AZTLECA, PRESENTE! Spiritual Farewell or Welcome with El Día de Los Muertos Just Around the Corner?

by Remigia (Remy) Bermúdez

A solemn, indigenous Toltec commemoration of life will be celebrated at 5am at Chicano Park on Saturday, October 27, 2012, for Léon Magallán, widely known as “AZTLECA.” Historic Chicano Park is located in the Barrio Logan community, south of downtown San Diego, under the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, honored with so many colorful murals and surrounded by spiritual light and enchantment. (

AZTLECA passed away on September 19, 2012. A man of humble means who no matter what was going on in his life or how hard a hand destiny handed him, he was an active staple honoring the Spring Equinox and El Día de Los Muertos at Chicano Park for over 40 years. . Tommie Camarillo of the Chicano Park Steering Committee shared that AZTLECA deserves credit and honor. “He was very humble and yet in all the years, he ceremoniously honored and celebrated the Spring Equinox and El Día de los Muertos at Chicano Park. I highly respect him for that!” stated Camarillo.

The public is invited to celebrate the life of AZTLECA, one of the Toltecas en Aztlán whose life, in this world as we know it, has come to pass at the young age of 70+.  “Our commemoration ceremony [for AZTLECA] will begin at 5am with the calling of the spirits,” wrote Mario Aguilar, from Danza Mexi’coyotl, who is organizing tomorrow’s services for AZTLECA. “Then, near dawn,” he continued, “we will offer four danzas in honor of AZTLECA.” People are encouraged to bring flowers candles and food to share for a small breakfast to follow. When the dawn begins, so will the praises and the danzas honoring AZTLECA.

Celebrating the Spring Equinox represents the Rebirth of Mother Earth.  It relates to the young in where they learn the ways to be in harmony with the universe and is a reminder in the rest of us that re-birth is purification of ourselves and time for new beginnings, beginnings with peace and harmony. El Día de los Muertos is celebrated from November 1 through November 2, honoring, remembering and breaking bread with our family and friends who have passed on.

Both celebrations are fitting for AZTLECA: He has finally joined in spirit with those whom he danced for every year for the past 40+ years. And the rebirth, although not Spring Equinox time, comes to him as he has been called Home and welcomed with open arms.

“Who is AZTLECA?” one might wonder.  AZTLECA is every person who is a justice warrior. AZTLECA is every person who stands up for what s/he believes. AZTLECA is every person who is proud of his/her ancestors. AZTLECA is every person who keeps ancestral traditions alive.

One might say, “That could be so many of us.” AZTLECA is an overt you and I. For us, justice warriors, many times have to operate covertly. Not AZTLECA, he never hid. It was the other way around. His name is León Magallán and was known as “el Aztleca.”

There is only one AZTLECA who for over 40 years he was one of the many Toltecas en Aztlán who embodied, personified and carried “La Palabra” (the directive) of the Toltecas in ceremonial events at Chicano Park, in the fight for justice in front of government buildings, in public areas such as Balboa Park and in our very streets. Splendorous in his Tolteca gear, scantily clad and barefoot, styling his colorful panache (tuft of ceremonial feathers on his head), he honored our Toltec forefathers and present-day followers of Cuauhtémoc at each and every one of these places. León Magallán, El Aztleca,” called at the four Cardinal Points with his concha (conch shell), burning copal as an offering to our Past, Present and Future Relations of each Cardinal Point to bring about harmony to us all.

 “La Palabra,” according to Rosa Olga Navarro, Captain/Elder/Danzante of the Toltecas en Aztlán, who has carried the banner (estandarte) of the Toltecas en Aztlán since 1985, is what “Abuelito Cuauhtémoc wants us to do,” she said. “La Palabra de los Toltecas en Aztlán (The Directive of the Toltecas in Aztlán),” she continued, “is to keep our history, work for la gente (the people), be a collective group, strive towards self-determination, strive for respect for the land and to continue to danzar (spiritual/political indigenous ceremonial dance).” AZTLECA was a danzante (indigenous dancer).

What is so important about “danzar” (ceremonial dance)?” According to Capitán Rosa Olga, it is a spiritual connection with those who have passed and those who are still here in an effort to keep our earth clean and keep harmony in our community. She credits Herminia “Tecihtzin” Enrique (RIP 3/9/2009) for bringing Danza Azteca from México to San Diego in the 1970’s. “For most of her life Compañera Herminia worked tirelessly for the self-determination of La Raza and all oppressed people” wrote the Unión Del Barrio in her obituary. The obituary written by the Unión Del Barrio also stated, “She [Mrs. Enrique] gave [at the “March Against the 500 years of Colonialism”] an unforgettable speech titled “En La-Kesh”, Mayan for “you are my other-self.” It was an oration that challenged the more than one thousand people present to treat each other like brothers and sisters, create unity, and unite as one in the struggle to liberate ourselves from 500 years of colonization and oppression….committed to one day creating a new world; a world where there is no oppression or exploitation, no rich and no poor.”

Capitán Rosa Olga continued, “Danzantes should be seen as reflecting our culture in the best way possible.  We [danzantes] do a lot of sacrifices to keep our traditions alive, reviving and rescuing 500 years of history and 100 years of rebirth.  Our job is to teach the learning of Cuauhtémoc, who as head of the Mexicas was a General who defended his people at all costs.” Concluding with that the Spirits bestow healing abilities to all of us, Capitan Rosa Olga said, “Healing ways are inherent. We can accept it or walk way from this blessing.”

 Tommie Camarillo of the Chicano Park Steering Committee writes “A great part of Chicano Park for 42 years, Aztleca honored the spring and summer equinox through his dedication of In Xochitl In Cuicatl and held Día de los Muertos ceremonies every year in the park. He will always be a part of Chicano Park!

Many who knew him, will agree with the words of Carmen Kalo as cited on the website “…[he] was a great friend to many of us and will always be loved by not only danzantes but the many people he touched with his happiness for life. He will be truly missed and we honor his time he shared with all of us. We pray that his walk was a peaceful one and reached his destination safely into the arms of creator. Omeyocan macetlaca motza ihuannetehuiloanime tlatzintlaneca.”

The website ends with the following two paragraphs: “The circle of Danza Azteca of San Diego Kosoy, invites you to celebrate the life, art and humor of our friend and compadrito, León Magallán “El Aztleca.” Our ceremony will take place on Saturday, October 27 at CHICANO PARK. Our commemoration will begin at 5 A.M. in the morning with the preparing of an altar. When the dawn begins, we will begin the alabanzas [hailing as in praising AZTLECA’s person, and actions with enthusiasm] and dances in honor of Aztleca. We will end with a small breakfast in the Park. We ask all who are interested to bring the day of the memorial flowers, candles, or bread for breakfast. For more info please send an email to ¡El es Dios!  ¡Ye’hua Teotl!

El Círculo de Danzas Aztecas de San Diego Kosoy, los invita a celebrar la vida, arte y humor de nuestro amigo y compadrito León Magallán “el Aztleca.” Nuestra ceremonia se llevará acabo el sábado, 27 de Octubre en el PARQUE CHICANO. Nuestra conmemoración comenzará a las 5 A.M. de la mañana con el levantamiento de un altar. A la hora del alba, comenzaremos las alabanzas y danzas en honor de Aztleca. Terminaremos con un pequeño desayuno en el parque. Les pedimos a todos los interesados que traigan el día del memorial flores, velas, o pan para compartir en el desayuno. Para mas informes favor de mandar un correo electrónico a  ¡el es Dios! ¡Ye’hua Teotl!



  1. avatar says

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful vision and for commemorating the life of Leon by sharing his story. I have seen the group dance many times over the years in great sincerity and humility. I never quite knew the significance so your description is inspiring and informative.

    • avatarRemigia (Remy) Bermudez says

      One of the people wrote to my personal e-mail in response to this SDFP article. It sheds more light into our culture and traditions and in a very personal way.

      “It was an awakening of the soul with good thoughts about Aztleca and all my friends and family members who have passed on to the afterlife where all souls rest in peace. ”

      I thank both of you for your acknowledgement.

  2. avatarAnna Daniels says

    Over the past decades I have seen León many, many times. I never knew his name until I read your article Remy. I am sad to hear of his spirit passing out of this world.
    Que en paz descanse, Aztleca.

    • avatarRemigia (Remy) Bermudez says

      Hi Anna,
      Thanks and I echo your sentiments. Hardly anyone knew Aztleca’s legal name. I, who knew him for about 30 years just found out. His spirit will always be in the here and now, for we live in and around those whom we loved now and the hereafter.
      Other people from Pacific Beach, present at the dawn commemoration of Saturday (10/27/12) at Chicano Park, remembered Aztleca performing the Summer Equinox celebration in Pacific Beach. Other folks who joined us from Imperial Valley, commented on how Aztleca will be sorely missed, not just by San Diego, but from people from all over the world who, while visiting Balboa Park, experienced Aztleca’s presence as well as enjoyed his Tolteca persona.