-Guardians of the Dead
Is it simply that primitive peoples saw wild canines prowling around burial sites, and that’s why those animals came to be associated with death, the afterlife, and the underworld? Think of Anubis, the Egyptian god with the head of a jackal. Think of Cerberus with his three heads standing guard at the gates of Hades in Greek mythology. And think of the xoloitzcuintli.
The xoloitzcuintli (pronounced “show-low-itz-QUEENT-ly”, because I know you were wondering) or the Mexican Hairless Dog is kinda sorta ugly, but it was also revered by the Aztecs and the Mayans. The dog gets its name from Xolotl, the Aztec god of lightning and death, and itzcuintli, the Aztec word for dog. The xoloitzcuintli, which has been a distinct breed for thousands of years and is believed to have accompanied the first migrants over the Bering land bridge from Siberia—if they were hairless back then, how did they keep from freezing in Siberia?—was believed to be a guardian that escorted the souls of the dead to the underworld. Sadly ironic, then, that Spanish colonizers almost drove them to extinction—by eating them. “What’s for dinner tonight, Hector?” “Oh, were having death-totem dog casserole.” “What, again?! Carajo!”
WAYNE MILLER is the owner and creative director of EVIL CHEEZ PRODUCTIONS (www.evilcheezproductions.blogspot.com, www.facebook.com/evilcheezproductions), specializing in theatrical performances and haunted attractions. He has written, produced and directed (and occasionally acted in) over a dozen plays, most of them in the Horror and Crime genres. His first novel, THE CONFESSIONS OF SAINT CHRISTOPHER: WEREWOLF, is available for purchase at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/734763
MORTUI VELOCES SUNT!