“This work will be an essential volume for anyone with interests in Mesoamerican religion and culture and will be indispensable for a good many years to come.”
—Karl Taube, University of California, Riverside
“Well conceived, cohesive, and one of the best edited volumes I have read. . . . Contributes to our understanding of Mesoamerican sorcery and culture in a profound way.”
Approaching sorcery as highly rational and rooted in significant social and cultural values, Sorcery in Mesoamerica examines and reconstructs the original indigenous logic behind it, analyzing manifestations from the Classic Maya to the ethnographic present. While the topic of sorcery and witchcraft in anthropology is well developed in other areas of the world, it has received little academic attention in Mexico and Central America until now.
In each chapter, preeminent scholars of ritual and belief ask very different questions about what exactly sorcery is in Mesoamerica. Contributors consider linguistic and visual aspects of sorcery and witchcraft, such as the terminology in Aztec semantics and dictionaries of the Kaqchiquel and K’iche’ Maya. Others explore the practice of sorcery and witchcraft, including the incorporation by indigenous sorcerers in the Mexican highlands of European perspectives and practices into their belief system. Contributors also examine specific deities, entities, and phenomena, such as the pantheistic Nahua spirit entities called forth to assist healers and rain makers, the categorization of Classic Maya Wahy (“co-essence”) beings, the cult of the Aztec goddess Cihuacoatl, and the recurring relationship between female genitalia and the magical conjuring of a centipede throughout Mesoamerica.
Placing the Mesoamerican people in a human context—as engaged in a rational and logical system of behavior—Sorcery in Mesoamerica is the first comprehensive study of the subject and an invaluable resource for students and scholars of Mesoamerican culture and religion.
Contributors: Lilián González Chévez, John F. Chuchiak IV, Jeremy D. Coltman, Roberto Martínez González, Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos, Cecelia F. Klein, Timothy J. Knab, John Monaghan, Jesper Nielsen, John M. D. Pohl, Alan R. Sandstrom, Pamela Effrein Sandstrom, David Stuart