Tuesday, January 1, 2008

The "Hahpi Nueyere" Rites of the Natives of the Valley of San Gabriel and Environs

I'm told the natives have recently observed some species of calendrical change regarding their sacred year. Perhaps this would explain the great festival which they have just completed (to commemorate the event?). I have been unable to ascertain the precise determinative cause of the festivities -- whether related to some great tribal storied occurrence (a battle or natural calamity), or perhaps an alignment of celestial bodies in what is perceived to be a fortuitous arrangement. The natives clearly have been unable to calculate accurately the day of the winter solstice, which confirms our observations regarding their general intelligence. Experience continues to demonstrate that logic plays a best only a small role in matters public or private, and rational conduct cannot be predicted.

Pyrotechnical displays, of varying magnitudes, seem to be requisite elements of their rites. Many primitive societies employ clangorous rituals involving cymbals, drums and whistles, believing the noise to be potent in warding off evil spirits. Perhaps this provides insight into the nature and justification of the faya erwer akx [?] that so boisterously unsettled the night air.

Reports confirm that natives throughout the region gathered outside their domiciles, clustering on their paths and byways during the very darkest hour of the night. At this time they engaged in loud chanting, singing and dancing, accompanied by the consumption of ceremonial fermented beverages. Sundry costumes, gaudy and of garish design, had been donned -- perhaps in imitation of their conception of the denizens of the unseen world, or in an attempt to frighten off malignant supernatural forces. Young children were observed to hurl large round flat crackers, called tuworteyass, at the curious wagons in which natives enclose themselves while traveling. We might postulate that such propitiatory food would be analogous to votary offerings to demons or dragons -- but such speculation transgresses the available data.

These midnight revels were followed in the daylight hours by processionals dominated by a series of large carts, one following hard upon the other, and each elaborately decorated with a riot of colored or flowering vegetable matter. Many of these carts were surmounted by dignitaries -- perhaps priests and priestesses, although some cultures so honor the victims of imminent blood-sacrifice to the presiding chief deity. The dignitaries were arranged en tableaux upon the platforms, as if depicting episodes from some racial epic known to them all, the meaning of which will perforce remain obscure to an outsider.

The final public ceremony takes place in a large amphitheater, a sort of clearing encircled by tiered observation stations in which a large fraction of the native population gathers to observe the actions below. The rite itself is clearly a species of stylized battle, in which the largest of the tribes young males repeatedly run at each other until they collide. A small leather totem, called the Futtahb-Ahl, appears to have a significant role in the drama. Sometimes the Futtahb is cradled by a chieftain, who protects it by running away from pursuing adversaries. At other times, however -- perhaps in its aspect as Ahl -- the totem is hurled away or kicked as if it were anathema.

It is hypothesized that the Futtahb-Ahl is modeled on the human head, being oblong or ovoid in shape and of equivalent dimensions, and symbolizes a duel-natured divinity, one good, to be cherished, and the other evil, and reviled. Another suggestion is that the sacred object represents a newborn or fetus, with the sacred play representing the spirits or fates that will dictate its future. The rules governing the behaviour of the acolytes remain obscure, however, and warrant further investigation.

All these ceremonials cluster around a central conception that time has somehow changed. This is a surprisingly sophisticated concept, and suggests contact with a higher civilization. The nature or significance of this presumed temporal change is unknown.


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