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Quetzecóatl is comin’ to town

22 December 2022

It’s like finding a grain of gold in a pile of shit, but there is one… and exactly one… thing D.H. Lawrence got right (athough only very, very slightly) in his 1925 novel, “The Plumed Serpent”… and that by accident, having only a slight echo in an official Christmas celebration held on the Zocalco in Mexico City in 1930.

In Lawrence’s novel, the extended musings on the “savage” bloodlines of the “primitive” Indians, and the “tamed” and decadent bloodlines of “white” people, is at the heart of the absurd fantasy of a revived Quetzcóatl religion taking over a town .. of all places on Lake Chapala in what was ground-zero for the then growing “Cristero” movement… a reactionary Catholic movement that might have… if not for the Catholic bit… have perfectly fit into the world-view of a proto-Nazi like Lawrence (who had the good sense to die in 1930 before Fascism had moved much beyond economics … not his bag… into something more in his line of inquiry… racial supremacism).

That said, what Lawrence had (sorta) right was noticing the nationalist concerns of the Mexican state (represened by the “Indian” general) which… especially during the 1920s did increasingly attemt to harass and lessen the influence of the Catholic Church (considered a foreign institution), and leading up to a full-fledged counter-revolution centered in Jalisco (where, remember, Lawrence has set his story) and even today is a center of reactionary Catholicism. At the same time, or in the aftermath of the 1926-28 Cristero War, state policy was to de-emphasize the religious aspects of national holidays, while at the same time, reject the pernicious influence of the dreaded gringos and their emphasis on consumerism and capitalism.

And… in what’s perhaps the first attempt at a stike against “Coca-colonialism” the popular image of Saint Nicholas, who had been beating the Three Wise Men in gifting good boys and girls by a goodly 12 days, as reintrepeted by the purveyors of “aguas negras de los imperialistas” (“imperialist sewage”…i.e. Coca-Cola) as the jolly old fat man in the red suit, that had been flooding Mexico at the time… President Ortez Rubio — not wanting to stir up the simmering reactionary Catholics (who’d tried to assassinate him at his inaguartion and shot him in the face) — turned his attention to that other foreign institution… Santa Claus.

And, so.. having probably never read, nor heard of Lawrence (who had died the previous March) … did, in a very small way, “restore Quetzcóatl” (or even, as in the novel, Huitzilopochtli, who is not the Plumed Serpent, that being Quezecóatl), and certainly not as a fusion with a “white goddess). Ortiz Rubio sought a benign gift giver for December, one who would be neither overtly Christian, nor a product of foreign marketing agents.

Ergo: the eminently flexible god of, well whatever you want: Quetzcóatl. Who did distribute gifts to good boys and girls (at least those whose parents were good party faithfuls) at Christmas in 1930. The kids may have liked their presents, but even with the hard work of the Education Ministry to redesign a benign looking Quetzcóatl, he never really caught on, and the idea was quietly shelved by Christmas 1931.

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