Aztec Calendar – Flint Trecena

The tenth trecena (13-day “week”) of the Aztec Tonalpohualli (ceremonial count of days) is called Flint for its first numbered day, which is also the 18th day of the vientena (20-day “month”). In the Nahuatl language Flint is Tecpatl, and it’s known as Etz’nab’ in Yucatec Maya and Tijax (Knife-edge)in Quiché.

The day Flint portends great riches and pride but also destruction and punishment. It’s almost logically associated anatomically with the teeth. The usual day-sign (or glyph) for Flint is the sacrificial knife with a face, including teeth (fangs), and sometimes divine ornaments. The flint knife is personified (or deified) as a nagual of Tezcatlipoca, Itztlacoliuhqui,Curved Obsidian Blade, god of stone, cold, sin, and human misery, but also of objectivity and blind justice. (See vignette at top center in Icon #19, and the Blade will be met again soon as a patron of the 12th trecena Lizard.) The day Flint’s patron is Chalchiuhtotolin, the Jade Turkey (See Icon #3), also a nagual of Tezcatlipoca and patron of the power and glory of young warriors, particularly of the famous Jaguar Warriors of the Night. He’ll be seen later as patron of the 17th trecena Water, the “Turkey” in his name relating to the little known, brilliantly colored ocellated turkey.


A patron of the Flint trecena is Mictlantecuhtli, Lord of the Land of the Dead (Mictlan) the most prominent of several deities of death, 5th Lord of the Night, Lord of Number Six, and patron of the day Dog. (See Icon #10.) Images in Codex Magliabechiano show that the Death Lord’s worship involved ritual cannibalism. Counter-intuitively, in the Aztec view, skulls and skeletons were symbols of fertility, health, and abundance, a sentiment still evident in the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos. Souls of those who die normal deaths (i.e., are not ritually commended to some god’s heaven), must climb eight hills and cross nine rivers in four days to reach Mictlan, an empty place of darkness. The owl (as a symbol of sorcery and the night) and vile insects like spiders and millipedes are closely associated with Mictlan.

Another patron of the trecena is Tonatiuh, god of the current Fifth Sun (Four Earthquake), whose visage reputedly glares from the center of the Stone of the Suns. (Also see him in Icon #16 in company with the lunar goddess Metztli.) In the creation of the Fifth Sun, a young god named Nanahuatzin leapt into the cosmic conflagration to become the sun (Tonatiuh). Lord of Number Four with a Quail as his totem bird, Tonatiuh rules the idyllic Fourth Heaven for the souls of heroes, warriors killed in battle, heart-sacrifices to ensure the continuation of the sun, and those dying in childbirth. I assume that means both babies and mothers, so the five warrior spirits, the dangerous Cihuateteo, probably dwell in the Fourth Heaven as well.


By Marguerite Paquin, author of “Manual for the Soul: A Guide to the Energies of Life: How Sacred Mesoamerican Calendrics Reveal Patterns of Destiny”

The theme of this trecena is Sacrifice and Separation. The symbols of knife, knife-edge, and flint represent the opening energies of this period, a time-frame tending to highlight sudden change. The flint’s dramatic sharpness and flashiness can manifest itself through “shocking” events, often involving conflict or dualities between opposing forces, as reflected by the trecena’s patrons (life-sun vs death-darkness). Although separation and difference is a strong theme at this time, these energies can also be the spark to initiate new thoughts or actions.

Further to how these energies connect with world events, see the Maya Count of Days Horoscope blog at The Maya equivalent is the Etz’nab’ 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 18th day of the current vientena, 1 Flint, this trecena continues with 2 Rain, 3 Flower, 4 Crocodile, 5 Wind, 6 House, 7 Lizard, 8 Snake, 9 Death, 10 Deer, 11 Rabbit, 12 Water, and 13 Dog.

Again there are several important days in the Flint trecena:

One Flint (in Nahuatl Ce Tecpatl) is the ceremonial day-name of Huitzilopochtli, Hummingbird of the South, the principal god of the Aztec nation. It’s also an alternate day-name for Mixcoatl, the Cloud Serpent, a major deity of the Mixtec who retained much cultural and doctrinal independence from the imperial Aztec. For the official cult, Quetzalcoatl and Tezcatlipoca were born of the creative pair Ometeotl on other days, but for another they were born on One Flint of the celestial goddess Citlalicue, the Star Skirt, as depicted in Plate 32 of Codex Borgia. As a year-name, in the Aztecs’ deep mythology/history One Flint was the first historic year when the Mexica came into power in Tenochtitlan and thus a symbol of their imperial destiny. In that function it appears near the center on the Stone of the Suns.

Four Crocodile (in Nahuatl Nahui Cipactli) is another of Xiuhtecuhtli’s ceremonial day-names (besides One Rabbit as noted in the Snake trecena).

Five Wind (in Nahuatl Macuil Ehecatl) is the Mixtec day-name of Tlaloc.

Nine Death (in Nahuatl Chicnahui Miquitztli) I read somewhere long ago was either the day-name of Mictlantecuhtli himself or of another important Death Lord. Whichever…

Thirteen Dog (in Nahuatl Mahtlactli Ihuan Yeyi Itzcuintli) in Maya mythology as 13 Ok was associated with the birth of their Maize God Hun Hunahpu. Even after several centuries, the Aztecs probably associated the day with their own maize god Centeotl. (See the Grass trecena.)


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!

When I made my version of the Flint trecena back around 1990, I didn’t know about Tonatiuh being another of its patrons and simply focused on Mictlantecuhtli. As usual in that uninformed time, I relied heavily on Codex Nuttall for image (and posture), working with regalia from various figures. At least I knew him as patron of the day Dog and invented an appropriately canine headdress. As Death Lords go, I think mine shows a good bit of skeletal glory.

Aztec Calendar – Flint trecena – Tonalamatl Balthazar


TONALAMATL BORGIA (re-created by Richard Balthazar from Codex Borgia)

Aztec Calendar – Flint trecena – Tonalamatl Borgia

In this trecena, we encounter the sun-god Tonatiuh for the second time: He was the primary patron of the earlier Death trecena on the right side of the panel. There he wears vaguely different regalia and is in the classical “dancing” pose, but in both of these images his red face-paint pattern is the same. The main differences are in their pendants and the thematic flints in this one’s headdress. This one’s odd “flower” on a stalk must mean something about this trecena, and the unusual version of speech symbol (cuciatl) likely does too.

Here Tonatiuh is on the left side of the panel, but I don’t think that means he’s necessarily the “secondary” patron. Though on the right side, Mictlantecuhtli may not be really the “primary” patron. Considering the auguries of this trecena, these two deities probably share primacy, balanced as they are on the flint’s knife-edge of opposing forces.

As the only image of Mictlantecuhtli in the tonalamatl, this one is outstanding in its gruesome glory. I particularly love his medusa-like locks with stars which probably imply that he’s a Night Lord. The pointy thing in his headdress, his usual ornament, is almost irrelevant in view of his standard bare skull (with spots of rot). Besides the surreal eyes in the skull, the detail that really gives me the creeps is that long, pointy tongue! Less disturbing is the fountain of blood rising behind him. We’re all familiar with how bloodthirsty death is…

In general, the iconography of figures in Tonalamatl Borgia is superbly detailed, if often badly obscured by damage to the pages. The lower part of this page has suffered terribly; particularly the original details of Mictlantecuhtli’s jaguar throne are barely discernible. Consequently, this re-creation is improvised from the blurred confusion of splotches and lacunae. I settled on a combination of the Diaz & Rogers imagination and that in the anonymous facsimile, both of which came up with an inexplicable fat fish.

I can only guess at the fish’s significance: Maybe those other artists intended it to relate to the eerily similar stylized human heart in sacrifice scenes like that in Codex Magliabechiano, p. 133:

Heart-sacrifice Scene from Codex Magliabechiano

Viewing the area under high magnification, I can almost see the blur as a skull with gaping jaws like those of the Death Lord above, which would make sense since the Lord often sits on a skull or has one in his “bustle” (like mine above).

Such speculation aside, I won’t even guess at the meaning of the tasseled square figure and flag-like item with patterned piece that hang in front of Mictlantecuhtli. But the central scene is unmistakably a ritual sacrifice by drowning, tying right in with the trecena’s other theme of sacrifice. Both patrons watch with obvious approval of the ritual, but one wonders why.

The soul of the drowned sacrifice won’t be going either to Tonatiuh’s idyllic Fourth Heaven or to Mictlantecuhtli’s desolate Mictlan, but to the joyful Eighth Heaven of Tlaloc, Tlalocan. I suspect that the act of sacrifice itself goes to keeping the Fifth Sun up in the sky as well as to slaking the blood-thirst of Death. In this context, it’s tempting to suggest that as he’s Lord of Number Six, Mictlantecuhtli’s miserable Mictlan might actually be the Sixth Heaven, so to speak…


TONALAMATL YOAL (compiled and re-created by Richard Balthazar on the basis of
Codex Telleriano-Remensis and Codex Rios)

Aztec Calendar – Flint trecena – Tonalamatl Yoal

In Codex Telleriano-Remensis, the left-hand page of the Flint trecena with Tonatiuh is missing, so this image is based solely on the Codex Rios copy which goes wild with his divine regalia. With the major sunburst on his back as an unmistakable identifier, he lacks Borgia’s red face-paint design, likely because in the Rios image his whole body is dark red. I’ve chosen a ruddy flesh tone to avoid losing detail in monochrome darkness and have changed only the awkward length of his arms and angle of his scepter, which may be a version of the Fire Serpent.

However, the right-hand pages with Mictlantecuhtli still exist in both codices, the original and copy being almost identical in detail of regalia, skeletal limbs, and partially hidden skull beneath. But in Telleriano-Remensis, there’s a skull in his “bustle,” and in Rios (as here) it’s a dog’s head to indicate the day of which he’s patron. The circular orange items may intend marigolds, which are still considered a flower related to the Underworld.

In this Yoal image, I’ve changed the Death Lord’s ghastly brown and black visages with skeletal jaws to give him the human face of his bust above (top row, fifth from left) as Lord of the Night since they already share many details of headdress. As I’ve discussed in a blog “The Faces of Death,” this “living” face of the Night Lord is a break with the iconographic tradition of his face being almost everywhere else a skull. Another unusual detail is his blue-peaked cap—for some reason just like that of Xiuhtecuhtli in the first and tenth positions.



Tonalamatl Aubin patron panel for Flint trecena

The patron deities in the Tonalamatl Aubin are the usual suspects—with a few differences from the preceding Flint trecenas. On the left, Tonatiuh has no throne and only a few red marks on his face, and part of the regalia on his back has been omitted, apparently for lack of space on the page. Oddly, he has only one arm… Tonatiuh now wears a recognizable pendant but has no other identifiers—except for the partial sun-symbol below. On the right, this Mictlantecuhtli also has a “living” face as well as fleshed-out limbs, and at least the pointy thing in his headdress is familiar. (I can’t imagine what the Aubin artist had in mind to make his left foot black.)

The central scene of sacrifice presents a curious variation. The victim clings to a “tree” of some ceremonial sort, apparently to eventually sink into the water and drown. I wonder why part of the “basin” was painted green and about that bundle beside it with someone’s hindquarters sticking out—quite puzzling. Even more puzzling are the two snakes, the brown living one with Tonatiuh and the clearly defunct white one under Mictlantecuhtli. But there’s no one to ask…


Codex Borbonicus patron panel for Flint trecena

The patron panel for the Flint trecena in Codex Borbonicus explicitly shows the ordeal nature of the drowning sacrifice. Here the victim clings to a smooth pole, possibly even a greased one, until sliding down into the water to provide an entertaining public spectacle. The attendant patrons “dance” in celebration of the ritual. This short-armed Mictlantecuhtli on the right has both skull and skeletal limbs, as well as a mop of dark hair with stars.

On the other hand, this Tonatiuh on the right isn’t as recognizable; his Fire Serpent scepter is no sure identifier. Rather than a sun-symbol, the semi-circular thing on his back looks more like that strange thing on Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli in the Snake trecena, but this one has an out-of-place skull on it. Even the semi-circle at top center isn’t a sun symbol, but one of the night, relating to the Night Lord Mictlantecuhtli. Apparently, the patrons are considered much less important than the central sacrifice scene.

Meanwhile, the profusion of other items in this panel suggests other considerations. Take for instance the vignette on the upper left of a person half-engulfed in some container, which harks back to the “packaged” body in the Aubin panel. When a motif appears again in separate situations, one has to assume that it has important symbolic significance—and when it’s repeated like the two blue creatures (also seen before) or the two pots of water. Those repetitive blue symbols around the pole of sacrifice surely aren’t there for gratuitous decoration, but I’m at a total loss for their meanings.

Note the little spear-bearer on the lower left. I’d bet he’s there to indicate the Flint trecena with his flint spearhead. However, I can’t explain the presence of that Venus-related scorpion over his head. It’s the same as the one with the Morning Star in the Snake panel. Has the Borbonicus artist gotten his dogmas mixed up? As a grace note, check out the little snake hovering over Tonatiuh’s head—reminiscent of that Aubin snake with him. But there’s no one to ask…


Codex Vaticanus patron panel for Flint trecena

The Codex Vaticanus patron panel for the Flint trecena is a slight rearrangement of what we saw in the Borgia panel, switching sides for the patrons but adding nothing new. The original panel was laid out with much wider spaces, squeezing off parts of Mictlantecuhtli’s regalia like what may have been another “pointy thing” in his headdress. For convenience and aesthetics, I brought the elements closer together and touched up several broken lines and blotched colors. Again, the central ritual sacrifice seems of exceeding importance, and once again the victim’s drowning is being graciously assisted. After all, his death will keep Tonatiuh turning in the sky, and Mictlantecuhtli will be happy to take his bones home to Mictlan.


This survey of the Flint trecena’s patron panels certainly corroborates Dr. Paquin’s main themes of sacrifice and separation and well illustrates canonical (if at times confused) iconography across the various codices. Stylistic differences ultimately don’t really matter all that much.



The calendar’s eleventh trecena will be that of Monkey, its patron being Patecatl, god of medicine as well as of intoxicants like pulque and psychedelic herbs. Stay tuned.


You can view all the calendar pages I’ve completed up to this point in the Tonalamatl gallery.

Aztec Calendar – Snake Trecena

The ninth trecena (13-day “week”) of the Aztec Tonalpohualli (ceremonial count of days) is called Snake for its first numbered day, which is also the 5th day of the vientena (20-day “month”). In the Nahuatl language Snake is Coatl, and it’s known as Chikchan in Yucatec Maya and Can in Quiché.

For the Aztecs the Snake symbolizes mystical power, and it’s probably no accident that it was associated with the male genitalia. The patron of the day Snake is Chalchiuhtlicue, goddess of flowing water (see Reed trecena). Images of the snake are frequent in the codices simply as reminders of divine power. It’s often a manifestation of Quetzalcoatl, the Plumed Serpent, and the core element of the divine weapon wielded by many deities, the Xiuhcoatl or Fire Serpent.


The principal patron of the Snake trecena is Xiuhtecuhtli, the Lord of Fire—or alternatively, of Turquoise (a homonym). As the latter, he is the lord of time and the sacred calendar, the Turquoise Year (tonalpohualli), in which capacity he determines mortals’ day of death and watches over departed souls on their journey to Mictlan. Also lord of the blue sky of day, Xiuhtecuhtli symbolizes the unfathomable, the limitless, unity, and completion. In Aztec astronomy, he’s lord of the Pole Star, the center of all things, and spindle of the universe. In addition, he’s both the Lord of the number 1 (with the Blue Hummingbird as his totem bird) and first Lord of the Night. Historically, Xiuhtecuhtli is a new, younger version of the ancestral deity of fire, Huehueteotl (the Old God). His birth day-name is One Rabbit.

The secondary patron of this trecena is Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli (Lord of the House of the Dawn), a nagual of Quetzalcoatl representing the planet Venus as the Morning Star. He’s symbolic of re-emergence, of the triumph of life over death. Meanwhile, he’s a dangerous deity, his gaze very destructive for both mortals and gods. Legend has him shooting a dart at the Sun, Tonatiuh, who throws it back at him but hits instead Itztlacoliuhqui (Curved Obsidian Blade), the god of stone and cold, a nagual of Tezcatlipoca. After Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli periodically disappears from the eastern morning sky to descend into the Underworld, he’s replaced in the western evening sky by Xolotl, the Evening Star. The Lord of the number 12 with (logically) the Quetzal as his totem bird, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli’s birth day-name is One Reed.


By Marguerite Paquin, author of “Manual for the Soul: A Guide to the Energies of Life: How Sacred Mesoamerican Calendrics Reveal Patterns of Destiny”

This dynamic trecena’s theme is emergence and liberation. The energies associated with this trecena are strongly aligned with Lifeforce, Fertility, Sacred Authority, Justice, Liberation, Cyclical Regeneration, and the promulgation of higher knowledge. A sense of new vitality or awakening to new ideas often accompanies this time frame, suggesting that transcendent events, possibly of a world-shaping nature, could manifest during this period, opening up the realm of new possibilities.

Further to how these energies connect with world events, see the Maya Count of Days Horoscope blog at The Maya equivalent is the Chikchan 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 5th day of the current vientena, 1 Snake, this trecena continues with 2 Death, 3 Deer, 4 Rabbit, 5 Water, 6 Dog, 7 Monkey, 8 Grass, 9 Reed, 10 Jaguar, 11 Eagle, 12 Vulture, and 13 Earthquake.

There are four important days in the Snake trecena:

One Snake (in Nahuatl Ce Coatl) was noted in the Florentine Codex as traditionally a favorable day for merchants/traders (pochteca), travelers, and armies to “set forth to far lands.” In that spirit, the Codex indicates that One Snake was often the occasion for declaring of war. It is significant that in 1521 this was the day the Aztecs surrendered to Hernan Cortés and his conquistadores at Tenochtitlan after being defeated in a fierce battle.

Seven Monkey (in Nahuatl Chicome Ozomatli)is traditionally associated with wealth and prosperity. This day-sign appears on the Aztec Calendar Stone, below the central face.

Eight Grass (in Nahuatl Chicueyi Malinalli), according to some sources, is an alternate birth day-name of the goddess Chalchiuhtlicue, generally called One Water (again see Reed Trecena).

Nine Reed (in Nahuatl Chicnahui Acatl) is the birth day-name of the Earth Goddess Tlazolteotl, Goddess of Filth (see Deer Trecena). On this day, gifts of cacao, precious feathers, and flowers are offered to her.


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!

My version of the Snake trecena portrays Xiuhtecuhtli in a wild interpretation of his image in Codex Borbonicus, mixing a fancy snake on his back from the Stone of the Suns with a flaming crest much like Quetzalcoatl’s plumes in the Jaguar Trecena. Obviously, I took the turquoise and fire homonyms to heart in the coloration and wisely incorporated his traditional pendant plaque.  I really should have made the bird totem on his forehead blue, and I have no idea where I got the shield design with the sun motif. Though I hadn’t seen any other images of the deity, I think my fantasy makes a very convincing Lord of Fire.

Aztec Calendar – Snake trecena – Tonalamatl Balthazar


TONALAMATL BORGIA (re-created by Richard Balthazar from Codex Borgia)

Aztec Calendar – Snake Trecena – Tonalamatl Borgia

The Snake trecena page in Codex Borgia is the busiest one in its tonalamatl and raises a huge number of questions, both mythological and iconographic. It definitely begs a narrative.

Let’s start with the primary patron (the big red guy on the right), Xiuhtecuhtli himself enthroned and looking very pensive or stern/aggravated. In the original, his image is quite deteriorated, his regalia blurred and spotty. In their restoration of the Codex Borgia (Dover Publications, 1993), Gisele Diaz & Alan Rodgers have been inventive in restoring his ornaments, some of which I’ve used; another anonymous facsimile made other choices; and I’ve made my own in some places.

The best example is the feathery thing on his back, the top of which in the original is basically blank (or worn away?). Diaz and Rodgers fill it with rows of short lines; the other facsimile intimates a spiral of same. My close study of the blankness found tiny indications of a possible second row of lines, but I’ve left the rest blank. Another problematic motif is that odd thing on his forehead, maybe a bird, which would make sense as his totem, but it looks nothing like any other bird I’ve ever seen in any of the codices.

When we consider the mass of material adjacent to the deity, things get really mysterious, like that slanting bundle of jaguar hide and spotted blue strips (with a surreal bird’s head) running behind Xiuhtecuhtli’s shoulder. We’ll see something similar in the Vaticanus patron panel later. Does it mean something that the water (from above) flows into the bundle and deity, rather than away from him as from Tlaloc in the Rain Trecena and Chalchiuhtlicue in the Reed Trecena? The two arrows in the stream are almost to be expected as power symbols.

However, that ornamental scorpion is a major enigma. Since the scorpion apparently has had obscure connections with the planet Venus ever since Maya times, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli being the Morning Star is probably the key. The scorpion’s sting would be a fine material metaphor for the Morning Star’s divinely destructive gaze. Also, I’m puzzled by the patterns of squared and spiral water flowing at/onto Xiuhtecuhtli.

Briefly, the other major enigma is the central vacant throne, the jaguar pelt indicating that there should be some deity sitting there. Who?

Now let’s talk about the secondary patron with the tongue-twisting name, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, sitting gingerly on the jaguar seat on the left. The only evidence of his identity is the headdress with the long spokes and feathery crown. Otherwise, he’s just an innocent little blond guy with standard Aztec finery. His hands-in-the-air gesture certainly must mean something like, “I know nothing about it!” “What did you expect?” “Who cares?” Or perhaps a hundred other probably dismissive comments relating to the vacant throne or to the flood dousing the Lord of Fire. Between Xiuhtecuhtli’s pout/glower and Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli’s nonchalance, some story is definitely going on in this page, but it would take an Aztec priest to provide an exegesis.

I must confess that I made the personal choice to color the Morning Star’s “mask” in a pleasant light blue as opposed to the depressing grey or brown to be seen in images that follow. The little flag on his nose-piece is actually indicative of Tezcatlipoca, but this might just be a convenient decoration. Meanwhile, his predominantly white body and clothing are most unusual for deities in Codex Borgia. Maybe the artist simply left him unfinished—too busy with Xiuhtecuhtli? In any case, we’ll see more detail in later images of this god.


TONALAMATL YOAL (compiled and re-created by Richard Balthazar on the basis of
Codex Telleriano-Remensis and Codex Rios)

Aztec Calendar – Snake Trecena – Tonalamatl Yoal

Speaking of detail, the image of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli on the left in this Telleriano-Remensis and Rios vision has them in spades, including a little One Reed identifier hovering overhead. The toothy feathered snake-monster on his back probably underlines his relationship to Quetzalcoatl (whose birth day-name is Nine Wind but sometimes called One Reed). As they will also occur in later images, the tear-drop motifs in his headdress (and in the snake’s) are other identifiers. Note his brown mask and mostly white raiment. Here his hand-gestures seem simply formulaic for his “dancing” or sitting posture on the standard place symbol/glyph.

On the right, Xiuhtecuhtli also “dances” or sits on a place symbol and wears ornate regalia. His headdress is very like that on his bust as Night-Lord (fifth from the left in the top row). The Telleriano-Remensis page with his image is missing, and I’ve had to base this representation on the uninspired Rios copy, supplementing it with details from elsewhere in T-R—like the fiery Xiuhcoatl he wields in his raised right hand. In his image in both T-R and Rios for the Pachtontli (Teotleco) solar vientena, Xiuhtecuhtli wears a flaming serpent on his back, but I thought that would be a little too much here. However, in both of those images one of his feet is the mystical water-fire symbol (atl-tlachinolli), which I’ve inserted as the Fire Lord’s right foot. Note his red and black face-paint as in the Borgia version—and in the following examples.



Tonalamatl Aubin patron panel for Snake Trecena

Once again, the patron panel in Tonalamatl Aubin gives one serious aesthetic pause. It’s got most of the canonical elements, but they seem viewed through a strange (psychedelic?) lens. Of course, there’s fair reason to believe that psychoactive drugs were involved. Here, the patrons of the trecena have switched sides and seats, and the head of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli (recognizable by the brown mask and teardrop ornaments in his headdress) is grossly distorted. Borgia’s vast flow of water has now become a mere spurt as part of the Morning Star’s headdress—another instance of the atl-tlachinolli water-fire symbol.

Meanwhile, Xiuhtecuhtli on the left has the standard red and black face and a fire-snake “cape,” and he holds his blue bird totem, which is by no stretch of the imagination a hummingbird. And by the way, I sort of hoped to see an empty throne and miss the scorpion.

Most startling is the fact that Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli has been flayed—sacrificially skinned! (In his Rios copy he is also flayed, but in the T-R original, only his hand shows the red stripes. I chose to ignore those details in Tonalamatl Yoal as too much information.) Here there’s no way around the ritual flaying of this deity. In fact, in several Borgia images of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli he’s been skinned. In Vaticanus there are also many such images, as well as a section of five panels with the flayed deity attacking various people, places, and even a jaguar.  In each of those he wears an odd eyepiece representing his dangerous gaze. (These five panels also appear in Codex Cospi in much different style and similar detail but without the flaying.)

Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli: Borgia (l.); Vaticanus (r.)

The consistent representation of Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli as flayed suggests a close relationship with Xipe Totec, the Flayed God, whom we will see later as a patron of the 20th trecena, Rabbit. His virtues of fertility, renewal, and spring are broadly discussed in the “The Flayed God” by Roberta H. and Peter T. Markman (HarperSanFrancisco, 1992), who note that several other deities are also shown in the codices as flayed. I’ve found many skinned images of Tlaloc, Mixcoatl, Tlazolteotl, and even some of the Cihuateteo and Ahuiateteo.

I think the flaying of victims and deities must have been a transcendent sign/symbol of holiness—like the ubiquitous western tradition of the halo—and suspect that Xipe Totec, who usually only wears their skins, is the “high priest” of the bloody sect. Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli seems to be the principal flayed god in the pantheon. I wonder why he, the Morning Star, would be chosen for such grisly glory. Maybe because he’s a nagual of the great god Quetzalcoatl?


Codex Borbonicus patron panel for Snake Trecena

That being said, in the tonalamatl of Codex Borbonicus, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli (back on the left side) is once again white-skinned in largely white clothes—maybe meaning his Borgia image was in fact completed. He wears his usual brown mask and has teardrop designs in his headdress, appearing in a constellation of motifs: water flowing at/onto the Lord of Fire (with arrows); some kind of a watery link (like the odd item at the center of the Aubin panel) to a throne (vacant but for a pile of ritual offerings); and what looks like a spider but is really a scorpion, both arachnids. Under high magnification one can see a tail/stinger curved up across its body. This is all stuff we already know from the Borgia panel, but I’ve never seen that surreal blue pointy-nose mask-thing on the back of his head before. Might it relate to his dangerous gaze?

With all that symbolic paraphernalia, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli seriously overshadows Xiuhtecuhtli, who sports only that fire-snake on his back (the model for my own trecena above), the beautiful Borbonicus-blue totem bird on his brow and plaque-pendant. The artist apparently didn’t care much about this supposedly primary patron, grotesquely distorting his torso and shrinking his arms and hands—in contrast to complex and careful execution of the secondary patron.

As a post-script to this description, note the snake in the lower left denoting the trecena and the blue creature on the lower right. Whatever its species, it’s the same as the blue animal held by Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli in the Aubin panel. Like the vacant throne and scorpion, such repeated motifs surely must mean something integral to the implied narrative.


Codex Vaticanus patron panel for Snake Trecena

The Codex Vaticanus patron panel for the Snake trecena is obviously badly “weathered,” and I’ve tried to touch it up, restoring most faded and broken lines and filling in some of the color, except for the spotty flow of water. The patrons have switched sides once more, Xiuhtecuhtli in a divinely complex headdress brooding over Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli, who’s appropriately flayed now. We’ve again got the main narrative motifs, including Borgia’s strange staff with curls (but no weird bird’s head), the flow of water with scorpion and arrows, and the vacant throne—clearly a retelling of the same old story. The staff and flow of water being placed subtly in the foreground in this panel tells me they’re probably the main theme of the implied narrative.

But here the scorpion- and arrow-laden flood (apparently summoned by Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli) no longer flows at/onto Xiuhtecuhtli, instead getting “swallowed up” by the staff itself. Perhaps that motif is the Fire Lord’s symbolic “spindle of the universe” neutralizing the flood—or maybe the smoke-like staff is a stylized column of his divine fire? If the latter, then we’re again looking at an enormous atl-tlachinolli, which I’m told is a symbol of war. Does that mean the Morning Star is challenging the Pole Star for supremacy (the empty throne) of the sky? Or maybe that’s way too metaphysical.


Let me try another reading: perhaps this is all about Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli trying to take over the primary patronage of the trecena from Xiuhtecuhtli, in the Borgia panel sitting nonchalantly on his modest jaguar seat but ready to jump onto the empty throne, while Xiuhtecuhtli scowls at him and fends off his flood. In the Yoal panel, the Fire Lord is still on the prominent right, but One Reed displays imposing glitz with his serpent-monster cape. The two have switched sides in the Aubin panel, where Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli now sits on the primary throne, with Xiuhtecuhtli on the secondary jaguar seat. Back on the left side in Borbonicus, Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli with all his paraphernalia has basically usurped the panel from the battered Xiuhtecuhtli, having physical possession of the throne at least, and in Vaticanus he holds off the Fire Lord with the huge war symbol, the trecena’s throne now his for the taking.

Such are my amateur shots at playing Aztec priest, whether or not either of these stories is true. Either way, the roles of primary and secondary patron of this trecena aren’t exactly clear-cut, not that it makes a great deal of difference.

The flayed Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli is the main evidence I see of Dr. Paquin’s ancient Maya themes for this trecena of fertility, emergence, and liberation. Xiuhtecuhtli’s divinatory significance for authority, justice, and higher knowledge is nebulous. And my tentative readings have little to do with any Maya themes. After the several intervening centuries, I wouldn’t be surprised if the later Aztec iteration of this trecena’s themes might be substantially different than the Maya. Perhaps now it’s about confrontation, ambition, and power. After all, the Snake’s all about power, One Snake’s a great day for a war, and Tlahuizcalpantecuhtli is well known as a very aggressive deity, a holy terror. Maybe Xiuhtecuhtli represents the unified center of reality, and the bellicose Morning Star represents the antithetical force of chaos and anarchy, another elemental dichotomy like water and fire. Maybe not…



The calendar’s tenth trecena will be that of Flint, its patrons being the existential Lord of the Land of the Dead, Mictlantecuhtli, and the mighty Tonatiuh, God of the Fifth Sun. Stay tuned.


You can view all the calendar pages I’ve completed up to this point in the Tonalamatl gallery.

More on the Lunar Bunny

Besides for my motto, I’m indebted to the alley cat Mehitabel (“Archy & Mehitabel” by Don Marquis—1928) for stating our existential problem: “the eternal struggle between art and life.”

In early September I got word I had to move out of my penthouse apartment on Alicia Street. That same day I arranged with my daughter to rent the house she owns on Gilmore Street next door to her place. Moving there took some three months, meanwhile putting my projects on the back burner. Said projects included the ninth in my series of re-creations of trecena pages from the Aztec calendar (see the eighth, the Grass trecena) and a third short story about the old man dancing (see the second story “Better Buy a Dozen”).

Shortly before Thanksgiving when I’d finally gotten on top of the domestic trauma, I came down with Covid, fortunately only a mild case of exhaustion and congestion, with some ten days in isolation/recuperation. Off and on during the month, I managed to play with a few pixels on the Snake trecena re-creation from Codex Borgia (see “The Aztec Codices”) and to sketch out a couple paragraphs on the story.

“Clean” again (and resettled), I jumped back into the artistic fray, already making good progress on the Snake trecena. In addition, yesterday I posted a blog on 12/6/22 in the Aztec calendar as the day Ce Ollin (One Earthquake), when I became Pilzincoyotl (the Young Coyote), a deity of dance and nagual of Xochipilli (the Flower Prince).

While we’re on the subject of the current trecena in the Aztec calendar, I note that this Friday, 12/9/22 will be the day Nahui Xochitl (Four Flower). That’s the day-name in my private universe for the Sixth Sun—as proclaimed in my post “The Old Queen’s Proclamation,” which means we will have completed four cycles of the new era. You’re free to celebrate as you will this day of hope for a beautiful new world.

Now let me add some Aztec information that my devoted readers may have missed. Nearly four years ago in 2018, I posted “Ancient America-Asia Coincidences” about the Mesoamerican concept of a Rabbit in the Moon. At that point, I was working on Icon #16 (for my YE GODS! coloring book) and presented my drawing of the full moon:

Back then I was intending that icon to represent the god and goddess of the moon, Tecciztecatl and Metztli, but early last year (1/21) I discovered that I’d been mistaken (see my blog post “To Err is Human”)—that the god in the Codex Telleriano-Remensis whom I’d used for a model wasn’t Tecciztecatl but Tonatiuh, the god of the sun. Oh, well…

After that, back in May 2022, while working on the Death trecena re-creation, I discovered that the calendrical day-name of the Rabbit in the Moon is apparently 12 Rabbit! That day comes up in the current trecena on 12/17/22—a great day to celebrate the lunar bunny:

The Lunar Bunny – 12 Rabbit

How’s that for truly esoteric information!?


Aztec Calendar – Grass Trecena

The eighth trecena (13-day “week”) of the Aztec Tonalpohualli (ceremonial count of days) is called Grass for its first numbered day, which is also the 12th day of the vientena (20-day “month”). In the Nahuatl language Grass is Malinalli, and it’s known as Eb’ in Yucatec Maya and E or Ey in Quiché Maya.

According to references I found long ago, for the Aztecs the day Grass signified penance and self-flagellation as an offering to the gods; though it may be no reflection on such suffering, the day Grass is anatomically connected to the bowels. The patron of the day Grass is Patecatl, the god of medicine (herbology), healing and fertility, and surgery. A pulque deity like his wife Mayauel, he’s the god of intoxication by hallucinogenic mushrooms, peyote, and psychotropic herbs such as datura (jimson weed), morning glory, and marijuana, as well as of plants used in healing, fortune telling, shamanic magic, and public religious ceremonies.


There’s unanimity that the principal patron of the Grass trecena is Mayauel (the aforementioned wife of Patecatl), a maternal and fertility goddess connected with nourishment who personifies the maguey plant, a member of the agave family. (See my Icon #9.) Besides fibers for ropes and cloth, the most important maguey product is the alcoholic beverage pulque (or octli).  As a pulque goddess, Mayauel is the mother of the Centzon Totochtin (400 Rabbits), patrons of drunkenness by all forms of intoxication.  (Drinking was generally only permitted in ceremonies, but the elderly were free to drink whenever they wished.) Her day-name is Eight Flint.

On the other hand, there’s considerable confusion about the secondary patron of this trecena. In most tonalamatls the male personage accompanying Mayauel bears no identifying emblems, but in the related Telleriano-Remensis and Rios codices (sources of Tonalamatl Yoal below), it’s unambiguously Centeotl, the god of maize, the 4th lord of the night and the 7th lord of the day.


By Marguerite Paquin, author of “Manual for the Soul: A Guide to the Energies of Life: How Sacred Mesoamerican Calendrics Reveal Patterns of Destiny”

This trecena’s theme is vitality and fertility. Given that both patrons are oriented towards celebration, this period encompasses energies related to abundance and the promulgation of life. Many born during this time frame may easily tap into the generative and celebratory nature of these energies through feasting, dancing, and pleasure-seeking. Although both vision and empowerment are associated with these energies, caution might be needed to avoid issues created through excess, particularly during the intense final days of the trecena.

Further to how these energies connect with world events, see the Maya Count of Days Horoscope blog at The Maya equivalent is the Eb’ 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 12th day of the current vientena, Grass, this trecena continues with 2 Reed, 3 Jaguar, 4 Eagle, 5 Vulture, 6 Earthquake, 7 Flint, 8 Rain, 9 Flower, 10 Crocodile, 11 Wind, 12 House, and 13 Lizard.

There are several important days in the Grass trecena:
One Grass (in Nahuatl Ce Malinalli) is the day-name of one of the tzitzimime (star demons), evil spirits who devour people during solar eclipses. The goddess Itzpapalotl is the principle tzitzimitl, as well as the patron of the Cihuateteo (as discussed earlier in the Deer trecena), which may indicate a relationship between these two categories of supernatural beings.

Two Reed (in Nahuatl Ome Acatl) is the day-name of the creator god Tezcatlipoca, though in his various manifestations other day-names are sometimes cited. As Ome Acatl (Omacatl), he was seen as patron of celebrations, often shown seated on a rush bundle symbolic of his role as the god of banquets. Two Reed was also one of the days when New Fire ceremonies are traditionally held (every 52 years).

Two Reed is also important for me personally as my day-name; I don’t pretend any relation to the god other than having a fondness for celebrations. In this personal context, the next day Three Jaguar (in Nahuatl Yeyi Ocelotl) is the day-name of my youngest grandson.

Five Vulture (in Nahuatl Macuil Cozcacuauhtli) is the day-name of one of the Ahuiateteo, the gods of pleasure and excess. Judging from the augury of the day Vulture, he’s the god of the joys of wealth and conversely of financial woes like poverty, (and oppressive responsibilities of great riches). Usually paired with the Cihuateotl One Eagle (Ce Cuauhtli), a goddess of bravery, Five Vulture is also one of the Macuitonaleque, patrons of calendar diviners.

Seven Flint (in Nahuatl Chicome Tecpatl) is the day-name of one of the several goddesses of tender young maize. (There are deities for all growth aspects of this staple crop.)

Ten Crocodile (in Nahuatl Mahtlactli Cipactli) is noted in the Florentine Codex as a day especially associated with wealth, happiness, and contentment.


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!

My version of the Grass trecena featured a Nuttall-inspired image of the goddess Mayauel, and I showed her holding out a pot of pulque, a frequent motif in that codex. At the time I didn’t know about her personification of the maguey (or about any secondary patron) and resorted to the crocodile headdress and jaguar throne of one of the Nuttall ladies (Six Wind). I at least knew enough to include a cute little rabbit as a deity of drunkenness. If I might say so myself—and I will—the page achieves a rather iconic effect.

Aztec Calendar – Grass trecena – Tonalamatl Balthazar


TONALAMATL BORGIA (re-created by Richard Balthazar from Codex Borgia)

Aztec Calendar – Grass Trecena – Tonalamatl Borgia

The cultural importance of pulque is clearly indicated by the elegant, ornamented brew-pot in the center of the panel, almost overshadowing the trecena patron Mayauel on the right. She sports some intricate, unique regalia but is identifiable by the stylized maguey plant behind her. In that context, I prefer to think of these stylized realizations more as ‘surrealizations,’ not attempting a naturalistic representation but a universal image. More such ‘surrealized’ magueys will follow. So much for my half-baked artistic theory—which I would also apply to Aztec art in general.

I must confess to doing serious graphic surgery on the proportions of her legs, which in the original were so undersized that she looked like a hydrocephalic infant. Perhaps the Borgia artist’s aesthetic was impaired by drinking too much pulque? Also, I added standard wristbands to connect to the long tassels. Most curious is the blue on the lower half of her face.

As noted earlier, the secondary patron on the left isn’t identifiable by anything in his regalia, though his throne and jaguar pelt show that he’s definitely a deity. I’m impressed by the dainty, naturalistic way he sips from his bowl of pulque. Other drinkers are usually more formally posed as in this pulque party in Codex Vindobonensis (from an incomplete facsimile):

Pulque Party from Codex Vindobonensis

This party was likely a formal/ceremonial affair involving important personages, some even masked, who were labelled with their day-names. One wonders about the two who stir their drinks with something (a celery stick?) and must note that the standard froth on their cups appears on the Borgia brew-pot but not on the unknown fellow’s cup.

One item in the background is of disturbing significance for divination: the heart on a stick. Does this imply that heart-sacrifice is part of the pulque ritual? I haven’t seen any scholarly mention of such—or maybe it’s a mysterious emblem of the drinker? If so, it’s no help at all in identifying this secondary patron of the trecena.


TONALAMATL YOAL (compiled and re-created by Richard Balthazar on the basis of
Codex Telleriano-Remensis and Codex Rios)

Aztec Calendar – Grass Trecena – Tonalamatl Yoal

This image of Mayauel on the left is based on that from Codex Rios; her page in Telleriano-Remensis is missing. Here she rises up out of the maguey, which is ornamented by odd flowers and fruits. Again, she’s shown with a blue lower face, and speaking of ornaments, her over-sized headdress (also in blue and white as in Codex Borgia) is topped with three mushrooms indicating her interest in that means of entheogenic intoxication as well.

The secondary patron in these two codices, as also noted earlier, is unambiguously Centeotl, god of maize, as indicated by the bag of maize-ears on his back. In the interest of transparency, I admit to performing radical plastic surgery to make Centeotl look realistically human on a par with Mayauel. The two original images, while very similar to each other, were both far too sketchy (and short-armed) to hold their own against the elegance of the goddess:

Centeotl in Telleriano-Remensis (l.) and Rios (r.)

In addition (or subtraction!), I omitted the white banner they inexplicably hold behind the fancy feathered one. Whatever it signifies, I don’t care. Meanwhile, the sloppy Rios image makes me wonder if maybe the Italian copy of the Aztec codex might have involved a number of artists, some more competent than others. The qualitative variation in Rios images is striking.



Tonalamatl Aubin patron panel for Grass trecena

The patron panel in Tonalamatl Aubin is replete with the motifs we saw in Codex Borgia, plus some. The figure of Mayauel is enthroned with a highly abstracted maguey on its back, and part of her headdress is in blue and white, but there is only a vague indication of a blue lower jaw. Curiously, she doesn’t hold a pulque bowl but an incense bag. The pulque brew-pot appears within the night symbol at the top.

The secondary patron on the left is again unidentifiable, except that he holds the same flowered banner as Centeotl in Tonalamatl Yoal, and wears that disturbing skewered heart. Is that banner enough to signify Centeotl? In any case, there’s no awkward white banner… New are the little couple at the bottom apparently having a great party—either drinking or regurgitating. At least they add a little drama to the tableau.


Codex Borbonicus patron panel for Grass trecena

This patron panel for the Grass trecena in Codex Borbonicus is typically cluttered with symbolic items, among which are frothy pots of pulque, the brew-pot included in the night symbol like in Tonalamatl Aubin, a little guy on the lower right apparently vomiting, and another on the lower left with snake and shield who defies interpretation. I’m intrigued by the fat spider, a creature usually encountered in connection with Mictlan, the Land of the Dead. A good priest or calendar diviner would probably know what to make out of this mixed bag of symbols.

The image of Mayauel on the left is particularly striking with that special blue on the maguey leaves and her whole face and body. The flowers in her headdress complete the personification of the plant, and the swatch of rope she holds is another important product of the maguey. The secondary patron on the right is a puzzle. He brandishes Centeotl’s banners, the white one included, and looking like Centeotl’s in Yoal, his headdress includes a skewer with two hearts—like a shish-ka-bob. But he carries no bag of maize, so again we can’t be sure who he is. In any case, he’s a fairly impressive guy.


Codex Vaticanus patron panel for Grass trecena

Speaking of impressive, in the Codex Vaticanus patron panel the out-sized pulque brew-pot is even more so than even the ornamented one in Codex Borgia, what with the mystical snake coiled around its base, its decorative cordage, and the overflowing frothy head.

As patron of the trecena, the smaller figure of Mayauel on the right takes second place to the pot, sitting now (awkwardly) within the blooming maguey. Her headdress contains another blue and white crest, and her blue lower face and nosepiece look a lot like those in the Borgia panel. We can assume that a blue lower face is emblematic of the goddess. Maybe it’s a cross-cultural reference to drinking oneself ‘blue in the face?’

On the left side, the secondary patron is even less identifiable, but I love his pointing approvingly at his foaming cup of pulque. Beneath him is another skewered heart for whatever it’s worth, but the white object hovering over his head is perfectly inscrutable. Once again, we need a calendar diviner (like Five Vulture) to sort these symbols out.


Perhaps the lesson to be taken from this review of Grass trecena is that secondary patrons aren’t actually all that important, whoever they may be. Consequently, I probably shouldn’t be taken to task for omitting them from my old tonalamatl. My earlier ignorance seems forgivable now. I just wish I knew what those shish-ka-bobs are all about.



The calendar’s ninth trecena will be that of Snake, the principal patron of which is the transcendent god of fire Xiuhtecuhtli. Stay tuned.


Making Lemonade

            Despite historic obstacles, 2020 turned out to be a very successful and productive year for me, both artistically and personally. It started with a celebration for completing Aztec Icon #18 – XOCHIPILLI, the Prince of Flowers on the last day of 2019. I’d first drawn this sun god thirty years ago for my book of days. The black and white icon, infinitely more complicated than this old four-color image, breaks all sorts of Aztec iconographic norms and conventions. Go to the link above to see this iconoclastic addition to the coloring book YE GODS!

Xochipilli – The Prince of Flowers – (God of pleasure, feasting, and dancing)

            On New Year’s Day, 2020 I posted the Flower Prince but still had much to do before adding his icon to my “travelling” exhibition YE GODS! Icons of Aztec Deities. In mid-January I mounted this show of large-scale banners at its seventh venue in a conference center—with the help of a tall French fellow I’d met during its sixth appearance.

            We’d hung the show by January 18 (for my mother’s 101st birthday), and I turned to our trip for the New Orleans Opera premiere of my new translation of Tchaikovsky’s heroic opera JOAN OF ARC on February 2 & 9. My clan gathered for the occasion at the Mahalia Jackson Theatre, and I enjoyed their acclaims, as well as those of appreciative audiences. I believe my linguistic work has turned the composer’s simply inspired piece into a masterpiece.

            By Monday, February 11, I was gratefully back in Santa Fe for my comfortable retired life in my eyrie apartment, my Casa Arriba penthouse high above the world. With a gratified sigh of relief, I slipped back into my splendid routines of writing/drawing, gym, dinners out, and especially the ecstatic dancing on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.

Casa Arriba

            After a couple leisurely weeks, I started on my second memoir, picking up my sordid tale of after marriage when I came out for the second time. Covering the next two traumatic and extremely sexual years of my fourth persona (the HIPPIE POET, footloose and feckless), I pretentiously included my own poetry, a device stolen from “Dr. Zhivago.” My routines and retrospective writing trance held me nicely right up almost to the middle of March.

            In my Mesoamerican fascination, I consider Friday, March 13, 2020 or the Aztec day Four Rain to have been the emphatic end of the Fifth Sun, the Sixth Sun starting on Saturday.  Suffice it to say that Friday the Thirteenth brought enormous turmoil into my life when my gym closed down due to a virus they were already calling a pandemic.

            On March 14, 2020 everything locked down (my show as well), and since then I’ve fortunately been living safely and comfortably in Casa Arriba. The loss of gym, dinners out, and ecstatic dancing has left me with only the splendid routine of writing and drawing. Right away I replaced my gym workouts with walking/running around the nearby track, but I could do nothing about the sauna except miss it miserably. Cooking simply, I didn’t miss restaurant food—just my regular companions at meals. I was driven to solo dancing to radio reggae and salsa in my living room and to sorely missing all the young bacchantes at Paradiso.

            I joked about going into solitary confinement but didn’t really feel that way. I deeply appreciated being made to step away from the world’s sound and fury, to take care of my physical needs simply in solitary peace, and to do my work on my natural schedule without distractions. I found it fascinating to watch my hair grow, now longer than it’s ever been, and I rather like it. Perversely, I didn’t feel lonely, isolated, or confined at all, but instead felt blessedly secluded, a secular anchorite. Six decades later, this new Sixth Sun feels like a confirmation and redemption of my solitary youth in backwoods Arkansas.

            Staying snugly at home (except for walks at the track and to grocery stores), let me focus on the memoir, which I titled LORD WIND, alternating between writing it and drawing on Icon #19 – TEZCATLIPOCA, The Smoking Mirror. By mid-May I’d finished and posted the icon, which went much deeper into the god’s story than this old drawing for the book of days.

Tezcatlipoca – Smoking Mirror – (Lord of the Night Sky)

  And by early June I’d finished the memoir. Rejoicing, I posted LORD WIND on the web as individual chapters or entire text.

           On the urging of my French friend, in June I began conjuring up visions of Tlaloc, the God of Storms, and at the same time started the third volume of memoir, soon entitled GAY GEISHA, about my stylish gay life in Washington DC in the 1970s. Once again, for sanity’s sake, over the next months I switched back and forth between creative processes.

            Meanwhile, a few important things happened in the solitude of October. First, I rode my bike to the Convention Center and voted early against the scumbag, whereupon I put it and its filth out of mind. Next, I finally struck my icon show after nine months’ lockdown—with the kind assistance of my tall grandson. Then, accepting that my life was utterly changed for the foreseeable future, I gave him my little red car and happily became a true pedestrian.

            In mid-November I started posting chapters of GAY GEISHA serially and by mid-December had published eight covering about a quarter of the decade. The switch then back to the icon was for a final push, aiming to finish it by New Year’s. I didn’t quite make it though. Only the other day, almost two weeks into 2021, I finally wrapped Tlaloc up, though he doesn’t look much like my first fanciful drawing of him for that old book of days. Still, that goggle-eye and fangs are standard features.

Tlaloc – (God of Rain)

            Please allow me to count Aztec Icon #20 – TLALOC, God of Storms, as an accomplishment for wretched but productive 2020. (I’ll post it very soon.) I’m tremendously gratified by creating my three icons, memoirs of gay liberation, and the operatic masterpiece.


Tlalocan II – The Drawing

After showing you my reconfiguration of the Teotihuacan mural of Tlalocan in early July, it took me these past three months to turn it into a black-and-white drawing. As such, it will become the lower register in Icon #20 for my digital coloring book YE GODS!

For several centuries the enormous city-state of Teotihuacan “ruled” central Mexico (and parts of the Maya world as well). Painted about 1,500 years ago, the tremendously ornate mural is a fascinating window into that vanished metropolis, a panorama of its people enjoying afterlife in the paradise of their water (storm) god—whom a thousand years later the Aztecs called Tlaloc. My drawing gives you an intimate look at the actual people who lived in the Place of the Gods. (It’s greatly reduced in this illustration, but you can click here to download a full-scale image—at almost three feet long and one foot high.)

Tlalocan – The Paradise of Tlaloc

Within that eye-boggling border, the first telling detail to notice is that there are no women, which may say something about a sexist society in Teotihuacan. Of course Tlaloc’s Eighth Heaven was reserved for victims of drowning and children sacrificed for life-giving rain, but one thinks maybe some women might also have drowned and girl-children been sacrificed too. In all likelihood (if the eschatology of Teotihuacan is reflected in that of the Aztecs), women may well have had their own paradise among the thirteen heavens. But there’s no mural of that one.

The Aztecs definitely inherited the concept of Tlalocan from Teotihuacan, and the iconography of the ancestral water (storm) god is also clearly reflected in that of the much later Aztecs.

Teotihuacan Water and Rain Gods

Tlaloc’s goggle-eyes and fangs crossed the centuries into the figure from Codex Borgia, as well as the head-pitcher he holds for pouring out water:

Aztec Tlaloc and Quiahuitl Day-signs

Teotihuacan’s rain-god image carries over directly into the Aztecs’ golden Four Rain sign (day-name of the Third Sun) on their Stone of the Suns. The Rain day-sign to its right is based on it—drawn thirty years ago for my book of days before I ever learned of the raindrops on the Teotihuacan image. The two lower signs are stylized versions for the calendars in the Fejervary-Mayer and Vaticanus codices; those in other calendars are similar, but often less formal.

Now let’s look into this window on the people of Teotihuacan. First, check out their quite varied fashions in clothing:

Teotihuacan Fashions

Not surprising are the loincloths or breechclouts worn by figures on the left with varying numbers of sashes. Note that children can be nude or just wear “panties.” But then the costumes get weird, like the top center fellow wearing a midriff T-shirt and toreador pants and the guy just below with a full-length T. The runner to his right may be wearing similar pants, but he also has gloves. The guy below is wearing “clam-digger” pants with breechclout; the guy with the tears (ignore those for now) only wears gloves and socks/slippers, as does the cross-legged kid below. On the far right the top figure wears shirt and pants under a loincloth, and the lower figure wears pants/leggings under a kilt with sash.

The variety of outfits may have to do with social classes—or maybe not. But I can say that the cross-legged kid in gloves and socks is remarkably unique in being presented full-face. All the other faces are done in profile—the standard view used by the Aztecs for faces and bodies as well. However, the ancient artist made free to show figures frontally and from many other realistic angles, an iconographic freedom apparently lost over the centuries.

Note also the varying hairstyles: Figures are frequently bald (or with shaved heads?), but many have hairdos of various lengths. The kilted fellow on lower right may be an elder with receding hairline and gray hair. In the mural you can’t tell if the guy at center-top has a topknot or feather headdress. Speaking of hairstyles and headdresses, there is also a wide assortment of such on other figures which again may have something to do with class or occupation—or maybe not.

Teotihuacan Headgear

Here we see several types of hats, headbands, skullcaps, and turbans. Notable is the figure on the upper left wearing an ear-flare, the only one in the whole mural—a fashion that became almost universal under the Aztecs—but there are no nose ornaments. Again, note the cross-legged kid on the lower right wearing what looks like a slightly cocked beret. The flirtatious fellow to his left possibly sports a half-Mohawk crest—or a feathered hat?

So now we know what (at least male) Teotihuacanos looked like! Here are a couple vignettes of their playful activities:

                    Teotihuacan Dancers

  Teotihuacan Toss

 Both of these group activities well illustrate the ancient artist’s stylistic freedom, as well as elements of perspective that the Aztecs would never have attempted. (The curlicues are shouts or songs of joy—a convention that totally carried over into Aztec iconography.) The scene of the tossing is probably celebratory—as happens in many cultures—and not a punishment like that undergone by Sancho Panza in “Don Quixote.”

Now we come to some distinctly odd images that I have a hard time parsing:

             Teotihuacan Oddities

This guy with the tears (in gloves and socks) seems to be singing loudly or shouting, but why is he crying and waving a branch, and what’s he got flowing from his chest? In the mural the flow doesn’t seem to be blood, and why should it be? The guy with the long stuff flowing from his head (hair?) seems to be chewing on a stick (sugarcane?). The four fellows holding each other’s wrists maybe are playing some game? Since this is in Tlalocan, whatever’s going on must surely be joyful fun.

I hope my little drawing has given you some visual notion of the lost and almost forgotten world of Teotihuacan.


The Old Queen’s Proclamation

When I began this website back in late 2013, I suggested that in 2012 I’d “incarnated” in my eighth identity or persona as a writer and artist. Now seven years later I’ve written a webpage to characterize this incarnation (thus far) as the Venerable Old Queen. In it you can read about this time of monkish peace and great productivity in books and art, all utterly fascinating.

I hope to continue being peaceful and productive for a long time yet in spite of our dire new reality. The old reality of our world recently underwent a total paradigm shift. As your Venerable Queen, I declare that Friday, March 13, 2020 was the end of the world as we’ve known it. To my neo-Aztec mind, on that day the Aztec Fifth Sun (World) came to an emphatic end. In their calendar, this was the day Four Rain, ominously the day-name of the Third Sun, which was destroyed in a rain of fire. That apocalyptic detail aptly marks this ending of the Fifth Sun.

In Aztec cosmology the Fifth Sun was called Four Earthquake (Nahui Ollin) and was destined to end by earthquake. However, “ollin” means more broadly “movement,” not only the terrestrial kind but the abstract as in “motion” or “dynamism.” If ever anything has moved dynamically, it’s the Corona virus sweeping the world—and destroying the Fifth Sun.

In addition, my venerable highness proclaims that the next day, March 14, 2020, was the first day of a brand new Sun, the Sixth. In my 1993 calendar book, I’d proposed that the Sixth Sun began with the fall of Tenochtitlan in 1521; since the invaders actually arrived in 1519, on the average I was only off by precisely 500 years.

In my youthful enthusiasm, I gave the Sixth Sun the day-name Four Flower (Nahui Xochitl) and assigned Xochipilli and Xochiquetzal as its patrons to foster “love and happiness, artistic inspiration, fertility, pleasure, feasting, music, dancing, beauty and peace.” Obviously, I was feeling optimistic, even utopian, about the Sixth Sun, and now in spite of serious counter-indications, I’m trying to be the same as it begins for real. I do indeed accept Four Flower as this new Sun’s day-name and the divine patrons I channeled for it in 1993. The illustrations below are from the old book, and I use this image of the Prince in the banner on my webpages.

        Xochipilli, Prince of Flowers, and Xochiquetzal, Flower Feather, Patrons of the Sixth Sun Four Flower

Let’s look at the divinatory portents in the ceremonial calendar.

Per, March 14 was the day Five Flower (Macuilxochitl), which is the day-name of the deity of games, music, dancing and singing. Five Flower is a nagual (manifestation), of good old Xochipilli, Prince of Flowers, the youthful solar deity of vegetation and abundance, as well as of pleasure, male beauty, learning, and the arts. His day-name is Seven Flower (Chicomexochitl), and coincidentally he’s the patron of both the sacred ballgame tlachtli and of homosexuality. Maybe it was for that latter fact that I chose him, but obviously he’s already become the divine patron of this new Sun without my puny gay-mortal help.

About Flower days in general, that day is ruled by Xochiquetzal, Flower Feather, so again I was right on in my channeled inspiration. She’s the ever-young goddess of love, beauty, female sexuality, and fertility and is the twin sister and wife of Xochipilli. She protects young mothers in pregnancy and childbirth, and is patron of weaving, embroidery, artisans, artists, and prostitutes. The calendar website says that a Flower day is one for creating beauty and truth, which fits right into my forecast, and significantly adds that the day tells us that life, like the flower, is beautiful but quickly fades.

The 13-day week (trecena) that the day Five Flower occurs in (One Vulture), is ruled by Xolotl, the Evening Star. I write in my encyclopedia of the Aztec pantheon that he is the god of sickness, deformity, monstrosities, malice, treachery, and danger, and represents the animal aspect of behavior and the unconscious. It’s rather ominous that he’s also the psychopomp (like the Greeks’ Charon), who leads the dead through the Land of the Dead, Mictlan. remarks that a Vulture week itself signifies the wisdom and freedom of old age, a fact this venerable old queen can relate to. Terribly right on in its generality for the time around March 14, 2020, it adds that these are good days for disengaging and bad days for participating.

This horoscopic reading for Saturday, March 14 seems uncannily perceptive in our shifted paradigm, and the Flower World it portends is an actual theme in the theology of northwestern ancient Mexico, complete with Xochipilli as its sun-god. Now that he rules this Sixth Sun, I think it would be entirely appropriate to create a new ballgame in his honor.

Let’s play with the idea of tlachtli and maybe call it “Xochiball.” It’s played on a circular court 50 ft. in diameter, where two teams of two players try to knock a soccer-size (but softer?) ball through a vertical hoop (possibly spinning) which is suspended over the center of the court. No catching or hitting the ball with hands is allowed, and the losers don’t get sacrificed. Feel free to make up the rest of the rules.

By the way, on my new page for Venerable Old Queen I didn’t mention the harsh lesson of this eighth persona: The rarest thing in the world is people who get what they really truly deserve. As a case in point, there’s no earthly way I truly deserve the many blessings I’ve had in my long life. When you get right down to it, again as the Aztecs believed, human life is simply a matter of dumb luck, and we’ve got to do everything we can think of to appease and flatter any deities who supposedly control our fortunes. Myself, I’m not poking any thorns through my tongue.

          Aztec Penance



Tlalocan – The Paradise of Tlaloc

Occasionally I’ve interrupted drawing for my coloring book to remark on particularly interesting details (like the Divine Volcanoes and Visions of Tezcatlipoca), and here I go again.

The icon I’m working on right now is for Tlaloc, God of Storms (as well as rain and weather in general), a very ancient deity with antecedents among the Maya as Chak and in Teotihuacan, his actual name unknown, at least a thousand years before the Aztecs. In conceptualizing the icon, I’m including as the base register an image of Tlalocan, the Paradise of Tlaloc, adapted from a mural at Teotihuacan (c. 500 CE).

In my process, I first gather, massage and manipulate source material to create a layout. After settling on the composition, I turn the images into line drawings. Working with a mural from Teotihuacan—and snitching a neat piece of Codex Vindobonensis—I’ve reconfigured it to be what I call the Tlalocan, the Paradise of Tlaloc, restoring the heavily damaged left half:

Teotihuacan Mural Reconfigured by Richard Balthazar

Keep in mind that the Teotihuacan mural (with an obfuscating deep red background), was painted some 1,500 years ago—before European monks ever started illuminating manuscripts.

Some scholars argue that this mural represents the sacred Water Mountain—Cerro Gordo behind the city—and was associated with the (also nameless) Great Goddess. While her mural is positioned right above this one, I heartily disagree and have removed the arguable “mountain,” moving in the centerpiece from the upper border (enlarged), an indubitable image of the fanged, goggle-eyed deity the later Aztecs dubbed Tlaloc.

The deity also holds “head”-pitchers like those Tlaloc holds in Codex Borgia pouring water onto the maize-fields. As well, the dedication to Tlaloc is tripled by the matching busts of the iconic water deity in the upper corners. In upper center, I’ve installed an anachronistic Mouth of the Earth pouring forth water (from Vindobonensis). The name Tlaloc means “He of the Earth.”

I have no problem with Cerro Gordo being the sacred Water Mountain of Teotihuacan. That nearby massif may well have sourced lots of springs and streams, and I gather there’s evidence of intensive agricultural terracing and other works on its slopes and summit. The original Water Mountain image in the mural I assert to be in fact the way of entry into the afterlife of Tlalocan. The figures in its waters aren’t just gaily swimming around but struggling, sinking, maybe drowning, and ultimately erupting into the Paradise of the god later known as Tlaloc. Note the attempted life-saving. I found the image nice but unnecessary. After all we’re worshipping LKA Tlaloc here.

“Water Mountain” from Original Mural at Teotihuacan

Circumstantially, priority entry into Tlalocan, a joyful place of games, butterflies and flowers, was granted to victims of drowning, then to children sacrificed to Tlaloc—note the many children in the mural’s pastiche—and only afterwards to victims of certain diseases such as leprosy. Those less than enviable passports aside, Tlaloc’s 8th heaven (out of the 13), was a great place to wind up, all dancing, singing, and having fun. In the other heavens, not so much…

If you squint at the little figures in the mural, you’ll see groups engaging in several games. On the far left it’s with soccer-type balls while another guy runs in perhaps a hybrid of bowling and hopscotch. Moving to the right, we come to a bunch of dancers, and beside them a guy getting tossed into the air. On the deity’s crest, four fellows play perhaps some version of leapfrog. On their right, kids play marbles, and four guys play on something maybe related to a teeter-totter.

Historically significant are those little curlicues issuing from the figures’ mouths, the symbol for song: These folks are rejoicing, singing out their joy. Even the birds I lifted from the Great Goddess mural are singing as on far right. (In the original a tiny worm also sings!) I know this symbol because it’s widespread in the Aztec codices of a thousand years later meaning the same.

I’m taken with the little guy on the lower right bending to admire a flower. This stretch of plants and figures has been called a scene of farming, but that’s just nonsense. Farming in heaven? The man standing on the far right might be yodeling, and the kid under the bush is merrily waving a flower, not particularly agrarian activities. Various other figures scattered around seem to be telling stories or doing tricks. A good time is being had by all.

Generally, I try not to engage in much speculation, but this time it’s terribly tempting. Let me suggest an intriguing possibility. Perhaps with the Water Mountain adjacent to their prosperous city the Teotihuacanos came to think of their world as literally Tlalocan on earth. Maybe they didn’t, but Mesoamerican history could have—taking that long-gone civilization into their cosmology as the Third Sun, Four Rain.

According to the Aztecs, Four Rain was ruled by Tlaloc while consorting with Xochiquetzal (Flower Feather), who might have been the Great Goddess, though She was usually seen as the proto-Chalchiuhtlicue (Jade Skirt). Lore has it that when Tezcatlipoca (The Smoking Mirror) abducted his goddess, Tlaloc raged and destroyed the Third Sun in a rain of fire.

This apocalyptic detail suggests another possibility. I’ve read that right around 600 CE there was a major eruption of Popocatepetl which, besides raining fire, spread a pyroclastic flood of toxic gases all over the valley of Anahuac (Mexico). Is it just coincidence that at exactly this time the civilization and people of Teotihuacan vanished?

Just wondering…


The Faces of Death

In this dire virus situation, we are all looking death in the face, but we can’t really see what it looks like wearing a mask and standing at a sociable distance. So I tried to get an up-close look at the face of death through the sanitized lens of Aztec art. They were intimate with that inevitable fact of life and drew many detailed pictures of it.

In their calendars, the Aztecs represented the day Death, Miquitzli, the sixth in their 20-day month, as a skull, often fancifully ornamented:

Signs for the Aztec Day Death

While the examples from Codex Cospi are the most varied and almost playful, they’re not exactly “fun” or amenable. Not that they were supposed to be… By the way, notice the tassels fed through the earlobes. Ears on a skull? This could become a new fashion fad!

The Aztecs also personified, or if you will, deified death as Mictlantecuhtli, Lord of the Land of the Dead (Mictlan). He was portrayed in various styles with many common motifs as a skeleton, often with a sacrificial knife for a nose and a semi-circular headdress, usually with a central spike. (Note two incipient examples of the spike among the Cospi signs above.) In Codex Borgia, he often wears a hand as a tassel through his earlobe. In the display below I skipped the skeletons and show only the skulls. None of them is particularly warm and cuddly, but again I guess Death’s heads simply aren’t.

Heads of Aztec Lord of Death

These gruesome images, which underlie many Day of the Dead graphics, weren’t especially frightening for the Aztecs who had a deep reverence for Mictlantecuhtli, even to the point of ritual cannibalism. I felt a similar, though not so hungry, reverence a few years ago when I drew the icon for the Lord of Death. He’s existentially pretty grand, but his beckoning gesture isn’t very enticing. Note the spiked ornament and the Magliabechiano headdress. Besides a vaguely realistic jaguar pelt, I used my artistic license to hang that spider web across his midriff. Oh, and those are eyeballs hanging from his cape. They do look a bit like googly eyes.

Aztec Lord of Death

These boney specters were the way I saw the Aztec face of Death until quite recently when I decided to re-create the book of days (tonalamatl) in the Codex Rios. I suddenly got glimpses of his real face instead of a fleshless skull.

They say that Codex Rios (one of the zillions of documents held by the Vatican Library) is a 16th-century Italian copy of the more or less pre-conquest codex called Telleriano-Remensis. As a copy it wasn’t terribly faithful, taking many liberties with images—some really worked; some didn’t—and making several mistakes in the numbering of days. But it was good that Rios took liberties because T-R is crude artistically speaking, though at times the copy itself was sloppy.

The T-R tonalamatl was drawn in pieces, each 13-day week (trecena) laid out with the first five days and main patron on one page and the last eight on another with the second patron/symbol. Rios followed that format exactly. In my re-creation, the weeks will be presented whole on their own pages to give an integral view of the time periods and supernatural characteristics.

The T-R and Rios tonalamatls include the nine Lords of the Night in sequence with the days, a cycle taking many years to complete (9 Lords/260 days). These Lords also appear (very sketchily) in Codex Cospi and in the complicated layouts of Codex Borbonicus and Tonalamatl Aubin along with Lords of the Day and totem birds, but in T-R/Rios the Lords of the Night are shown prominently alone in distinctive portrait busts.

The fifth Lord of the Night—and Lord of the fifth (mid-night) hour of the night—is none other than Mictlantecuhtli. He occurs 29 times during most of the 260-day years. In T-R he’s rendered as a full-fleshed “person” with remarkably consistent accoutrements. There are only 22 faces of Lord Death below because I don’t have copies of a few of the T-R pages. I doubt the missing pages will contain any surprises:

Faces of the Lord of Mictlan (Codex Telleriano-Remensis)

Again, the headdress with spiked ornament is standard, as well as a black lower face. Since these are given in order, there seems to be a greater finesse in the first several busts, if only for the green on the scarf “flaps.” The artist probably got tired as the days rolled by.

Note the plus signs on most of the scarves—they’re NOT crosses but a geometric motif possibly having to do with the four directions and center. Most consistent are the profiles of the Lord. The protruding mouth and often pendulous lower lip must have some iconographic significance, but unless it’s meant to convey menace, I haven’t a clue. Note also the almost identical noses—which appear on several other T-R Lords of the Night. This ancient artist had a clear template.

On the other hand, the artist(s) of the Codex Rios copy did not have a standard physiognomy for Mictlantecuhtli. Even standard formats in Rios tend to vary widely in execution and detail. As well, the artist(s) had to squeeze the day- and deity-images to accommodate notes (in Italian) naming the days and good, bad, or indifferent luck. With mostly consistent traditional ornamentation, the faces of Death in Rios are strongly individual:

Faces of the Lord of Mictlan (Codex Rios)

In my re-creation of the Rios tonalamatl, I won’t render all the variant images of the deities but will repeat an established portrait of each one using the modern magic of copying. I cherry-picked among the above 29 images to choose my favorite details and distilled them down to this interpretation of Mictlantecuhtli, the face of Death.

Lord of Mictlan

When I peered through Aztec art and discovered this evocative human face, I fell in love with lovely Death. Now I can look this beautiful Lord in the eye and happily know he awaits. I plan on making him wait for a great long while, but when he beckons, it will be good to fall into his arms.


Aztec Lords of the Night

After finishing Icon #19 for my coloring book, and before jumping on the next one, I’ve been plugging along on another Aztec project, this one in color! Some time ago I decided to “re-create” the calendar from 16th-century Codex Rios, apparently a slightly later Italian copy of the Codex Telleriano-Remensis. Both of them offer fairly crude versions of deities and day-signs, with Rios tending to be at least a little more “artistic,” and both present the ceremonial count of days in disjointed pieces. So my re-creation will also be a re-construction.

In Codices Borgia and Vaticanus, the 13-day week (trecena) is laid out simply with ruling deities and the day-count. In Codex Borbonicus and Tonalamatl Aubin, the Lords of the Day and Night are included, but hard to differentiate, as well as their totem birds, mostly of dubious species.

Codices Rios and Telleriano-Remensis accompany the day-count and patron deities only with the nine Lords of the Night in a super-cycle that takes some centuries to complete. In sequence, the Lords of the Night preside over the nights of each calendar day and at the same time, in sequence, they preside over each of the nine hours of those nights.

Forgive me for saying this, but in these two related calendars, the images of the Lords are really sloppy, even slap-dash, though the deities are drawn with consistent, if careless, motifs. It would be rude to show you the original images of those abused Lords of the Night. Instead, refining their iconographic details, I’ve re-created them with more realistic faces in the style of Codices Fejervary-Mayer and/or Laud.

You can check them all out in greater detail in my Aztec pantheon, but here are some artist’s notes on these Lords of the Night.

1st Lord: Xiuhtecuhtli—Lord of the Turquoise/(Fire). Perhaps he has a red mouth from eating fire? The peaked headdress and red ribbon are standard emblems.

2nd Lord: Itztli—Obsidian. He’s a nagual (manifestation) of Tezcatlipoca, the Smoking Mirror. Again, I don’t know what the standard black markings on his face signify, but those things in his “hat” are sacrificial flint knives.

3rd Lord: Pilzintecuhtli—Young Lord. God of the planet Mercury, he is also a “sun-lord” as shown by the sun in his headdress. I can’t explain his golden hair, but all the Lords’ hair-colors are inexplicably the same as these in the earlier, purely Mexican codex.

4th Lord: Centeotl—God of Maize. Check out the cobs of maize in his headdress.

5th Lord: Mictlantecuhtli—Lord of the Land of the Dead. In this most appealing image I’ve ever found of the death-god, the black lower face is standard. (The pointy thing in the headdress is reminiscent of the regalia of the god Itztlacoliuhqui.)

6th Lord: Chalchiuhtlicue—Jade Skirt. She’s the ancestral Great Goddess from ancient Teotihuacan.

7th Lord: Tlazolteotl—Goddess of Filth. Her mouth is black from eating people’s filth/sins. I can’t identify the tasseled objects in her headdress.

8th Lord: Tepeyollotl—Heart of the Mountain. His tri-color face (and yellow hair) are standard features for this god in these calendars.

9th Lord: Tlaloc—God of Storms. His goggle-eyed, long-toothed visage is emblematic in most codex contexts.