The fourth trecena (13-day “week”) of the Aztec Tonalpohualli (ceremonial count of days) is called Flower for its first numbered day, which is the 20th day of the vientena (20-day “month”). In the Nahuatl language Flower is Xochitl, and it’s known as Ajaw (sun, lord) in Yucatec Maya and Ajpu in Quiché Maya. For the Aztec, the day Flower is the symbol of the soul, purity, and holiness. Through its essential connection to Xochipilli, Prince of Flowers, the day is also related to the arts, music, and dance, though the patron of the day is Xochiquetzal, the Flower Feather, who was briefly described in the preceding Deer trecena. In the anatomical scheme, the day Flower is identified with the breast or chest since the soul was supposed to be located in the heart—whence the crucial importance of heart sacrifice.
PATRON DEITY RULING THE TRECENA
My illustrious informant for matters Maya, Dr. Marguerite Paquin, advises that we really don’t know much about the ancient Maya patrons of the days or trecenas, since so many thousands of their books were burned by the Christian invaders. (But we know that the Maya saw the days as embodying specific deities, as well as each number depicting a deity. For instance, the number one was Ix-Chel, the Maya Moon goddess.) It was only over several intervening centuries that the “Aztec” system of trecena patrons evolved.
Huehuecoyotl (Old Coyote) came into the calendar to rule the Flower trecena at some point probably well before the ascension of the Aztec empire (See my Icon #6). In Maya mythology, One Ajaw is the day-name of Hunahpu, one of the Hero Twins. (For more on those bad boys, check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_Hero_Twins.) As told in the Popol Vuh, the Maya creation story, Hunahpu and Xbalanque played a ballgame with the lords of the underworld, dancing around every weird thing thrown at them by the death lords and ultimately defeating them through cunning, bravery, creativity, and trickery. Those being qualities of the coyote, Huehuecoyotl was a logical eventual choice for patron of the Flower trecena.
He’s a trickster god of mischief and pranks and can lead one into trouble. Also a deity of sexual indulgence, music, dance, storytelling, and choral singing, he personifies astuteness, pragmatism, worldly wisdom, male beauty, and youth. He’s a balance of old and new, worldly and spiritual, male and female, and youth and old age. He’s a shape-shifter, turning into animals or humans with sexual partners female or male of any species—among his male lovers the aforementioned Xochipilli. Huehuecoyotl brings unexpected pleasure, sorrow, and strange happenings, and people appeal to him to mitigate or reverse their fates.
To return to the multi-faceted Huehuecoyotl entering the ritual calendar, I’ve researched the natural history of the coyote and found that the range of that species only expanded southward from North America down into central Mexico some centuries after the Maya period in Yucatan, probably around 11-1200 AD (CE). Coincidentally, this was also the period when the Nahua peoples entered Mexico, moving into the vacuum left by the collapse of the Toltec empire—or causing it? Considering that the Nahuas seem to have come from the north (at least out of Chihuahua-Chichimeca) and the ancient roots of the mythical coyote in the American Southwest, they may well have migrated together. When the newcomers adopted the ancient calendar, they might reasonably have deified their wily wild companion.
AUGURIES OF FLOWER TRECENA
By Marguerite Paquin, author of “Manual for the Soul: A Guide to the Energies of Life: How Sacred Mesoamerican Calendrics Reveal Patterns of Destiny”
Integral to this “Divine Artistry” trecena are the energies associated with the heat and fire of the sun, which were seen as forces so powerful that they were deified. Although events associated with this time frame can be intense, it can also be a period for “enlightenment” and “flowering.” The overall emphasis is on creativity and craftsmanship in all forms. Those born within this period could become great singers, musicians, song-writers, visual artists, dancers, entertainers, diviners and healers, storytellers, scribes, or orators. Overall, this is a great trecena for tapping into those divine sun-generated creative forces.
Further how these energies connect with world events, see the Maya Count of Days Horoscope blog at whitepuppress.ca/horoscope/. Note that the Maya equivalent is the Ajaw (Sun) trecena.
THE 13 NUMBERED DAYS IN THE FLOWER TRECENA
The Aztec Tonalpohualli, like the ancestral Maya calendar, is counted through the sequence of 20 named days of the agricultural “month” (vientena), of which there are 18 in the solar year. Starting with the last day of the preceding vientena 1 Flower, this trecena continues into the next vientena: 2 Crocodile, 3 Wind, 4 House, 5 Lizard, 6 Snake, 7 Death, 8 Deer, 9 Rabbit, 10 Water, 11 Dog, 12 Monkey, and 13 Grass.
The Flower trecena contains several significant days:
One Flower (Ce Xochitl) was the Day of Flowers, a holiday for feasting and celebrating the arts of all kinds. The Florentine Codex says that Centeotl, the principal maize deity, was born on One Flower with Tlazolteotl (Goddess of Filth) as his mother—as remarked in discussion of the Deer trecena—and Piltzintecuhtli (the Young Lord, the planet Mercury) as his father. This Flower connection suggests to some cults that Centeotl is yet another nagual of Xochipilli. (See the comments on Seven Flower as that deity’s day-name in the Jaguar trecena.)
Five Lizard (Macuil Cuetzpallin) is the day-name of one of the five male Ahuiateteo, gods of pleasure (and excess thereof). His arena of enjoyment is sex. Inasmuch as Huehuecoyotl is the patron of the day Lizard and himself a deity of sexual indulgence, I’d bet that Five Lizard is also his divine day-name, and that the lusty Ahuiateotl is his nagual. If not, he should be.
Seven Death (Chicome Miquitzli): In Maya times, Seven Kimi was a high lord of Xibalba, the underworld, one of the aforementioned deities defeated by the Hero Twins. Though by Aztec times this ancient history was surely long forgotten, it’s likely that one of their many death-lords (ruled by Mictlantecuhtli, Lord of the Land of the Dead) was also known by this day-name.
Eight Deer (Chicueyi Mazatl): Dr. Paquin informs me that for the Maya this was the Day of the Lord Deer with a “resurrection” type of energy of sacrifice and reciprocity. In the Mixtec tradition (widely pictured in those codices) their most famous ruler, leader, and/or warrior of centuries earlier was named Eight Deer Jaguar Claw. He appears many times in the historical Codex Nuttall in uniform portrait images with a jaguar claw added as his heroic epithet and a very recognizable beard.
(In the context of day-names of historical individuals in this trecena, President Biden’s is Two Crocodile. That day relates to (re)birth, nurturing, and ferocious protection, an energy which Marguerite says the Maya connected with the “Womb of Creation” and “world-making.” There’s surely an appropriately heroic epithet in there somewhere, but I’ll leave that to history to choose.)
Nine Rabbit (Chicnahui Tochtli): I have no way of knowing for sure, but there’s a good chance that this is the day-name of another of the 400 Rabbits, another god of intoxication. Maybe it’s the deity of a magic mushroom or the peyote cactus. Who knows? Or cares?
THE TONALAMATL (BOOK OF DAYS)
Several of the surviving so-called Aztec codices (some originating from other cultures like the Mixtec) have Tonalamatl sections laying out the trecenas of the Tonalpohualli on separate pages. In Codex Borbonicus and Tonalamatl Aubin, the first two pages are missing; Codex Telleriano-Remensis and Codex Rios are each lacking various pages (fortunately not the same ones); and in Codex Borgia and Codex Vaticanus all 20 pages are extant. (The Tonalpohualli is also presented in a spread-sheet fashion in Codex Borgia, Codex Vaticanus, and Codex Cospi, but that format apparently serves other purposes.)
As described in my earlier blog The Aztec Calendar – My Obsession, some thirty years ago—on the basis of very limited ethnographic information and iconographic models —I presumed to create my own version of a Tonalamatl, publishing it in 1993 as Celebrate Native America!
With no models, I once more created an image of Huehuecoyotl out of thin air to be the patron deity of the Flower trecena. Working with the decorative motifs from Codex Nuttall, I concocted an iconic semi-kneeling figure frequent in that codex—and coincidentally often observed in the ancient art of the Andes (a fact I didn’t know at the time). Using my artistic license, I made him a coyote headdress with a fluffy coyote tail. To indicate his patronage of the day Lizard, I put one on his shield, and lacking anything better, I gave him the serpent-staff of Chicomecoatl, a maize goddess. That long ago, I didn’t know that a rattle would have been much more appropriate.
A decade or two ago, I was much gratified that somebody boldly took my idiosyncratic image of Huehuecoyotl from the old book, laid it over my version of the Stone of the Suns, and printed it on a T-shirt! At the time, I considered that infringement of copyright was surely the sincerest form of compliment, and later I renounced copyrights in general, hoping that anyone anywhere would make whatever hay they cared to with my art and writing. That’s why I was flattered two years ago that someone apparently liked my work enough to steal the banner of Chantico, Lady of the House, from the last venue of my exhibition YE GODS!
TONALAMATL BORGIA (re-created by Richard Balthazar from Codex Borgia)
This Borgia Huehuecoyotl as an anthropomorphic animal is the more usual image of the god and perhaps the most elegant example with a divine jaguar pelt draped over his throne. The fact that he has two right hands is by now almost to be expected, as does the little guy at his feet. I’ve left them both that way simply for effect. But I did correct the god’s right foot which in the original had seven toes! Though it’s not immediately evident, the hands on the other two figures are turned backwards in painfully unnatural positions. I’ve now gotten fed up with these irritating ideoplastic contortions, and in future, I’ll just fix them whenever they go too far over the top.
Let’s consider the attendant figures (other than the inexplicably floating/falling little guy) and turn first to the topless, buck-toothed female on the left. She kneels in what has to be a seductive pose in keeping with the sexual overtones of the trecena’s patron. She is identified by the items above: the roof of a temple and part of a dot, i.e., the numeral one. She’s a Cihuateotl (warrior spirit of a woman who died in childbirth), One House (Ce Calli), exercising her seductive wiles. Besides being promiscuous, to judge from the augury of the day House, she probably represents intelligence and nobility. In other words, she’s a classy chick.
The bug-eyed guy dancing beside her is her counterpart among of the male Ahuiateteo, Five Flower (Macuil Xochitl), called by some cults Ixtlilton, appropriately the god of games, music, singing, dancing, and merry making and yet another nagual of Xochipilli. Also a sexual deity, Five Flower’s long nose may well be a phallic inuendo, and the flesh-colored lower curl on his song symbol (cuciatl) probably indicates off-color lyrics. (Note also that wavy golden cuciatl as Huehuecoyotl’s happy howling.) These gods are throwing a wild party!
TONALAMATL YOAL (compiled and re-created by Richard Balthazar on the basis of Codex Telleriano-Remensis and Codex Rios)
The first thing to note in this Yoal trecena is that the Lord of the Night just above the day One Flower (and in the upper right corner) is the maize god Centeotl, who was born on that day. His mom Tlazolteotl is the fourth Lord from left and last in the row at the bottom right, and his dad Piltzintecuhtli sits beside him second from right.
The next thing to note is that, like my invented deity, this Huehuecoyotl is a real person wearing a coyote headdress. He looks like he’s dancing, but that same pose is often seen in several codices, an iconic position likely indicating that the supernatural being is floating or flying. While this Huehuecoyotl holds an appropriate rattle in his left hand, I’m at a total loss to explain the gruesome severed arm in his right. Obviously, this scene is no party I’d want to go to!
In spite of her seductive pose, the female figure is also no inducement to party with these folks. Even for ritual sacrifice, poking a stick in your eye is no way to have fun. It does, however, explain the copious tears, the one falling from her left eye symbolizing her as a Cihuateotl. A Spanish notation on the original Codex Telleriano-Remensis mistakenly identifies her as Xochiquetzal, but this promiscuous gal is certainly that goddess’s nagual One Deer. Since it’s her party, I guess the girl can cry if she wants to. Being a spirit of the day Deer, she probably suffers OCD for self-sacrifice and can’t help herself. Another notation identifies the golden material in the bowl in her left hand as “mierda:” Mesoamericans considered gold to be the feces of the gods! Thanks a lot for the invite, but I think I’ll skip this one.
Overlooking the rather grotesque style of this Aubin patron panel, I’ll remark on the strangeness of the anthropomorphic Huehuecoyotl’s wearing Quetzalcoatl’s conch-shell pendant and point out that the items in one of his right hands seem to be sticks for eye-poking, and that the beribboned thing in his other hand looks suspiciously like part of the severed arm in Yoal. Overlooking those macabre facts as well, this scene looks like another hearty party.
Five Flower is in the lower left corner with a rattle and plays on a great big drum (huehuetl), and in the middle bottom is another Ahuiateotl, the oversexed Five Lizard, also with a rattle and a cup of brewski. The simple shield between them is lip service to the standard ornament (see the elegant one in the Borgia trecena). Above Five Lizard’s head hovers his counterpart One Deer with the emblematic tear of the Cihuateteo and skirt and face patterned in red like her nagual goddess Xochiquetzal. Whatever she’s scattering from her bowl doesn’t look much like gold—maybe a powdered entheogen? The item over her head is inscrutable, unless it’s a pitcher of said brewski, and what’s that stool hanging over Five Flower’s head? Party on!
The Borbonicus patron panel for the Flower trecena presents us with a more subdued, if more cluttered, party. In his two right hands, this again anthropomorphic howling Huehuecoyotl holds a fancy rattle and innocent flower-fan and hovers in the iconic “dancing” position. His enthroned companion is Five Flower singing and beating on the huehuetl. This image of that Ahuiateotl is the finest I’ve ever found with a detailed emblematic tattoo around his mouth. (Usually it’s a five-fingered hand—or a confused pattern like that on the Borgia figure above.) The giant ornate cuciatl in the upper center represents the loud thump of the drum. Let’s ignore the rest of the esoteric clutter and enjoy this noisy party.
By now we can easily recognize the elements of this typically sketchy Vaticanus patron panel (clockwise from the left): another anthropomorphic Huehuecoyotl on his throne (with empty hands); the Cihuateotl One Deer with that seductive hand gesture, a tattooed teardrop, and an (empty?) bowl; a nicely complicated shield motif; the bug-eyed sex fiend Five Lizard dancing around; a little guy (like the one we ignored in the Borgia panel) also dancing (or falling down drunk?); and in the middle that anomalous stool we saw in the Aubin panel. Excuse me, but I think I’ll skip this boring party too.
The next trecena will be that of Reed with its monumental patron Chalchiuhtlicue (Jade Skirt), Goddess of Flowing Water. Stay tuned!