Principal Navigation, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, Volume III Richard Hakluyt 1600, London in The Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology volume 1 number one 1979 pages 8 – 37
… Immediately an old man came with the rolls [cakes] of maize, and certain little gourds, and calling me with a loud voice and using many gestures with his body and arms came near me. Causing me to turn toward the people, and turning toward them himself, he said to them Sagueyca, and all the people answered with a great voice Hu. He offered to the Sun a little bit of everything he had there, and likewise a little more to me (although afterword he gave me all the rest) and did like to all that were with me. Calling out my interpreter, by means of him I gave them thanks, telling them that because my boats were little I had not brought many things to give them in exchange, but that I would come again another time and bring them, and that if they would go with me in my boats to my ships which I had down at the river’s mouth, I would give them many things. They answered that they would do so, being very glad in countenance.
Here, by the help of my interpreter, I sought to instruct them what the sign of the cross meant, and willed them to bring me a piece of timber, from which I caused a great cross to be made, and commanded all those that were with me that when it was made they should worship it, and beseech the Lord to grant his grace that so great a people might come to the knowledge of his holy Catholic faith. This done, I told them by my interpreter that I left them that sign in token that I took them for my brothers, and that they should keep it for me carefully until I returned, and that every morning at sunrise they should kneel before it. They took it immediately, and without suffering it to touch the ground they carried it and set it up in the midst of their houses, where all of them might behold it. I willed them always to worship it, because it would preserve them from evil. They asked me how deep they should set it in the ground, and I showed them. Great numbers of the people followed those that carried the cross, and those that stayed behind inquired of me how they should join their hands, and how they should kneel to worship the cross, and they seemed to have great desire to learn it.
They told me they burned those who died, and such as remained widows stayed half a year or a whole year before they married again. I desired what they thought of such as were dead. He told me that they went to another world, but that they had neither punishment nor glory. The greatest sickness that this people die of his vomiting blood up the mouth, and they have physicians who cure them with charms and blowing which they make.
The apparel of these people is like that of the former: they carried their pipes with them to perfume themselves, as people of New Spain use tobacco.
I inquired whether they had any governor and found that they had none, but that every family had its own master [“had their sevarall governour”]. These people have, besides their maize, certain gourds, and another grain like millet. They have grindstones and earthen pots, in which they boiled those gourds, and fish of the river, which are very good.…
… I asked him of Cevola: he told me he had been there, that it was a goodly thing, that the chief there was very well obeyed, and that there were other chiefs there about, with whom he was continually at war. I asked him whether they had silver and gold, and he, having perceived certain bells [on the boat?] said they had metal of their color. I inquired whether they made it there and he answered me, no, but that they brought it from a certain mountain, where an old woman dwelt. I demanded whether he had any knowledge of a river called Totonteac – he answered me no, that he, however, knew of another exceeding mighty river in which there were huge crocodiles that of their hides they made shields. These people worship the Sun neither more nor less than those whom I had passed, and then they offer to Him the fruits of the earth, they said “receive hereof, for Thou hast created them.”
adapted from the telling of Thomas Blackburn from the notes of JP Harrington
There are three worlds: one above, one below and this one. We live in the center, on the biggest island. There are two snakes below, who, when they move cause of earthquakes. There is a being above, the Eagle of the Sky, that stretches its wings. This causes the phases of the moon. The water of the springs and streams of the middle world is the urine of frogs that live in them.
In the world above, the sun, the Eagle of the Sky, the Morning Star and Coyote of the Sky play peon. Moon is the referee and they stay up all night until dawn playing all year round. On Christmas Eve they count to six to see who has won. When Coyote of the Sky wins it will be a rainy year. There is a lot to eat. The sun stakes all the food plants and Coyote of the Sky, when he wins, opens the door so that all the good things fall to earth. When the sun wins he takes his winnings in human lives. Coyote of the sky wants to pay with the lives of old people but sometimes the sun takes a young person’s life.
The moon is an unmarried woman who lives near the sun. They have their jobs to do to light the sky. The morning star’s job is to light the dawn. The Sky Coyote is our father and the sun our uncle. None of them grow older. The sun lights the sky with a brand made of the inner bark of a sky tree that is like a cottonwood. The Sky Eagle creature stays in the same spot but when he gets tired he spreads his wings causing the phases of the moon and eclipses of the moon.
The sun is an old man and a widower who lives alone with his pets. His two daughters live with him too. The sun carries away people of this world and he and his daughters eat them at the end of the day. There are devil like creatures in the shape of men who come out when night falls. La Llorona, the weeping woman, cries in the trees. When you hear her someone is going to die. The swordfish creatures live in the sea and can throw a whale out of the water.
There once was a great flood and Spotted Woodpecker, the sun’s nephew, was the only survivor. He alighted at the top of the tallest tree and cried for his uncle to help him. The sun lowered his torch and the waters went down. Then he tossed some acorns to the woodpecker who ate them. To this day he eats acorns.
After the flood sky Coyote, Sun, Moon, the Morning Star and the great Sky Eagle decided to create man. Sky Coyote wanted their hands to be like his. Silently lizard listened and waited. They all gathered around a rock and just as Sky Coyote was going to stamp his hand down Lizard put his down. Sky Coyote wanted to kill Lizard but he scurried into a crack in the rock. the Sky Eagle and Sun approved of the lizard’s handprint and that is how we got the hands we have.
Sky Coyote wanted to toss men into a lake to make them young again but Matavenado said the earth would be too full of people so Coyote lost that argument as well. The sun was adored by the Indians and they also adored the elements earth, air, and water. Some say that the rainbow is a shadow of three elements – wind, rain and fire. The elements give the rainbow its colors. The sun had the morning and evening stars as his wives.
The souls of the dead stayed around for five days but someone who has been cremated has his soul go to the West and it doesn’t stay around. His soul goes to the west, as does the souls of babies. After 12 years the soul is reincarnated. It has been said that white people have been reincarnated with a different color and with different languages.
As the sun reemerges, the souls resurrect. The old people said that there were three lands to the west which were like purgatory, hell and heaven. There are two rocks that crashed together. Any living person who tried to pass them would be crushed but the souls of the dead passed on through. The souls of poisoners and evil people turn to stone from the neck on down and remain immobile, unable to progress. They are only able to watch as the other souls progress. Two monsters try to frighten the souls as they cross a pole. Those that fall off are those who have not drunk hallucinogenic toloache or who do not know about the old religion. They fall into the water and turn into a frog, a turtle, a snake or a fish. There are many such beings in the water.
Children were named for the month they were born in. The 12 different months all have names reflecting qualities they have. Men have qualities of the month they are born in.