tzitzimime

Awww, isn’t that sweet? I could not go on drawing the awesome gods of the Mexica for too long without having introduced this vital guy, and here he is, the Aztec’s very own culture hero; the white Tezcatlipoca, wind spirit, morning star and bringer of hot chocolate, Quetzalcoatl! Quetzalcoatl is the walking preservation of the Aztec culture, and the illuminating light to his horrid brother’s mysterious darkness, however there is an art not to be fooled by this god’s charming benevolence. Much in the same way as Tezcatlipoca can never be viewed as evil, Quetzalcoatl is by no means all good either, and upsetting dear Quetz will result in destructive consequences. Quetzalcoatl’s name means ‘Plumed/ beautiful serpent’ and he is often shown having taken up the form of the creature. The picture which I have drawn features Quetz and his beloved maguey plant, famous for being the Aztec super-plant which was useful for producing such a multitude of raw materials, from thread to thatch, and needles to the alcoholic beverage of pulque, that maguey was granted its own goddess.

The sweet love story behind Quetzalcoatl and Mayahuel is however, rather sad. Mayahuel was a beautiful daughter to one of the tzitzimime, who were wild female ‘star demons’ whose greatest pleasure derived in attacking Tonatiuh, and if successful this would cause a solar eclipse – if the Aztecs were unlucky, the tzitzimime would descend to earth and devour humanity. It became known amongst the gods that Mayahuel was being kept prisoner in her wicked mother’s home, so Quetzalcoatl volunteered to undertake a rescue mission and release her from her clutches. Quetz secretly managed to persuade Mayahuel to go with him, for the risks were great and should her mother find her then she may well lose her life. It just so happened that as they fled, the both of them fell very much in love for they were both young and the hormones, as you can imagine were flying left right and centre in the midst of mortal danger. But her mother sent after her an army of tzitzimime to hunt her down once she had discovered of her daughter’s suspicious disappearance. Quetzalcoatl transformed and hid with Mayahual as maguey plants, but while the star demons could not find Quetz, they discovered the magical Mayahuel and tore her to pieces. Devastated and gasping with tears, Quetzalcoatl gathered up the pieces of her plant body and buried them in grief in the hope of somehow reviving her. His actions saved her life, but poor Mayahuel was doomed to remain a plant forever, and thus the sweet liquid which can be drawn from her leaves to create pulque are said to be Mayahuel’s tears for Quetzalcoatl. The maguey plant was shared with humanity so that they too would be able to derive pleasure from a super-plant which was to be a miracle to their existence.

I went through about three different designs for dear, sweet Quetz until I found one that worked for him, so expect to see more of him soon! ;)

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The Birth of the Fifth Sun, the Mexica (Aztec) sacred narrative which tells of the birth of our current sun. The paintings are posted in order, and follow the progress of the narrative told below.

14.1 It is said that when the earth was still dark, when there was yet no warmth, nor day, nor light, the Teteo came together at Teotihuacan to take counsel, and there they lit the Spirit Fires, great blazes set atop the twin pyramids of the sacred city. For four years they burned.  “Come here, oh Teteo! Who shall carry the sun? Who shall bear it? The warming, the dawning? The burning fire? The celestial Light? Who shall leap into the Spirit Fire?” Than forth stepped Four Flint, Tecuciztecatl, Our Lord of Snails, and he cried out, “Oh Teteo! Indeed, it shall be I!” Yoaltecuhtli and Tlaloc stepped forward, “You are one who must keep the sky and the earth.”
14.2 “And yet, another is needed,” said the Teteo. “Who shall be the other?” Yet the Teteo were frightened, and none among them stepped forth. They took counsel with one another, and summoned Nanahuatzin, The Pimpled Lord, the Crippled One, and summoned him to the counsel. Tonacatecuhtli and Xiuhtecuhtli stepped forward and said to him, “You are the one who must keep the sky and the earth.” Many tears did Nanahuatzin shed, for he felt unequal to the task, he, the worthless invalid.
14.3 The Teteo Nanahuatzin and Tecuciztecatl began their fasts, their sacrifices, in preparation for the Spirit Fire, the God Oven. Tecuciztecatl prepared himself with precious things. His fasting-ropes were of quetzal feathers, and his ritual branches of cotinga plumes. His grass heart was of woven gold, his incense of the finest copal. He did not offer his own blood, his own Yollia, but instead offered maguey thorns and  lancets made of coral. Resplendent he looked, shining and beautiful, as he made his sacrifices.
14.4 Nanahuatzin, the Crippled Lord, the Teotl in poverty, formed his fasting-rope of grass and paper. His ritual branches were made of green grass and green reeds, tied in three bundles, bound bundles of nine each. His bloodletting spine was of bone, well reddened with his own blood. His only incense were his scabs, twisted off and cast into the fire.
For four days they fasted, for four days they drew blood and meditated their sacred actions, there upon their respective pyramids. When they had completed their days of sacrifice, they burned their ritual branches, their bloodletting instruments, in the sacred fire. They were become slaves. They were become Gods.
14.5 To Tecuciztecatl, the gathered Teteo gave him his egret headdress, his elegant attire of quetzal and jade.
14.6 But Nanahuatzin was attired only in paper, only in cloth of Maguey. They painted the Teteo in white, they chalked them, and adorned them in eagle-down feathers.
15.1 Tecuciztecatl, as the senior Lord, approached the fire first, to leap into its heart. The fire roared, it crackled, it seared his eyes. He grew faint and afraid. He hesitated. He could not bring himself to leap into the fire.Than Nanahuatzin, the Crippled Lord, seeing the terror of the other, walked forward. Bravely he walked, slowly, so as to feel its heat. And when he reached the Spirit Fire, the God Oven, he leapt into its heart and was consumed.
Tecuciztecatl grew ashamed, and found his spirit, and he too leapt into the Spirit Fire, but lacking the bravery of Nanahuatzin, he fell only into its embers and ashes, where he, too, was consumed.
The Jaguar and the Eagle were among the company of the Teteo, and both leapt over the Spirit Fire. They were singed, they were burned, in its tongues of flame, and thus acquired their spots and dark feathers. For their bravery they were made warriors, ever to serve the sun.

16.1 When, in this way, the two Teteo had thrown themselves into the God Oven, when they had burned to ash, the Teteo sat awaiting to learn from whence they would emerge. Long they waited, meditating in the darkness, when all at once everywhere it became red, everywhere the light of dawn, the reddening of dawn. The Teteo knelt down, facing each of the four directions, to see from whence the sun would emerge at this first dawning of the Fifth Sun. The Teteo fell into confusion; they turned in circles, they faced all directions. The traditional orations, the traditional words, did not bring clarity to the Teteo. Some thought he would emerge from Mictlán, the Place of the Dead, and faced North, to find him there. Some thought The Place of Women, and faced the West, some, The House of Thorns, and faced the South, for the light of the dawning encircled all things, and confusion reigned.
Yet some of the Teteo faced the East, the Place of Light, and cried out, “Already, is he there, already, his light illuminates his Eastern Palace! Behold, he is emerging!” Those who waited there, who pointed there, were Quetzalcoátl and his nagual Xolotl. There too was Our Lord Anahuatl, the Red Tezcatlipoca, and the Mimixcoa without number. And there awaited four women; Tiacapan, Teicu, Tlacoyehua, and Xocoyotl.
And as the sun rose, his light spread like the red Cochineal dye throughout the East, his dazzling brilliance was such that he could not be faced. He shone, he illuminated, and light came into this world. And afterward, Tecciztecatl, too, arose from the Place of Light, also golden and shining, impossible to behold; a second sun.
16.2 And the Teteo said; “How can this be? Shall there be two suns, who both shall follow the same road, who both shall shine in the same way? The brave Nanahuatzin and the unworthy Tecciztecatl?” And so, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, The Morning Star, snatched a rabbit from the earth and flung it in the face of Tecciztecatl. Thus, was his face wrecked and his light dimmed, and he fell into the ashes.
17.1 The Teteo declared, “No longer shall he be known as Nanahuatzin, the Pimpled Lord, the Crippled God. He is Tonatiuh, Our Lord the Sun!” And Tonacatecuhtli and Tonacacihuatl, the Lord and Lady of Our Flesh, Our Sustenance, rose to his place at the center of the sky. They bathed and anointed him. They sat him in his Quechol chair. They adorned his head with the butterfly crest, the red-leather thong.
17.2 But he would not move from his place. Four days he remained at the Zenith, at the center of the sky. “Why does he not move?” asked the Teteo, and they sent the Falcon of the Obsidian Blade to ask why he was immobile in the sky.
“I hunger!” replied Tonatiuh. “I need their blood, their precious color, their Yollotl, to find the strength to move across the sky. I need the blood of those who sent me to the Spirit Fire!”
17.3 When the Falcon returned to the gathered Teteo and gave them his message, they were much saddened and afraid. Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli grew angry and cried out, “I will shoot him! He must not stay immobile in the sky!” But his arrows could not reach the sun. Yet the sun, from his lofty perch, shot down his own arrows, his shafts of flame, and they burned the body of The Morning Star, and with the Nine Layers covered up his face, and transformed him into Itztli, the Teótl of the Obsidian Blade, of cold, frost, snow, and judgement.
18.1 Quetzalcoátl raised his eyes sadly to the sky, and spoke to the gods at Teotihuacan. “May he be revived. May we all die!” And the gods mournfully submitted to his will. And so with the Sacred Flint Blade he slit the throats of the gathered Gods; of Titlacahuan, and Huitzilopochtli, and the Goddesses Xochiquetzal, Yapalliicue, and Nochpalliicue. But Xolotl, the god of twins and monstrosities and who is the sprit double of Quetzalcoátl, did not want to die. He fled Quetzalcoátl and his terrible blade. He wept so that his eyes fell from their sockets. “Send me not to the blade, oh Gods! Let me not die!”
18.2 He fled, and Death quickly followed. He followed him to the fields of young corn, were Xolotl transformed himself into the young maize with two stalks in order to hide from Death. He became the Xolotl of the Field. But he was seen by the eyes of Death there among the corn, from whom nothing may be hidden, and so he ran to the Maguey field, and there he turned himself into the double maguey, the Maguey Xolotl. But there too was he seen by the eyes of Death, and so he escaped to the lake, and there turned himself into the Axolotl, the lake-salamander. But there was no more escape, and Death caught him, and Quetzalcoátl slit his throat, amid his tears and lamentations.
19.1 The blood of the Gods rose to the heavens and Tonatiuh drank the sacred strength of their Yollia, on the day Nahui Ollin, Four Movement, the sacred name and destiny of the Fifth Sun. Yet still he could not move, still he could not follow his path.
20.1 But Quetzalcoátl, who had shed the blood of the Gods, who had released the divine force of their Yollia, grew strong and straight. He ran, and blew lightly in the face of the sun, and so pushed him along his path, and than slit his own throat, that his blood and divine Yollia might make the revolutions of the heavens eternal.
Thus it was that as the sun was entering into the earth again, into the open jaws of Our Mother, Tlaltecuhtli, the moon arose from the ashes into which he had fallen, and there at the crossroads met the Tzitzimime, the Star Demons, and the Coleletin, and they detained him a while, and dressed him in rags. He who would have been the sun, who would have been clothed in splendor. And thus it is that on the day Four Movement night and day came into being, and the deaths of the gods established the covenant of sacrifice with men.


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Itzpapalotl “Clawed Butterfly” or “Obsidian Butterfly”

She is the Goddess mother of nomad hunters. Itzpapalotl  rules the paradise were dead infants go Temoanchan, which is also the place humanity was created. She also rules over the Cihuateteo (women who dies during childbirth) and its a Tzitzimime, a star deity that threathens to devour people during solar eclipses.

Legend has it that she could traver to earth disguised as a noble woman to seduce and devour men.

Tzitzimime

Region of origin: Central Mexico

Deities from the depths of space, the Tzitzimime were undead women, primarily ones who had died during childbirth, and goddesses that traveled back to earth in times of total darkness, most powerful during solar eclipses and at the end of the Aztec century. They hunted mortals, especially children, and gathered pregnant women to add to their ranks. Rituals were performed at the end of each century to ensure the sun came back and the Tzitzimime would not run rampant, ushering in the end of the world. The Tzitzimime’s multiple eyes in their joints were considered to be the stars that made up constellations in the night sky. They wore pieces of humans as jewelry and clothing made of bones and shells which rattled as they approached their victims. Despite their apocalyptic role, the Tsitzimime were not viewed as unanimously evil, and were in some cases said to cure diseases as well as cause them and could also function as protectors and fertility goddesses.

TZITZIMIME

In Aztec mythology,  is a deity associated with stars. They were depicted as skeletal female figures wearing skirts often with skull and crossbone designs. In Postconquest descriptions they are often described as “demons” or “devils” - but this does not necessarily reflect their function in the prehispanic belief system of the Aztecs.
Depiction of a Tzitzimitl from the Codex Magliabechiano.
Depiction of Itzpapalotl, Queen of the Tzitzimimeh, from the Codex Borgia.

The Tzitzimimeh were female deities, and as such related to fertility, they were associated with the Cihuateteo and other female deities such as Tlaltecuhtli, Coatlicue, Citlalicue and Cihuacoatl and they were worshipped by midwives and parturient women. The leader of the tzitzimimeh was the Goddess Itzpapalotl who was the ruler of Tamoanchan - the paradise where the Tzitzimimeh resided.

The Tzitzimimeh were also associated with the stars and especially the stars that can be seen around the Sun during a solar eclipse. This was interpreted as the Tzitzimimeh attacking the Sun, this caused the belief that during a solar eclipse, the tzitzimime would descend to the earth and devour human beings. The Tzitzimimeh were also feared during other ominous periods of the Aztec world, such as during the five unlucky days called Nemontemi which marked an unstable period of the year count, and during the New Fire ceremony marking the beginning of a new calendar round - both were periods associated with the fear of change.

The Feminomicon

The Feminomicon is an artistic guidebook chronicling mythical women from around the world, written and illustrated in the style of the legendary Lovecraftian tome. It was successfully funded on Kickstarter and shipping soon!
What better way to show appreciation for my wonderful backers than a gallery of finished art!

Hecate-
The goddess of guidance, crossroads, and magical arts, Hecate offers directions through life and darkness to those who beseech her. Regarded as the ruler of three paths, she is believed to hold dominion over all three mortal kingdoms; the earth, the sea, and the sky.

Aswang-
For the island inhabitants of the Philippines, nothing is more terrifying than the shape-shifting goul known as the Aswang. Every night the Aswang sheds its human disguise and sprints out into the night in search of easy prey. These predatory women may adopt many forms, but can always be identified by the soft “tik tik” noises produced as they approach their victim.

La Llorona -
A Weeping South American ghost Wandering the Earth for eternity, the La Llorona appears as a tall, ethereal, crying Woman dressed in White. She is a specter of motherhood, fury, loss, and revenge. The Wailing of the La Llorona brings misfortune and doom down upon those who hear her.

Pata Sola-

Deep in the South American jungles, dwells the one legged shape-shifting vampire Pata Sola. She is a dark protector of the forest, confusing and manipulating those Who enter her domain to prevent their return. The Patasola comes to loggers, herdsmen, miners and other men Who Work in and around forests and jungles. She appears when their minds Wanders to sex, and Will often adopt the likeness of a loved one or a beautiful Woman to lure them away from their work.

Ajatar-

Through the dark forests of Northern Europe, Ajatar brings pestilence and death to all who cross her terrible path. She is the great serpent, feeder on the sick and the Weak, a powerful spirit known as the “Devil of the Woods”.

Futa Kuchi Onna-
This terrifying Japanese yokai emerges from the hunger and dissatisfaction of repressed young women. A human girl becomes and Futa kuchi Onna when a slobbering, whining, ever-dissatisfied mouth emerges tumor-like from the back of her skull. This mouth is hidden beneath her hair, out of view from anyone else, but capable of exerting some control over its host though constant sinister whispering and begging.

Itzpapalotl-
Known as the Obsidian-Butterfly, Itzpapalotl is a skull-faced warrior goddess of flint knives and sacrifice in the Aztec mythology. She leads the Tzitzimime, an army of female star-demons that dwell in darkness and plot to overwhelm and consume all of humankind.

Black Annis-
A Carnivorous crone from the English countryside, Black Annis is emaciated and blue faced with sharp yellow teeth, iron talons, long black hair, and an unquenchable appetite for human flesh. She dwells in  a cave in the Dane Hills which she gouged into the stone with her own clawed hands. The cave front is guarded by an ancient oak tree draped in the tattered skins of her victims.

Jorogumo-
In the isolated mountain villages of Japan, these massive spider-like creatures Weave powerful illusions to stalk, seduce, and consume helpless human prey. Like many Japanese creatures, Jorogumo begin their lives as ordinary animals and naturally acquire power and intelligence as they grow older. It is thought that When a Japanese orb-Weaver reaches four hundred years of age it swells to the size of a horse and gains the power to shift shape and influence perception.

Keres-
Keres are vultures of the spirit realm, embodying violent death on the battlefield, disease, and suffering. Wherever mass death or devastation occurs Keres will swarm and feed.

Baba Yaga-
From the dark winter wilds come stories of Baba Yaga, the great bone mother, a ferocious Russian witch in control of powerful magics. Baba Yaga is a knobby kneed hag-like elderly woman with a long nose and wild eyes. Her appearance is hideous, but nothing compared the putrid stench she gives off as she moves. It is said that by merely passing over a household her smell can curdle milk, poison animals, and induce sickness.

Siren-
Greek creatures of such potent reputation that their name is synonymous With seduction, Sirens call sailors to their doom from their ever-expanding island of bones.

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Yaotécpatl.
(1404-1437)

Yaotécpatl was one of the most experienced warriors of the Mexica Empire in its heyday, and he was a powerful nahual.

He gain the range of tzitzimitl warrior with only 23 years old and participated in numerous campaigns of conquest taking numerous prisoners.

However, his greatest achievement was the single combat that he took against the  tzitzimime released by owl nahuals who used  powerful spells of necromancy.

 He could kill the terrible monster, which wreaked havoc on the population of Chapultepec, but he  had to sacrifice his life.

fvrol  asked:

Hello and I have a very serious question I want to ask you, Is Aztec Mythology/Religion very problematically sexist? Since I've been reading about the cihuateteo, Tzitzimime, where they treat women who died from childbirth as a evil spirits/vampires which I remember seeing a RPG board thread where they labeled the cihauteteo as "Chaotic Evil" which this can lead into very problematic things. Can you enlighten me otherwise or something I'm missing?

On the surface the roles of the sexes seem unequal, but that was actually more of the Aztec state and not the religion itself. (The article says powerful women were seen as a threat, but I’d argue that’s not entirely true. Their view is insanely less sexist than say Mesopotamia.) The genders were seen as opposites but complimentary in religious terms, and equal.

There is a lot of very powerful and dark female entities in Aztec lore. But they’re also usually considered divine. While they are feared, they do not treat this fear as running away per se. Rather, they respect them. When the goddess Tlaltecuhtli was unwillingly sacrificed so people could grow crops, she demanded human sacrifice as a replacement…. This story is considered the mythic basis of why human sacrifice was done. She wasn’t worshiped,  she was definitely honored though.

In a similar fashion we have this with the cihuateteo. They were honored equally with warriors who died in battles. Childbirth was seen as a “battle”, if a woman lost her life during childbirth she was considered the same as a brave warrior who died in battle and would eventually join those male and female warriors in heavens to follow the sun until she came back as a chihuateotl.

This is important because “teotl” means divinity and is used for gods as well as divine spirits. (Similar to the Japanese word kami.) Teteo is just the plural of teotl and I use the word when talking about the Aztec gods. So in essence their name literally means “divine women”. What’s more is the hair of a woman who died in childbirth was considered sacred,because if attached to weapons it was thought to strengthening them in battle. For this reason warriors fought over the hair of a dead woman who died in childbirth.

The night versions of the cihuateteo were probably the Tzitzimime, and I did a post here about them. You’ll notice that sacrifices were still done to them to appease them and they were honored like any other god. They’re also associated with major primary female deities such as Coatlicue and Cihuacoatl.

Some extra nuances to add about gender in Aztec culture includes the fact that while old people in general were revered in that culture, old women were treated as the most important and wise. It’s seen in mythology with Toci, or “our Grandmother”. There is no top Teteo who leads things, but she gets pretty darn close to it. The book the Daily lives of the Aztecs, points at this. (It’s also very close to Japanese cultural beliefs.)

Witches were typically female like the Tzitzimime, and rarely considered male. While they were feared and still are in Mexico today, women in general are considered it seems, to be a master of magical practices and very powerful. Even if they’re only curers. I believe it was said Quetzalcoatl brought that to them, but as to how and why I am lost on it. He is associated with cihuateteo though, because Cihuacoatl is his wife.

And lastly, as the first article stated, the society and culture of the Aztecs before being broken by Spaniards was evolving towards egalitarianism. In that respect, it’s a good bet that if their culture continued to flourish they would be gender equal since Ometeotl created the gods and is both genders. (The principal which the entire religion is based of.)

Nothing was completely malevolent or benevolent in Aztec cosmology and the cihuateteo were said to help out sorcerers/magic users as well as other folks when they called for aid. (I think they assist women in childbirth as well.) The entire scheme of Aztec cosmology is that the world is not just black and white. Some pretty benevolent gods such as Quetzalcoatl, would have a criminal side. (He’s associated with thievery so bandits would call on him before robbing someone.) The opposite is also true, malevolent teteo could have benevolent sides too.