Page 76. " La gente dice que el coyote es un brujo. Muchas veces el brujo es un coyote. "
Anthropomorphic Coyote trickster, from North American Indigenous mythology
Public DomainAnthropomorphic Coyote trickster, from North American Indigenous mythology - Credit: F. N. Wilson

'People say that the coyote is a witch/sorcerer. Many times the witch/sorcerer is a coyote.'

 

The brujo is a male witch associated with Hispanic and indigenous cultures of the Americas. They were considered accomplished shapeshifters, possessing the supernatural ability to transform themselves into various animals, including the coyote.

The coyote is especially common in stories told by southwestern Native American nations, such as the Dine and Apache, but myths also appear in dozens of other Native American tribes from Canada to Mexico. A deity whose name is translated into English as Coyote appears in various Native American, First Nations, and Aboriginal cultures, often appearing in stories as a trickster and/or culture hero.

Page 81. " He'd been at Mier "

Mier is a city in northern Mexico, near the Rio Grande.

On December 23, 1842, a band of Texan troops crossed the Rio Grande and entered Mier. They demanded supplies from the town, which the town's alcalde promised to deliver. The troops withdrew and waited. In the meantime, a large detachment of Mexican troops arrived.

On December 25, the two sides engaged in a bloody battle that lasted almost 24 hours. The Texans sustained thirty casualties and ran out of food, water, and ammunition.

More than 200 Texans surrendered to Mexican forces, unaware that they had inflicted an astounding 800 casualties.

 

Page 83. " patched argonauts from the states driving mules through the streets on their way south through the mountains to the coast. Goldseekers "
Illustration of Californian Argonauts (1860)
Public DomainIllustration of Californian Argonauts (1860) - Credit: Harper's Monthly Magazine
A forty-niner peers panning for gold in California’s American River (1850)
Public DomainA forty-niner panning for gold in California’s American River (1850) - Credit: L. C. McClure

The Argonauts was a name given to the thousands of gold seekers who left for California to make their fortune during the mid-19th century. The name came from Greek mythology, after Jason and his Argonauts and their mythical quest for the golden fleece.

The gold seekers were also known as the 49ers, since the year 1849 saw the largest migration to the west coast during the Gold Rush. Many made the arduous journey on foot or by wagon, sometimes taking up to nine months to get to California. For the immigrants who came by sea, San Francisco became the most popular port of call. It was estimated that the population of California increased by 86,000 in just two years and San Francisco grew from about 800 in 1848 to over 50,000 in 1849.

Page 84. " They're to pay him a hundred dollars a head for scalps and a thousand for Gómez's head. "
San Juan, a Mescalero Apache chief (c. late 19th century)
Public DomainSan Juan, a Mescalero Apache chief (c. late 19th century) - Credit: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

Gómez was the chief of a southern band of Mescalero Apache during the mid 19th century.

He was one of the most powerful Mescalero war leaders of the Southwest, with some four hundred warriors under his command. Their territory ranged from the Guadalupe Mountains to El Paso, and they were particularly active looting the wagon trains between El Paso and Chihuahua City, earning Gómez the nickname ‘the terror of Chihuahua’.

Gómez and his band were, though, friendly to Anglos, until Glanton’s scalphunters attacked them. When Trías offered 1000 pesos for Gómez’s scalp, the chief responded by offering an equal amount for the scalp of any American or Mexican.

The last record of Gómez reports the chief and his Mescalero band roaming the Davis Mountains in the years preceding the American Civil War.

Page 84. " His name is Glanton, "

John Joel Glanton was a former Texas Ranger, veteran of the Mexican-American War, and leader of the infamous Glanton Gang of scalphunters.

He was born in Edgefield County, South Carolina, in 1819. He was said to have been an outlaw in Tennessee, where his family had moved, before they moved to Texas. In 1835, Glanton was living with his parents at Gonzales, Texas. Some accounts claim Glanton was engaged but his fiancée was killed that year by Lipan Apaches. He was involved in the fight for Texas independence, and later in the Mexican-American War. While a member of Walter P. Lane’s San Antonio Company of Texas Rangers in the Mexican-American War, he is reported to have murdered a Mexican civilian. Forced to flee from the American military police sent to arrest him, Glanton later re-enlisted in Jack Hays’ second regiment of the First Texas Mounted Rifles, and fought alongside Winfield Scott’s army in central Mexico.

After the war in summer 1849, Glanton (in order to finance his passage to the gold fields of California) was leading a gang of mercenaries hired by the Mexican state of Chihuahua to track down and kill bands of Apache that had been terrorising the region. This is the period in which Glanton enters Blood Meridian, and the events that will later unfold are generally true to history. As such, further biographical details here would contain significant plot spoilers. A full biography of John Joel Glanton can be found at The Handbook of Texas Online. Click here.

Chamberlain’s illustration of Glanton can also be viewed here.

Page 86. " two men named Jackson, one black, one white "

Later McCarthy would write a play, Sunset Limited, based around two characters, one black and one white, who are simply known as Black and White.

 

Page 86. " Pasajeros un de país antiguo "

Translating as 'Travellers from an antique land', this is almost certainly a reference to Percy Bysshe Shelley's 1818 sonnet Ozymandias:

 

Percy Bysshe Shelley
Public DomainPercy Bysshe Shelley - Credit: National Portrait Gallery

      Ozymandias

 

      I met a traveller from an antique land

      Who said: `Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

      Stand in the desert.

      Near them, on the sand,

      Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

      And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

      Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

      Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

      The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.

      And on the pedestal these words appear --

      "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

      Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

      Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

      Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

      The lone and level sands stretch far away.'

 

The central theme of Shelley's poem is the impermanence of all great empires and civilizations, no matter how mighty. This theme is also central to Cormac McCarthy's novel.

Page 86. " Hiccius Doccius "
Early juggler (c. 17th or 18th century)
Public DomainEarly juggler (c. 17th or 18th century) - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The phrase ‘Hiccius Doccius’ dates back to 17th century England, and is a corruption of the Latin ‘Hicce est doctus,’ which means ‘Here is a wise man.’

It was used by jugglers during performances, in much the same way as ‘Hocus pocus’ or ‘Abracadabra’ is used by magicians.

 

Page 87. " In his hand he held a longbarreled sixshot Colt's patent revolver "

 

sixshot Colt
Creative Commons Attributionsixshot Colt - Credit: Hmaag
Page 87. " Prussian jew named Speyer "

"Many of the kid’s fellow scalp hunters, the expriest, Tobin, Marcus Webster, David Brown, and John Jackson appear in historical accounts of travels with the scalp hunter Glanton. The “Prussian jew named Speyer” who sells Glanton four dozen U.S. Army Colt Dragoons (BM 82), was a noted gun-runner and supplier to Mexico."

ESSAY - Lacking the Article Itself: Representation and History in Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian, Dan Moos

Page 91. " They watched the Delawares, of whom there were a number in the party, "
Lapowinsa, Chief of the Lenape (1737)
Public DomainLapowinsa, Chief of the Lenape (1737) - Credit: Library of Congress
Jennie Bobb, and her daughter, Nellie Longhat, both Delaware (Lenape), Oklahoma, 1915
Public DomainJennie Bobb, and her daughter, Nellie Longhat, both Delaware (Lenape), Oklahoma, 1915 - Credit: Smithsonian Institution

The Delawares was the name given by English settlers to several bands of culturally and linguistically related Native American peoples living along and around the Delaware River. The groups refer to themselves as Lenape, Lennape, or Lenapi (meaning ‘the people’), as well as the Lenni Lenape (the ‘true people’).

The Lenape originally inhabited a large section of northeastern America (known as the Northeastern Woodlands), until encroachment by white settlers displaced them. Today they live in Canada, and parts of Oklahoma and Wisconsin in the United States.

Page 92. " Vandiemenlander "
Vandiemenlander
Public Domain 1852 map of Van Diemen's Land

Van Diemen's Land was the original European name for the island of Tasmania in Australia.  It was used as a penal colony by the British.

The island was renamed in 1856, in honour of Abel Tasman, a Dutch explorer. The last penal settlement, at Port Arthur, closed in 1877.

Page 93. " in the wastes of Pimeria Alta "

Map showing Pimería Alta
Public DomainMap showing Pimería Alta - Credit: Zephyrin Engelhardt
The Pimería Alta ('upper land of the Pimas') was an area of the 18th century Sonora y Sinaloa Province in the Viceroyalty of New Spain, encompassing parts of what are today southern Arizona in the U.S. and northern Sonora in Mexico.

The area was named after the Pima Indians who inhabited the region. The term dates from the late 17th century and was probably christened by the Jesuit missionary Fr. Eusebio Kino. Pimería Alta was the site of  several of the Spanish missions in the Sonoran Desert established by Kino in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

Page 94. " of General Zuloaga "
Félix María Zuloaga Trillo (31 March 1813 – 11 February 1898)
Public DomainFélix María Zuloaga Trillo (31 March 1813 – 11 February 1898) - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Félix María Zuloaga Trillo was a Mexican general and a Conservative leader in the War of Reform.

He joined the Mexican Army as a National Guard Lieutenant in 1824, and saw service against the Apache on the northern frontier until 1837. He continued to serve in the Army through the riots of 1840 and the Yucatan insurgency of 1842-43, by which times he was a Lieutenant-Colonel.

During the Mexican War against the United States Zuloaga supervised the construction of the defenses of Monterey and Saltillo, and in 1847 he built the fortifications on the southern approaches to Mexico City. He retired in 1848 to Chihuahua.   

In 1853 Zuloaga was recalled to active service, promoted to the rank of Colonel, and named president of the Mexican Army’s perpetual court-martial. In the late 1850s and early 1860s, Zuloaga served as unconstitutional interim conservative president of Mexico (in opposition to the constitutional president, Benito Juárez of the Liberal Party).

Page 94. " Young Blasarius yonder, he said. "

Blasarius is an archaic legal term for an incendiary, a person guilty of arson.

The Judge may be refering to the kid's participation in burning down the hotel in Nacogdoches.

Page 98. " He made a slow sweep before him with the card outheld. It bore the picture of a fool in harlequin and a cat. "
Fool on 'Marseilles' tarot deck
Public DomainFool on 'Marseilles' tarot deck - Credit: PD-ART
Fool on the Rider-Waite tarot deck
Public DomainFool on the Rider-Waite tarot deck - Credit: Pamela Coleman Smith

The Fool, or The Jester, is one of the 78 cards in a Tarot deck, and one of the 22 Trump cards that make up the Major Arcana.

In the Rider-Waite Tarot deck and other esoteric decks made for cartomancy, the Fool is shown as a young man, standing on the brink of a precipice, accompanied by a small dog.

The Tarot of Marseilles and related decks depict a bearded person wearing what may be a jester's hat; he always carries a bundle of his belongings on a stick slung over his back. He appears to be getting chased away by an animal, either a dog or a cat.

 

Further information on the importance of the Tarot in Blood Meridian can be found on the discussion page at CormacMcCarthy.com. Click here.

Page 100. " The woman sat like that blind interlocutrix between Boaz and Jachin inscribed upon the one true card in the juggler's deck which they could not see come to light, true pillars and true card, false prophetess for all. "
The High Priestess or The Popess Tarot card in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck
Public DomainThe High Priestess or The Popess Tarot card in the Rider-Waite-Smith deck - Credit: Pamela Coleman Smith

This is a reference to The High Priestess, the second trump or Major Arcana card in most traditional Tarot decks.

In the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot deck, upon which many modern decks are based, The High Priestess is depicted sitting between white and black pillars—'B' and 'J' for Boaz and Jachin, the two pillars which stood at the threshold of Solomon's Temple.

Page 100. " a man named Tate who had fought with McCulloch’s Rangers "
Benjamin McCulloch (November 11, 1811–March 7, 1862)
Public DomainBenjamin McCulloch (November 11, 1811–March 7, 1862) - Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Benjamin McCulloch was a soldier in the Texas Revolution, a Texas Ranger, a U.S. marshal, and a brigadier general in the army of the Confederate States during the American Civil War.

At the outbreak of the Mexican-American War, McCulloch raised a command of Texas Rangers and eventually become Zachary Taylor’s chief of scouts. McCulloch's Rangers soon gained fame throughout the U.S. for their daring reconnaissance expeditions into Northern Mexico.

 

Drawing of Texas Rangers (c. 1845)
Public DomainDrawing of Texas Rangers (c. 1845) - Credit: The Culver Pictures Collection

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samuel Reid, a volunteer from Louisiana, offers the following description of McCulloch and his Ranger company:

 

men in groups with long beards and mustaches, dressed in every variety of garment, with one exception, the slouched hat, the unmistakable uniform of a Texas ranger, and a brace of pistols around their waists, [who] were occupied drying their blankets, cleaning and fixing their guns, and some employed cooking at different fires, while others were grooming their horses. A rougher-looking set we never saw. They were without tents, and a miserable shed afforded them the only shelter. Captain McCulloch introduced us to his officers and many of his men, who appeared orderly and well-mannered people. But from their rough exterior, it was hard to tell who or what they were. Notwithstanding their ferocious and outlaw look, there were among them doctors and lawyers and many a college graduate.

Page 100. " Cautro de copas, he called out. "

Four of Cups from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck
Public DomainFour of Cups from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck - Credit: Pamela Colman Smith
Four of cups, he called out.

 

The Four of Cups is a Minor Arcana tarot card.

The Four of Cups represents a period of self-reflection and inaction and/or quiet deliberation or contemplation. The querent is being pushed into a bad situation or forced to do something that seems undesirable to him. This card can also predict that the querent might have to undergo a time of tribulation and/or force him to self-reflect or self-sacrifice.