As I wrote about earlier, I have been maintaining a small shrine to the rain god Tlaloc under a nearby county-road bridge. Our creek—currently dry except for a couple of beaver ponds upstream—goes through a culvert there, one big enough for me to walk through standing straight.
When my shrine washes away, I will be happy to rebuild it in a different place!
The culvert is as near as I can come to the classic site:
Tlaloc did not only dwell in temples and on mountain tops. He lived in moist, fertile, and secluded caves too.
But the reason you will not find me going too far in any kind of neo-Aztec direction is that I am a little squeamish about sacrificing kids. Just candles and turkey feathers so far.
Yep, children were (are?) Tlaloc’s favorite—or so the Aztecs thought. Some were kids from enemy tribes, captured during raids or the flower wars. (As a euphemism, doesn’t “flower war” beat Obama’s “kinetic military action” completely?) Or sometimes not. You had to be tough to be Aztec nobility.
The children were beautifully adorned, dressed in the style of Tlaloc and the Tlaloque. On litters strewn with flowers and feathers; surrounded by dancers, they were transported to a shrine and their hearts would be pulled out by priests.
If, on the way to the shrine, these children cried their tears were viewed as signs of imminent and abundant rains. Children who did not weep could have their fingernails torn off in order to achieve this effect. Every Atlcahualo festival, seven children were sacrificed in and around Lake Tetzcoco in the Aztec capital. They were either slaves or the second born children of nobles. . . According to the chronicler Durán, Tlaloc had the additional name of ‘Path Under the Earth’ or ‘Long Cave’.
Investigators such as Doris Heyden suggest that the little passages that lead off of the main caves underneath the Sun Pyramid in Teotihuacan could have been used to house the bodies of children that were sacrificed to this god each year. At an excavation elsewhere, the burial chambers of seven infants placed in a circle inside a cave were found. The centre of the cave roof was open and let in rain. There were also storing facilities thought to have once been grain deposits. The archaeologist who worked on this site, Linda Manzanilla, equated the caves, water, childrens’ bodies and grain with the mythical Tlalocan; the Tlaloque who lived there were small, like children, and it was abundant with both water and grain. Out of Tlalocan’s opening came the rain, seeds and new life and into it came the dead and retreating rain clouds
Well, there is a cosmology for you. How far down that road to go?
Was Tlaloc “the same” as the Mayan “Chaac,” or did one god displace the other, as this article (in Spanish) suggests, during a desperate time of drought?
Afterthought: the school bus used to stop almost on top of the shrine. Currently it does not, because there are no kids on our road young enough to ride it—except for two who are apparently homeschooled. You cannot escape these connections?