Tlaloca`n (Aztec netherworld)


Modern Aztec Underworld

[book (describing the Sierra Norte de Puebla) by professor at Universidad de las Ame`ricas, Puebla in Cholula]

pp. 2-6 prologue

p. 2

... a ‘friend of the night’ ... The term usually referred to ... a curandero, someone well trained in the old ways.”

they must be friends ... : women who do not have men, fathers with no children. They follow the same way.”

p. 3

It was one of those that beseeches ... to take back the souls of the dead that had escaped. It was a prayer to lure them back ...

... an archaic phrase ...: “Tlalocan, the good night, may it cover you with fine words...””

p. 4

sickness ... comes from these dead who do not know how to find their homes in the earth, those who have not been embraced by our mother {Tlaloc-cihuatl}, our father {Tlaloc-tecuhtli}, the true t[l]aloc. They are disturbing living.”

[guru-parampara (lineage of praeceptors)] : “fathers of the light”

Don Juan Manuel Antonio Mixcua,

Don Juan Manuel Marti`n Ocelo,

Don Juan Manuel Antonio Francisco Hernandez,

Don Marti`n Antonio Francisco Abad,

Jose` Antonio Marti`n Luz,

Juan Francisco Marti`n Luz

[these and other names are discussed on p. 129, citing :- Mari`a Elena Aramoni : Talokan Tata, Talokan Nana. Mexico City, 1990.]

They were the teachers of the ‘good path’ ... They were the ones who found the ‘good path’ and taught us to know our naguals.” “They

p. 5

became ... our assistants in searching out lost souls in ... the world of the ancestors we visit in our dreams.”

I thought I was the last individual to learn this tradition ... The sky began to redden slightly through the cloudy mists. ... I learned what she had never told me, that there were others, many others, the followed the same cualli ohti, the ‘good path.’ ” {Viz., an initiate is not introduced to other initiates until some years have passed since the initiation, to allow between an interval for gaining spiritual power (in the sense of friendship with the particular helper-spirits with whom the initiate hath been connected by the praeceptor). Any earlier introduction might, apparently, interfere with capacity for developing spiritual power.} “Slowly and meticulously I got names and addresses of others who shared this same tradition in Mexico City, Guerrero, and Aguascalientes.” “practitioners function like a secret society, training only a handful of followers ...

other organizations such as this one [include] ... a ... group in Veracruz called Sen~ores de Noche, ... and ... other groups as well in Oaxaca and Morelos, ... all similar groups of curers training apprentices in a tradition”.

p. 6

A friend of mine from graduate school, Barbara Tedlock, had followed this path with her husband Dennis, both becoming Quiche diviners ..., as had my former graduate school roommate Duncan Earle.”




its meaning


cualli ohti

good path








earth’s surface






my animal alter-ego






my soul [familiar spirit (p. 31)]



shadow [shadow-soul (p. 33)]



putrid aroma of the dead





one’s-own heart [blood-pulse (p. 30)]

cualli yollotzin, yo-cualli

good heart


destroyed heart (mad)


ahmo-cualli ehecat

bad winds


magical fright”


one’s-own soul (breath-soul)




dusk, sunset

p. 153 the 3 types of “inhabitations” (of the patient’s body by an intrusive object) that are usually extracted when effecting a cure

a feather implies that the curer is removing an evil wind, or ahmo cualli ehecat, and that the client ... must be wary of the night and the forests ... to avoid being alone in dangerous places.”

Animal teeth, claws, and beaks that are extracted suggest witchcraft. One must take care never to offend a witch, one of his or her [the witch’s] close relatives, or anyone suspected of having an inagual or animal alter ego that corresponds to the type of animal [as whose] part [was] extracted.”

The third type of object is a clod of dirt, a stone, an obsidian flake, or a pebble. These objects all pertain to the underworld and clearly suggest to a client that he or she has in some way transgressed against ... the holy earth.”

shamanic curing of souls




In order to treat a client suffering from ‘soul-loss’ or ‘magical fright’, nemouhtil, a curer must not only locate the lost aspect of the soul but also ascertain the reason for the itonal’s loss. This is done through dreams. The practitioner’s itonal travels in dreams to search for a client’s infirmity. ... In dreams, the itonal wanders the earth, the sky, and the underworld.”


nonagual is the only entity that can deal directly with the lords of the underworld. Practitioners acquire a number of dark ferocious beasts as familiars to aid them in their dreamtime journeys in the underworld.”

The itonal may travel undetected in the underworld, but it is through the inagual that the practitioner directly confronts the underworld.”


Every practitioner must seek out his or here nonogual and learn the geography of the underworld in dreams. As the practitioner progresses, he or she will find other animals and underworld beings that are amenable to becoming the individual’s alter ego, or nonagual. Once a practitioner has dreamed of such a new ally, he or she can, with proper ritual, acquire the new nonagual and take on that animal form in the underworld of the ancestors.” {would to “take on that animal form” entail occupying the nagual-animal’s body in the dream in a manner similar to a spirit’s taking possession (as “walk-in”, or whatever) of a person’s body in the waking world?}


It is “through dreams that the practitioners can travel to the underworld of their ancestors ..., to find an adequate diagnosis. ...

It is only the trained practitioner who can recognize where he or she is in the world of dreams. ... Dreams escape. They are difficult to ‘carry’ out of the world of sleep ...

Dreams ... may be portents of the future. They may be journeys to the underworld. ... They may be journeys to the celestial paradise ... in the world of holy light, nextli.” {so, this “world of holy light” would apparently be that of the god Tezcatla-nextia}


Fantastic and fierce animals may be encountered in dreams ... These may be apparitions of underworld lords castigating an individual for some transgression against the traditions of the ancestors.”

seeing an individual in a dream implies that it is the individual’s itonal that is seen and not the individual. ... seeing the living and the dead in dreams is a fearsome event that leaves one’s own notonal vulnerable. Therefore it is a matter that is best kept private.” {would this imply that to mention in the waking world the names of persons whose tonal-s were seen by one in one’s dreams, might become a pathway for evil spirits dwelling in the waking world to enter into the dream-world and wreak havoc there both to the tonal-s of the persons so identified, as well as to one’s own tonal?}


Native practitioners are particularly interested in identifying where dream events occur in the world of dreams. ... This is ... because each location is perceived to have a specific implication as to the auspiciousness of events in the underworld.”


Persons “who have been bewitched” and who have afterwards


been cured of that bewitchment “have specific obligations ... for the remainder of their lives. They must make constant offerings to the lords of the earth. They must pray regularly before their family altars. Their dreams ... are more thoroughly discussed by all.”


The dreamtale may involve deceit and trickery, or even epic battles, to locate a client’s lost soul, itonal or inagual.” {this is similar to the narrative in a Siberian shamanic performance}


East side of Tlalocan : “Should an individual have an inagual, or animal alter ego, associated with the water – a fish, frog, turtle, salamander, etc. – then it is to apan that the curer must journey to see that the inagual is well and has not been captured by some witch.”


West side of Tlalocan : “practitioners recounted great battles to escape t[l]acocan from this side.” {Tlaloc is depicted in Codex Borgianus Mexicanus 25 as a weapon-carrying warrior (CT&M, p. 59, Fig. 29c)}

{The foregoing strictures are described in much the repetitious style used by indigenous practitioners training initiates by impressing onto their minds in such a manner such attitudes as are likely to be serviceable in the mental state one is likely to be in during a dream. (A less-repetitious style might not accomplish that effect.)}

training of an initiate




It is essential for practitioners to train someone in the ways of their ancestors so that their own souls may have repose in the underworld of the ancestors.”


When a curer consistently dreams of a particular individual, he or she may approach that person with a request that they learn to pray and dream. ... The request was more than a mere invitation ... New recruits were considered at great risk until they mastered the prayers and techniques of sending their souls into the underworld in dreams and transforming them”.

individuals who had survived lightning strikes {as likewise in Siberian custom}, snake bites, near drownings ... sought out practitioners to show them the tradition. They were called by the earth lords.”

All new recruits ... had to learn the prayers and techniques of making offerings. ... Second, they had to learn to dream and to understand their dreams as journeys to the underworld of the ancestors. Third, they had to learn the nature of their own alter egos and acquired additional alter egos


their nonagual could inhabit in the world of dreams.”

It is ... the interpretation of dreams that one learns, and gradually the ability to direct the dream through a series of techniques from autosuggestion to sympathetic magic. ... Learning the geography of the underworld and the prayers and techniques of curing provides a framework for viewing dreams”.

Flowers representing the underworld {cf. The Allure of Nezahualcoyotl, p. 162} are placed in the center of the offerings. The lords of the underworld are offered nourishment, tortillas, beans and water. ... In prayer, the powers of the night are admonished and threatened {threatened with withholding of offerings due to those deities if no favorable luck is sent from those deities to the offerer?}; they are made well aware that all offerings are reciprocal. The initiate must bargain with the powers of the underworld to show him or her the realm of night {viz., the divine world, thus requaested to be revealed in dreams}. The initiate must offer his or her heart, noyollo, as a part of the commitment”.


In the early stages of training, the initiate is drilled constantly and allowed little sleep. The practitioners will recount dreamtime journey after journey. The initiate is then expected to recount each detail of his or her own dreams. ... Each new practitioner must find in his or her dreams fixed points of the underworld of the ancestors ... Trained practitioners analyze the dreams of the initiate, ... sometimes asking specifically leading questions like,

Did it appear watery?”

Did you see it clearly?” or “Was there smoke or fog?”

Practitioners will carefully explain the characteristics of each section of the world of darkness, what is there and why it is there.”


A practitioner will generally indicate how the underworld of the ancestors is entered either before beginning the actual tale or as an initial part of the dreamtale. ... Entryways can be cave mouths, deep pools, streams, sinkholes, hot springs, rock crevices, mountaintops, deep canyons, etc. Entry into the underworld can also be said to occur from falling down or from being hit by falling objects or lightning. In one unusual dreamtale, one of the practitioners was snatched evil wind, ahmo cualli ehecat[l]. In another, the practitioner was snatched by a magical bird, a cuixi, which happened to be her own nonagual.”

The curer goes from place to place in the underworld, sometimes walking, sometimes traveling in a stream, and sometimes flying on a bird of as a bird.”


One of the practitioners would regularly tell me of conversations with her ancestors and lords of the underworld, which she considered privy information ... She would also clearly state that she could transform herself into various animals in the underworld”.

when you take up the dream, you take it out into the light from ... darkness ..., ... it is your burden, your duty to carry, ... you carry


it on your shoulders you put on the tump line there in the darkness ..., and then you have to carry it out into the holy light, when you have to take it from the fog and the darkness on your back. ...

the dream ... wants to return, it wants to go back down, but we need it here on the earth, in t[l]alticpac, in nexti, in the light.”


Immediately after the initiation, when the novice has spent an entire night praying at the mouth of a cave to the lords of the underworld, ... the real process of training begins. The initiate must begin to recount all of his or her dreams. ...


the initiate learns to direct his itonal, the aspect of the soul that travels through dream ..., pilgrimages and long vigils in caves, near streams and pools, or on mountaintops are used to direct the soul.”

... the practitioner explains the necessity of finding the four sides of the underworld and seeking out allies, additional alter egos, in the underworld. ... The novice must find the four sides of the underworld before searching out its center. ... it is impossible to find the ‘true t[l]alocan,’ t[l]alocan melauh, the center of the underworld, before knowing the four sides, he or she ... would not recognize it, and the lords of the underworld would ... keep the initiate’s itonal in the underworld {in punishment for not having recognized its centre upon having viewed that centre?}, causing sickness {mental or psychic?} and possibly death.

Without a knowledge of the four sides of the underworld for orientation the soul can become easily lost in dreams. The four sides are the four major passages from the underworld to the world of humankind, and, although there are many other ... points of


passage in the underworld, these points act as emergency exits in fixed positions. {“fixed positions” would imply : cannot be made to vanish by closing off at the telepathic will of whatever monsters may be pursuing oneself from behind}

In the initial dreams during training, the novice must seek our an entry into the underworld. This may be a cave, ... it may be a well ... . It is both a real place in the waking world and a place that the initiate has dreamt. The initiate is encouraged to leave offerings at dusk and dawn at these entryways to t[l]alocan. A knowledgeable practitioner may have dozens of entryways to the underworld where offerings are left before beginning to cure a client. ...

it is only the trained practitioner who can direct his or her itonal through specific entries and exits. In some instances, a curer may be chased from the underworld by ... one of the residents of the underworld, or may even be banished from the underworld by one of its lords. In such cases, the practitioner must flee from one of the four sides of the underworld.”


Finding the nature of one’s own animal counterpart is essential in becoming a practitioner, and acquiring additional animal assistants is essential in learning the techniques of the tradition. It also embodies a great deal of knowledge of the techniques of witchcraft.”

pp. 64-70, 98, 101 autobiographical accounts [narrated in the 1st person singular], by a practitioner, of own dreams


practitioners’ narratives of their own dreams


[by woman-practitioner, on behalf of woman-client :] “I was walking and the stream began to take me. It carried me in the water down to the bottom and into the sixth river and to the third falls where I could escape. I walked along the edge of the river and came to a wide open plain where there was a good road, one of the royal highways ... They were there ..., those ahmotocnihuan, ... but they didn’t see me there [:] I was just a dog along the path and there were many ... there as dogs ... You know those things


eat the dead, they hold the wake before some poor soul dies ...

Well, they said that it was the third hill heart of the underworld, where they were going to. That’s a long way on the sixth highway [:] you have to go to the center and find the third highway and go to the tonalan side to find the tepeyolot [hill-heart] ...

I found my dove. I went with her. I flew up and over the third hill heart. ... You could here them ... They were playing the drum and the flute. Someone was going to die, sure enough some poor soul would die. There was a little hole there near the entry where my brother the rat hid. I went up to him and I told him ... “... I have good corn for your brothers” {in Codex Borgia 27, for the “red Tlaloc” (CT&M, p. 146b), “mice or rat devour the corn” (CT&M, p. 147a)}. ... Well, I went in there, into the tepeyolot. They were dancing. There were tocatines and there were quetzales [“These are varieties of masked dancers” (p. 162, n. 2:7).] there. It was dark and ... I could see nothing. ...

I went further to the third cave pool and I saw some of them going to where the vigil was kept. ... One of them exclaimed, “... I smell tobacco. ...” ...


And I ran out there. I was lucky; they couldn’t see me in the dark, but they sure could smell my tobacco in there. A rat is small {the narrator had been in rat-form since reaching the entry?} and I ran fast to the opening. There was my dove and I jumped to her. We flew up and out to the light.”

The same dream [as on pp. 64-65] was explained to the client [a woman, suffering from “magical fright”], ... later in the day in the following manner :

I was at a well to draw water and I went to the bottom of the well. From the bottom of the well {cf. entry via a cistern by Yo^sep into Mis.rayim (land of the dead)} I came to the great river and the falls {cf. the importance of waterfalls in S^uar initiations} that is there ... There I got out of the water and I walked along to a flat area. And there was a camino real there ... I could see the ahmotocnihuan ...; they were dressed in white ...

I flew ahead of them on their path. They were all on their way to a wake there ... They all come out to celebrate when someone is going to die. They do that when they’ve already got someone or a part of someone, her tonal or her nahual, because shortly they’ll get ... her flesh. ...


I went closer to see who was there, whose vigil was being kept there ... Then one of them cried out. “... There is one who is of flesh yet. There is food here!” ... They would eat me there! ... I ran off ... and there was a bird there. “Quickly,” I said, “take me ... up to the light!” And it did. We flew out into the light.”


[“repetitive dream” by the same woman-practitioner before she had sought initiation, and which had originally induced (p. 70) her to seek initiation :-]

it always started out that I was at a well ..., and I reached into the well. It came up and it grabbed me there at the well and pulled me into the water. I went down and down into the darkness in the water and something held me and it took me[;] carried me there in the water further and further into the darkness. ... I was bound there in the darkness and rushing down in the water. I was dragged over rough stones up and down and then I came to rest there in front of another well ... but I couldn’t move and it


came out and grabbed me again with big black arms that took me in, and it was even darker and the water went faster there in that place. I could hear it rushing all around and I came to rest at another well but the water was whirling there and it too took me in and down into the darkness around and around like a spindle whorl dancing up and down. I was beaten and bounced on the rocks and when I could see again there was another well with a great wind blowing the water all about. It was some kind of a tempest or hurricane with sharp rain that stung and lightning. ... the tempest took me into the water again. ...

I came to rest again at another pool that was calm. ... It was dark and I was bound. I couldn’t move. ... I could see something there in the water or on the water there were two great bright red eyes there in the darkness. There was a terrible smell and there was not a sound. Then there came a dripping. Each drop I heard clearly. ... It became like the drum ... The water was turning red {cf. miraculous transformation of river into blood by Mos^eh} and it was boiling. And I could still see the two great red eyes coming closer. It was steaming and boiling; there was fog, mist, and the eyes started to come out at me. Then I saw the teeth. ... All of them were big teeth. They were snapping open and shut, making the water boil. The eyes came closer and closer and the smell was rotten. I was bound! I couldn’t move! ... I could hear the chomp! ...

Then I saw darkness and usually awakened cold and sweating. When I didn’t awaken there was a woman there seated at an altar. She was all in white naguas with a great headdress [“On special occasions, ... wear large headdresses of purple and green strands ... bound together with the hair of ancestors. ... In a way, a woman carries the tradition of all her female ancestors woven into her headdress.” (p. 162, n. 2:9)] and she was speaking, but I couldn’t hear ... She was huge ... Sometimes there was a little man with her, perhaps a dwarf. I walked closer and closer to hear her but couldn’t hear ..., and as I climbed the altar with steep steps the little man was waving his arm ... He moved his mouth too,


but I could hear nothing. Finally I came right in front of the great lady and the dwarf began to push me, but I could her and she said, “Xicaquiz! Xinohnotza! Listen and recount this!” I fell down the stairs of the altar {cf. Aztec sacrificial victims, immolated at a temple, being tossed down its steep staircase} and most of the time woke up there. The few times that I did not awaken I saw by father from far away”.


[by practitioner, on behalf of client :-] “First I found myself on a path in the hills, and I followed it. I followed it to a stream that entered into a cave. Inside the cave I could not cross the stream ... I put some large stepping stones into the river, but it carried them off. I still could not cross, so I decided to jump, and I leapt a huge distance. When I arrived at the other side ..., ... I went to a well and brought ... water.”


[by a practitioner :-] “I entered through the third great cave mouth at the second great river and searched the path along the river full of brambles and thorns until I came to the second great highway. It was a camino real, royal highway, that I followed to the second small hill. There, were those others, the t[l]alocanca. I went to the third great river. I searched the path along the river full of brambles and thorns until I came to the third great highway. It too was a royal highway and I followed it to the third small hill. There were t[l]alocanca there just as before. I went to the fifth great river ... I searched the path along the river full of brambles and thorns until I came to the fifth great highway, a royal highway. ... It was the t[l]alocanca who called ... I hid on the third small hill to see them. They searched the fifth small hill. ... Then the rat screamed. The third small hill rat who lived there saw me. ... Those t[l]alocanca came. And I went ... out of there, through the gateway into the light.”


[“In one dream account, a practitioner whose inahual, a coatimundi, is being pursued by the minions of the north, shouts at them :]

Jaguars! People eaters! Eaters of the dead! Leave me! I run from you!

Vultures! Strippers and cutters of flesh! I live! I run! ... Go and eat the dead!

And then, then I slipped through a small hole,

I went inside (the tree ...) into the sun ... in the holy light.”

{here the sun may be contained, just before dawn, within a hollow tree}


[“The practitioner entered the underworld through the mouth of a cave after a long journey through a dense forest. Once inside the cave, she could see nothing and stumbled constantly on the rough, rocky path. She found herself on a precipice with a waterfall, but it was still too dark to see anything.” (p. 117)] “There was the sound of the water [falling in that waterfall?] and there were voices down below. ... I went down the steep path [from the top to the bottom of the waterfall?] into the hill heart [cave under that waterfall? {– cf. the monster-woman’s “cave behind a waterfall” in Grettir’s Saga (ShCC, p. 308)}]. {the hill-heart (so depicted as glyph in the Codex Borbonicus and in the Codex Cospianus) is the place of the god Tepe-yollotl, reckoned as 8th with the 9th as the place of Tlaloc (CT&M, p. 96, Fig. 51)} ... They would give me the wings of a bird to take me throughout t[l]alocan. They would let me fly to the four sides of the underworld.”


[own dream recounted by author, while in training to become practitioner :-] “I was taken down a long tunnel of bright colors. I could not move but was swept along. There was a ... courtyard with arches all around it {this is the Manikhaian description of the universe}, and in the center a stone fountain of rose-colored stone spouting bright blue, not white, waters. There was a small man standing next to the fountain in calzones, white indigenous clothes, who was ... signaling me to come near. {cf. gesturing midget on p. 69} I could hear nothing. ... The galleries under the arches were filled with people shouting. Their faces were horrible, like masks that moved {cf. masked dancers on p. 65} ...

The man ... grabbed at me as I came closer. His arms were short life a dwarf’s, and there were great protrusions from his body that stabbed me. He grabbed me and pulled me there into the blue water, holding on to me and taking me by the head in his small arms. ... There was a long passage and I could feel myself walking in a dark place. The man grasped my face with his little arms, and the protrusions of his body were hurting me so I wrenched myself free.

There was a light and a face ..., an old woman in white. Everything there was white and light, and then it


all turned dark and there was one horrific face with huge teeth {cf. mouth with big teeth on p. 69} ... And then again I saw nothing.

From there I came out of a great dark place ..., and I felt I wanted to walk but I couldn’t. I felt like I was bound, and everyone came around to look at me and laugh.”

pp. 79-80, 84 [as recited in prayers :-] in Tlalocan : topographic sets of 14 each


p. 79-80 – 10 sets of 14

p. 84 – 8 sets of 14

p. 89 – 8 sets


































sandy rivers




warm winds


good paths


evil winds












14 caves

[pp. 119-120 explanation for the 14 as 13 + 1 :- (p. 119) “There are thus thirteen of each type of feature located between the center and the edges of the underworld and one of each type (p. 120) of feature located in the center of the underworld.”]

{there are likewise, in Hindu mythology, 14 Manu-s of 14 manu-antara-s}

pp. 118-119, 120-121 – sequential sets of 14 places each


sets of 14 places each


sets of 14 places each


deep green rivers



sandy streams

huge hill-hearts

deep holes

deep canyons


deep wells

deep wells









p. 121 subsidiary groups of some 3 sets of 14 each

Once the fourteen __

are mentioned, then the fourteen __ can be brought into the prayer / mentioned.



sandy streams,


llanos, or plains,

broad plains,

white plains, and

green plains

p. 122 these sets of 14 each are symbolic “for things better left unsaid in a small village.”

Tlalocan and features of its geography




T[l]alocan is a world of darkness. There are no real plants in t[l]alocan ... They need light, nextli.” {therefore, antient mural paintings depicting Tlalocan shew mushrooms, but not chlorophyll-plants.}


The underworld, t[l]alocan, is ... a world of ... dusk or perpetual dense fogs”.


Tlalocan’s collective “locations ... are viewed as a flower and are referred to as the t[l]alocan xochit[l], flor de t[l]alocan, or underworld flower”. [“the most common metaphor for the underworld is the flower with four petals, which serves as a common schematic of t[l]alocan ... and ... this flower is the same a Teotihuaca`n’s ubiquitous decorative motif” (p. 163, n. 4:5). {This is the “cruciform flower” of botany.}]


temascal or Aztec steam bath” : “Tradition also has it that temascals were the entries into the underworld and led directly to mictalli or miquitalan, the regions of the dead.”


In the North “are the ehecatagat, the lord of the winds, and the miquitagat, the lord of death. They are the ones that care for souls for the first year after death. Both of the lords live in great caves. ... there are two caves, one on top of the other, and ... death lives in the lowest realm. The dead enter the underworld from the cemetery, where the lord death and his minions keep their souls. The role of the lord of the winds is to seek out more souls on the surface of the earth with which to populate the regions of the dead.”

From the cave of the winds in the northern reaches of t[l]alocan issue

the mal aires or evil winds, the feared ahmo cualli ehecat[l],

the sombra de muerte or shadow of death, the miquicihual, and

the miquiehecat[l], the nortes, ‘the winds of death’.”


Once the dead are buried, they begin to take on the appearance of the lord death, who is nothing but bone. ... lord death eats the flesh from the dead when they are buried and feeds the flesh that is left to the minions of the north that have a particular craving for human flesh. Should the supernaturals of the north escape the underworld they would become cannibals on the surface of the earth.”

The cave of the winds ... is where the lord of the winds resides with his various assistants who guard the cooking pots [“According to numerous tales, the assistance are toads who keep the pots.” (p. 163, n. 4:9)] where the ingredients for storms are kept, the winds, mists, rains, thunder, and lightning. Other assistants of the lord of winds are the quautiomeh or lightning bolts, the thunderclaps or popocameh, and the smoke ones, who make the miquipopoca or smoke of death that issues forth


onto the surface of the earth, in t[l]alticpac, along with the winds of death.”

In the South “is a spring of boiling water shrouded in mist and clouds. This spring is found in the depths of a cave illuminated by the fires of the popocameh. In the depths of this boiling spring, ... lives ... a giant worm, the cuiluhuexi. {worms in a netherworld was also an antient Aztec belief}


The cuiluhuexi eats the earth and fashions the caverns ... Its fiery breath and boiling saliva eat away the earth as it crawls beneath the surface. ... [Or, figuratively, there may be regarded, (in the waking world?,)] the spring itself as the mouth of the cuiluhuexi or huey ocuillin and the boiling waters as its saliva.”

In the East “is the place known as apan, the waters ... . Apan is a great lake or sea in the underworld that is united in its depths with all the waters of


the surface of the world. In its depths live atagat and acihuat[l], the lord and lady of the waters. The acihuat[l] is often identified with the llorona or weeping woman {“in the Telleriano-Remensis and the Tonalamatl Aubin, her eyes are filled with tears” (CT&M, pp. 93b-94a)} of folklore, who ... is always found near sources of water weeping” {cf. the [Kemetian] weeping goddess 3S-t (Isis)}. ... In the depths of apan are cities {cf. submarine city in the [<arabian] 1,001 Nights} ..., and ... souls – once they have passed out of the north at the end of the first year of death – seek out ... this region.”


In the West “is actually a cave inhabited only by truly dangerous women {cf. the dangerous [Chinese] goddess White Tigress in the West} such as miquicihuauh, ‘death woman,’ and the ehecacihuauh, ‘wind woman.’ ” “the women from this side of the underworld ... went in search of the souls of men, especially lascivious men who couple with various women. They would also take the souls of women waiting on the paths, in the gardens, or in the fields for their illicit lovers.” {it may be in allusion to the greenery of these gardens-for-adultery, that the 3rd deity of the 8 in Codex Borgianus Mexicanus 75-76 is a green-vegetation goddess}


The western entry to the underworld is where the sun is captured each day to begin its passage through t[l]alocan. This gateway is unlike the entry of the east through the waters, which may be used at any time for a practitioner’s dreamtime escape from or passage to t[l]alocan. This gateway may be used only after midnight, for otherwise it would be too hot due to the passage of the sun.” {At midnight here, it would praesumably be noon in the netherworld; but if the sun’s fire is extinguished at sunset (to be re-kindled at dawn), then by midnight here (noon there) it will have cooled appreciably. Were perhaps the functions of sun & moon thought to be interchanged between the waking-world and the dream-world, with the moon being the hot luminary illuminating the dream-world?}


{as likewise in Codex Borgianus Mexicanus 49-53,} [there are 5 divine trees :-]

the one “that ... is located in the center of the underworld ... in t[l]alocan, ... to one side of the palace [plaza?]. {tree in CBM 53} ...

four other trees, one at each of the four sides of the underworld, which grew from the earth to the sky. ... [These 4 are :-]

... tree of the death {red tree of the gold-spotted red death-god (CBM 52)}

... tree of the waters {tree of netted-faced god at pool (CBM 51)}

... fuming tree {red-&-white striped tree? (CBM 50)}

... the Sun’s tree” {liana-like tree (stranglerfig?) of Sun’s temple (CBM 49)}


The meaning of the numeric classifiers” : “the number represented the distance from the center of the underworld. The higher the number, the closer to the center (and thus the more important).”


{just as in CBM 49-52, in the right panel of the upper register of each page there is a god upholding the sky, so likewise :} at a wake for the dying “we were the pillars of the underworld”.

pp. 122-125 divine denizens of the netherworld




supernatural beings who inhabit the underworld ... are considered ahmotocnihuan, ‘those who are not are brothers.’ ”

death-goddess : “The miquicihuauh can appear with the large eyes of nocturnal animals carrying huge faggots of flaming sapwood."

The inhabitants of the underworld come in two sizes. The ones called duendes in Spanish, the dwarfs, are slightly smaller than ordinary people ... The t[l]aloques, the lords and ladies of the underworld, are quite a bit larger than most villagers.”


The supernaturals include :

the alpixque, ‘water keepers,’

the ahuanimeh, ‘water masters,’

the ehecameh, ‘wind ones,’

and the mixtimeh, ‘cloud ones.’

There are also supernaturals ...

the tepehuane or ‘hill people’ and

the mazacameh, ‘deer ones’ ”.


All the hordes of the underworld owe their lives to its lords who protect them from the holy light, nexti ...

Each night, the minions of night try to capture the sun on its journey through the underworld {cf. the attempt each night by [Kemetian] Apophis to overcome sun on its journey through the underworld} so that they will no longer have to depend on the surface of the earth.” {if the sun cools down, anyway, after sunset until it is quite cool by the time of our midnight, then this deliberate cooling may be a ruse to make it appear useless so that the denizens of the netherworld abandon their scheme to capture it}


The lord of the animals, yolcatagat [“Yolcat ... implies a ferocious ... animal.” (p. 164, n. 4:15)], ... keeps two {cf. couples of animals in ark of Noh.} of each type of animal {cf. Zoroastrian heavenly prototypes of animal species} ... in corrals at various places in the underworld ...

When an individual’s inagual has been harmed, it is the lord of the animals that the curer must seek out in the underworld. If a nagual has been harmed, it implies that either the lord of the animals has for some reason let that animal go or that it has escaped ... . The lord of the animals is always willing to help seek a lost nagual or resolves a problem with one of his animals.”

49-50, 52 myths




tale of how toad women became the servants and grinders of the underworld lords ... the toads ... are taken in by a pair of nearly blind underworld lords and made to grind for them, an arduous task, on a metate ... The mischievous toad women loosed the winds kept inside the cave by the elderly twins. The winds blew some of the darkness of mythic times away, and the lords – in order to protect their domain from the light of day – had to shut the cave, leaving some toads inside and some out. ...


The toads that were outside were the ones

the ones that brought us light

that brought us the red and the black of the earth.”

[explication by author :] “The red and the black is a standard Mesoamerican metaphor for knowledge”. {Thus, the red-and-black god on p. 40 of Codex Borgianus Mexicanus intended as a warty-handed and warty-footed toad-god of knowledge?}


[modern Nahuatl variant of the “Spanish folklore” heroic personages, the hero Juan Oso (‘John the Bear’) & the heroine Blanca Flor (‘White Flower’) :-] “Juan Oso encounters supernaturals of the underworld in the tales of the alpixque, or water keepers, the tepeyolomeh, the people of the hill hearts, and many other beings ... in the process of bringing the world to its present state. In the Blanca Flor tales, ... Blanca Flor sends her prince ... to find the old woman who brought her up to cure her and ... the old woman demands that Blanca Flor remain with her in the cave.”

In origin tales, the narratives of the hueycauhcoyot genre begin with the origin of worms and things that crawl in the earth, progressing to snakes, deer, and people”.

references :-

ShCC = Andrei Znamenski (ed.) : Shamanism : Critical Concepts. 2004. “Patterns of Initiation”.

CT&M = Elizabeth Hill Boone : Cycles of Time and Meaning in the Mexican Books of Fate. U of TX Pr, Austin, 2007.

Timothy J. Knab : The Dialogue of Earth and Sky : Dreams, Souls, Curing and the Modern Aztec Underworld. U of AZ Pr, Tucson, 2004.


pp. 82-83 the 7 sites where children were immolated to Tlaloc for the festival Atl-cahualo (‘water departed’)




child victim

garb of child



Quauh-tepec (‘tree-mountain’)

boy Quauh-tepetl

dark-green paper costume


Yohual-tecatl (‘night-dweller’)


black-&-red striped


Tepe-tzinco (‘hill-honored’)

girl Quetzal-xoch (‘feather-flower’)

dressed in blue



Poyauh-tlan (‘dark place’) = La Malinche

boy Poyauh-tecatl (‘dark-dweller’)

covered with rubber



saltwater lake Panti-tlan (‘banner-place’)

boy Ep-coatl (‘shell-snake’)

adorned with shells


Cocotl (‘windpipe’ or ‘mourningdove’)


one side painted red, the other painted black


Yiauhqueme (‘his sacrificial garment’)


costume stained black

pp. 131-134 locations of these 7 sites






to north, in Guadalupe range, with maguey



north of Guadalupe shrine, on paeninsula jutting into lake Tex-coco


amidst lake Texcoco, on isle with volcanic hot springs for baths used by nobility


La Malinche, which is a peak in Tlax-cala


sandbar demarcated with shipping-hazard flags at south end of lake Tex-coco



hill separating the lower saltwater lake Tex-coco from the upper sweetwater lake Xochi-milco


nigh Acol-xochic (Santa Fe`)

pp. 85-86 the 3 birds which are harbingers of rain




its identity

p. 86 its season



cuitlacochini (‘excrement sweeper’)

curve-billed thrasher



pipixcan (‘harvesters’)

Franklin’s gull




necuilic (‘bent’ or ‘twisted’)



p. 110 the 5 women & 1 man who were immolated for theTepe-ihuitl (‘mountain-festival’)






Tepe-xoch (‘mountain-flower’)


Matlal-cue (‘dark-green skirt’)


Xoch-tecatl (‘mountain-dweller’)


Mahahuel (‘black maize-stalk’)


Mil-nahuatl (‘field [of] sound’)



repraesentative of snake

Philip P. Arnold : Eating Landscape : Aztec ... Occupation of Tlalocan. U Pr of CO, 1999.


divine worlds

p. 162

the flower land (Xochitlalpan) ... is not a physical but rather a ... land in the sky where the ... dead ancestors live with the gods.”

p. 170

[song by Xochi-pilli for the warriors who go to Tlalocan :] “Just the lord of bells with the thigh-skin face paint will yet hear my song

Cipactonal will yet hear my song. ...

I bid my farewell to Tlalocan’s providers.

This means, I take my leave of the tlatoque talmacazque.”

{Cipactonal was an immortal fish, the upper half of whose body was hurled into the sky (to become a constellation?).}

{perhaps sung by the god Xochi-pilli on the occasion of his going forth from his heaven Xochi-tlalpan, on a temporary visit to the netherworld Tlalocan}

Jongsoo Lee : The Allure of Nezahualcoyotl. U of NM Pr, Albuquerque, 2008.


The Aztecs believed our bodies have 3 'spirit centres', each linked to a different level of the universe (Pic 13). Your heart ('yollotl') is the home of the TEYOLIA (the essence of human life) - this was the only spirit that travelled to the afterlife, and was associated with the world above the earth. Your brain ('cuatextli') is the home of the TONALLI (the force of love and heat) - this stayed on earth to be kept by your family as ashes in a box with a tuft of your hair, and was associated with the highest heavens of the cosmos. Your liver ('elli'), being full of blood, is the home of the IHIYOTL (courage, the soul, the engine of passions but also the force of cold) - this was dispersed after death in winds, spirits and illnesses, and was associated with the underworld.”

We only came to sleep,

We only came to dream,

It is not true, no, it is not true

That we came to live on the earth.” {so, the purpose of living is to sleep, to dream : thereby visiting the divine world which sent us and which to gave to us this purpose}