The Virgin of Guadalupe
December 12th is one of the most important dates on the Mexican calendar. For almost 500 years, people have been commemorating the day La Virgen Morena – the Dark Virgin – appeared before Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill.
When Cortes conquered Tenochtitlan in 1521, the priests came with him. The Spaniards were astounded by the level of science and culture of the Aztec people, but were horrified by some of their deities and rites, especially their practice of human sacrifice.
The Spaniards destroyed most of the Aztec temples and banned any practice of the old ways. Christianity replaced tradition. They built the churches using the very materials of the temples that they’d destroyed, and often erected on the foundations of the temple itself.
One of the first temples destroyed was located on Tepeyac Hill, and was in honor of the Goddess Tonantzin.The Aztecs believed Tonantzin to be a manifestation of Coatlique, the Mother of Gods Herself. Coatlique was the one who decided the span of a person’s life. To the Aztecs, she was both giver of life and devourer of it. They used human sacrifice to appease her.
Tonantzin, or Little Mother, was ruler of childbirth and had a devout following among the Aztecs. When her temple was razed by their conquerors, they mourned their goddess and felt threatened.
Quauhtlatoatzin was one of the Aztecs that got baptized by a Franciscan priest who named him Juan Diego. It was 10 years after the conquest, on December 9th, when the Virgin of Guadalupe first appeared to him. She told him she wanted to church built on the hill and asked that he tell the authorities of her wish. He did, but they didn’t believe him.
The Virgin appeared to Juan Diego again and told him to go see the first bishop of Mexico, who demanded that Juan Diego bring proof of the appearance before any decisions concerning the building of a Church there could be made. She appeared to Juan Diego yet again, and told him to return the next day.
Her fourth and final appearance was on December 12, 1531. She asked Juan Diego to gather some flowers, Castilian roses, which were growing nearby. They are not native to Mexico, and had never grown there before, much less bloomed in midwinter. Juan gathered the roses, and wrapped them in his cloak. The Virgin told him not to open it until he was in the Bishop’s presence. When Juan Diego opened the cloak, the roses fell out on the floor and they discovered an image of the Virgin imprinted on the fabric.
A sanctuary to the Virgin was erected on the hill in 1533. A second church was begun in 1556, and in 1695, the first stone of a new sanctuary was laid. The modern basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe was dedicated in 1976. Recent repairs have revealed the pre-Hispanic foundations underneath the original 1533 construction.
The native people connected this dark Virgin who spoke in their native tongue with their goddess Tonantzin. They celebrated her with indigenous rites within the framework of the Catholic Church. She became the symbol of the fusion of these two cultures.
She is celebrated everywhere on December 12th with a variety of rites, some lasting through the night. There are shrines to the Virgin of Guadalupe all over the country. The shrine on Tepeyac Hill is one of the primary religious shrines in the world, second only to the Vatican itself in number of visitors.
Pilgrims seeking healing and favor, keeping promises, honoring vows made or just to pay homage to their beloved Little Mother converge there from all over the world. Thousands begin to arrive days before, some on their knees as a sign of their enormous devotion to her.
The energy of the Divine Feminine is coming forward on the planet, and this 12/12/12 doorway will open us to a wider experience of feminine divinity. Through some of the darkest times, the Dark Virgin stood as a representation of the Great Mother, transformed by human deeds, yet not forgotten. The spirit of her power lived on in the hearts and minds of the Aztec people and their descendants for almost 500 years. It lives today.
Is 12/12/12 simply an activation of crystals in the Earth or a strand of our spiritual DNA? Perhaps it is a message sent from the Divine Mother Herself: I am here.
Be the one who nurtures and builds.~Marvin J. Ashton
All original material posted to this site is (c) 2012, Julie Marie. All rights reserved.
Photo Credit: Wikipedia