It’s almost time.

*Look at the sky and then towards Xochimilco*

Today is the day of Leyendas Mexicas.

Let us start with Cihuacoatl Legend. The mighty Goddess of childbirth, watching over women who had died in childbirth.

This legend is divided into two very different eras of Mexica people. The first will touch the beginning of times, while the second had occurred during my reign.

Cihuacoatl was the goddess of childbirth. Her head covered with long hair, she was dressed in a white robe, shirt and coat.
Half woman and half snake, she represented the female part of the universal duality: Quetzalcoatl / Cihuacoatl.

CihuacoatlIn the early days of men Quetzalcoatl had taken milled bones from the underworld to create men of the Fifth Sun.

Cihuacoatl ruled on Cihuateteo, where noble women, who had perished during their childbirth, would arrive. Her temple was completely dark and it was called Tlillan. It held no windows and only one door through which one could only enter crawling.

She was the patron goddess and the mother, the first woman of all times Mexican.

The first part of the legend is very ambiguous and even I don’t know it for sure. But I know I will talk.

Between Cihuacoatl and Coatlicue, Aztec religion defines the first woman, by the adoption of new gods.

Mixcoatl, Cihuacoatl’s son was the storm god. Some legends say that she left him one day on a path. After some time she repented her action and went back to find her son. But Mixcoatl was gone, with only a sacrificial dagger left at the place she had seen him last.
Cihuacoatl cried and her tears were so many that they filled the waters of Lake Xochimilco. Haunted by her pain, she would not leave the area, searching for her son Mixcoatl, regretting and sorry for what she had done.
Between her screams could be heard “Ecue nocone” (“Oh my son!”). And so, since the times immemorial the Great Goddess haunted the waters of Xochimilco.

This legend was typical of Xochimilcas, but my ancestors, the Mexica-Aztecs, adopted it into their cultural heritage. Cihuacoatl became the patron deity of the Aztec race, that good mother who had inherited the gods. She would promise to care for their children and to warn the Mexica people when the end is near.

CihuacoatlThus ends the first part of the legend of Cihuacoatl, the goddess who had abandoned her son, and who had filled with tears Lake Xochimilco.
After that the goddess was venerated. We celebrated her feast on July 18, Huey Tecuilhuitl.

For 20 days before the celebration, a prisoner or a slave, worthy of representing the goddess, was sought, to be dressed in the same way. He then would be taken from Wedding Crashers, treated the same as Cihuacoatl would have been treated, with respect and adoration.

On the day of the feast, the offering was sacrificed and his blood and heart would be placed in a vessel and spilled into the temple of the goddess.

For a long time we hoped her comeback will appear as the sixth prognosis of doomsayers promised, to announce the destruction of the Empire. Many years later I, the Great Moctezuma Xocoyotzin, would not have imagined that my reign would see the goddess Cihuacoatl coming back.

And so we turn to the second part of the legend, which is what you probably know today.

The writings on the end of the Empire say that the goddess came back to warn us, to announce the end of Empire. It was to be described this way: “They say here the wise wiser and older than us, that strange men come from the East and subdue thy people … and yourself and you and yours and there will be many tears and great sorrow and your race will disappear, eaten, and our gods will be humiliated by other more powerful gods.” All this would happen with the return of Cihuacoatl.

And so it happened, months before the Spanish arrived.

Several men had reported that near Xochimilco altepetl, a lady dressed in white, her head covered with black hair, came out of the water with a slight murmur, which later turned into mourning. Among those who listened people reported hearing the cries: “Ecue niococone!” (Oh my children)
“Oh my children! Where do I’ll take to survive? Oh my children!”

People who had seen her around there, did not return at night, frightened by the mourning woman.

The priests of Cihuacoatl panicked, thinking it was the goddess. They all knew the meaning of her appearance. It would herald the end of the Empire.
So they went to Xochimilco to see.
Great was their surprise, fear and adoration, as they, indeed, saw the goddess coming out of the water, screaming, wailing.
Frightened and amazed, they returned to the Palace.
With fear and resignation I asked, “Gods more powerful than our Gods Huitzilopochtli and Tezcatlipoca the Great Destroyer?”
They nodded ending the story, and leaving me in fear that my Great Empire would fall.

The woman kept prowling the waters of Xochimilco even after my death and the fall of the Aztec empire.
Even during the colonial times, some chroniclers claimed to have seen many a woman walking through the streets of New Spain. Crossing as in the wind, stopping at crossings, temples and cemeteries, she would launch the piercing heartbreaking cry that would hurt one’s soul.

Over time the legend was modified and attributed many personalities. Today you know it as La Llorona.

But the truth is that the legend is much older than you know, the cry that heralded the end of the Aztec empire.

*So when you walk through the streets and hear the cry of the weeping woman remember that it is the goddess of Mexica, protector of its people. She mourns the loss of their children, but refers to her people, the Aztecs, who lost everything in the conquest.*

And with that we ends the class of LeyendasMexicas.

Another day we’ll talk about the Mictlan that the Mexica people have to cross in order to reach the eternal rest.

The original lecture can be viewed .