Uniquely Mexico

Guadalupe, Reina de los Mexicanos


In the year 1531, ten years after the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadores to Mexico, a miraculous event occurred at the Hill of Tepeyac, the worship site of the Aztec Goddess Tonantzin, when a Noble Woman from the heavens appeared to the Aztec Juan Diego. This event forever affected all the inhabitants of this region and the world. Word of the appearance of this Noble Woman soon spread from indigenious to indigenious person, community to community, like a river of hope to the pueblos. Many families told of miracles when they prayed to this Virgin for Her blessings.

She is known to the Mexican people as “La Virgin de Guadalupe” or “Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe.”  The name Guadalupe is derived from the Arabic “De Wad” which means river  and “Lope” or wolves. The Virgin of Guadalupe is also Maria del Tepeyac. Tepeyacac or “Tepetl” means hill and temple; “Yacatl” means nose or point. Tepeyac was the foundation for the new pueblo, the new land that was promised by Ometeotl, the Supreme Aztec God.

The true characters in this story of the apparition are Maria (The Virgin of Guadalupe), Juan Diego (the Aztec Indian), the Hill of Tepeyac, Juan Bernardino (Juan Diego’s uncle) and the Bishop Juan de Zumarraga. Juan Diego was the ambassador of the Virgin Maria and the intermediary between the will of the Virgin Maria and the Bishop. In the Aztec cosmology the Eagle standing on top of the Nopal (cactus) signaled that the people had reached the land promised to them by Ometeotl where they were to settle. Symbolically, Juan Diego was an Aztec warrior, the Eagle that was to convince the Bishop of the Virgin Maria’s message for the betterment of the People of Mexico. He was to capture the Bishop like a Mexica (Aztec) warrior. In the Aztec world, the warrior that triumphed was rewarded with land, gold, precious stones, women and an important government position. Juan Diego would be rewarded with the riches and prosperity of the Heavens.

The first time Juan Diego visited the Bishop in his palace he delivered the Noble Woman’s message to the Bishop but the Bishop was not convinced. Juan Diego was in grief because he did not accomplish his mission. The Noble Woman insisted that he return to deliver the message again. It was his Tonalli (destiny) to save his pueblo through the will of this Noble Woman. The next day, when he returned, the Bishop told him that he needed a sign, a physical confirmation that the Virgin Maria was truely the Heavenly One that sent him.

On Monday morning, Juan Diego did not arrive at the Bishop’s palace. His Tio (uncle), Juan Bernadino, had become very sick and was dying. Seeking healing for his uncle in Mexico City, he decided to go around the hill to the east to avoid the area where he had seen the Virgin Maria.  But when The Virgin Maria saw him, she began talking to him in loving language, as a Nahuatl father or mother would address their loving son.
“Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who is your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything.” (Words of Our Lady to Juan Diego on December 12, 1531)
She told him that his uncle would be healed and that he needed to continue to try to convince the Bishop of her message. The Tio, in the Nahuatl culture, represents the pueblo.  This is the point in the story where the Nahuatl pueblo is dying under the European domination. It is Juan Diego’s job as Her son to save this Mexica pueblo. The Virgin Maria heals Juan Diego’s uncle and at the same time she heals all the pain, anguishes, and miseries of the inhabitants of this land. She has proven to be the Savior of this Mexica pueblo, of all of the Americas, and of the world.

The Virgin instructs Juan Diego to go to the top of the hill (Tepeyac) and gather flowers. The gathering of the flowers was the moment of intergration: to cut, to gather, and to unite them.  Guadalupe appeared to Juan Diego three times; the number three symbolizes intermediation. A true intermediation will occur between Juan Diego and the Bishop at this point of the story. The flowers symbolized new life. It was winter time and there was no evidence of any flowers growing in this region.  He ascends up the hill, which represents a temple, the place of freedom.  The top of the temple is where God meets humanity and humanity meets God. Juan Diego gathers the flowers and places them in the hollow part of his Tilma (apron), near his heart, like a mother would hold her infant. Mexica women carried the infants in the hollow part of their mantle like a portable cradle, and still do to this day. The Virgin Maria touches the flowers with her hands and transcends them so all the Knowing was imprinted on Juan Diego’s Tilma.

On the final visit to the Bishops palace, Juan Diego presents himself like a powerful Tenochca leader.  He carries the flowers very carefully and with reat love close to his heart. He is very precise in his message that the will of Maria of Tepeyac must be realized to give life to the Mexica pueblos. The story ends when the Bishop transfers to the Church the image of this Noble Woman from the Heavens. A true union occurred of the conquered and the conquerer, the invaded and invader. This sacred union continues to unite all Mexican pueblos in a new mixed race of Mexican peoples.

The Bishop was not the true evangelizer of the Mexica. The Virgin Maria was also the Eagle and the signal for a new foundation. This Noble Woman was to evangelize the people not only through her divine words but through her love. To evangelize requires goodness, unconditional love, forgiveness, and mercy. The Bishop did not know the Mexica culture and how to utilize the Nahuatl language reverently and metaphorically to win the indigenious people. The appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe was a divine miracle and a signal from above.  She is adorned with the Divine Sun, sacred to the Mexica because it was the sign of their Supreme God, Ometeotl.  It is believed that no man on earth could have painted this sacred image.

About the Author

maria-teresa-copalMaria Teresa Valenzuela is an indigenous spiritual teacher and healer from an enduring lineage of shamanic healers and curanderos in the Sierra Madre of Chihuahua, Mexico. Taught the shamanic medicine way by her grandmother and father, she brings to her work a wealth of knowledge in Mesoamerican wisdom, myths, and traditional forms of indigenous medicine and healing. Drawing on her indigenous heritage, career as a registered nurse, life experiences, and traditional training as a “Mujer de la Medicina,” Maria Teresa serves as a unique bridge across traditions and cultures. She travels throughout the United States, Mexico, and Central America sharing her healing gifts and wisdom.

Maria Teresa conducts spiritual workshops, retreats and individual healing work using indigenous healing methods and visionary medicine plants.

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