Codex Delilah: Six Deer a Journey from Mexicatlto Chicana
Script by Cecilio Garcia Camarillo incollaboration with Delilah Montoya 1992
Everyone sleeps in the village. Theheaviness of the humid afternoon with its smells of fruit, fish and rottingleaves intoxicates even the dogs into sleep. Only 6-Deer walks hurriedly bythe temple of Tonantzín to the hut of old Ix-Chel, the tlamatini-counsellor ofcountless village leaders.
"Ix-Chel, help meunderstand why I'm afraid and confused," 6-Deer implores. In the nearfuture the young healer will be initiated as the keeper of harmony andtraditions of her people, but she is terrified. "I don't know anything,Ix-Chel. What is truth? Will my songs heal? Will there be harmony among mypeople and respect for the earth mother?"
Old Ix-Chel, her face abundle of wrinkles, smiles and hugs 6-Deer. "I've been waiting for yourquestions, little one," she murmurs while brushing 6-Deer's hair with hergnarled fingers. "You are full of anxiety and you blame yourself. Try tounderstand that the whole cosmos is at odds with itself. The quarrelling ofour deities of the 4-directions has put everything out of balance. You aredeeply confused and I think it's just the right time for a journey, yes, toAztlán, our ancient homeland where my old friend Crow-Woman will help youunderstand the nature of all things. Crow-woman is the wisest of all on earth,for she can even talk with Ometeotl, the male-female god of all gods. If shefeels you are worthy, she'll allow you to consult with Omecihuatl, the femaleside of the god, so that you know the truths you seek. It's also very importantthat Omecihuatl knows that because of the fighting of her sons of the4-directions there is chaos and destruction on the earth. This is the flintthat all the healers of our people have worn. Trust it and it will protectyou. At the end of your tutelage, ask Crow-Woman to bless it."
6-Deer cries and holdsold Ix-Chel's hands. "I'll die, Ix-Chel. I'm afraid of dying."
Ix-Chel puts the flintaround 6-Deer's neck and again points north. "Listen, little one,understand your fear of dying and use that energy to take you to Aztlán. You'll find Crow-Woman on top of a mountain that turns red at sunset. Yourheart will tell you when it's time to return home. Go now, and don't lookback."
The soft colors of thelate afternoon sun tinge 6-Deer's skin as she walks along the coastline of theisthmus with its riotous sounds of birds and monkeys and jaguars. As she restsnear Quiahuitzan a woman accosts her. Her red eyes, waxen face and wild mattedhair mirrors the anguish wrapped around her reason.
"Did you see anychildren around here?" the woman screams and pulls her hair. "No," answers 6-Deer, astonished by the wild woman frothing at themouth. "Never mind," she hisses after calming down. "I'mLlora-Llora-Malinche. Children, children," she screams again. "Please sit down," 6-Deer pleads. "I don't have time, solisten. Men in metal clothes have invaded the land. They ride giant beastsand hunger like pigs for gold. They are destroying our cities, temples andgods. They kill the men, rape the women, and disease follows them everywhere. Children, children," Llora-Llora-Malinche screams again. "You'retired," 6-Deer begs her, "please sit down." "There's notime," Llora-Llora-Malinche growls and pulls her hair. "Our way oflife has been destroyed by the invaders. All is lost, but I can tell you'recarrying the child of the invaders." "What are you saying?"asks the perplexed 6-Deer. "What you heard. I can see what others can't. Love your child of mixed bloods for he is the new race who will survive andpopulate the land. Children, children," Llora-Llora-Malinche screams asshe runs toward Quiahuitzan.
6-Deer stands therestunned. Then she breaths deeply, gains her composure, and massages herstomach as she whispers to herself, "Wait, wait, I can help you," butsomething inside her is already telling her that it's too late forLlora-Llora-Malinche and that she must continue her journey.
Dark rain clouds aresplattered across the massive sky as 6-Deer travels west on the unfamiliar highterrain that leads to Tenochtitlan. She is fatigued, hungry and her feet bleedprofusely. "I'm getting weaker from the loss of blood," 6-Deerthinks as she sits on a large rock. "I'll bandage my wounds before itstarts raining." Suddenly a bolt of lightening strikes the ground infront of her. 6-Deer screams and covers her face. After recuperating from themomentary blindness she notices a dark woman wearing a long dress decoratedwith astrological symbols.
"Hello, I'mLupe-Lupita. Are you all right?" the woman asks in a friendly voice. "Not quite," answers 6-Deer, "I'm still seeing some light aroundyour body. I'm 6-Deer and..." "I know," the luminous womaninterrupts, "and I also know where you're going. I don't have much time,but there are things I must tell you."
Lupe-Lupita explains to6-Deer that Mexico is undergoing transformations, that it's important to not beconfused by appearances that disguise a deeper reality, and that the umbilicalcord of Indian life has not been severed. "But I was told the invadersdestroyed our gods and our old way of life," 6-Deer exclaims.
Lupe-Lupita notices6-Deer's bleeding feet, and says, "You're hurt. Let me help you." She kneels and caresses 6-Deer's wounds while continuing, "Try to understandthat the old is not dead but disguised under the new. Our old religion andgods are the same, but everything is now called Christian." "But whymust our traditions be disguised?" questions 6-Deer. "It's a matterof survival," responds Lupe-Lupita as she stands and looks deeply into6-Deer's eyes. "The bleeding has stopped and you must continue yourjourney. But remember to distinguish between appearances and reality. Whatever happens, don't forget your Indian roots, your devotion to harmony andyour healing powers."
6-Deer touches theluminous woman's hands and thanks her for her advice and for curing her wounds. "Now close your eyes 6-Deer," Lupe-Lupita whispers, "and holdyour flint as you walk towards Aztlán." 6-Deer hears and smells lightningstrike close to her, and when she opens her eyes Lupe-Lupita is gone. Sheclutches the flint and walks hurriedly as a light drizzle begins to dampen herthick black hair.
Many moons spin by as6-Deer treks the great Chihuahua desert. The wind-blown dust and thirstclutching at her throat have made her delirious. Suddenly, behind some rollingtumbleweeds she sees a richly dressed woman with brownish hair. "Thevicious desert wind has tired you out. You're sick, hungry and in need of abath," the aristocratic woman snaps at 6-Deer. "I'mAdora-la-Conquistadora." "I'm 6-Deer." "I know, Iknow," Adora-la-Conquistadora answers mockingly. "My soldiers arewaiting for me so I don't have much time. I just have a few words of advicefor you." "Wait," 6-Deer interrupts, "I'm curious. You'rewhite, but you look like a cousin of mine. Are you of Spanish and Indianblood?" "Indian blood! Don't be stupid,"Adora-la-Conquistadora snarls indignantly. "I'm the spiritual leader ofthe Spaniards who are gathered at El Paso del Norte with their mestizo alliespreparing to reconquer the Pueblos." "Where are the Pueblos and whymust you reconquer them?" asks 6-Deer. "Don't you understand thatthe old ways have to die so that the new ways can prosper? But those damnfools up north got too arrogant, and now we're going to teach them alesson."
"So you're going toAztlán?" 6-Deer asks. "Aztlán? Where have you been? Everythingaround here is called New Spain. 6-Deer, what a horrible name. Why don't youchange it to something more Christian like Reza-Rosario." "I'm veryhappy with my birthname," 6-Deer retorts. "I'm only trying to helpyou avoid trouble with the invaders," insists Adora-la-Conquistadora. "So the mestizos are now invaders too?" asks 6-Deer. "Ofcourse, and if you're smart you'll join our forces and change your ways. Together we'll reconquer the northern provinces and civilize the savages withour Catholic faith." "I can't do that," 6-Deer says firmly. "Have it your way, but remember, the invaders will soon be everywhere upnorth, and if you don't become one of us you too will die." Adora-la-Conquistadora then runs off, her cape flapping like the wings of abird of prey.
6-Deer breathes deeply,rubs her flint, and the stream of tears mixes with the swirling dust to createoddly shaped smudges on the young healer's face.
6-Deer kneels and staresat her face on the muddy waters of the Río Bravo. It is the same and yetdifferent from the face she remembers when she left her village. Gone is thebaby fat on her cheeks, and her skin looks rougher and darker. "But," she wonders, "I think it's my eyes that seem sodifferent. Could it be that I am learning to see truth?"
6-Deer washes her face and dampens her hair. She drinks a little of the dark water then looks towards Ciudad Juárez. People are awakening and turning on their lights. "Aztlán, where areyou?" she whispers. Suddenly she feels a hand on her shoulder and a raspy voice asks,"So you're going to the other side too, eh? No problem, now is the besttime to do it. I'll help you. I know where the river is real shallow. Comeon." "Wait, what's on the other side?" 6-Deer asks facing thehusky woman. "El Norte, of course." the woman replies. "Youmean Aztlán," 6-Deer adds. "I don't know about that. It's just ElNorte." "What are those things you have on your chest in the form ofa cross?" 6-Deer inquires. "My, my, you're full of questions aren'tyou, girl?" the manly woman teases. "I'm Lucha-Adelucha, arevolutionary, and these are the bullets I use to fight for liberty andjustice. I may wear a skirt, but when it comes to fighting or running from lamigra, police or mad capitalist dogs, I'm as good as any man." "Whois the real enemy you're fighting," asks 6-Deer." "Theoppressors. They're here in Mexico, the United States, everywhere. First theywere called invaders, but now everyone knows them as oppressors. They'vestolen the land, destroyed our traditions and hired the masses as slaves intheir fields and factories."
"My heart tells me I must cross theriver so that I can understand the truth. Will you help me?" 6-Deer asks. "Of course, come on. We'll walk together for a while. Hell, maybe you'lleven join our struggle for freedom and equality," Lucha-Adelucha expounds. "I like what you're saying. It makes sense," 6-Deer agrees. "Go ahead, I'll follow you." 6-Deer and Lucha-Adelucha hold handsand slowly cross the Río Bravo as the first rays of the sun strike theirbodies.
The dazzling colors ofthe southern New Mexico sunset amaze 6-Deer as she walks a narrow dirt road. She is surrounded by chile plants for as far as she can see. "A green seaof powerful chiles under a sky on fire," she murmurs.
She then notices a womenin the middle of the road who smiles and calls out to her, "Hello,compaĖera". 6-Deer approaches her and asks, "Can you tell me if thisis Aztlán?" "Maybe," answers the dark woman with the winning smile. "Many say Aztlán is right here in New Mexico and others say it's just astate of mind. I'm La-Velia from the farmworkers movement."
"I'm 6-Deer. Canyou tell me what the farmworkers movement is about?" La-Velia explains to6-Deer that farmers spray pesticides on their crops which make the farmworkerssick. She joined the chile pickers who are on strike and marching to Santa Feto demand the intervention of the state govenment to solve their problem. "And what are you doing out here 6-Deer?" La-Velia asks.
"I'm on a journeytrying to understand truth. You're dark like me. Are you an Indian?"6-Deer asks touching La-Velia's arm.
"I guess I am," La-Velia answers,"but we call ourselves Chicanos." "Chicanos," 6-Deerpronounces the word haltingly. "I've never heard of Chicanosbefore." "Well, if you must know the truth about Chicanos it's thatwe struggle for justice and equality everyday," La-Velia says proudly. "We're mestizos who are proud of our indigenous heritage. Are you a poet? You look like a poet." "Not really," 6-Deer answers, "I'ma keeper of our ancient traditions. My responsibility is to make sure that mypeople live in harmony." "That's a mighty big job," La-Veliaexclaims. "Oh well, I guess I've had my rest. I have to get back to mycompaĖeros and finish our plans for tomorrow's walk. Do you want to walk withus on our march for justice 6-Deer?" La-Velia asks. "I feel I'mclose to a mountain that turns red at sunset," 6-Deer answers as she againadmires the iridescent sky. "Oh you must mean the Sandías nearAlbuquerque. That's my home-base. We're going that way, come on,"La-Velia encourages 6-Deer.
And as the two women walk the winding dirtroad La-Velia continues, "We don't fight for our rights with violence. Understand? Our struggle is non-violent, just as Ghandi, Martin Luther Kingand César Chávez taught us. And that's why we'll win. "I understand whatyou're saying with my heart," 6-Deer answers. "That's what I like tohear," La-Velia laughs and hugs 6-Deer.
A flock of crows form astain on the cloudless sky as they fly past the solitary figure who sits like astatue on top of Sandía Mountain. The glaring mid-day sun almost blinds 6-Deeras she approaches the woman who has covered her face with her hair.
"My heart tells meI have finally found Crow-Woman, the one who speaks directly to the gods. I'm6-Deer and I have journeyed for a long time to be with you. I seek yourguidance and wisdom. Are you ill, my teacher? Can you hear me?"
Crow-Woman slowly pulls back the hair fromher face. 6-Deer suppresses a terrified scream when she sees that the oldcounsellor's face is a skull. She is unable to contain her tears as she asks,"What has happened to you, my teacher?" In a painful voice Crow-Womanexplains, "I'm no longer the nourisher of life but sickness and deathitself. The scientists have implanted missiles in my breasts, my child. I canfeel them multiplying, growing and spreading throughout my body. When I becomeone with the missiles, I'll destroy all life with a nuclear explosion. Youhave arrived too late. You must leave now."
6-Deer holdsCrow-Woman's hands and tells her that since the deities of the 4-directionsbegan their struggle for power, the heart of man lost its harmony and there isdestruction everywhere. "But don't believe it's too late, myteacher," 6-Deer continues. "Ix-Chel gave me this sacred flint whichI will use to make small cuts on your breasts. I will clean you, feed you andrestore your strength. Each day I will make the cuts a little bigger untilyour energy pushes the missiles out, and then your real face will reveal itselfagain."
Crow-Woman smiles andruns the tips of her fingers around 6-Deer's face. She points towards thewest. "Look at all those crows coming towards us. I've never seen somany crows. I remember my old friend Ix-Chel. She has sent me hope."
The crows form anenormous cloud as they circle above Crow-Woman and 6-Deer. Unable to hearthemselves because of the cawing, they laugh and hug each other. Then 6-Deerspeaks into Crow-Woman's ear, "When you get well, please ask our motherOmecihuatl, the female side of the god of all gods, Ometeotl, to stop thefighting among her sons, the deities of the 4-directions. Then you and I will speakthe truth to the people. Together we can restore harmony to the hearts ofhumanity."
The cloud of crowssuddenly swirls to the north. Crow-Woman then asks, "Will you stay withme, 6-Deer?" 6-Deer cleans the flint and makes tiny cuts on both of Crow-Woman'sbreasts. "I will stay with you in Aztlán, my teacher," she answers,wiping the blood that flows out of Crow-Woman's breasts, "but wheneverything on the earth is in balance, I must return home."