)
Re: My opinions, At the risk of offending people
At the rate the American Episcopalians are going, in fifty years the ones that haven't reunited with the Catholic Church will effectively be Unitarians. Not that there's anything wrong with that. ~_^
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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