From left to right; Aztec goddesses Chalchiuhtlicue, Tlalzolteotl, Xochiquetzal, Coyoxauhqui, and the Mayan Ixchel at the bottom. (She’s not a triple moon goddess and much of Thalia’s information about gods can be wrong, but I love her art.)
Xochipilli represents the concept of enlightened understanding. Xochipilli is associated with flowers which is a metaphor for poetry, where truth and big ideas are summarized in words and song. The art of poetry was the highest art form in Mexico Tenochtitlan and all over Anahuac.
Poetry was not just spoken, it was sung.
The idea was that “art made things divine”, and only the divine was true.
There were different kinds of poems, like war songs, moral, and philosophical works.
Nezahualcoyotl (“Fasting Coyote”) of Texcoco is considered a pre-eminent poet-ruler of the 15th century. One of his most famous works describes life as temporary - and beautiful - as flowers.
The theme of “flowers” was regularly used: to symbolize the temporary fragility and beauty of existence.
The poet Cuacuahtzin used this theme of flowers: “I crave flowers that will not perish in my hands! / Where might I find lovely flowers, lovely songs? / Such as I seek, Spring does not produce on earth;”
The Nahuatl expression for poetry was in xochitl, in cuicuatl (“flowers and song”).
Its called nahualli in classical Nahuatl and nagualism in more modern practices. The concept of you having an animal that shares it’s soul with you. Sorcerers (brujas y brujos) can transform into the animal that
shares their soul [nahualli]. They resemble the concept of a personal
totem and shamanic magic.
To Mesoamericans and modern Natives of Mexico animals are really
important in magic. In traditional Aztec thought everyone has a
nahualli, animal that shares it’s soul with you. However, a good
sorcerer can obtain more nahualli. Though it will never share
it’s soul like the one you were born with. You can obtain other nahualli
through ritual, by stealing someone else’s nahualli, or as a gift from
One sort of ritual to get another nahualli is to hunt, kill, and eat
what animal you want. By eating the animal [or even a person] in magical
thought was to “take it’s power” for yourself. [Think you are what you
eat.] Life sustained on life, the cycle continues.
Animals are so important in magical thought amongst the people of
Mexico that where you’re places on the social ladder would have to do
with your nahualli. The frequently seen animals [mice, skunks, pigs,
cows, rabbits, etc] by humans represent commoners. Regular folk that
make up the majority. The uncommonly seen animals represent the middle
class [coyotes, ocelotls etc]. The most powerful people on the social
ladder [noble/ruling class] and the most powerful sorcerers are the
infrequently, often times nocturnal, animals. [jaguar, owl, bear etc]
The most powerful and elusive of all these animals being the jaguar who
is held at the highest level amongst most people in ancient and modern
Mexico. Anybody with the born nahualli of a jaguar is thought to be
endowed with being a powerful sorcerer and skilled at magic naturally.
A “witch” is defined as a person, usually female, who only uses magic
to harm. Most people use magic to cure, but also use witchcraft
[harmful magic] and curing. These people are usually identified as
curers and their practice is past done to apprentices.
Practices and beliefs have the beliefs of Catholicism mixed in with
PreColombian beliefs of Natives, such as the Aztecs and Mayans. This
happens in rural Mexico.
To Mesoamericans and modern Mexicans reality is an appearance. Any
sorcerer/witch/skilled magic user knows that there is layers of reality
under this one. That’s why there is 9 layers of the underworld and 13
layers of the heavens. While the main cormos is consisted of earth,
heaven, and the underworld. [Earth is middle, underworld below, and
heaven above.] Most of magic in Mexico and pre-colombia Mexico used the
practice called dream working. Where you use your dreams to manipulate
reality, gather information, or cure someone and so forth. Rituals may
take place in the waking world, while the rest takes place in the other
one, the realm of dreams, where the sorcerer or curer can travel to the
underworld if needed. Caves, mirrors, and water are thought to be
portals in this otherworld. If one can’t travel to the underworld or
otherworld in dreams, one would do a ritual in a cave or the cave’s
entrance for example.
The appearance of reality, layers of realities with in reality, is
perhaps a very important part of magical practice. Trickery and
illusions in Mesoamerican magic is very much used and valued. The god of
sorcerers himself, Tezcatlipoca, often used trickery, which
included appearance based magic to get what he wanted. [His nahualli is
also a jaguar] These types of things are a good skill to learn if one
travels to the otherworld or underworld, as one would encounter demons
and spirits with ulterior motives. Also, stealth is a skill to be acquired so that one would not be seen by beings that might harm one.
In theory one can influence reality through the otherworld. Like a
ripple effect when you through a stone into water. In the dream world
you can turn into your nahualli, become in tune with it, and use its
skills. This is especially useful if you have a flying type nahualli,
which can go into the heavens better and travel at a better speed.
Animism is a concept, that everything has a spirit. Even inanimate
objects. This is useful in incantations where you state your intention
and will. Its how you make objects yours and how you direct their
energy, as well as purifying.
Amongst the otomi it is thought that you should do your best not to
influence people too negatively, because you may attract the attention
of a witch. That is you should blend in.