Wednesday, February 20, 2008
The first time I saw an eclipse, I was pregnant with my daughter. I, my husband and my son, lived in a small rented house with a lovely little garden. We had a cleaning lady who brought her adult daughter to work with her - the mother did not speak English very well and so her daughter translated.
The night of the eclipse, I sat out on the front lawn watching the night sky. My husband would peek out now and again to check on the progress of the eclipse. Our son was sound asleep and so were most of the neighbors. The moon seemed to loose its light, the dark spots of the craters took on the color of bruises, and then the entire planet turned dark red. I took pictures of it then, too.
The next day Angie and Melayna came to help us find the floor and clean clothes. Pattering after my son who always had a fist wrapped around a small toy car..."Did you watch the lunar eclipse?" I asked. Both looked puzzled. Then I explained.
Malayna looked horrified and then Angie asked, "Did you wear a metal belt while you were outside?" "No." I said. "Did you cover your belly?" Angie pantomimed wrapping something about her waist. "No. Why?" I asked.
Well, it seemed that the evil spirits from the moon would make my baby deformed at birth or be born without arms and legs. "Really!" I said. And the more I listened to their reasons I realized that Melayna, with great worry, was describing through Angie, how the sun god, 'Quetzalquatal ' had a fight with his sister, 'Tezcatlipoca' and cut her into bits.... "But, every month she re-grows herself. And if any to-be mother watches the night sky when the moon is dark - that child will be cut up instead!"
"Well," I said, "what should I do now?" .....We prayed and had some interesting food. They prayed to Jesus, which did not make any sense to me... Especially, when the culprit was an ancient Central American God....
My daughter, I am pleased to say, was born with all the proper parts. This isn't the first time I have participated in a ritual with divergent cultural mixes. I am always fascinated how mythology of the past persists into the mythology of the present.