Goddess of the Week: Coatlicue

Statue of Coatlicue displayed in National Anth...Image via WikipediaThis goddess is for Deb, who is grieving.

Once, there was Coatlicue. The Aztecs called her mother of the gods.

A goddess of life and death--of both the womb and the grave--she was terrifying to behold. She was also inescapable. She wore a necklace of human hearts, hands, and skulls, to better remind her people of their ultimate destination. However, she also wore a skirt of woven serpents to help them remember that, in death, they, like snakes, shed their skins and are born anew.

One day, when Coatlicue was out sweeping, a ball of Hummingbird feathers slid into her womb and she became pregnant. When her children--the stars in the sky--found out, they were embarrassed by their mother. They were embarrassed by her willingness to find life in everything, even something as insignificant and wispy as hummingbird feathers. And their embarrassment consumed them until one of them, the goddess Coyolxauhqui, decided that the only way to erase their shame was through the blood of Coatlicue.

Coyolxauhqui crept up on Coatlicue and beheaded her. Immediately, a new god emerged from Coatlicue's body--Huitzilopochtil--and two serpents sprang from Coatlicue's neck and took the place of her head.

Huitzilopochtil was the god of war, and he avenged the violence against his mother by slicing his sister's own head off.

But Coatlicue, so adept at dealing out death, now faced her own grief. She looked at her Coyolxauhqui dead on the grown, and she knew what humans have always known, you can't remove yourself from loss. You can be a king. You can be a goddess, and still you will lose what you love, and there will be nothing for you to do but wash yourself in the river of grief.

Huitzilopochtil wanted to help his mother, but, really, how can you help a mother whose lost her child, imperfect as that child is? He took Coyolxauhqui's head and tossed it into the sky, where it became the moon, where it waxes and wanes, like mourning itself, until the sun returns.

Channel this goddess in times of loss and grief.

Need a goddess: I've got goddesses! Post a comment describing your need, and I'll see what I can do.
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Desiree said...

I have a horror story based on this one. Doesn't need much to be terrifying

Jean Spitzer said...

Complicated and horrible, but also reassuring. One has to grieve a loss.

Joanne said...

We're all the same on so many levels, aren't we? Grief is grief, no matter. I'll never look at the moon the same.

Deb said...

Margaret ~ Thank you so much for this! Through tears I read this line several times: "You can be a goddess, and still you will lose what you love, and there will be nothing for you to do but wash yourself in the river of grief." Grieving is certainly no fun, but what else can you do at a time of great loss. Thank you for my goddess, Margaret. She's perfect. xo

Daisy said...

sending you warm hugs and good chocolate Deb. May you find new life in your grief.

Petrea said...

Thank you, Margaret. You don't know what a service you provide.

Deb, I hope you find peace, even as you grieve.

Shell Sherree said...

I hope I won't need this for some time, Margaret, but it's somehow soothing to remember that grief has to run its course for healing to come.

Take care, Deb. Hugs to you.

altadenahiker said...

This is beautifully said. My thoughts are with you, Deb.

Margaret said...

Dez: I forgot about that story! I remember loving it.

Deb: Glad you approve. I'm sending you and your family good thoughts.

... daisy... said...

I'm so sorry for Deb. I'm sorry for her loss. A strong hug.