Friday, December 20, 2013

Eztli and the Nagual

Eztli and the Nagual
by
Bobby Derie

The moon had swelled and faded three times, and three babes had woken crying and pale in their mother's arms, when Eztli found herself in Oaxcaca, on the road to Yagul. The air was sweet, and she walked in moonlight along the road, and came in time to a well where a naked woman sat combing her wild hair, and at her feet was a pile of bloody bones.

"Hello mother," Eztli said.

"Say, sister, my dear. I am not old enough yet to be your mother." said the woman "But come, if you would, and help me comb my hair."

Eztli came closer, and with her fingers began to work the knots from the woman's hair, which was tangled and matted with dirt and blood, and took handfuls of water from the well to wash it out.

"It was a night like this," the woman said "When I washed my hair, and a young man saw me. He loved me by midnight, and we courted in the usual way - at festivals and dances. His family was wary, for I had no family or animals of my own, but I had some gold and jewelry that I made a gift of to them, and they thought I was a wealthy woman. So in the end, they did not object when we were married."

"But I had not told my husband the whole truth, until that night on his farm, in his house, in his bed, wrapped together. For though I am a woman, I was born on the Day of the Coyote, and the coyote was my tonal. My parents died when I was young, and I went to live with my grandmother, who was a nahuńĀlli and a nagual, and she taught me the ways of both. So I ran with the coyotes at night, and raided the farms, and fought tooth and fang with the bitches of the pack, and protected their pups as if they were my own, and I knew I could not be happy simply as a woman, even his woman, though I loved him so."

"He was born on the Day of the Coyote too, and I could feel his tonal like mine - and my grandmother had taught me how to make someone else a nagual, either as a blessing or a curse. So I asked that he be a coyote too. At first he was afraid, but as he stared at me naked in the moonlight lust had its hooks in him, and he could not deny me. So I showed him how to shed his skin and hide it, and we loped off together into the night."

"It was hard for him, because he did not know the ways of the coyote. The others did not like him, and he did not like how the males sniffed at me, and said I did not snap my fangs at them as fast as I should have. He had been an honest farmer in life, and it did not sit well with him to steal his neighbor's food, and he was never a good hunter, so I had to hunt for us both. In time he had an encounter with one of his old neighbors - a childhood friend - and came back to me with his tail between his legs, and asked to be a man again. So I cursed him to manhood, and we went back to where our skins were, and he put his on again. We were no more husband and wife, though I stayed with him for a time."

"I have heard your story, sister," Eztli said, wringing her hands because her fingers were sore. The last of the knots had been undone from the nagual's hair, which was long and brown-black. "Yet I heard he came back later, and killed you with a knife, and lived an honest life."

"A lie," the nagual said with a smile "One his parents came up with to hide their shame at what he had become. Yes, he did try to kill me, as you would a dog. It was only at the end, when my teeth were at his throat, that he remembered a coyote is not a dog."

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