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Is this a mere coincidence? By no means. There can be no doubt that the Akkadian or Chaldean tongue contained many Maya words. The limits of this work do not allow me to adduce all the proofs I could bring forward to fully establish their intimate relationship. A few more must suffice for the present.
Let us take, for instance, the last words, according to Matthew and Mark,' spoken by Jesus on the cross, when a sponge saturated with posca was put to his lips: "Eli, Eli, lamah sabachthani."
No wonder those who stood near him could not understand what he said. To this day the translators of the Gospels do not know the meaning of these words, and make him, who they pretend is the God of the universe, play before mankind a sorry and pitiful role, I will not say for a god, but for a man even. He spoke pure Maya. He did not complain that God had forsaken him when he said to the charitable individual who tried to allay the pangs of the intolerable thirst he suffered in consequence of the hardships he had endured, and the torture of the chastisement inflicted on him: "Hele, Hele, lamah zabac ta ni;" that is, "Now, now, I am fainting; darkness covers my face; " or, in John's words, "It is finished." 8
1 Matthew, chap. xxvii., verse 46. Mark, chap. xv., verse 34.
2 Posca was the ordinary beverage of Roman soldiers, which they were obliged to carry with them in all their expeditions, among which were the executions of criminals. Our authorities on this matter are Spartianus (Life of Hadrian, ? 10) and Vulcatius Gallicanus (Life of Avidius Cassius, ¿ 5). This posca was a very cooling drink, very agreeable in hot climates, as the writer can certify, having frequently used it in his expeditions among the ruined cities of the Mayas. It is made of vinegar and water, sweetened with sugar or honey, a kind of oximel.
3 John, chap. xix., verse 30.
Again, in the legend of the creation, as reported by Berosus, according to Eusebius 1 the Chaldeans believed that a woman ruled over all the monstrous beasts which inhabited the waters at the beginning of all things. Her name was Thalatth. The Greeks translated it Thalassa, and applied it to the sea itself. Ask modern philologists what is the etymology of that word. They will answer, It is lost. I say, No-it is not lost! Ask again any Maya scholar the meaning of the word thallac. He will tell you it denotes "a thing without steadiness," like the sea.
Again, when confidence in legal divination became shaken by the progress of philosophical incredulity, and the observation of auguries was well nigh reduced to a simple matter of form, Chaldean magicians, whose fame was universal and dated from very remote antiquity, flocked to Rome, and were welcomed by the Romans of all classes and both sexes. Their influence soon became so great as to excite the superstitious fears of the emperors, prætors, and others high in authority. As a consequence, they were forbidden under heavy penalties, even that of death, to exercise their science. In the year 721 of Rome, under the triumvirate of Octavius, Antonius, and Lepidus, they were expelled from the city. They then scattered in the provinces-in Gaul, Spain, Germany, Brittany, etc. Messrs. Lenormant and Chevalier, in their "Ancient History of the East," inform us that when these conjurers exor
Juvenal, Satires, vi. 553. Chaldeis sed major erit fiducia.
'Heineccius, Elements of Roman Jurisprudence, vol. i., Tabul viii., art. 25, p. 496.
* Dion Cassius, xlix., 43, p. 756. Tacitus, Annal., 11–32.
Lenormant et Chevalier, Ancient History of the East, vol. i., p. 448.
cised evil spirits they cried, "Hilka, hilka! Besha, besha!" which they render, "Go away, go away! evil one, evil one!"
These authors little suspected, when they wrote those words, that they were giving a correct translation of the Maya vocables ilil ka xaxbe, forming part of a language still spoken by thousands of human beings.
In order to understand properly the meaning of the exorcism, we must read it, as all ancient Maya writings should be read, from right to left, thus: xabe, xabe! kail! kail! The Maya X is the equivalent of the English sh.
Xabe is evidently a corruption of the Maya verb xaxbe, "to be put aside," "to make room for one to pass. Ká or kaá means "something bitter," "sediment." Ka in Egyptian was "spirit," "genius," equivalent to the Maya ku, "god." Il is a contraction of the Maya adjective ilil, "vicious," a "forbidden thing," corresponding exactly to the English "ill," and having the same meaning.1 The literal rendering of these words would therefore be, "Aside, aside! evil spirit, evil spirit!" as given by Messrs. Lenormant and Chevalier.
J. Collin de Plancy, in his "Dictionnaire Infernal,” under the title "Magic Words," tells us that magicians taught that the fatal consequences of the bite of a mad dog could be averted by repeating hax pax max. The learned author of the dictionary deprecates the ignorant superstition of people who believe in such nonsense; and he himself, through his ignorance of the American Maya language, fails to comprehend the great scientific importance of those words that to him are meaningless.
1 Pio Perez, Maya dictionary, and also ancient Maya dictionary MS. in Brown Library, Providence, R. I.
These words belong to the Maya tongue, although we are told they are Chaldee and used by Chaldean magicians.
Hax, in Maya, is a small cord or twine twisted by hand; that is to say, on the spur of the moment, in a hurry. Such cord would naturally be used to make a ligature to stop the circulation of the blood in the wounded limb, to prevent the rabid virus from entering into it. This ligature is still made use of in our day by the aborigines of Yucatan in case of any one being bitten by a snake or other venomous animal.
Pax is a Maya verb of the third conjugation, the meaning of which is to play on a musical instrument.
The action of music on the nervous system of animals, of man particularly, was well known of the ancients. They had recourse to harmonious sounds to calm the fury of those afflicted with insanity. We read in the Bible: 1" And it came to pass, when the evil spirit from God was upon Saul, that David took a harp, and the evil spirit departed from him.” We are aware that music can excite all passions in man or appease them when aroused. Martial sounds inflame in the breast of warriors homicidal rage, and they rush blindly to combat and slay one another without cause or provocation. Patriotic hymns sustain the courage of the victims of political parties, even in the face of death. Soft and sweet melodies soothe the evil passions, predisposing the mind to peace, quietude, and meditation. Religious strains excite ecstasy, when the mind sees visions of heavenly things, and the enthusiasts become convinced that they hold communion with celestial beings, whoever or whatever these may be, and imagine they act under divine impulse.
The thaumaturgi of old were well acquainted with the in11 Samuel, chap. xvi., verse 23.
fluence of music on men. In the temples of Greece and Asia they used flutes, cymbals, drums, etc., among other means, to induce in certain individuals the abnormal condition known to-day as "clairvoyance," and to develop prophetic exaltation. And Elisha said: 1" But now bring me a minstrel; and it came to pass when the minstrel played that the hand of the Lord came upon him."
Pax, then, indicates that in cases of hydrophobia they had recourse to musical instruments to calm the patient and assuage his sufferings.
Max is the Maya name for a certain species of wild pepper (the Myrtus pimenta of Linnæus, the Eugenia pimenta of De Candolle). It grows spontaneously and in great abundance in the West Indies, Yucatan, Central America, in fact, throughout the tropical regions of the Western Continent. Cayenne pepper, therefore, was considered by the Chaldeans as by the Mayas an antidote to the rabic virus, and applied to the wounds, as garlic is in our day and has been from remote ages. It is a very ancient custom among the aborigines of Yucatan, when anybody is bitten by a rabid dog, to cause the victim to chew garlic, swallow the juice, and apply the pulp to the wounds made by the animal's teeth. They firmly believe that such application and internal use of the garlic surely cure hydrophobia, or any other evil consequences of the venomous virus introduced into the body by the bites of certain animals.
Resuming, hax, pax, max, simply means, make a ligature, soothe the patient by means of soft music, apply wild pepper to cauterize the wounds and counteract the effects of the poison.
Let us mention another name the etymon of which, from
12 Kings, chap. iii., verse 15. 1 Samuel, chap. x., verse 5.