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  • Náhuatl: 'Knowers-of-Things', singular tlamatini.

The wise man: a light, a torch, a stout torch that does not smoke.
A perforated mirror, a mirror pierced on both sides.
His are the black and red ink, his are the illuminated manuscripts, he studies the illuminated manuscripts.
He himself is writing and wisdom.
He is the path, the true way for others.
He directs people and things; he is a guide in human affairs.
Teacher of truth, he never ceases to admonish.
He makes wise the countenances of others; to them he gives a face; he leads them to develop it.
He opens their ears; he enlightens them.
He puts a mirror before others, he makes them prudent, cautious; he causes a face to appear on them.
He attends to things; he regulates their path, he arranges and commands.
He applies his light to the world.
Thanks to him people humanize their will and receive a strict education.

(Codice Matritense de la Real Academia, VIII,fol.118, r.- 118,v. trans. by Leon-Portilla 1963:10-11).

In the Time of the Sixth Sun

The ‘Wise Men’ – the Judges. The female equivalent are the tetonalti.

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The Judges, reputed to be Nauallis, are technically an agency of the Mirror, but are almost always at cross-purposes with the other groups.

The tlamatinime keep secret from the people and even from the Méxica scientific community the history and technologies of earlier interstellar civilizations to protect humanity from the traps and unknown dangers of the universe. The names of judges who have died in this mission are recorded in a building in the District of the Weavers.

A Judge usually chooses and trains his own apprentices. This training requires the command of certain disciplines, some of which are aided by the use of teonanácatl.

The sigil of the Imperial Judges is a stylized oblong of intertwining flowers holding a torch which burns black against a white background.

The Philosophy of the Tlamatinime

The tlamatinime are concerned with the understanding of true reality, which is the in xochitl, in cuicatl -- “flower-and-song” -- of teotl, the constant becoming and motion of the world, the unordered duality of existence.

The world humans experience is the nahual -- the “disguise” or “mask” -- of the reality of teotl, the “house of paintings”, not the nelli -- rooted, true, authentic -- cosmos. The wisdom of the tlamatinime permits them to see beyond the illusion or dreamlike world to the teotl itself. For example, a tlamatini sees beyond the dichotomy of life and death to distinguish the simultaneous and complementary unity and interdependence of life and death.

The reality humans usually experience is ephemeral and evanescent because the teotl is in constant motion, so what they perceive is ahnelli -- unrooted, untrue, inauthentic –- because the teotl cannot be expressed rationally or in language. A tlamatini learns the intuitive awareness required to perceive the truth.

Humans are born “faceless”, without full wisdom and judgement.

A tlamatini acts as a teixtlamachtiani -- a “teacher of people's faces” -- and a tetezcaviani -- "He places a mirror in front of the others" -- so that they can discover themselves by their reflection. By tlacahuapahualiztli –- “the art of strengthening or bringing up men” –- and neixtlamachiliztli –- “the act of giving wisdom to the face” -- he teaches how to see beyond the ahnelli to achieve balance upon the tlalticpac -- on the point or summit of the earth.

The tlamatini is a teixtomani -- a teacher of prudence and moderation. The pupil learns to maintain a moral and ethical balance, to conduct life wisely. A tlamatinime is a temachtiani, teixcuitiani, tetezcahuiani, cemanahuac tlahuiani –- "he instructs, he is a paragon, he contemplates, illuminates the world."

This tlamatiliztli –- knowledge, wisdom –- permits a person to become neltiliztli -- well-rooted, authentic, true –- in the teotl, to be tlacamelahuac –- a candid, honest, just person. To be in cualnemiliceh, yecnemiliceh, chipahuac iyollo, cualli iyollo, icnoyoh iyollo -- “one of good life, one of righteous life, of pure heart, of good heart, of compassionate heart.”

Tlamatiliztli allows the individual:

  • To attain balance and purity and wellbeing within society and the world.
  • To creatively maintain, reinforce, and adapt the way of life inherited from their predecessors.
  • To participate in the regeneration and renewal of the cosmos by performing rituals to maintain and enhance teotl; to know neltiliztli – the truth rooted in teotl (the word itself derived from nelhuáyotl -- the cement or foundation). Such rituals allow a human to be tlamacehualiztli -- “meriting of things” -- of true knowledge.
    • Finely carved jade, delicate feather-weaving, beautiful paintings and well-crafted poetry express neltiliztli because true art manifests the artist's mystical revelation of sacred truth.
  • To possess a yolteotl -- a “teotlized heart”. The teotl is best understood by the teyolia -- the soul-part that resides in the heart -- balanced between the tonalli -- in the head -- and the ihiyotl -- in the liver.
    • To have a yolteotl is to be in a state of oneness with the universe obtained through personal efforts.
    • A yolteotl permits the individual to live in “flower and song”, to follow a balanced wise and aesthetic life.
    • A tlamatini reflects upon the world: mayolnonotzani -- "he converses with his own heart".
    • Immoral conduct causes tlatlacolli -- damage, harm, spoilage – and a loss of balance, which can be countered by a neyolmelahualiztli –- “action to rectify the heart”, a confession -- that straightens the heart.

Primary sources:

  • Aztec Philosophy by James Maffie, Colorado State University
  • Latin American Identity and Constructions of Difference by Amaryll Chanady, University of Minnesota Press


"In the time of the Sixth Sun" by Thomas Harlan
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