From the Zapotecs to the Aztecs: The Day of the Dead and the Cosmic and Shamanic Phantoms of Malcolm Lowry

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapterpeer-review


On the basis of a recent field-trip to Mexico, this paper advances the thesis of my 2009 Malcolm Lowry Centenary International Conference paper on ‘Souls and Shamans’ presented at UBC, Vancouver which considered the cultural, psychological, and spiritual links between Lowry’s cosmic, terrestrial, subterranean, and aquatic world-views. In assessing the interface between the material and spiritual domains perceived by both the Aztecs and the Oaxacan Zapotecs, it examines the subconscious dimensions of the Mexican Day of the Dead festival witnessed by Malcolm Lowry in 1936. It investigates anthropological, cultural, and ethnographic influences, dating back to pre-Columbian, Mesoamerican rituals, reflected in Under the Volcano (1947), Dark as the Grave Wherein My Friend is Laid (1968), La Mordida (1996), and The Forest Path to the Spring (1961). In establishing Lowry’s preoccupation with seeking atonement with the spirits of the dead and his recognition of the need to repent for the debts of the past and for the sins of mankind, synergies are made with the cosmic, shamanic, and animist concepts of the universe, expressed by the divine consciousness of the Zapotec and Aztec civilizations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLa Fureur et la grâce: lectures de Malcolm Lowry
Place of PublicationParis
PublisherClassiques Garnier
Number of pages11
ISBN (Print)9782406065913
Publication statusPublished - 15 Nov 2017

Publication series

NameCarrefour des lettres modernes


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