20 Days of Goddesses til’ Imbolc

Monique Vidal
3 min readJan 13, 2020

Day 1 — Tlazolteotl (Purifier for all things Filthy, Goddess of Cotton, Purification and Pardoning, Childbirth, Goddess of death, eater of filth)

Goddess Tlazolteotl, who is shown on the upper left wearing a flayed skin, giving birth to Cinteotl. Codex Borbonicus (p. 13)
Goddess Tlazolteotl, who is shown on the upper left wearing a flayed skin, giving birth to Cinteotl. Codex Borbonicus (p. 13)
Front and back of a Huastec Tlazolteotl statue, the British Museum.

She is easily identified, depicted naked, with several jewels, holding a snake, on the nose a well-shaped sickle ornament, usually with black liquid resin around her mouth, sometimes wearing a cotton hat or riding a broom, and often squatting in a birth-giving posture, Tlazolteotl is one of the most endearing and complex goddesses of the Mesoamericans.

Tlazolteotl, Goddess of Cotton, Goddess of Filth, Eater of Excrement. She is the regenerative power of the earth, the midwife, and the pardoner.

Mother of Cinteotl — the god of corn and Xochiquetzal — the goddess of love, She could show up nursing a child, offering a prisoner for sacrifice, next to owls, snakes or parturition. With the advent of Christianity, she was considered the “Queen of witches” and her four daughters described as evil witches riding brooms, naked and with pointed hats.

The sisters were lunar aspects, symbolizing phases of a woman’s life: the unstable and bright adolescent; The sensual and adventurous young woman; The woman in her fullness (associated with menstruation and pregnancy, who blessed unions and brought peace and fertility to homes) and the terrible and monstrous face that destroyed dating, robbed property and punished sexual excesses. It was this “witch” phase that was going to eat the dirt, absorbing the evils of the society.

A drawing of Tlazolteotl, one of the deities described in the Codex Borgia. ( Public Domain ) Note her blackened lips.

The Goddess with Blackened Lips

In fact, Tlazolteotl’s most distinctive feature is the black on Her mouth and chin. The Olmecs used bitumen, a black viscous material, as paint for decoration on everything from pottery to the human body. Bitumen was chewed publicly only by girls and unmarried women.

Bitumen (also called tar or asphalt) is the byproduct of decomposed organic materials. Could there possibly be a more apt decoration for Tlazolteotl than a paint made of deep, black, decomposed material associated with the burgeoning sexuality of young women? The black around Her mouth is linked with Her role as an “eater of sins,” as the “eater of filth,” but here the sin and filth are transformed into symbols of the dark erotic genesis of life.

She was worshiped by the peoples of Eastern Mexico — Huastecas, Olmecas, Mistecas, and Aztecs, who lived in a fertile region producing corn and cotton.

Tlazolteotl was also associated with a particular agricultural product — cotton, as well as the activities surrounding it. In certain depictions of Tlazolteotl, the goddess wears a headdress that contains two spindles of unspun cotton.

Associations: Cotton, snakes, purification, childbirth, eater of filth, bitumen, brooms, corn, moon, spindles, weaving, etc.




Monique Vidal

Feminist, Publicist, Pagan, Nature lover, Human Rights lover, Travel Addicted.