The Indian Who Swallowed The Spirit



                                                                                              The Indian That Swallowed the Spirit

  Sometime in the 1800s in Saltillo, Mexico, there lived an Indian shaman at the edge of the ancient city.  The shaman was well noted for his herbal cures and his miraculous ability to

converse with spirits of those who had passed over; he was a great necromancer and could see far into the future, and naturally people from nearby villages sought after him for these skills.  He was never a wealthy man as he only depended on the donations of his followers and the gifts they gave him.  Some would give livestock, others gave rice, beans, eggs and bread, but few gave him gold, as they hadn’t any. 

  The shaman had a wife and four children.  Two of the children helped his wife each Sunday as she went to the market and sold tamales she had made early that morning. She also sold baskets and small rugs they had woven during the week out of materials her husband’s followers had given them: Dried palm leaves and wool from alpacas or sheep.  The family worked very hard together to keep the simple items they needed-fresh water, some clothing and food.  They lived a small but happy life.

  During his communications with the spirits of the dearly departed, the shaman came across one spirit who had become his favorite.  Her name was Ix Chel, which in indigenous Indian (Otomi) language meaning ‘moon,’ or ‘moon goddess,’ for she was pale as the moonlight and had thick strands of black hair when she appeared to him in dreams.  The shaman, whose name was Ignacio, had become very emotionally attached to the spirit lady, as she was most always present and helping him with his work and bringing in other spirits which were both informative and useful.

  Don Ignacio had not known the spirit lady in life, but he knew where her bones were resting, and he knew of her family. Her husband had also been a sort of shaman, but his expertise was healing sickness and curing the insane.  It was said that a rival brujo had an evil intent toward Ix Chel, and wanted her healer-husband to suffer for curing a man he’d placed a curse on.  The rival struck Ix Chel in the back of the head with a thick piece of wood and the blow shattered the back of her neck and skull, killing her. 

  After many years, don Ignacio had finally fallen in love with spirit lady and often lavished her burial spot with marigolds, sweet wine, and bread.  This upset his wife sometimes, because she felt he had stepped into the world of death too often and she felt like he was abandoning her. Despite her complaints, Ignacio went on secret journeys through the countryside outside of Saltillo where the spirit femme showed him interesting sites and places where clear water could be found for drinking.  In the night, whether the moon was black or bright, he could see the fair Ix Chel along the paths she wondered and he followed her, always.  Don Ignacio longed to be with her sometimes, in the spirit world, and when he would lay down and look up at the stars, he wanted to close his eyes forever, leave the material world, and fly with Ix Chel.  She warned him, though, that the spirit world would not be the same as the material world; it was a world of dreams and shedding of all things quantifiable, and that he had people on earth who needed him, and sought after his help.  She explained that life was brief; he would not live forever, and that he must make the most of time in the terrestrial world.  A day would come that his life would come to a finalization, and she promised she would be there waiting for him.

  Some years passed again, and Ignacio found himself in the presence of the old brujo who had killed the lovely Ix Chel so many years before.  The brujo was very angry because don Ignacio had foretold a future event which saved the lives of a family in which he had been paid to devastate.  The brujo had been watching Ignacio; he knew of his spirit-lady love and vowed he would capture the spirit and bar her from the earth.  The evil brujo told Ignacio that by nightfall he would no longer be able to see his lady-love as she would be cast into a place which was dark and cold--truly a devious and brutal plot.

  In horror and distress, Ignacio tried to think what to do quickly.  He had to somehow hide the spirit from the brujo and keep him from conjuring her.  He had many protections on himself, but had no idea how to protect the spirits of the deceased—he had never been presented with such a task. 

  In the late afternoon, don Ignacio poured some water into a cup he’d gathered in a glass jar from one of the clear streams in the countryside. He brought the cup of water to the countryside and set it over Ix Chel’s burial spot and prayed she become immersed in the water.

The confounded spirit asked why and he explained the plot of the brujo, and what he had planned. The lovely spirit lady became one with the water, and don Ignacio drank the water, thus putting his spirit-love inside of his body. 

  Having practiced necromancy for years, the shaman knew that this may cost him his life, as the very essence of death would be in his body; he knew he could be spirited away, or he could suffer and die.  Yet he loved the ghostly specter so much and with all of his heart, he couldn’t bear the idea of her being harmed. 

  When he drank the water, he felt very heavy and weak, and his head and neck ached horribly, describing the pain felt when Ix Chel had died.  He felt the memories of her life running like a river of blood through his head; he could feel her personality within him.  He fell to his knees in pain and anguish for a moment, then struggled to walk back to his modest little wood frame house where his family greeted him, concerned as to his whereabouts.  Ignacio’s wife looked into his eyes and seen there was a strange gleam in them—she knew he was possessed by a spirit and was terrified.  He urged his frightened wife to stay calm, but she wouldn’t come near him and asked him to sleep outside. 

  For many days don Ignacio carried the spirit woman inside of himself and he continued to suffer and feel the pains of her vicious death.  He couldn’t see clients or perform any rituals with the spirit inside of him.

  The brujo was enraged because he knew what the shaman had done, and he was unable to conjure the spirit of his victim from years ago and banish her as she was inside Ignacio and was protected. 

  “She can’t stay inside of you forever, fool!”  The brujo chided.

  Ignacio knew this to be true.  In order not to trap the spirit and to possibly lose his life, he would have to get her out at some point. He thought and thought what to do, and finally he came up with a plan.  He would have to put her in a place of dwelling where the brujo could not conjure her.  There was no room in his small house to place her, so he went to Saltillo to a mission overlooking the town.

  At noon on Wednesday, the day of Mercury and the Archangel Michael, he walked into the empty mission and quietly called the four winds of each quarter, properly sealing the holy place. He asked that the Archangel Michael to not let anyone conjure the spirit of his beloved Ix Chel, and he breathed her out of his body and into the church.  The pain in his head, neck and shoulders ceased and the heaviness in his body left.  She was safe here in the sanctuary, protected by holy spirits and saints.

  In a few days don Ignacio was able to visit with clients again and the brujo noticed this. Naturally, he was very angry.

  “What have you done with the spirit?” he demanded of don Ignacio. 

  “She is safe in the mission,” he calmly replied. 

  The evil brujo crept over to the small church at the edge of town not expecting that the shaman had evoked the Archangel to seal and protect the area.  Night had fallen and even though there were many candles and vigils lighting the narrow windows, the mission had been locked.  Not being able to enter as he expected, he crept around the outside.  There was a special prayer service and wake taking place inside for a little-known but deceased wealthy son of a Spaniard.  In disregard the furious evil-doer kept circling and creeping about. 

  There was a dark archway outside of the church where a guard waited.  The brujo didn’t see him, and happened on the guard, frightening him, and without question or noise the guard pulled a machete from his side and struck the brujo with three blows, sending him to his death, exactly as the Archangel may have used his sword.

  Ix Chel could once again be free and fly since the brujo no longer sought after her soul. 

  Years passed, and don Ignacio grew old and he passed away.  His grandchildren knew of his spirit-lady love, and they buried him next to her.

  It is said that on clear, starry nights, and sometimes in the sunlight, they can be seen together on the hills where they traveled when he followed her on their journeys during his life.  They are together in peace and happiness, and Ix Chel knows Ignacio truly loves her, for the great sacrifice he made for her when he was alive.  They are free now, and they fly.