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Those in the Cleveland area in Ohio please be safe.

The verdict for the Berlo case is coming out tomorrow or Tuesday. And there might be riots. Please please be careful.

Those who don’t know: a local police officer shot a couple on a high speed chase and thought they were armed, etc. he ended up jumping on the windshield and shot up the car, basically. You can find more information online.

Great Goddess of Teotihuacan

Discovery and interpretation

In years leading up to 1942, a series of murals were found in the Tepantitla compound in Teotihuacan. The Tepantitla compound provided housing for what appears to have been high status citizens and its walls (as well as much of Teotihuacan) are adorned with brightly painted frescoes. The largest figures within the murals depicted complex and ornate deities or supernaturals. In 1942, archaeologist Alfonso Caso identified these central figures as a Teotihuacan equivalent of Tlaloc, the Mesoamerican god of rain and warfare. This was the consensus view for some 30 years.

In 1974, Peter Furst suggested that the murals instead showed a feminine deity, an interpretation echoed by researcher Esther Pasztory. Their analysis of the murals was based on a number of factors including the gender of accompanying figures, the green bird in the headdress, and the spiders seen above the figure. Pasztory concluded that the figures represented a vegetation and fertility goddess that was a predecessor of the much later Aztec goddess Xochiquetzal. In 1983, Karl Taube termed this goddess the “Teotihuacan Spider Woman”. The more neutral description of this deity as the “Great Goddess” has since gained currency.

The Great Goddess has since been identified at Teotihuacan locations other than Tepantitla – including the Tetitla compound (see photo below), the Palace of the Jaguars, and the Temple of Agriculture – as well as on portable art including vessels and even on the back of a pyrite mirror. The 3-metre-high blocky statue (see photo below) which formerly sat near the base of the Pyramid of Moon is thought to represent the Great Goddess, despite the absence of the bird-headdress or the fanged nosepiece.

Actual mural from the Tetitla compound showing a similar portrait.

Esther Pasztory speculates that the Great Goddess, as a distant and ambivalent mother figure, was able to provide a uniting structure for Teotihuacan that transcended divisions within the city.

This statue is generally identified as the Great Goddess, and formerly stood near the base of the Pyramid of the Moon.

After Teotihuacan

The Great Goddess is apparently peculiar to Teotihuacan, and does not appear outside the city except where Teotihuacanos settled. There is very little trace of the Great Goddess in the Valley of Mexico’s later Toltec culture, although an earth goddess image has been identified on Stela 1, from Xochicalco, a Toltec contemporary. While the Aztec goddess Chalchiuhtlicue has been identified as a successor to the Great Goddess of Teotihuacan, archaeologist Janet Catherine Berlo has suggested that at least the Goddess’ warlike aspect was assumed by the Aztec’s protector god – and war god – Huitzilopochtli. The wresting of this aspect from the Great Goddess was memorialized in the myth Huitzilopochtli, who slew his sister Coyolxauhqui shortly after his birth.

Berlo also sees echoes of the Great Goddess in the veneration of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

The Great Goddess

Two major defining characteristics of the Great Goddess are a bird headress and a nose pendant with descending fangs. In the Tepantitla and Tetitla murals, for example, the Great Goddess wears a frame headdress that includes the face of a green bird, generally identified as an owl or quetzal, and a rectangular nosepiece adorned with three circles below which hang three or five fangs. The outer fangs curl away from the center, while the middle fang points down.

Other defining characteristics include the colors red and yellow; note that the Goddess appears with a yellowish cast in both murals.

In the depiction from the Tepantitla compound, the Great Goddess appears with vegetation growing out of her head, perhaps hallucinogenic morning glory vines or the world tree. Spiders and butterflies appear on the vegetation and water drips from its branches and flows from the hands of the Great Goddess. Water also flows from her lower body. These many representations of water led Caso to declare this to be a representation of the rain god, Tlaloc.

Below this depiction, separated from it by two interwoven serpents and a talud-tablero, is a scene showing dozens of small human figures, usually wearing only a loincloth and often showing a speech scroll (see photo below). Several of these figures are swimming in the criss-crossed rivers flowing from a mountain at the bottom of the scene. Caso interpreted this scene as the afterlife realm of Tlaloc although this interpretation has also been challenged, most recently by María Teresa Uriarte, who provides a more commonplace interpretation: that “this mural represents Teotihuacan as [the] prototypical civilized city associated with the beginning of time and the calendar”.

A portion of the actual mural from the Tepantitla compound which appears under the Great Goddess portrait.

Domain

The Great Goddess is thought to have been a goddess of the underworld, darkness, the earth, water, war, and possibly even creation itself. To the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica, the jaguar, the owl, and especially the spider were considered creatures of darkness, often found in caves and during the night. The fact that the Great Goddess is frequently depicted with all of these creatures further supports the idea of her underworld connections.

In many murals, the Great Goddess is shown with many of the scurrying arachnids in the background, on her clothing, or hanging from her arms. She is often seen with shields decorated with spider webs, further suggesting her relationship with warfare. The Great Goddess is often shown in paradisial settings, giving gifts. For example, the mural from Tepantitla shows water dripping from her hands while in the tableau under her portrait mortals swim, play ball, and dance (see photo to right). This seeming gentleness is in contrast to later similar Aztec deities such as Cihuacoatl, who frequently has a warlike aspect. This contrast, according to Esther Pasztory, an archaeologist who has long studied Teotihuacan, extends beyond the goddesses in question to the core of the Teotihuacan and Aztec cultures themselves:

“Although I cannot prove this precisely, I sense that the Aztec goal was military glory and staving off the collapse of the universe, whereas the Teotihuacan aim seems to have been the creation of paradise on earth.”

This is not to say, however, that the Great Goddess does not have her more violent aspect: one mural fragment, likely from Techinantitla, shows her as a large mouth with teeth, framed by clawed hands.

Io e te, noi adesso siamo l'ultima goccia di vino nel bicchiere.
Il vetro lascia sempre intravedere una piccola parte di liquido rosso e tu provi continuamente, inutilmente a berlo. Ti concentri sulla goccia senza accorgerti che il vino è già finito.
—  About a moonlight

Finisco per aggiungere sempre qualche cucchiaino di zucchero in più nel caffè perché odio quel sapore amaro che rimane sulla lingua una volta deglutito. E non mi importa se mia madre continua a rimproverarmi, a dirmi che non va bene berlo così dolce. Io le cose senza amore nella vita non voglio neanche toccarle con mano, figuriamoci inghiottirle, perché per me l'amore assomiglia allo zucchero: tanto potente da addolcire persino le soluzioni più agre. L'amore è questo: è la formula magica che un giorno improvvisamente scopri, ti rende la persona più euforica del mondo e, anche se tanti altri l'hanno contemporaneamente scoperta con te, sei felice e il resto finalmente non conta più. Ecco la differenza. Quando sei innamorato dinanzi agli occhi, non vedi che il tuo cuore che batte troppo forte, e ciò che fino al giorno prima ti sembrava importante ora è in secondo piano, sullo sfondo. E tutti quei piccoli dettagli cui non facevi caso ti riempiono lo stomaco, la testa, ogni millimetro di pelle. Il cielo inizia a far paura per quanto è grande, i fiori sembrano parlarti e il mare, troppo lontano, fa da scudo alle lacrime che diventano senza spessore. Quando ti innamori la vita finisce per esploderti negli occhi e voli, voli ovunque e da nessuna parte. Ovviamente questa felicità potresti vedertela portare via, magari proprio da quella persona di cui ti sei follemente innamorato e frana ogni certezza, ogni sorriso, ogni voglia di continuare a vedere l'amore dappertutto.
Vorrei aggiungere cucchiaini di zucchero da tutte le parti, soprattutto nella mia vita che mi ha visto scendere negli scantinati più profondi e risalire con barattoli pieni di tenacia, determinazione, voglia di credere ancora che l'amore arriva una volta e ti stravolge, ma poi ritorna e sa farti ancora stendere il cuore in un abbraccio. Vorrei sentire l'amore sfiorarmi i capelli dolcemente e impadronirsi di nuovo di me perché il vuoto si colma, ma la voglia di essere speciale per qualcuno non finisce mai.