Legend has it that, in the days when time did not matter, rain and night covered the House of the Beings. Then the light was gone. All was darkness. Women, men and others stumbled and clashed with each other. Because of this, they quarreled and fought among brothers and neighbors. They did not even recognize each other, even though they were relatives and acquaintances, because it was so dark. They scolded each other a lot.
The first gods, the ones who created the world, were lazy, lying in their hammocks, telling jokes and stories. But the noise in the House of the Beings reached them. ” Who’s making that racket?” asked one. “Who knows,” said another. Ixmucané, who was the mother goddess, said: “Let’s see what that noise is about,” but when she got down from the hammock, she fell and her face hit the ground and was left as if it was cracked, that is, with cracks. Ixmucané got up from the ground and didn’t swear because swearing had not yet been invented. She dusted herself off. She lifted her skirt a bit and ran off to the House of the Beings.
The gods looked at each other and said nothing, but thought, “Are we going to let a woman beat us?” and they got down from their hammocks, but carefully, and ran to catch up with Ixmucané. But it turned out that, as they had been lazy, they hadn’t checked their site and there was a lot of brush. Pure acahual1, that is. There was an abundance of tzaw ch’ix (thorns), dry branches, cut grass (also called gezau h’ak) and ch’oox tz’an, which is a vine with thorns. But there they went running and jumping as best they could and complaining in the corridor, because they were not going to allow a woman to beat them. They arrived later at the House of the Beings, all scratched and battered on their faces and hands. But nobody saw that they were all beaten, because there was no light. That is why it is believed that the gods have no wounds.
The gods did not look at anything either. Everything was dark. Only by the sound one knew that there were more people. “And now?” the gods asked themselves. Ixmucané did not herself ask anything, but remained thinking. The male gods were always very boastful and began to say that we must go for ocote2. Another one said that they had to invent a lamp and a stove. Another one said that we had to gather a lot of fireflies. And so on.
Ixmucané thought: “We have to restore the light. But to restore it, we have to find it. And to find it, we have to know where to look for it. And to know where to look for it, we have to know exactly what happened.“
Ixmucané gathered the men, women and other people of corn. At that time there were only men, women and others of corn, they were of many colors and each one had their own ways. There were no religions, no nations, no states, no political parties, nor all that was born later as seeds of war. Then, when Ixmucané said “come little brothers and sisters,” guided by her voice, all the men and women arrived, and also non-binary people because they did not feel excluded.
So they gathered in assembly. They did not look at each other because there was no light, but they could talk and listen to each other.
Ixmucané asked them, “What are we going to do? The men, women and others did not look at each other – because there was no light – but remained silent. Until a voice said “Well, you tell us what we are going to do.” The applause could not be seen, but it was clearly heard. Ixmucané laughed heartily and said “As if I knew. We don’t know per se, but maybe this way, gathered together, in assembly and talking, some ideas of what we are going to do will suddenly come out. They were all silent, thinking about what they were going to do.
The only noise that could be heard was the noise of the male gods who were fighting among themselves, about where did the ocote go, whether or not someone remembered to create the fireflies, that if it wasn’t me, that if it was the turn of someone who for sure “acts like a duck” (feigns ignorance), and what is a “duck” if ducks are not yet created. And so on.
In the assembly they were already talking and proposing what to do. First only a few voices, then more. Then they had to make a rotation to speak and assign someone to write if there was an agreement. Since there was no light to write or to read, there was only the spoken word, then they named the Ixmucané who kept in her head what was said and then she would share it.
Many ideas and words were said, and they no longer fit in Ixmucané’s head. So she began to keep them in her hair and her hair became longer, that’s why women have long hair. But then it wasn’t enough either, although she kept adjusting her hair and invented the “prensa pelo” which, as its name indicates, means “grab ideas.” Ixmucané’s hair reached the floor and they continued to talk about ideas and words. Then the Ixmucané began to keep the ideas in the wounds she had made when she fell and with the thorns and vines. Everywhere she had wounds: on her face, on her arms, on her hands, on her legs. His whole body was full of wounds, so he was able to keep everything. That is why they say when people of age, of judgment, have many wrinkles and scars, it means that they have many ideas and stories. In other words, they know a lot.
In another round I will tell you what was agreed in that first assembly that took place in the House of the Beings, but in this one I will tell you what Ixmucané said: “Well, we already have, as it were, a plan to face this problem we have. As the world is just being born and we are giving names to each thing or event, depending, so as not to confuse us, we are going to call this what we did “in common,” because we all participate: some giving some ideas, others proposing others, and there is someone who gives the word and someone who takes the notes of what is said.
There was silence at first. Heavy, loud was the silence. Then one started to clap, then another, then everyone clapped and it was audible that they were very happy. And they didn’t dance because no one could see a thing. But they laughed a lot because they had found a new word called “en común“, which means “looking for the way together.” And it was not the first gods who invented it, the ones who created the world, but it was the men, women, and others of corn, who, in common, found the word, that is to say, the way.
Ixmucané was the wisest of all the gods and, as she was the first to arrive at the House of the Beings, she had more wounds, from the fall and from the running she did in the acahual, and so she was marked with those scars. “Wrinkles” and “scars,” they named them. Since then, wrinkles and scars represent wisdom. More wrinkles and scars, more knowledge. Of course, back then there were no social networks and no one was using make-up and modifying their photos with a well-known virtual application. And then it happens that you see the profile picture and then you see the reality, and you want to run away. No, wrinkles and scars were a matter of pride and unlike any other. Even young men and women painted wrinkles and scars, or even went into the bush to get their faces scratched by thorns and vines. Because it was not important who was prettier, but who was wiser. Instead of “followers” and “likes” they looked for who had more wrinkles and scars.
And that was it.
Yes, I too would like to know what happened to the missing light. Maybe later, in another postscript, we will find out. For now, we have to learn to walk and live like this in the dark. Oh well.
From the mountains of the Mexican Southeast.
November 2023. 40, 30, 20, 10 years later.