Mixcoatl  

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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Vesta Roman Goddess Of The Hearth  

Posted by Stella Clark

Vesta Roman Goddess Of The Hearth Image
"VESTA" WAS THE ROMAN GODDESS OF THE HEARTH, THE CENTER OF THE HOME AND DOMESTIC HAPPINESS AS WELL AS THE PROTECTOR OF VIRGINAL WOMANHOOD. SHE WAS THE GODDESS OF THE DIVINE RITES. SHE WAS THE EQUIVALENT OF THE GREEK "HESTIA." SHE WAS THE DAUGHTER OF THE FERTILITY GOD, SATURN AND HIS WIFE, "OPS", THE GODDESS OF ABUNDANCE AND WEALTH. HER WORSHIP SEEMS TO HAVE BEEN THE MOST ANCIENT OF THE RITES OF PAGANISM, AND TO HAVE PREVAILED VERY GENERALLY THROUGHOUT THE WORLD. DONKEYS WERE SACRED TO THIS GODDESS.

"VESTA" IS USUALLY DEPICTED AS AN AUSTERE WOMAN, WEARING A LONG DRESS AND WITH HER HEAD COVERED. IN HER LEFT HAND, SHE HOLDS A SCEPTRE. SHE REPRESENTS SHELTER AND THE SAFETY AND SECURITY OF LIFE. EVERY ROMAN HOUSEHOLD HAD ITS HEARTH DEDICATED TO THIS GODDESS, AND DOMESTIC RITUALS WERE HELD IN HER HONOR. SHE WAS WORSHIPPED IN PRIVATE HOUSEHOLDS AND EVERY DAY, DURING A MEAL, A SMALL CAKE WAS THROWN ON THE FIRE FOR HER; IT WAS GOOD LUCK IF IT BURNT WITH A CRACKLE.

VESTA'S TEMPLE WAS SERVED BY SIX CHASTE PRIESTESSES CALLED THE VESTAL VIRGINS. THEY ENJOYED PRIVILEGES THAT OTHER ROMAN DID NOT FOR THEY EMBODIED THE CREATIVE POWER OF THE GODDESS PRIOR TO THE FIRST GREAT RITE OF PASSAGE FROM MAIDEN TO MOTHER. THEIR MOST SACRED DUTY WAS TENDING HER SACRED FIRE AND KEEPING IT FOREVER BURNING. THEY WERE CHOSEN FROM PHYSICALLY PERFECT GIRLS WITH TWO LIVING PARENTS, BETWEEN THEIR SIXTH AND TENTH YEARS. EACH WAS SWORN TO THIRTY YEARS OF CHASTITY AND SERVICE TO THE GODDESS, UNDER THREAT OF THE PUNISHMENT OF BEING FLOGGED AND BURIED ALIVE SHOULD THEY FAIL TO MAINTAIN THEIR PURITY FOR THE WELL-BEING OF THE ENTIRE STATE DEPENDED ON THEIR DEVOTION AND SERVICE TO THE GODDESS.

THE CULT OF "VESTA" MOST LIKELY ORIGINATED IN TRIBAL SOCIETY, WHEN A FIRE WAS THE CENTRAL FOCUS OF THE VILLAGE. THIS MAY HAVE BEEN ATTENDED BY WOMEN WHO HAD BEEN CHOSEN AS ITS PRIESTESSES, POSSIBLY THE FORERUNNERS OF THE "VESTAL VIRGINS". BECAUSE "VESTA "SYMBOLIZES THE PURITY OF FIRE, IT IS APPROPRIATE THAT HER PRIESTESSES SHOULD BE VIRGINS.

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