Schooling in my day served the same purpose schooling today serves, to give flexibility to the intellect. To be able to think poetically, economically, as well as mathematically gives the mind several tracks in which to choose from when faced with certain situations. Then, to be able to find a solution through dreaming, gazing or through movement supplied the means to deal with life’s problems. Today, there are socially acceptable ways to handle the world around us. Our means were more esoteric and less constrained than modern man’s. In many ways, it was better as it offerred man more options to choose from.
The Toltec society was not ideal. None is, but there was beauty and wonder for us. We were children in a new world and the only tools we had to protect ourselves with were our perception and will. Thus, we prospered and learned what man today has forgotten or never bothered to learn.
There were the usual endemic problems, which plague any people. There were the petty cruelties that humans visit upon another that easily break the spirit’s of the delicate. The ignorant cast their insults with casualness and the sensitive bear them with utter seriousness. It was pure savagery when male homosexuals were exiled or killed outright. There was the locking up of adulterous women with the Chuchmox to train them to be faithful wives. I never heard of the males receiving similar instruction. I suspect they received only better advice on how to hide such indiscretions from their wives. If men and women have ever been treated by the same standard, I do not know of it. Today, it is better, but still unequal.
Yet even in a society where humans were compelled to conform, there was a deep appreciation for the different and the unusual. Occasionally children were born with deformities or imperfections. Now, birth defects are treated through surgery to eliminate any indication that the child was born different. Such a thing would have been unthinkable and odious to us. We celebrated it. It was considered an omen of power and much was expected of those who were born different if their intellects were undiminished.
Dwarfism, in particular, was seen to be a fortunate occurrence. The birth of a dwarf was a wondrous omen of luck. The Zaqui Coxol, the White Sparkstriker, was a famous dwarf in our oral history who had the ability to see into the future. These were not things to be ashamed of, physical manifestations outside of the norm decreed that the child had been touched by power. Children with a clubfoot or malformed hand were often called Jaguar Paw or a similar name. The blind, deaf, and mute were thought special, especially in esoteric ways because they sensed the world in alternate manners. Those who were mentally challenged because of what is now known as Down’s syndrome or other forms of mental retardation were valued as workers because of their sweetness, considerateness, and great ability to keep secrets. These people taught diplomacy to our outgoing ambassadors, such was their renown for courteousness.
All of those people were in the thick of things. They were not marginalized or relegated to sanitariums or the inside of the parental home. They were not treated with contempt or pity, they were simply another member of the tribe. Never did our society engender in them the bitterness that can only be expressed through sarcasm.
As the modern world teaches its youth to be master merchants, scientists or lawyers, so also did ours teach us to be valued members of the tribe. The difference is that our changes were performed on three levels and our transformations were true. We were taught to become jaguars, eagles, crows, and other animals.
In order to accomplish this, our teachers aimed their teachings to the three parts of man: the body, the spirit, and the dreamer. To be a Toltec was to be a lord of the life force. To be a lord of the life force meant that a man controlled all three parts of him and became what the Creator intended, a being who could traverse the three realms. Heaven, earth, and the underworld were attainable to us. So was immortality.