The Last Written Confession of Conde de Revilla Gigedo, in the year of Our Lord, October 31st, 1790
(English translation provided by Professor P. Gomez of the University of San Salvador)
I had seen the Dürer sketches of the objet d'art presented to Charles V by Cortes in 1520. I felt a strange indignancy while viewing the charcoals, certain that Dürer did the works little justice. The mere fact that he had seen them whole and unburied infuriated me. He, being a blue-eyed foreigner, had no right (to my way of thinking) to view these wonders.
Oh, I know what he later claimed in his diaries; I have their contents committed to memory, but I fancied myself a man of enlightenment . . . and these are modern times. What authority allowed him and his cohorts to rebury Her? That question, along with Dürer's audacity, enflamed me. And so, using my command as Viceroy, I ordered Coatlicue, Mother of the Sun God unburied.
The laborers uncovered Her on August the thirteenth. That three of those workers immediately began to clutch their chests and fall to their knees concerned me not a whit. When it was later reported that their blood spurted in great geysers from their eyes and ears saturating the mammoth stone legs of the Goddess, I should have been ashamed; I should have halted the project instantly — but I could not. Jealousy had clouded my mind, greed and envy.
Five more men died in the dirt that morning when the ropes slipped as Coatlicue was raised. The base of the monument swung too far and crushed the five still deep in the hole left by our huge Goddess.
And when at last She was set upright in the village square, I wept. Not for the lost lives that I so callously ignored, not for the cry of horror that came from the priest's dry lips; I wept in elation. Repulsive, you say? Yes, Coatlicue is repulsive to the uninformed, those who see only Rembrandt's and Michelangelo's. But in my eyes, She was a masterpiece!
The priests demanded an audience with me, not just the priest of our village alone, no, dozens of them sent from all corners Mexico. They begged, they pleaded for me to return Her to the ground, but I would not have it. Not then. I stared at the Goddess from my window in the plaza; I basked in my own importance when the foreigners came to sketch Her, to study Her and learn the legends.
I knew Her to be the Goddess of Blood Sacrifice, but again, being a man of enlightenment, I saw only art. I saw beauty in Her colossal skirt of entwined serpents. The collar She wears of amputated human hands and hearts are surely only symbols! Who would take the ancient tales seriously in these modern times? She was the Eater of Filth, but she would now promote the education of art in our backwards land . . . so I swore.
So strong is Her pull that I came to my suite earlier in the mornings. I longed to see the first rays of the sun — Her son — illuminate the pendulous breasts, breasts that have fed man since the dawn of time. (Her— I can no longer bear to write the Goddess's name!) And that is when I first noticed the gifts that were left at her feet.
At first, just rags . . . rags soaked in blood. Of human or animal, I was uncertain, but that I began to feel uneasy is no lie. I watched as they came to her: only the peasants and the lame at first, but then I saw people I knew to be monied, people who had education and culture. I was surprised, worried. But by the time the cocks crowed, all Her worshipers would leave. El Trigorè, the toothless one, came then with his broom and swept away the offerings before the foreigners and students came.
Tales began to reach my ears in the days that followed. Stories of disappearing children and old ones, tales of animals being slaughtered in the country and blood being drunk by a new (and dangerous) generation of followers. The rags were soon joined by entrails and organs, organs too large to be thought goat or sheep. At last, I grew fearful.
By September's mid-month I began to disguise myself and sneak into the plaza late at night. It was rumored that this was the time for confessions. They told the Eater of Filth anything and everything in order to be cleansed. Horrible, lascivious confessions of adultery and incest were laid at the feet of the Goddess along with the blood gifts.
I was heartsick; I believed I would deliver my people to a new age, a renaissance, but instead I had caused them to regress, to take up ancient beliefs. I had failed.
I was about to creep back into the night when I noticed her. Her deliberate posture and incredible beauty caused her to stand out among this horde of unwashed and ignorant. I watched her lips move in a silent prayer to the Goddess. From under her cloak she removed a bloody cloth; I knew it to be her menses cloth. I knew this because the beautiful worshiper was none other then my own wife.
I became incensed. What had she to confess? How dare she embarrass me!
My pride. Once again, it was pride that spoke to me before common sense. I would have Coatlicue reburied at once!
Only — who would do so? The workers that I had employed to excavate Her were now Her willing priests; I would have to seek labor from the far countryside. I knew I had to act quickly: El Dia de los Muertos would be upon us soon and I dared not think what the Goddess would demand for sacrifice then.
October first dawned to the arrival of hundreds of sandal-clad peasants assembled in the plaza awaiting my order to begin. The village was unnervingly silent. The workers made the Sign of the Cross as they kicked dirt over blood spatters left in the dust by God knows what. From time to time, they glanced over their shoulders uneasily. When the church bells rang seven times, I gave the order to commence.
The removal of the Eater of Filth took weeks. In that time, my village has emptied itself. Tumbleweeds drift through the plaza. The shops are silent, the streets are vacant, and the church is empty save for Padre Batiste and the one-eyed bell ringer. The villagers are somewhere in the hills. They roam only at night in search of gifts for the Goddess — blood gifts.
My home is unbearable. All the servants have gone. Fatima, my wife, does not speak to me. She will come nowhere near me. She has not washed, dressed, and as far as I can tell, has not eaten since October first. Yet she seems strong, powerful. There is a badness, a rot spot in her dark eyes that frightens me. But I'll not let her see my fear, I will think only of tomorrow: El Dia de los Muertos — the Day of the Dead.
She will come for me then, I know she will. I hear her mumbling, and there is not a knife left in the house. She has secreted them in her room. And that is why I sit here at my desk with the absinthe. I shall drink it and go with a clear conscience to Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I will not be Fatima's blood gift to the Eater of Filth.
For those who will read this document: I am sorry; I intended only good, I wanted only the best for Mexico. Please, I implore you — leave Coatlicue beneath the earth, nearer Hell — where she belongs.
May God have mercy on my soul.
*Author's note: Coatlicue currently resides in the Aztec hall of Mexico's National Museum of Anthropology.