Posted by Stella Clark

Mixcoatl Cover
Mixcoatl, meaning 'cloud serpent,' was the god of the hunt and identified with the Milky Way, the stars, and the heavens in several Mesoamerican cultures. He was the patron deity of the Otomi, the Chichimecs, and several groups that claimed decent from the Chichimecs. While Mixcoatl was part of the Aztec pantheon, his role was less important than that of Huitzilopochtli, who was their central deity. Under the name of Camaxtli, Mixcoatl was worshipped as the cental deity of Huejotzingo and Tlaxcala.

Mixcoatl is represented with a black mask over his eyes and distinctive red and white 'candy-cane stripes' painted on his body. These features are shared with Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, the Lord of the Dawn, god of the morning star. Unlike Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, Mixcoatl can usually be distinguished by his hunting gear, which included a bow and arrows, and a net or basket for carrying dead game.

Mixcoatl was one of four children of Tonacatecuhtli, meaning "Lord of Our Sustenance," an aged creator god, and Cihuacoatl, a fertility goddess and the patroness of midwives. Sometimes Mixcoatl was worshipped as the "Red" aspect of the god Tezcatlipoca, the "Smoking Mirror," who was the god of sorcerers, rulers, and warriors. In one story, Tezcatlipoca transformed himself into Mixcoatl and invented the fire drill by revolving the heavens around their axes, bringing fire to humanity. Along with this cosmic fire drill, Mixcoatl was the first to strike fire with flint. These events made Mixcoatl a god of fire, along with war, and the hunt.

Mixcoatl was the father of 400 sons, collectively known as the Centzon Huitznahua, who ended up having their hearts eaten by Huitzilopochtli. The Centzon Huitznahua met their demise when they, and their sister Coyolxauhqui, after finding their mother Coatlicue pregnant, conspired to kill her. However, as they attacked she gave birth to a fully formed and armed Huitzilopochtli, who proceeded to kill his half-siblings. Mixcoatl was also thought of as being the father of another important deity, Quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent.

Quecholli, the 14th veintena, the 20-day Aztec month, was dedicated to Mixcoatl. The celebration for this month consisted of hunting and feasting in the countryside. The hunters would take the form of Mixcoatl by dressing like him, kindling a new fire to roast the hunted game. Along with these practices, a man and woman would be sacrificed to Mixcoatl at his temple. The female would be slaughtered as would be a wild animal -- that is, by bashing her head against a rock four times. Subsequently, her throat would be cut, and she would be decapitated. The male victim would display her head to the crowd before he, himself, would be sacrificed in the familiar Aztec way: heart extrusion.

Along with the divine Mixcoatl, some believe there was a real figure known as Mixcoatl. It is thought he was a Chichimec leader during the Toltec period. It is not clear how much of the myth is based on this person if he really did live.

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This entry was posted on 30 October 2009 at Friday, October 30, 2009 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the .