Un blog de mitos, leyendas, costumbres y tradiciones de México

Entradas etiquetadas como ‘Myths and legends of treasures’

Myths and legends from Sonora: The Devil Does a Good Deed

THE DEVIL DOES A GOOD DEED

Folk story from the State of Sonora

One evening, while having dinner with don Evaristo and doña Almanda, I asked our guest if he knew any stories from the state of Sonora. “You see, Emily and I are planning to drive to Sonora for the holidays,” I said.

“Now, let me think,” don Evaristo said and thought for a while. “Ah, yes. I’ve just thought of a good one. ‘The Devil Does a Good Deed’, it’s called.”

“The Devil.” said Emily, “Are you going to frighten us?”

“Not quite. This story is about an old lady named Eulogia, who lived all alone on a small ranch, in a forgotten corner in the middle of the Sonora desert. Eulogia had very few visitors. Maybe once or twice a year, a muleteer would take a wrong turning and come across the ranch by accident. And these chance visits were the only times Eulogia received any news from the outside world.” Don Evaristo began.

“Her husband had been a member of an infamous gang of bandits, feared throughout the territory. After one particularly dangerous raid against federal troops, the leader of the gang presented Eulogia’s husband with a dramatic painting of a devil. This was his way of thanking Eulogia’s husband for saving his life during the bitter encounter. Though he was not at all happy about the subject of the painting, Eulogia’s husband could not, of course, refuse a gift from his leader and friend. That day, when he arrived home, he placed the picture behind a door, and there it stayed. Even after his death, the picture stayed there; being one of the few things he left his solitary wife to remember him by.

“Now, when our story begins, Eulogia was still in good health, though advanced in years. She still kept her own house and did her own housework, and, whenever she went through the door on which the strange painting hung, she used to say, ‘Poor thing! You never see the face of God, do you?’ Then she would take a cloth and gently sweep off the dust from the painting. This daily ritual repeated itself, day after day and year after year. After her husband’s death, she even moved the painting closer to her room, so she would not forget to dust it off.

“All flesh is weak, and so it happened that, strong as she was, one day Eulogia fell ill. Now very old indeed and all alone in the desert, she made up her herbal remedies and tried to take care of herself the best she could. But it was all to no avail. As each day passed, she grew weaker and weaker, until finally, she just lay motionless on bed, unable to move a finger. Homero Adame’s folk stories.

“When the devil in the painting saw her sad condition, he materialized, came out of the picture and approached Eulogia’s bed. She knew very well that death was near. ‘Good-bye, old friend,’ she said to the devil. When the devil heard this, he rushed out of the house as fast as he could and ran and ran down the lonely desert road towards the nearest town.

“Once in town, he rushed inside the first church he came to. When the priest saw the devil, he recoiled in horror. ‘What do you want of me?’ he demanded, in a rage. ‘I just want you to come with me and give the last rites to someone who is dying,’ replied the devil. Homero Adame’s folk stories.

“The priest found very hard to believe the devil’s words, but the idea of saving a poor soul seemed more important to him than any devil’s trickery. So, he agreed to go with the devil, but not without carefully packing a holy cross, holy water, incense and all the materials he needed for the sacrament.

“Priest and devil together hitched the horses to a carriage and hurried off back to Eulogia’s ranch. When they arrived, they found the old lady smiling tranquilly. ‘I’ve just seen a beautiful lady dressed all in white,’ she whispered. ‘She was coming down a long tunnel to meet me and little children with wings were flying all around her.’ Leyenda sonorense en un blog de Homero Adame.

“The priest then gave the old lady confession, and soon after, Eulogia passed away peacefully, and well accompanied.

“Moments later, the priest asked the devil to leave, but first he remembered to thank him for his good deed. Before they parted, the holy man said to the devil, ‘Tell me, what made you want to save a soul? Why on earth did you do a good deed? Is this a devil’s work?’

‘Well, you know, that woman was extraordinarily kind to me. She even saved me from my prison in the picture! Besides, I already have her husband’s soul,’ the devil smiled and vanished. The priest, for his part, went back to the town and to all his priestly duties.

“When the authorities and gravediggers came to bury the old lady, they found a strange painting beside her. A painting of a silhouette – the outline of a figure, where the devil’s form had once been…”

“How strange, that the devil should do such a kind thing!” Emily exclaimed. “I can’t believe it.”

“Neither can I, but who knows? Maybe even bad spirits can do good deeds, from time to time.” Don Evaristo laughed. “And it’s only a story, Emily!”

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Folk story 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. 206-207.

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Myths and legends from the State of Tamaulipas: The ‘Leoncillo’

THE ‘LEONCILLO’

Folk story from the Sierra de San Carlos, in Tamaulipas

One day, at don Evaristo’s ranch, we all went horseback riding in the distant hills. Don Evaristo was looking for some missing cows. In the afternoon, we found the cows, and the cowboys took them straight back to the corrals. After that, we stopped by a lake to water the horses, and there we saw a strange animal that looked something like a puma. That very same night, after supper, don Evaristo told us a very interesting story about this animal particular.

“You know, animals know a lot of things, and maybe more than humans think. Some animals are divine messengers and bring good news; others may announce calamities or evil things to come. Today, we came across one very astute little wild feline known as http://www.1-costaricalink.com/costa_rica_fauna/jaguarundi.htm‘leoncillo’, or ‘little lion’, although its official name is ‘jaguarundi’. Many people believe it’s a kind of magical animal.”

“A magical animal! That sounds interesting!” Emily said.

“Magical? In what way?” I asked.

“Well, according to local tradition, if a hunter wants to kill a jaguarundi, no matter how many shots he takes, not one will ever hit the target. I have actually heard this from people who have tried it themselves, not just from the legend!

“Anyway, even though some people may not believe it, the ‘leoncillo’ is not a bad animal. He just stays alone in the woods, looking for food, and rarely comes near a corral, or attacks goats or cows. No, the ‘leoncillo’ is not like the puma or the wolf, which often kill just for the sake of killing – not because they need food. The ‘leoncillo’ eats hares, rabbits, wild mice, and iguanas; things like that.

“But let me tell you something else: whenever you see a ‘leoncillo’ by the road or in an open field, I believe there’s a reason, and he’s usually warning us about something. Perhaps it’s going to rain, or the weather is going to get colder, or you are going to receive some news from a distant relative… http://animalfarmguyana.com/images/large/Jaguarundi.jpgThe ‘leoncillo’ is a bringer of news. He’s a true friend to us humans.” Don Evaristo concluded.

“So, what news was he bringing us today?” I wondered.

“I don’t know. Maybe it’s going to rain tomorrow,” don Evaristo said.

And believe it or not, it did rain the following day! It poured down for hours, after a long season of drought!

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Written by Homero Adame and translated by Pat Grounds. Originally published in the English textbook Activate! 2. By Carol Lethaby, Homero Adame, and Pat Grounds. Ediciones Castillo, S.A. de C.V. Monterrey, Mexico. 2003. Pp. 122-123.

The two images were taken from the Internet. The links are a way to thank the two sites. Jaguarundi in Costa Rica and Jaguarundi in Animalfarmguyana.

Myths and legends from Sinaloa: The Seven Golden Cities of Cibola

THE SEVEN GOLDEN CITIES OF CIBOLA

Folk story from the State of Sinaloa

One evening I was having dinner with some friends in Choix, Sinaloa —don Evaristo started saying–, when one of them mentioned the Seven Golden Cities of Cibola. She said they lay somewhere in the mountains that divide Sinaloa and Sonora. Then somebody, Ruperto was his name, said he had actually seen those cities when he was a child. And this is what Ruperto told us that night:

“When I was a child, I used to help my father with the sheep and sometimes he took me with him on trips to buy supplies. One day we traveled up to El Fuerte in the farm cart, did some business in town, and then went on horseback all the way to Alamos. Somewhere between Las Cañadas and Cerro Colorado, we met an old friend of my father’s, quite by chance. He was from Los Mochis and he was working with some miners and had two local Indian guides! They invited us to spend the night at their camp. The men told us they were looking for the seven lost cities of Cibola. We were very excited when the miners invited us to join their expedition.

“Early the next morning, long before sunrise, we walked and walked in the dark until we came to a line of low hills. Suddenly, the Indian guides stopped and said we must wait for the sunrise. And, as the sun’s first rays fell on those enigmatic hills, we saw the dazzling beauty of a city of pure gold!

“Some of the miners could not control their curiosity and ran straight towards the place! My father’s friend from Los Mochis was one of them! Strangely enough, the Indians didn’t take a single step in the direction of the golden domes and we, affected by their silence and immobility, stayed just as motionless beside them.

“And thank heaven we did! Just a few minutes later, we watched the golden city fade away, leaving nothing but a line of low hills in its place. We never saw my father’s friend or any of the other men again. They vanished from the face of the earth forever!”

“That’s a wonderful story, don Evaristo!” I said. “I’ve heard of similar phenomena in the Sahara Desert.”

“Yes, indeed,” don Evaristo responded. “Disappearing cities are common motifs in universal mythology. I once read something similar in a book about myths and legends from the state of Nuevo Leon; a story called El pueblo festivo”.

“So what happened to all those men who disappeared?” Emily asked.

“Well, who knows?” Don Evaristo answered. “But the usual thing, according to mythological conventions, is that they can come back at some special magical date, when the place opens up once again. Once every hundred years, for example.”

“It’s a fantastic story. A bit hard to believe, though,” I said.

“You’re right. But it’s a folk tale, after all. However, never forget that myths and legends are based on some kind of essential truth or reality. Look at the ancient stories of Troy, or King Arthur,” don Evaristo explained. “But sometimes our minds can only believe in what our eyes see. Videre est credere – as they say in Latin! Nevertheless, maybe it’s possible that Ruperto and his father did see something that existed in another dimension; something that those Indian guides knew about; something similar to what Cabeza de Vaca probably saw, more than 450 years ago.” Folk story found in Homero Adame’s blog at: https://adameleyendas.wordpress.com/2010/11/18/myths-and-legends-from-sinaloa-the-seven-golden-cities-of-cibola/

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. 99-100.

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