Myths and legends from Nuevo Leon: The sword
Folk story originally heard near Galeana, N.L.
One Friday evening, we arrived at don Evaristo’s ranch. He and doña Almanda welcomed us warmly. Don Evaristo had a pile of dusty old books on the floor. When I asked him about those books, he said he was going through them because he wanted to compare the major elements of his latest story with the Arthurian Cycle from European Medieval Mythology.
“What new story?” Emily asked.
“It’s about Excalibur, the mythical sword of King Arthur.”
“We know that story,” Emily and I said.
“Ah, that makes it easier for me, then! I will only have to tell you the Mexican version!” don Evaristo said, his eyes shining. “A friend of mine just told me this version. It’s amazing to find exactly the same motifs of the stone and the sword. It’s not such a common combination universal mythology, you know!”
“We’re all ears!” I said.
“Well, my friend recently went to a town called Galeana, in the south of Nuevo Leon, to buy some furniture. He chatted to the carpenter about this and that, and then the carpenter started to tell him about a magical sword, stuck fast in a stone, not far from Galeana. ‘It’s not far from here,’ said the carpenter. ‘Would you like to go and see it?’ And my friend replied: ‘Could we go right away? I have to leave again tonight.’
“So off they went, in search of that magical sword. After about an hour’s walk through thick woods and undergrowth, they saw a yucca tree and a mezquite tree, in a little clearing. And between these two trees, stuck up to the hilt in a large rock, was the mysterious sword. It was an old Spanish sword, now all rusty with age.
“The story goes that the sword did, in fact, belong to a Spaniard, way back in the times of the Spanish conquest. No one knows exactly how it came to be stuck in that rock, but nobody has ever been able to remove it, even though people have tried every possible way, with no luck. This seems to be because only a person who has divine powers and wisdom will ever be capable of removing it. When and if anyone ever does remove the sword, that person will become the master or mistress of the whole region!
“So, what do you think?” don Evaristo asked, still excited. “Isn’t it a wonderful story, rather similar to the story of King Arthur’s Excalibur and the founding of the city of Camelot?”
Though short, it was indeed quite similar to the legend of good King Arthur of ancient Britain, who pulled Excalibur out of a stone and then went on to unite the country and build the marvelous city of Camelot…
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Written by Homero Adame and translated by Pat Grounds. Originally published in the English textbook Orbit 3. By Homero Adame, Pat Grounds and Carol Lethaby. Ediciones Castillo, S.A. de C.V. Monterrey, Mexico. 2000. Pp. 126-127.
You can find more Mexican myths and legends on this link: Mexican folk stories.