Firefly Lore

Paul Senzee PABLO_CRUZ at
Thu Jan 20 03:35:18 UTC 2000


I've been a lurker also for a long time, I have a huge fascination with
due to some experiences I had in the Sierra Norte de Puebla while I lived
there for a few years, a few years ago.  In talking with some of the
of some of the tinier villages of that area, I learned a few words -
hardly enough to contribute anything of use to this list.

Nevertheless, I lived for a while in Metepec, small village north of
it seemed the most mystical place I've ever been.  They seemed to have a
huge fascination with little lights around the volcano Popocatepetl.  Most
they were UFOs, others said they were other various manifestations.

My point is, could this superstition, what seemed to me to be extreme
fascination with these lights, whatever they were, be related?

By the way, for a while I've been interested in collaborative literature and
other collaborative arts via the internet.  I'm a software guy by trade and
we've recently debuted (although it's not really yet complete) a website
devoted to collaborating in the creation of literature and other arts.

It's at

I would *love* to see a collaborative work in or about nahua, as some of the
knowledge on this list is phenomenal!!  Anyhow it's a thought.  Tell me what
you all think - I'm at pablo_cruz at

Paul Senzee

-----Original Message-----
From: XocoyoCopitzin at <XocoyoCopitzin at>
To: Multiple recipients of list <nahuat-l at>
Date: Monday, January 17, 2000 4:30 PM
Subject: Firefly Lore

>Hello, all!
>I'm a longtime lurker and lapsed subscriber back on the list, this time
>a new fiction project under way and seeking Nahua lore about Fireflies.
>In Jill Leslie McKeever Furst's chapter on "The Glowing Ihiyotl" in _The
>Natural History of the Soul in Ancient Mexico_ she writes a bit about the
>"Spirit as a Gaseuous, Glowing Entity" and relates tales that describe some
>Nahua souls as being firefly-like in that they glow and float and
>mysteriously ficker, like lanterns, meteors or shooting stars.
>Furst relates a belief among the people in Sierra Norte de Puebla that the
>tonalli is interlaced with a shadow-soul (ecahuil) that is "a little like
>[and] no more, it is like a little lightening flash [and] no more, it is
>a little ray of light."   Lights like this are feared to be shapeshifting
>sorcerers, and further north across the border, are associated with the
>spirits of excpetionally powerful people.  A few tales tell of a body's
>actually transforming into a firefly and flying away upon death.
>I can't find much else on the natural history and mythic lore for Fireflies
>as they appeared the Nahua worldview, either as souls, sorcerers, or simply
>humble insects, and a keyword search of the Nahtuat-L archives bring up
>glosses for the word.  Beyond McKeever Furst, I've combed my standard
>texts by Soustelle, Leon-Portilla, Bierhorst, Caso, Clendinnen, and even
>extensively on the Web.  Not a word.  Yet my curiosity remains.  :-)
>Any other lore, glyphs, anecdotes or analyses of the Firefly-as-insect or
>Firefly-as-metaphor in Nahua thought would be welcomed.
>Alison King

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