Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Landmark V: Coatlicue

The Mother of all the gods. The Mother of the Moon and Stars. The Goddess of the Sun and of War. Our Lady of the Serpents. Patron of those who die while giving birth.

In Nahuatl her name means "one with the skirt of serpents." She has been decapitated, and her missing head replaced with two great snakes. Her hands and feet are claws. In her, eagle-nature and serpent-nature are joined. Not merely earthbound and mortal, not merely heavenly and divine, she is the combination of both natures - the original dragon-lady, the serpent that takes flight. Her nature is still displayed on the Mexican flag: an eagle with a serpent in its mouth. She still rules over the heirs to the Aztec lands.

Above her skirt of writhing snakes, she wears a necklace of human hands, hearts, and skulls - the voluntary sacrifices of her faithful. Without their blood, she would wither and die, so her people line up 40,000 strong to climb to the top of the Pyramid of the Sun to present their gifts. The decapitations go on for days. She is both Mother and Monster, symbol of the womb and the tomb, insatiable in her thirst for blood and sacrifice.

Gloria Anzaldúa reminds us, "Coatlicue is a rupture in our everyday world. As the Earth, she opens and swallows us, plunging us into the underworld where the soul resides, allowing us to dwell in darkness." She is our fate when we refuse to live up to our own personal potential, impeding the evolution of the soul.

Coatlicue can now be found in the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico, D.F.

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