Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Tlaltecuhtli – Creator and Earth God

Tlaltecuhtli is the name of the monstrous earth god among the Aztec. Tlaltecuhtli has both feminine and masculine attributes, although she is most often represented as a female deity. Her name means "The one who gives and devours life", and she represents the earth and the sky, and was one of the gods in the Aztec pantheon hungriest for human sacrifice. This deity was said to have a huge body like a toad which was used by Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca to make the universe. She is the ruler of Ilhuicatl Tlalocan Ipan Meztli, second of the thirteen Aztec heavens. Sometimes referred to as Tlaltecuhtli, Tlatecuhtli, Tlatecuhtli, Ilamatecuhtli, Ilamatecuhtli, Cihuacoatl, Coatlicue or Old Princess.
According to Aztec mythology, at the origin of time (the "First Sun"), the gods Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca began to create the world. But the monster Tlaltecuhtli destroyed everything they were creating. The gods turned themselves into giant serpents and wrapped their bodies around the goddess until they tore Tlaltecuhtli's body into two pieces.


One piece of Tlaltecuhtli's body became the earth, mountains and rivers; her hair became trees and flowers; her eyes the caves and wells. The other piece became the vault of the sky, although in this early time no sun or stars were embedded in it yet. Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca gave Tlatecuhtli the gift of providing humans with whatever they need from her body: but it was a gift that didn't make her happy.
Thus in Mexica mythology, Tlaltecuhtli represents the surface of the earth, but she was said to be angry, and she was the first of the gods to demand the hearts and blood of humans for her unwilling sacrifice. Some versions of the myth say Tlaltecuhtli would not stop crying and bear fruit (plants and other growing things) unless she was moistened with the blood of men.
Tlaltecuhtli was also believed to devour the sun every night just to give it back every morning. However, the fear that this cycle could be interrupted for some reason, such as during eclipses, produced instability among the Aztec population and was often the cause of even more ritual human sacrifices.
The legend of this god first emerged around the 11th century AD, and it quickly spread to other civilizations, with the Mayan empire also worshiping her. They always described her as having her mouth wide open – a symbol of how she contributes to our lives, so we in turn must contribute to hers. As per usual in Aztec ritual the only appropriate way to contribute was to offer a blood sacrifice.

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