Peering from the darkness, the goddess Coyolxauhqui (coh-yohl-shau’-kee) is one of the most important deities in the world of the Aztecs. She is the moon goddess with copper bells on her cheeks. She is also the sister of the sun-god Huitzilopochtli and 400 star deities in the night sky. She is also the daughter of Coatlicue (coh-ah-tlee’-cooeh ) the Earth Goddess.
Her mother Coatlicue was busy sweeping her temple one fine day when a ball of feathers fell upon her bosom. Instantly she became pregnant. When Coyolxauhqui discovered this she became overcome with anger that her mother did not know who the father might be. Further, she felt her family honor was forever tarnished. So, Coyolxauhqui decided to kill her mother with the help of her star brothers.
When she cornered her mother and was rushing in for the kill, her mother, Coatlicue, suddenly gave birth to Huitzilopochtli (wee-tsee-loh-poch’-tle) god of sun and the war-god. He sprang forth from his mother fully armed and wearing battle armor. Using a fire serpent (sun ray) he killed his sister Coyolxauhqui and the 400 star brothers.
Standing over the dead body of the moon goddess, the sun-god cut off her limbs and finally her head. However, as Huitzilopochtli felt concern that his mother would miss her daughter he threw the head of Coyolxauhqui into the sky where she became the moon. He then threw the dismembered body of the goddess down the temple.
As the moon, Coyolxauhqui dies every month (the new moon) and because she is missing her limbs she appears in section until her face shines full. This myth also explains why the sun is found always chasing the moon everyday in the sky.
Also, it’s possible that the dismemberment ritual of sacrificial victims came from story. An Aztec human sacrifice entailed removing the heart of the victim, cutting off the head and limbs and throwing the body down the steps of the temple. Supporting this thought, the tongue of the goddess is also shown as a sharp obsidian blade often used for this purpose.
In today’s Latino cultures Coyolxauhqui is experiencing a revival as a quasi-patron saint of the overt rebellious woman figure. This view asserts that instead of seeing Huitzilopochtli as a hero saving his mother and defending himself from butchery, the story of Coyolxauhqui champions her rebelliously standing up to dominating society and perhaps a cautionary tale of what happens when you lose.
Politics and religious fervor aside, The Moon Goddess Coyolxauhqui makes a fabulous addition to our collection.
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“Deity of the Week.” : Coyolxauhqui. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://deity-of-the-week.blogspot.com/2011/11/coyolxauhqui.html>.
“Coyolxauhqui.” Coyolxauhqui. Web. 14 Apr. 2015. <http://www.pantheon.org/articles/c/coyolxauhqui.html>.