Goddess Tlalteuctli  

Posted by Stella Clark

Goddess Tlalteuctli Image
THE NATIVE AMERICAN LEGENDS OF AZTEC SPEAK ABOUT THE CREATION OF EARTH FROM THE EARTH GODDESS "TLALTEUCTLI." THE EARTH HERSELF IS THE NOURISHER OF LIFE, BUT SHE IS ALSO THE BURIAL GROUNDS OF THE DEAD. ACCORDING TO LEGEND, THE CREATIVE FORCES REPRESENTING THE BRIGHT AND DARK ASPECTS OF CREATION, "QUESTZALCOATL" AND "TEZCATLIPOCA", BRING GODDESS "TLALTEUCTLI "DOWN FROM THE HIGH. NOW, THE EARTH WAS ENCIRCLED IN WATER, SO THE TWO CHANGED THEMSELVES INTO TWO GREAT SERPENTS, ONE OF WHOM SEIZED THE GODDESS FROM THE RIGHT HAND DOWN TO THE LEFT FOOT WHILE THE OTHER FROM THE LEFT HAND DOWN TO THE RIGHT FOOT. AS THEY TIGHTENED THEIR GRIP, SHE BROKE IN THE MIDDLE. THE HALF WITH THE SHOULDERS BECAME THE EARTH AND THE REMAINING HAVE THEY BROUGHT TO THE SKY....GREATLY DISPLEASING THE THE OTHER GODS. SHE IS A GODDESS WHO ALSO DEMANDS SACRIFICE IN THE FORM OF HUMAN HEART FOR ALL HER CREATIVE ACTIVITIES. SOMETIMES SHE WAILS IN THE NIGHT IF SHE DOES NOT GET HER TRADITIONAL OFFERINGS AND DOES NOT BEAR FRUITS UNTIL HER DEMANDS ARE MET.

THUS, THE STORY GOES THAT IN ORDER TO COMPENSATE THE" EARTH GODDESS" FOR THE DAMAGE THOSE TWO HAD INFLICTED UPON HER, ALL THE GODS CAME DOWN TO CONSOLE HER, ORDAINING THAT ALL THE PRODUCE REQUIRED FOR HUMAN LIFE WOULD ISSUE FROM HER. FROM HER HAIR CAME THE TREES, FLOWERS AND GRASSES; FROM HER SKIN, VERY FINE GRASSES AND TINY FLOWERS; FROM HER EYES, WELLS AND FOUNTAINS, AND SMALL CAVES; FROM HER MOUTH, RIVERS AND LARGE CAVES; FROM HER NOSE, VALLEYS AND MOUNTAINS; FROM HER SHOULDERS, THE MOUNTAINS.

MESOAMERICAN TRIBES BELIEVED THAT MOVEMENT AND SOUNDS FROM THE EARTH WERE THE COMPLAINTS OF "TLALTECUHTLI", STILL NOT HAPPY ABOUT BEING TORN APART, SO THEY SACRIFICED HUMANS IN ORDER TO CALM HER DOWN A BIT AND ENSURE THAT SHE CONTINUES TO PROVIDE THE BASIC NECESSITIES FOR HUMAN LIFE. SHE IS CALLED BY MIDWIVES WHEN THE DIFFICULT BIRTH OF AN INFANT THREATENS THE LIFE OF ITS MOTHER.

TLALTECUHTLI IS THE EARTH INCARNATE, THE EARTH MADE FLESH. SHE EMBODIES THE DUALITY OF CREATION AND DEATH. THE GODDESS IS DEPICTED WITH HER MOUTH OPEN TO GIVE AND RECEIVE IN RECIPROCAL RELATIONSHIP WITH THOSE WHO DWELL IN HER. THE FOLLOWING SONG FROM THE "NAHUA" PEOPLES BEAUTIFULLY PORTRAYS THIS RELATIONSHIP OF EARTH AND HUMAN. THE EARTH, THE MOST HOLY EARTH, IS THE SOURCE OF LIFE FOR THESE PEOPLE.. AS THEY THEMSELVES SAY HERE:

We live HERE on this earth (stamping on the mud floor)
We are all fruits of the earth
The earth sustains us
We grow here, on the earth and lower
And when we die, we wither on the earth
We are ALL FRUITS of the earth (stamping on the mud floor).
We eat of the earth
Then the earth eats us

(It is believed that one purpose of this myth is to validate the Aztec custom of sacrificing live human hearts.)

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