Tlacochitta, ‘vedere cose dormendo’. Enunciati e riflessioni sulle pratiche oniriche tra i Nahua del Messico

Alessandro Lupo


This article examines the conceptions and practices concerning dreams of the Nahuas of pre-Hispanic and contemporary Mexico. For pre-Columbian Aztec civilization, the study is based on the historical testimony of chroniclers and evangelizers, as well as linguistic repertoires and Nahuatl texts written during the early colonial period. As for the contemporary Nahuas, the author presents and analyses the ethnographic data he has collected in the municipality of Cuetzalan (Puebla), highlighting the relationship between the different spiritual components and dream activity, the role of dreams in the professional "call" of ritual specialists, their ability to exercise an active control on dreaming, as well as the threats that dreams can imply for the integrity of the person. For the Nahuas, dreaming constitutes a domain in which the boundary between the human and extra-human world becomes porous and which allows access to forms of knowledge and agency that are precluded in the waking state. Finally, dreaming is a highly socialized experience, in which traditional models provide cognitive and operational tools with which to confer meaning to critical existential experiences and to identify responses that often prove effective.

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