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Coatlicue: Coatlicue, Earth Goddess of Life & Death in Aztec Religion, Mythology


Coatlicue: Earth Goddess of Life & Death in Aztec Religion, Mythology

Coatlicue: Earth Goddess of Life & Death in Aztec Religion, Mythology

Image Source: Jupiter Images

Name and Etymology:

Coatlicue, "Serpent Skirt"
Teteoinan, "Mother of the Gods"

Religion and Culture of Coatlicue:

Aztec, Mesoamerica

Symbols, Iconography, and Art of Coatlicue:

Images of Coatlicue are rare; our primary source for what she looked like is a massive statue unearthed in 1790. Coatlicue has taloned feet and a skirt of rattlesnakes. She also wears a necklace with the skulls, hearts, and hands of sacrificial victims. Coral snakes are around her head and hands while two more snakes emerge from her neck. Coatlicue is the Mother Earth, but a devouring mother who consumes everything — and who is thirsty for blood.

Coatlicue was Goddess of:

Abundance in agriculture and hunting
Aztec political administration
Life and Death

Equivalents in Other Cultures:

Ixchel and Akhushtal, in Mayan mythology

Story and Origin of Coatlicue:

unknown — please email me if you have any information to add about this.

Family Tree and Relationships of Coatlicue:

Mother of Coyolxauhqui, the Centzon Huitzahua
Mother of Coyolxauhqui, moon goddess
Mother of Huitzilopochtli, warrior god
Wife of Mixcoatl, god of hunting

Temples, Worship and Rituals of Coatlicue:

A young woman was sacrificed to Coatlicue at the beginning of major hunts. In the spring, she was worshipped at a major festival so that she could ensure ample spring rains for the coming crops.

Mythology and Legends of Coatlicue:

Coatlicue conceived and bore Huitzilopochtli without a male partner and while still a virgin: a ball of feathers fell from the sky and impregnated her. All her other sons (400, which for the Aztec meant "countless") accused her of promiscuity and made ready to kill her, but suddenly Huitzilopochtli leapt fully formed from her womb and slew her other children. How she managed to already have other children even though she was still a virgin is a religious mystery.

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